One of my favorite events of the year is Popcorn Festival. My Freshman year at Valparaiso University, my new friends and I wandered downtown. It was 2004 and we had no idea what was going on or what the big deal was. Lots of people celebrating Orville Redenbacher, or so we thought. All we knew is that at the time there were very few places to buy popcorn.
A few years later I realized that the Popcorn Festival isn’t as much about the popcorn as it is the community. Most of Valparaiso shuts down for the day and we celebrate.
Each year the Popcorn Panic 5k Walk/5 Mile Run takes place first thing Saturday morning. I’ve missed one year since 2007 and I honestly can’t remember why. It wasn’t until last year that I actually participated in the run (I had stuck to the walk in the past) but it is on my “do not miss” list for the near future. I love this race.
Popcorn Panic 2015
The race is about 2.5 miles up hill and 2.5 miles downhill. There are points where you are running flat but there is a lot of hills involved. I really felt under prepared for the race. I had taken a break from running during the month of July & slowly worked my way back into it in August. All of my training had been on the treadmill & I really felt the difference.
My ultimate goal going into the race was staying under 45 minutes. My treadmill times had been around 45 minutes lately for a 5 mile run.
The weather turned out to be perfect. I was up probably half of the night worrying that the rain was going to hit right as we started to run. Mother Nature had other plans and held off the rain through the morning so we could get through the race. With the clouds and about 50 degree weather it was perfect for a morning run. Afterward though, I wished I had some warmer clothes.
Last year my official time was 42:20 (my watch time was 41:28). Ironically my time this year (official) was 42:18. I guess I’m consistent?
While I was frustrated with how I felt during the race, I was really happy with my time. I knew the race would be tough mentally after not racing for the last 4 months. With the training on the treadmill I had hoped to pull a better time once I got outside and I really was able to drop a lot of time. I was pretty happy about that.
Another bonus to the end of this race is the amount of food they have waiting for you. It gets better and better every year and Family Express really outdid themselves this time with the spread. From apples, bananas & bagels to granola bars there was pretty much anything you would want for recovery. My choice, of course, were my favorite smiley face cookies.
After the race ended we headed off to watch the Little Kernals race. I wish I had realized the age groups started at 2. Little man wanted to join in the fun, but I hadn’t signed him up. There were a ton of kids running and it was nice how it was broken up into little heats so each of the kids weren’t completely overwhelmed with all of their peers at once. I will say, it did take a really long time to get through each age group though!
The parade was next on our list and we enjoyed watching the kids chase down the candy. It was about a 2 hour parade so be prepared if you have little ones who might not sit through the whole thing. There was so much to keep the toddlers occupied that I think they were disappointed the parade wasn’t longer.
If you haven’t been to Popcorn Festival or joined in on the Popcorn Panic, I suggest you check it out next year. Don’t miss your opportunity for a selfie with Orville.
Have you ever run the Popcorn Panic? Do you have a hometown race that you never miss? What is your favorite part?