Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the 2nd annual TCS Annapolis Half Marathon. Funds raised by this run benefit local charities such as Food Link, U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps and Wellness House of Annapolis.
I hadn’t planned on running at all in Annapolis. I planned a long weekend of absolutely nothing in a city other than Philadelphia in order to recuperate and recharge after completing the Philadelphia Marathon. However, half marathons have a way of inviting themselves into my careful travel plans. When I discovered there was one during my weekend visit, I registered for the race. Even though I was in town for some well deserved R&R, it would have bugged me to my core if I skipped this run.
I was aware of the problems encountered by the race organizers during the inaugural run in 2011 as the runner forum at Active Runner was buzzing about problems encountered during the run. I appreciated the acknowledgement of the problems by the race organizers on the front page of the race website and decided to give them the chance.
Despite the inaugural hiccups, 2600 runners gathered on December 1st on a cold and foggy morning at the Navy Marine Corps Stadium to participate in this fledgling half marathon. That says much about the hopeful character of runners willing to give the organizers another chance for improvement. We are good peeps.
Two weeks out from running the Philly Marathon, I had no time goal for this half marathon. I hadn’t even looked at the race map or elevation map. My plan was to show up a half hour before the run starts, warm up, run a half marathon, pick up my medal and banana then head back to the hotel to finish reading The Book of Business UnAwesome/Awesome. Crazy plan, I know.
The course itself was a challenge. Hills dominated miles 2 through 12 of the course with a particularly tough incline over the Naval Academy Bridge. Due to the out and back nature design of this course, runners crossed this bridge twice. To my Philly runners imagine the 34th street hill only steeper and longer then go run it twice. You must work to PR on this course.
Now to the race recap:
What I liked about this race:
The organizers addressed and fixed the prominent issues popped up during the inaugural run in 2011.
The medal and technical long sleeve shirt were very nice.
Annapolis is a challenging and scenic area (when the fog is not present) to host a half marathon.
December is a beautiful time of year to visit Annapolis and run a half marathon.
A heated tent open to the runners prior to the race start was a welcome surprise. Warming up for the run in the tent was a delightful luxury that I greatly appreciated.
Local charities were the beneficiaries of the proceeds from this race.
The volunteers, as always, are so very sweet and encouraging.
Adequate water stops that were manned appropriately.
Loved the children handing out the medals, water and hats at the finish line.
The post race entertainment was fabulous. Kudos to The Rovers for a great performance post race.
Oysters on a half shell provided an interesting local twist to post race food.
What I find needs improvement:
Pre-race communications need to be more timely and consistent. There was a small discrepancy over the start time of the race that had runners scratching their heads.
Runners were frustrated over the lack of communication regarding early packet pickup at local running stores in Annapolis. This did not affect me as I was planning to pick up my packet at the Expo, but I can see how this could frustrate local runners.
Inbound runners heading towards the turnaround had to cut across the path of outbound runners prior to the turnaround (near the 8 mile mark). This absolutely needs to be fixed for 2013.
More volunteer recruitment – which can be said for any race – as you can never have too many volunteers.
Overall, the half marathon was a good experience and I can comfortably recommend this half marathon to runners of all skill levels. There are still more wrinkles to be ironed out with this half marathon, however, the organizers have shown improvement over last year. I expect they will take the lessons learned from this year to host an even better 2013 Half Marathon.