Sunday, February 3, 2013

Groundhog Day Half Marathon Recap, Part 1: Just the Facts

I'm breaking this post into two.  This first one is just the details of the race in general.  The next one I'll talk about my experience and thoughts (my usual race recap brain dump on to the page).  I felt like it would be too long to do both in one post.  And I'm really glad I did the Groundhog Eve post Friday night too.  Otherwise it would be realllllly long.  :)  Also, in case you missed it yesterday, all of my photos from the race are available here.

Quick Facts: 

Results: 2:15:41.  81/235 total participants.  18/119 females.  3/10 in division (F 25-29).
Age group award!
Cost: $70 early, $80 after Jan 1st

Weather:  According to the wunderground.com history data for yesterday, it was about 18 degrees throughout the race, and there were 8 inches of snow on the ground.  Wind speed 0 to 10 mph.  I have no idea what the "feels like" or "windchill" temperature was.
Photo by Rudy Malmquist
Course:  It was a 4.4 mile loop, repeated 3 times for the half marathon, 6 times for the full marathon.  There was a small area near the turnaround/start/finish where you ran "into" opposing foot traffic, the rest was one way.  The route was in a park, on a paved path, so there were no cars to worry about, or roots/rocks/sticks under the snow.  Map and Elevation  There was no plowing done, except a small section near the start/finish.  The saving grace was that it was flat.  Hills on snow with reduced traction sucks!  Oh, and it was really pretty.
Photo by Rudy Malmquist
Volunteers: 3 aid stations, all well-staffed and stocked (2 on the course and 1 at the start/finish area, which was the part of the course where you turned around).  I have no idea how they got so many great volunteers in this weather!  Since the course was a 4.4 mile loop, that equates to 8 aid stations for the half marathon (plus start and finish), and 17 aid stations for the full marathon (plus start and finish), or an aid station about every 1.5 miles.  Gatorade and water at all of the stations, the one at the turnaround also had pretzels and pickle juice.
Cold and cheerful volunteers!  Thank you!!  Photo from the Groundhog Marathon facebook page
Photos:  All the photos online the SAME day as the race??  Without having to pay for them??  Unheard of.  Amazing.  THANK YOU Rudy Malmquist and Groundhog Marathon.

Packet Pickup:  They had pickup options Thursday, Friday, and race morning Saturday.  Doesn't get any more flexible than that.  Great for locals and out of towners.  The Friday packet pickup was in the big tent that was also the race-day headquarters.  They had heaters in there so it wasn't freezing!

Schwag: A Buff Merrell Tubular and Aquaphor?  Yes, please!  Talk about functional race goodies!  Jeff used his "Tubular" during the race, I already had a Buff, otherwise I would have used the one they gave us too.  I just bought my Buff like a week ago because I lost my old one.  I wish I would have waited!  We had packed vaseline for our pre-race prep, but I carried the little Aquaphor with me and used it on my nose and lips a few times during the race.  We also got a HOODIE instead of a race tee.  Everybody loves a hoodie.  Oh and the medal was sweet.  I also got a pint glass for my age group award.  Usually I don't really like getting pint classes, but this one was metal, so I like it.  I tend to break the glass ones, and they just blend in in my cabinet with all the other glasses anyway.  This one was like a trophy, because it was silver.  :P  They gave out beanies if we would have done one of the Friday night races too.

Parking: There were some spaces on site, and then the rest about a 1/2 mile away.  They offered a shuttle (trolley!) from the further lot to the race start.  We got there early so we could get an on site spot.  I'm not sure if they offered a return trolley after the race.

Pre-race: The warming tent was pretty packed! I took some video but my video camera on my phone doesn't always work, and this video was one of the no-go's.  They had the movie "Groundhog Day" playing in the tent!

The start line was funny.  The organizer was trying to the fast people to go first, and then implement some kind of wave start to combat the tightness of the path.  Aside from the first group of competitive runners that took off in the first wave, it didn't really work.  For one thing, people had dawdled for too long in the tent and were still making their way out to the start line.  Then the announcer clarified, "when I say sub 7 pace, I mean your normal pace!  Not your pace today!  Who knows what that is...".  Haha!  Eventually he gave up and said: "Everybody just go whenever!".  Nobody was in that much of a rush.  It was chip timed, and I think we were all thinking what I was thinking, which was that the further back I start, the more packed the snow will be!



Post-race: I didn't really scope out the post-race too much.  They had free beer, and chili, and Rockstar energy drinks (I think they were a sponsor).  There were cookies and pretzels and things too.  I saw some metal drink dispensers and styrofoam cups, so they probably had coffee or hot cocoa or something in there if I had to guess.  I had a lemon cookie.  I was freezing from waiting 20 minutes outside for Jeff to finish in my wet clothes, and we had to get back to the hotel to shower, pack, and check out before noon, so I just ran in to see if I won anything (I did!), grabbed my award, and then we left.

All in all, it was a great race, and I would definitely do it again.  The same organizers put on the Grand Rapids Marathon in the fall, which I've also heard good things about, so we will probably head out for that in October.  The race organizers were very transparent and up front on their website and on their facebook page in terms of what to expect for weather and for (lack of) snow maintenance, so anybody who showed up knew what they were getting (an adventure!).  There is very little I would change at this race.  I would have liked some signs toward packet pickup, because we initially missed the turn, and then weren't sure if it was in the tent or in the park headquarters building across the drive.  Then when we decided it was the tent, we weren't sure where the tent entrance was! Perhaps we're just directionally challenged.  The size of the race was perfect.  It was capped at 500 runners total for the half and the full.  I hope they do it again next year, and I hope they keep the size the same.  Thanks for a great time!!

Continue on to Part 2....

1 comment:

  1. You've done a great job of describing the event, it was a ball! Congratulations on your award- I hope it's the first of many for you!

    ReplyDelete

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