12 in 2012: WeSpark Universal Backlot 5k

This weekend I ran my 10th race of 2012. Both my son and I ran in the weSPARK 4th Annual Run/Walk at the Universal Studios backlot. 100% of the proceeds from the race goes towards the weSPARK Cancer Support Center in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Running for a cause always leaves me with a good feeling. Which is why many of the races I’ve participated in this year are all for programs that give back to the community or are raising money for programs that will support and promote awareness of certain diseases and illnesses in both adults and children.
So not only am I running to accomplish my own personal 2012 resolution, I’m also running to give back and help out!

This weekend was an awesome race. We headed out to Sherman Oaks on Saturday afternoon for our bib pick-up and then to check into our hotel. Burbank isn’t necessarily far from us BUT we decided to make a weekend of it and stay over night.

There are a lots of little details I can share about this weekend with LOTS of pictures so I’ll just cover the basics for the stay but go into detail about the race.

Firstly, the Hilton at Universal Studios is highly overpriced and over rated and does not live up to the costs. I’d have much rather stayed somewhere cheaper and received the same overnight stay.

Secondly, Universal City Walk is pretty cool and very overwhelming. Way too much to see and do in one night. We’ll have to go back JUST to check that place out.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Thirdly, Wreck-It Ralph was a real treat for us adults and a blast for the kids. Well, not my kid. He had a panic attack during the movie because he was over sympathetic towards a character. My poor little dude was not a happy camper.

And lastly, that damned fall-back time change does nothing to affect my son but totally makes me sluggish. By 4:30pm I was exhausted and wanted it to be much later than it was.

Ok now with that out of the way, let’s talk about the race. This race was a sold out event. It started at 7:30am and last well after 12pm with food trucks, some musical performances and lots of booths to check out and visit. We didn’t stay long after our races because we had to check out by noon but there was a lot to see and do. And man…there were a LOT of runners!

Originally the start time was set for 7:30am but was pushed back to 8:45am due to  a noise ordinance or some such thing. I didn’t mind the later time. That meant I didn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn.

3E136738-CFD1-4E2C-9439-40BE54A8B57B-11827-000003D5A26E5528, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Down we went to the Universal Studios Backlot where we lined up with a million other people to run for cancer. I knew it would be busy because the event had sold out but I didn’t realize how busy it would be. The crowds affected both the hotel vacancies (which is why we ended up at Hilton instead of the hotel associated with the race) and parking but we made it work and got to the start line on time.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

I was nervous as all get out just like I am before any other race. I think my nerves were wrapped around the huge crowd and the excitement that had been building up to run through movie sets and around this cool place. I mean, check out that green screen! This was the area where all the food trucks and booths were stationed. They had the LA Kings girls on hand and face-painting for the kids. Lots to do and see while we waited to run.

We were told we’d be running through the backlot where the scenery for movies like The Mummy, War of the Worlds, Psycho, Jaws, and many many more were filmed and that had me stoked to start. Well we lined up and the actor who plays Schmidt from The New Girl was there to start us off. When he raised his arm and blew the air horn off the 5k runners went followed by the 10k racers and the 5k walkers bringing up the rear.

A quick note, because those running the 10k were to lap the course twice, it may have been better to have them take off first. I tell ya it was scary to have those guy racing through the hordes of 5k runners trying to pick through the thong of people. It seemed odd to have the faster group start second so that they had to cut through the huge crowds of slower runners. I stuck to my pace and just kept an eye out for those speed demons but I know a lot of 5k runners complained about the safety concerns felt as the 10k racers charged through us.

While I ran through ancient Rome, an old New York city scene and Wisteria Lane, The Guy and my son waited patiently for me to meet with them at the finish line. Of course, seeing the tail of a crashed plane just on the other side of the race course called to my boys and they sneaked away to play around in the War of the Worlds scene.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

My son was amazed by the crashed plane and insisted that it wasn’t just for a movie but that the plane had actually crashed there. I guess the people who created this backdrop can say they did a great job as they had him convinced it was real.
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The Guy then told our little man to stand in front of this destroyed house and pretend it was his. So, he dropped his shoulders in a defeated pose.
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Then he pretended to cry….
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Then he got all into the role and made believe he was depressed and sad that his house was destroyed. Waaahhhh!!!!

I think these two had WAY too much fun. But it didn’t last long as they were found out and asked to retreat away from the scenery and wait on the sidelines for the racers to make their way to the finish line.
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And there I was, coming through the wreckage! I kept a decent pace of about 12:12 minutes per mile on average though there is a bit of a discrepancy with my GPS tracker and the official time. I walked a little as there were some pretty decent hills to climb and a few areas that were cobblestone or rough ground.

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Now as I ran through the War of the Worlds wreckage scene, I saw my guys cheering me on wildly and was surprised by my son as he ran into the race and trotted along beside me. There we were running together and we finished together too!
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I felt good and my time showed it. I ran the 5k in 36:23, just a smidge over my goal time but with the crowding and the rough ground changes and the hills, I felt this time was excellent! The best part, though, was crossing that finish line with my little guy beside me.

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After that, we gathered with other parents and kid racers for the Fun Run. Jake ran quickly but we were quite disappointed with this portion of our race morning. Seems like they didn’t expect the race to last so long and many of the adult runners were still finishing their race through Whoville and past Bates Motel. The kids were scheduled to run through War of the Worlds and around the Psycho House, down past the Bates Motel and then finish through Whoville but too many people were still running so they switched it up and had the kids run a shorter distance but with the flow of foot traffic.

I wish this had been better planned. Maybe have the kids run a whole different course or wait a little more between races. They did the best they could but many parents were upset because of the confusion. They showed up and didn’t know where the start and finish line were. Many kids started late and it was a confused mess. But Jake ran his best and earned a medal that he has proudly displayed.

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Even with some of the bumps along the way to run this race, I had a fabulous time. I think my pace was excellent due to my excitement. I couldn’t wait to turn the corner and see where we would run next or what character we would see. Frankenstein, Dracula, a Spartan, some mobsters, The Phantom and Christine were all in attendance and cheered us on as we raced to the finish line. I’d run this again just so I could stop and take some pictures since I didn’t get one snapped while on course.  I was too focused to entertain the idea of taking any pictures.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

What a wonderful race and a great weekend with my two loves.


About Katie V.

A mom. A chef. A chauffeur. A personal assistant. A housewife. An office manager. You name it. I do it all while looking fabulous.
This entry was posted in Races, Running and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 12 in 2012: WeSpark Universal Backlot 5k

  1. BlondiesBabble says:

    Congrats! What a fun run!

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