Latest reviews by William Brent
A few notes before the review:
Course Scenery was rated as a 5 of 5 but the better part of the race was done over night.
Aid stations were a 2 because they were not aid stations, there were exchange points, although the Ram Cat exchange point was also an aid station...and I thank them for that.
Overall, this is a must do event.
The Pro: you build comradery with others while takin
The Con: No cell service. Make sure you have a co-pilot who knows how to read directions.
Communication from the race director was good. I wasn't inundated with notes in my inbox, but I was provided the athlete guide and instructions with ample time to prepare for the race.
There wasn't an 'Expo" but the packet pick up process was nice. Low key, a couple of sponsors really nice scenery. Lunch was provided by the race which was nice!
Even though this is a 'trail' race, I didn't need 'trail running' shoes for this event. The terrain is similar to a bike path / rail trail consistency and there were no sharp inclines or declines.
I ran one segment through a tunnel which was both interesting and creepy.
I ran another segment through a state park which had other trails feeding into it which gave a Blair Witch feel...but I didn't feel lost
(okay, my first leg I felt lost because someone had drawn an arrow on the ground, but it wasn't the color of the race arrows and I didn't see anyone 'double back' on the course which is what would have happened if anyone followed the arrow...anyway the pitfall of a public access course...)
Starting so late in the day was a bit rough because you are forced/guaranteed to run overnight.
If the thought of running at night, in the woods, causes you to be a bit fearful, don't be. There were a surprising amount of course marshals? on course for safety. (They were volunteers on bikes and 4 wheelers patrolling the trails more than marshals) and I heard that there may be GPS tracking for course safety next year.
I generally run at night (not for 31 miles) because its convenient, and I've paced a friend of mine through an overnight race before, so I had an idea of what I was getting into; but it was a good experience and everyone was surprisingly pleasant.
The other thing I was anticipating was grueling up hill climbs. Thankfully there weren't any (on my legs?) There was one clear front runner for 'up hill' and that was the first mile of leg three. Otherwise, the course was mostly gradually uphill.
On Course support:
The exchange station volunteers were really nice. Ram Cat was the best stocked exchange station and I think the race would benefit from having some sort of 'vote for the best exchange point' in the future.
I would say the run is self supported. Bring your water and your nutrition because there isn't a full spread on course. IF you are a trial runner, then you are probably familiar with this. If you are a road runner, this will be shocking.
The Finish line:
It was as low key as the race. Not in a bad way though.
The volunteers were super pleasant and the location had great parking.
There wasn't s finish festival like you have at marathons or 'big name' events, but i think that would have seemed disingenuous.
No one brings a crowd like New York. There is something about the energy these spectators bring to an event.
The race directors put athlete safety at the forefront of their decision making.
The bad: I personally had some logistics challenges. All in all though, everything was resolved; BUT, unless you are in the metro area, its not logistically convenient to get to the ‘places’ (Keep reading if you thought ‘the bad’ was going to be about the Hudson.)
I wanted to love this race, and it was a really good race, but I think I had higher expectations that the race could deliver.
I was fortunate enough to have VIP entry, but I didn’t feel VIP until finish.
Packet pick up was not faster (for me) than if I were a regular P.
Very communicative and informative (seriously useful, not just advertising!)
Kudos to the race team for appropriate use of communication vehicles.
The race was also very active on social, and responsive!
YAY! An actual expo. Well, 8 vendors in a conference hall of a NYC hotel, but I’ll take it.
Free coffee! (YAY!)
There were race sponsors and some last minute essentials. I think gone are the days of wall to wall vendors, but this was nice.
The athlete briefing (which was necessary) could have been completed through a Facebook live (or similar) video, rather than requiring everyone to sit in a briefing hall for 30 – 60 min.
I understand that two things are true:
Not everyone has ‘Facebook’ so an in person option makes race information accessible for all.
By requiring the in person briefing, the race can ‘ensure’ that everyone hears the same message.
I’ve heard the briefing and participated in a lot of races. I don’t feel that I learned anything new, but I appreciate that the event staff want to ensure they are ensuring athlete safety.
Similar to IM races, NYC Tri does not permit morning of bike docking.
They permit you into transition so that you can drop off any last minute items.
I personally found this a bit stressful. They hydrogel I use shouldn’t be made in advance… and it was 103 degrees, SO I opted to bring everything in the morning.
During the briefing it was communicated that only a clear bag can be brought to transition, which was additionally stressful because I have everything in my race bag, then making sure I transfer it tot he clear bag.
I appreciate the safety aspect, but I also have a system lol.
The nice part about all of this was I could have spent all day walking back and forth to transition to make sure everything was ‘just right’
Race Morning thoughts:
The window to enter and be in transition was a bit narrow, but at the same time appropriate. I was able to set up everything, fill my bottles, double check, get a picture etc.
The Solutions tent was near the start line which makes and abundance of logistical sense. I would have LOVED a solutions tent near transition, or the athlete village. I needed the solutions tent which is why I am so passionate about placement, but I’ve also been part of setting up races, and where it was located made sense.
The swim was in the Hudson. The Hudson is a river in a MAJOR metropolitan area. THE metropolitan area (if I may be so bold.) THAT being said, the water wasn’t as bad as you would think.
Yes there were things floating in the water.
Yes my white tri suit was brown.
No I wouldn’t do it again.
Yes, if you’ve never done it before, just do it.
There was so much support in the water. It was actually impressive. This, alone, is a reason to opt in for this race in the future.
The athlete village layout and the distance from the start was interesting. I would like to see 2 things:
Athlete Village / restrooms closer to start
IF the whole village isn’t able to move, there should be a VIP area closer to the race start.
DISCLAIMER there was really only a short distance between athlete village and start; however, I feel that if they were closer, I would have felt more at ease has I not needed to walk back and forth…
Transition was no issue.
Bike course was no issue, no hydration stops, but that was expressly communicated.
The run course started on a hill, which didn’t feel like it stopped until the finish line.
Great support (water stops).
Its NYC, great support from the crowd.
As indicated earlier, I was a VIP, and the finish area for VIPS was really nice.
Private bathrooms (the kind that look like a trailer and are really similar to a real potty…not the blue ones you see at construction sites or race starts….)
Free coffee (thank you ladies)
wonderful spread of food.
Most definitely a step up from a traditional ‘finish festival’
I was tempted to walk over to the regular finish line festival, but at the same time I was happy in my not crowded VIP area.
Getting back to transition to get my bike was the next obstacle I needed to tackle.
The race advertised shuttles and one person seemed to know where they were.
No one else.
The volunteers (while enthusiastic and generally helpful) pointed in a random direction which lead out of the park.
By the time I was able to get the website up and see that the shuttles were on 67th street I was on 77th and closer to the subway (which worked out because the ‘C’ train left me closer to where I parked my car.)
Another recommendation, have signs which read “transition shuttles’ so the athletes can locate them easier. Or (if possible) have a dedicated VIP one?
Collecting my things and exiting transition was no sweat, and they were validating wrist bands with bike numbers, so all was good there also.
In summery, I would recommend doing this race at least once.
If you’re local, do it every year.
The good: there was a ton of course support! 18 aid stations on the marathon course!
The bad: I think the course map could have been more detailed.
The ugly: you wouldn't think there were as many hills in the ocean state... but there were a few painfully placed hills.
Registration was a breeze, as usual.
As a side note; I really liked the ability to have an early start (for walkers or runners who need to take a bit more time)
Communication from race management was adequate. The only complaint I had was the precise start line was not provided.
I found it (obviously) but usually the cross streets, or a landmark is provided. All the instructions read "downtown"
I didn't feel there was a ton of hype leading up to the race though. A few other races send out a training update or a monthly reminder. Those aren't necessary, but are nice to have.
There was no expo, which isn't necessary. Generally I don't have enough time to go to the expo. Packet pick up was at a local running store, but parking at the store was a bear. The running store was surprisingly spacious and everyone was pleasant.
Race morning was well organized and there were plenty of port-o-johns
Parking for free was non existing, but you could get right up to the start line and then have access to shops and restaurants along the way.
I think the highlight was there were 18 aid stations on course! Unheard of!
Despite the run being largely on a bike path, there was a ton of crowd support.
The hills though... the hills.....
I didn't realize the ocean state was going to be so hilly. To be honest it wasn't as bad as New York...but the placement of the inclines were painful.
I recommend this race to anyone who wants a surprising challenge In a very scenic location.
The good: The finisher party is truly a celebration.
The bad: the 2nd half of the marathon lacks diverse scenery the aid stations are far and few between.
Registration: really simple
Race communication: thorough and not overwhelming. Emailed at good intervals
Accuracy of race information:... I think the communication was as accurate as they though. It was rather difficult to get a read on whether or not I needed to bring my own fuel and hydration. I generally bring gels but I was excited because Huma was supposed to be on course.
Sadly, I didn't see any gels at Aid stations. There were chips and bananas.
As it turns our mile 19.5 had gu energy chews on the table if I wanted to stop and ask for them.
I think the half marathon is a fantastic experience. It's scenic and gives you an opportunity to explore Wilmington. I felt that I was running Gettysburg, PA and Roanoke, VA all at the same time.
There were hills and woods and a cemetery and a park... If I only did the half, I would have probably rated the race 5 stars.
The back half of the marathon was just a long stretch of nothing. The last 2 miles along the water was nice. It made me enjoy the race. But 13 to 25 was just painful from a scenery and (lack of) elevation change perspective.
The start line was super congested. They had 3 races go off at the same time (full, half and 10k) and that was too much on the path. If they would have had the individual events go off rolling that could have thinned out the crowd a bit.
Logistically it made sense, but as a runner it was rough.
Parking was fantastic. They worked with a local parking authority and we were able to park in the city lots at a discount.
The volunteers were swell.
The beer tables were great, the snacks at the end were great.
Do the half.
What I liked: Excitement. Post-race production party. Event Weekend.
What could have been improved: For having done this race 50 years, The aid stations could have been paid out better.
J&A put on a fantastic event.
The communication from the event staff and their engagement on social media were outstanding.
There was ample email from event management regarding course information and start times and packet pick up. There was just enough communication that I was reminded there was something going on but not overwhelmed.
The swag was phenomenal. The medal was nice. it was embossed with a stencil of the boardwalk. The shirt they give you is pretty standard too, but the towel and the hat at the end were really nice touches.
The course was interesting. I have run the southern part of the course a few times at previous races, but a motivator for this race was the northern part of the run.
I really appreciated the 'base-to-base' feel of the race (running between the two military bases.) The lighthouse on the northern part of the course was really neat and the boardwalk finish was outstanding.
The post-event celebration was off the charts.
I think the event would have been worth running the half marathon and attending the party.
I won't even use words, just find them on social.
In short, do the dolphin challenge, stay for the after-party.