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This is the second time I have run the KC Marathon Half Marathon, I also ran in 2015. This time around I ran it slower, but still had a good time. This race features a new course (since 2015), and it was not nearly as challenging as the old one, but is still a very challenging course -- 750+ feet of climb.
Let's go through the whole weekend --
The expo was great. Loads of vendors, tons of deals, and a free beer sample from Boulevard! But beyond that, they did something I've never seen at a race before -- let alone one this size -- no assigned bibs prior to the expo. Instead, they had you check in, and the top bib number was assigned to you at the expo.
What is lost? You don't get the personalized bib with your name. But let's be honest, how many people actually hold on to those? I have kept three in all the races I ran, my PR for the Half/Full/50k (attempt). Even then, I have almost thrown those out multiple times. You still have a bib, if you want to keep it, and all is good with the world.
What is gained? SPEED! Holy moly was it quick to get through the check-in and get my bib. I could go to any line, tell them my name, and walk away with my gear bag and bib. It literally took 90 seconds. This idea is great. I talked to multiple runners about it, and it was overwhelmingly positive. Not one person I talked to didn't like the process. This is something more races should think about implementing. It was great.
The rest of the expo was great, the other highlight was the Boulevard beer. Easy Sport Active Ale, it was delicious. I can't wait until they release it and distribute it.
The course has changed since 2015, and the race directors have cut out a lot of the biggest, baddest hills. That makes the course less challenging in terms of the elevation gain. However, don't let that make you think it's not still a challenging course. There is more than 750' of climb over the 13.1 miles. It may be a little more spread out, but you'll feel it in the end.
The course takes you through most of KC and you get to see a lot of the city. The visuals are great, and there is some spectacular architecture along the way. You'll see some great older houses, the art museum, The Plaza and downtown. It's awesome.
One of the highlights is the downhill ending. About 3/4 of a mile from the finish, you crest the last hill and see the finish. It's all sailing from there ... except remember that the hill is a legit 0.75 miles. In that 0.75 miles you drop about 250 feet and if you're not prepared for the steep finish it can break you down.
The race itself was great. There were lots of people, and lots of support from volunteers. There are aid stations every 2-3 miles that had both water and Powerade. Every other aid station also had some form of solid fuel.
I wish there would have been more support from the city. There were some people on the roads cheering us on, but it didn't compare to some other races I've done (not the fault of the organizers).
The After-Race Party:
This joint was poppin'. There was a celebration gong if you set a new PR. There was BBQ. There was beer. There was fruit. There was pop and water and chocolate milk. There was a live band that was actually very good. And there were a few thousand of you new closest friend.
By the way, the BBQ was delicious. As was the beer.
I already enjoyed this race the first time I ran it. Attempt #2 was just as positive an experience as was the first one. If you can wrap your head around the hills and keep going, this race is very well put together and KC is one of the best towns around.