- 3 miles/5K, 13.1/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, 50K
- Road Race
I signed up for the 2016 Forrest Gump Challenge as part of my training for a longer race at the end of the month.
The registration was handled through Active.com. The cost was $60 for the half, plus $5.30 online processing fee, which I consider relatively affordable for having registered only a week before the race. I did have some confusion in registration that caused me to register twice. I realized my mistake when I got two confirmation emails for the same event. When I contacted Active.com by phone, they took care of the duplication quite easily and refunded my credit card immediately.
Parking was limited, but you could pay an extra $5 for VIP parking near the start/finish line. My wife dropped me off so no need to park.
This was a small race with no expo, so packet pick-up was prior to the race at the church that served as the start and finish location. Packet pick-up was quick and easy. I received a nice tech shirt with the run logo on it. I would really like the shirt except I'm really not a big fan of white, so I probably won't wear it. The packet also included some advertising of another local race, safety pins, a microchip and twist ties to attach to your shoe.
All races started in front of the church at the same time, but with two different start lines. The first start line was for the 5K and 50K (10 loops) and a second start line just a bit farther down the road for the Half (4 loops) and Full Marathons (8 loops). The races all began with an air horn promptly at 7:30.
The course started with about .2 miles going gradually up hill and then turned onto Hwy 413 toward downtown Reeds Spring. It continued on a nice gradual downhill for about 1.5 miles where there was a right hand turn followed by the first hydration stop. My strategy for the day was to alternate water and gatorade at each stop. After the first hydration stop was a hard right to a .3 mile stretch uphill. It seemed like about a 30% grade, but was more than likely less than 20%. Anyway it was steep, and the vast majority of participants walked this section, including me. At the top of the hill, the road continued on with a gradual uphill for about .75 miles to complete the loop. The second aid station was located in front of the church near the finish line. This station was stocked with water, gatorade, cookies, trail mix, pickles and other snacks. After you finished all of your loops, the finish line was located to the left up a small embankment, just past this aid station.
I have a few small small suggestions regarding their aid stations. The first aid station utilized styrofoam cups which are difficult to drink from on the run. Paper cups are easier as they can be pinched to control the flow of water as you run. It also helps if you use different colored cups for water and gatorade, but not always feasible. The second aid station was located quite a bit off of the road. This may have been in order to create a better straight shot to the finish line, but it meant that you had to exit the course to get water. They also failed to mix their gatorade fully, so on my first lap I drank from a rather full cup an thought it was just mixed too thin, only to find all of the powder still in the bottom of my cup. On the rest of my loops, I poured some out and swished it around before drinking.
These are all minor issues, and really didn't have any baring on my enjoyment of the race. The temperature was quite pleasant and humidity relatively low for the beginning of September. I finished my four loops with a 4+ minute PR for the half distance! I received a nice finisher's medal at the finish line. If you are looking for a smaller, but challenging road race, I would greatly recommend it!