Race takeaway: Summon your inner billy goat and go for it!
Sunday I had the opportunity to run Quad Cities Half Marathon, thanks to a fellow runner and race organizer for this event, Michelle. I took her up on the offer to run at this event and I told her that I would be happy to share my feedback. So this post will be longer than my past race posts because I want to share as much as I can about the race as possible. It got me thinking that I should probably do a better job in general on racing posts (espeically for bigger events) in hopes that it helps someone in understanding the logistics to determine if it’s the race for them. Sound good? If so, then settle in for a lot more detail. 🙂
Quad Cities website, twitter, and Facebook page will give you all the information you could ever want for your race (5K, Half Marathon, or Full Marathon). The directions, information about the start/finish location, and course information was all complete.
Saturday afternoon we drove up to the expo at the iWireless Center. It was super easy to find and parking was a breeze (and free). What made it even better is that the start/finish of the race would be in the exact same location, bonus! When traveling for races it can sometimes be stressful figuring out all the places you need to be. Having everything in the same location is perfect!
We had made a decision to not stay over night for the race, but if we do next time there is also a Radisson right next to the expo/start/finish area.
The expo is about medium sized to others we have seen. It had vendor options for fuel, clothing, etc. I went to the bib number lookup wall and thought I had my name. The names were sorted by last name, but the first names were all out of order. Little did I know that there was another “Christine” and while my name is common, I just didn’t think about it. Luckily they had a chip check table. Note: ALWAYS check your chip to make sure it works! This is how I found out I had the wrong bib number, because when the chip scanned it showed a different age and location. I’m SO glad I checked it and didn’t mess up my race and another person’s race.
The long sleeved tech shirt was very nice too. The design was simple and neutral for both men and women.
After getting my bib and shirt we headed outside and enjoyed watching the kids run, music, and festivities going on.
Getting to the Start
Sunday morning I was up at 3:30am, got ready, and was out the door by 4:15am. We chose to not stay the night before the race because the last time we traveled for a race it was hard on Chase to sleep in the hotel (and therefore we also didn’t sleep). I would rather stay home and have all of us comfortable and get up at a crazy early hour to drive to the race. It was a 2 hour drive to the start/finish and again it was easy to get parked and settled.
I had a chance to meet up with Michelle while she was working at the race. Drew and Tina also came up to watch the race and see me and other friends running the marathon.
There were no start corrals based on pace, it was just open and people could line up wherever they wanted. Also, they started the 5K, half marathon, and full marathon at the exact same time. Even though the 5K course turned after a couple of blocks, it still makes for a crowded start and a crazy herd of runners all and very different paces. I think it would be good if they could have the 5K start 30 minutes later than the half and full marathon. Also, over time it may be good to have corrals by pace. They did have pacers if you like to run with one during your race.
The course is really nice at this race. I think for the half we ran over four different bridges. It was sunny and warm, but the breeze off of the Mississippi river kept the temperatures comfortable. The course changes enough every few miles that it kept it interesting the entire time, making the miles fly by. There were various bands and artists along the course too. The views along the river were so beautiful. The course is not flat and had hills throughout. I had to summon my inner billy goat to get up them. I am not good at running hills, so I just try to survive them. I met a couple of women while running, one from Omaha and the other from Avon, IL. We chatted about our races and it put it in perspective that I thought the course was hilly and the lady from Omaha thought it was flat. 🙂 If either of you ladies happen to be reading this please post and say hi! I hope your races went well!
The water stops could use some improvement. I felt like they had enough water locations and I liked that they had large paper cups. The water stops varied in what they were offering. Some had water only, others had water and gatorade. The gatorade they had was cherry, which is a rare flavor for a race (normally you get lemon lime), so it was delicious. 🙂 The water stops from mile 7 on were small. Instead of having three tables of water and volunteers they had only one table, which meant I accidentally missed getting water because I was expecting more opportunities to get a drink. So the subsequent water stops I made sure to stop and get a good drink before continuing on. It wasn’t a big deal because I wasn’t racing for a time or running a full marathon, but if I was, this would have stressed me a bit. I’ve seen worse, so this wasn’t a deal breaker. Just some minor improvements would make a big difference.
The course has some uneven terrain in small sections and one of the bridges you run over grating, but given that the race is running all around the river, it wasn’t unexpected. Some races in Chicago have the same with over their bridges and near the lake, so I’m used to that being a part of the course.
Since I wasn’t able to train I was worried how I would feel as the miles continued on, but I actually felt good the whole way. I think I lucked out because I took it easy the entire time.
At the finish there was a large crowd of spectators. I crossed the finish in 2:02 and smiling. I got my finisher’s medal and got to see Michelle for a moment and thank her again for the race. The finish line food and celebrating was excellent! They had a large open area and there were food options everywhere. They had: bagels, cookies, oranges, bananas, grapes, watermelon, chips, pretzels, hot dogs, sausages, beer, etc. I had to head home so I didn’t get to see the band.
Overall this race is a must do. This fall race has a great medal, shirt, scenic course, and amenities. Rob and I will definitely be back in the future! And if you have people wanting to spectate they will likely also enjoy this race and location.
Disclaimer: My registration for this event was covered. However, the observations and opinions shared on this blog are my own.