Oatmeal 5k – A conversation with the Race Director

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The former Quicker Quaker has been a favorite local season starter for years, often lead by a solid competitive field followed by throngs of running enthusiasts kicking off their racing season on the right foot. The race features an out and back course from downtown Lafayette, out west to Waneka Lake and back into town again.

We wanted to take a look behind the scenes of one of the area’s longer running races and what makes it such a success. Thomas Denning caught up with Race Director and City of Lafayette’s Director of Marketing and Events Pat Vero.

This is the 21st year of the Lafayette Quaker Oatmeal Festival 5k, and there have been some changes to an already fantastic event tell us what’s new for 2017.

Pat Vero: We’ve changed the name to the Lafayette Oatmeal 5k. It makes a lot more sense, as nobody could ever find Quicker Quaker and you know, the Quaker part of it is the breakfast so we kept the logo but changed the name to the Lafayette Oatmeal 5k. We still have our sponsorship with Quaker and will have two people (from Quaker) joining us and both may even run the race which I think is pretty neat. And of course folks will be able to take pictures with the “Oatie” the Oatmeal mascot too.

Talk about the logistics involved in putting on the race. I know it’s one of several events that city does over the course of the year. This is the first event of the year, so I imagine work is really starting to pick up with race day Saturday, January 14th.

Oh yeah, you know we have four different events so at any given day I am working on all of them. Actually, for me Oatmeal is the wrap up of my season, with my next event taking place in July. I’m taking race applications now we have raceroster.com as our online registration so as I get the applications, I get them processed. As of the first week in January we’ll have the whole downstairs here at the Chamber set up with bins for people who have ordered headbands, breakfast tickets so it really starts getting a little crazy. The day everything starts up though is Friday (January 13). Because that’s when everyone comes to pick up their bib. And so you can pick it Friday or even on race day, but by 9am I’ve got people lined up at the door ready to pick up and I have a staff of six volunteers who help with packet pickups, who work in shifts. So people can come in and register or pick up.

There are so many things that have to happen on race day to pull off a successful event. You’ve got the actual race with the associated work of laying out the course, the marshals, timing, awards and then there is the oatmeal breakfast and the health fair.

It’s actually three events in one. We’ve got the health fair that runs at the Bob Burger rec center from 8am-12noon. So I have a whole different group of volunteers for that (Boulder Community Hospital) They sponsor the health fair so they have people who come in and set up on Friday (before the race) for that. There are 53 booths that will be ready and set up. Then on Friday we’ll have the registration here at the Chamber and I’ll take care of the volunteers for that. I also get my volunteers for the breakfast that includes several schools with about 100 kids. So there’s a lot going on but it all comes together. It’s the same group every year, the older kids teach the younger kids—they do such a great job in setting up. And they are usually set up by 8PM ready to go. The rec center gets all the volunteers for the race marshals for the actual race, so it really works out well between all three groups. There are almost 200 volunteers total!

What does actual race look like?

Well the first thing is we go through the course on Friday. We make sure there are no icy spots. There have been a couple of years where we shortened the course a tiny bit due to the ice. Once we have the course good to go then we’re here at the chamber until 6PM on Friday taking registrations and giving out the bibs. Then we take everything over Rocky Mountain Center for Musical Arts. And that’s when the rec center and their staff takes over to be ready by 7:00am to start taking day of registration. It’s crazy!! When it’s a beautiful day everyone is outside and when it’s freezing cold everybody likes to stay inside. It’s Colorado. We usually get a couple of hundred registrations on the morning of the race. But the race begins at 9:30 that doesn’t change. We don’t move the start one way or the other.

So after all of the great events on race day, what’s it like for you afterwards? The race is over, the Oatmeal is gone and the health fair is all packed up.

There’s always the rush when I see everything go so well. I enjoy seeing the racers finish up and go over and get that bowl of Oatmeal. I’d say around 11:30 it really starts to wind down. We start to clean up a little bit. Most of the volunteers are out of here by 1PM. The kids know what they are doing. Peak to Peak honor society , and the Centaurs Girls soccer, they’ve all worked the event before so they are just fantastic. I’d say most people are getting ready for the football playoffs by 1PM and I’m usually finished with my work by 4PM. This is a nice niche here. There are a lot of races here in Colorado. We have a great spot on the calendar, it’s national Oatmeal month so no better time to have a race!

Festival Events Schedule

Facebook Event https://www.facebook.com/events/208739972871915/

7:30am-9:10am Registration 5K Walk/Run
Colorado Music Festival & Center for Musical Arts –
200 East Baseline Rd., across the street from Pioneer Elementary.

9:30am Sharp 5K Walk/Run Begins
Corner of E. Geneseo and N. Harrison

7:30am-12:00pm Oatmeal Breakfast
Pioneer Elementary
101 E. Baseline Rd.

Oatmeal Tickets Only
Adults – $8 Youth 3-12/Senior 60+ – $6

8:00am-12:00pm Health Fair
Bob L. Burger Rec. Center
111 W. Baseline Rd.

8:00am-1:00pm Bonfils Community Blood Drive
Parking lot between Pioneer Elementary and the Rec. Center

From the Flatirons Community Church, 350 S. Boulder Road.. Shuttle service will run continuously from 7:30am – 1:30pm to and from Pioneer Elementary. Parking is limited, please carpool or take the RTD bus (for schedule go to www.rtd-denver.com)

Past Oatmeal 5k Results