This was one of those races that I have wanted to do for a while, even before I was racing. I love both of the sponsors for this race; The Old Spaghetti Factory and Widmer Brothers Brewing Company. I am also a fan of the company that puts on this race and others, The Hood to Coast Race Series. (This might be a bit of a “in their defense” write-up)
In the past this race has been ran by another company and the only distance you could run was 10k. The 10k course was a point to point course, meaning to start at a different location than you end. So you need to ride a shuttle bus to the starting point, and you run to the finish line. People liked the course because it was mostly downhill. I never ran it in the past, so I can say for sure how completely downhill it was, but I heard it was a downhill course.
This year the new directors of the race (this is not their first year running it by the way) decided to add a half marathon option, which I was thrilled about. They also changed the course of the 10k, which added some uphill climb to the route. Now, I don’t know if you have ever planned a race before, but you don’t get to just go out and put some cones down and tell the city the roads will be closed for runners. I don’t know why the changed the course, but I am guessing it had to do with permits and matching the 10k course up with the half marathon course. The city gets mad enough as it is when the roads are closed for runners, but to close of two different courses would have been a logistical nightmare.
So runners were mad. But get over it. Courses change. Enjoy the change, see new parts of the city, challenge yourself. Check the map of the course before you sign up for the race. You don’t have to do it. I mean look at the elevation I had to run for the half marathon, a steep hill at the end, not fun, but at least I get to finish coming downhill.
HTCRS set a time for the 10k to start after the half marathon, it was on the website, everyone knew about it. Then the city decided the roads needed to be cleared before the time originally set. So HTCRS had to move the start time up by 30 min. They sent out an email, and during packet pick-up (where you pick up your racing bib and shirt) each person was told about the change. I know, I was there telling people. They had two packet pick ups during the week, in two locations and also the morning of race day.
I volunteer at packet pick up for races. Races couldn’t happen without volunteers, so I like to do my part and give back. I really enjoy packet pick up because I get to see the diverse people who run races and chat with them (when there is time). It’s fun, people are excited for the events. At this packet pick up we informed each 10k racer about the time change. There was some confusion because they changed the website, but the time was on there in a few locations, and I guess one spot was missed, an understandable mistake. But when the city changes plans on you, you must adapt.
I don’t know how many people who ran this race came from out-of-town or how many people were from here. I don’t know how many people are familiar with the area or not. I just know my knowledge and my race day strategies. I know the area and I know there is limited parking, I also know on the race website they suggested parking on the other side of the river and taking the newly opened pedestrian bridge or riding the train over, both deposit you right by the event area. They did say there would be volunteers directing people where to park. I arrived early because I wanted to park, and I wanted to meet a friend who was coming from farther away and was leaving early. Both of had no problems finding the parking volunteers and were directed to park. Other racers were complaining about parking, but I feel like they should have known better, especially the ones that have done this race before; or came earlier, if they had never been there.
However, some people left early but got stuck in traffic because a major highway was closed. Which the event staff didn’t know about, which I didn’t know about and apparently the people who were stuck in traffic didn’t know about. But the people complaining about the all the issues with the race, they knew about the closure.
So this closure lead to probably the main issue everyone had at the race. There were 7 buses there to take the 10k participants from venue/finishing line party area to the start of the 10k race. They were to have been filled up taken across the river, emptied, returned to be filled again and take more runners to the start of the 10k. The issue was that the closure of the highway caused rerouting and delays and the buses couldn’t get back to get more runners in a timely fashion. This delayed everything, both races started late, and they had to do a rolling start for the rest of the 10k runners. So basically as you got off the bus, you went through the starting line and began your race. Was it ideal? No, but they were trying to make the best of a bad situation they could not control.
Someone asked a race director if she could drive to the start of the race because she didn’t have time to wait for the buses (I was there during this conversation) the race director told her of course, or if she didn’t want to do that the runner could start with half marathon runners, go 3.1 miles out, turn around and come back to the finish line. Ideal? No, but again, I feel this was a good compromise and they were trying to make the best of a bad situation.
I understand why people are upset, but at the same time, some things are out of control of the race directors hands. One person actually complained about the smells of the city, don’t get me wrong that area was bad, I almost lost it a couple of times, but that has to do with the fact that people who live on the streets are using the streets as a toilets. Not really something a race company can control. Could they have chosen a different route? Maybe, maybe not. The city has to approve of the road closures, so maybe this was the only route we could take. There is so much that goes in to planning an event like this, I just don’t think people see it. Which is why I think more people should volunteer for events, it is important to see what goes on to get a race up and going.
Now that I have talked about what other people have complained about, let’s talk about my running, which I will make quick.
I love preparing for my race the night before, getting all the gear set up and ready to go. I of course went to sleep a little later than I wanted to the night before, and 4 a.m. comes mighty early. Because this was the first year of the half marathon the first 400 people to sign up for the half also received a hat, pint glass and a bottle of bubbly.
Two of my friends ran the 10k event and I ran the half marathon. For one friend this was the farthest race she has done, which is awesome! My other friend ran her fastest 10k! Kudos to both of them. And I was super happy to have been there with them and to celebrate after.
I love the half marathon. It is my favorite race distance.
We typically try to do a long 8-10 miles on the weekend, so having a race that is a few miles longer is great. It gives me something to push for. Recently I haven’t done more than 8 miles though, since I hurt my knee. So I was a little nervous about this race.
I have been going to the treadmill at night and running to keep my pace around 11 min/mile and the all the downhill and mostly flatness of this course really helped with my time. Don’t get me wrong those steep hill at the beginning and the end were a bitch, but I was able to maintain a good pace for this race and make up time coming down.
The starting hill wasn’t too bad, because it was just out of the gate, so you were all revved up and ready to go. But the end was hard because, well it was the end and I was exhausted, and my feet were exhausted. But the downhills I made up some great time. There was a hill in the middle, but it was a gradual hill, so it wasn’t really that bad, and again, what goes up must come down.
I of course snapped some quick pictures along the way, and at one point stopped to change music. Which is when (I think) I forgot to restart my MapMyRun app, so my numbers are off. There were some streets were the odor from the homeless was so bad, but it just kind of made you run faster to get away from it. I love my city, and I love running races through it. I love running across the bridges spanning the water.
The after party for this was super fun. There was beer and pasta. It was glorious.
I am sorry so many people had such a bad experience with this race. But I also feel like you kind of get out what you put in, and you can choose your attitude. I have also seen many people who had a good time like I did.
I had a good time and I think the ladies I was with had a good time too. And, yes, I will be back again next year.
Just. Keep. Running.
Just a reminder that with my running I am raising money for St. Jude’s Hospital, click on the picture below to donate.
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Want to find out what races I’ll be doing this year? Check out my list.