Race Review: 2024 5th Line 5k

You already know that I’m passionate about walking and coffee, but there are some other things that I’m passionate about, too: my family, books, movies, making lists, snacks, and also hockey.  And when I get the chance to combine a couple of my favorite things, you can pretty much guarantee that I’ll take it—which is why the Columbus Blue Jackets’ annual 5th Line 5k is one of my favorite events of the year.

What’s So Great about the 5th Line 5k?

Since I’m a diehard Blue Jackets fan (even during seasons like this one), there’s a lot for me to love about this event.  The starting line is right outside Nationwide Arena, and the finish line is right in the middle of the arena, beneath the jumbotron at center ice.  And then there’s the swag.  The registration fee gets racers an impressive finisher’s medal, a cool race-themed long-sleeve performance tee, and a pair of tickets to a Blue Jackets game.  Not just one ticket, like some of the other local teams’ races—a pair.  And considering that some of the available seats are in the lower bowl, that’s a pretty amazing deal. 

Race Week Details

As is often the case, the event really starts well before the race, with race-week info emails and packet pickup.  Racers have a generous three-day window to pick up their race package at Fleet Feet.  A friend and I stopped by right away on Thursday morning, and there wasn’t much of a wait, though the store’s setup and packet pickup area were confusing enough that they needed someone on hand just to explain it.  Fortunately, though, we were in and out in a short amount of time, with bibs and race shirts and coupons in hand.  And then we were left to agonize over the best gear options for race day.

Since the 5th Line 5k always takes place in February (this year, it was on the 11th), the weather is always a wild card.  In February, the weather in Central Ohio can be anywhere from arctic to spring-like—so you have to be prepared for anything.  This year, we’d been experiencing higher than average temperatures—beautiful sunny days with highs in the 50s—but forecasts predicted a temperature drop just in time for race day.  So while we’d been walking outside in spring gear, we found ourselves pulling the fleece-lined layers back out for the race.

Race Day Experience

On the morning of the race, my friends and I were planning to carpool to the Arena District.  But instead of having to meet before 7 am to get downtown and find parking in time for an 8 am start time, we could sleep in and take our time—because this race doesn’t start until 10 am.  (And if all other race organizers could take note and follow suit, my fellow night-owl participants and I would greatly appreciate it.)

Since this was my third time participating in this race, I knew where to park—and I’d double-checked my race week info email.  But when we neared the course, we found that volunteers weren’t set up at one of the busiest parking garages.  I’m sure that caused some serious confusion for racers who were less familiar with the area, but since my husband works downtown, I was able to get a pretty sweet parking spot in an otherwise empty garage just feet from the starting corals. 

Though the weather wasn’t unbearably cold before the race, we still made our way inside Nationwide Arena with the other racers.  Having the arena open before and after the race means that participants have access to real indoor bathrooms instead of the usual porta-potties—which is definitely a bonus.  In previous years, a number of booths have also been set up on the main concourse, offering promotional trinkets and samples.  This year, though, the sponsors’ booths were strangely absent, so we took advantage of the short line to have our picture taken with the Blue Jackets’ cannon. 

But then it was time to make our way outside to the starting corrals.  As walkers, we gathered at the back of the pack, where people who love a good race mingled with people who just really love hockey.  There were participants dressed in everything from their best race day gear to cargo pants and a Blue Jackets jersey.  It’s definitely a mixed bunch—which also means that it’s a great race for first-timers.

After the singing of the national anthem by the CBJ’s Leo Welsh, it was finally time for the race to begin—at least for the fastest runners.  The rest of us gradually made our way up to the starting line.  Admittedly, the start of the race was pretty crowded, with packs of walkers filling the streets.  But once we were able to separate ourselves from the rest of the pack a bit, the course made for an enjoyable Sunday morning walk through downtown Columbus.  I did the race with two friends, and as we chatted and wove in and out of traffic, those three easy miles flew by—and before we knew it, we were approaching the finish.

Racers reenter the arena through the parking garage, making their way through a big, open area before entering the brightly-lit arena floor and turning toward the finish line at center ice.  The music is pumping, and the jumbotron shows video footage of arriving racers as they make their way to the finish.  Then there’s plenty of space for those finish line selfies before heading up the stairs, back to the main concourse.

The After Party

Once up the stairs, racers are handed their medals and directed through the concourse, where they can grab bananas and water or Gatorade.  This year, they could also continue on into a line for a free slice of Jet’s pizza (which is always welcome after a race).  And racers were happy to hang around, enjoying the party atmosphere and that post-race energy while taking more selfies around the arena.

Should You Try It?

If you’re looking for a fun race and you happen to love hockey, too, the 5th Line 5k is a great choice.  The atmosphere is energetic, the swag is spectacular, and, with such a varied crowd, it makes a good race for first-timers who just want to see what races are all about.  Of course, race conditions might be a little more pleasant if it weren’t held in the middle of February in Ohio—but as long as you’re prepared to add some extra layers if winter weather hits, it’s a race that’s worth a shot.

Check out my race weekend experience!

– 10 am start time allows for sleeping in and still racing
– Swag is more than worth the cost of registration
– Great crowd energy
– Racers of all abilities and paces are welcome
– Fun Blue Jackets theme, finishing at center ice
– Racers and spectators are allowed inside the Arena before and after the race—so no one has to wait outside in winter weather

– February weather in Central Ohio is unpredictable

Want to find out more about this race? Visit The5thLine5k.com.


Kristin has been hitting the trail (or the treadmill) for a walk almost every day for the past several years, and she recently completed her first half marathon. She loves sunny fall days, cushy walking shoes, and coconut caramel iced coffee from Dunkin.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *