A scenic run through the rolling countryside. Roads are all very rural with little traffic. I'd definitely run the route again, but more for a recreational run and not as a race. The route appears to be longer than the organizers claim as my Garmin places it at 13.42 miles, and another person had it at 13.5 miles. A look at the on-line map shows that the route was mapped using different start/finish locations than the actual start/finish positions used for the race. No timing chips, so if you want an accurate record of your time you certainly want your own timing device. The route was not incredibly well marked along the dirt roads that lead past and through the bridges, but it is pretty easy to know where it is that you are supposed to go. I can imagine someone taking a wrong turn if they are not familiar with the area. The website says the route is generally flat, which is roughly true. But there are a number of rolling hills giving a total climb of around 600 ft, so don't expect a completely flat run. Overall, this is a really nice country run and if I am ever in the area at this time of year I'd run it again.
I reedited this review in Nov 2011. After running 40 Half Marathons in 2011, I think this run was one of the most memorable. The course was generally flat, but there were two large hills between mile 1 and 2 and around mile 8, along with some other rolling hills. The scenery of the race was very nice. The crowd support was zero. The roads were not well marked and there was no traffic control, but theses are VERY rural roads with VERY little traffic. You only run through two covered bridges The Bridgeton Covered Bridge you walk through at the race end and the Neet Bridge you run alongside of. It would have been easy for the Director to run the course through the Neet Bridge but it was not marked whether or not you can. The runners stayed on the main road and ended up running around it, but the group of people that I ran with on the way back, ran through it. I liked the scenery especially between the last two covered bridges. The temps during this race were very hot out! 88 degrees and 83% humidity. The Half Marathon did not start until 9AM. In my opinion, for a summer race, it should start much earlier than this. The full marathon started at 7AM. The half could have also. Overall, It IS a special race and the problems ARE fixable. The shirt was nice, although it is white. I am not a big fan of white tech shirts. The bling was not impressive. The finisher’s award a little generic. without a date, just the name of the race, a covered bridge in the middle and 'half marathon finisher' across the bottom. The plain strap was thin, about a half inch in diameter. Hopefully future races will improve on this. I also didn't like having to ask for a medal at the end because an 'official' person was not handing them out at the finish line. This race has the potential to be a very nice race. For its recreational value, it is great. The $60 entry was pretty steep for quality of shirt/medal that you get. I give it 3.5 stars for 2011, but I expect it to get better with each year. Hopefully we will see it again in 2012. I might be back.
My running partner and I thought it was a great race. Although hot and humid, not anyone's fault, it just hasn't been hot long enough to get used to racing in it. The volunteers were great. They had a big job to just stand there waiting for all of us to pass them by, so they could hand us water and support us. We really appreciated it. It was hilly, but I expected much worse and we prepared for it. While roads weren't well marked around the loop, if you looked at the map right before you left (which I did) it was easy enough to remember where to go. I appreciated the dirt road to give my feet a break. Did I mention it was hot? I will do this race again. It was challenging, but not excruciating and the neighboring towns were awesome, our kids had a blast! The bridges were great!We had a wonderful time. We didn't stay, the kids were bored, so I have no idea if there was an awards ceremony or whatever, but between the kids and the bugs we made off to find showers and a hearty lunch. Thank you for a great event! We look forward to seeing you next year. It was a special race. P.S. We like the finishers medal. It's better than my first race where I received a lanyard, they called that a medal. So I'm very pleased indeed!
I loved the scenery and I met some fun people on the half marathon route. At check-in Saturday the woman passing out the bibs and tshirts didn't even ask for i.d. nor did she mark off my name on any sheet of paper. There was no map available to look at when I asked her if she had one that I could look at. It might be good to post a map at the sign-in table. I was disappointed to find there was no chip timing. Race day was warmer than I was use to training in. The concensus among us was that the race should have started earlier. Why not start with the full marathoners at 7 a.m.? On a couple occassions we looked at each other for consensus on where to turn. The first bridge we came to wasn't marked as a bridge to run through so we stayed on the road. That meant we ended up running only through 2 bridges. The Bridgeton Bridge wasn't a run-through but it was at the end of the finish line so we did walk through it. No emergency vehicles or first aid stations present. Maybe they were on the full marathon route.? I saw a couple runners who may have been at the point of heat exhaustion. I offered one of them some of my water. And at mile 8 a guy gave me some of his. Where was the water stop for mile 7.5? And I heard a volunteer ask a woman if she shouldn't stop running, but she kept going. We actually went back to the hotel to shower and then out to eat and back to the course only to find a runner still on the course, about 2 miles north of Bridgeton. No aid vehicle was around to follow him. I think an emergency vehicle should have followed behind the half and full marathon runners, just to watch for anyone who may have needed aid...especially on such a warm morning...and hilly course. The bottles of water were a lifesaver but I really hate carrying anything when I'm running. I'd much rather have a water stop at every mile. Especially in heat like that. I applaud the volunteers who stood out in that heat and gave of their time. A big THANK YOU to those folks. I read a review where someone complained about the medal. I can't complain a bit - at least we received a medal! After one of the halfs I ran last fall we got a placard for a medal. What I did find disappointing about the Parke County Half marathon medal was having it handed to me (STILL IN THE PLASTIC BAG!) at the finish line. How about having someone place it around your neck? The only way I'd run this race again is if it's started at 7 a.m. I give this inaugural race three stars. It'll improve each year...but please consider starting at 7 a.m. next year!
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