First off, thank you so much for your kind words last week! I am so excited that I am now a DOCTOR and can further my career in the academe.
I made a game time decision over the weekend to run the Charlottesville Half Marathon.
While I was glad that I got the run in, I was less than impressed with the organization, course, and logistics of the race. I suppose I’m just disappointed since the organizers of this race milk the “best new marathon in the u.s.a.” designation as was awarded by Runner’s World four years ago. Don’t get me wrong, it could be that way. But it wasn’t, and I’m afraid runners are traveling to Cville for a race that is not at all indicative of the type of event our amazing town can offer. I have always been as honest and open as I can here on my blog and so this won’t be any exception. Here we go….
I arrived at the expo on Friday and was automatically put on edge (you know what they say about paying attention to red flags…). There was no sign for the expo so I wandered around for a bit. Wait, I was lost and I LIVE HERE? What would happen to the runners who weren’t even from the area? I finally found my way and tried to sign up for the race. The website clearly stated that I could sign up at the expo. However, only one person (the organizer) could sign me up–aka enter my info into the computer–so I waited around for quite some time. Not a great start.
The race starts super early–6:30am–which isn’t a problem for me, but I wonder why all of the races during the hot summer months seem to start later. The temps were in the 30s and by the end of the half marathon, taking into account the 3 our limit, had only climbed to 43. By the time the full marathon was over it was around 50 degrees. PERFECT running weather, no? Unfortunately, someone involved with the race decided to post that the conditions were sunny and in the 60s for the race. I’m all for marketing the race and trying to get runners to want to run next year. But come on, let’s just be honest about what the temperature was.
Major pet peeve alert: Not starting the race on time. I stood at the starting line and saw my watch go from 6:20 to 6:25 to 6:30 to 6:35am with no announcement at all. The local radio station, 106.1, was playing the most annoying Pink song ever (insult to injury!) as the race start time came and went. Finally we were off about 6 minutes late. Once again, a seemingly small complaint but an important one. I don’t want other people to think that this is indicative of Cville, because it isn’t. I swear we’re smart enough to organize and start a race on time, just like the hundreds of other races I’ve run all over the country. It is a road race. Not a relaxed trail run. So….start it on time. It’s as simple as that.
The course for the half is tough, there’s no question about that. Some steep rolling hills and then a hill that lasted for 3 miles (all downhill on the way out, uphill on the way back).
That’s no problem either. It’s just the reality of running here in Cville. But do you know what I do have a problem with? Not marking the course correctly. All of the mile markers were incorrectly marked (long) by over half a mile! I knew that it wasn’t attributed to my failure to run the tangents because when I passed the 2 mile marker and looked at my Garmin, it said 2.56. And the mile markers were consistently spaced–exactly one mile apart–from that point on. So basically the course was not marked correctly from the start. It would be an understatement to say that I heard a lot of complaining on the course about that issue. It is called the “Charlottesville Marathon”, the marathon of the town. So don’t get something as simple as the course mile markers wrong. Ok? Ok.
So despite those complaints, I did have fun running. I mean, I was running, so what’s not to like?
I was proud that I powered up the 3 miles of hills on the way back and my time was only a few minutes slower than the NYC Half. That happened even though the course was seriously, really challenging. If it had been the same course I would definitely been closer to 1:50 so that shows me that there is some progress happening here. I am battling to get back to my 1:40 time so any movement in that direction is good news indeed. Official chip time? 2:01:12. But let’s remember that the course was horribly, incorrectly marked (which ended up being a little over a tenth of a mile long…so obviously the mile markers were arbitrarily placed wherever they wanted to put them). I’m calling it myself since there was obviously no forethought put into organizing the race course: it was an under 2 hour run.
I didn’t stick around very long after I finished. There was no post-race water/food/treats…ok wait, let me qualify that. There was no easily accessible/obvious post-race water/food/treats. I heard after the fact that it was in the Ice Arena a block away but how the hell was I supposed to know that? No signage anywhere. Nothing. Maybe it’s just the teacher or organizer in me–I mean, come on, I was able to get my PhD for a reason–but isn’t it easy to print out some pieces of paper with some info and paste them up? I shudder to think at how poorly organized the race was for all of the reasons I have listed here. They are each small things, but together add up to a bigger problem. I paid over $100 for a half marathon that I probably should have just run by myself on Saturday. But whatever, it is another bib, another medal, another story.
What’s up next????? Ooooh, the Decker’s Creek Half in WV. Now there’s a well organized race and really amazing course…well marked, water tables, the works (come on, they even BUS you up to the starting line and have tons of treats waiting for you at the finish line). If they can do it right in rural WV, why can’t we in Cville? Maybe they’ll get it right next year…
What are your biggest race pet peeves?
What is the least organized race you’ve ever run?