- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
- Event Website
For an inaugural event, I'm not sure this race could have been much better!
I only live about 40 minutes away from Celebration, so I drove over to the expo on the morning before the race to pick up my bib and check out the expo. That morning, things could have been a little bit clearer about where to go, park, etc. for the expo for those that have never been to town before (which included me) since some of the streets were one ways and what not, but the town isn't big enough to get lost in. I found a parking spot "close enough" to the expo, and walked over to it. The expo was small (the race only had 2,000 runners), but I still thought it was good. If you're looking for lots of venders and swag, you'll be disappointed (which is why I gave it 3 stars), but if you like an expo that isn't crowded and gives you the ability to talk with reps from some different brands, then you'd love this expo.
Race morning, I drove back over, and it was much clearer where to find parking for the race. Plenty of free parking was available, however, it did require about a 3/4 mile walk to get to the starting line. There was parking closer to the start, but those lots would have been a nightmare to get out of, so we chose to park a little farther away for an easier exit. In the starting area, the audio was poor, so it was very difficult to hear any of the announcements over the loudspeakers, but things were fairly self-explanatory enough that most people easily figured out where to position themselves for the start. Expected pace signs were clearly visible, and it seemed like most runners lined up appropriately.
The half and full both went off together, which is always a little bit of a pet peeve of mine since it such a crowded start, but with the small field the runners spread out alright. There was one big area of grid lock on the course, where we were running through the woods on a path/bridge that just wasn't as wide as would have been ideal. Thankfully, that stretch wasn't until about miles 10-12, so the crowd wasn't too bad. It was just a bit difficult to pass at that point if anyone stopped to walk in front of you.
At about the 12.5 mile mark, the half splits off from the full, and the full basically runs the same loop again. This is the only part of the race that I really didn't like, just because I'm not a fan of looped courses. When I need something to distract me the most in a race (miles 18-24), I've already seen all of the surroundings in a looped course instead of seeing new sights if it was the first time in that particular stretch of road. Obviously, this loop didn't impact my rating of the race much, but I would prefer not running the same loop twice in a row if possible.
The finish was nice in that you run the perimeter of a small lake, so you can see it about a half mile out. It does kind of make you want to start your kick/final push a little early, but it's nice to know that you're close!
After finishing, there was plenty of live music going on, and finishers got a card to be able to try many food/drink options from the many local business located near the finish. There were two problems with this: many vendors ran out of food for the runners before I finished (and I wasn't in the back of the pack), and many of the options were bread based (pizza, hot pretzels, etc) and I don't eat wheat. If someone was seriously allergic to wheat (which I'm not) there would have been literally nothing for them to eat (for free) post race.
All in all, it was a great race, and I would absolutely run the race again if the opportunity presented itself. I also recapped the race on my blog, so feel free to check out this post for a few more specifics! http://www.dizruns.com/gotta-love-a-solid-pr/