This race was the worst I've ever run, after many years of running and loads of races in every distance from mile to marathon under my belt. I ran it last year and hoped for improvement this year, but I will NOT run it ever again. Poor organization, a poorly planned course, and conflicting reports on race start times were just a few of the problems. If you consider running this race in 2013, go ahead and run . . . AWAY! Here's more detail, but first let me say that they DID correct the parking / traffic, prompt race start, and race length problems they struggled with last year. There were TONS of runners in this race, it was a huge undertaking, and as such the organizers actually did a number of things well - nice medal, nice premium, nice after-party setup, lots of volunteers handing out space-capes and water and medals at the end. I think a lot of people probably really enjoyed this race. However, I was running for time and for place, and the problems of this race took me "out of the running" (literally, in one case!) for both. Anyone who spends $90 to join a race deserves better.
1. The course was poorly marked and volunteers along several course points either didn't know or didn't tell runners which way to go. The lead runners (I estimate a hundred or so), me among them, took a wrong turn in the first mile which wasn't corrected until word telegraphed up from behind, through the runners, that we needed to turn around -- this added at least a quarter mile to my race (1.5 minutes) and all before we even reached the first mile marker. Where was the escort? Where were good directions, cones, or street markings? My wife, who came along to cheer me on, saw at least two other instances of runners botching the course due to lack of good direction. Can't fault the volunteers for this - the one she talked to said he was directed to go to "the corner of Taylor" - Taylor and WHAT STREET? His directors didn't seem to know. The course itself was so convoluted it's a wonder ANYone could keep it straight.
2. Speaking of mile markers, at least two were misplaced, the first mile marker being one! Probably 1/4 mile ahead of where it was supposed to be.
3. Water stations were plentiful but seemed under staffed so I wonder if thirsty runners were left to fend for themselves when the pack got dense.
4. Course deviated from the published course in a couple spots. No biggy but given the number of ins and outs of the course already and the lack of direction, further deviation was nerve-wracking.
5. Runners had to cross paths with oncoming runners in 2 locations - not bad when you're spread out but I can't imagine what it must have been like when the pack got thicker, and even when it's thin - you don't need those distractions when running a half.
6. Two hairpin U-turns (like spin around a cone) in the course, not counting the unplanned one so many of us had to make when we were misdirected in the first mile. These are taxing, both physically and mentally, not to mention dangerous. I saw one runner slip and fall at the mile 11 hairpin. He was okay, fortunately, but it's an unnecessary risk in a race this size.
7. There were two short out-and-back course diversions in the last two and a half miles of the race. This was obviously done to come up with the extra distance needed to get the finish to work out at 13.1 - but again, these are thoughtless 11th-hour-type fixes that are ridiculous for a race of this scale. Having to leave the primary course direction for little out-and-backs like that, in the last few miles of an exhausting race, is very dispiriting. Use some of my $90 fee to think through a better course!
8. They didn't have my size premium, despite the pre-order. And I wasn't the only one turned away, and it wasn't like I got there late - there were loads of all other sizes. They just couldn't find the boxes.
9. Conflicting reports on race start. The website says 7:10. The email they sent out a couple days ahead of race day, which not everyone got, says 7:00.
This race was not well organized and not well executed. The problems I experienced and witnessed were dispiriting and had a serious impact on my time, place, but mostly my experience. I am a 6:40 mile pace half marathoner, and I run these races to RACE, but I also like to have a good time at them and enjoy the spirit and camaraderie with my fellow runners. The problems of this race negatively impacted all of that.
Better luck next year maybe? Not for me - I'll find a different race, thank you. Given the problems they had the first two years, I just see no sign that they're learning and will have it panned out for next year. My money is worth more than that.
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