The 6th annual Pursuit of the Holy Grail 5K was fun, fast, and festive! Shamrocks, smiles, and 3.1 miles mark the official opening of racing season here in the Granite State. Runners of all ages covered the rolling hills and back roads of Epping, NH in the Pursuit of the Holy Grail Restaurant where cold beer, cheering crowds, and music combined to offer runners an epic post-race party.
Parking was available in several lots near the Holy Grail Restaurant. Registration began at 9:00am, the race began at 10:30am. We arrived at 9:30 and had no trouble picking up our t-shirts and numbers.
This race follows a point-to-point course. Runners are given the rare treat of riding a school bus to the starting line. There is also a bag check service for the convenience of runners who want to bag their extra layers at the start and pick them up after they finish. That’s a lot of planning and extra work for the race director and staffers. But, it’s a really nice touch that runners appreciate.
As the runners warm up on the nearly empty roads near the starting line, Andy Schachat provides running commentary and lively music keeps everybody amped and ready to race.
The race course begins with a rolling first mile, a fast downhill in mile two, and a steep climb up to the finish line in the last mile. The field keeps getting faster every year with winning times in the 15-minute window. This is the first test of 5K fitness after the long winter months for many of the local racing crowd, and everybody hammers.
There were volunteers reading split times at miles one and two. Water stops were set up in two different spots. The Epping police did a great job controlling traffic as runners and vehicles are traveling on the same roads.
Water, Clif bars, bananas, and beer were available to finishers of the Holy Grail 5K. Thankfully, the awards ceremony was held indoors and out of the cold March wind. Cash prizes were awarded to the top finishers and the age groups are generous with several youth categories to encourage younger runners.
The Pursuit of the Holy Grail 5K road race is one of my favorites. It’s fast, fun, and raises money for the Epping Youth Athletics Association.