Packet pick-up night before was at a nice restaurant/bar, definitely a change from past editions.
The race shirt was long-sleeved, somewhat subdued but quite nice-looking; one I more likely to wear when the weather permits.
The race started pretty much on time; perhaps two minutes later than advertised...not a major issue with me, save for standing in the shade (chill).
The courses, while fairly accurate, are not certified, which can be a disappointment for runners looking for an early season PR or trying to qualify for some of the bigger road races which require a qualifying time for seeding purposes. Mile splits were clearly marked, and race volunteers were at many if not all of the intersections and turn points on the course. There were also time clocks at the 5-kilometer (outbound) and mid-point on the HM course. Aid stations were well manned; some stations had water and sports drink; some had water only.
The finish area was well-covered, with music, light snacks and water. Timing and scoring was fairly quick and posted at the post-race venue. The finish medals were attractive, and the awards looked to be of decent quality.
The post race venue was outdoors but covered and protected from the elements (which on a day like today was not too bad), plenty of music and room to socialize. Massage/stretching was also available from a chiropractic group. My only disappointment with this event was a lack of food available for half-marathon finishers during the post race (there was no lack of beer, on the other hand). However, this event is not the only one which has suffered from this issue.
As a whole, this event is (re)shaping up to be a good beginning-of-the-year, knock-off-the-holiday-rust run for runners of all ability levels in the area. The race directors have started to think beyond previous traditions and have made incremental changes which have not alienated the traditional demographic for the run. Hopefully they will consider remedies to the few shortcomings which are brought forward.
This was only my second "official" race that I've participated in, so my suggestions are coming from a newbie. I thought this race was very well-organized, had plenty of volunteers and post-race food/drink. The course was well-marked. The only issues I had were:
1. Could not hear the announcer AT ALL. There was quite a bit of activity at the start line such as announcements, national anthem, cheerleaders, etc., but those of use in the middle to back of the crowd could not hear a thing.
2. This next issue is probably due in part to the fact that those not in the front couldn't hear, but as we were starting out, they asked the walkers to step aside and let the runners go first. It made for a slow start as runners had to dodge around walkers who were cutting across to the sides to get out of the way.
3. Staggering the start would have improved the race. I was running 5K but got stuck in a crowd of 10K runners going at a slower pace than I would have liked. They may have announced that the 5K runners should start at the front and the 10K/half-marathoners toward the back, but if they did, no one heard it. It would be helpful to have that kind of information, and any other important race information, on a sheet that is handed out at registration.
4. This is something I noticed missing at the first race I ran, and was also missing in this race, so maybe it is not typically considered in this kind of race. I think it would help cut down on the "cheat" factor to have volunteers posted at the turn-around point of an out-and-back race to give each runner a little "flag" or some other small item to signify that they actually ran to the halfway point before turning around. I didn't see it happening in this race, but in the first race I ran in, people were turning around before they got to the halfway point, and no one was the wiser except those of us who witnessed it. It would really help to eliminate that kind of problem if each person had to show some kind of tag or something at the finish line to prove that they really ran to the halfway point and back.
All in all, this was a fun race, well-organized, and I look forward to the next one!
I have done this race the last 4 years and the 2011 version is the best thus far.
Packet pickup and expo were classed up quite a bit. Grand Marlin is a great venue.
T-shirts are vastly improved. Seems to be a better quality shirt than before. Design is great and I love the color.
I agree, the start was difficult to hear the announcements. I was running from the middle-back of pack and was relying on others ahead of me to determine what was going on up front as the pre-race routine unfolded.
By all accounts the course was spot on as far as measurement. I had it at 13.14 miles. Accounting for me dodging other runners and hitting the water stops (not running the tangents) I figure the official course was 13.10 miles on the button.
Water/support stations were well-staffed and also offered words of encouragement. The Running Wild stop was probably the most-spirited.
PA system and announcements at finish were great. Easy to hear your name as you crossed the line. The finishing chute was a nice upgrade too.
Medals are good quality. I like the logoed ribbon - name of race and date. Nice touch.
Timing was perfect. Mats were well-placed. Perhaps if a mat could be added at the start line to offer runners "chip times" as there is about a 45 second delay between gun time and crossing the start line if you begin in the back of the crowd.
Not much to complain about. A well-run event that I will look forward to returning to each hear. Keep up the strong work and I bet the event grows every year.
My 1st time participating in this event.
No separate gun/chip time
Event appeared well organized. Nice touch with the National Anthem prior to the start.
Others complained of not hearing key announcements. My guess is that the PA system was set up to cover the immediate area only, not surrounding parking lot and bathroom area.
Course was flat and fairly accurate but my Garmin measured the 10K as 6.25 miles.
There was people at key points (water and turn around points) who were encouraging the runners.
This is not a big production with lots of music and bands along the course.
IRT D.D.'s Garmin v. course distance comment: I measure many of the run courses around this area for USATF certification. It's tough to get multi-distance races (unless you go straight out/back) to begin and end at the exact same location. Some courses are going to end up longer than desired in order to make all courses the advertised distance at the least. Garmin GPS units have a single point margin of error of up to 20 meters, so you can stand still, start your GPS and be considered anywhere within 68 feet of where you "really" are. Most Garmin units take a reading every two seconds (the older ones can be set for one second), so movement and turns can only confound the measurement.
IRT "volunteers cheering on": Does that include the young lady sitting curled up in the folding chair at 10th and Maldonado? She looked more worn out than I did, and I had run 12+ miles by that point.
Overall...a good event. Good show, guys.
This was a great run to kick of the 2011 running year. Fast track out and back.
Cheerleaders and National Anthem at the start was a nice addition. PA announcements were very hard to hear more than 25 yards from the announcer.
Aid stations were well manned and very supportive. Timing mats well placed and course workers at nearly every corner. Very well done.
I've ran this course last spring in the inaugural Gulf Coast 1/2 Marathon and this layout worked a bit better than last springs.
T-shirt was very nice, a bit subdued but one that I'll wear more often than most. Award ceremony was great but a bit long due to the number of events incorporated in this run.
No shortage of beer but food was scarce (free food that is) There were plenty of orange slices, bananas (some still slighty frozen) and water at the finish. But nothing more sustantial.
Overall, a very good event and one that I'd highly recommend for the fast course and excellent race support.
(IRT rsmith9999's comment - this is not the same course as the Gulf Coast Half Marathon. Gulf Coast Half is certified and the course map can be found at http://www.usatf.org/events/courses/maps/showMap.asp?courseID=FL10050EBM. The Pensacola Beach Run courses, while fairly accurate, are not USATF certified.)
The race day was awesome. Could not ask for better weather. Next year I will do the Half Marathon. I did the 5K walk. The after party I'm sure was fun, but I had to go to work at 10 a.m. Next year I'll take off . Want the P'Beach medal !
There MUST be a person at the 10K turn around point next year! There was not even a cone there... just a sign sitting on the side of the rode saying turn around point. I did my U turn there and then saw everyone else turning around WAY before that turn around point. People were even turning around at the 3 mile sign!! NO FAIR! I did the half marathon last year and saw the same thing happening at that turn around point. Why do people in Pensacola cheat like that?
The beer flowed nicely at the awards party afterwards... exhausted runners had to be really careful crossing the street to get to the party. The awards ceremony was WAY too long. Start the 5 K and walking awards when those races are over. and consider having it all in the same parking lot as the race start/finish. More people would attend.
I ran the 10k and overall it was a pretty good race. The weather was really nice, about 50* and sunny. The course was flat and well marked. There were water stations at good intervals and plenty of volunteers. I really like the tshirt and it's definitely something I'll wear. The only problem I had with this race was that they only awarded finishers medals for the half marathon. All racers paid the same amount, regardless of distance, and I've always gotten medals for 10k's! So that was a big disappointment crossing the finish line and only being handed a bottle of water. I didn't stay for the after party, but the race was alright.
My first half-marathon. The race was about me finishing, not bands, beer, PA systems or cheats. To that end I am completely satisfied. I think the organizers ran a smooth event and the volunteers were very friendly and supportive. To those commenting people were turning around early - maybe my memory is going but I recall crossing electronic chip readers at the 10k and halfway points on the half-marathon. So not sure how you could cheat on those. Did not stay for afterparty I was looking forward to a carb buffet. Thank you PRA - I'll see you next year!
PS- watch RunKeeper.com someone is plugging in all your races. grin
PPS- the links for the 2 runs after the Bay to Breakfast on your website are not letting me register / get more info. ?
This was my second 10k. I enjoyed the race overall. The weather the was great and there was great encouragement from both spectators and runners. I will agree that the 10k turn-around could have been more clear. I think I went a little bit further then I was supposed to before I turned around and that this added maybe 30 seconds to my time. However, I still shaved 28 seconds off of my previous 10k time. Special thanks to the woman who finished right next to me and kept me on pace in the last mile by encouraging me on!