Area 13.1 Half Marathon – Race Report
Usually, this would be an easy report to write, as this is the third year for us running in this one. Well, 3rd for Scott. Dru skipped a year, and last year the even conflicted with our race in Savannah. Anyways, I digress. For us, this is an event that we look forward to on the calendar because it is very much a home town event, and the format is different and fun.
What makes this so different?
To start with, the race is an evening race that finishes in the dark, by design. In addition, the route itself lends itself to a kind of eerie, alien and rock n roll vibe. Finishing in the dark, on a course that can only be lit by tower lights and generators means alot of handheld or head lamps, which only adds to the fun vibe.
The big downside to this event is that late August in Atlanta is almost a promise of heat and humidity. This year was no exception, with temps in the mid 80’s, but crazy humidity. To the point that I have done runs in the rain where I finished the run feeling cleaner and dryer than this one. Sticky? no, soaked. To the point that a pair of merino wool socks were completely soaked and the feet were full prune status by the end of the race.
This year Scott and I went out at the same time, instead of prior events where we would split into self selected pace groups. Both of us had time goals in mind and they were not too far apart. It made for a good time.
This year, the half course saw some changes from the course used in prior years. While in the past the course has been nearly pancake flat, this year a couple slight variations. First was a change to moved an early section of the first out and back loop from an old gravel residential road to a crushed gravel nature running trail by the river. It certainly made a scenic change, but at the same time it created a narrower course at a early point in the race. There were still alot of runners in close proximity this early, so some of the spots got tight and slowed the pace down. The second change added a good hill to the route. Essentially, 110 feet of climbing in about a mile, starting at mile 6.75. To put it mildly, it kinda hurt, but in a good way.
All in all, the changes slow the race down, but still make it a better overall event. In addition, the changes work hand in hand with the other new feature this year. In addition, they added a 5k that runs on the same first out and back loop that goes off about 15 minutes after the half starts. After running the race, I am pretty sure that the course changes in the first loop were to accomodate the 5k and I think the net result is great for the event on the whole. Though the participation numbers appeared to be higher for the half, the 5k should allow the even to grow into a premier Atlanta event over the coming years (assuming Roswell doesn’t do something silly with permits as they did in 2014).
In the end, this is an event that has had some trials getting to this point, but today, I think they have built a great foundation, and are set for it to become one of Atlanta must do events each year.
There is one other big thing to note. In past years, water stops and frequency have been a concern for this event. Judging by the setup this year, I think organizers heard the concerns and tackled them quite directly. With water more often than every 1.5 miles, there was more than adequate supply of hydration, and nutrition along the course..
On a would we do it again scale, the answer is, yes. As long as we don’t have an event that conflicts in the coming years, I expect to keep running this event. I really hope the stick with this new course layout as well, as it just flows really well.