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Jun 24, 2013

Charlevoix Half Marathon race review

Short Version
Finished in 1:46:37(official time); no new PR
Overall place:  87/579
Place for Men:  63/212
Overall pace: 8:08/mile
Age Group place(M40-44):  5/30
Race #47
Half #16(half #5 for 2013)

A well organized race with good communication.  The Good Boy Events organization did a great job.  The medal is one of the best for a half that I've received(better than most of my full marathons), a fantastic getaway half marathon in a resort town.  Course had very little water views which was disappointing but still a very nice course.
Results per RF Timing

Results per Running Fit Timing
Registration/Packet Pickup
Registration was very simple.  I registered online through their website and it was very easy.  I received a confirmation e-mail and was all set.  You could also check their website for registered runners to confirm you were registered.  The race has an excellent website with all the information you needed to know.  They also have a Facebook and Twitter page for additional information.  I did e-mail the race director in regards to possibly picking up my buddy, Kevin's packet, since I thought I might be there early on Thursday, and he e-mailed me back right away that I could pick it up if necessary.  They changed the schedule the week of so there was no packet pickup Thursday but it was communicated well before so it was not an issue.

We decided to go to packet pickup the day before the race so that we could tour around Charlevoix for the day as well as get our packet early.  For those of you that have not been to Charlevoix, it's definitely a place that you would want to visit regardless if there was a marathon going on or not.  My cottage is about an hour away from Charlevoix so we stayed at my cottage rather than a hotel.  There is plenty of places to stay if you chose to stay in Charlevoix, which an awesome town to visit, so this is a great race vacation.
Charlevoix sign by the bridge
We got to shop around downtown and also walk by the lighthouse area which is right downtown.  The city also has a drawbridge that opens every half hour so you can see it working.  Below was a picture I got of it when standing near the beach.  I just happen to get a runner in it.  They also have boats going over to Beaver Island from Charlevoix as well and while I've not been there, I've heard it's a fun day trip.
Bridge opens every 1/2 hour
The marina is also right downtown as well.  The downtown area is beautiful with a main street and the marina in front of the main road.  The area also has concerts downtown in this area as well.
Kevin and I by the marina downtown
As we came to packet pickup, the race had a store set up of merchandise to buy for the runners.  They had an excellent selection of shirts to pick from as well as many other things to purchase for race prep.
Store with marathon merchandise
I ended up purchasing this shirt which I thought was very nice and is super comfortable.  I love the Michigan map on the shirt along with the race information.  In addition, with any purchase, you also received a free pair of socks with the marathon information on it - bonus!!  They are tech socks too so you can run in them.   Overall, I spent $15 on the shirt and received a free pair of socks so I think that was a pretty good deal.
Shirt I bought - $15 not bad
Free socks with purchase!
Next to the store, they had late registration and also packet pickup set up.  With all races I have been to, the race usually has a board with your number and then you give the volunteer your number.  In this case, they had everything by alphabetical order so all you had to do was give them your last name and you were all set.  The volunteer gave you your shirt, bib, safety pins and your tech hat as well.

Packet pickup was very easy and we were in and out in a matter of minutes.  The volunteer warned us that parking might be an issue the next day and to arrive early - a helpful tip.  You also had the ability to pickup your packet the morning before the race which would have been no issues at all considering this was not a huge race.  I'm happy to see the organizers give you a choice in case you are not staying in town and was to get your packet that morning.
Packet pickup / late registration
The race also had the maps set up for each race distance(as well as on their website).  You could run the full marathon, half marathon, 10k or 5k and everyone received a medal no matter what distance you decided to run.
After packet pickup, we toured around town for a couple hours, saw the lighthouse and beach area, and made our way to dinner in town.  We originally planned to go to a restaurant on the water but it was a 45 minute wait so we ended up at an italian restaurant right downtown.  There were a ton of runners out and about.
Downtown marina
Downtown stores
Waterfront restaurant
After dinner, I got a quick picture before we left of the water and we headed back to the cottage.
This was our view next to the pickup area
Start Area
Since we were an hour away, we left about 5:30am from my cottage.  The race started at various times because the race allowed walkers to start earlier than the runners.  Full marathon walkers could start at 6am vs. 7am for the runners.  The half marathon runners started at 7:30am so leaving at 5:30am was perfect.  We came right downtown and had no problems finding parking.  If we had gone a half hour later, it probably would have been more difficult to find a spot since there were about 1,700 runners between all the races and the town is just not set up to handle that amount of cars at one time.  Parking was free on Saturday morning which was nice.

The picture below was taken right next to where we parked.  What a difference a day makes, huh?  It was overcast and foggy, which frankly was great for running.  It sprinkled a little on the way to the race but did not rain during the race at all.  In fact, it ended up being a gorgeous day.  While it was overcast, there was also 100% humidity at race start - yes, it was humid, but overall still very nice for running in June.  In addition, it was only 59 degrees at the start time which is great for a late June marathon.
Boy what a difference a day makes!
By the waterfront
One secret that you should know if you decide to run this race is that there are public restrooms near the marina.  Take advantage of this!  We used the bathroom before we headed to the start area and there was nobody there(probably because people did not know about this).  When we got to where the port-o-potties were, there was a big line for the bathrooms.
Real bathrooms
The race also mentioned that we could take showers at several places after the race, including the marina for $5.  This is awesome considering you might need that time if you have to check out of your hotel before the start of the race(especially great for the marathoners).  There were also a couple free options for showers as well.  We were originally planning on doing the race and showering after with our family to meet us at the finish but decided it would be better to just have the family come the day before for packet pickup.
Showers if needed
While I mentioned there was a large line, there were plenty of port-o-potties for the amount of runners.  They had them set up very close to the start line.
I grabbed a quick picture of the channel taken from the drawbridge and, as you can see, it's quite foggy out.  You'll see our picture of it after the race.
Taken from the bridge
Since there were only about 600 half marathon runners, the start line was very easy and not congested at all.  We set ourselves up about a third of the way back from the start which seemed to work great and I only had to run around a few runners at the start.

The race was using one lane of traffic and the police were doing a good job directing things.  They had cones along the way to keep it safe for runners.  The start area was well organized and in a good spot.  While it would have been awesome to run right through downtown, given the drawbridge next to downtown, there was no way possible to set up the start and finish line through the downtown area.
Runners before me in the start area
Runners behind me at the start area - downtown is in the background
You can see from the Garmin map that things begin in downtown Charlevoix and then you make your way out through the neighborhoods, eventually seeing the water near the turn around.  The course was an out and back course.  While I know some people do not like the out and back course, I enjoy it and while you are running the course back again, it always seems like you are on a different course on the way back.  You just get a different perspective.
Map per Garmin
As you can see below, the course is not completely flat, however, I didn't feel it was a really difficult challenge either.  There were a couple areas that were tougher but nothing crazy.  Don't be afraid of the elevation because it looks worse that it really is.

Pace/elevation per Garmin
I tried to keep a fairly even split throughout the course but it always seems like mile 12 is my downfall.  Haha!  Oh, well!  I really enjoyed the course overall.  I was a bit disappointed that we did not get to see more of the water during the race but, as you look at the map, I guess I should have expected less water.  When I got to the turn around where the water was, I actually had wished I ran the full marathon.  I bet the views for the full marathon would have been much better considering they head out much further than us half marathoners.  There's not many courses where I wish to run the full but, I believe, in this case, it would have been the better choice if you wanted more of those views.

Splits per Garmin
Note:  When I take pictures during the race, I don't change my pace for stop in the interest of safety.  I just keep running and I get what I can get from the pictures.  Some come out better than others but they give you a great idea of what the course is like.

Please also keep in mind that for this particular race, because of the fog and overcast skies, it was especially difficult to get some good pictures while running.  Unfortunately, I took almost 200 pictures on the course and this is the best that I had today.

The start, of course, was right in downtown Charlevoix, but we quickly headed into a neighborhood near downtown and the water.  For the first three plus mile stretch of running, it was through neighborhoods which had some stunning homes and cottages.  Some of the properties were on the water, but mostly, it was difficult to see the water.

Start in the neighborhoods
More neighborhood - beautiful area
Before I knew it, I was already at mile one and the crowd was starting to thin a little.  You can see some of the runners had stripped off a layer of clothing since it was already hot to start.  Shorts and short sleeves were perfectly fine even though it was a little cool to start.
Mile 1
Neighborhood continues
We passed some incredible homes but here's a cute cottage that I got a picture of.
A cute cottage
Pretty street
As you can see below, some of the homes in the area are incredible so it was nice to run by these to take your mind off things as you ran.
Beautiful homes
Mile 2
Nice neighborhood
Next to a school
Mile 3
There were a couple turn arounds for the 5k and 10k since every race was an out and back style course, including the full marathon.
10k turn around
Straight away
Below, the police had the street here blocked for us as we headed onto a paved running/bike path.  If you take this path far enough, you could run all the way to Petoskey on it.
Entering the path
The path ran past the Charlevoix Country Club which had a very nice manicured area.  The path was nice to run on and it was not crowded at all for the runners.  It was quite wide and plenty of room for both runners coming and going.  The path goes along US31.  Even if you don't run, this road is an excellent drive with some fantastic views along the way heading into Petoskey.
Pass the Charlevoix Country Club
Mile 4
As we got further down the road, there was a boardwalk that we ran on.  This was one of my favorite parts of the entire course.  I love running on this and it made me feel like part of where I train on a daily basis.  The boardwalk was incredibly long and felt like a half mile(but probably was not that long).
Mile 5 on the boardwalk
Back to the path
The course had a couple spots with port-o-potties for the runners.  In regards to course support, there was not much out there.  They had a couple of pockets of places where there were people cheering runners but, for the most part, much of the course was fairly quiet.
Port-o-potties and some course support
Mile 6
For the half marathoners, our prize came almost at the turn around when we were finally able to get a clear view of the water.  This is what I had been waiting for and it would have been awesome to see more water on the course.  This is why I mentioned the full marathon might have been a better choice, at least for the views.
The water - finally!
The race had an aid station at the turn around for us as well.  Of course, if you were running the marathon, you would have kept going.  The marathoners started at 7am so we did not see any full marathon runners the entire time running.  We did see some half and full marathon walkers on the course.  The other great thing about an out and back is you get to see the top runners out there pass you.  One thing that I would have liked to see was a timing mat out at the half way point so you could have a split time on the course.
Half turn around
Back to the water view
Mile 7
Continuing on the path
There was a four piece band set up to give runners some entertainment, which was nice.  Due to the location out on the path, I'm sure it's why there was not more entertainment since there was no spots for electricity.  The band, frankly, was a nice surprise.
A band playing
Mile 8
Back to the boardwalk
Mile 9
Mile 10
By the school again
Mile 11
Back to neighborhoods
This home is on the water but the water was difficult to see
Mile 12
As we headed towards downtown, you can see that Charlevoix lines their streets with flowers which is unique to any downtown area I've been in.  It makes the downtown area look very beautiful and inviting and it was great scenery coming back to the finish.
Flowers line the street in downtown
As you can see from the next few shots, there were more spectators along the path now as we got closer to the finish line.  Spectators were at the finish line to get pictures and cheer on their runner.
More spectators near the finish
We passed a timing mat about 50 yards from the finish and the announcer was calling out runners names as we finished.  I didn't hear mine but I always love when the race does this.
Timing mats near finish
As you can see below, right at the finish line, is also some condos/hotel where you could stay should you decide to do the race.  The start was literally right outside your room.  Of course, keep this also in mind that if you have family that want's to sleep in, then that place is probably not the best choice since the announcer started fairly early.
Finish area
Aid Stations
The aid stations were plentiful and were well manned by volunteers.  The volunteers were all friendly and yelling water/gatorade as you ran past.  The race also had a GU station as well as some other goodies to keep you going in the race.  Below was the first aid station where the 5k turn around was located on the course.
First aid station
The town firefighters were also out there volunteering close to where the 10k turn around was.
Firefighters helping at aid station
Aid stations
Finish area
The finish area was right near where the start was located just next to downtown.  After you finished, you made your way over the drawbridge to where all the food was located.  It was in the same location of where packet pickup was the day before.
You can see below, after the fog had burned off, where the lighthouse is.  It's one of my favorite finish line photos with that background.
Taken on the bridge(lighthouse in background)
Course maps at finish area
The finish line area used the same tents as where packet pickup is which was a great idea on the part of the organizers.  This little park area is right in downtown and right next to the water.  It provided plenty of room for the runners to socialize.
Finish area/food
Free massages!
The race had plenty of finish line food including local potato chips, sub sandwiches, pizza, and bananas.  They also had licorice as well.  The area was well organized with plenty of volunteers to help you if needed.
Local potato chips
Finish line food
The timing company had two monitors set up for results from the race.  The results were not in yet when we got there but it's a nice way to get your results quickly.  In addition, the timing company had results on their website and you could track your runner and find results immediately after the race. They did not have the QR codes on bibs which I think is a great and easy feature but nevertheless, we had results right away.
Results monitors
View at the finish area
Marina near the finish in downtown
For your race entry, you received a fully supported course with aid stations, police control and a timed race.  In addition, you received a race shirt which is a polyester/cotton blend.  It's actually a very comfortable shirt, and as I've said in the past, while it's nice to get a tech shirt to run in, I love getting shirts like this for daily use when I'm not running.  It's a well made shirt.  The other incredible thing about this shirt?  NO sponsors on the shirt - a huge bonus!  Sometimes I feel like a walking billboard with some of the race shirts I own.  While I can understand the need to have sponsors on the shirt, kudos goes out to the organizers(and sponsors) for giving us a sponsor free shirt!  It's a rare thing to have these days.

In addition to the shirt, you also received some free temporary tattoos which was fun(and I wore mine during the race on my calf), a custom Charlevoix Marathon tech hat that can be used while running and an awesome medal.  The medal has some incredible details in it, it's a large medal(larger than 3 of my four marathon medals) and one of the nicest half marathon medals that I've received.  It should be especially noted that again, there are NO sponsors on the race medal too, which is incredible!
Race Shirt Front
Race shirt back
Back - close up
Free temporary tattoos
Tech running hat
Race Medal
Race medal front
Race medal back
I felt the race organization was excellent.  The race had an awesome website with tons of information and answers to all your questions.  They had regular e-mails with information for the runners including any changes they made(which were minimal).  They had a pre-race meeting you could attend for any other information.  The race director was excellent at getting back to me right away which is alway a bonus given how busy many of them typically are race week.  Good Boy Events was the race organizers and this was the first event that I've run that they put together and I would not hesitate to run another one of their events.

Overall, this was a great time.  It's a perfect race vacation in an incredible resort town.  It's the perfect long weekend getaway that offers plenty to do for the entire family and not just for the runners.  Everything is well located within walking distance so, once you park, you don't need to drive again. The race was well organized, not crowded, and while I would have liked to see more of the water on the course, it was an enjoyable course that I could see doing again.  The race company did an excellent job and offered some great amenities for the cost of the race(I paid $65 only two months out of race day).  I loved that they offered a great shirt, race hat and medal - things that are important to me when deciding where to race.  I'm sure I'll be back for a race organized by the Good Boy Events sometime in the future.  If you are looking for a nice summer event in Northern Michigan, you won't be disappointed with running this event.
Half #16 in the books
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. Great pictures, keep taking them. I fully understand your disclaimer of not stopping, but the pics say a ton. This is a wonderful town.

  2. Great job and awesome pictures like always! Congrats!!

  3. Love the pics. I wish I could take good pictures like you when running. I have tried... and I suck :)

    Great job on the race!!

  4. Thanks for the review. I have decided to participate in this full. Great details in this review!

  5. very thorough review and great photos. thanks a bunch for doing this, Charlevoix just may be my choice for my 2nd ever Marathon in 2016

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