Latest reviews by Jim

(2015)
"Exceptional Race"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This is the second year for this half marathon in Huntsville, AL. I worked this race the first year and ran it this year. In both cases, it is quite clear that Suzanne and Dink Taylor, the race directors, know how to put on a race. From the selection of the race location, which offers easy access to ample parking, a great location for the finish (finishing on a bridge inside the outdoor Bridge Street Mall), a large research park to hold the race with little traffic on a Sunday morning, and a nice venue for post race snacks and awards, this race is a nice, somewhat low-key, half marathon. I see this race growing bigger each and every year.

The course is essentially flat, with just a couple minor hills. If you want fan support the whole way, you will not get that here, but I don't need that. The aid stations were frequent and well staffed. The turns and intersections were all covered well so that there was never a time that I felt unsafe approaching an intersection.

The finishing medal was great - a nice, large medal with a great design to showcase the location/finish of the race.

The post race swag was very nice. The normal fruit, bagels, etc., was all there and in addition ice cream sandwiches and chocolate milk. Also, one of the local restaurant/bar in Bridge Street gave every runner coupons for a free breakfast sandwich and also a free beer! Sweeet!

The race awards included a nice beach towel with the race logo on it. Finally! Races are starting to realize that not everyone wants trophies to put on a shelf.

All in all, this is a great race that I recommend to anyone wanting a half to fill in their racing schedules. Look me up if you come to run next year!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2014)
"New Location, Great New Course"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2014 version of the Rocket City Marathon brought a new location for the start/finish, a new course, and a larger Expo. The start and finish were at the Von Braun Civic Center in downtown Huntsville which is located by several close hotels, one right next door. The finish of the marathon took the runners into the arena, finishing inside where friends and family could watch from the stands. The course itself is two "loops" such that the half-way point runs right by the Civic Center, making this a nice course for spectators to see the runners at multiple points. The second half runs through the Space and Rocket Center where you get to run by a Saturn V full size replica and around/underneath a full size Space Shuttle sitting on top of the external tank and rockets. Just after the Space and Rocket Center, the course runs through the Botanical Gardens where Christmas lights and decorations are set up for the Galaxy of Lights (too bad it isn't dark when we run through here!). The course through here has rolling hills, but nothing bad, and the rest of the course is relatively flat, but not as flat as the old course used to be. Personally, I prefer the new course much more than the old.
As for the Expo, it was expanded this year, due to being held in one of the large halls in the Civic Center from less than 10 vendors in past years to 75+ vendors at the Health and Fitness Expo. The Expo included a video taking runners through the course, along with speakers at various points describing the course and answering questions.
The pre-race pasta dinner was held at the Space and Rocket Center, where those dining got to sit beneath a Saturn V rocket that hangs from the ceiling along the length of the Davidson Center.
After the finish of the marathon in the arena, the finishers received a very nice medal and then were treated to some wonderful food and drinks, including some awesome, warm vegetable soup! For the spectators, the snack bar was open the entire morning as well as the bar located in the lobby! The race t-shirt was a SS tech shirt of good quality with "Finisher" shirts also being sold in the lobby for those that chose to buy one. There was ample parking around the downtown area, both paid parking and free parking. All in all, a very nice race that had increased in size this year to close to 2000 runners. This increase was due to the venue for the start/finish being a larger venue and allowing for larger crowds. I only see this race and expo getting better and bigger now that they have the new location and new course. Highly recommended for a fast course and a great time. Picture is of this year's finisher medal.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2014)
"Nice course, Nice race, Tough day..."
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was a nice race. The course was changed for this year so that the worse hills were earlier on, from about 2.5 to about 5 or so. The weather this year made things tough with a pretty stiff wind in our face the last 3 miles or so. Due to the rain, the course finish had to be changed from finishing inside Region's Field, where the Birmingham Barons play, running the warning track and finishing by home plate to finishing up on the concourse. Still a pretty nice finish with the jumbo screen showing the finishers. Food afterwards was ok, but there was free craft beer being served, which was nice. The awards were sweet (see my profile pic). The course is deceiving in that it is tougher than it looks.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.