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RAM has no business being in the race business after this debacle. Transportation logistics could not have been worse. It took me 90 minutes to get there despite the fact that it normally only takes 15 - 20 minutes during weekday RUSH HOUR! Apparently, the race director lied and said there was a bad accident. Um. No. There wasn't. I am thankful that I didn't get there earlier because the people who did had to wait for over an hour in very cold weather. The course itself was too narrow and generally, just a bad course -- 5 miles on the highway right next to trucks (that were only going a few miles per hour) breathing in the fumes. I wasn't going to complain, but then when I saw that RAM racing was deleting negative posts from their Web site, it was time to say something. I will not be doing a RAM race in the future and will encourage others not to as well. They need to get out the business.
I second everyone else and wanted to share some info on the "lovely" course they chose.
The 15K spent 5 miles (you run 2.5 then turn around) on a 6-lane highway: and FOUR of those lanes were for cars....and when I say cars I mean mack-trucks! For an ENTIRE 5 miles, you could smell nothing but exhaust and I constantly had to pick pick pieces of sand out of my irritated eyes (imagine our lungs). Now let's say, the race directors did not anticipate the exhaust, they still chose 5 miles of ugly highway "scenery" when we're near the gorgeous waterfront.
Side note: The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon at the National Harbour in Oct is the most organized and scenic race I've ever run in my LIFE (I've run over 20 half marathons and tons of other races). I ran that race their first year and it was simply amazing. NO chaos and beautiful. So the RAM directors could have used that exact path and followed their organization.
I participated in the Hot Chocolate 5K race. These are just a few of my concerns from this experience:
- There was literally no public transportation to the start. This is highly unusual for a road race in DC, which has plentiful public transportation options and notoriously bad road traffic. The resulting traffic delays leading up to the race have been well-documented by race participants and DC media.
- The race start times were unacceptably delayed, which presented real health risks in the near-freezing weather. My start time for the 5K was at 8:20am, for a race scheduled for 7:30am. After waiting at the start for over an hour in the cold, my legs and back were cramping and I was shaking uncontrollably. There was no communication from the race organizers at any time that we could hear to explain the delay or tell racers when to expect the start, so that we could know if we had time to use the toilet or go someplace to get warm for a bit. Due to the delay and lack of communication from race organizers, participants resorted to urinating in the woods adjacent to the start area.
- With respect to the 5K course, I have participated in 20 races in the DC area and elsewhere, and I have never been on such a narrow course with such dangerous footing. Immediately after the start, with thousands of 5K runners bunched together, we were directed onto a 10'-wide path that was strewn with knocked-over traffic cones, presenting a real tripping hazard. Then we were shunted through a portion of the trail that went through an unlit tunnel - people around me were tripping and stumbling into each other in the dark. Then to a crushed-shell riverside path that was literally crumbling into the water, with no guardrail. The narrowness of the path and bad footing forced us to slow to a walk and stop several times during the first mile of the race. The course then took us through the parking lot of a loading dock, past dumpsters.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
I have been running 5k/10K around the country for over thirteen years and this was the worst one I have ever participated in. I appreciated the apology email from the owner of RAM series, however I have to wonder how much research they really did if they thought it was a good idea to hold a race at a venue in the D.C. area that did not have metro access. Everyone I spoke to about the race was in disbelief that they would hold a race for over 20K people and not have metro access. National Harbor is beautiful however we never got to really see it, the big rig trucks on the 5 miles of freeway were our picturesque view. I was really looking forward to this race to kick off the holiday season but it left me with a bahumbug attitude. The one star is for hot chocolate at the end, they loaded it up with marshmellows.
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