In the market for a 5k in February? Those who love to race need to keep the Cupid’s Chase 5k on their radar. From the heart-shaped finisher’s medal to the festively fit way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to fall in love with this fun 5k.
Organized by Community Options, Inc. this race is near and dear to many hearts. That’s because all of the proceeds from the race go to help those with disabilities. Participants from all ages and athletic abilities take part in this race, which takes place in multiple cities across the U.S. right before Valentine’s Day.
Cupid Comes To The Garden State
This includes various locations in the East Coast including Brooklyn, Queens and a few locations in New Jersey. The Garden State locations include Seaside, West Orange, Moorestown, Princeton, and New Brunswick.
What It’s Like To Run The Same Race Years Later
I first ran the Cupid’s Chase 5k in 2015. Ironically it fell on Valentine’s Day, and I remember it being the best way to start the “holiday” by doing something I love. Being something I do for me (self-love), a few family members surprised me and came out to support me on the course. This was a huge morale boost. It was also when I began seeing real improvements in my running, specifically in 5ks where I began running for time and not just to finish.
Years later I was excited to run this race again. Some things had changed, while many things still remained the same. One of the most notable differences is the addition to finishers’ medal. This medal is so pretty, and a great addition to those who love to display their medals.
Held at Buccleuch Park in New Brunswick, the course for this Cupid’s Chase 5k remained the same from the years before. This gave me a slight advantage because I could vaguely remember the course including the fact that a hill lies right around the first bend.
The course itself was two loops, with minor changes when going around the second time to the finish. There were course markers, maps beforehand and detailed instruction at the start line, but following the runners up ahead is always the best strategy for me to know worry about directions. Once we were off, I remembered exactly how the race would play out.
There was snow on the ground for the Cupid’s Chase in 2015. So this year it was good to have clear paths minus a few ice patches that were luckily not on the course just along the path as I warmed up pre-race. It was extremely cold though. The type of cold where a runner can’t feel their toes if they aren’t wearing thick enough socks. Cold enough where my running coach canceled the group fun towns over because it was under 20 degrees out. We might be crazy to run, but people do crazy things when in love.
I will say that it did take a bit to warm up so I am happy that I did jogging for a few minutes before the race. And since I was really racing, the cold did touch my lungs and my heart was surely pumping. I prefer to run in the cold than the heat, but this was probably the coldest I’ve raced in. It is doable as long as the runner is probably dressed with the right winter gear.
I think many people weren’t brave enough to weather the cold so there was a smaller turn out than when I previously raced. There were over 80 participants in 2015 compared to the 46 that ran this year.
Despite it being a humble crowd, there was still lots of spirit between the runners and the organizers and spectators. Runners jumped up and down at the start line to keep warm and made small talk. There was an impressive amount of spectators along the course cheering runners on.
We were all flying so the race itself went by fast. It was relatively flat around the park with one steep incline that runners climb ran twice. Upon finishing all participants were awarded a finder’s medals before huddling up under heat lamps for age groups awards.
Marco Cardoso from Sayreville, NJ placed first with 18:59.3, followed by Danielle Shannon of Chalfont, PA with 19:30.0, and Jennifer Sapiena of Hazlet, NJ with 20:18.2.
Raffles were then given out for those who stuck through to the end while enjoying the post-race coffee and food.
Personal Stats Compared
The good thing about running the same event, at the same time of year and the same location is that the runner can compare their stats to see how far they’ve come in their running journey.
My stats are as follows:
#0924 LAUREN KEATING 30:30.7 F 26 09:50 25-29F 5/7 Overall 15/50
#6083 LAUREN KEATING 27:50.5 F 30 08:58 30-34F 3/3 Overall 7/29
I remember having a strong pace back in 2015 and being neck in neck with two other women who ended up smoking me at the end and top 2nd and 3rd place in my age group then. I was disappointed that I had come so close to placing, but overall was proud of my time. It would take quite some time post-baby to get back to 30 minute 5k and then on to sub-30s.
So imagine how great it feels to see my name in the top 10. Even though it was a smaller scale race, finishing 7th overall is also another great victory. Not to mention placing 3rd for my age, something I really wanted back in 2015.
Running almost a minute faster, I can gauge how I have progressed as a runner considering that yes I was pushing to run with all I had but I still think I can run even faster—in fact, I have run faster 5ks. It wasn’t a PR, but a solid start to racing in 2019.
Over 6,000 have participated in Cupid’s Chase 5ks around the U.S. It is a fun and festive race for those who love to run. The next Cupid’s Chase 5K Run is Feb. 23 in Pittsburgh, PA.