Saturday, May 26, 2012

Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon Recap Part 1

I am a little slow getting this recap together, but I had to process this marathon a bit before I could really write about it. This week has also been a bit crazy between recovering from the race, getting ready for vacation and a few other things. I am breaking the recap up into two parts. In this first part, I will talk about the event and Fredericksburg, Va., part 2 will go into my race. 

The Race Expo 

This guy was fun
If I had one word to describe the race expo, it would be quaint. Since the race was on Sunday, the exp was open Friday and Saturday. We decided to go up Friday night after work. I wanted to relax on Saturday as much as possible. The expo was well organized and we had picked up our numbers, shirts and race packets within 5-minutes of walking in the door. 

We wondered around the expo a bit and picked up some phenomenal salsa. Definitely one of the strangest things I have ever purchased at a race expo. The vendor portion of the expo was small, and even the vendors you see at all the races brought the small version of their booths. This was a little disappointing, because there are a couple of things I was looking for but I will take easy packet pickup over a lot of vendors any day. 

The Course 

The race started at the expo center and wound its way through to downtown Fredericksburg, then took you back along the river and finally up hospital hill. As I mentioned in some of my training posts, I was a little concerned about all the hills at the end of the course. What the chart doesn’t show is exactly how hilly the first nine miles of the race actually are. The first portion of the race is filled with rolling hills, so average elevation doesn’t change a ton, but it is rare for you to actually be running on a true flat. 

While the course was tough, it was a really nice course. There were a lot of local residents out supporting runners and they really made you feel special. There was not a ton of official entertainment on the course, but you didn’t really miss it. The only bad thing about the course was that there was not enough water stops. They only had 6 and a couple more toward the end would have been helpful. 

The Town - Fredericksburg 

Prior to the race, I had never been to Fredericksburg. It is about an hour north of Richmond, and I always thought it was just another one of the sprawling DC suburbs. I was delightfully surprised to see that the downtown area is really cute and they have a number of great restaurants and coffee shops. We had a great Italian dinner on Friday night, followed by coffee at an adorable coffee shop. You know it is good when a coffee shop is packed at 9 p.m. on a Friday night. After the race on Sunday, we grabbed brunch at another local place. I am very impressed and we may have to visit Fredericksburg more often. 

The Marines 

This really should go at the top of my post, but the Marines at the half marathon were absolutely amazing. They have one of the most difficult jobs in the world, and then they were out there cheering on the race, giving out water and sport beans and handing out medals at the end of the race. I tried to thank them as much as I could, but I wish I could have done more. 

Overall, this was one of the most inspiring races I have ever done. It was well organized and the course was challenging. I don’t know that I would travel for it, but as long as we are living in Virginia it will be on my short list of races. 

What was the most inspiring race you have ever run?