I’ve lost count of how many half marathons I’ve run, but it’s probably around two dozen, and where I like a destination to destination run, this just became my least favorite half marathon event.
First, the good; very nice bus ride from Greenville out to Travelers Rest that morning. It was more like a tour bus where other large events typically utilize school buses. It was nice to be able to sit back and relax early in the morning for the ride up. And bonus; restroom on the bus that was a helluva lot cleaner than any porta-john you’d find on a race course. The TD Bank stage on the side of the river, downtown, was also nice.
As far as the things that need improving? Some of these should go into a WWTT (what were they thinking?) category. Keep in mind, this isn’t exactly a cheap run; I’ve gotten into some of the Rock n’ Roll series events for less than what this cost, and RnR goes all out for the runners with a very fun, and party-like atmosphere.
Let’s start with the shirt. I can’t find another race shirt that I own that doesn’t have the date on it, but these did not. This might seem trivial, but when you have an opportunity to get a race shirt with February 29th on it; that’s different and unique because most people will never get one. The next race opportunity where February 29 will fall on a Saturday will be in year 2048.
My bib said “Corral 2” and I knew that couldn’t be correct. When I arrived at the starting line, I began observing and I couldn’t find anyone that didn’t have “Corral 2” on their bib. I’m guessing they gave the elite runners “Corral 1” and just gave everyone else “Corral 2” as there were no corral markers. I’m a slow runner, so I lined up in the pack between half and three-quarters back as that’s where I normally finish.
Starts can often be problematic at races when you have people lining up where they don’t belong. If you will be stopping to walk anywhere in the first mile or two, then you should be in the very back. Some of this falls on participants who are newbies or just rude, but when you are packing 1600 people on the Swamp Rabbit Trail at the same time, then it’s an absolute no-brainer that there will be issues. You can’t count on people to line up right, so that’s why you have a corral system… which they didn’t really have. We were packed in tight for about three miles, and walkers just kept bogging down everyone’s run behind them. WWTT?
Approximately 80% of the run is on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, but we did get to run in a single lane of a four lane highway for a couple miles. This was great because we had traffic right beside us and where you are normally running and fighting to process as much oxygen through your lungs as you can, we got to quit worrying about that and just get high from breathing in exhaust fumes.
I like to refuel every four miles or so, and typically on a half marathon course, I’ll hit all the stations for water and electrolytes. If you’re ever doing a RnR event, they often have gels around mile 8. I’ve never attempted to run 13.1 miles without refueling before. It’s never occurred to me to even attempt such a thing until this event.
I’m a big fan of Body Armor drinks because they contain NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS, FLAVORS, OR DYES. It’s filtered water with coconut water with vitamins and antioxidants. Here’s the ingredients from Body Armor’s website:
Filtered Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Coconut Water Concentrate, Citric Acid, Dipotassium Phosphate (Electrolyte), Vegetable Juice Concentrate (Color), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Magnesium Oxide (Electrolyte), Natural Berry Flavor with other Natural Flavors, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Calcium D-Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Zinc Oxide (Electrolyte), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin A Palmitate (Vitamin A), Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12).
I’ll do Gatorade if that’s all that’s available. Here’s the ingredients from Gatorade’s website:
WATER, SUGAR, DEXTROSE, CITRIC ACID, SALT, SODIUM CITRATE, MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, GUM ARABIC, NATURAL FLAVOR, SUCROSE ACETATE ISOBUTYRATE, GLYCEROL ESTER OF ROSIN, YELLOW 6
I view High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as poison. I will not knowingly consume anything that contains it. I will not put Powerade in my body. Here’s the ingredients from Coca-Cola’s website:
Water, Glucose, Citric Acid, Acidity Regulators (Sodium Citrate, Potassium Citrate), Fructose, Stabilisers (Acacia Gum, Glycerol Esters of Wood Rosins), Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame-K), Flavourings, Colour (Brilliant Blue), Vitamin B6. Contains a source of Phenylalanine.
And if it is Powerade Zero, then it contains synthetic sweeteners sucralose and acesulfame potassium, which is something else I’d prefer not to consume.
And for my biggest (but not final) WWTT complaint; Even though Prisma Health had stations every two miles on the course, they were stocked with Powerade. I don’t understand how any self-respecting athlete would want to put that into their body and I don’t understand how a “health” care provider would think it a good idea to provide such.
As much as I’m opposed to consuming HFCS, I should have. I began tanking at mile nine and made the decision that I would drink the artificial sports drink at mile 10 but when I arrived at mile 10, they were out, so I drank more water, but that just wasn’t going to get me through. Things got rough for me at mile 12 with cramping setting into my legs. I managed to finish in 2:24.
To add insult to injury, there was little more than junk food at the finish. There were some orange slices, but no bananas to be found. Maybe they didn’t have or maybe they ran out? I don’t know. There were plenty of rice crispy treats and stuff along those lines. Again, not exactly the sort of stuff you want to be putting into your body if you’re trying to take care of yourself.
I really don’t mean to sound all negative. It is a beautiful run down the Swamp Rabbit Trail and plenty of great people out there running. A day running in an event is always better than not doing so, but this run has so much potential to be one of the really great events in the area if they’d just change a few things.