Bottom Line Up Front: If you want to have a relatively fast race with the chance to brag about placing in your age group... Do THIS race!
First off... this was a COOOOOLD day. Rain/snow and generally miserable weather... that dissuaded a lot of people from coming out race that day. However, for those of us that sucked it up (and dressed warm), the views of the fall foliage in central Mass were amazing.
Race day was miserable and cold. That's not the race organizer's fault. The good was the location...there was a gym with showers and lockers for use to the runners at the start/finish. And Parking was more than sufficient for the racers (and even those that decided to stay home when they saw the actual weather).
PRE-RACE: There was no expo. This is always a little disappointing since the EXPO is where you get a lot of cool stuff and ideas for upcoming races. That said, the field was so small (less than 150 for the HALF and 5K combined) that an EXPO would probably have been a non-starter. Instead, during race packet pick-up, they hosted a FREE PASTA DINNER. Nice touch and a good way to relax with other runners.
START: The start was a little hectic. Not very many people, so it worked out well. Although they did start the 5K and the Half runners simultaneously, I would have liked to see those starts staggered by 15 minutes or so.
COURSE: The course was generally well marked. Generally. There were a couple points where I was confused about where to go. The 5K and Half ran together for over a mile. Then they split… I saw several runners a tad confused about which direction to go. Also, there were a few of places with short "out and back" or "neighborhood loops". This got confusing when getting all turned around and I was left confused as to which sign I was supposed to follow. I almost went back into a 2 mile loop mistakenly…glad I didn’t, but I know a guy that did
The remainder of the course was better marked and just basically followed the road.
There were some decent hills, but nothing to break a runner’s will.
FINISH: The finish went down a muddy trail/road that was full of water filled pot-holes. Honestly, it’s a miracle no one twisted an ankle or worse. There was no chip timer used either. I was not a fan of the time recorder that casually wrote down my time for the “official” results—my “gun time” on my watch was 18 seconds faster. I’m not talking about the GPS distance (which I know can vary), I’m talking about the fact that they guy took 18 seconds to record my time then used THAT time rather than the one I saw at the finish (which did match my watch time). I guess that’s a long way of saying, manual error resulted in an inaccurate “official” time.
COST: Super great price. In fact, that’s why I registered and I’d do it again at that price!
The finishers’ medal was a tad disappointing. It was basically a generic medallion with a sticker with the race logo…biggest disappointment was it was the same for the 5K and the Half. (could have at least printed 2 stickers…)
The “INTAGIBLES”: Everyone I interacted with was fantastic. Other runners were friendly, pleasant and nice. The race officials and the race organizer couldn’t be nicer. In fact, the race organizer was the one cooking for the Pasta Dinner and having a great time doing so!
Overall, this was a “good” race. If you like the feeling of a small runner field or hate HUGE crowded races…this is the PERFECT race for you.