- 13.1/Half Marathon
- Road Race
A few weeks ago, I got myself out of bed, dropped my son off at hockey and then made my way to the starting line of the Newburyport Half Marathon. This would be my fourth Newburyport race having completed the half that is run in May, the High Street mile with my daughter in August and the Yankee Homecoming 10 miler which is a week before that race. With the running of this race, I will have completed a race in each season, ex winter in Newburyport. Further, as a result of this run, once could say I know the roads of Newburyport too well!
Before proceeding into the full review, the following is a must for me when I run a race.
The race must have scenery! Enough said.
The race must have a feeling of a race and "camaraderie" and people along the route cheering (so it feels like a race)
The course needs to have some challenge to it.
The race must be well organized and have the ability to answer questions of all sorts, whether via a good FAQ page or just answering email.
Swag is not as necessary but it must have a good finish line, well setup for my post run beverage and a decent finishers medal. If they gave out things other than tshirts, like bags or jackets, that would be cool!
With that part out of the way, what was this race about? Well, in short, it featured a flat terrain for the most part (a few small hills here and there), plenty of foliage and views (those were virtually everywhere) and a relatively quiet course (not many cars on the route). The number of runners made it the second biggest one I have take part in - 2500 - but one only really felt that number of runners at the starting line as my picture shows below. Once the race thinned out in the first mile, it was really never crowded. The finish line was somewhat disorganized but that was a small problem. Overall, it was a good race.
What were The "Pros" of this race?
Scenery! This is a clear number one reason to run. This race. Plenty to see throughout the course and the foliage is just outstanding.
Terrain flat! If you are not looking for rolling hills and want a flat course, this one is for you!
Plenty of aid stations. This one was a good and bad for me. There were plenty of them and lots of space to get water but as you will read below, there was a few stretches where there was nothing for 3 miles. That kind of bothered me.
Lots of Fan support! The spectators were all over this course. They helped getting my second wind to finish! At the same time, if you saw the look on my face at the finish line...well that did it speak to a "second wind."
Organized ahead of time! There was some great communication efforts going on with this race ahead of time. Everything was communicated well, in a timely fashion and answered some questions I had allowing me to be ready on race day!
With the "pros" out of the way, let's look at the "cons" of this race.
Scenery vs Challenge: So the scenery was great but the challenge was only there because I did not train well or just was not in great shape for the race - the challenge was not from the course which was basically flat. Which one wins out? Well depends on my moods for a given day!
Finish line fun but... So running to the finish line was cool as the last 300 yards was lined on both side by many people. Once crossing though, I had no idea where the finishers tent was and getting food was a problem - the line was both runners and non runners. I was not about to sit in a long line to eat pizza. Thankfully the Yasso ice cream bars were there (I seem to be the only one who likes them it seems) and water was being poured out via cup. Not exactly great. I will give the organizers a pass based on the weather of the previous few days - it prevented them from setting up the tent and that has them working on the fly...
Aid stations were unpredictable. Most races I run, the aid stations are at or near the mile markers. That was not the case with this race. And in one instance, there was no aid station for about three miles. Admittedly, I should have drank more water ahead of time so perhaps this is my fault more than anything but this still should have been more uniform.
So in summary, this was not a bad race regardless of what shows up in the Cons section. However, given the popularity of this half marathon, I would have not expected to run into the problems I mention above. Would this prevent me from running again? No but I think I am all "Newburyported" out and need other races to focus on (ultras are coming!)
Well, that is about it. Thank you for reading.