- 13.1/Half Marathon
- Road Race
Overall, I enjoyed the race experience. The race itself kicked my butt, but the post-race festivities definitely made up for my struggle to the finish line!
I attended the expo the evening before the race. It is a very small expo, but they had maps of the course, the pacer reps, and a few shops set up. The expo is not in the same location as the race (Doukenie Winery), but the expo was at the beautiful Landsdowne Resort in a spacious ballroom. At the expo, I picked up my race bib (which was in the shape of a wine barrel), shirt (which I've actually worn since, since it's cute, comfy, and a good material), and a little bag. At the Destination Races table, I was given a sweet Camelbak water bottle with the race logo on the outside. Score!
There were ample aid stations at the race, which I appreciated. It was definitely hot racing weather, and with all of the hills, bugs, and humidity, I took full advantage! I will say, I had never tried the Gu beverage before, and accidentally drank it (I thought I took a water cup, so this is totally user error!), and it was NOT. GOOD. Yuck! But, I didn't have to drink it, so I stuck with water after that.
There were some beautiful farms along the race route. A woman that was running my pace kept stopping to take photos of different farms, especially the horses on the farms. Because it was a smaller race, there wasn't much of a crowd, so in areas without much scenery or people, the race got a bit mundane.
The unpaved portion of the race really crushed me. From around mile 5 until about mile 9, the course was on unpaved, dusty, gravel roads. Needless to say, I was totally unprepared for this much unpaved surface! Definitely make sure you train on this type of surface before the race!
Race management was pretty good! I took away one star because I felt like the finish line could have been organized a little better. It was confusing to figure out where I was supposed to go once I crossed. This was compounded by the fact that I'm a slow runner. We didn't get much love at the finish line!
The wine festival was fun! I wish that this was included for runners, though. Nevertheless, my friends (who didn't run the race) and I got to sip on some sweet Virginia wines, which went well with the warm weather! It was weird to me that some of the wine festival activities were hidden. For example, I got to try out the compression boots, but I didn't see them until the very end. If I hadn't participated in the wine festival, I never would have even seen the massage tables and compression boots!
The bathroom situation for the festival could use some work. There was a really long line in the Doukenie Winery barn, as there were only two bathrooms. I think they could have some more entertainment after the wine festival, also, since it ends so early in the day. On a nice day, I think people would probably like to hang out longer.
Check out my full race recap here: http://www.flecksoflex.com/2016/06/the-hardest-race-ive-ever-run-so-far.html