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Oct 2, 2015

Brooksie Way Half Marathon race review

Short Version
Finished in 1:56:37 (official time); no new PR
Overall Place: 640/2,175
Overall Men: 490/1133
Men 45-49:  75/176

Race #99 - Half #38

Another great Brooksie Way half marathon.  This was my fifth time running this in the last six years since I started running it.  Always well organized, a nice expo for a half marathon, course is well planned and challenging, the crowd support is great and I was able to keep my streak of running all my road half marathons (25 of them) under two hours.

Long Version
Registration/Packet Pickup
Registration was very easy as you can sign up online via their website.

Packet pickup was at their expo on either Friday evening or Saturday morning.  I went Friday evening to see if they had any good deals.  It was the usual stuff but a few good deals.  I didn't stay long and was able to walk in and out very quickly since there was nobody there when I went.
Expo at Oakland University

The race had all the bib numbers up for all the runners.  This race seems to get bigger every year!
Bib numbers
As you can see, no waiting for packet pickup.  I'm glad I went on Friday this year so I could get in and out quickly.  The volunteers always know what they are doing at this race which is nice.
Packet pickup
Start Area
Saturday morning I ended up getting there at around 6:15am because traffic is usually pretty heavy.  There were already lots of cars coming in but I ended up getting a great parking spot right next to the start/finish area.  There were lots of runners socializing as I walked around to see the finish area.  The race start area is always very organized, and you really need to be, with a race of this size.
Start area
The start line and corrals were all set up.  I was in the second corral.
Start line
You could also pick up your packet that morning if you wanted which also would have been a really easy option.  As you can see, no lines this morning either.
Packet pickup race day
I said hello to a running friend, Josh, and he gave me a ticket to the post party for the challenge team which was nice.  You get to have real food and beer after the race.  After that, I got into my corral.  It was a pretty packed corral as I believe many runners are always shooting for a sub 2 hour half marathon.
Runners in front of me
I lined up just in front of the pacers and figured I'd go out faster as I do most of the time at Brooksie.  It always allows me some cushion when I get tired later on in the race which always seems to happen after the hills!
Runners behind me
The course this year was the same as last year.  They used to go onto Tienken but, this year, they again went all the way to Dutton.  It's really a much harder course as you will see later in the review.  You can see just after the eight mile on the elevation chart how high it is - a pretty steep climb.
The only goal was sub 2 hours - accomplished!

The weather was nice for running with an overcast sky but no race.  The corral typically goes out pretty fast and then people start to somewhat separate.
Out the gate!
Onto Walton
Great running weather
You can see it was a much thinner crowd by the time we hit the one mile marker.
Mile 1
There is plenty of spots where people are cheering you on.  In fact, it's one of the largest crowds of any half marathon I've done.  If you like that kind of thing, this is your race.  With the trail races this year, I've become accustomed to no spectators so it was a nice change to hear them during the race.

Great crowd support
The hills are pretty gradual at the beginning of the race.
Had some hills
The course also had tons of volunteers handing out water.  The volunteers had to be in the hundreds.
Mile 2
While I do enjoy the course, after running so many trail races this year, the first part of this course does seem a little boring.  If you compare it to road races though, I feel it's a great course with some nice challenge to it and it gets better as you run longer.

Onto Avon
You are also never alone during the race as there are always people of the same pace no matter what your pace is.

Some great bands playing
Soon we were heading onto the Clinton River Trail.  Normally this becomes one of my favorite parts of the course but someone with the City decided it would be a great idea to pave the Clinton River Trail.  What a terrible idea!!!!!!!!  Sorry, I know bikers probably like it but this trail was so much better when it was dirt.  In fact, I will now run less in this area because it's paved.
Clinton River Trail
They still have the cool bridge that you run on as you pass over the river though.
Nice Bridge
Before we knew it, we were at mile 4 and were catching up to some of the walkers.  They must have started sooner than the runners.
Mile 4

Going under the bridge
I will say that the course does have some nice entertainment to keep you, well, entertained.  This guy below was incredible.  I remember him being here last year as well.  Really good!
This guy was incredible
Finally we hit some of the trail that was not paved and I was in heaven to get off the road for a little bit.
Mile 5
Finally a little trail
But soon enough we were back on the road and starting to head to Downtown Rochester.
Back to roads
We came across the Royal Park hotel.  I do love running in this area as the hotel is so nice.
Near the Royal Park Hotel
Running through downtown Rochester is also really fun and you have more spectators here as well.
In downtown Rochester
Shortly after, we were headed to the park and the Paint Creek Trail.  I hope they never pave the Paint Creek Trail.  Keep it limestone.  It's the best surface for it's use.

Heading to the trail
There were also some hints of Fall as the colors of the trees were starting to change in areas.
In the park
Before we knew it, we were already half way complete.
Half Way!
I was so happy to be on the Paint Creek Trail to get some more relief from the cement roads.  This is really a beautiful part of the course.
Paint Creek Trail!
Tienken was typically where we would turn and the hills would start but we kept running on the trail until we got to Dutton.  I actually like the new course better.
Crossing Tienken
Continuing on the trail
Now it was time for the most challenging part of the course - running up Dutton.
Dutton hill
You can see from the next two pictures how steep the hill is here and why they have it as a challenge during the race.  It really is one of the bigger hills that I've run and I love that it's dirt.
Head this one is tough!
Looking back after up the hill
Soon we were back to the cement roads but the hills continued.
Back to roads
We were finally at mile 10 and this is really where the race gets going.  The hills continue and you are fatigued and ready to stop.....well, at least I am.
Mile 10
Almost to Adams
After you make the turn onto Adams, it feels like you are almost there but unfortunately you still have some work and hills to climb.
Onto Adams

Mile 12
We are almost back to Walton and ready to finish this up.  It seems that many people start to speed up at this point in the race - at least they do when I get to this point.
More entertainment
We make the turn back into Oakland University and it's one more hill to finish up the race.
Back to Oakland University
I actually really liked when we used to finish right by the mansion on campus but it was a downhill finish and much more congested so I understand why they changed it.
Coming into the finish
One last hill
You can see that the hill just keeps on going right up to the end.  They call your name when you go past the first timing map just ahead of the finish which is nice to hear your name at the end.  With that, #38 half was complete!
Aid Stations
The aid stations here are incredible.  They are huge and well stocked with water and Gatorade as well as GU in certain spots on the course.  There must be an aid station almost every mile on the course.  Way too many in my opinion but it sure beats not having enough.  The volunteers do a great job and are always cheering for your at each aid station.

Finish Area
The finish is the same as the start area.  When you finish, the race offers a bottle of water and some food and then you get your medal.  The finish area is very organized and they keep runners moving out of the shoot to free up room for upcoming runners.
The race also gives out space blankets but this year you really didn't need them so I didn't take one.  It was plenty warm at the finish.
Food after

For your race entry, a certified half marathon course that is well marked with plenty of aid.  You received a custom bib with your name on it.  I always like when races do this.
Custom bib with name
You also received a COTTON Gildan long sleeve race shirt.  I was really disappointed to see this shirt.  Brooksie has always offered a Brooks running tech tee shirt and I wear previous years shirts all the time in training.   In addition, I always see runners training with their shirts on.  Unfortunately, I gave this one to my daughter as a sleep shirt after I took a picture of it.  It will never get used by me in training.  I would have liked to see them not cheap out on this.
Shirt front
Shirt back
The race medal is nice again this year with a custom ribbon as well.

Medal close up
The organization of this race is top notch.  Each year they seem to be more and more organized.  They really have everything down to a science when it comes to this race and I didn't see any issues this year.

Overall, outside of the cruddy shirt, the race is a fantastic half marathon to run.  I wouldn't run it as many times otherwise.  The website is well informed (although I was considering transferring to the 10k and couldn't find information about that), the expo is excellent, the communication is great, the start/finish line is always well planned, the course is incredible, the medal is nice and the crowd support is awesome.  It really is a fun local half marathon.  It's only one of two road half marathons that I ran this year and I enjoyed this one once again.  If you have never run the Brooksie Way, it should be one you run at least once.
That is 25 half marathons all under 2 hours
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary race entry for providing some pertinent race pictures from a prior year.  All opinions are my own and I was not required to write this review or give any opinions on it from the race.


  1. Didn't know they paved the Clinton River Trail. It was too rocky before, but would have rather they made it more like Paint Creek Trail (I guess that is crushed limestone).

  2. 25 halfs... well done, can I scary you? me next half well be number 200! a half is a great distance, you can run lots of then, you can race them... you can line up with out much training and still get to the end!
    and they are long enough to take you to some great places.