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Oct 29, 2012

Wicked Halloween Run Race Review

Short Version:

Finished in 49:53(Official Chip time)
Overall place:  213/1458
AG(M40-44) 27/87

Had a great time at another great race put on by Kona Running Company.  Their the gold standard that all race companies/directors should put themselves against when planning a local race.
Registration/Packet Pickup
The race had two times to pick up your packet.  You could go the day before the race located at the start of the race in downtown Plymouth.  Because of the amount of runners, it was nice that they had packet pick up the day before to help reduce the issues with lines the day of the race.  It would have been chaos had they not had two options.  Because my drive to Plymouth takes about an hour, I opted to pick up my packet the day of the race.

I got there about 6:45am.  I was able to park right next to the finish line which is what I did last year.  
Finish line area
I parked right behind where the farmers market is and it also makes for an easy exit because it does not conflict with the race course.  As soon as I got there, the first person I saw was Ken from Eastside Stony Creek TNT Coach.  His duties include the start line set up.  Did I mention that he just had knee surgery this week?  And no crutches!  Holy cow, this guy is dedicated to the running community.  Although, I'd have to see the Kona Running staff/volunteers are also very dedicated.
Ken and his 6 billionth time volunteering!  On a recovery knee!  Awesome job!
Before the race started, there was also a costume contest that you could win prizes for as well; however,  I didn't stick near that area to see them doing the contest.  It was also the place you could pick up your age group awards as well.
Costume contest and AG award area
The race had a huge tent set up for runners to go into in order to get your race bib number so you could get your packet.  This was also where early packet pickup was the day before.
Warm tent in Kellogg Park - yeah!
When I got there, there was already people waiting in line to get their packet.  It was a little congested but things continued to moving quickly.  Good thing too because it was freezing out!

The line for the packet pickup was outside the tent as there really was not enough room for everyone to be inside it.  You could stand in there to keep warm before the race if you wanted to though.
Bib number board for runners
Packet pick up line
The volunteers were getting ready for the race and were getting the finish line food ready for us runners.
Volunteer check in area
Overall, while it was very crowded, the race organizers had things under control and all went well getting my packet.

Start Area
The start area was well located right in downtown Plymouth.  It was in a well placed spot that allowed for runners to line up on the road to get ready for the race.  In addition, the organizers had a stage so that the National Anthem could be performed(by the race director's Daughter - great job by the way) and allowed for the local dance company to perform a couple Halloween songs.
The fearless leader, and race director, Alan Whitehead, with his daughter
Dance company performing Michael Jackson's "Thriller"
The start was also right next to where the finish was and next to the packet pickup.  Plymouth's downtown area makes it an ideal spot to hold a race as everything is very convenient.  I will say that the race was running about five minutes late and did not get started until 8:05am - my biggest pet peeve in a race(and the only time since running Kona's races that they didn't start on time) - but it was delayed so the dance company could finish their performance.  With the performance finished, we were ready to run!  First up was the 10k race.

Subsequent to my race review, on 10/29, I received an e-mail from Alan Whitehead, the race director, in regards to the race starting a little late.  He said the reason for the delay was because of the long lines at packet pick up that morning and they did not want the runners in line to be late for the start of the 10k.  They also shorted the time between the first and second wave start for both the 10k & 5k because of the frigid temperatures.   I think this shows three things.  First, that the race company cares enough to wait for some runners who needed their packet so everyone could enjoy the race.  Second, that they really care about the runners given the cold.  Finally, that the race director cared enough about everyone to let me know what had happened as many runners may have wondered(as I did) what the delay was about.

Here's a picture of the start of the race.  We were all ready to run since it was quite cold out.  I was up fairly close but kept back behind the 52 minute pacers.  The pacers were new this year and I think it was a nice touch for those wanting to beat a certain time in the race.   It's the first time I've ever run a 10k race that had pacers. My goal was no goal.  I was just out there to have fun and enjoy the course.  I love running through the neighborhoods of Plymouth.  However, if you were looking for a 10k PR, this is a great race to try for that.  There were two waves for the race to help keep down the congestion and I was in the first wave.
Just before we started running - downtown Plymouth.
The first couple miles I took it easy.  I had forgot my water bottle that I normally run with but it was only a 10k so not a big deal.  The course is flat overall as you can see here in this elevation chart except a slight incline the first mile which you don't notice.  Also, note that this course is the same as the Sham Rock n Roll course which takes place in March by Kona Running Company.
Course elevation per Garmin
Course map per Garmin
There are residents that come out and cheer for you but crowd support is minimal except at the finish line which is typically crowded as it was this year as well.  Just after the first aid station, I saw Megan from Watch MeGo Run and said a quick hello until I got back to my pace.  She was dressed as a bee and there were many other runners dressed up as well.

After two miles I decided I'd pick up the pace and see how I felt.  I felt surprisingly good considering I'd just ran a marathon the week before.  Here's my splits.
Splits and Distance; Course is USATF certified to be at least 6.2 miles
Same course as last year's inaugural race and a well planned course.  Many of you might not like all the turns in the course but I actual prefer it.  I love not being able to see a far distance ahead as it keeps me motivated to run faster(probably even faster than I should have run this race.)

Aid Stations
I rarely use the aid stations at any race except for the marathon since I usually carry my water bottle.  As I said, I forgot to bring it so I got to try each aid station.  The volunteers did a great job cheering on runners.  They also yelled out water or gatorade for what they were holding and I was happy to see the three stops the race had.  I stopped at each one of them.  In addition, the race had a place on the course when you were coming around a corner and saw zombies sitting there.  As you passed them, they made noises and movement like they were going to get you.  Haha!  That was great!  A huge thank you to all the race volunteers because it was quite cold and windy outside so I'm sure it made it more difficult to want to be out there helping.

Finish Area
In the final 1/4 mile of the race, you turn the corner and see and hear the crowd cheering on runners.  This is a great area to finish and the set up makes for a great place for any family members wanting to take pictures of their runners as they come around the corner.  As you run to the finish, the race announcer calls your name just before you finish - a really nice touch to the finish.

As you finished, volunteers were there to give you your race medal and congratulate you.  You then made your way in line to the food area which was located inside the tent.  This was different than last year as last year it was under the covered porch where the farmer's market is located.  From a logistics standpoint, I felt the tent worked much better.  There was much more room to wait in line since the tent was in the middle of the park area and it didn't back up the finish line.
Finish line food
As you came out of the tent, there was water in Kona's signature swimming pools ready for the taking.  It made it much easier as it would not get too crowded in the tent.
Water at finish
Here's what happens to runners who didn't meet their goal.
They also had pumpkin decorating for the kids as well as a kids race(1 mile).  One of the nice things about Kona's races is they think about the entire family and really make a fun experience for all.
Pumpkin painting for the kids!
Lots of families at this family oriented race
Because I finished the race quick enough, I was able to get a couple pictures at the start of the 5k race.  Based on the timing of the two races, in theory, you could run both the 10k and the 5k if you are quick enough and perhaps might even be something the race might want to consider offering for future years(by extending the time between races a little more to allow that opportunity)
The FAST runners at the start!
The 5k race also had two waves in it and you can see Ken doing his start line duties by roping off the second wave.
Ken stopping people for the second wave of the 5k - He's a mean one, huh?
The amenities were great!  With your registration, you got police support on the course, a timed, USATF certified course, great aid stations, a finisher's medal(10k only), a long sleeve tech race shirt, a Kona Running Company sticker, a Kona Running Company hat, and finish line food/drinks(Bagels from Panera, Bananas, Powerade, granola bars, water).  Kona is the only race I know that has their bagels packaged separately which is awesome!  

I've heard some complaints about the cost of Kona's races but you should keep in mind that the cost is very reasonable considering what you get.  The best value is to sign up at the start of registration to allow for the lowest cost available.

Kona Running sticker
Long sleeve tech race shirt/medal
Kona Running hat/medal
Wicked Halloween Run race medal
One of the best designs of all(28) the medals I have
I've always praised Kona Running Company for it's organization.  It's very clear these races are a passion of everyone involved.  From the packet pickup, to the course, to the medal and shirts and the family activities, the company and volunteers do an outstanding job putting on a fantastic race.  I can only hope in future years, they will add to their races.  I'd love to see them be involved in something out in the east side in Macomb County somewhere.  The organization of this race was superior and I expect nothing less from Kona Running Company.

So the big question?  Would I do this race again?  That's a huge Yes!  This was the second year I've run it(and the second year in existence).  The organizers have done a great job on it and it continues to expand each year.
Me and my bling!
Check out this awesome YouTube Slideshow of the race as well posted by Amy Cutting - click HERE to view.

If you missed this years race, no worries!  You can read my ShamRock N Roll race review HERE and my Solstice(now Kona) Run review HERE.  In addition, Kona Running Company will be offering all three races next year(ShamRock N Roll on March 17, Kona Run on June 8, and Wicked Halloween on October 27) and if you run them all, you will get an extra medal called the Triple Crown!(*certain restrictions apply - see their website for details HERE)
Source:  Kona Running Company
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. i didn't do any of the halloween races since nyc is this weekend and I really missed seeing all of the costumes!

    great run down of this race for anyone looking to do it!

  2. Dude, you're a race reviewer now! Need to work on the weather, I froze my arse off..............

  3. The medal and shirt are awesome - looks like you had a great time :)

  4. Good review of the race, but I want to know more abo0ut your run!!! was it easy to break 50min, were you clock watching at the end to dip under. I see by your splits after the first mile you picked it up and stayed strong to the end.

    nice run.

    1. I was feeling pretty good overall. I didn't push it to the limit and didn't really have a goal in mind except to just have fun but as I continued, I figured why not just break 50 while I'm at it. I probably could have gotten my time down into the 47-48 range had I started faster in the beginning but didn't want to push my luck and hurt myself either.

  5. I think that it is great that you do something like that to honor Halloween. It would love to be there and enjoy it like that.

  6. There are also some pretty unique halloween costumes for adults at this online holiday store site. I thought about being a female buccaneer. That outfit would be perfect for me. 4th of July party