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Aug 4, 2013

The Legend Half Marathon Trail race review

Short Version
Finished in 2:03:15(official time); PR for all trail half
Overall place: 154/445
Place for Men: 117/244
Overall pace: 9:24/mile
Age Group place(M40-44): 22/43

Race #50 - holy cow, I didn't know it was that many!
Half #17
Overall a really well organized race.  I would expect nothing less from Running Fit, a very experienced race organization.  A fantastic route for trail beginners(me).  This was only my second half marathon all on trails(out of 17) and it's a race I would do again.  The only issue is how far it is.  This is not close to home by any means.

Registration/Packet Pickup
Registration was very easy as I did everything online.  The race also had a specific website and Facebook page just for The Legend which is nice considering all the races that Running Fit offers.  The website was easy to navigate and all questions and information were on the site.  They also had a preview of the shirt and AG awards as well.  The price for the race when I registered was $39 so very reasonable for a half marathon.

It was a very early morning.  My alarm clock went off at 4:45am.  I planned to meet my running buddy, Kevin, at his home to go to the race together at 5:45am.  On the way, I got some pictures in the car close to the park.  The area is all farm land and we had fantastic weather.  The fog had not burned off yet and these were the results.  We were able to get a parking spot very close to the race area which was nice.  In fact, all parking was close regardless of when you got there.  A very nice venue for a trail race.  It was located at the Sleepy Hollow State Park west of Lansing.
Farms on the way there; pretty morning
More farms and fog
Parking lot next to registration/start area - plenty of space
As you walked up, the race had everything already set up and we were probably 45-60 minutes earlier than we needed.  It gave us time to look around the park after we picked up our packets.  As you can see below, there were signs for registration, volunteers and the start line.
Well organized
The race sent an email so you could look up your bib number and I did look it up but didn't write it down.  They also had a list of all the bib numbers as well to look up your number and it was quite easy.
Bib numbers
After you had your race number, there was a tent right next to the numbers where you could get your packets.  One of the great things about a trail race is the smaller crowd although there were lots of runners today.  We only waited in line for a couple minutes and the volunteers knew exactly what to do.  We received our race shirt, bib and race button.  After this, we had about 45 minutes to use the restroom and check out the park and start area.
Packet pickup
Start Area
As I said, everything was all set up for the start area when we got there.  I tend to get to races early and many times the race is still setting up.  Overall, it was well organized.
Start/Finish line
In addition to the REAL bathrooms from the park(a huge bonus), there were also port-o-potties to use.  We were early enough to be able to use the regular bathrooms.  I did notice quite a line forming after but since there was a 5 mile option going off at an earlier time, I believe there were adequate bathrooms.
This is the first time I've been to Sleepy Hollow State Park and it was really very nice.  Except for it being so far from my home, I'd probably come visit it again(although I'd make the trek for the race again).  The park had a nice lake and beach area as well as a dock to fish.  There were plenty of trails of course.
Park sign
Lake at the park
You can see how calm things are on the lake.  The dock behind us had some fishermen out there as well.  Before the start, we also had the opportunity to talk with several people that follow my blog which was great.  I really love when people that follow the blog come introduce themselves.
Beach area
Lake; a calm morning
As you can see from the Garmin Map, it's a loop around the lake and then some.  This course is a great trail course!  It's not an overly difficult course, although it could be had it been muddy.  I'd say this would be a great course for beginners and experienced trails runners alike.  It really had quite a variety of trails from dirt trails, grassy single track, forest single track with technical areas(tree roots), open field areas, a small amount of cement at the beginning and end and some hills.  The hills were not overly difficult but there were some challenging areas.  In addition to a couple steep hills, there were parts that continued to climb slightly to give you a challenge.  If you have run the North Country trail half Upnorth(which is my only other trail race to compare to), this course is much easier than that in my opinion which makes sense give the faster times posted.
Map per Garmin
As you can see from the elevation chart, lots of ups and downs throughout the entire route. While it does not look like it, that hill at mile 4 was a challenging one but nothing you still couldn't run.
In reviewing my splits, I was surprised by how quick I was able to complete this.  I throw out my typical sub 2 hour half marathon goal for trail half marathons although I probably could have met that goal on this course had I been pushing it more.  I was trying to stay conservative given the previous weeks issues I was having with my IT Band.  Overall, I was pleased with my time considering it's all trails.

As you know, it's a pet peeve of mine when the course shows short on my Garmin.  I'm learning to live with this as it seems trail races are not exact with Garmin and it depends where you are and what the course is like.  The switchbacks seem to throw off the distance on the Garmin.  I certainly can understand this more than on road races.  I'll take it as technology issues on this one and consider it a 13.1 race.
The temperatures were not bad overall and we really cannot complain running a race in August in Michigan with these temps.  It was probably 70-75 when we finished.  One thing that really surprised me at the start was they didn't do the National Anthem!  Huh?

Note:  When I take pictures during the race, I don't change my pace or 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.  It's also especially difficult to get pictures on trail races due to the footing concentration needed and less lighting so please keep that in mind for on course pictures.
Ready to start!
The race had waves go off to keep the congestion down at the start and that was a good idea or it would have been a mess to start.  The start also took us through the parking lot around to where the trails started which helped thin out the crowd a bit before we hit the trails.
Cement to start
It was not long before the trails were there.  Ah.....this is what I've been waiting for.  I love it on the trails and was lucky enough to run them(not this course) the week before as well while training.
The course had a really nice track to run through and while it was mostly a single track course, there was still plenty of room for people to pass if they wanted to go faster.  A simple "on the left" is all you needed to get past and all the runners moved over a little.

One thing that is a pet peeve of mine is runners running with headphones that cannot hear you.  I passed several of them.  I have no issues with headphones on road races but feel the trails demand your full attention.  Leave the headphones at home or leave one earbud out during a trail race please so you can hear other runners and keep everyone safe.  I happen to see several runners trip and fall while on the course and you really need your full attention.
Getting in the woods
The picture below is part of the campground at the park.  I'm not sure how campers liked us coming through at 8:30am but we were not in there very long.  Unfortunately it made for a little cement to run on but fortunately it gave an opportunity to pass easily if you wanted to.
Before we knew it we were back to the trails again!
Back to trails
I saw several people running with water packs.  I assume to get used to running with it for a longer race as it's not necessary for this race.  I did, however, use a hand held water bottle which was plenty for me.  Given a little bit longer distance between aid stations(due to on the trails), I would recommend some type of self support if you feel you need it.
Great singletrack
Technical too
While the race did announce what flag you were supposed to be following before the start, they also has these great signs for the first couple miles so you remembered or if you didn't hear the announcement.  Of course, the key was to follow your flag and not the runner in front of you.  The half runners followed the white flags and they were very clearly marked in all necessary areas and I think would have been near impossible to go the wrong way given the good markings.
Great idea - in this example, 10 mile runners follow the orange flags
Surrounded by bushes
In keeping with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow theme, I was able to get a picture of a ghost in the woods.  Haha!  Speaking of that, I would love to try and run this race at night with headlamps.  Yes, it would be much slower and perhaps not as safe but it would add to the excitement of the race.
A ghost!!! lol
Beautiful open area
I also happen to see Five Fingers Steve out there today.  It's easy to see him since he's quite tall and wearing Vibram five fingers.  One day I'll get a picture of him from the front. Lol!
Sunny day
Crazy Steve with his 5 fingers!
More woods
This was one of the hilly parts in the race.  Sorry for the blurry picture but I wanted to give you an idea of some of the hilly parts.  This was probably the biggest hill on the course so not too bad.
Some hills too!
Back to open
Mile marker 5
Grassy area
lots of people still
There were a couple road crossings with a few spectators and volunteers cheering us on.
A little cheering
Mile 7 - all markers were accurate but I just didn't get pictures of them all
Open area
Coming up to a aid station
After the aid station
Mile 8
Back to bushes
The below picture is one of my favorites and one of the nicest areas.  This area on the course is a really beautiful part of the course.  I love the single track, grassy area with the open fields as well as seeing the line of runners.
My favorite picture of the day
Can I go right?
Mile 9
Mile 10 - I actually saw this runner fall shortly after this picture
More bushes surrounding you
Back to woods
Grassy again
As we were getting closer to the finish, we had a small part of concrete and then back on the grassy area around the parking lot.
Coming back near the parking area
As you ran past the parking lot, you turned into this wonderful view of the lake heading back to the start.
Heading towards the lake
Around that corner and you headed back right where the start area is.  There were several people cheering on runners to the finish line.
More cheering
A slight uphill(race directors are sick aren't they?) towards the finish and we were back where we started the race.  It was a great course and I really enjoyed myself.
Aid Stations
There were numerous aid stations for support and all the volunteers where very friendly and helpful. They were also all cheering for the runners.  Given the minimal crowd support(which is expected at trails races), it was nice to have a few cheering for us.  The race had water, Gatorade and one spot for GU if you wanted it.
Great kids helping (Running Fit owner too - I think - nice to see him out there)
Aid station
Finish area
After the race, a volunteer gave you a bottle of water.  A couple kids were helping out and it was cute to see them out there.  All the food was right next to the finish line.  The race had a good selection of water and Gatorade as well as food.  Food included bananas, bagels, cookies(although they ran out when my running buddy got there), and lots of muffins.  There were plenty of choices and the muffins were an excellent choice and something that is not typically at a race so it was a nice treat.
Gadorade, water
Muffins, cookies, bananas
Plenty of food for all
Of course, the race had a first aid station set up as well at the finish.  My running buddy got stung by a bee or hornet around mile 7 - the joys of trail running - haha!  Apparently someone rustled a nest on the course and when we got to the First Aid station to ask for something for it, they had run out already because they had over 100 runners that were stung - Yikes!  I guess I was lucky.  I'm sure the first aid volunteers were much busier than they ever expected to be today.
First aid which was busy
For your race entry, you received a well marked, timed course and volunteers to help with the little traffic control that was needed.  You also received a nice Brooks tech tee with the race name.  I especially like this color because its great to run in for dark mornings(although I wear reflective gear and a headlamp too).  I also like the fact that the back of the shirt is not loaded with company logos. Just Running Fit and Brooks - a bonus in my opinion so it's a shirt that will get worn regularly including at other races.

You also received a medal if you finished the half marathon.  While I don't run for the medal actually I do, it would have been nice to see a little nicer medal and ribbon but, for the exceptional race entry price, I can't complain and happy to get one.  As has been tradition with Running Fit races, everyone also received a race button.  This is my third button as I also have the Martian half and Super 5k buttons.
Shirt front - close up is at the top of this review
Shirt Back
Close up of back
Medal front
I love their saying on the back, "I took the dare..." That's very cool! Ha!
Medal back
The button has the race theme on it too.  The Legend at Sleepy Hollow is a great idea.  Kudos to the race staff for thinking of that idea.
Running Fit traditional race button
Overall the race was well organized.  The website information was clear and the staff sent regular emails with updated information.  The start and finish area was set up well, all volunteers knew what to do and the race did a good job informing the runners before the race.  The course was well marked which is always the biggest concern while out on the trails(at least for me).  The finish had initial results up quickly and you could also get them online almost immediately.  The race swag was nice and the price was exceptional.  For some reason, my running buddy's results never showed up so hopefully he will get it cleared up shortly with the race staff.

Oh, yeah, this is definitely a race I would run again.  I love being out on the trails and these are ones that don't kill your legs.  Haha!  Running Fit did an excellent job.  It's got me excited because I plan to run their Trail Half in April and can't wait to get out there for another Running Fit trail event.  I certainly recommend this race for anyone looking for a trail half for next year.
Kevin and I excited to be finished
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!



  1. looks like a beautiful course and a great day for a race! Nice shirt too!

  2. Nice job! I can't believe 100 people were stung. Glad you managed to avoid that. It's a definite bonus to get a nice Brooks shirt. Great review as usual.

    1. Crazy huh? Thanks for the comment. I try to be thorough.

  3. Yep, the dude in the orange shirt is one of the Running Fit owners! He's always out there, he often runs the races too.
    I've run the Legend before, it was just a 10 miler then. I always enjoyed it. I skipped it this year because I'm training for Chicago and staying off trails for now. If anything, a Running Fit course is going to be long! Garmins do sometimes cut corners off. Sometimes with road races I weave back and forth in the roads so much that I end up with a couple 10ths over.
    They are putting on a really fun race this Wednesday, the Red Carpet Run, in West Bloomfield. Are you near West Bloomfield? It's soooo much fun, people run in formal wear, it's prom night for runners! I have my blue sequined thrift store formal gown, princess tiara and thrift store fancy jewelry all ready to go! Instead of a medal, you get a champagne flute (with or without champagne). The finish chute is a red carpet with paparazzi. It's a lot of fun!

    1. Lol. I've heard of this race before. It would make for some interesting photos for sure. Can't this year but I will consider it in the future.

  4. Looks like a great run and one i would do... I think next year you take the family and make a day of it?

    1. It's definitely up your alley Coach. My wife has no interest in getting up early or being at races. Yes, I know they could hand out while I run but that getting up at 4:45am part would keep her and the family home. I like the idea though!

  5. I was in a group of a few people and about 5 or 6 of them, including me, were stung, but it was earlier, somewhere around miles 3 and 4. I got it right on the calf, and it didn't feel too great for the next few miles. Definitely could feel it for the whole race. I didn't bother stopping, though, and, at the end, when I stopped to look at it, the stinger was still in, so I pulled it out with my fingernails.

    Glad you enjoyed the race. The Legend is one of my favorites, even though it usually roughs me up pretty good.