Date: End of August (Aug 26, 2012 this year)
* Until Dec 31: Half/$75, Full/$85
* Jan - March: Half/$80, Full/$90
* Apr - June: Half/$90, Full/$100
* Jul - Aug: Half/$105, Full/$120
There's also a 5K - $30 for adults & $15 for kids. A little googling also turned up several discount codes, so you can probably save $10-$20 off of the current price as well.
Deadlines/sellout factor: The half & full both sold out a month or so (I think?) before the race. There were still 5K spots as of race morning.
Field Size: 357 in the full, 625 in the half, 395 in the 5K
The expo was in a tiny side room at Hotel Flamingo on 4th Street. It was SUPER, super small with just a handful of booths (packet & shirt pickup, SRM merch, sunglasses, water bottles, silver jewelry, Modesto Marathon, CPR instruction). I don't mind a small expo, but as small as this race is, it's still really too big for that room. You basically had to follow a single narrow loop, and people were packed in so tightly that it was extremely difficult to make your way through. I usually like to stop & check out the booths, but it was so crowded that doing so was more trouble than it was worth. The more people stopped, the harder it was to move. I would've been in and out in 5 minutes if it hadn't been for the crowd; as it was it took me twice that long to maneuver my way out once I had my stuff.
The half marathon course is an out-and-back mostly along the Santa Rosa Greenway between Santa Rosa Ave & Willowside Rd, with the marathon making two loops. Most of the way is paved, though there were several long stretches of gravel, and it's astoundingly flat with the exception of a few dips to go under bridges. Technically it's very, very slightly downhill (like 0.002%) on the way out & equivalently uphill on the way back, but it's really not detectable at all.
One of the pre-race emails described the trail as fully shaded, which it isn't. It didn't matter much since it was low fifties & overcast (not to mention that the start time was 7 am), but still. Definitely only partially shaded part of the time. There were a few sharp turns due to the little loops you have to make to go under bridges, but that's really it. Because it's an out-and-back trail, there were very few actual turns.
My only real quibble with the course was the narrowness of it in the first mile or two. There were just too many people running relatively fast in too tight a space and I felt very, very unsafe. I literally had about a square foot of space and spent mile one getting kicked in the shins by the person in front of me, the backs of my shoes stepped on by the person behind me, & elbowed every which direction by the folks to my side (particularly those ill-advisedly trying to pass under these conditions). At one point I actually was elbowed right off the trail by a girl (who laughed as she called "Sorry!" back over her shoulder). The trail never got much wider, but it was a huge relief when the field opened up & thinned out some around mile 2ish.
It's worth noting that there is really nothing--nothing--to see but trees, concrete, & other runners. I kept looking forward to aid stations (every 1.5 miles or so) just for a break in the monotony. If you like interesting scenery/cheering stations/rock bands/etc. in your races or if you struggle with scenery that never, ever changes, this one may not be for you.
Other than the tiny space, packet pickup was quick & efficient. Instead of a plastic goody bag, we got black drawstring reusable ones, which seems to be a thing now, & I appreciate the effort to avoid the waste generated from plastic ones that often just get thrown away. However, I have learned better than to use the race freebie bag for your bag check. My bright, neon green one (thanks, Oakland Half!) stuck out among the mountains of black, and I was on my way in ten seconds with the hearty thanks of the volunteer who handed it to me while the rest of them were still digging around in the endless sea of black, trying to match bib numbers to tiny slips of blue paper.
The race organizers sent out an email with parking options a few weeks before the race, which was awesome. It turns out that there are several free options just a short walk from the course. I arrived super early (because I am paranoid & neurotic on race morning) & basically had my pick of spots in the 1st Street garage, all of five minutes' walk to the start. It was so easy & painless, in fact, that I ended up with over an hour & a half to kill. Ah, well. Better that than the alternative.
Port-a-potties were plentiful & easy to spot, & the lines never got very long, which is, of course, always appreciated.
This ended up playing out more or less just as I thought it would. I figured I'd run it as if were an HM pace run & try to keep the pace up for as long as I could. If I was having an absolutely amazing day, I thought there might be a chance I could break 1:40 again (especially since the course & weather were on my side, unlike the first time I did it). I could tell by mile six or seven, though, that it just wasn't going to happen. I was keeping up the pace, but it was really tough. At that point I decided I'd run hard & try my best to stay at more or less HM (goal) pace for ten miles, and if I still wasn't feeling great, that would be good enough.
|Definitely the most human I have ever looked at the end of a race. Also, both feet in the air FTW! :D|
This was the first time I've done that in a race when I haven't been injured, and mentally it was hard to watch wave after wave of runners pass me. I stopped for a little while at each of the remaining aid stations to stretch, have multiple cups of water, chat with the volunteers, help them out (okay, that's an exaggeration), etc., then jogged on. Then, of course, we reached the final half mile or so, and advisable or not, I just couldn't resist giving it a bit of extra gas.
- Garmin: 13.19 miles / 1:45:01 / 7:57 pace
Official: 13.1 miles / 1:44:52 / 8:00 pace
So yeah. No big surprise; it's pretty much exactly what I expected to happen, given that I've run all of 70 miles this month. I don't particularly like the idea of paying for a race & then not being able to run it the way I know I'm capable of and it's certainly not what I planned to have happen when I registered, but that's life sometimes. The plus side is that I knew going in that I probably wouldn't be fit enough to race the whole thing, and realistic expectations can go a long way towards keeping you in that "It is what it is; I'll get 'em next time" mentality rather than careening into that dark, good-for-nothing "OMG I'm such a failure!" place. The way I look at it, I got in a long(ish) run and an extended pace run all in one go, which is more than I've managed at any other point this month.
And really. How down on yourself can you get if you stop twice to hang out & chat with volunteers and still finish in the top 10% of your age group? I keep reminding myself of that. :)
So. Healdsburg Half (this one, not this one - yes, there are two half marathons in Healdsburg in October) on 10/14. Who's got two thumbs & is super pumped to train (for realz, y'all) the HELL out of the next seven weeks? THIS GIRL!!
(Also, a quick rant. Do I have a freaking sign on my back that says "I am bored, please talk to me?" I swear, at least once a mile some old dude would try to start a conversation with me. I'm not trying to be rude, but I'M KIND OF BUSY HERE. It's bad enough that I have to put up with all of your wheezing and moaning and grunting and foot slapping and sports bean rattling and arm flailing and snot rocketing, but I put up with it because it's part of the bargain when you agree to run a race with other people. Being your chat buddy is more than I can deal with, physically and mentally. Unless we are already friends or I look like I need medical attention, leave me the eff alone. End rant.)
I'm totally considering one of those vests like they make for service dogs for my next race. Thankfully, no one has ever tried to pet me during a race.
Logo tech shirt & finisher medal, natch:
This medal narrowly beats out the Oakland Half one for the title of Largest Medal Owned by Me.
Spinner medals are rad!
Plus the black drawstring bag I mentioned earlier, pancake breakfast, wine tasting, & concert after the race. (I didn't stay so I can't tell you much more about those.) There was also a $25 all-you-can-eat pasta dinner at the Hotel Flamingo on Saturday night, though since it wasn't free I guess it doesn't really count as swag. (I did not partake so I can't tell you how good it was.)
As for the awards, the website has this to say:
"The winning overall open (below 40) female and male runners and overall female and male master division (40+) runners will each receive:
Each men and women age category (21 and older) will receive another nice prize, to be determined."
Nope, I haven't left anything out. That's what it says. Part of me is very curious to know what indeed the winners received, and what these other "nice prizes" were too.
1) A bigger expo space. More vendors would be nice, but the race is smallish & relatively new, so it's understandable that the expo is on the small side. However, the space was so cramped that people could barely move. (Only later did it occur to me how this sort of foreshadowed the first mile or so of the race.)
2) More folks working the bag check. They were making a valiant effort, but the line still got LOOOONG around 6:30-6:40ish. Adding a couple more people & maybe a second table would probably go a long way towards alleviating that.
3) I know there's not much that can be done about the narrowness of the course early in the race because it's basically defined by how wide the trail is. However, I'm wondering if it's possible to open more lanes on the roads for the first quarter mile or so to allow more runners to get out in front before they get locked into a thick crowd they can't get out of. The site does say that "We will most likely use only half the road for all the runners (narrower chute for safety reasons about a 1/4 mile into the race)," but to me, this situation felt anything but safe. All it would've taken was one or two runners to go down (which was totally possible given the close proximity of flying legs) & there would've been a massive pile-up & probably some trampling action.
On the small side, reasonably priced (especially if you find the discount codes), well-run & logistically organized, nice swag, great volunteers, and a flat, straight course = not a bad deal. Personally the gravel is a deal-breaker for me, so the odds that I'll run it again are slim. BUT, I would totally recommend it to someone who doesn't mind gravel (and doesn't need a lot of sensory stimulation in a race). I'd just advise them to work out ahead of time how they plan to deal with the inevitable crunch in the first 1-1.5 miles.
Thanks for the good time, Santa Rosa! :)