The Good, not so good, and improvements for next year
Ran the Conquer the Bridge Half Marathon on Monday, September 2, 2013. This was not my first time to participate in this event. Ran the inaugural 5.3 miler in 2010. That year, they ran out of water at the turn around point and finish line. Told myself, never again. When I received an email about the addition of a half marathon, I figured, by now they will have worked out all the kinks and will have a smooth running race. Think again.
* It is fun to run, jog or walk over the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Even if you are scared of heights, it is a great experience. And the views are amazing.
* Loved the early start (6:30am) for the half marathoners. It was nice we were separated from the 5.3 mile run.
* The sound system at the start was great. You could hear clearly and the music was upbeat.
* The course was well marked and traffic control was great.
* The medal was well designed and unique.
* Nice size mile markers.
* Lots of volunteers at the water stops.
The Not so Good
Where to begin? The race fee for the half marathon was $100. For that price, a runner expects something. Water, Gatorade, post race snacks, tech shirt, heavy medal. What we got was water, well designed (but light weight medal), cotton tshirt with the same design that has been used for the last 3 years. In comparison, you can pay $150 for a Disney race, get fireworks, heavy well designed medal, tech shirt, water, Gatorade and an amazing post race snack. If the race director is looking for a small town race, then keep the race fee around the $50-70 range. More folks would be willing to sign up if the fee was reasonable in price.
More port-a-potties at the start and on the race course. I saw 3 on Navy Way around mile 6.
The first true water stop for the half marathon participants was around mile 5. There was a water stop at the bottom of the bridge but it was inaccessible to runners. The water stop was set up on the opposite side of the road. And due to the 4 foot high cement road divider, runners could not access that water stop. If the race had placed the water stop next to the cement divider, volunteers could have at least handed water over the cement divider. Once again, poor planning.
Areas of improvement
1. Do not block off the entrance to Ports O’Call, which provides enough free parking for all participants, volunteers, family, etc. Unless you live locally, you would never realize you could drive to 22nd street, and circle back around to Ports O’Call. And it is possible they opened this up after the half marathon runners ran by. Who knows? Either way, poor planning.
2. Advise runners, volunteers and traffic control folks if the meters would or would not be enforced that day. I asked two police officers and their response was “we don’t know”.
3. Allow runners to pick up their race packets the day of. Per the website, it said “There will be no race day packet pick up”. At the race start, they were offering race packet pick up. This was probably due to the low participation they received.
4. Have more water stops for the half marathon and provide Gatorade. It was a warm day, and folks needed to have their electrolytes replaced.
5. Offer post race snacks. Orange slices, bananas, bagels, etc. If you do not want to offer it for the participants of the 5.3 run, the set aside a separate tent for the half marathons.
6. If they want to continue to offer a half marathon distance, adjust the time limit so walkers are welcome. This will may help improve participation.
7. While the medal was nice, the ribbon around it was plain. To save on money, redesign the medal and eliminate the date and add a creative/colorful ribbon that has “Finisher and Date” on it. They could always add the year as a separate piece and attach it to the bottom of the medal.
Overall, would I run this race again? I doubt it. Especially if the registration fee stays at $100+. Would I participate in the 5.3 miler, perhaps. It just depends on the cost.