Finished in 1::46:26(official); no new PR(PR is 1:39:18)
Split: 52:27 (90th place at the split)
Overall Place: 95/1013
AG(M40-44): Unknown - Not ranked on their system
Men: Unknown - Not ranked on their system
Overall Pace: 8:07/mile
Race #68 and Half Marathon #22
An inaugural race and unfortunately it shows. There were numerous issues with the race including packet pickup issues for both the prior day and day of, communication problems, the half course was short, the water stations did not have enough volunteers, there were no course marshals anywhere, there was no AG awards - not even age groups posted in results and the cost was the highest I've seen for a half marathon in Michigan. On a positive note, the swag was nice and it was a nice course(except it was short) but the race certainly has issues to work through before it would be one that I would come back or recommend. The race has some real potential, since it's a great theme, but details of any race are just as important.
Since I received an entry into the race in exchange for this race review, my contact signed me up for registration. I will say that you registered online like most races today, however, the cost for the race plus convenience fee was higher than typical. If you registered late, the cost was $115 plus online fee for the half. Early registration was still quite high at $85.
I asked to be able to pickup my packet at the packet pickup location in Birmingham. Personally, I thought that it was nice to pickup closer to work rather than going down to Detroit twice. The race offered pickup on Friday and Saturday as well as race day packet pickup. Well, sort of. First they mentioned that there would be race day packet pickup, then they said there wasn't, then they told people to call if they could not make packet pickup, then they offered it race day again but it would be small. You did have the option to pick up a packet for someone as long as you brought the following: The registration showing the runner registered, copy of photo ID, a permission slip from the runner and a signed waiver.
Speaking of the waiver, it was huge and there was 26 initials and your signature needed on it. While I realize this is the same company as the Warrior Dash which has significant more risks in getting hurt, it was really overkill on the release for a road half marathon and 5k.
|Waiver - Click to enlarge|
|Level Multisport - Birmingham|
|Packets outside in the rain|
|Long line for 5k - over 5,000 expected for it|
Sunday morning was a very early morning as the half marathon started at 7am. I got down to Detroit pretty early(5:40am) and was one of the first people there. While I had to wait a long time in my car, I got a parking spot less than a block from the finish line so I was really happy with that. There were also numerous lots and structures to park at so parking choices were excellent overall.
By the time I went out to see how things were set up(6:30am), the entire area was all ready to go for the runners. Since I did not have to pickup a packet, I was able to relax and just wait for the race so I got pictures of the whole area. Runners that were picking up were in a bit of a panic as the race was not very organized when it came to people picking up that day and some runners packets could not be found. I'm sure that was probably why the race didn't want race day pickup. My opinion is that all races should offer both especially since some people have to travel or work when packet pickup is and the race needs to be prepared for that.
|Race day registration|
|St. Jude charity|
|DJ at Start|
|Ready for finishers|
|Overall start area|
|Port o potties|
Below is the course per my Garmin. The course was the best thing about the entire race. I really enjoyed the route overall and it was a perfect day to race with temperatures in the low 30's to start and finish in the 40's. I had no time in mind other than to be under 2 hours. I went out thinking I would be just under 2 hours but picked it up a little for a little larger cushion. With the exception of a couple things on course which I'll explain, overall, it was a nice route.
While I don't put a huge reliance on my Garmin, the course measured out 12.89, which is the largest shortfall of any half marathon I've ever run(this was #22). The race was not certified but I was not expecting to fall short almost a 1/4 mile. I also confirmed this with numerous other runners that it was an issue and not just my GPS. Some work on measurement surely needs to be done to fix this issue for future years. It seems it would make sense to go through the process of certifying the course given the popularity in the first year.
|Course per Garmin - note - 12.89 miles|
|Stats per Garmin|
One thing that was really strange for a race with 1,100 runners on the half was the corrals. Not that corrals are strange as I like the idea of having them to space out runners paces appropriately. What is strange is that they let each corral go with about 3-5 minutes between the start. While I can understand doing this for a race that has 25,000 people or for an obstacle race, it was certainly not needed. Given this, it delayed our start since I was not in the first corral. In addition, the race ran about 5 minute behind from when the first corral started as well. Not a big deal - it's just a pet peeve of mine. I also found it strange that the race did not do the National Anthem. I've been at a few races that did not do it but it just feels right to have it, even if it's just a recording.
|Ready to start|
|Downtown - The Wayne County Building|
|Stairs on the course - yes, you read that correctly.|
|Riverwalk with the sun coming up|
|Riverwalk - Pistons bobblehead|
|Gong back to Atwater|
|On Jefferson towards Belle Isle|
|Belle Isle entrance|
|MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle|
|Great view of Ambassador Bridge and Downtown|
The timing company had the half way split on there as well which is a nice feature in the race.
|Half way split|
|My favorite photo on the course|
|Back on the bridge|
A few more spectators as we head onto Lafayette and make our way back downtown. One of the owners of RUNdetroit, Alia, was cheering on runners as we passed and she said hello to me. It's nice to see people cheering for you that you know. We also passed an awesome church on this corner as well. Detroit really has some awesome areas to run through.
|Moving towards downtown|
|The Dequindre Cut - sorry it's blury but it's all I had time to get|
|State Park on the waterfront|
|Back to Ren Cen|
We have now made it back to downtown Detroit as we can see all the tall buildings now in the area which is almost at the end of the course.
|Back to downtown|
|Fisher building on the left|
There were plenty of aid stations on the course. Actually, I didn't use any of them because I always carry a water bottle of my own for the half distance or longer but they were out there with port-o-potties as well. There were not enough volunteers for each station though. Two-three volunteers are not enough. Also, at some of the stations, the volunteers set up all the water in plastic cups and set them out for runners to grab themselves. Typically you would have volunteers out there holding cups for runners and they did have that in some of the aid stations.
|Grab your own water?|
|Aid Station on the wrong side|
|Grab your own again|
|Volunteers handing out water here|
|Poor placement of water station|
The finish area had volunteers giving you your medal after you crossed the line. They were also giving out water as you can see below in plastic cups. Perhaps I'm spoiled with the races that I've done but water bottles are what I've been used to at a finish. The race also provided heat blankets as well which is a nice touch at the finish. It was warm enough that I didn't really need a blanket so I didn't take one.
Subsequently when reviewing results at home and comments on Facebook, apparently there was some mix up with race bibs as some runners were showing different names for their bib or were showing Unknown Participant. This relates back to the chaos of the morning and I think having more volunteers/workers would have helped keep things more organized. I know that if you did get an incorrect name or no name result, you could e-mail them and the timing company fixed it.
|Their own ATM's|
|Registration for 5k looked a mess|
|Gear check was quite|
|Red Bull Mini Cooper|
|5k runners with corrals|
For your race entry fee, you received a partially closed course which was the best part of the race even though it was not a certified course. You also received police patrolled intersections as well as a chip timed race. Included in the entry fee of $115(late registration)(Early registration was $85), you received a nice Cocoa Classic hoodie, a Cocoa Classic winter hat(which my daughter promptly wanted), as well as a re-usable mug with the race name on it. The race said they will post participant pictures after the race which you can share. (I received mine and they were very nice, high resolution photos.) A nice feature when most races have photographers charging fees for this. If you ran the half, you received a finishers medal too. While the medal itself is nice, the race should have upgraded the ribbon to include the race name on it.
|Medal close up|
|Mug - which is a unique item to give|
|Free pro photos(an excellent idea)|
The organization for this race was clearly lacking. Numerous items need to be fixed for this to become a much more successful race. This includes better communication with it's runners. Everything needs to be clearly defined on the website well ahead of the race time. People being told there would be race day packet pickup and then there would not and then there would just caused concerns with runners. The standard response on their Facebook page was to call the office. Whoever was handling the social media accounts needed to have information and posted answers immediately to concerns. It's crazy to think runners need to call the race for answers and it just caused more frustration with runners.
In addition, for me, having a course that is 0.21 short of the distance is pretty large. It could have been easily adjusted in Belle Isle or perhaps we could have run around the stairs to get the extra miles. The packet pickup location before the race was unorganized even though I got in and out quickly and the location was terrible. Plan for 6,000 runners accordingly. Also, plan to have enough people on race day including more volunteers at registration, aid stations, course marshals directing runners, and HAM radio operators on course for safety. A runner could have easily been hurt and had nobody around to get help.
Overall, the primary thing I liked was the course. It's a great course and a fun route. They also had great swag and while I love a medal, I'm sure I would give up some of the swag for a more reasonably priced race. Of course, in this case, I personally ran it for a race review so I didn't have to pay the entry fee but had I paid, I would not have been happy with how everything was handled. Details are what make a good race great! Unfortunately, given all the other issues with the race, I could not recommend it especially given the prices that they charge. There are plenty of races in the $45-65 range that provide an excellent half marathon experience albeit with less swag. My hope is that the race listens to it's runners and learns from their first road race experience so they can get better at it like they are with their Warrior Dash races.
|Half #22 complete|
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!
Note: I received a complimentary entry in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give any particular opinion except an honest one.