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Oct 2, 2016

Thru the Leaves Trail Half Marathon race review

Short Version
Finished in 2:34:50 (official time); no new PR
Overall Place:  21/36
Men 40-49:  6/6 - really - I suck!
Men overall:  14/22

Timed race #117; Half Marathon #43

A fun half marathon in Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills.  This is a park I train in regularly but I have not run the hills that we did in this race.  Great way to see new parts of the park that I've not run much.  Nice small race.  Old school pull tag timing.  Awesome sweatshirt.   Had a great time.


Long Version
Registration/Packet Pickup/Start Area
Registration was online and very simple.  I decided at the last minute - that week - to sign up for the race so it was a bit more expensive that what I could have paid.

Packet pickup was race morning only given the small race.  No need to go to this one early as there is plenty of parking.  I was there WAY too early.  Bloomer charges $5 for their daily pass.  Funny thing is this is the first time I've ever been in Bloomer with my car since I usually run from a couple trailheads on the Clinton River Trail into the park.
Bloomer $5/day
The race was at the Hilltop shelter.  It was kind of misty out but the temperatures were good for running.  The race was all set up and very organized and ready for the runners.  I got to meet Tim who I follow I Strava and we chatted a bit as well as saying hello again to Christian before the race started.  I love really small races!
Packet pickup on race day
I knew that we would be running more hills than I'm used to running in the park so this ended up being a much slower course for me.  It didn't help I went out so fast in the first mile either.  There is a couple miles on the course that I run regularly so it was nice to see that and also fill in other miles with some areas that I have not run much.  The race did a great job with finding a variety of trails to run.  One small loop in the beginning and two large loops.
Splits/course map/elevation

The race started out with a little asphalt through the parking lot to get to the trails.  It spread out any crowd at the start.  The 10k and half marathoners all started at the same time.
A little asphalt at the start

The half marathon runners had to run a 0.75 mile small green loop first and then come around and run 2 pink loops.
Spread out the crowd
White markings are the cross country teams and were not to be followed.  We followed pink flags.
Onto the trail
The great thing about Bloomer is there are a variety of trails including wide track, two track, and single track.  It really is a nice park and I'm happy to be so close to it.
wide track
The race did an awesome job at marking the course.  I never felt like I was going to get lost off the trail.
Single track
It was kind of a dreary day out so pictures didn't come out that great.  It was perfect running weather but was a bit humid out.

We had to go up stairs twice and it made for an interesting course.  The stairs were really wet so you needed to watch your footing.
Stairs - twice
Down stairs
It's always nice when you are familiar with parts of the trails.  Frankly, I felt that I didn't run this course that well.  I was expecting to run it much faster than I did since I knew the area well but I just didn't have it in me today.
Great area by the river
Wide trail
Regardless, I really enjoyed the course as the race did a super job putting together a course that had some nice variety as well as it was challenging.
Part of my regular route
More of my regular route
The swamp was super green and this picture didn't even do it justice.
Swamp we ran through - just kidding
There was a longer stretch of wide track that was nice and flat too.
wide trail
I talked to a friend, Pam, as she zoomed past me!
Pam passing me!
White lines are the cross country route
The first loop went faster than the second loop but it seemed to go by quickly.  The race had an aid station at the start/finish line for the half marathon runners.
Time for another loop
Signage to mark where to run for the half marathon was nice.  I didn't get a good picture but the race was directing the 10k runners and half runners at this split since we had that extra 0.75 small loop.
Well marked course

We passed by the Velodrome a couple times as well.  If you have not seen it, when you run at Bloomer sometime, you should check it out, it's really cool to see this.  I'd love to see a bike race there.
Passed by the Velodrome
Below was one of the most beautiful parts of the park up near the top of the mountain bike route.  You didn't want to get too close to that edge - it was a really big drop down.
Awesome area
The mountain bike course was really fun to run and I was happy to be running it down instead of up!  Haha!  Actually it might have been easier on my knees had we run this up!
Down we go!
It took some maneuvering to run these in the downhill without wiping out on your face.
 They did level off though even if we then had to run over logs.
Logs to jump
Or run along logs, as is the case of this log bridge below, which was really fun by the way.
Log to run over
The course really kept you on your toes at least for the first 3 miles of it.
Don't fall right
The second time around on this and I was mostly alone so it made it a little easier.  I wasn't as worried about running into someone.
fun part of run
The course by the river was really nice.  Given all the rain we had, the river was flowing quite a bit and was really high too.  You could hear it the entire time you ran by it and that's not always the case - at least when I've trained there.
Back by the river
I was surprised to see how high the river was but was happy to see it didn't require the race to modify the course due to flooding.
The river was very high given the rains
Single track
I always love running by the water whether it's a river or a lake.
River flowing
We got to cross several wooden bridges as well.  It's really fun to run these but you needed to be careful since they were pretty wet.
We experienced a little mud on the course but nothing really that bad.
Little mud
Mile 6 or 12 
Wet area
My shoes got soaked and stayed wet about a 1/2 mile for this portion of the course.  With all the rain we got in the last couple days, I was surprised that this is all that we really experienced for wet trails.
Shoes got a little wet here
A little more mud and wet
The mud and wet always make for an interesting race.  For those running the 10k, you only had to run this once and it was near the end of the loop so not that big of deal.  It was actually the first time my Skechers really had any real water in them and they did drain off the water pretty well.
Playing in the mud
Almost done
Before I knew it, I'd run 2:30 hours!
Aid Stations
Ed and Nikki and their daughter were helping out at the aid station at the top of the stairs.  It was nice to see some familiar faces as I came through the area.
Ed and Nikki volunteering at aid station 2

There was also an unmanned aid station for anyone that wanted additional water.  Good idea.  As mentioned, the other aid station was at the start/finish area.
Unmanned aid station 3
Finish Area
The finish area was right back at the start.  The race had bananas and fruit bars as well as water for the runners.  Pam and I talked for a few minutes but I was soaked and getting cold so I didn't stay around too long.
Finish area
For your race entry (I paid $65 plus fees), you received a flagged course with finish line food.  Timing was pull tag given the small size of the race which made sense and the time pretty much matched my watch.
You also received a finisher medal with the race name on it.
Medal close up
While the medal was not a really exciting design, I can see that the race chose to spend their money on the sweatshirts.  They did a great job with the sweatshirts.  I like the color and they are made well.  It's also awesome to have something other than another tech t-shirt.  Awards were for the top 5 overall who won a nice medal pint glass.
Great sweatshirt
Organization of the race was well done.  The race website had information on the race as well as race day information.   The director did some announcements before the race (although they could use a microphone).  The course markings were excellent.  The aid stations were good and well placed with great volunteers.  The finish line was well organized.

Overall, I'm glad I decided to run this race.  I hesitated to run it just because I do run Bloomer for my regular training runs, however, I'm really glad that I did.  I ran some parts of Bloomer that I've not run before which is nice.  The course was very nice and had some real challenge to it.  There were more hills than I thought.  The sweatshirts were awesome and I'm happy I ran it just to get one of those.  The race, Move-It Fitness, did a great job.  They also have numerous other races throughout the year and I'm sure I'll run more of their races in the future.  If you are looking for more trails races, this is one you should check out.
Another finish!
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

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