- 13.1/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
Thumb hot chocolate 15k
+Efficient expo experience
+Unique post-race fuel, Jim 'N Nick's BBQ
+Access to indoor facilities post-race
-Parking was a bit confusing, especially for the expo
-Access to the porta-pots was challenging due to placement
With the race on Sunday and living only a few hours away, I drove down on Saturday afternoon and caught the end of the expo. This was my first time in Birmingham and with some of the roads already closed for the race, identifying where to park for the expo was a bit confusing. We were able to get a free spot in a lot behind the Museum of Art. Getting in later, I was there just to grab my packet and go. Packet pick-up was set up at the back of the auditorium on the stage; I was in and out with no problem.
After the struggle with parking for the expo I spent a bit of time the night before the race trying to identify parking options on race day. The course leaves downtown on one street and re-enters on the next street over, throw in a loop I was very nervous parking in many of the listed parking garages for fear we would be stuck. I found a garage about a half-mile from the start/finish. It showed a weekend rate of $2, but the gate was open when we exited, so no payment was required. Walking to the start there were a number of other runners in the area parked either on the street or in open-air lots. I think for those more familiar with the area parking would be much less of an issue than it was for me.
The start line was in front of the Boutwell Auditorium. There were porta-pots along each side of the start corrals near the back of the corrals. The placement was interesting as there wasn’t much room to create lines. A single line started on each end meeting in the middle of the line of facilities. I jumped in line pretty early so I didn’t have a long wait but as I was stretching outside the corrals the line definitely started to grow.
The race started shortly at 7:00am with the wheel-chair participants starting shortly before. While I was moving up in the corrals for the start line, we were surprised with quite the disturbance, as one of the wheeled participants had already looped around back to where the course doubled over where the start corrals were. The separated the crowd and corral gates to allow the participant through. Assuming the courses were the same, they took him on a bit of a detour as we ran right back up through where we had lined up.
The course itself was okay. Areas around the hydration stops consistently had a lot of energy but the rest of the course was pretty quiet. We ran through a number of neighborhoods with a good number of small hills to climb. My favorite part of the course (outside the finish) was running past the baseball stadium. I’m a sports nut so running near stadiums is always cool for me. The finish line was in the same area as the start. In the finisher area they offered the typical post race fuel as well as a handy accordion reusable grocery bag.
In addition to the traditional fuel, inside Boutwell Auditorium Jim ‘n Nicks was set up providing a free sandwich, chips, and fruit cups to runners. Food was also available for sale to spectators. Beer and other beverages were also available inside the auditorium. Having the auditorium open also gave me a dry, covered place to change out of my sweaty running gear.
The swag for the race was comparable to other races. In addition to the accordion bag I mentioned before, we also received a pair of gloves from the local running store in our pre-race bag. The medal and shirt remind me of fall. The shirt is not the normal tech-tee, rather a cotton blend.