Sunday, June 5, 2011

Report: 2011 Houska Houska 5K


Last Monday (Memorial Day 2011), I was able to participate in my first running event since January 1. With some tendinitis I've had some trouble with for the past several months cooperating for the time being, I signed up for the Houska Houska 5K. The event is hosted by Houska Automotive a locally-owned and family operated automotive shop in Fort Collins, Colorado. I'm guessing the double name is a play on the Bolder Boulder, which is held in Boulder on the same day. There are some similarities between the two events; both involve running and people wearing outrageous costumes, both are popular amongst the locals....  And well, the similarities end there.


Most running events are benefits in some way for a charity, non-profit, or community organization. For the Houska Houska, ALL of the proceeds go to the Poudre Valley Health District's Bone Marrow Donor Program and the Poudre Valley Cancer Center. The event is also run entirely by the Houska family and a variety of volunteers. Trying to determine what the vast amount of money brought in by the Bolder Boulder go for is no easy task. Some of it likely supports the infrastructure of the race, and the rest, who really knows? Race directory salary?

I've run both events now, and while the Bolder Boulder was a a great expeirence, I'd have to say that I actually liked the Houska Houska 5K better. It's a non-competitive "race," which means it's untimed...  Or rather, it means that if you're interested in your time, you should bring a stopwatch.  :)  Everyone still starts en masse and the top finishers are recognized for their performance, but the best and most attended award ceremony is for the best costumes, and for 2011 the theme was "Saturday Night Alive" so the costumes were all familiar characters from the similarly-named late night comedy show.

At the Houska Houska this year, Mary Catherine Gallagher was a popular costume among the women, whereas the men's costumes were a little more diverse in 2011. One couple came as the Spartan Cheerleaders, and our road guards were the Blues Brothers. One of my favorites was Mr. Peepers, and L.J. Houska came as Wayne (Wayne's World). We also saw a Church Lady, and a guy dressed as Dan Akroyd dressed as Julia Childs.

The Athletes in Tandem, Zach, Nick, and Jack
In addition to the costumes, there was information about the chartities served, becoming a bone marrow donor, grilled hot dogs, plenty of beer, bloody mary's, root beer floats, games for the kids, a reverse bungee ride, a petting zoo, popcorn and cotton candy. It was a small town carnival atmosphere.

Me finishing 9th or 10th. I recorded my time
at 21:47, which I was quite happy with. 
The run/walk itself was an out-and-back course along Riverside Avenue and Lemay, veering from there onto the Poudre River Trail, including a loop through the Fort Collins Natural Area's Offices, before continuing down the trail and then returning to the start. It was mostly downhill on the way out, and uphill on the way back, which amplified the sense of several of us that we had gone out too fast, and petered out at the end!  :)

It was the perfect low-key event for my return to running events. My wife got a lot of great photos, and everyone had a great time. We also got to touch base with Dennis Vanderheiden, and his Athletes in Tandem crew, which had three entries for the event.

I managed to meet my goal for the event. Given my condition being relatively low from so little running over the last four months, I wanted to finished in under 22 minutes, and managed that by a bit, slapping hands with the little fireman clown at the finish and stopping my Garmin Forerunner at 21:47, a very respectable time.

Dennis Vanderheiden, Zach, and yours truly
After the race, I headed straight for the post-race snacks, picked up some bagel quarters, a root beer float, an actual beer, and a bloody Mary (not all at once). I'll also admit to later having a hot dog, as we walked around and enjoyed the post race festivities with the rest of the crowd, and cheered for our favorite costumes during the awards.

A great event that was fun and well organized. I'd like to thank the Houskas family for what the give back to the Fort Collins Community. It's a highlight of the year for quite a few folks, and a lot of people benefit from all that you do in so many ways. A good time was had by all at the 2011 Houska Houska 5K. I'll be planning to join in the festivities again next year as well.

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