Monday, October 30, 2017

Minneapolis Halloween Half Marathon - 2017 - Race Recap

Ran the Minneapolis Halloween Half Marathon this year. I was sure this race is 2-3 years old but turns out it was the inaugural race ! Big surprise when I found out. This race is definitely a great alternative to Team Ortho's costumed race on the same day. MN Series have a great reputation and great races as such. I do have feedback for them at the bottom of this post.

Most costumed runners were for the shorter distances. There were some interesting ones in Half as well. Nurse costume, set of 4 guys in super-hero shirt & cape, Giraffe onesie, some with Pizza-doughnut add-on strapped to their chest. A Harry Potter lady  I met at 10th mile (complete with round specs, wand, scarf and robe). A lady in Red Riding Hood costume with a cuddly wolf in hand. Lot of folks in colorful wigs.

Weather as usual, built-up in the week till the race. The previous weekend was like a perfect summer day, even though it was Minnesota October. Then on Mon it was like dementors had descended and transformed the place into 24/7 dark & rainy. Thursday night and all of Friday was Snowfall day - which thrilled the kids as there was enough to build a Snowman. But boy, the stress it caused all registered runners. Finally on the Sat race morning, it was clean, dry, cloudy and a constant 35F throughout the race & rest of day. Thank god for no rain !

Route was entirely on Riverside. Only the start and finish was on the North of the river. Soon the course crossed the river on Central Avenue and went on the South side of river. At the Stone-arch Bridge entrance, there was a volunteer holding the 5K turn board. I was not paying attention and ran towards it when my run buddies corrected me.  There was timer-carpet at 4th mile. After the turnaround for 10K, it got lonelier, with sparse crowd going further for Half. The turnaround for Half was further up at 7.5. Surprisingly there was no timer-carpet here. So much scope here for cheating.

And around this point my watch started showing, off from the mile markers by around 0.1 mile. I would usually expect it because I often forget to start my watch and do it much after start-line. But this time, I was careful to push the start at the exact time I crossed the start line carpet. Later in the day, I got organizers email that their route measurement was off and compensated by $10 for the next race. They know how to please us runners :) (notoriously chindi-chor/cheap crowd).

But most notably, the riverside route was unbelievably hilly. Just rolling ups and downs. Thankfully it was not windy, expect for a patch in the last 4 miles, when it was exposed.

I pretty much walked the miles 11 and 12. My thighs felt like they were frozen solid. Since this real cold morning came up after a spell of great weather, I was not 100% sure what to wear or discard ? So I had laid out Plan A to Z options of gear, which I kept switching till the point I locked the car and left. Eventually I stuck to my usual fleece jacket for outer layer and also kept the gloves on (which I was unsure about). This is in-addition to 2 layers of tech shirts, compression pants & cap. And my choice turned out perfect for me. Even though it felt warm for the first few miles, it worked perfectly when it got cold in the second half and saved me from the chill caused by wind and sweaty shirts. It was also important for all the time spent outside, before and after the race. So. Leaving an extra layer for packet pickup would have helped. Helpful volunteers stuck around even till noon, so no tension of loosing your packet coz am a last finisher.

After the turn on StoneArch bridge, the last mile, I was still waddling along, when #LadyCrew, my Run club buddies came along from the opposite side. One had finished her Half and the rest had completed 5Ks. They brought the energy boost, so I could start jogging again. And then further up the bridge I saw a glimpse of the Finish line arch and was totally surprised - coz I thought it's further up half mile at the same place we started. That sight made me sprint and I could cross the line at 3:06:25 hr. Wow ! I watched my video in results later, and my sprint looked like the slowest jog in the world - but hell it felt like a high. 

Volunteers were great throughout. Helpful before the race, in sharing information. Numerous porta--potties, so very minimal wait. Very frequent water-stops. The first one did not give Gatorade, so I was stressed out there won't be any and I had brought only 1 Gu, but turns out all other stops have Gatorade as well as water. There was even a water-stop on the last mile and 3rd hour. So thankful they waited.

But some very crucial feedback.
  1. There was no sign at a crucial last turn on Stonearch bridge. My friend & a Red-Riding Hood lady who were ahead by atleast 30 minutes, but they missed this turn and went on further & added 2 miles to their run. Not to mention spoilt their finish times. Getting lost on a run is the worst feeling and that too in a race, is shocking. This turn is on the last mile. For the last batch of runners, its their 2nd hour. Brain is not going to remember every single turn, even if you prep & study the course map. Proper direction signs are needed at this point.
  2. No parking ramp info on the website. Only pointer on generic map but not by name or address. I parked at St Anothny Parking Ramp (Parking: 215 2nd St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414). Very low rate & lot of spots available. And just a short distance from the start & finish line.
  3. Facebook responses were very controlled. Not responsive enough.

Race gear was smooth full-sleeve shirt and a nice Halloweeny medal featuring scary pumpkin. I plan to wear it for the actual trick-or-treating trip.


Mike Cofrin said...

Thanks for the feedback, My name is Mike Cofrin, I'm one of the organizers and I will bring your feedback to the team as we recap the event. As with any first time run there were a few bugs and I thank you for bringing them to our attention. Mike

Prithi Shetty said...

Thank you Mike.
This race was great otherwise and MN Series has a great reputation.
So appreciate your response.

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