The course is a point to point course with the finish line being just a 5 minute walk or so away from the start line. Due to construction in the area, parking was prohibited at the start area, so we parked at the finish line and took the short walk to the start.
While it wasn't my most glorious start to a race, I ran a pretty steady pace once I got settled a bit. I won't lie, I struggled a bit both physically and mentally through the first half a mile or so. I reminded myself of all the reasons why I love running and races which totally changed my motivation. Once I got into my 'zone' my race changed a lot more for the better.
The course is pretty amazingly flat for Atlanta standards, but the true beauty of the course is that the last 3/4 mile is downhill (with a tiny hill in the middle of it). Since I had ran this race last year, I knew that I want to try to save a little bit of "umph" for that final portion. When I hit mile 5 I knew that I was likely about to PR and PR in a pretty big way. I tried to just stay focused on that last mile and not lose my pace like I have been doing in my 5Ks lately.
Momma K was also directed to run on the sidewalk for the last mile of the race. Yes, this race is a pretty competitive race with some very speedy runners. However, the race does not indicate any form of "cut off" in the race details. The final finisher came in around 1:39 - she was finishing on the sidewalk and had to cross the finish line with a "closed finish line" (orange cones across the finish chute and timing mat). Momma K, Jennifer, and I cheered her in and watched the incident happen live in front of us. Words cannot describe the way that my heart broke for her, but I was beyond proud of her for
I personally feel that this is a sign of that either (A) the race director was not sure where their final finisher was on course (evident by the 'closed' finish line and traffic on course) or (B) there was a course cut-off time that was not announced/known. Momma K finished in about 1:20 which is a pace of a little less than 13:00/mile which is a very common pace for many races. Yes, it is not the fastest, but unless a race specifies otherwise, it it totally a respectable finish time and she deserves the exact same race conditions as the runners that ran 6:00/mile. However, the fact that runners averaging under 9:00/mile were still dealing with traffic in the race lane in absurd. A large group of my friends ran this race last year and we did not see any of these issues even with the final runners coming in later than this year's final finishers.
My suggestions for the race director for next year include (1) specifying a course limit a head of time (if applicable) (2) for the safety of all runners, make sure that the local police patrolling the course about what time to reopen the roads to traffic (or notify them when the last runner has passed).
In all seriousness, the course is great. It is a great course to run and get your qualifying times for future races or a new PR on. I hope that 2017 brings a better experience for Momma K and the rest of the back of the back. This was a great race in 2015 and I personally had a good experience, but knowing what happened to Momma K makes me sad because it is a great race for sure.