I have ran Area 13.1 Half Marathon each year since the inaugural event in 2012. The race has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years and has gone through a lot of changes over the past few years including course changes and date changes (2014 it was held in November). In 2016 there were a lot more downs than ups, but I decided to come back in 2017 to give it another shot since a different race company was in charge and things were better. For some reason, my body hates this race. I think it has something to do with the strobing police lights once the course gets dark, but every year I have gotten ill. After crossing the finish line in 2017, I vowed to my friends that I wouldn't do the half marathon there again. I lived up to my word and here I am running the 5K.
To be honest, I kind of dread night time races. I am not a good night time runner, plus dealing with fueling in a timely manner for a night race just throws me off. Knowing that it was going to be in the 90s with a heat index of mid to upper 90s at the start of the race stressed me out a good bit. Heat is no joke and can be dangerous, so I was super prepared for the circumstances (along with most of the other runners) by having plenty of fluids on me.
I know, if I dread night races so much, why in the world did I sign up for a night time race (let alone for running the half marathon 6 years in a row)? That is a good question. I like to put myself in uncomfortable situations to make myself stronger. With that said, here I am for yet the final 3.1 miles of uncomfortable fun for the day.
My biggest gripe of the day comes into play here though. Remember how I mentioned that the half marathon started at 7:00 followed by the 5K at 7:15? Well, the 5K runs the same first 3 miles of the half marathon course. That means you had the super speedy 5K runners getting tangled with the half marathon runners inside of the narrow trail. My suggestion here would be to either delay the 5K from starting until 7:30 so the last of the 1/2 marathon runners would be out of the woods before the lead 5Kers came through or alter the course for one of the two races so they don't cross paths. I get that there are logistics such as amount of time the roads can be closed and such, but it really did create a pretty rough situation for the mid-to-back of the pack half marathoners and about all of the 5K runners.
Just past mile 3 you go through Riverside Park where the 5K and half marathon split. The half marathon heads to the right for the final 10 miles and the 5K gets to vere left to the finish line. The past few years it has been basically soul-crushing to pass the finish line at mile three knowing that I still had 10 more miles ahead. Not today though. To the left I went to the finish line.
When I saw Momma K cross the finish line, I knew there was something wrong. They had ran out of medals!!!! Apparently a bunch of half marathoners downgraded (officially and unofficially) to the 5K as a result of the extremely warm temps and threat of storms. As a result, they unexpectedly had more runners cross the 5K line so the back of the pack of the 5K did not receive medals.
I politely voiced my concerns to to the race director about that it wasn't right (at all). I understand that people downgrade, however there needs to be an official cap on the number of downgrades. Every other race I have done where runners downgraded had to take the medal for the distance that they registered for if the distance already reached capacity.
As we waited for the awards ceremony a volunteer came up and had a medal for mom that they "found" somewhere. While mom got her medal, there were still others that did not get theirs.