I’ve walked in a DAV 5K every year it has existed. It all started with a single event in Cincinnati in 2013. Six cities hosted events in 2017. Veterans Day fell on Saturday this year, and three of those cities, including Cincinnati, held their 5Ks on that day. The other three took place a week prior.
I cheated a bit when I signed up this time. The online registration form included a drop-down list for indicating how many previous Cincinnati DAV 5Ks you had participated in. The “Cincinnati” part is what made it tricky. Last year I was traveling and took part in the inaugural DAV 5K in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Apparently believing that someone misinterpreted an abbreviation was easier than believing someone had entered the event from 650 miles away. When I picked up my registration in Tulsa, someone had crossed out Ohio and written in Oklahoma. Somehow that eased my conscience when I clicked “4” on that list. The count was right; It was just off a few hundred miles.
The first official activity of the event is the motorcycle roll-by. I was more or less in position near the back of the pack when I heard them rumbling behind me and turned to snap a picture. Thanks to the magic of auto-focus, I have a rather crisp rendition of the sign post. Somewhat less crisp is the photo’s actual subject matter. I did a little better as they passed by where I stood.
The scene in this picture should be familiar to anyone who has followed my DAV 5K career. I’ve posted a photo of the crowd leading me under the start banner every year except the very first, and that year I included a shot of the banner from the other side as the cyclists were about to take off.
The temperature at the start was in the 20s and I believe that’s the coldest it has ever been for the event. I’m thinking that may explain the dearth of entertainment or maybe it’s just become old hat. Other than the faithful Saint Xavier Marching Band providing some pep from their usual spot. there was just one musician on the route. He jumped into Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “GimmeThree Steps” as I approached and that was what I was still hearing as I moved out of range.
I don’t know whether the motorcycles follow the entire route or take a short cut but a long line of them are parked near the finish each year. The riders stand on the median offering hand slaps and encouragement to all the participants. Not everyone takes advantage of the hand slaps but there aren’t many who couldn’t use a little encouragement at this point.
Here is another familiar scene but, unlike the scene at the start banner, the crowd has gotten rather thin. Despite what you’re probably thinking, it’s not because I’ve left them in my dust. There are a few (141) behind me but much more than a few (2147) ahead of me. In an alarming difference from past finishes, my time did not improve over the previous year. This year’s 1:03:55 was a full 19 seconds higher than last year’s time. Although it’s possible that the Tulsa course is itself faster (I did beat my previous Cincinnati time.) I fear that my pace has peaked and the glory days are over.