The 80-year-old women toe the line as the thirty-year-old men patiently wait to follow in their footsteps; it's certainly an unusual start-line setup.
"It changes the whole dynamic, hearing the gun go off and knowing that there is a group chasing you down," Jennifer Overmeyer, race director for the Equalizer 5k, enthuses.
The premise of Equalizer 5k is unlike any other; racers are sorted by their age and gender, and the start time is staggered by state records for that demographic group. The 80+ women start at 7 AM, with the 70-79 women following 27 seconds later. The 80+ men are hot on their heels three minutes later, and so on, until every racer launches past the start line and into a totally unpredictable race.
The Euqalizer 5k debuted in 2018 as a roaring success. "Everyone had a great time," Jenn states. The creative start technique generated banter and competition between racers who normally wouldn't be running alongside each other. "There was a ton of smack talk on the sidelines, as running buddies tossed out threats of, 'I'm coming for you' and 'You only get a few seconds head start, so you better use it,'!" Jenn recalls.
The wave-style start also means that it's anybody's race. 2018's Equalizer saw a surprising first-place finisher: Judy Boomer, at 75 years old! Second place was claimed by frequent 5k-winner, Chris Rice, at age 35. "The rest of the tops ten finishers were a 29 year old male, a 32 year old male, a 60 year old male, a 29 year old male, a 62 year old female, a 46 year old male, a 56 year old female, and a 32 year old male!" Jenn says. "The gender/age equalizing really makes this anyone's race."
So what's new for the second Equalizer 5k? Tulsa Running Club, the group putting on the 5k, went through some intense t-shirt design to produce gender-specific singlets. "We wanted to find one that people would actually wear, rather than adding it to the pile of race shirts in their closets," Jenn explains. The awards will continue going to the Top Ten finishers, and the Equalizer traditions of fun of competition will be carried through to the 2019 race, as well.
The 2019 Equalizer still has a few registration spots available. The race is scheduled for Saturday, August 24, 2019 at the RiverWest Festival Park, from 7AM-10AM. More information can be found on this website's homepage, on the Eventbrite page