'Tis The Season: Farmland 5k and Free-For-All Is This Saturday!

November 26, 2018, 12:00 am

It’s quickly become an absolute fixture on the calendar for all kinds of athletes, and around the Hive, it’s one of our favorites. The Farmland 5k and Free-For-All is one of the most unique events in northern Michigan, and after a month of tempo, recharging, and getting motivated, it comes at the perfect time of the year to get back onto a race course.

When the race first started, there really was nothing quite like the Farmland 5k anywhere, let alone in Michigan. Due in large part to the success of the race on Rasho Farm, there are a number of combined running and cycling events popping up all over Michigan and plenty of other parts of the country, and we’re lucky to have one of the originals right here in our backyard. Located next to Courtade Elementary, Rasho Farm is a just a step out of Traverse City and just a mile or so from East Bay, yet it feels just about as country as it gets in Grand Traverse County.

The day starts with 5k running race on a rolling, windswept farm field, with two small copses of trees providing a little break from the bluster as racers put in their strongest running efforts. It’s a course that is about as demanding as they come, with a great combination of elevation change and some wide-open flat ground to cover as well. Some of the best local runners around show up, from elementary school to adults, and you know there are plenty of strong BEEs hopping onto the start. Some of us have even made a special effort to work in plenty of running during the month of November to be a little bit more prepared for what is always an all-out effort.

Just thirty minutes after the runners finish, over 100 bikes will line-up for 6 laps of the perimeter of the 5km course, resulting in about a 12 mile, full-on race with everyone emptying the tank. Dubbed the ‘Free-for-All’, the varying conditions of the weather mean you’ll see a wide range of bike choices each year, from fat bike to cyclocross bikes. If there’s snow or ice on the course, the field opts for mountain bikes or fat bikes, though we’ve had a few editions of the race where a narrow-tired cyclocross bikes was definitely the right call. With snow in the forecast the next three days, we could easily see a mix of everything!

Of course, the ultimate challenge at Farmland is to put in a strong run and ride. While most people opt to compete in just one event, there are a hearty few who sign up for both in the hopes of winning the combined run and bike category and taking overall honors. Last year, our own Mike Powers was fourth overall in the combined, while Bryan Warner and Jeff Wentzloff both made the top ten. Our two coaches, Lauri Brockmiller and Susan Vigland, went 1-2 on the women’s side, jumping with both feet out of their comfort zone and having a darn fun time doing it!

One of the toughest parts of doing the combo is how to deal with that awkward time between the run and the bike. With it's early December start date, Farmland has seen everything from bluebird, sunny warm editions to some of the most brutal afternoons possible. Two years ago, a 20+ mph dead out of the north made the freezing temperatures almost unbearable; as soon as the running race was over, the place cleared out, with just a handful of brave bikers sticking around and racing in front of just a few dedicated fans to cap off a snowy, frigid day. This year, it's looking to be relatively mild, with highs near 40, but you never know. 

The best way to deal with the break in the action is to stay warm. Make sure to dry off and change out of sweaty clothes as quickly as possible, ideally in a running, warm car. Overdress for your warm-up before the bike and work a sweat so that when you peel off the excess layers just before the gun goes off, you're still steaming warm and revved up. You won't need a hard warm-up, but you will want to get those legs moving on the pedals, so use a light gear and pedal with a high cadence. 

Jon Zelinski, Brad Pauly, Bob Spence, Tim Pulliam, Luke Schwartz, and plenty of other BEEs are expected to hop back into the double again this weekend, so if you’re on the fence, join in and get signed up! Use Brockmiller Elite Endurance and let’s win the team competition!

Even if you don’t feel like racing, you’re going to want to get up to Rasho Farm this Saturday before noon to see the run, and then stick around for the bike at 1pm. Awards and wrap up will be around 2pm, with plenty of time to hit the Hive for your rest week weekend ride before or after. 

Online registration is cranking, so get signed up!


Posted by Worker Bee at 12:00 am