The adults aren't the only ones having fun during the Ipswich YMCA 5K. While the race is going on, the YMCA offers events for kids ages 5 to 12, including martial arts training, demonstrations by the local police canine unit and a display of the town's fire trucks. Then, after the main race, children chase Argy around Rotary Park during the 1-mile (1.6 km) Kid's Run.
Although runners may not focus too much on their surroundings as they run, the route for the Ipswich "Chase the Gorilla Down Argilla" 5K offers a charming tour of the community's quaint, small-town atmosphere. Founded in 1633 by a group of settlers from a city of the same name in England, Ipswich is located in northeast Massachusetts, just 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the Atlantic Ocean. While it lies just 30 miles (48.2 kilometers) north of Boston, Ipswich has a modest population of 13,000 and has retained its rural character despite the decline of agriculture in the area. The 5K route, which winds down highways and side roads south of the Ipswich River, tours some of the quiet residential areas and farmland that characterize the community.
Participants originally ran the 5K on a point-to-point route, but the popularity of the race soon forced race organizers to consider a loop route. Shuttling 300 to 400 runners back to the start proved to be too much of a logistical hassle, so in 2008 organizers adopted a new route where runners started and finished in the same spot.
The current route begins at the YMCA facility, where runners turn south down County Road for a brief period before veering left onto Essex Road. They then turn north onto Heartbreak Road, which skirts the charming farms of the Ipswich countryside. This road ends at Argilla Road, the route for which the race is named, where runners turn left. After traveling northwest on Argilla for a short distance, racers make a series of turns through town before returning to the YMCA building. In total, the 3.1-mile route has 13 turns -- eight left and five right. Despite the number of turns, the course is relatively flat, making it what runners might consider a "fast" 5K.
So how well do participants fare against the notorious "Argy"? Continue to the next section to find out.