I don't know how many people ran and walked this thing, but estimates are between 14-15,000. That is not a lot for a marathon, but it is a gross amount of people for a 5k. There are a few reasons why this becomes a nuisance for seasoned runners.
First, novice runners are everywhere. You don't get this in a marathon, because people don't venture out and run marathons on a whim. Anyone off the street knows better. This is not the case with a 3 mile race. There are plenty of people that think they can run 3 miles and the best is when you see some of them sprinting the beginning. There are some sprinters and they are usually done by about quarter mile and start walking. Then, there are the average hares. They run until a mile, because they have no clue how far a mile is. I have to admit that I've done this before, though. Once. My first day at cross country practice when I was fourteen years old. I ran with the top 2 runners for about quarter mile, then faded and ran with the number 3 runner for the remainder of the first mile. Coach Thomas pulled me laughingly pulled me aside about that point and explained to me something called "pace." Whatever! Just kidding.
Secondly, the joggers that go running from time to time, but don't know how fast they are. These are the people that just line up out of place. They want to be near the front for the start, but don't know that people running under 6 and 7 minutes should be near the front. These are the people that I passed usually up until the 1.5 mile mark. These are the people that bunched up the beginning and crowded the line and made my time slower by about 30 seconds.
Lastly, people that are of the two above types don't know how to get out of other runners' way. When you are about to give up, which is inevitable to someone out of practice, you need to move to the nearest side of the road and make way. These people just stop in their tracks as if hundreds of people aren't right behind them. The ones that know to move off to the side, don't "check their mirrors" and look over their shoulder when sideswiping others. I gave some these people a forearm. Not a shove, but more of a guide as to say, "Stay in your lane."
The course was pretty much a rectangle, which made it fast. That was nice. One of the first turns was funny. You could see the novices getting nervous and moving all around going into it. Some going to the inside. Some going to the outside. I just yelled out, "Stay calm people and keep going straight." The guy directly in front of me who kept zig-zagging back and forth, got the message loud and clear. That was nice, because I was about to pass him on the upcoming little hill and I definitely didn't need him tripping me.
End of rant. I do wonder how many people ran into my elbows, though.
First mile, clogged up and the first 100 meters specifically is the worst brick street in the entire metro area. Central in Thorton Park is not good to ankles, knees, or tires for that matter. Hit the first mile at 7:30. As soon as I saw my time, I sped up and started weaving my way to little pockets where I could stride out and be comfortable running my pace.
The next mile was pretty good. Anytime I felt like I was coasting along, I easily reminded myself that I wasn't truly pushing. I then forced myself to move forward just a little faster. It is a race afterall. It was a nice easy pace. I hit the 2 mile mark at 14:47, so that one was a 7:17 split. That at least put me under the 23 minute window. I wanted to get on the other side of 22:30, so I had to pick it up a little more.
On the last mile, I tried to go faster since I knew I had to make up some more time, but there will little lulls when I was just coasting and didn't notice it immediately, so my response to push myself harder didn't kick in right away. Not sure what that was all about. Somewhere between half and quarter mile to go, one of my fellow Sandbaggers passed me and that's when I knew that I had to pick it up for the finish. I stayed just a few strides behind her and then let loose on the last tenth of a mile once I hit the 3 mile clock. My 3 mile time was 22:08, so my mile split was 7:21. I ran the last tenth of a mile in 36 seconds, which is a mile pace of 5:00. Hardly a pace though, considering I was near all out. I could have gone faster, but I don't try to sprint at all anymore. That's when my hamstrings can't quite keep up and get pulled.
My final 5K time was 22:44 by my watch. Average pace for the entire 5K was 7:19 per mile.