A big improvement over last year’s inaugural event! This year the race organizers moved the start line to the Westfield North County shopping center and provided shuttles for spectators and athletes to get back after finishing the race. Great organization at the start line area. They had many volunteers directing traffic in the parking lot. There were plenty of porta-potties and gear check was quick and easy.
The course was also different this year. Instead of starting at the park and looping around they made it a point-to-point course starting at the mall and ending inside the park. There were plenty of support/aid stations along the way and great volunteers with positive attitudes. However, anyone who ran this race will tell you that mile six was brutal! It was steep and long on a loose dirt path! One thing I would have recommended was for them to have put a water/aid station at the very top of the hill at mile 7. The course had another large hill at mile 11 but you were rewarded with a long downhill at mile 12 all the way to the finish line. Along the course you saw some elephants and a camel. They also had some motivational posters set up along the tougher part of the course. My favorite was the sign at the bottom of mile six that said “What hill?”
Post-race was also very organized. Last year’s post-race area was packed with spectators and racers trying to manuever their way through the crowds. This year they did a better job of keeping the finish line chute open to runners so they could get their medals and their refreshments. They had lots of refreshments and snacks and I appreciated that. Picking up your gear at gear check was quick and painless. To exit the park, you made your way towards the front entrance and got in line for the shuttles to take you back to your car. Very organized and little wait time for a shuttle.
Overall, this is a big improvement for the Safari Park Half. They did a wonderful job correcting the mistakes from last year and making this an event to be proud of.