These posts are going to be all out of order, because I’ve done TWO races before this one, and haven’t posted for them yet. But I needed to do this one right away. Consider yourself warned.
First, let me preface this by saying that I did have a good time at this race, for the most part. I also understand that this was the first time for this race, so there were bound to be hiccups. That being said, this race had some pretty large hiccups (does that make them belches?), and it was a very good thing I did not have a time goal.
First of all, and I think this is pretty significant, the 10k was not a 10k. It was 8.7k, according to my Garmin. I first noticed this as we passed the 7k mark and my Garmin said we only did 5.7k. At first I thought that maybe it lost the signal somewhere along the way, but when I looked at the time, I knew there was no way we ran 7k in 38 minutes. I looked at the planned route afterwards; it looked like the turnaround was much closer than it should have been. I’m sure it was a miscommunication error, but Kat joked the marshalls just got tired of walking along the Galloping Goose trail. Despite the reasons why, I felt bad for the runners who thought they had an awesome time, only to find out later that it wasn’t so awesome. And last evening, when I looked at the Facebook Page for the race, there was nothing written by the race directors about the error. Only a few comments from the runners themselves.
Secondly, at one point on the course, right around the 2 k mark, the runners were stopped at an intersection (Sooke Road!) to let cars pass through. For nearly two minutes. Now, I knew that this was not a closed course; the emails were quite clear about that. But I have never been in a timed race where a large group of runners were stopped so that cars could have the right-of-way. It wasn’t like we were at the back of the pack, with only a handful of runners. We were smack in the middle of the pack, and nobody was impressed. To me, this is unacceptable. If the race directors cannot block the street long enough to let the majority of the runners through, they should pick another route. Or don’t time it.
Thirdly, the out-and-back portion of the race, along the Galloping Goose trail, was much too narrow to have runners moving in two directions, especially since there was about 1000 runners doing this race. I was annoyed that there really wasn’t enough room to pass the slower runners ahead of me, but I’m sure it was nothing over the frontrunners who almost had nowhere to go, since they were on the way back when the majority of the runners were on the way out. I think what I’m really trying to say with all this is that the course probably needs to be redesigned for next year. And measured properly.
Lastly, one of the most publicized aspects of the race, chocolate at every aid station, was missing. There were only 3 aid stations along the 10k route, but not one of them had any chocolate. This wasn’t the biggest deal to me, because honestly the thought of eating chocolate in the middle of a race was not appealing. However, it was such a huge part of the promotion of the race that for it to be lacking was a huge oversight (I also understand that the half-marathon ran out of bottled water after 2 hours because some people took two.) I even joked with Kat that this was the Portal of races (you’ll only get this if you’re a video game geek).
There were a few other minor issues, like the fact I was directed to park on the street along the race route after the 1/2 marathon had started, so I had to wait for them all to pass before I could park (but at least they made me wait and not the runners!), and the post-race food was at the top of the stadium up a steep set of stairs, but they didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the race.
As I said at the beginning of this post, I did have fun at this race, despite these issues. In fact, I may have even had fun because of these problems, since I was not going for a goal time. And there were a couple of really cool parts to the race. The necklaces were pretty and a nice alternative to a medal. The chocolate-covered strawberries at the finish line were a nice touch, and probably more refreshing than straight chocolates. The firemen at the finish line were, thankfully, in uniform (instead of shirtless, as I was dreading). And we met another runner who plays Diablo 3.
And now for the million-dollar question: would I do it again? I really don’t know. I know that I would be more inclined if the race course was redesigned. But I’m still not sure I’m on board with a women’s-only race (another blog post entirely). If I did do it again, I think I would stick to the no-goal-time part.