Finished in 1:45:25 (official time); no new PR(1:39:18 is my PR)
Overall place: 22/243
Place for Men: 15/73
Overall Pace: 8:02/mile
Half marathon #19 and race #55.
One of the toughest race conditions I've experienced. While it was not raining when we got there, it rained the majority of the race with the exception of a couple miles. A tough course that was very hilly but a beautiful course. The fall color was not peak but I can imagine it would be incredible had it peaked that weekend.
Registration was very simple as the race company, Endurance Evolution, had a very nice website set up where you could register and had information for each race they do. The layout of the website makes it very easy to navigate through the information. In addition, the company sent out regular email updates with information along with an athlete guide which was very informative - great communication! All information was very clear including maps for all locations and a course map. One nice fact is that the race company does not charge any convenience fee to register online so the price you get is the price you get.
We drove up to Empire the day before the race in order to pick up our race packets. It was kind of odd that packet pickup was so late in the day starting at 5pm to 8pm. I would guess it was to coincide with the pasta dinner but it would have been nice to pick it up sooner. Since we had time before pickup when we got up there, we toured the Traverse City area and had lunch at North Peak Brewing. You can see there was a little color change but not peak. We got some great pictures along with seeing the grapes grow!
|Grapes for wine|
|Gotta love our government|
|Dune Climb entrance|
|Dunes - we pass this on the course|
|Caught a crane on film|
|Empire township hall|
|Kevin and Trieu waiting for our packets|
|Kevin and I waiting for our packets|
|Pasta dinner/packet pickup|
|Getting the packet|
The weather predicted rainy weather all weekend and that it was! It was actually better on Saturday than Sunday so it was just something we just had to deal with. When we got to the start, it was not raining but the threat was there. It was predicted to be wet during the race and unfortunately this time the weatherman was correct. Not that I love to run in the rain, but I'm used to it during training since I always run outside. Kevin also always runs outdoors so he was fine with it.
|Trieu - not as happy! Ha!|
|Start area - park|
The race also offered a banana and coffee and hot chocolate prior to the race. While I didn't have any, it was a nice gesture.
|Other race signs by the organization|
|Packet pickup race day|
|Covered area with seating|
The course was an out and back format which I've come to like more and more. Whether you were running the half or full, it was out and back but just longer to turn around. One of the nice things in the out and back of a smaller race is that I was able to count the number of runners ahead of me. At the turn, I was 24th place and I ended in 22nd place. As you can see from the elevation map, there were some hills to contend with! While I've run hilly races, this one had a couple very long hills that went on forever and really taxed your body. If you don't like hills, you won't have fun on this course but I really enjoyed the challenge.
Once again, I went out way too fast, as you can see by my times, and slowly reduced as miles clicked by - oops. I tried to do what I could to keep the same effort on the hills but since they were over a mile long, it was quite tough. In forethought, I probably should not have tried for a PR at this race given the hills. I'm happy that I didn't walk any of the course and it helped me get that third place age group award. For those of you that have run the Brooksie Way half marathon in Rochester, I would say that while the elevation of the Brooksie Way is slightly more, this course seemed a little harder due to the longer, steep hills.
|Map per Garmin|
|Elevation per Garmin|
|Splits per Garmin|
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.
I'd also like to say that the weather was absolutely horrible for this race so this is the worst set of pictures I've taken in all my races. I took over 100 pictures on the course and only a couple came out!
As we started, the rain was really coming down. While I should have been up near the front, I chose to let some of the crowd go ahead and pass people on the course. After a couple miles, things thinned out quite a bit so it was not an issue.
|Really wet start|
|Great country road|
|Some nice fall color|
|Little crowd support|
|Almost half way|
|Dune climb entrance|
|Just past the turn|
|A monsoon out there|
As you can see below, there was also a dirt road section that was also very hilly(sorry - so blurry). As we finished up in the last mile, the weather broke a little and we finished in sprinkles. There were spectators at the finish area cheering us towards the end.
|Dirt road section|
There were several aid stations and the volunteers were awesome. Not only was it rainy, the wind picked up and yet they still continued to cheer for the runners. I thought they were awesome to help out in such bad weather. The race offered water, Hammer drinks and also Hammer gels at two aid stations for the half.
|Volunteers were troopers|
As you finished, a volunteer put a race medal over your head and congratulated you. I love when volunteers do that instead of just handing it to you - it makes you feel special. The finish area was the same as the start and you were able to immediately get out of the rain. The race had cut up apples, bananas, oranges as well as bagels for the runners. They also had water, Hammer drink and coffee and hot chocolate. I was also able to stretch in the covered area and enjoy a hot cup of coffee as the wind picked up a little as well as temps dipped slightly making it a bit chilly, considering I was soaking wet at the finish.
Shortly after I finished the race, the company announced the winners of the marathon and half marathon and allowed those that won in their age group to pick up their award. Overall winners got a plaque and free entry to the following years race and age group awards were glasses with the race information on it. I was lucky enough to get third in my age group and my buddy, Trieu, was able to place second in his and he was only off first place by 1/2 of a second!
Since I was soaking wet, I went back to the car and changed out of my soaking wet shirt into a jacket to wait for the awards. Unfortunately I didn't bring a pair of dry shorts but wish that I had. Kevin was the smart one and changed fully after the race.
The race took quite a bit longer than we anticipated for the awards but I believe they were waiting on the women's marathon winner to finish to announce all of the winners at the same time. With awards complete, we picked up our awards and headed back to my cottage to get in a warm shower before heading home down state.
|Finish - still raining|
|The three stooges finished with our huge medals!|
For your registration fee(as low as $55), you received a chip timed course, a tech race shirt and a race medal. You also received a race cinch bag as well as finish line food. While the price was a little higher than some other races, there were no sponsor information on the shirt which is a huge bonus. I won't feel like a walking billboard when wearing the race shirt.
|Finishers medal with nibbon|
|Medal close up - a great design|
Overall organization was good, however, there were a couple areas I felt needed improvement. The first is the traffic control for the first and last half mile(especially the last). They need to at least close the road for the beginning and ending of the race. It's just not wide enough for both runners and cars.
The second issue was to not make the winners wait so long for the winner announcement, but, of course, you can't announce until the winners are all in so I understand why they might have delayed. Perhaps they could have had the age group awards ready so people could get on their way. Other than that, the race did an awesome job especially since this was only the second year of the race. It's clear they have done this before given the other races they offer.
Overall, this is a race that I would do again. Of course, it would have been nice to have sunny weather, but that's no fault of the race company. The course is a beautiful and challenging course and, if and when, I run this course again, I hope that the fall colors are at peak. The race had great communication, a nice course, good after race food, and an awesome and large finishers medal. It was also at least 13.10 miles which has not been the case for my last few races. The aid stations were awesome and the volunteers were great and friendly. I love running a smaller race once in awhile since I have a chance to place in my age group. Add some sunny weather, and the day would have been just perfect. I was happy to check off yet another great Michigan half marathon.
I enjoyed this race enough that I'd like to run Endurance Evolution's Traverse City Trail Running Festival 25k next April and perhaps even their Solstice Half marathon in Glen Arbor in June.