- 3 miles/5K, 13.1/Half Marathon
- Road Race
The Naperville Women's Half Marathon and 5k was held on Sunday, April 24 and 2016 was its inaugural year. Packet pick-up wasn't really an expo, just a stop at Naperville Running Company and down the stairs in the back, but it was quick and easy, so I gave it 5 stars. The weather was in the upper 40s at the start (though it seemed warmer), it quickly went up into the high 60s/low 70s by finish time (for me at least). I was wearing a t-shirt, arm sleeves, and shorts, but took the arm sleeves off before hitting mile 1.
Registration on Active.com and they had a fun pricing system when registration began on Tuesday, January 26 at 10am. Slots opened up at $1, then the next group $5, then it went up in $5 increments until the standard entry fee (highest for half was $100 and $35 for the 5k). I managed to score a $5 entry fee. Jackpot. Race weekend registration cost $125 for the Half Marathon and $45 for the 5K.
The race was geared towards women, but there were a few men out there.
+ Packet pickup at Naperville Running Co on Saturday from 10am–5pm. They switched their times, but sent out an email updating everyone. They also offered race day pickup from 5am–6:30am
+ Packets included a women's cut technical shirt (pink for the half, mint green for the 5k), a Naperville Women's Half Marathon string backpack, your bib, and the chip timing device (one of those plastic things you tie into your laces).
+ Packet pickup was quick and easy. You went to your bib number 'line' (they sent an email with your bib number, so I kept that handy when I went in) - the envelope included your bib, safety pins, and chip timing device, then stepped down to grab your shirt (they knew the size by looking at your bib - there was a tear off piece on the bottom for shirt size), then you could put it all in a string backpack.
+ Race Clinics at Naperville Running Co (I didn't attend, since I'm not from the area and I had plans, but they looked interesting).
+ The lines for the porta potties before the start weren't too long, and they moved quicker than I anticipated.
+ 7am start for the half, 7:20am for the 5k.
+ Pacing signs to help runners line up accordingly. When the race began at 7am, all runners began - no waves (not an issue, being on the streets gave plenty of space for runners to spread/thin out).
+ Gear check was open 5:30–7:15am (I didn't utilize this so can't say anything else).
+ I applaud the race and the city of Naperville for doing such a wonderful job blocking off streets and intersections. They had a TON of police officers and volunteers on course. I swear there was one every block. Some of the course took place where it was a 2-lane each way street, so they blocked off the right lane; so many cones and signs to let cars know what lane they should be in. I never once felt unsafe. I made sure to thank the volunteers and the police officers. Many of them cheered and clapped for the runners, which was even nicer. They also did a nice job using cones, arrows, and signs to help direct runners throughout the course, though there was almost always a volunteer or cop when there was a turn or change in the course (i.e. when it went from street onto the trail).
+ So many aid stations. I had trouble keeping track, but they said there would be an aid station every mile. I think there were 10 or 11 on course, so just about. Obviously there wasn't one at 13 since you're going into the finish, and I think maybe not at 4 or something... but really - there was plenty. Most also had porta potties as well. All had water and gatorade, and though not always in the same order (water first, gatorade second), the volunteers were great about letting you know what they had in their hands. Most of the aid stops also had Clif Shots and/or Shot Bloks. Well done!
+ Some might say the course elevation was easy, but I felt there were so many hills! I'm so used to flat terrain being in the city or even mostly around me unless I head to the trails, so I wasn't expecting to battle as many hills as we did. Call me a baby, but I thought it was tough haha. I put this in the pros column because I like the challenge and change of pace.
+ Nice scenery - different than the same old LFP course, and the city of Naperville has some beautiful houses and trails. I liked that the course mixed it up between the streets of the city and the trail path (paved).
+ We were towards the end, so we almost had a private finish line - the announcer was cheering us on and speaking to us directly, which I thought was cool. I heard him say to a runner finishing after us that it wasn't a finish line, it was a runway :)
+ Finish line goodies: Finisher medal (it had a cute tiara on it - some might say the race swag was too girly, but I didn't mind). Treats included bottled water, canned pop, bananas, apples, mini bagels, cream cheese, grapes, granola bars, cookies - it was insane (in a really good way).
+ Photographers at the start, and a few miles in, then again towards finish.
+ Photographer at the post-race party for runners wanting their photo with the Naperville Women's Half Marathon backdrop.
+ I didn't know it until we were enjoying the post-race party, but it was a 4 hour time limit, which I think is great. Hopefully it encouraged walkers or people afraid of a 3:30 time limit to join in on the fun!
+ Post-race party began 8:30 and ended at 1pm. Plenty of time for everyone to enjoy - not just the speedy folks.
+ Enough race communication that I was never wondering anything. I knew where packet pickup was, and when they changed the time they emailed. They were also good about updating their SM accounts to stay informed. The only question I never got a response on was where to park (you'll see below that I was quite confused haha).
- Honestly, the only issue I had with this race was that there was limited information regarding parking for either packet pickup or the race. I asked someone at pickup if they had any parking tips for me, and he said he knew nothing about it and to look online at the maps. I did so when I got home, but couldn't figure out what it meant exactly. No addresses or suggestions on what the best place to go was, or a legend saying what everything meant. It was confusing to me (maybe others figured it out better haha). I got a little anxious not knowing where I'd be going the morning of the race, but I found a garage that other runners were parking at and did the same... even though the signs in the lot said no parking 2am–9am. I put a note in the window saying I was there for the 7am half marathon start, and just hoped due to the race, they wouldn't be checking the garage or that since a bunch of other runners parked there it wouldn't be an issue (and it wasn't, but I was so nervous). It was maybe a half mile from the race, but we were there early and it was fine. Again, not being from the area, I had no clue what was ok. The parking lot I was originally planning on going to had a 2-hour time limit, so I kept driving in hopes of finding one without one.
For an inaugural race, only having one con (in my opinion) really is quite amazing. You never know with a newer race how it will go, but I think the RD and everyone involved did a great job. Hopefully they'll be more helpful with parking suggestions next year. I'd definitely keep this race on my list for 2017 if my day is clear... and hopefully it'll be $5 again ;)