- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
See more of our race!
I flew in for this race and stayed at a hotel listed on the Race's webpage (Best Western). I got a really great rate booking directly through the Madison Chamber of Commerce at a hotel that was less than 100 yards from the start and finish. I really liked that this was so easy for me. Plus, the airport is only about 10 minutes from downtown and the hotel ran a free shuttle. Once I checked in I headed to the Expo, which was only about 1/4 mile walk from the hotel.
The Expo itself was tiny, but this doesn't bother me since I've been to way too many expos. This did, however, have everything that an expo needs to have. Packet pickup was a breeze and getting my shirt was also super easy. The expo did have a few vendors to pick up any last minute supplies, or things you might have forgotten (GUs, Body Glide, etc.) but not really too much else. The shirt itself was a very good quality long-sleeve technical shirt. The graphic was the race course, so it's not exceedingly good looking. And there are quite a few ads on the back. My shirt fit me okay, but I know that they did allow you to swap shirts if the size was wrong.
After the expo I took a short walk around the State Capital, where there was a really nice Farmers Market going on. This gave me the opportunity to buy some goodies for race morning!
Since I was staying very close to the start line, getting there wasn't an issue. The only problem was convincing myself that I didn't need to leave really early like I do for other races. But I did get outside with plenty of time to leave some clothes in a bag for after the race, and to get into the starting corral.
This was a very manageable sized race. So getting lined up where I wanted wasn't a problem at all. In fact, I was able to very easily move around within the starting area. It never felt too crowded.
The race started right around on time, and we were underway. There were a few 90 degree turns right near the start, but these weren't too bad, because they happened right away. And after those couple of turns the road opened up nicely and there was plenty of room on the road.
The course was not super difficult, but it seemed like there weren't any parts that were actually flat. The course rolled the entire way! There were quite a few real hills though. Running though the College around mile 8-9 had some serious hills! They seemed to be the worst, and thankfully they were fairly early. There were some other significant hills around mile 17 and then the last 1/2 mile or so is uphill. But I do think that it's possible to run very fast on this course.
The one thing about the course I was a little disappointed with was the scenery. Looking at the course map, I figured that we would be running along the banks of lakes for much of the race. That wasn't the case at all. In fact, it was rare that you could even see the lakes. It wasn't an ugly course, just not what I was expecting.
Along the way were many well stocked aid stations. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there were more than were advertised. The stations weren't too big, but they had plenty of very enthusiastic workers that really were fun!
I did have a couple problems with the waterstops though. 1. Many of the stops used plastic cups. That's just not as nice a paper. 2. The stops weren't consistent. Some had water first, and some had energy drinks first. 3. The water and energy drinks were in the same cups. I really prefer when you can visibly see what you're getting. Volunteers were shouting out what they had, but they were on top of each other and it got confusing a couple times. 4. There wasn't a lot at the stations. I think two had GUs and one had fruit. But that's all I remember seeing.
That being said, the aid stations were still great! There were quite a few that were theme based, which I always like! One station all had Hawaiian shirts on, one was dressed up like the 60's etc.
The finish area itself was nicely laid out. Mylar blankets, then medals, then photos, then water, etc. There was a lot of very good free food available after the race: sandwiches, potato ships, cookies, chocolate milk. Ummm. There was also free Micholob beer for runners, but that's usually the last thing I want after a race! And they had about 20 tables with plenty of chairs set up to eat, which was really nice. I sat around for about 45 minutes, just talking to people and trying to relax a bit, before walking back to my hotel.
This was a very nice, low-key race. Not a lot of perks, but I don't always want that. I think it would really be a nice destination race, or a nice local race. It sort of felt like both to me. But they did offer one perk that I really like -- free race day photos! I saw at least 10 photographers along the course, and I was able to legally, download high-res pictures from the race. (There is also an option to purchase prints)
Overall, I had a great time!