Lowell Series guarantees a “Good Time”
Every Tuesday night at Lowell, Massachusetts’s Old Court pub, you never know what to expect.
Posted Thursday, 2 June, 2005
Yes, you can expect many of the same faces every week, including Good Times 5K Series director Dave Camire, along with a few dozen series regulars who would not miss a Good Times night despite rain, snow, heat, or injury. And you can expect, as promised by the race’s slogan, a “good” time independent of how “fast” your running time is.
But there is a different quirky theme each week—anywhere from a team race (where some runners team up fifteen minutes before a race starts and other runners import teammates), a weight-graded race, a predict-your-time race, a guess-the-distance race, and a race where anyone who sets a PR gets a prize. There are also different prizes each week, ranging anywhere from trophies and medals to bottles of beer (or soda for runners under 21) to minor league baseball tickets to coffee table books to bars of soap. Yes, soap.
“That’s easy,” says Camire, co-founder of Coolrunning and the brains behind Good Times since 2003, about the soap idea. “Someone gave me a box of soap!”
Camire modeled the series after his father’s Thursday night bowling league. With different incentives every week, Camire explains, the bowling league “gave everyone a reason to come back every week.” With the different handicaps and themes every week, like a bowling league, Camire did the same with the Good Times Series. And, sure enough, many runners return every Tuesday.
It’s tough to sugarcoat it: The dismal weather in the greater Lowell area has not been very conducive for running outdoors, and this has likely scared away many athletes from attending the Good Times Series. But there is most definitely a core of a few dozen brave men and women who brave the elements almost every week. These few dozen have established a friendly community of Good Times regulars, running every week and staying for the awards ceremony (and a few drinks at the second-floor Old Court bar) after each race.
The group of Good Times regulars, however, have by no means created an exclusive community. Many runners only attend Good Times once in a while but are still welcomed by the regulars with open arms. Frequent or occasional Good Timers include local running studs Kara Haas, Casey Moulton, and Eric Beauchesne.
Good Times award winners aren’t always the fastest runners. Because of the graded races taking age, gender, weight, and even previous PRs into consideration, many runners who are not typically eligible for winning prizes in other road races have a very good shot at winning a prize on Tuesday nights in Lowell. Speed demons fears not, as there are still many Good Times races that still reward the fastest runners of each age division. Camire promises even better prizes for summer 2005 after American Express agreed to sponsor the series.
The most coveted prize, the series championship, rewards both speed and dedication. Like a bowling league, there are points earned every race, with the faster runners amassing more points. The runner with the most points at the end of the series usually attends and performs well every week.
In 2005, the Good Times course had to undergo a little bit of a change, as the scenic Lowell riverwalk on which the races had been run are currently under construction. Instead, the course uses a path on the other side of the river. There is no more running along the VFW Highway sidewalk, eliminating some runners’ headaches. The course is shadier, which will be very inviting once the dog days of summer set in, and it is also quieter and flatter, resulting in, most likely, faster times. It is very possible to set a personal record on the Good Times course. And just like previous years, Good Times runners still get the chance to run over the Ouellette Bridge and past LaLacheur Park right around the time the Lowell Spinners (“Class A Affiliate of the World Champion Boston Red Sox”) start their home games.
Out of 252 total runners in the 2005 spring series, 175 have returned as of May 24th. Similar rates of return have been characteristic of the Good Times series since its inception in 2003. The Good Times 5K Series community is quite a community, and with racing, different themes every week, prizes, and beer afterward, it is a community that Camire certainly hopes will grow.