Latest reviews by Lindsey McRoberts
I really enjoy supporting local races - and since I started running more half marathons than 5Ks, I have been very limited on those distance races locally.
A short drive away is Wamego, KS - home of the Wicked Marathon and Half Marathon! This is my first year running this course and minus some questionable weather, I really enjoyed the experience!
Early Packet Pickup
Due to this race being a small local race, the mid-week packet pick-up was at a local fitness center. Little man and I stopped by after work on Thursday and were in and out in a jiffy!
When we got home, I went through my packet! There was my race themed soft-style t-shirt, drop bag with all my info on it, bib with timing chip on the back, race course map, and a couple race/business related papers. I am really glad that there isn't a phone book worth of paper in the packets these days...it always seems like such a waste.
Packet Pickup & Pre-Race Dinner
Since we already picked up my packet in Manhattan on Thursday, I didn't need to grab anything more at the pre-race dinner. The dinner started around 5 or 5:30 pm at the Wamego Senior center. When we arrived, I met up with a couple local runners and their families. The Friendship House catered the dinner and we needed to RSVP ahead of the event. We had several choices of pasta, meat, sauce, and salad. I decided to get a little of everything - a salad (I wish the plate was a little bigger) penne pasta (no spaghetti...), tomato sauce with meat balls, Alfredo sauce with chicken, and a slice of french bread :)
I brought some snacks for little man to snack on since the dinner was for runners only and I didn't want to purchase a plate for him when he can sometimes be picky about what he eats... Once he was done snacking, he spent the rest of the time running around the area, playing with the "house" on the poster, and hiding under our table. Before we left, I took the necessary runner a picture with the race banner - little man in tow! Oh course he wouldn't sit still for 2 seconds before trying to jump out of my arms...
For the sake of this event being a packet pick-up and pre-race dinner, it was great! I enjoy the "small town" races that take care of their runners :)
The night before the race, I always am sure to get ALL my things around... This makes my morning craziness work quickly and without any many hitches or hiccups! Granted, I don't put my food in my pictures...but I keep my food and drinks on the table (typically a banana and coffee) to be sure those are easy to find, grab, and go! Once I was dressed, all glided up (it was going to be wet and rainy after all), I made up my coffee, grabbed a couple bananas, and hit the road!
Since it was raining quite a bit, I decided to forgo my extra pre-race, training run miles and just jog a mile to the starting area. There is a bus that circled between the start area and this parking lot, but I decided to just run and get my legs loosened up a little.
Once my mile beeped off, I was at the race day packet pick up tent! There were several people milling about staying out of the rain and cold. Since a couple of my running buddies were volunteering at the event, I hung out behind the table and helped exchange race shirts.
Once race time approached, there were announcements for the runners to start lining up. I headed out and found my area in the starting gates. The rain was spitting at this time, but I was prepared with my hat and rain jacket.
Mile 0 - 4.5 : the "in-town" loop
The race started in downtown Wamego in front of the OZ Museum. The "in-town" loop took us around the city for the first 4 miles (or the first 16 for the marathon - 4 "in-town" loops). We first ran through the main city park, down a residential street, down a commercial street, through the parking lot and sidewalks around the sports complex, back through several residential streets, through downtown, and off to the out and back section of the course. There were 2-3 water stops within this 4 mile section of the course - which seemed a bit much, even for the marathoners. At least everyone was hydrated!
Mile 4.5 - 8 : the out
The out-and-back section was nice...but I could see how lonely it could get if you were alone on the road. The rolling miles out to the turnaround point were relatively dry...ish. The rain was off and on but around mile 7, the rain started to fall more steadily. The open road was a welcome sight and I enjoyed these miles. Around mile 6, some of the first finishers were on their way back into town. I kept anticipating the turnaround area around every corner and hill, but it didn't happen...for a while! So I cheered on the runners that were coming back at me on the course.
This section of the course was a little weird, because the runners were all on the left side of the road and also the runners heading back were on the inside of the left side... The road wasn't completely blocked off from traffic...but it would have made more sense to have the "out" runners to the right side of the left lane and the "and back" runners towards the outside... Oh well, we all made it to the finish line.
Mile 8 : the turnaround
A little after mile 8 was the turnaround point. There were drinks and snacks, but I didn't stick around long! I grabbed a couple Lara bar minis and headed back out!
Mile 8 - 11.5 : the back
On the way back to the finish, the rain kept coming down! I cheered the runners heading to the turnaround point and the marathoners started passing me on their way out to their turnaround point for the out-and-back. They were running on the far side of the road with traffic, which is probably where we all should have been running on the way out... oh well!
I was "fishing" on my way back to town - mentally hooking the runners ahead of me and reeling them in. My feet were sore from being wet, but I was able to keep my pace pretty easily through the rolling hills. I started recognizing landmarks along the way and knew that I was close to finishing!
Mile 12 - finish : the last hill
Once we got back into town for the last mile, I really gave it my all! I knew I was close to my "average" finishing time, so I wanted to make it happen! As you turn onto Vine Street, you are welcomed with your last uphill of the course...perfect timing, not! With my rain-soaked feet, I trudged up the last hill and then briskly, and carefully, ran down the last downhill to the finish. My feet felt like the skin was stuck to my shoes and I was convinced it would be a complete blister on the bottom - ouch!! This didn't end up happening...but it sure did hurt while on course.
I really enjoyed this race despite the rainy, cold weather. The course was great with rolling hills throughout, and the uphill finish was an interesting twist I didn't see coming. The shirt, medal, and poster are great quality, but the post race direction was a little lacking. After the race, I found out that the marathon distance had to do the "in-town" loop 4 times before hitting the out-and-back section of the course, and that is not something I am interested in trying.
After finishing the race, there was someone waiting for us at the finish with a cinch bag. In the bag was our medal and race poster. I had to look around a little to find the post-race food and drinks to the side of the finishing chute. While the weather may have played a part in the seeming lack of organization, I just wish there was someone to direct me to the food... I found apples, oranges, and bananas in tubs, and bagels and cookies as well. There was also stack of Gatorade and water. I hobbled back to the bag drop tent to get my bag and tried to stay warm - which I was not successful.
I didn't care to take the bus to the start,...but by the finishing time, I was soaked to the bone and freezing. Seeing the waiting buses was a WELCOME sight and I was back to my car in no time.
I like this event! I am not always a fan of the pre-race dinner, but I liked that I knew what I was going to have available to eat ahead of time, and it gave me a chance to come out to Wamego the day before, drive the course, meet some out-of-town runners, and see some local running friends. The starting area was organized with the race morning packet pick-up, porta potties, and starting chute in the same vicinity. The course itself was great - running past a few local sites (city park, ball fields, downtown, etc.), wandering around more residential areas of town, the rolling hills of the out-and-back, and the downtown finish line. There were almost too many water stops in the "in-town" loop, but as long as runners were hydrated, that's all that counts. While the post race experience left more to desire, the food and drinks available was nice. I didn't use the shuttle service before the race, I was sure happy to see them waiting after the race!
If you are looking to run a small town OZ themed race in Kansas, the Wicked Marathon or Half Marathon is your go-to race experience! This year, they added the 5K distance and a virtual race option - so keep an eye out for more race distance adds in the coming years!
The packet pick up expo, or ExMO is located at the St. Charles Community College.
There was a lot to see and do! There were a lot of vendors willing to talk to you about their products, races, or services. One of the big perks is the classes offered throughout the day. I intended on going to all the classes, but I only made it to the first yoga session and the talk about the Galloway Method. While I was glad to spend quite a bit of time here today, I wish there would have been a little refreshment...maybe a snack booth where you could purchase a cookie or water... The other fun perk was the outside Brooks tent. They had a giveaway, flying money box, and gait analysis check! I did it all...several times 😆 I did get my gait analyzed! They put sensors on my legs, had me do a few leg bends, and then run for a bit... Come to find out, I have a neutral stride! Nice. I have trusted in my stable Adrenalines for a while now...maybe a new style is in the works!
There was a lot to see, checking in and getting the bib and shirt was nice and easy. I don't love when they put the shirts at the end or back of the Expo, but I understand the why... There were a ton of vendors and everyone seemed excited for the race this weekend! A fun experience overall!
Once we got to the starting area, I found Gametime Mobile Storage. While I thought there would be a bag drop off, there wasn't any mention of it in the first e-mails. There was mention of the mobile storage units to keep your belongings safe... So, I rented a "large" locker for $12. For the cost, I was really glad that I got it! Sometimes you never know if someone else is going to accidentally run off with your bag...and in a far-away place, I wouldn't want to risk it!
Everyone milled around for a little while...and around 7am, we finally lined up. I chatted with the runners and fellow pacers around me. Most of the people were running either the half marathon relay or marathon distances...so it was slim pickings for runners that would be sticking with me the whole race.
The excitement of the first mile had people passing us left and right. Within the first mile, there was a band playing outside, which added to the excitement for sure! Around the 0.5 mile mark, we hit a small incline and this is where I re-explained how we were going to take the hills at an slower pace to keep even effort throughout the race. I seemed to gain a small following at this point now that people were interested in what I had to say...ha! This stretch of distance took us around a small park area near the river and we walked through our first water stop.
The next couple miles were down some paved back roads. We saw farm equipment tilling up the field, a pumpkin patch, a couple blips of people cheering us on, a couple dead animals, and good conversation. Everyone was still feeling good and there were less people passing us and more sticking into my group.
Miles 5-8 were a change in scenery for sure. We started down the out-and-back loop in a residential area. I hollered at the pacers heading back to the finish and kept my group moving along at a nice pace. We were right on schedule with paces and it seemed like everyone was doing well! Around mile 7 -7.5, there was a water/GU stop and it seemed like the runners I had with me either wanted to take more time and didn't get back with me quickly OR decided not to stop and ran on through ahead of me. One of the runners I was talking with the entire way decided that his HR was a little high and he was going to rest a little longer and thanked me for my time :) At least he TOLD me he was letting off the gas! Oh well. I heard something like, "2:35. Wow, she had a big group before...I wonder what happened..." around mile 7.5... I wondered what happened too!...
Around mile 8 I started talking with someone new. We spent the next couple miles chatting about family, running, and life. The time ticked away and before long, she was going to take it quite a bit easier on the upcoming hills and we said our goodbyes :)
Right after the mile 9.5 water stop, the "hills" began. As far as hills, they were not all that bad. But after nearly 10 miles of flat grade or down hills, these hills seemed HUGE. I kept a small pack of runners motivated to continue the first climb...I kept thinking, is this the "hills" that people were so worried about?? But once I crested the first, you could then see the LONG hill up next. I slowed my pace to a manageable speed and kept my breathing as close to what it was before the hills... I saw someone's shirt that said "I Run 4 Riley" and it made me think about my Aiden :) I Run 4 Aiden. A sweet, sweet little girl - coming up on her first birthday!! I talked to Aiden the whole way up this hill...I wished her all the best, prayed for her safety, prayed for her momma and sisters, and just kept talking to her about this run... Before I knew it, I was at the top and started my downhill descent. Once we got to mile 10.75 or so, there was a whole bunch of little kids, "little guppies", with signs and bells and lots of excitement :) The energy these little crowds give can really boost a runner and I told the runners that were around and with me to take in their energy, we were going to need it for a strong finish!
After the excitement died down, the crowds fizzled, and the runners were alone once again. There were a couple runners that I believe were running Galloway because I heard their watches go off often and they would run past, I would pass when they walked, and repeat... There was a STEEP down hill around mile 12 that shot us towards the finish!
Once I settled back into pace after the monster downhill, I started rallying runners that were struggling to run and finish the race with me. We made the turn onto 2nd street and we were just a couple turns from the finish! I met a lady, who I named "Nachos", who was running fast, then walking, then running fast, and just running out of steam completely. Her friends were just a little bit ahead of her trying to coach her to the finish. I told her to just take it easy and run with me to the finish. In the process, I picked up another couple ladies that were also riding the struggle bus... We passed the time by talking about what we were going to eat after the race. First on her list, nachos with cheese and jalapenos :) We rounded the corner on Clark and I hear her feet stomping the brakes down the hill. I coached her to let gravity work for her now and take the hill a little faster. This is when I said "Come on Nachos! You got this!" Her friends were laughing and thought the nickname was perfect for her! I kept watching my time like a hawk. I knew that I banked a little time before the hill and I didn't want to finish too early. I started hollering back at the runners to beat me to the finish!
Many runners got a little extra boost from me yelling around that you could just see them give that last 0.25-0.5 mile more juice! I was like a shepherd with my pacing stick, calling in my runners! Towards the finish, there was a gal, that was just SPRINTING and when she got close, she said "You are NOT beating me!" Yes!! I ran most of the way in with her before seeing if anyone else was close enough to finish in the 2:35 time. I finished in 2:34:55.
This was a great race! Amazing weather, great runners, nice water/gatorade stops, and a nice downhill finish for the half marathon (not sure how the marathon finished). The crowd support lacked in most areas except for the residential area, the water stops, and the final 0.25 mile stretch. The only pet-peeve I have is when at the water stops, they put the water first and the gatorade second...no one REALLY wants to be tasting gatorade for miles! Or if water is first, then gatorade, add another table of water after...just to wash it all down!
The only major hiccup was that they ran out of metals for the half marathon a little before the 2:30 finishing time... As a pacer, I was a little upset that there wasn't a metal to have...but as a paying runner and/or first time half marathoner (as many runners were), I would be quite upset, and they were! Everyone was assured that new metals would be cast and sent to the finishers. No fuss... No pretty metal pictures either :(
The post race area was big enough for everyone to get around without bumping into everyone :) There was water, chocolate milk, bread, fruit, and beer! We all just hung out and relaxed for a bit before picking up our belongings from the mobile storage and heading home.
This was a great race through and through! The ExMO was a lot fun and there was a lot to do and see. The morning of the race was beautiful and perfect weather for the half marathon distance. The volunteers were nice. The post race party was a lot of fun with things to do with the entire family. This is certainly a race that I would enjoy running the Mo Cowbell Half (or full) Marathon again.
I spent most of Friday driving to Colorado! the 500+ mile trip was not a quick drive...so I took in the sites. I made pit-stops into leg-stretching opportunities, jumped for joy making it to the KS/CO state line, oooo'd and ahhhh'd at all the mountain views, and wandered up and down Miner Street in Idaho Springs.
Expo - Packet Pick Up
Location : The Buffalo Restaurant (1617 Miner Street in Idaho Springs) in the back of the bar
I wasn't sure what to expect going to a restaurant and bar for the packet pick-up, not something I have done before! Usually at "packet pick-up", you get your paper swag, race shirt, and bib - but all we got was our bib. That was also new! I'm sure it is 100% easier to only have the bibs ready to hand out quickly and not a lot of additional things...but it was just different.
I was sure to get to Idaho Springs with PLENTY of time to catch the bus to Georgetown. The traffic on Friday was crazy, and I was glad that everyone was still sleeping on my commute to Idaho Springs this morning!
I relaxed in my car, sipping on my coffee and electrolyte drink, waiting out the impending cold... Once I was ready to find a bathroom and the bus, I headed out. There were a lot of runners milling about the parking areas, so I knew that I was not alone. The bus was plain to see at the corner and I was happy to feel that it was a heated bus! I am not used to the cold, and the warmth of the bus was very appealing! We rode through the winding Colorado highway and side road to Georgetown.
Once we got close to the start, we were dropped off to walk the 1/4 mile to the starting area. There was an awesome long line of port-a-potties, several tables of bib pick-ups, a water table, and ample space to mill around and attempt to stay warm.
I opted for walking up and down the blocked off side road to keep warm and loose. The views in Georgetown were amazing, and I couldn't help but snap pictures :)
Once the Runner's Edge vehicle passed me on my walk, I knew it was time to head back and get my pacer materials. We got our sticks, shirts, and hats with plenty of time to change, hang around and chat with fellow pacers, and just take in the morning air.
The first part of the course was running through the Georgetown Lake area. Part of the course was not paved, but well maintained. Several residents were on their patios cheering or clapping and friends/families of runners were cheering when we made the turn back to the start around mile 2.
Once we were out of the Georgetown lake area, the sun really started to heat up the course. With the high elevation (roughly 8,500ft at the start), the sun really started to beat us down - which is something I am not used to (since I try and get my runs in before the sun comes up). The following couple miles were mostly downhill with amazing views to boot! The miles ticked by, slowly. The rolling hills left some choice words in my head, but the change in terrain was allowed for some challenge. Another challenge to overcome was the lack of course support. There were several water and gatorade stations, but little to no people throughout the entire race.
Around mile 7, we transitioned from blacktop/concrete running on the frontage road to a gravel road. Along this path, we ran through a small residential area, past a dog shelter/kennel, and in and out of the trees. Nothing too exciting happened along this area...minus my running buddy having some digestive issues...but that is relatively normal, bahaha!
Once we got back on the blacktop/concrete, we were in the home stretch! There was another water stop and I stopped to use a port-a-potty. When I came back out, a woman hollered at me! She had been trying to catch up to me the entire run and "got lucky" that I stopped to use the bathroom. We made conversation and the winding road brought us back to Idaho Springs. We were both from lower elevations, so we both were struggling a little. I decided to use her 4-5 minute run, 1 minute walk timer a couple times to give us a little break. We talked about how to take the winding road (running the tangents) and passed the time in good company!
Once we got close to town, I told my runners to finish strong and that I would see them at the finish. I was struggling and I knew that intervals were going to get me to the finish on time. The stretch of street once you got back into Idaho Springs is one of the uphill battles of the race. With 12-13 miles of mostly downhills on our legs, that last uphill felt like a mountain! I ran, then walked, ran, then walked, and ran until I surpassed the "uphill" portion and then RAN the downhill corners!
Once I you run around the final downhill corner, the finish line is in sight! I knew it was going to be close for me to finish on time, but I hung around long enough to get a couple runners to kick it in strong! I finished 2:39:50 - only 10 seconds ahead of my pace time. I looked back several times as I approached the finish to see if there was anyone in my range to help finish in 2:40, but the runners I saw were a little farther out. I met up with my runners and everyone was real excited to have finished before me!
The course was beautiful and challenging. While the course is mostly downhill (a loss of 1000ft from start to finish), it was not without climbs! I would recommend this race to anyone with a love of nature! While you are running with the highway, you really didn't notice it all that much...unless the cars were honking :)
After the finish, I followed the wandering runners around a couple corners to the finishers area. There were many tents set up from sponsors and vendors. I bee-lined to the Runner's Edge vehicle to drop off my pacers stick and get my bag. Now is the time to slowly wander through the post-race area! I first stopped to get my shirt and medal. This tent was right next to the pacers area so I didn't have to waddle very far. I first went to the food tent and loaded up with watermelon and bananas :) They also had bagels, but I stuck to the fresh fruit. I then hit up as many of the sponsors and vendor tents as I could handle! A few of the vendors were Ripple Foods, Noosa Yoghurt (handing out yogurt), Colorado Runner, Love Grown Foods (giving out little boxes of cereal), BolderBands, Califia (giving tasters and full bottles of chocolate protein drinks and cold brew coffee), and The Great Candy Run; in addition to booths from the sponsors: Brooks (games for participants and kids with fun prizes) and Runner's Roost (selling merch and handing out free pint glasses to the participants). After a while, we decided to go find the beer :) Priorities, right?!
This was BY FAR the most beautiful race I have ever run! The views and course elevation was always changing and there was always something new to focus my sights on (and to forget about the pain!). In the future, I might take a little more time away from work and make the trip a vacation, because that elevation, PHEW, it really hurt! It took me awhile to get my chest to feel better after the race, but it was all worth it! I helped my runners finish strong and that is what really counts!
One of the things I like about the Hospital Hill race is the Expo and packet pickup! They always have a lot of running related vendors and a lot of new things to see!
I arrived at the expo with little time to wander around. While there were still a couple hours left, I had already volunteered to chat up runners at the pacers table. I quickly got my bib and zip-up and headed to the table. During the hustle, I noticed a runner carrying the 2:50 pace stick - and I was able to meet my co-pacer Erin! We chat for a little bit, worked out the pacing plan for the morning, and parted ways for the evening. I was sure glad we were able to meet!
Each year, the swag for the Hospital Hill races changes. This year, the half marathon participants received a performance 1/4 zip! A great alternative to the typical day race tee!
While I wish I could have meandered through the expo a little more, I did see some great vendors and everyone was excited to talk to the runners!
I decided to make a point of getting to the race EARLY and meet up with the other runners at the Westin Crown Center. I met up with a fellow pacer in the parking lot and he showed me the way to the meet up area. It wasn't long before there were MANY pacers milling about.
We headed out to the start area around 6:30 am for the 7 am start. At this time, the clouds/fog hung low and the humidity was high!
I met Frankie, a first time 1/2 marathoner. She was nervous about running HH due to this being her longest distance to date... We assured her that we could get her to the finish! I also met up with Pat, one of the gals I ran with at the Bill Snyder in Manhattan a couple weeks ago! I hope to have a fraction the drive and determination she has - she runs a 1/2 marathon every 2 weeks! I also met Mac, I believe she was a first time 1/2 marathoner as well and she was super nervous! I met a few other runners with various goals and a few 10k-ers that we're going to run with us until the split-off around mile 3.5. I made a quick pit stop, and before I knew it, we were off!
The half marathon and 10K start together off Grand. We traveled north through the rolling hills of the Crossroads district towards the Spring Center, and then back south for the next 6 miles.
The only "racing" picture I took., from the top of Truman & Oak...the fog was low and the runners were as far as the eye could see! An awesome view (if a picture would turn out!)!
From the top of Truman road, we got a nice little downhill to welcome us into the the hills of the Hospital Hill course - Hospital Hill. From about mile 1.3 to 2.65, Hospital Hill has a steady incline of 3-6% grade! Talk about a hill that needs to be broken into chunks! My co-pacer and I used this hill as the beginning of us breaking apart to a lead and trail pacer - I being the lead pacer (all this means is that the "lead" will finish on time, no matter what - the "trail" can finish up to 3 minutes below pace to help more runners finish close to the goal time). Between us, we kept our runners moving and positive through the first climb of the day!
For the next mile, we were making up a little time with a mostly downhill stretch of pavement. The runner that stuck close to me started having trouble with her breathing and getting side stitches - so I hollered back to Erin to keep an eye on her so I could keep the lead pace. A couple runners that were a little behind me came forward and kept up with my pace going into the 10K/half marathon split. As a half marathoner, I was glad I wasn't trekking up the 39th Street hill - it is another tough climb!
Now that the half marathoners are all to themselves, the real work starts :) Rockhill Hill wasn't a bad hill, it is just a steady short climb, followed by a longer downhill. Those downhills really helped us keep up with our even effort pace and keep on track to finishing on time. At the water station, there were SEVERAL boxes of doughnuts...but not for the runners. I feel like they should have put them away so the runners were not tempted to run off with them,...haha!!
Through the hills, I talked with some other runners around - one man ran the Garmin full (my first full) and we talked about our experiences; another gal is actually family to the Smart Pacing team leader...I was on my best behaviour! You never know what could get back to the boss :)
About this time, we entered the University of Kansas-Missouri (UMKC) campus and then past the edge of Rockhurst University. We rolled through the Rockhill Road community and made it to the southern-most portion of the half marathon course! The only complaint I have is that since it was a holiday week with a usual Friday pickup, the trucks were not able to pick up the trash along this road on Saturday - so we were running along trashcan-lined streets...not the greatest view (or smell).
Running along E. Meyer Boulevard was a very visual experience! The houses are grand and have a lot of amazing details...I had to keep my eyes closer to the road so I didn't fall too far off pace! The rolling hills were an easy distraction :) This stretch was the southern edge of the half marathon run.
Once we made the turn into Brookside, we were on our way home! Spirits were still high and the runners were still feeling good! Heading back north on Brookside Boulevard, the streets were lined with trees and the off-and-on shade was nice! I also really liked the Countryside Park along the road. Being set back a little farther than a standard sidewalk would make me feel more comfortable running along traffic.
As I passed through 51st street, there were people yelling at me to call the police - mostly because I was passing an officer directing traffic. As I approached, I noticed a man on his knees and several people helping him. I don't know the specifics, but he somehow hit his head on the ground and was bleeding quite a bit. As I came closer, I took out my phone and called 911. I told them my approximate location and once they assured me that there was help on the way, I then proceeded with my pacing. I was really nervous about leaving, but there were 10-15 people stopped to help, so I didn't want to add to the crowd. Not too far ahead, an officer on a motorcycle sped by and stopped to help aid the fallen man.
I had to pick up my pace for the rest of the mile to make it back to the approximate time/location I would have been if I had not stopped at all. Good thing quite a bit of the route was downhill!
By mile 10, I was back where I needed to be to finish on time - as the lead pacer for the 2:50 group, I need to pass the finish line at the 2:49:59 mark. Around this same time, we turned onto 47th Street and then onto J C Nichols Parkway. This is where the iconic J C Nichols Memorial Fountain runs blue during the Royals baseball season :) This is also the fountain that so many prom pictures were taken in front of back in high school!
I also love the feeling of running next to a park or open space. The Mill Creek Park was a great change of scenery from the houses and businesses we ran with the first 10 miles. We snaked down J C Nichols Parkway for a couple miles. I picked up a couple runners that started a little fast and were starting to bonk out...but they wanted to finish ahead of me. So I pushed them and talked them through the last few. We ran through the edge of Westport and I was given a lei and took a couple slices of oranges! So sweet and a nice distraction to the heat of the morning. Without a lot of shade, the final trek was a little difficult. Before long we also ran through Old Westport and were on our way to the final hill!!
On approach of Penn Valley Park, Trinity Hill is right around the corner. While I wish we could run through Penn Valley Park, that would take away one of the worst hills of the race. Who would want to do that?!
Trinity Hill straight up and straight down. That's all there is to it. I talked my runners through the hill and they were able to break it into chunks, run, walk, run, walk, RUN! I was glad to see that everyone made it unscathed! The downhill is nice but I always have to be careful that I don't roll an ankle... This hill runs alongside Penn Valley Park, and while most people don't really see the park (because they are staring up the hill or at their feet), I was able to glance around on the way down to see the dog park and sidewalks winding around the park.
At the bottom of Trinity Hill, you run straight at the Liberty Memorial - which comes into view around mile 12.4. About this time, I looked at one of my runners and told her to RUN. FINISH STRONG! PR! YOU GOT THIS! She was a little taken back, but then my enthusiasm shot through her and she took off. About every 30 seconds (probably less...) I would yell, YOU GOT THIS! FINISH STRONG!...and then she was gone! Off to the finish!
When I was within 1/4+ mile of the finish, I was just encouraging the runners to finish strong. There was a guy that was REALLY hurting. I tried to help him in every way I could, even rubbed his cramping calves, but he talked me out of finishing with him. After checking my watch, I knew I needed to finish strong to make my 2:49:59 time, so I told him I would meet him at the finish line.
I passed the finish line at 2:49:56 - just a few seconds ahead of my goal time. Not too shabby! From the pictures, it looks like my celebration happened before the actual finish...and the finishing photos are a LOT less fun :)
I waited around for that man to finish and I was excited when he gave me high fives and thanked me for the support. In the finishing area, I met back up with Eladio, and since he was on the phone, I just gave him a thumbs up, turned in my pacing stick, and went along my way. Several of the people that started with me and finished ahead of me were in the finishers area and there were high fives, hugs, and stories shared. I look forward to seeing some of them running this fall in the KC races! Remember the gal that I told to finish strong? She PRed by a couple minutes from her last race a few weeks before! Exciting!
This race sure knows how to live up to it's name...there are some great hills to test any runner's stamina! Minus the trash-lined streets, the course was amazing. I love running hills and this course was made for me :)
At the finish line, there was ample water, snacks (bananas, granola bars of several kinds, crackers, etc.), milk, and ice cream (YES PLEASE!)! It is always a worry of mine that a race might not prepare enough for the final finishers to have refreshment after their long run...but that was not an issue here! I met up with several runners that I brought into the finish and ones that broke ahead earlier in the race. Everyone was all smiles and even a couple PRs! I stuck around to meet up with Erin and see how her group finished. As far as I remember, we only "lost" 1 runner - and that was fairly early in the race. Whether training, the race day variables, or a combo of the two, we cannot always help all the runners that we start with. Overall, we both had a successful pacing day and we both wanted to run a little more :) (gluttons for punishment I'm sure!)
The Expo was packed with running vendors and so much more! The race was easy to get to and there was a lot of parking all around. This race sure knows how to live up to it's name...there are some great hills to test any runner's stamina. The finishers area was packed with snack and refueling. Due to its long standing tradition, the Hospital Hill races are always well organized and an awesome experience for all!
When coming in from out of town, I don't mind a quick "expo" experience. The packet pickup was in a back room at Cabela's...and I wish it was in a running store. I went straight to the pacer pickup first and got my shirt, band, and stick. I then stepped over to the bib/shirt/swag pickup for the race. I should have done this process the other way around because the lady wasn't going to give me an event shirt... "She already has a pacing shirt" is what she said to the guy behind her asking why shirt size. "I closed the page because she already has a pacing shirt." Well... I looked at the guy and said medium would be great and he handed me the one in his hand. The lady seemed annoyed that I would get a pacer shirt AND an event tee...oh well.
The "swag" consisted of the usual shirt, bib, "register for _____ race" x5, and a braided Cabela's bracelet. While the bracelet isn't something I would wear on the regs, my hubs would probably be interested in it if it were big enough :)
Minus the rude lady, the little man were in and out, and I then wandered around the store looking at all of the animals! I didn't have anywhere to be for a little while, so it was a good way to stretch out legs after the 2hr drive. If I needed any fuel, I would have rather been in a running store atmosphere...
This race is unique in that you start and end the race in the Kansas Speedway! Any racecar racing fanatics?! I am not...but it was still cool to be on that level! Due to being a pacer and not a runner, I didn't get any pictures from the course.
The morning started briskly, with a cold north wind. I headed into the Media Center to exchange my event tee because they were a little on the big side and the same volunteer (the shirt guy from Cabela's) from the day before was happy to help me get a new size :)
The start area was just outside the Media Center so we were able to stay warm for just a little bit.
Once in the start area, we (the pacers) lined up so everyone could see where they wanted to start. I had one woman question where she should start, and I told her to stick with me and I would get her to the finish. You can read a little more about our ime together on my Weekend Happenings post here.
Before long, there was a moment of silence for a local Detective that was killed in the line of duty last week (his funeral was today in a nearby location), the National Anthem sung by local Boy Scouts, and then the race started!
The 5k and half marathon started in the same area, so it was hard to tell who was going to stick around me. The first mile was around the inside loops of the track. Around mile 1.15+, the 5k split to the left and the half marathon went to the right.
We then exited the Speedway and started the loop around the speedway parking lots. The slow rolling hills were great and we were able to warm up our legs! The wind was a bit much, so I told the runner to stick to my back as I would take the wind for her :)
The rolling hills continued on 110th street and State Ave. The traffic was cut to 1 lane so the runners could have the other lane. This was the most eventful section of the race because we were being passed by the faster times heading back to the Speedway. I wouldn't call it "crowd support" but I was able to cheer on passing runners. This section ended off 126th and we went into Wyandotte County Park.
The beauty of Wyandotte County Park was a great distraction! I took it all in... The park road winded around and there were golfers, geese, and an opossum crossed the road ahead of us! The most "hill-looking" hill (or 2) of the course was between mile 7.25 and 8). We passed the Agricultural Hall of Fame and the backside of the Renaissance Festival on our way back to State Ave.
This route backtracked us through State Ave, 110th, and the Speedway parking lots back to the Kansas Speedway. The vast open space was easy on the eyes, but it seemed like we had so much more to go... There was no crowd support other than road blocker volunteers and water stop volunteers.
This section continued around the driving loop around the Kansas Speedway. There was no crowd support and the open parking areas seemed vast. The wind had blown over port-a-potties, a media tent, and trash cans...not the greatest sights! The final turn around was solemn...there was a huge American flag stretched across two fire truck ladders. The funeral for the Detective was starting nearby and there was a lot of police traffic coming by to pay their respects.
Around this point, we headed back into the Kansas Speedway! The final countdown! There were a lot of runners leaving the area that would yell out their windows and honk at us for support...I thought it was great, but my runner was really struggling. This last stretch was in and around the pit boxes and the final 4 turns of the track.
The race organizers played the finish well - we finished on the track finish line! How fun is that?!
This is definitely a race that I can see doing again! I am okay with the smaller scale race (200-300+ participants) and the course was great! The only major pitfall is the complete lack of crowd support. There were a few people near the start/finish areas, but the only "support" we recieved was from the traffic volunteers and water stop volunteers.
This is a race that I can see running or pacing again next year!
There was ample water, bananas, granola bars, muffins, and pretzels! Finishing at the end of the cutoff, there is always the question if the race stocked well enough to last through all of the finishers. Yes, yes they did! :)