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Aug 4, 2015

The Legend Half Marathon race review

Short Version
Finished in 2:12:41 (official time); no new PR
Overall Place:  174/373
Overall Men:  132/223
Men 45-49:  22/39

Race #96 - Half Marathon #36

Another great day at the Legend trail half.  This was my third time running this race and I had a great time once again.  This is a great race for beginners and experienced runners alike.  It really is a nice course to run.  I actually prefer when it's wet and muddy and it was dry this year but still had a great time.  I know I'll be back to this one again.


Long Version
Registration/Packet Pickup
Running Fit does a great job with registration.  They have a website set up just for the race and it's very easy to register online.  Five minutes and you are all registered.

Packet pickup had two options.  You could pick up your packet the day before the race at the Park or you could pick up race morning.  Since the race is about 1.5 hours away, we opted to pick up the morning of the race.  Rob, Kevin and I left at 5:45am so it was an early start to the day.

It's never a busy, long line race day and it's how we have always picked up our packets each year.  I literally walked up and got my packet.  The race had bib numbers out for you and they also emailed them to you as well in a reminder email.  You also had the option to register on race day since the race was not sold out.
Sarah registering day of the race
As you can see, it was a nice sunny day and the registration tent was all set up and ready to go by the race company.
Packet pickup
Start Area
The race area was all set up.  The emergency crew was ready (and they tend to have some minor injuries at this race but nothing serious).  The finish line was also set up and ready to go.
Emergency crew
All set up at the start
The lake was looking great as always.  I really like the Sleepy Hollow State Park as it's such a nice park.
The lake at the park
Rob, Kevin and I went to use the bathroom before the race.  They have real bathrooms and also port-o-potties.  I told Rob that I have the most port-o-potty pictures of anyone I know so I told him to stand in front for the picture to make it a little more interesting.  Hah!
Port-o-potties - I told Rob to get in the picture because who wants to see just port-o-potties?
We then waited and chatted with a few runners before it was time for us to race.  We also got to see the five milers start too which is always fun to see.
Runners ready to run
Water set up
5 mile start
Before we knew it, it was time for us to race.  The race had several waves and we were in the third wave.  They also made sure that you were somewhat set up in the proper pace by calling our paces to line up.
Runners behind me
Runners in front of me
As we were waiting, Kevin, Ben and I got a quick picture before we started running.  Rob is much faster and started in an earlier wave.
Kevin, Ben and I at the start
With that, the third wave was here and we were ready to run!
Third wave for us
I had no plans for pace and just decided to go out for however I felt given I had just run a marathon the weekend before this.  Overall, I felt that I ran it pretty well for me.  As you can see, I started out way too fast, slowed my pace and then picked it up at the end of the race.  My buddy Kevin said I needed to beat him if I wanted a beer finish.  Ha.  Look at that increase in speed at the end!
Splits, map, elevation
The race starts by going through the parking lot in order to get to the trailhead.
Start through parking lot
Getting to the trails
It's not far before we are on the dirt which is my comfort zone.
On the trail 
One of the things Running Fit does extremely well is marking the course.  They have all the areas marked well as well as during the course.  You are never guessing if you are going the right way.  You can see below they are reminding us to follow the blue flags and they had a couple reminders like this to start.  Don't follow the runner in front of you because they may be running another distance.
Follow your color

Run through the campground
The run through the campground is really nice too.  Actually, after running through it, it's somewhere I'd like to stay and try out.  The campsites look really private and nice.
Heading back to trails
After that short spot on asphalt, we are back to the dirt and heading towards the single track again.

Back to it
The run through the playground area is really nice and you can see below that the trail is well worn in for the runners.
Great single track

Wider trail
More markings kept you on the right path.  There's really no question which way you should be going.
Course markings were awesome
Soon the trails turn more grassy and you kind of run through a tunnel of sorts.  I really like this area and it feels cool to run it.  It does make it a little harder to run but is so fun!
Nice trail

Feels groomed
I overhead a runner say it was one of the worst trails he's run.  I was really surprised at that as I think it's an excellent course with tons of variety.  Below you can see that you get to run through some fields and it's almost like the course is fully groomed for runners.  You can't get much better than that!

Mile 4
The trails would turn from open grassy areas to woodsy areas and go back and forth numerous time.
Back to the woods
The hills are not too extreme and this is a very runnable course.  A great course to try and achieve a PR in my opinion.

Sunny hot day
Before I knew it, I was already at mile 5!  While there are some sunny areas, I never felt the need to have sunglasses on since there are many areas that have shade.
Mile 5
Lots of grass to run
And trails!
There are a couple road crossings and there were volunteers at them as well to help keep the runners safe.
Road crossing with volunteers
I even saw Randy, the founder of the races and the race director as I crossed over the road.  I don't think there has ever been a Legend race that I didn't see him attend and cheer on the runners.
Randy (Race director) from Running Fit
For me, I like it when the course is muddy.  It was pretty dry this year and not really any mud.  The mud really makes this course fun - harder to run but really fun to play in.
Not really muddy this year

The grassy areas were awesome
The grassy areas, while not that hilly, does make for a harder run since the grass is usually pulling at your feet and legs trying to slow you down.
Mile 7

Coming up to an aid station
Just before mile 8, Ben passed me up and took off!  He's been getting faster and faster this year after an injury.
Ben running strong!
Mile 8
This is also an area where you start to get pretty hot with the sun beating down on you and after you have run over eight miles.
Small hills
Below is one of the largest hills on the course - not really that bad at all!
Larger hill
The below picture is my favorite part of the course.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture with any runners around at the time but I really enjoy running through this curved trail in the fields.
I love this part of the course
Back to single track
There was an intersection that did have quite a lot going on though.  As you can see below, I actually had to slow down to see what was going on to make sure I was going in the correct direction.  The signs just state the cut off times with both courses going the same way.
A lot going on here
This awesome tree was down on the course.  I don't remember it being there last year so it might be new or maybe I just forgot about it.  Regardless, it was nice to run by it but sad to see a down tree.
Fallen tree

Mile 11
At this point, I was really getting very tired and my pace had started to slow down.  Having one of the bigger hills in this part didn't help my pace as well as being in full sun.

Getting in some hills
Soon we were back in the shade.
More markings
Now at mile 12, I was really feeling the course probably due to the heat.  It was not extremely hot but was a warm morning to start.
Mile 12
Below is where it can be really, really muddy but was not given we didn't have much rain this week.
When wet, this is much different to run in
At this point, my running buddy Kevin was catching up to me and said I was not getting a beer if I didn't beat him.  Haha!  I kicked it into high gear and ended up with a really strong finish.

Pushing hard at the end
The last little part goes through the parking lot as you head back to the finish area.
Off the trail
Through parking area
The course again was well marked with cones helping to keep runners safe from people driving in the parking lot.  I heard Sherri's husband, Jeremy, yell "Deeetroooittt Ruuunnnerrr" as I passed him and he was blasting music and cheering on runners.  Haha!  Nice!
People cheering - thanks Jeremy!
 As we headed to the finish, we got a great view of the lake.
Nice view of lake
The finish area is really nice and there are all kinds of people cheering you into the finish line so you don't want to be walking at this point on the course.  Ha!
More cheers!
 With that, a short uphill and I was at the finish line!
Finish line
Aid Stations
Aid stations were well stocked with water, Gatorade and GU at a couple locations.  I think there were four stops and the volunteers are always very cheerful with everyone.  The volunteers were numerous and they did an awesome job!

Finish Area
After you finished, you received a bottled water from a volunteer then your race medal.  If you were running the Serious Series, you also received your second medal as well as a glass mug too.  This was the first year that I had run the race series.  I had always wanted to run all three races but I could never get to Flirt with Dirt but this year I was able to fit all three races into my schedule.  See my other reviews for more information of the other races.
Getting medals
The race also had plenty of food for runners including awesome cookies which I had.  They also had bananas, bagels, pretzels and some other treats as well as more water.
I saw numerous people that I knew at the race, including numerous people from Michigan Running Club (a group I set up on Facebook) and it always makes it more enjoyable when you see people you know that are also at the race.
Relaxing with the guys after - photo by Han.
Han also got an awesome picture of me finishing at the end.  It's pretty rare for me to get a decent picture.
Finish photo by Han!
As you can see, the one below is not quite that good.  Haha!  Not that it's Han's fault, just what a face I have.  Crazy!
Another photo by Han - I only put it on because he asked me - yuck! hah!
Of course, there is nothing better than a beer finish.  The race did not provide beer as we brought these ourselves for after the race.
My buddy Kevin brought Yuenglings!
Not only did I do the Series, I also ran a virtual race too for Gone For A Run so I got 3 medals this day!
Legend medal, Serious series medal and a virtual race too that I did!
For your entry, you received a measured course on the trails.  While my GPS did not come in over 13.1, the GPS is not perfect in the area either.   You also received a custom race bib with a QR code on it so you could get immediate results.  The race also had results up the same day on their website.
Custom bib with QR (Red dot is for Serious Series)
You received a tech shirt.  I have not run in this yet and, while similar to an A4 shirt, this is a much better shirt just based on how the race logo is put on the shirt.  Way more comfortable and fits true to size.  I'm happy to not see an A4 shirt this time around.
Tech shirt front
I also love that there is only a couple logos on the back.  Nice job!
Tech shirt back
You also received a custom medal with ribbon.  Another great medal that is well designed.  It would be nice to see something with the Sleepy Hollow theme (headless horseman?) but a nice medal nevertheless.
Medal with ribbon
Medal close up - nice design!
Since I ran the Serious Series, I also received a second medal for finishing the series.  It's always nice to get another medal.
Serious series medal with ribbon
Serious Series medal close up
You also received a Serious Series glass mug too.  I tested this one out when I got home.  It worked perfectly.  Ha!
Serious Series mug
The organization for Running Fit Legend was great.  Registration is easy.  Communication is good via email.  The start and finish area are well organized.  Volunteers know what to do.  The course was marked great.  All races should take lessons from Running Fit in regards to course markings and are the best I see at trail races.

Overall, the Legend is one that you should run if you have not.  I would not keep coming back (my third year) if I didn't love the course so much.  Yes, it's a long drive for me and for many people but such a great time.  I may consider camping at the campground next year so I don't have to get up so early.  Definitely a race you need on your race schedule.  You won't be disappointed with this race, rain or shine.
Half #36 complete!
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Disclosure:  I paid for this entry with my own funds.  All opinions are my own.

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