Race Review: Spring Hill Marathon Mania (Half Marathon)

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I definitely got some weird looks when I told my friends that on New Year’s Day I would be running a half marathon. They knew what this meant. It meant that I wouldn’t be doing much of anything on New Year’s Eve. I would work in the afternoon, have an early dinner and be in bed before Mariah Carey could throw away what was left of her career.

I turned down many invites to ring in the new year with friends and opted for a 10pm bed time.

Know that if I wasn’t training for Dopey I would have totally spent a fun night out but alas, I am just days away from the challenge and I wanted to get this last run in. Plus, what a fun, positive and healthy way to start the new year! I was a bit excited.

And then disappointed.

Very disappointed.

Like, if I could email the race people and ask for a refund I would do it without hesitation. I actually held off until now to write this review because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just being cranky.

I’m not.

If you’re looking for a quick review of the race, here it is: I hated it. I will never run this race again.

Ok. Here’s the low-down.

I had signed up for this race in an effort to “stack” races for my marathon/Dopey training. I like having races on my calendar as opposed to just running around my neighborhood because it keeps me motivated.

Last year at this time I had run DeLeon Springs Half Marathon with Erica and we hated it. So, I guess I’ve found a fun new tradition of hating my first race of the year.

Success?

I registered in early November with the lure of a nice flat course and what sounded like a fun event.

To the credit of the organizers, the course was nice and flat and the weather was perfect.

Much like Mount Dora, sleep the night before eluded me. Despite going to bed at a decent hour, I was woke up by the world exploding. Because I’m in such close proximity to all of the theme parks, midnight sounded like a war zone. Disney, Universal, I-Drive, Sea World, my idiot neighbors. So many fireworks.

And then people kept setting off fireworks. Until 5am.

Naturally, I didn’t get any sleep.

I headed out for the long drive to Spring Hill and got there a tad early. Parking at Anderson Snow Park was plentiful. Turns out this race was super tiny despite a 10k, Half Marathon and Full Marathon running.

My misgivings about the race actually began on Friday when I got an email from the race director basically begging for volunteers, offering a $20 refund if we could provide a volunteer out of one of our spectators.

So there’s that.

Packet pick-up was pretty much the norm but I was starting to feel a tad uneasy. Normally before anyrace I’ve ever run, there’s some sort of to-do going on. Music playing, race announcer, noise. Excitement. There was a whole lot of nothing.

I made my way to the start just before the marathon was set to go off. Now my true misgivings started to come into play. A man with a bull-horn (maybe the race director? We’ll never know, we weren’t introduced) announced that we’d be started soon. While he made no mention of water stops he did say that there would be bathrooms every three miles on the turnaround course.

He also announced that the course took us through some intersections. There was no support at these intersections. So. A bunch of racers. Crossing the roadway. No one stopping traffic.

Totally cool.

Any questions?

With no questions the race was started.

I watched as the 44 marathoners set off. I then joined the 74 half marathoners and 31 folks running the 10k to set off.

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See ya marathon runners!

I will mentioned that I was painfully unnerved by the fact that this is the first race of the very many I have run that the national anthem wasn’t played. Painfully. Unsettled.

Off we go.

Mile 1

The entire race is on a bike path that is, as promised, very flat. Cool.

Mile 2

A water stop. But not a water stop? There was water but no one putting it in cups and handing it out. Okay. I guess at the next mile? This is also when my body really needed to go to the bathroom. “Don’t worry body! Bathroom in the next mile!”

Mile 3

I’ve been lied to. There is no bathroom. Also no water. So that’s cool. I’m following behind what I am assuming are twin brothers running the race. I have nick-named them Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum for their inability to run next to one another without crashing into each other every couple minutes. They also smell as if they bathed in Axe-body spray prior to starting the race. I hate them.

Mile 4

Water. Kind of. There is a city-funded water situation. It’s basically a Gatorade dispenser thing with some cone-cups. I honestly wouldn’t have noticed it without the Tweedle’s. The water is piss-warm and I still have to go to the bathroom.

Mile 5

Finally a bathroom. I can’t go because my body is now pissed off at me. So that’s cool. I consider just turning around and calling it quits. I hate everything about this race. I realize that would only be shaving three miles off and I’ve come this far so I might as well tough it out.

Mile 5.25

Finally a water stop. I’m handed the world’s tiniest cup of water. I tried to take another and was yelled at. I’m so dehydrated I’m basically a human salt-lick. I take a second cup regardless.

Mile 6.55

Turn around.

Mile 7

I see a cute guy. We nod at each other. I’m sad I’ll never see him again.

Mile 8

I’ve yet to mention the intersections. Mile 5 and subsequently Mile 8 were at one such intersection. Or as I called it: TIME FOR HUMAN FROGGER.

Mile 9

I am BEYOND done with this race. I pull out my phone and start playing Pokemon Go. I’m still running but at this point, if I’m going to be this mad and moving this much, I might as well accomplish something. Also, the path wasn’t shut down for the race so there are casual joggers out. Also bike clubs. So in addition to avoiding getting hit by a car I now have to avoid getting hit by bikes coming from every direction.

Mile 10

I miss the cute guy. I’ve also hatched 6 eggs and caught a Charmander.

Mile 11

I catch a faint whiff of sadness. I’ve caught up with the Tweedle’s who I had lost during my bathroom break. I hate them more.

Mile 12

All my eggs have hatched and I turn it up a notch to make it end.

Mile 13.1

It ends. I’m handed my medal and a bottle of water. I’m so mad I walk straight to my car and leave.

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Here is what I look like very angry and very dehydrated. And with a medal.

The race promised great food at the post-race event but it has also promised a fully-supported course so I wasn’t taking any chances. My heart truly goes out to those running the full marathon with the lack of water stops and any sort of on course support. God forbid there was a medical emergency.

As a testament to how unprofessional this race is in every aspect, I’d like to share an unedited* screenshot of an official race email announcing the results of the race.

*I did erase the sender’s last name because I’m not a jerk.

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I honestly thought this was a spam-bot message.

Yep. There it is. To his credit this is the first email of all the one’s he sent that DIDN’T have a typo. You go Glenn Coco.

My 24th half marathon.

I hated it.

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