serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Posts Tagged ‘half-marathon’

VIP sections at Races Discrimanates Runners

Monday, January 17th, 2011

publix-georgia-marathon-vip-treatmentIn the past week I have received an email from two different races promoting their new VIP sections, Publix Georgia Marathon (formerly the ING Georgia Marathon) and the P.F. Chang’s Rock N’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon.  At first I thought this was a good way for races to increase revenue, but then I began to think is it really necessary?  Aren’t we all runners and deserve the same amenities on race day?  Everyone runs the same distance and endures the same amount of pain after a race.  That’s what makes runners such a tightly connected group.  Why would a race want to break up the comradery of runners?  Why wouldn’t the race just improve its overall experience for all runners and attract more participants rather than charge more for a more comfortable race?  Maybe it’s because the race logistically sucks.  Read my race recap of the 2009 ING Georgia Marathon to see what I mean.  I know I’d probably be willing to pay for the VIP at this race, but that doesn’t make it right.

Here’s what you really get for the $75 VIP charge:

  • Express Packet Pick-up Line at the Expo: This race requires everyone to go to the Expo to pick up their race number.  Why?  Because they want you to buy products from the vendor booths they charge to be there.  If they would just mail race numbers instead of forcing runners to attend the Expo, then there wouldn’t be a need for express packet pick-up.
  • Reserved Race Day Parking Next to Centennial Olympic Park: If you read my race recap, I was late being dropped off to the race because of the traffic.  Then after the race I had to walk a mile back to my ride’s car because that was the closest he was able to park.  However, I don’t blame the race organizers on this, more so Atlanta’s horrible mass transit system.  There is a subway station at the start/finish which should alleviate traffic, but the problem is that the subway stations are not very convenient to where most people live and are coming from.
  • Private Restrooms: I would pay good money for this; however, shouldn’t the race organizers already have enough restrooms available?  All it takes is ordering more port-a-lets.  Its easy to estimate how many people will need to use the restroom, it’s exactly the same as the number of participants.
  • Private Gear Check: The gear check before was just a tent to put bags under.  Anyone could have taken your bag or stuff so the rule of thumb here is to not bring anything you don’t want possibly stolen.  So unless you are carrying your sweaty socks and underwear in a Gucci bag then this isn’t necessary.
  • Pre-race Continental Breakfast: Who eats right before they run a race?  I guess you could show up to the race 3 hours early, but then you wouldn’t need the reserved VIP race day parking space…
  • Free Post Race Massages: Wasn’t this always free?  Race organizers don’t even pay for this service, massage therapist do it for free to promote their business.  Just contact more massage therapist in the area so there isn’t a long wait.
  • Post Race Buffet: Isn’t Publix the headlining sponsor?  Shouldn’t this be free anyway?
  • Printable Results Available Immediately Post Race: How about automating posting results online so I can view my results on my smartphone?  I’ve seen smaller races have results and print them out within minutes of finishing.  The finishing times are all automated, so where’s the race organizers digital follow through?
  • Access to dedicated VIP Area located in the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce near the Finish Line: Is this some sort of club that politicians hang out at or something?

The P.F. Chang’s Rock N’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon call their VIP area “The Zone.”  It gives you private transport to the start line, private parking area, fluid replacement drink, sunscreen, body glide, safety pins, and free gloves.  Really, they don’t provide safety pins for your race bib unless you are very important?  I guess everyone carrying their race bib as they run aren’t VI.  Why not just give them a scarlet letter to hold onto as well?

Overall I can’t blame these race organizers for trying to increase revenue; race organizers would operate at a huge financial loss if they actually paid the thousands of people who volunteer to help execute the event.  In this economy major sponsors are spending less money on event marketing and people are less willing to pay high race fees.  However, more people have begun running because of the poor economy.  Therefore, the solve of lost revenue from race organizers shouldn’t be VIP treatment at higher prices, it should be to increase volume of participants with better amenities and a lower prices.  I understand that there are capacity constraints because roads can only hold so many runners, but race organizers could spread out the operating time of the race; it’s not like they are paying race volunteers by the hour.  With more start waves, spread farther apart, it would also alleviate having to provide adequate amenities for 50,000 people all at one time, thus overall race experience would improve.

I understand that race organizers need to make money, but I don’t think it should be at the expense of improving their race.  Increase the pie, not your slice of runners.

Georgia Trail Running Races 2011

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

xterra-thrills-in-the-hills-trail-raceIt’s another season of trail running races in Georgia for 2011 and Dirty Spokes Productions along with XTERRA have some great trail races coming up soon.  Start the new year off on the right foot, toeing the line at the 1st Annual Dirty Spokes 8.0 Mile Trail Running Race at Heritage Park on February 5th or the classic 5th Annual XTERRA Thrills in the Hills at Fort Yargo State Park half-marathon.

The Dirty Spokes Trail Run Series begins this year at the 1st Annual Dirty Spokes 8.0 Mile Trail Running Race at Heritage Park in Watkinsville, GA or also known as Farmington, GA, on February 5th.  I’m not quite sure which town is the suburb of which town.  At any rate, these are some pretty sweet mountain biking, horseback riding (watch where you step!), and of course trail running trails, ranked #12 trail running trail in Georgia by users.  Dirty Spokes says about the race:  ‘This is a great single and double track off road running experience!  The race will start on the gravel road (required for spacing) but will soon lead into the woods.  The terrain is made up of a little big of everything, rolling hills, single track, double track, technical section (rocks, roots and tight twisty sections), creek crossings (shallow and narrow).  If you have never visited Heritage Park – do it!  The course is beautiful and offers 5-csomething for every runner truly wishing to ‘ditch the city.’  Nestled in the woods of suburban Atlanta lies a true gem.  Well groomed system of trails with gentile slopes and beautiful scenery will leave you breathless (if that doesn’t, the 8.0 miles will).  Once you descend into the woods, you forget about the city.  As a matter of fact, you will come t o know why we follow the creed ‘ditch the city.”

The race is on February 5th starting at 8:30 with packet pick-up between 7:00 and 8:00.  Register now until January 25th race entry is $30.00.  After that the price rises to $35.00 with $40.00 fee at race day.  Each runner will get a “Dri-Fit” shirt but there is no guaranteed for late entries.  Medals will be given out to the top three finishers in each age and sex category.  This is sure to be a great race and become a Dirty Spokes tradition.  Get in on the 1st Annual action!

xterra-thrills-in-the-hills-trail-racingAfter you get the trail racing taste in your mouth try the next XTERRA Georgia trail race series race Thrills in the Hills.  This is my favorite trail race in the series.  It’s at Fort Yargo State Park which is rated as the #2 best trail in the United States according to users.  There are 21K and a 42K race distances available.  Register now through February 18th for the 21K distance for $35.00, after that it’s $40.00 until February 24th, then $45.00 on race day.  The 42K is $45.00 from now until February 18th, $50.00 after that until February 24th, and $55.00 on race day.  Register here!  New to this year, Firehouse Subs of Winder will be giving away free subs to all participants of the race!  Subs are my favorite food after a trail race for sure.  If you want to read more about the race check out my race recap of the 2009 Thrills in the Hills trail race.  Or check out more 2011 trail races in Georgia.

XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series Thrills in the Hills Race Recap

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010


This past weekend the 2010 XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Thrills in the Hills at Ft. Yargo Park in Winder, GA was ran.  450 runners from 16 states showed up for the event!  It was beautiful weather for trail running, a vast difference, from the sloppy, muddy fun of last year’s Thrills in the Hills trail race.  This year also introduced the first marathon distance trail run in the XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series!  Check out the over 200 photos from the event on our Facebook fan page.  You just may be pictured if you were there traversing the course!


If you weren’t in the front of the pack and missed it, Errol Josephs, 40, of Lawrenceville, Georgia won the marathon distance with a time of 3:31:58.  Amanda Holshausen, 37, all the way from McCordsville, Indiana, beat all females in the marathon with a time of 3:45:03 and placing 6th overall!  David Bell, 27, of Atlanta, Georgia won the half marathon distance with a time of 1:18:00.  Elena Linn, 24, of Marietta, GA won the half marathon distance with a time of 1:32:13.  All the runners did a great job.  There is one more race in the six race series on June 5th, the XTERRA Georgia Trail Race Deep South.  This is the last race of the season.  Congratulations to everyone who has participated!


Don’t forget to check and see if you made our Facebook fans page photos!



Teton Dam Marathon and Races – Rexburg, Idaho

Friday, May 8th, 2009


The Teton Dam Marathon and Races will be held on June 13th in Rexburg, Idaho this year.  Why June 13th?  Well, the event is scheduled every year around the anniversary of the Teton Dam breaking which caused over 500 million dollars in damage, 11 lives lost, and thousands to become homeless.  This horrible event was a very difficult challenge for the Rexburg community to overcome.  They worked together, built the community back up, and are stronger now because of it.  The Teton Dam Marathon and Races are a showing of a thousand runners who flood the streets for their own personal challenges!  What an inspirational reason to challenge yourself to participate in this great event!  Need another reason to feel good about yourself?  How about that a portion of the proceeds is also going to benefit Cysitic Fibrosis Fondation?  Still need another reason to feel good about yourself?  Well, you are helping me achieve me goals by reading this blog.  Thank you.  Need another reason?!  Um…ok, now you’re just being needy.

The Teton Dam Marathon and Races include a marathon (that’s why it is in the name of the event), 6 man marathon relay, half marathon, 10K, 5K, and 1 mile fun run for the kids.  See, there’s a race fit for everyone!  The marathon and relay will start at the Historical Teton Dam Site, outside of Rexburg. The half and 10K will start at the north-west corner of Smith Park. The 5K will start at the corner of Madison Ave. and 1st North, ½ a block from Smith Park. The fun run will start at the south-west corner of Smith Park.  Overall, all races will run the streets of beautiful Rexburg ending in the Southwest corner of Smith Park.  Party at the EXPO at the finish line with booths from sponsors and local businesses, crafts, food, and music!  Not to mention a large group of homestretch hereos, the citizens and volunteers of the Rexburg community!

So come and travel to this great race with a small town, community feel with an exciting large race atmosphere!  Early Registration ends May 31st.  From June 1st-10th all entries have an added $15 fee so get on it now.  The marathon is $40 dollars to $3 to the kids one mile fun run.  Check out the prices and find which race is best for you!  FYI The Potato Bake Dinner ticket is free only with the marathon, half-marathon, and relay entries.  Participate in the Potato Bake Dinner and meet other runners, pick-up your packet, listen to race information, and watch a video about the historic breaking of the Teton Dam.  What better way to get motivated to achieve your personal best than an inspirational film and plenty of carbs?!  Nothing.  Be Dam Proud!

Georgia ING Half and Full Marathon (now Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon)

Sunday, March 29th, 2009


I ran the 2009 Geogia ING Half Marathon this morning.  I just didn’t have the time right now to train for a full properly so I thought I would race a half for the first time and see how I did.  It felt really good.  I had been working on my speed and I think it paid off.  I think I ran under 1:25 (update:  1:24:02) which was my goal.  It’s nice to achieve your goals, be goal oriented.  What other orientational options do you have anyways?

I really liked the race course.  The Georgia ING half and full marathons started in Centennial Olympic Park which has a lot of historical significance.  It was the hub for activities during the 1996 Olympic Games and was the site of the tragic Centennial Olympic Park Bombing.  Centennial Olympic Park is situated in the center of downtown Atlanta near a lot of great hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions.  This makes the Georgia Marathon a great destination race if you are looking for a cool destination to visit and also run a marathon.

The course continues from Centennial Olympic Park through parts of downtown and into an old Historic areas of Atlanta.  I liked the course because it was the perfect mix of landmarks, parks, downtown areas, and old historic homes.  It really showed the different faces of Atlanta and kept your attention while running.  This did make for a bit of a windy course but it was well worth it.  Who wants to travel in a straight shot anyways…other than maybe astronauts.

The start and finish area needs work; a good bit of work.  First off, when my group got there we could not find the bag drop and decided to just “follow the crowd” but once inside the park, the crowd was going every direction!  This is indicative of the whole layout and logistics of the race area.  Once we found the “bag drop” (which was merely putting your bag under a tent) we went to the bathrooms before the race.  The line took 20 minutes and there were only about 20 stalls.  I’m sure there were other bathrooms in other places but I did not see them.  I did see a line for the bathroom at a coffee shop about 40 people deep.  I missed my start group and had to jump the fence to start with a later group; however, other than being with slower paced runners, it didn’t matter because there was no stagger at the start.  Race corrals are based on the time you submit, which is not verified.  This creates a bulk or runners of varying abilities all starting the race at the same time.  If the race does not want to verify times then there should be some sort of stagger between corrals.  A mere thirty seconds makes a big difference for runners trying to dodge in and out of runners.  I do admit, I did jump into a slower group than mine, but I heard this was a problem for other runners too.  People like to complain, I just listen.

The finish line is at Centennial Olympic Park as well.  It is difficult to see exactly how far the finish line is because it is around a corner and behind a large building.  I saw a “one mile left” marker but didn’t know when I needed to give my 800 meters left kick.  I was already around the corner with about 100m to the finish when I saw the actual line.

The layout in the park after the race is not user friendly either.  I think they need to hire a race layout engineer from Georgia Tech next year to figure this whole thing out.  Apparently this has been a reoccurring problem for the race.  Runners are corralled around and fed out near the bag drop area which was convenient.  There was a band with a stage to the right of the finish line but I didn’t see anyone near it, most likely because there were barely any race spectators on that side of the course.  It was extremely difficult to get to.  The other side of the course had a VERY large area of the park gated off for reasons unknown to me.  Possibly the city did not allow them to have people walking on this portion of the park.  It made for about a half mile walk from where runners were corralled to where they needed to be if they wanted to watch other runners finish.  I feel like they should have left this area completely open to allow runners to hang out and enjoy themselves.  I saw a lot of groups of people talking and laughing after the race but I didn’t see anyone staying around.  The weather was fine, there just wasn’t any open area that invited runners to stick around.  As soon as our group found each other we left immediately for a mile walk home.  Thanks my pick-up/drop-off guy.

Overall, if you want an excuse to visit Atlanta or Georgia then this is a good race to run based on its proximity to entertainment and the route it takes on historic parts of Atlanta.  If you are looking for a well organized marathon to travel to maybe you could whisk yourself away to a magical place called Delaware.  Hi.  I’m in Delaware.

XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

This Saturday I’ll be doing a half-marathon trail run in Winder, GA, the Xterra Georgia Trail Run Series “Thrill In The Hills XDURO.” It should be a lot of fun.  I haven’t trained for it necessarily but I am in the middle of a half-marathon training schedule so I should be fine.  Not that that really matters though.  I once had an argument with a buddy about how at any time, no matter if we had been training or not, we could run a half-marathon.  Well, I said I could run a half-marathon at anytime; he said that he could do a full marathon “wheneves.”  That’s what the argument was about.  I still don’t think you could do it bro-seph.

Back to the trail run.  I haven’t been trail running as much as I should lately and can’t wait to get out there in the woods.  I should be getting some new trail running shoes in the mail this week.  I think I’m going to run in them this race.  I’ve always thought the best way to break in new shoes is with a long run.  Breaking in new shoes is like pulling a band-aid off:  all at once!  On the Dirty Spokes website they say about this race, “This is great single and double track off-road running experience. The race will start on the powerlines (required for spacing) but will soon lead into the woods. The terrain is made up of a little bit of everything, rolling hills, climbs, single track, double track, roots with some technical sections. The course is beautiful and offers something for every runner truly wishing to ‘ditch the city’. Nestled in the woods of suburban Atlanta lies a true gem. Well groomed system of trails with gentle slopes and beautiful scenery will leave you breathless (if that doesn’t, the 13.1 miles will). Once you descend into the woods, you will forget your in the city. As a matter of fact, you will come to know why we follow the creed ‘Ditch the City’.”  It looks like they still have spots available.  Go check it out if you are in the area.  I’ll be the guy wearing a hip SeriousRunning T-shirt.  I’m awesome.

What is it about trail running that inspires us so much?  Is it being out with nature?  Is it feeling like you are the only one around for miles?  I personally like the extra challenge running on trails elicits.  I don’t find too many things “extreme” unless it involves a cliff and a parachute or something like that.  That’s pretty gnarly.  But when trail running I get the challenge of a technical course and the feeling of pushing my body to its limits.  Dehydration is extreme…that’s why I drink Mountain Dew.

I hope you get out to do some trail runs this weekend.  Bring Tony, two chicken salad sandwiches and turn your hat backwards if you want to be really extreme.  Just make sure to be cool or Tony may tell you to “step off.”

(If you did not recognize the last two sentences of this blog as a references to a Seinfeld episode about being extreme I am sorry.  I owe you two sentences…well, 4 now)

Always Have A Flexible Running Training Plan

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

So from the Running Down a Dream blog series, the first comment I received from someone was that I should talk about my training and about the different work-outs that I do.  Which is pretty much the one thing that I said I wouldn’t write about.  Well, you want to hear about it, you got it.  Maybe it will help someone in their training.  Maybe it will motivate some people.  Maybe it will help keep me accountable in my own training schedule.  Or, or, maybe it’s some sort of cool training plan that you’ve never even heard about.  What?  We’re not in the tree?  Don’t worry.  We are in the tree.

I’m training to run a half-marathon below 1:25.  I’ve never raced a half but ran a 3:24 marathon about a year ago on only 6 weeks of training.  It was back in my “I can do anything” post-Iraq phase.  I did it though.  I’m on week 4 of a 9 week training schedule.  I really like this schedule because it loads a lot of the miles on the weekends and keeps the miles during the week down.  That is why I’m running a half, I just don’t have the training time it takes for a full right now.  I’m doing the “expert half-marathon” training plan posted on this website under training plans.  We’re working on this feature in the website but here you can see what training plan I am following by strolling down to “expert.”

I’m not religious about my running training schedule.  I do every planned run but sometimes find the need to switch rest days and long runs around to fit my social life.  I know the schedule is made up to give me the optimal build and recovery periods but it is not necessarily optimal for my life.  Maybe I’ll rest, not run the 6 miles Saturday calls for and make it up on my Monday rest day.  That is what I’m going to do this weekend.  I hung out with some friends unexpectedly on Saturday and decided to switch my schedule around a bit.  I mean, I know that’s not the best for me going into Tuesday’s intervals, but I’ll still hit my interval times.  It just may hurt a bit more but it is worth it.  I think that while you can be serious about running, you can also maintain a healthy social schedule around your early Saturday morning races and long training run Sundays.  You have to live a flexible schedule where you can socialize, work, and train in unison.  Yeah, you probably won’t be on the couch/tv scene too much, but it is worth it to keep all of those things at optimal levels.  You just have to be flexible.  So do the butterfly stretch and get limber!

I’m also doing a half marathon trail run this weekend at Thrills and Hills XTERRA trail race series and substituting it for a 16 mile run.  Depending on how tough it is I may add a couple of miles to my Sunday run.  Keep it loose.  Have a flexible lifestyle.  Trust me, everyone around you will appreciate it.