Despite running and spectating this race two times before, I always thought the Pound Ridge 5K was called the “Independence Run” or “July 4th” run or something like that, since it always occurs around the holiday. But despite the plain name, this is one of my favorite races. It also hits three critical S’s – small, shady, and short.
Pound Ridge is a quaint town of about 5,000 people located an hour’s drive north of New York City. Every year they do a 5K race around July 4th, usually the same day they do their excellent fireworks show (also held in the park). The race usually has a few hundred runners and a decent number of spectators dotted along the course, calling out to their friends and neighbors from their lawns. The race allows dogs (lots of dogs this year!) and I assume it allows strollers although I didn’t see any this year. The closed course winds along paved, shady backroads starting near the town’s elementary school and ending in Pound Ridge Town Park. It has a nice small-town feel and is a great way to kick-off the holiday weekend celebrations.
This year they even ran a shuttle from the finishing parking lot at the park to the registration/starting area at the elementary school (a very short ride away). It’s easy to register on race day ($20 includes a cotton t-shirt) although this year they ran out of normal bib numbers so they gave many of us handwritten bibs. There’s no chip timing so it doesn’t really matter. The race started at 9 am and wrapped up about an hour later, allowing plenty of time for everyone to finish.
I wore my patriotic Ragnar outfit for this race along with a decorated hat and American flag bandana and sunglasses. I was probably the most decked-out person at this small race, although I found two other like-minded souls who also were celebrating the reason for the season.
After the first uphill which passes the elementary school, the course veers left and heads downhill for about a mile, then becomes gently rolling hills until turning right onto an asphalt sidewalk for a short stretch through the woods before finishing on the main lawn in the park. There were three water stops, at about 1.5 miles, 2ish miles, and one right near the end for some reason. After you cross the finish line (with large timing signs so you can see when you finish), they hand you a mini bottle of water and usually announce your name (although some of us with handwritten bibs didn’t get announced or marked down, but you could fill out a bib tag afterwards so your results would be noted somewhere – maybe eventually online?).
The other amazing thing about this race is the food spread at the end. They had two types of mini donuts, corn and blueberry mini muffins, an assortment of bagels and cream cheese, coffee, tea, and orange juice. Lest you forget, this is only a 5K! They had more food than many marathon finishes I’ve seen!
I ended up finishing in about 30 minutes, or about a 9:43 pace, which is a lot faster than I anticipated – trying to catch up to my 10-year-old niece made me push hard, although she still beat me.
So if you ever find yourself in Pound Ridge around the 4th of July, definitely take part in their 5K race, and then stick around for the fireworks afterwards (although maybe go home and shower and have some BBQ first, since they’re like 12 hours apart, after all).
Have you ever visited Pound Ridge? How are you celebrating the 4th of July? Did you bake and/or eat a “flag” cake? Share in the comments!