Yes, I know I retired last year and the running column is now in the capable hands of Ann Ryan. But with a recent injection of hyaluronic acid (sort of like WD-40 for the arthritic knee), entering a new age group and the annual production of the Wright Run races, I was inspired to write something.

The 1979 Wright Run 10K was my first road race, so I’ve tried to continue the tradition almost every year. Sunday October 21 turned out to be a beautiful and crisp fall day, ideal for running. This year park district race organizers tried something different, starting the 5K just 15 minutes after the 10K, apparently to reduce the time of blocking neighborhood streets. As always, each race had a separate start line so that both finished at the same spot in front of the high school.

That meant that the markings at one, two and three miles were different for each race. But running the 5K, it was clear that the one- and two-mile clocks were still in place for the 10K event so the splits were off. However, the total distance seemed accurate.

At my age I find myself watching for guys with gray hair, wondering if they are in my age group. But I was doing as well as I could, so not much juice left to catch somebody if I was so inclined. I was satisfied with my effort, but embarrassed with the finish time. Oh well.

The Wright Run always has good sponsors and amenities at the finish line, and the oatmeal bar in the high school cafeteria was appreciated. I saw numerous running friends from the Oak Park Runners Club, so it was a friendly atmosphere while waiting for results.

A new high-tech company was handling results this year, and the system was new to me. Instead of posting results on the wall on actual sheets of paper, the new system required going to the proper website and looking for your individual result to find out if perhaps you had earned a medal.

That assumes that everyone carries a smart phone to the race. I recently “upgraded” from a $10 flip phone to a phone that’s probably smarter than I am. But as far as I’m concerned, real runners don’t carry phones in a race. Mine was home on the dresser, not turned on. My old flip phone made phone calls; I think the new one might also make hot waffles, but I haven’t really learned how to use it yet, so I had to ask someone to check my results. Too high-tech for my tastes.

But hey, it turned out that the gray-haired guy ahead of me was a lot younger, so my first race in the new division earned a first-place medal.  Unfortunately, old Don Jensen who won his age group in the 10K is giving me static about running the “FLW 5K for sissies.” Nice guy.

And despite the glitches it was enjoyable, so I’ll try to be back next year.

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