Latest reviews by Riley Fickett
On Christmas Eve my parents and I participated in the Run Run Santa 1-Miler in Viera, Florida! This is the second time we've done this race, the first time being back in 2018. It's a really cute festive race (and we all know that I love a festive race) and it's the perfect way to spend the morning of Christmas Eve!
With your registration you get a Santa suit and the intention is that you'll wear it during the 1-mile run. This creates a great big crowd of running Santas and it's honestly such a blast. Folks will also dress up as other Christmas favorites like the Grinch. It's such a fun time because everyone is in great spirits and so excited that it's finally Christmas Eve!
Because I performed so well during the Rock n' Roll Savannah 1-Miler in November, I was considering also trying to push myself and see how fast I could run the mile, while rocking a Santa suit 😂 However, race day was the first day that we were in Florida after a two day road trip to my parent's house and my energy levels were just not there, so I decided to just take it easy and enjoy the run!
The Santa suit isn't the most comfortable running getup in the world, and the shorts kept constantly falling down and ripping 😂 While it's fun that you're given a Santa suit with your registration, they aren't the most high quality running garments in the world so I highly recommend ensuring that you're wearing comfortable running gear underneath! Use the Santa suit as more of a decorative top layer on race morning!
The race itself is a quick loop of the immediate area, making a bit of a horseshoe shape. There's not much to say about the course of a 1-Miler, but there was some crowd cheering on the runners on the course, and even a little "snow" machine going which was so much fun to see in Florida!
I think the big draw for this race would have to be the after party. There was such great atmosphere - a DJ & dancing, plenty of breakfast treats, photo opportunities, and there were so many prizes for the folks who ran the fastest! I think having such a short distance race during such a festive time of year really made the post-race party so much fun.
On top of all of that, you do receive a medal for completing the run! The medals are usually such great quality as well, and that's above and beyond anything I would expect for a 1-Mile race! This year's medal featured two candy canes with the logo in the center, and the ribbon was green with white stars and snowflakes!
Ultimately, I have a blast every single time we do this race. It's something active to kick off the Christmas holiday, and ultimately a great activity that the entire family can participate in. If you're in the area of Viera on Christmas Eve, definitely give it a go! 🎅🏻
Last month I ran the Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon in San Antonio, Texas! After the heartbreak that was the Rock n' Roll Savannah weekend (aka not running my 18th marathon in my 18th state due to weather), I was antsy and ready to capture another 26.2! I'm happy to say that the weather was in my favor for this one and I was able to finally check off state #18. Let's dive into how the weekend went!
This trip was extra fun because Brett traveled with me to Texas, and we ended up meeting up with our good friends Erin and Cullen in San Antonio. We hadn't seen them since July so it was so nice to finally be traveling with them again! As soon as we met up at the airport we headed over to the expo so I could pick up my bib and race gear.
With Rock n' Roll, most of their expos are set up very similarly. They set up the expo hall so you have to walk through the entire event before leaving. From an event planner perspective it is a very smart way to set up the expo to ensure that participants are seeing every part of the space before leaving! I think Rock n' Roll also does a great job of giving you plenty of photo opportunities and really makes the expo an ~experience~ rather than a chore. I will say, though, that if you've been to one Rock n' Roll expo you've basically seen them all, haha. They're all quite similar, which makes sense because they're all put on by the same company!
It sounded like for the San Antonio weekend, they were having some trouble with getting participant shirts in on time. There's been so many supply chain issues since the start of COVID that it's totally understandable that this happened (and I mean… do I really need another participant shirt? 😂), but Rock n' Roll also did a fantastic job of letting us know in plenty of time that shirts would be delayed and we would pick them up at the finish line and not at the expo. I didn't hear anyone being bothered by this, and I think the crystal clear communication by Rock n' Roll had a lot to do with that!
After the expo, Cullen, Erin, Brett, and I all went down to the Riverwalk area for dinner! We went to this restaurant called the Iron Cactus which had TOP NOTCH Mexican food and we stuffed ourselves completely full before heading over to our AirBnB for the night.
Before bed I did my race-day-eve ritual of laying out my flat runner! The weather was predicted to be a bit warm so I was kinda nervous how that would impact my race. I needed to dress cool and comfy for the run, and I think I achieved just that!
In the morning we were out the door before the sun came up. The start line is right in the middle of the city, so parking near the start wasn't entirely possible. We got somewhat close to the start line before I hopped out of the car and headed down to the starting area on foot. This was by far the biggest race I had been a part of since the start of the pandemic, so the corrals were FULL, but the energy of the starting area was fantastic and I was so happy to be there! Erin, Brett, and Cullen were even able to come find me at the corral before the race started which was incredible! I loved being able to hang with them while we waited for the race to start!
The way the corrals were spaced I ended up being at the VERY FRONT of the starting waves! It was so crazy to be in the very front. I definitely felt SUPER out of place because I'm used to hundreds of runners being in front of me. I knew I needed to take it all in, though, because it's very rare that I get to be in the front of the crowd. After some photos and some cheering at the start line, we were off!
Standing and waiting for the race to begin, the weather honestly wasn't that bad. However as soon as I started running, the humidity really showed itself and it got super sweaty super fast. This, of course, affected the way I needed to approach the race. Although I didn't really train for a sub-5 leading up to this race, I was curious to see if I could pull it off again in San Antonio since the course was relatively flat through the entire race. However when I got to about mile 3 I came to the realization that it was just too muggy for me to really push myself in the way I needed to hit a sub-5 pace for 26.2 miles, so I took it easy and enjoyed the run.
The first half of the race was filled with so much to look and so much entertainment! Rock n' Roll always does a great job with on-course musicians and DJs, and I feel like this race did a really great job of also representing the culture of the city. San Antonio is known for being a really big military city, and this marathon does a lot to honor veterans. Mile 5 was one of the most notable miles of the race because the first half is lined with photographs of fallen servicemen and women, and the second half is lined with folks holding hundreds of American flags and cheering as hard as they can for the runners. I'd be totally lying if I told you I didn't get a little bit emotional during this mile!
Miles 7-11 really leaned into the Mexican culture and influence in this region which I absolutely loved! There were folks in cultural attire on stilts, there were sculptures of mariachi skeletons, and miles 10-11 was completely lined with mariachi bands and folks doing traditional Mexican dances. It was honestly SO COOL and one of my favorite parts of the race.
We hit the marathon/half marathon split around mile 11 which is always interesting because the crowd always thins SIGNIFICANTLY, but I was thankful that I was actually getting to run a FULL instead of a half after what happened in Savannah! In the words of Brett when I texted the group I hit the split "F--k a half marathon!" 😂
The back half was a little bit less exciting, which I wish race directors would be better about. There definitely were some bands here and there, but it just seems so much quieter during the second half of the race. It's always such a bummer for the folks who choose to run the full marathons. I get that ALL of your runners are participating in the first half, but you gotta give your full marathoners some encouragement when their struggling!
I was able to see Brett, Erin, and Cullen at mile 14 which was perfect timing! I was starting to really feel tired from the humidity and I needed an energy boost. Seeing my cheer squad always brings me so much joy and gratitude, and it's the first time they've been together cheering me on since Rock n' Roll New Orleans in February 2020! I'm so thankful for them!
Miles 14-20 were all through this bike trail and I actually really enjoyed this section of the race. It was nice and calm and peaceful on that trail, and it actually felt like I was around more runners during this section. Something about the smaller space made me feel more like we were all sharing the experience of the run together through some of the toughest miles of the marathon. Rock n' Roll was also able to squeeze in a couple of entertainers during this part of the course as well which was so much fun to see!
I saw the Cheer Squad again at mile 20.5 which again was a huge boost. I feel like they picked the PERFECT points of the race to come and cheer me on and again, I so appreciate them traveling all around the city of San Antonio to come and see me for literally 30 seconds haha. Spectators - runners will ALWAYS appreciate you, even if you only see them for a short amount of time during the race! This would be the last time I would see them before the finish line.
Everything was going pretty smoothly for the next couple miles, even though I was a sweaty mess and I was so ready to be done running haha.
Then, came mile 23, which was almost 100% uphill 💀
I did try to run a little bit but honestly it was not worth it at that point of the race lol. Everyone else around me was walking so I really felt no shame just walking it up the steepest hill in all of Texas! Even after we hit the 23 mile marker we still had a little bit to go. It was ROUGH!
Luckily we got to the top of the hill eventually and a lot of mile 24 was downhill. At that point of the race we were so close to the finish that all I was focused on was getting to the end! As we got closer to the finish the crowds really amped up and we ran toward the finish line through a party-like atmosphere which was so uplifting after running all morning!
Eventually I got into the finisher chute, turned the corner, and saw the finish line as well as my pals! It gave me one final boost to push as hard as I could to get myself across the finish and complete state #18! Final time for Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon was 5:14:57, which I feel so great about considering how humid it was! Not too far off a sub-5 at all 😊
After the race I finally met up with the crew and we took some finish festival photos! I actually earned an additional medal through the Rock n' Roll Heavy Medals program. I was able to pick up the medal for the 1718 Challenge, for completing the Rock n' Roll New Orleans Marathon in 2020 and the Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon in 2021! I also was able to pick up my participant shirt, just like they promised!
Overall we had a fantastic time in San Antonio, and I really loved running the Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon. I know folks have a lot of opinions on the Rock n' Roll series but I've personally had some really great experiences running these races. I think the Rock n' Roll team has some really great customer service and they put on fantastic events. I really appreciate all the communication that they gave to participants regarding our shirts, the entertainment they provided along the course, and the effort they put into making the Rock n' Roll San Antonio Marathon a truly unique experience from start to finish. I definitely recommend participating in a Rock n' Roll series event if you get the chance!
Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Friendsgiving Virtual Run to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
One of my absolute favorite traditions each year is running a Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot. It's a great way to start a busy day of cooking and visiting family and friends with something small for myself, and a reminder of how thankful I am to be able to run! This year I was presented with the opportunity to run a super fun virtual run for my annual Turkey Trot - the Friendsgiving Virtual Run, themed after one of my favorite comfort shows, Friends!
We all know that the Friends Thanksgiving episodes are second to none, so when the option to run this race presented itself I had to jump on it! The Virtual Run gave you the option to run a 10K, 5K, or 1-Mile distance for your race. I opted to go for a 5K, which felt like the perfect distance to run on Thanksgiving morning. I love when there's multiple distance options for virtual runs, so you can make it work for whichever training program you might be working through!
I was pleasantly surprised at how stinkin' adorable all of the race swag was, and the positive is that every distance got the same swag! For registering, you received an adorable crew neck sweatshirts (I LOVE a crew neck!), a bib, and a finisher's medal with the iconic turkey with sunglasses! Unfortunately, due to supply chain issues, we haven't yet received the finisher's medal. However, the organizers of the virtual run were super apologetic and up front about the situation which I appreciated so much, and we'll get our medals eventually which is fine by me!
If you're a big fan of Friends like me, this is a fun way to motivate yourself to get outside and run! There are multiple distances to choose from, and you get awesome swag. I had a great time participating in this run, and would definitely recommend you giving this one a try!
In early November I traveled down to Savannah, Georgia for the Rock n' Roll Savannah Marathon weekend! This was intended to be my 18th marathon in my 18th state, and I even planned on meeting up with my parents and sister to make it a fun lil vacation (they all live fairly close to Savannah!). Little did I know that this weekend was about to be full of surprises!
I arrived in Savannah around 11AM on Friday morning, where I met up with my parents at the airport! They scooped me up and we made arrangements to meet up with my sister in the city. Once the four of us were finally together we headed over to the riverfront where we grabbed a bite to eat and some drinks at The Warehouse. Time to celebrate being together for the first time since Christmas!
After lunch we hopped over to the expo by way of the ferry! It was so cool getting to take the ferry across the river to get over to the expo. We picked up our bibs and race packets (I had to pick up two!), took photos, and had an overall great time checking out all of the vendors and merch!
It was a cold and rainy day, so after the expo we ducked into a coffee shop to warm up a bit and caffeinate after a long day of travel.
And then we were finally able to check into our little Air BnB and relax! I gathered my gear for my flat runner (below) and we ate some dinner - home made meals made by my parents and transported up from their homes in Florida! Nothing better than a homecooked meal the night before a big race, right? We were all pretty wiped so we had a fairly early bed time. I had to mentally prepare myself to run in what was looking to be pretty rough conditions the next morning, so I wanted to get as much rest as possible so I could go into race day with the right mindset!
I woke up before everyone else to start getting myself ready. The winds and rains were BRUTAL outside and to be honest I was not looking forward to getting outside in the rain for 26.2 miles, but I had to remember that through this 50 state journey I was going to have to deal with all sorts of weather! I tried my best to get mentally prepared. And then about an hour and a half before the originally scheduled race time, we received this text message:
TEXT: "Good morning. Due to deteriorating weather conditions we have determined we cannot host the full marathon. We will host the half marathon and relay. All marathon participants have the option to participate in the half marathon.
Savannah is unusually COLD and WET this year. To help prevent hypothermia [low body temperature] you should dress in layers. Your outer garment should be waterproof, and under that wear something warm, like a sweatshirt over T-shirt. IF it dries out and warms up at all, these can be tied around your waist. If you feel you are getting too cold, stop into one of Medical Tents along the course for help."
I was a mixture of disappointed and relieved to receive this news. Disappointed because obviously I wanted to run my 18th marathon in my 18th state surrounded by my family, but relieved because the conditions were AWFUL and while it would be great to check off another state, it would have been a really terrible experience solely based on the weather conditions. I had to reframe my mindset at that point from running a full marathon to running a half instead, and after readjusting I felt a lot of pressure lift off of my shoulders!
I will say that there were SO MANY people who were PISSED by this decision, and they made their opinions heard on social media. While there are occasions where maybe frustrations are justified when events get canceled or changed, I don't think that this was one of those situations. The weather that weekend in Savannah was terrible and definitely not anywhere near acceptable to keep a race course open for 7+ hours where there would be thousands of freezing runners, volunteers, and spectators. It wad pouring rain, 40 degrees, and wind gusts of up to 30+ mph, so I personally canceling the full marathon for health and safety reasons was totally warranted. I wish folks could try to be understanding of everything that gets taken into consideration when making these decisions. I feel like I have a much different perspective on these types of situations because I plan events for a living and that probably makes me a bit more understanding, but you can't control the weather, y'all!
Because it was offered to the marathon runners, I opted to run the half marathon. I had traveled all that way, so I may as well at least run something! So we all headed out into the deluge and down to the start line.
The start was scheduled for 7:30am, but unfortunately there was a massive hold up and we were standing and waiting in our start corals for about 20-25 minutes just getting absolutely soaked. 😭 Apparently there were some issues with the course that they needed to secure before letting the runners go, but again, folks were pissed. We were all standing there freezing to death and just wanted to get the race underway, so it's understandable why folks were frustrated about this! Eventually they finally let us loose on the course and for that I was so thankful. I just wanted to get warm! 😂
Aside from the horrible weather, I actually had a great time on this run! Rock n' Roll does such a fantastic job with on-course entertainment, and even though it was pouring rain, they did not disappoint. Despite the weather, there was a band or DJ playing every mile and a half or so which I really appreciated. I was also so impressed with the energy of the on-course volunteers and the crowds throughout the entire course. I honestly went into the race thinking it was going to be crickets and I wouldn't have blamed anyone if it was because the weather was just that awful, but Savannah came out in droves to cheer on their runners. I had such a great time!
My favorite mile by far was mile 11. This mile was decorated with so many unicorns and rainbows everywhere which was so much fun to run through towards the end of the race. 🌈🦄 At this point I was cold and soaked to the bone, so having a bit of cheer at this point in the run was just what we all needed! If this was mile 11 during a torrential downpour, I am so curious what the course would be like during some good weather!
I came across the finish in 2:16:17 which is not too shabby considering how stinkin' cold and soggy I was! 😂 I did receive the medal for the full marathon at the finish line. A lot of folks with marathon bibs were not accepting those medals, which I totally get. I decided to accept the full marathon medal, although it will hang on my half marathon medal rack. I think this medal has a great story behind it, and I will always remember this race weekend whenever I look it!
After the race (and after having the opportunity to shower and warm up!) the family and I went out to grab lunch. While we were out I did receive an email that said all runners who were registered for the full marathon were able to register for a future Rock n' Roll marathon for free, which I really appreciated. I signed up for the 2022 Savannah marathon, with the hope that the third time I have registered for this race will be the charm! 😂 Big thank you to Rock n' Roll for giving this offer to your runners who had worked hard for 26.2 and making the best of a tough situation! Despite what other folks may think, I feel that Rock n' Roll did the best they could with the hand they were dealt.
copied from my blog review, which you can find here: https://fiveleveninety.blogspot.com/2021/10/race-review-death-by-hills-at-2021.html
What a whirlwind of a weekend! I'm currently sitting in the Kansas City Airport about to head home after finishing my FIRST DOUBLE MARATHON WEEKEND. I've been training for the I-35 Challenge since June and this weekend I officially ran and completed both the Kansas City Marathon in Kansas City, Missouri and the Des Moines Marathon in Des Moines, Iowa. Instead of waiting 4 months to post my reviews (lol), I thought I'd get my thoughts down on digital paper before I forget too many details of the experience. I'm going to break up my review of the weekend into two parts, so stay tuned for part 2. For now we'll kick things off with the 2021 Garmin Kansas City Marathon!
TRAVEL & EXPO DAY
I headed out of Boston bright and early on Friday morning to head over to Kansas City. I think at this point in I was having some serious regrets regarding all of my life's decisions that lead me to be on a plane to run two consecutive marathons, but there as no turning back now. 😬 I landed in KC around 10:30am, met up with Cassie, and we headed straight over to the expo for packet pick up.
While there weren't too many vendors at the expo (at least not as many as I'd see in pre-COVID times), the venue was great (located at Union Station - a GORGEOUS building!) and packet pick up was quick and easy. Cassie actually registered on-site for the 10K without any issue, and I was also able to pick up our friend Jocelyn's packet as well (she was doing both full marathons with me!) since she was not getting into KC until much later. There was a little bit of confusion with mine and Jocelyn's bibs - we were supposed to get a special designation for the I-35 Challenge on our bibs and an extra shirt and we were originally only given marathon bibs and shirts. It wasn't until I saw the table of I-35 shirts when I realized that maybe we didn't get everything we needed so I asked the volunteers. They were super great about rectifying the mistake, got us the right bibs and shirts, and were so friendly and helpful through the whole process! Race volunteers are honestly the best people you can find. 💙
KC MARATHON PACKET INCLUDED:
-Kansas City Marathon cotton t-shirt (hooray for no tech shirt!)
-I-35 Challenge finisher long sleeve shirt
-Bib & safety pins
Honestly, I prefer race packets to be no-nonsense like this one. I don't love getting coupons to local businesses unless it's something I can use during race weekend (I really don't need a coupon for a water filtration system lmao) and usually the samples that get included go unused. My preference is just give me some nice swag that I will actually use OR just give me my bib.
After some quick pics with our bibs we were both famished and wanted to grab some BBQ as Kansas City's BBQ is some of the best out there! We asked a few folks what they'd recommend for BBQ and Jack's Stack was hands down the favorite so that's where we headed. We both ordered burnt ends that were honestly SO DELICIOUS and really hit the spot after a long morning of traveling.
Eventually we made our way to our Air BnB and shortly after checking in I hit the road for a shakeout run. I knew I wasn't going to get it done if I started to relax, so I got on the road for a 2 mile run which gave me a taste of the INSANE hills in KC. Mentally it was so great to get a feel for the terrain the day before, even if it was only a taste, but BOY is Kansas City not messing around with its hills. 💀
Unfortunately in the evening I started to feel so sick to my stomach. I think it was a combination of nerves for the races, traveling, being dehydrated, and honestly the BBQ I had for lunch. The food itself was INCREDIBLE and so well made, I'm just not a huge red meat eater and of course I had beef burnt ends. Probably not the smartest move the night before a race. I was super nervous about feeling sick for obvious reasons, but most of all because I could NOT bring myself to eat anything for dinner. Going into a marathon on an empty stomach was a pretty scary prospect, but I opted to drink water, get sleep, and keep my fingers crossed that I'd feel better in the morning.
Luckily I woke up feeling somewhat better, and was even able to stomach a bowl of oatmeal before we headed out! We went to pick up Jocelyn at her hotel and made our way over to the start line. One tip right off the bat - if you're driving, get to the Kansas City Marathon EARLY. We got to the starting line area about 30 before the 7AM start and drove around for a decent amount of time before finding parking. Essentially, everyone is trying to park in ONE designated parking garage which cause a line of cars all over the place. We eventually found an empty parking lot to park in and made our way over to the start. We got to the starting line RIGHT at 7AM, which is a little too close for comfort for me, but at least we made it!
The 10K didn't start until 30 minutes after the marathon, so Jocelyn and I said goodbye to Cassie and made our way to the starting line. Before we knew it we were off and running!
This will be a theme throughout this review - the Kansas City Marathon is SO. FREAKING. HILLY. This is more than just rolling hills. We're talking about VERY extended uphill stretches with very little reprieve until the back half of the course. So, in true KC Marathon fashion, the first mile took us uphill. Jocelyn and I stuck together for the most part through the first two miles. Because we started on an uphill climb and we were feeling fresh, we actually ended up going out waaaaaay too quickly. At some point after mile 1 I turned to her and said "hey… we have a whole other marathon tomorrow…. maybe we should slow down" 😂 We came up on our first water stop around 2 miles and this is where we parted ways for the first time. I stopped for a restroom break at this point (no time for the bathroom before we started!) and she continued on.
I will say that even though the course was super hilly, it provided some incredible views of Kansas City! As the sun was rising it hit the buildings on the KC skyline and really made the city glow. It's always so incredible to see the sunrise on a city you're visiting for the first time!
The weather was on the chillier side (40s-50s) for the majority of the race, and stayed nice and cool in the shadow of the buildings during the first half of the course. It wasn't until mile 7 or 8 where the sun really started to warm things up finally. Coincidentally, this is where I finally caught up with Jocelyn for a few miles! Running with a pal always makes these distances so much easier. We stuck together and chatted until about mile 10 or so.
The half marathoners split from the full marathon right around mile 12.5. As you might know, my least favorite course design is when the half marathon splits from the full RIGHT before they finish - it's such a tease to the full marathoners! I guess I could let this one slide because we technically couldn't see the finish, but we could still hear it haha. As you were approaching this point in the race you could compete in the Garmin "Segment Challenge" which is about a 400m stretch where they'll time how fast you can run through that segment. The fastest runners would win a new Garmin Forerunner! I did not even attempt this challenge (lol) but it's a really cool idea and a great way for the title sponsor of the race to be well connected to the event.
As I came up on the half way point, I saw the lead runner turning the corner toward their mile 26! It is so wild when you realize that these athletes are TWICE AS FAST as you. 😳 I guess the tracking app was messing up because at this point my dad texted me and said it looked like I was already at 17.4 miles 😂 I told him "I wish"! With a quick restart of the app he was able to see the accurate information, though, and it was nice to hear from him at that point in the race for a second wind! I also saw Cassie cheering me on as I came up on mile 14 for an additional boost of encouragement!
I was still feeling pretty nauseous from the night before so this second half of the race was pretty tough. Luckily the hills flattened out slightly as we entered an out-and-back section of the course around mile 16. I really love out-and-backs because I love seeing and cheering on the other runners on the course, so this was great to distract me from how my stomach was feeling. There was also surprisingly a lot more crowd support on this section of the course than there was in the city. Quite a few neighbors were out cheering on the runners and the volunteers at the water stations had such great energy! I also put on my music at this point which of course made everything so much easier. Really between miles 17-21 I was having a grand old time. Probably the best I've ever felt during the third quarter of a marathon, even with the nausea! I also saw Jocelyn as she was approaching mile 19 and I had just hit 20. It was great to see a familiar face during the toughest section of the course!
Around 23 I saw a Ted Lasso "Believe" sign and it just lifted my spirits up so much! This was also a downhill section for the most part so I was flying (or at least I felt like I was… I'm sure my splits say otherwise lol). Right after 24 I saw Cassie again for one more boost of encouragement before getting to the end. 25-26 was another great flat and downhill section and then….
An UPHILL FINISH.
Yes, after miles upon miles of nothing but hills, just to demoralize you a tiny bit further, the course gives you one last uphill at mile 26 to take you to the finish line. The runner I was closest to shared a look with me like "….really?"
I was pretty bummed about this because at this point my legs were so shot from the rest of the course that I had no other choice but to walk up the hill at the end of the race, and so many other runners around me were doing the same. I wasn't a fan of that choice for course design. I'm pretty sure the wind was taken out of everyone's sails as they turned the corner, which is a huge bummer.
Either way, I got myself up that hill and into the finisher's shoot where Cassie was waiting to be paparazzi. After a day full of ups and downs (literally), I had finished state and marathon #16! We even got to see Jocelyn come across the finish line for her 96th (!!!!) marathon not long after I finished!
Due to the hilliness of the course, my upset stomach, and this being the first of two days of marathons for me, I knew going into this race that I would not be breaking any speed records or shooting for anything like a sub-5 time. The name of the game over the weekend was getting across two finish lines regardless of how long it took! The elevation stats on this race are NUTS though 👀
I'm still on the fence about how I feel about the medal for this race. Someone pointed out that it is the same medal they were offering last year for the virtual race which is an interesting observation. There isn't anything on the medal suggesting that it was specifically designed for the 2021 running of the Kansas City Marathon, which makes me a little bummed out. However, I do enjoy the light blue theming, the image of the blue fountain in KC, and I really love the medal ribbon. (My fave part is the "KC" inside the heart!)
The Kansas City Marathon is definitely one of the most challenging marathons I've run to date. The elevation and terrain is unforgiving and it will definitely 100% trash your legs if you aren't prepared for it. While the organizers can't really help the terrain of the city, I think they could rework the route to make it somewhat more of enjoyable experience for runners, or have at least figured something out about that uphill finish.
There were a few course issues we observed as well. The way it was marked was a little confusing when it came to where you were supposed to turn, which side you were supposed to run on, etc. Jocelyn also observed that while there were flags for "First Aid" on the course, there were zero folks staffed (so essentially no med stations anywhere which is…. a choice for an athletic event.
However, the race organizers were great, all of the volunteers were well informed and helpful, there are beautiful views of the city throughout the course, and if you're a spectator, there are LOTS of places for you to see your runner. I feel like I saw a lot of groups of spectators multiple times!
While I'm glad I finished the Kansas City Marathon on Saturday, I don't think I would necessarily run this race again. I think it has a lot of potential to grow into something fantastic with some tweaking of a few points, but for now I'd only really recommend this to runners who really love hills. I'm sure they're out there somewhere, lol!