- 13.1/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
This was my sixth year running the Space Coast half and I was not disappointed.
This year, they started a new medal series honoring the manned space missions. The four years will honor Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Shuttle missions. And of course, there is bonus bling to be had. Run any 3 years, get the Moonwalk Challenge medal. Run all 4, get the Hall of Fame medal (plus the Moonwalk Challenge medal). I don't normally run races for the bling, but seriously, these medals are phenomenal.
Of course, it isn't just about the medals. If a race isn't well run, I'm not going to show up.
The full marathon is a course comprised of two separate loops - a North loop and a South loop. In previous years, the half consisted of just the south loop. The full has a 7 hour time limit, so the half also had a 7 hour time limit. This year, they offered a second half course on the north loop. Because it was the first half of the marathon, that meant that North Loop runners started with the marathoners and had 3.5 hours to finish. At sign-up time, I was not running at all thanks to my labral tear, so I opted for the South Loop. I knew the course, I liked it, and I liked that I had 7 hours to finish.
One awesome thing about this race is that if you're a slow runner or even a walker, you can absolutely do the South loop half and you won't be all alone. There are tons of people who are walking so it's a great race for someone who is worried about keeping a 16 minute mile.
Communications for this race were great. The race directors sent a number of emails to make sure we had all the information we might need. They even included a helpful map of parking for the expo, which this year, was across the street. For added safety, there were police stopping traffic on the road between parking and the expo to ensure that everyone crossed safely. It was an awesome addition.
The expo wasn't huge, but there were a number of good vendors there. If you needed something for your race, you could get it. The race-specific merch was pretty great too. The race shirt itself is a long-sleeved t-shirt and the sleeve featured patches from the Mercury missions. Some say it's too gaudy, but I love it.
The only downside to this race is the parking at the race site. There isn't really any, so you have to find a place to park nearby. There are plenty of locations to choose from, but it's the one frustrating part of the race weekend. There are busses from various hotels, but I've had sporadic luck with them. If you do choose to take the bus, always take the earliest one. Trust me.
This race had a North and South Course that all started at the same time in the same place. South runners to the left, North to the right. It was surprisingly not as confusing as I feared it would be, though it took over ten minutes for everyone to get across the start line.
The race course itself is lovely. Relatively flat, along a road with houses on one side and waterfront on the other. The locals often come out to cheer or set up aid stations for the runners. If you want to do shots during a race, this is your course. The water stops are incredibly well manned and everyone is so very friendly. The course support is absolutely phenomenal.
This year, the finish party was still in the park like normal, but the finish line was no longer right there, which was a bit disappointing. My favorite part of the race was finishing while friends cheered me in, going and getting some post-race food, then cheering people in while I ate. The new finish made that hard, and it was also much more anti-climactic. That said, the post-race spread is awesome - eggs and pancakes, pizza, beer, soda, and of course water and bananas. And a finisher's towel along with the medal! Perfect for keeping warm or sitting on picnic style as you feast!