runDisney 2018 Disneyland Races Cancelled

runDisney cancels popular Disneyland races!

Breaking news from the runDisney officials today!  runDisney has decided to place all Disneyland California races on a hiatus – officially cancelling the four races scheduled to take place in 2018.  This includes the Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon, the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, and the Super Heroes Half Marathon.

The decision was based around Disneylands heavy upcoming construction schedule.  With less room to shift courses, it seems they had no choice.  We are super sad to hear these races are gone for the foreseeable future. As many of you know, we completed all 3 Coast to Coast Challenges earlier this year.  We can only keep our fingers crossed that these races will return as soon as possible.

Follow us on Instagram @runtheimpossible and on YouTube for more updates as we receive them.

Visit the Official runDisney Blog for more details.

IMT Des Moines Half Marathon Review

We ventured out father west for this race and we were pretty spoiled to have only one race to run for the weekend.  We kept it short though and flew in and out of the city in less than 48 hours!  The real highlight for this race was how close it was to the airport.  We didn’t even have to rent a car!  The race was fantastic with plenty of amenities, but a city that’s almost entirely closed on the weekend left us wanting a little more.

Scheel’s Fitness Expo

After doing some smaller races recently, it was a nice change of pace to see a big expo.  While they can’t rival a runDisney expo, it was full of great vendors with giveaways and items to purchase.  We think this is a huge perk for a race because it’s a great chance to grab forgotten items or find a great deal.  The expo was close to the starting line for the next day and pre-race packet pickup was “mandatory”.

Our favorite part of the expo?  The meet and greet with the pacers!  We thought it was a really cute idea and they even had bios printed up for each runner.  The only downside was we didn’t have a pacer even remotely close to our pace for the Half Marathon.  The pacers stopped at 2:30 and we were planning a 3:15 pace.  We were really surprised they omitted a 3:00 pacer since this is a great race for beginners.  With the course and time coinciding with the Full Marathon, runners essentially have 7 hours to complete the Half.

Plenty of race specific merch for the IMT Des Moines Half and Full Marathon!

Finding the Start Line

The course was new this year!  From what we could see, it was structurally very similar with a big shift to have the Start and Finish line in the main downtown district.  Not being from the area, we actually had a hard time finding the Start Line and wandered downtown for a few extra minutes in the morning.  There was no publication of an address to plug into a GPS or even locate on a map.  We also struggled to find Gear Check.  Even on the morning of the race the website read “Gear Check location will be updated soon.”

IMT Des Moines Half Marathon Course

The Half Marathon and the Marathon started at the same time.  There were thousands of runners and everyone was self-seated and there were no waves.  This did cause some heavy congestion at the start with the pre-race shuffle to the actual start.  The course thinned out around Mile 3 when the Marathon runners split off and went to add some mileage before joining back up later.

From there, runners did what we like to call a giant balloon pattern.  This is a big there and back with a loop at the end.  While the loop is obviously a nice touch, the there and back left a little to be desired.  The course itself didn’t have that many things to look at, but that was made up for with tons of water stops and entertainment.

After one balloon, we merged with the Marathon and ran over to a second balloon!  This one was smaller and even crossed a cool bridge over a lake.  Katie hates bridges so maybe this wasn’t the most ideal.  This part of the course was narrower and we were thankful we had separated from the big groups of runners.  From there, we ran straight back into downtown and finished back where we started!

Plenty of scenery along the IMT Des Moines Half and Full Marathon Course!

Downtown Des Moines After Party

One of the biggest highlights of this race is the large after party (seriously everyone asked us if we were staying for it).  We were a little underwhelmed.  After grabbing our medals and posing for a quick $25 photo, we wandered off to find gear check.  We passed some cookies, peanut butter, and bananas (and then went back for more cookies).  After throwing on some jackets, there were no mylars being passed out, we did locate the Sam Adams 26.2 DSM Brew!  This was a fantastic light beer – perfect for after a long run.

Apparently, we missed chips and queso, pancakes, and other goodies!  We are super bummed we couldn’t find them!  The after party was stretched through different blocks and there were no signs to navigate.  We drowned our sorrows in Egg Nog Lattes and Jazz Music at Java Joe’s!

A couple of the vendors at the after party of the IMT Des Moines Half and Full Marathon.

IMT Des Moines Half Marathon Swag

If you’re like us, you have a closet full of race shirts… plus a bag… and maybe some even shoved behind other shirts in a drawer.  A lightweight quarter-zip is a welcome change!!!  This is especially useful in Florida where it barely gets cold enough for a real jacket.  This is going to be a heavily used item for airplane rides, evening walks, and rainy days.  Also, they made the Half and Full jackets different colors with different logos.  We appreciate the difference.

The IMT Des Moines Half swag! Quarter zip and finisher medal.

Overall Review

If you are completing your own 50 State Challenge, we think you should definitely run the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon.  There is amazing support and an easy time limit for beginning runners.  The swag and perks are great too.  Our only disappointment was there was absolutely nothing to do the day prior and after the race.  Everything in the city closes on the weekends and we were pretty amazed the tourism board (a sponsor of the race) didn’t encourage more businesses to open.  Lucky for us, we did find a few bars so we passed the time with drinks!

Amica Newport Half Marathon Review

 

For the second half of our back to back weekend, we went to Rhode Island for the Amica Newport Half Marathon.  After the hills from the Vintage Runs Half Marathon, we were pretty beat.  Panic might have been setting in a little on the parking shuttle when other runners were talking about the hills.  We were so thankful there were just some normal rolling hills and the course was incredible.  The highlights of this course were of course the spectacular views, the course support, and an amazing crew of runners!

Unfortunately, due to time restraints, we were unable to review the Expo the day prior.

Pineapples are a symbol of hospitality in Rhode Island.. We decided to take this theme to heart in our costumes for the Amica Newport Half Marathon!

Amica Newport Half Course

The race does coincide with a Marathon, so you are with the Marathon runners as they complete their first 13.1.  It is important to note, that many agree the second half of the course is rougher with more hills for those of you brave enough for the Full!  The course begins through the quaint little shops of Newport, Rhode Island and then weaves around for a bit until you get to the real high point of the race about halfway through.  The course runs right along the ocean and you are in for some amazing scenery.  It was super windy when we came through, so we also had the benefit of waves crashing right up to us!

Our favorite part was the course support!  This race boasted plentiful water stops and boy was that right.  There was an aide stop at Miles 2, 4, 6, 7.5, 9, and 11.  We really loved how they made the odd to even transition without leaving a nasty gap.  They were also each themed with really motivated volunteers.  Mile 9 even had bananas!

Runners around us didn’t love the two small there and back sections around Mile 11.  We can see them being annoying, but seriously compared to other races it wasn’t terrible.  Our big complaint was how our watches were WAY off by the end.  Of course we know to leave room for error and we understand that we will rarely hit 13.1 exactly.  Our watches clocked in at 13.33 and it was somewhere around Mile 6 that each point seemed to be longer and longer away from our watch.

Panoramic view of mile 6 of the Amica Newport Half Marathon. Absolutely stunning views along the course.

Post Race

The finish line area was set up very well with barricades and volunteers to ensure you went in the right direction.  The volunteers were also doing a great job of handing out the correct medals to runners since both races finished in the same chute.  We then went over to the rotunda where packet pickup was and Spencer was thrilled to find out the small Lobster Roll snack shack was open!  Even though they weren’t included in our race, it was a HUGE perk to find them at the end!!

Katie showing off her FIFTEENTH half marathon medal! Spencer is showing off his lobster roll!

Amica Newport Half Swag

Even though we were told we wouldn’t be able to get our shirts and goody bag until after the race, since we were utilizing pick-up the morning of, they gave them to everyone anyway.  The shirts are a nice tech material with a cute logo on the front.  The front does only say “Newport Marathon” though.  Since we didn’t run the full 26.2, it doesn’t feel fair to the runners who did if we wear that shirt.  We will probably save them for training runs.

The goody bag had some nice promotional items in it like drinks, snacks, and even a coupon for Hello Fresh (hello no meal planning!).  There were also a good amount of coupons for local boutiques, which we unfortunately did not get to use.

The crowning jewel of this race was absolutely the medal.  First, we love what the pineapple represents in Rhode Island and we think it is a perfect memory from this race.  It is also a really nice and detailed medal which we are super excited to get home and display.  We only wish we had gotten to wear them longer.

The official photo of the medals from the Amica Newport Half and Full!

Overall

Even though there wasn’t much to report about the Amica Newport Half Marathon, that is actually a good thing.  This race was amazing, well organized, and super fun.  We think it is a MUST DO!  If you are picking a Rhode Island race, we 100% recommend and back the Amica Newport Half Marathon.  We also recommend checking out Grey Matter Events for some of their other shorter distances in the area too.

 

 

Vintage Run at Bethel Woods Half Marathon 2017 Review

We signed up for this race well in advance as part of a back to back weekend with the Amica Newport Half Marathon in Rhode Island.  This is the second year for this race and we were excited for a race themed around Woodstock and Wine.  Beautiful scenery was also promised – and this race did not disappoint.  The race does also have a 5K and hosts about 400 runners total.

Woodstock inspired costumes for the Vintage Run at Bethel Woods!

Pre-Race Communication

For a smaller race, there was plentiful pre-race communication and a Race Director that was easy to email and quick to answer questions.  There was some confusion, not just from us, about the start times for the race.  There was a walker start at 8:30, an early start at 9:30, and the official start at 10:00.  Knowing we would be slowing down for hills and saving energy for Sunday, we asked to switch to the walker start.  There was some concern about us taking away awards from the walkers.  We of course agreed to forfeit any awards (spoiler alert: we wouldn’t have won any anyway).

We would recommend to anyone over a 3-hour Half Marathon to seriously consider starting as early as possible.  Our final time was over 30 minutes slower than normal and we were seriously so thankful to be able to start early and have time on the course without stressing.  Also, there was the added bonus of reaching the single Port-A-Potty before anyone else!

The course goes around Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which holds the original grounds for Woodstock!

Vintage Runs at Bethel Woods Course

The race website boasts “enough hills to keep you honest and some downhill to get you to the wine faster”.  This could be qualified as one of the greatest understatements of all time.  We estimated that less than a mile and a half of the course was flat.  These weren’t just rolling hills either – these were the kind of hills that decent runners still walk up and clutch their sides for stability.  The downhills were no joke too, we even slipped on a steep gravel path!

The only perk to these hills were the breathtaking views from the top.  The fall foliage was at its peak and we were surrounded by greens, reds, and yellows!  Coming from Florida, seeing a beautiful fall is an amazing perk.  The low 70s temperature added to the ambiance and we were thankful for that.

There was one snafu with the course (luckily resolved before the majority of runners arrived).  We left the start line with about 8 other runners and went straight.  We reached a fork in the road where a man was placing a directional sign for the later 5K.  Another runner yelled out to him to ensure we were not supposed to follow that sign.  He informed us to continue straight.

We passed where Mile 1 should’ve been and shortly after a car came up behind us and informed us we had gone the wrong direction.  We were told to wait and the race director grabbed the two runners in front of us and then looped back for us.  She then drove us over a mile away to where we should have been.  We convinced her to drop us at the top of the hill and headed off again!

The views on the course are beautiful, but be prepared to work to see them!

After Party and Bethel Woods Wine Festival

This race was on the lower price range, with prices ranging from $50-60 based on when you sign up.  The huge benefit was receiving a ticket to the Wine Festival and Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Museum.  Those tickets were valued at $25 and $15, respectively.  If you factor that in, your race was no more than the price of a good pair of socks.

Outback Steakhouse was serving burgers at the finish line, but we passed that up to head quickly into the museum.  We were able to grab a coffee and walk through an amazing Woodstock Exhibit.  This is somewhere to put on your must-do list if you are ever in East New York!  The Wine Festival was also very nice, we received a Bethel Woods wine glass and were able to visit a variety of booths for tastings.  This was extremely well attended.  Since we entered for free, we didn’t feel too bad about leaving quickly to get back on the road.

The museum at Bethel Woods was incredible and highly interactive.

Vintage Runs Swag

Small races can be really hit or miss with their swag.  With a lack of sponsors and a small budget, we are often left wanting more.  That was not the case here.  We were really overjoyed for our medal and shirt for this race since they were both homemade.  The shirts were individually tie-dyed and the medals were hand-cut from wood.  We also got a really sweet 13.1 wine glass charm!  These items are really representative of the race and will look great on the medal rack.

Very cool hand-cut wood medals!

Overall

We would absolutely recommend this race to anyone with one caveat.  You MUST have substantial hill training before you attempt this race.  The value was remarkable, the views were breathtaking, and the after party at the wine festival was the best we’ve ever experienced.  Put this race on your calendar for October 2019!

 

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Review

The Castle photos from the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon came out perfect!

It is still crazy to think we flew all the way to France to run!  The Disneyland Paris Half Marathon along with the Disneyland Paris 10K made up a fantastic weekend and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Challenge.  With a finish line in the park, great characters, and beautiful views – what’s not to love?!

2018 Update: It looks like they will be offering a 31K Challenge and a 36K Challenge to include the 5K!

Course

Main Street USA during the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

The course could be divided up into three parts: the first 10K in the parks, the next 5K around the nearby town, and the last 5K through the Hotels and Disney Village area.  All leading up to a finish line in Walt Disney Studios!

Having a huge chunk of the race inside the parks in the beginning is a great perk.  Doing a runDisney race is a unique experience because of the park time.  We like that part because of the amazing Cast Member cheer squads by each attraction!

Our least favorite part was the next 5K. Even though the views were spectacular around the lake and through the town, a portion of the race was on a rough dirt path.  It was nice to see residents and locals out cheering for the race!

The course then finished up through the Hotel area and the Disney Village Shopping Area.  It was nice to take a moment to see the other Hotels and pass right next to our room at the Hotel Santa Fe.

Characters and Entertainment

Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed – The Hyenas from The Lion King on the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Course!

How many times can we say that runDisney France has the best character encounters of any race?!  Even for the Half Marathon we saw rare characters and waited in next to no line to meet Jack Sparrow!  It was incredible to race through the parks and wonder which character awaited us next.

There was also a nice variety of entertainment outside of the parks including break dancers, a band, and even a DJ!  The amount of entertainment, characters, and things to see made the race go by really quickly.  There didn’t seem to be a dull portion to the course at all.

Swag

Captain Jack Sparrow on the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Course

Let’s talk about the important things… the free things.  Well, are they free if you’re really paying for them?  First and foremost the medals were stunning.  There is something truly breathtaking about receiving a medal that represents running a series in two different countries!  Even the 31K Challenge medal had a spinner and the Half Marathon medal was bejeweled.

Even though we sized up on shirts, Katie still found hers was too tight in comparison to the US shirts (which are small to begin with).  The challenge shirt at least had more spandex and was a slightly better fit.

Overall Review

It was great having a PhotoPass photographer right after the finish line!

When the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon first occurred in 2016, we promised each other we would attempt to run the Inaugural Challenge.  Lucky for us, that happened in 2017 and we found amazing flight deals.  We figured this would be a once in a lifetime race for us.  After an amazing weekend, we really want to go back for 2018 and we think you should too!

Disneyland Paris 10K Review

Amazing photos in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle during the Disneyland Paris 10k

Right off the bat we need to mention this was absolutely the best Disney 10K (maybe even race) we have ever run!  The course was almost entirely in the park, the character stops were incredible, and the course support was solid.  If you are looking at running the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon, you need to run the 10K to complete the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo Challenge!

2018 Update: It looks like they will be offering a 31K Challenge and a 36K Challenge to include the 5K!

Course

The Disneyland Paris 10k course runs through both parks!

Disneyland Paris has the benefit of having both parks very close to each other.  This meant the entire 10K was on property, but even more incredible was how much time was actually inside the parks.  For the first time in runDisney history, the finish line was inside the park as well!  It was an amazing feeling to run across the finish line in Walt Disney Studios surrounded by characters!

Characters

Stitch and Angel were a few of the rare characters during the Disneyland Paris 10k!

A huge perk of running a runDisney race is seeing characters that you may not often see inside the park.  This was probably the biggest highlight at this race.  It felt like around every corner there was a new character, most of which we had never seen before.  The character lines moved relatively quickly too and PhotoPass was there to capture the moment!

Support

Cheshire Cat and White Rabbit on the Disneyland Paris 10k course

With a variety of great sponsors, on course support was solid and well spaced out.  There was plenty of water spaced throughout the course.  Like most Disney races, the in park bathrooms were also open and available to use.  We’d be lying if we said we didn’t love that feature.

Swag

Pro Tip: The PhotoPass at the Expo area was still open after the race and had MUCH shorter lines!

Luckily, we were tipped off about European sizes being a bit smaller than American sizes.  We did size up one size for our race shirts.  Spencer thinks one size up in a men’s shirt is fine, while Katie feels little like a stuffed sausage in hers.  Maybe try going up two sizes or switch for a looser cut men’s shirt.  The merchandise improved for 2017 and we each got an additional tech shirt at the store!  We also took advantage of pre-ordering the medal pins.

 

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend Vlogs

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend 2017 Vlogs

We are so excited to present our race reviews and recaps from the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon and 10k! Check out the videos on YouTube below and don’t forget to subscribe for more content!

Disneyland Paris 10k:

 

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon:

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend Travel Tips

At Charles De Gaulle (CDG) Aeroport in Paris, France

At Charles De Gaulle (CDG) Aeroport in Paris, France

Traveling out of the country was a first for Spencer and no small feat for either of us!  It takes a lot of coordination and planning – so we want to make it easier for you.  Here are our recommendations based on our experiences at the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon and Disneyland Paris 10K.

Flying to Paris

For our flight to Paris we found an amazing deal through Delta (American Airlines was offering a similar deal) and we booked 10 months in advance.  Our layovers both ways were in Atlanta.  Each international leg of the flight was delayed – over two hours on the way there and 40 minutes on the way back.

Flight Tips: Book early and leave extra room in your layovers for customs and delays!

Airport Shuttle

The Magical Shuttle was a very easy option to take from the Paris airports to Disneyland Paris

The Magical Shuttle was a very easy option to take from the Paris airports to Disneyland Paris

When we booked our package we added on the Magical Express since we’ve heard great things about it at Walt Disney World.  The catch is that it is not free and has a not so great time table.  We ended up having too early of a return flight and couldn’t use it for the way back.  Spencer booked us a Super Shuttle for the around the same price and it was equally as convenient.

Shuttle Tips: Check the Magical Express timetable before booking. If that doesn’t work try Super Shuttle or Uber – don’t bother with expensive taxis.

Disneyland Paris Hotel

The Hotel Santa Fe at Disneyland Paris, our hotel for the weekend (Photo courtesy of Disney)

The Hotel Santa Fe at Disneyland Paris, our hotel for the weekend (Photo courtesy of Disney)

We were kind of shocked to find out that Disneyland Paris offers 7 different on property resort hotels – plus partner hotels as well!  The Hotel Santa Fe was our top choice, which is equivalent in our eyes to Pop Century or the All Star Resorts.  We had a great room that was only steps away from the hotel Starbucks and lobby area.  The walk to the park was decent and we had the option to use a shuttle as well.

Hotel Tips: Stay on property for convenience and consider the cute hotel themes.

Parc Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Tickets

Disneyland Paris 25th anniversary tickets

Disneyland Paris 25th anniversary tickets

Since the parks are close together like at Disneyland in California, park hopper tickets are the way to go.  We purchased 5 day tickets with our package, but only ended up using three of the days since we arrived late on our first day and opted to do a day in Paris for the last day.

Ticket Tips: At a minimum allow for two days at Parc Disneyland and one day for Walt Disney Studios.

PhotoPass

The PhotoPass+ card, which includes the RunDisney race photos and photos taken inside the parks (Photo courtesy of Disney)

The PhotoPass+ card, which includes the RunDisney race photos and photos taken inside the parks (Photo courtesy of Disney)

For the race weekend, they offer two PhotoPass options – one for race photos only and one for race photos and park photos.  You can add 5 bibs onto one account, so it is worth it to purchase for a small group.  It wasn’t too much more expensive to add the park option so we went ahead and added it for convenience.  There were a good amount of PhotoPass Cast Members on the course, but be advised they are only on one side or the other and many runners stop and queue for the photos instead of running by.

Photo Tips: Add the park option if you have extra funds, but it’s mainly only ride photos – we only found one PhotoPass photographer in front of the castle.

Luggage

Luckily, our airfare included one carry-on piece of luggage and one checked bag each.  We got creative and packed 3 bags for the way there, placing one smaller suitcase in a a larger one and checking it.  Having extra room was great since we bought lots of cookies and fragile souvenirs home!  We also brought all our own running gear since it is sparse at the expo.

Luggage Tips: Bring an extra suitcase to separate your gross running clothes and nice souvenirs for the way home!

Faxon Law New Haven Road Race Review

We were delighted to participate in the 40th Anniversary year of the Faxon Law New Haven Road race and the second year with the added Half Marathon.  The races big feature is the National Championship 20K – and one of the only 20K races left in the country.  We can’t figure out why you wouldn’t just finish up the change and make it a Half Marathon, but hey who are we to change tradition!

Travel

We ran this race during the same weekend as the Swanzey Covered Bridges Half Marathon.  Since this race is actually held on Labor Day Monday, it actually is a very convenient time of year!  We flew in and out of Hartford, CT, which is about an hour away from New Haven.  The race is held near Yale Campus and keep in mind that traffic can be pretty dicey for Packet Pickup and Race morning!

Pre Race Activities

We didn’t have tons of time coming from New Hampshire the day before.  We did go to early packet pickup at Trailblazer, the running store on Yale Campus.  Finding a parking spot was harder than finding your friend at the end of a Disney race – impossible!  Even though it wasn’t super busy at packet pickup, it did seem a little chaotic inside the tiny store.  We opted for a safe choice and had Olive Garden in our hotel room as our pre race meal.

The next morning we had plenty of time to spare since the race didn’t start until 8:30.  It must be a northern thing for these races to start so late!  We actually were able to have some of the free hotel breakfast, pack up our suitcases, and leisurely drive to the race.  There were thousands of runners all around the Green near the start of the race.  We opted to watch the kids race (which was 20 minutes before our start) and then head over to the corral.

The corral area was only labeled by a single 20K banner and we were not the only Half Marathoners to be confused about where to go.  We knew that both races would start at the same time and largely follow the same course, but with the 5K being split by gender, we didn’t know if we would be split as well.  Also, we want to point out that the slowest pacer was pacing a 2:15 for the half, which was disappointing to see.

The Race Course

The Faxon Law New Haven Road Race runs right through the heart of Yale!

First and foremost, this race had the best course support we have EVER experienced.  There were people cheering on literally every portion of this race.  We ran through neighborhoods and people had noisemakers and brought their children out to cheer.  Multiple people had makeshift water stops and sprinklers to run through.  It was amazing and warmed our hearts.  The city of New Haven is a wonderful little city with a close community of neighbors.

The course had a strict 3 hour time limit, that we did know about beforehand.  What we were not expecting was to be in the last dozen people in this race at Mile 1, while still pacing under a 12:30.  Our goal pace was a 13 minute mile, and we came out strong to build a buffer.  This didn’t matter as by mile 7, they were taking away the clocks at each mile marker already.  It’s really disappointing to feel shafted in your race experience that early on – especially when you are maintaining well below the required pace.

We powered through until Mile 10 when Katie got injured.  An old foot injury came back to haunt her.  With Paris on the horizon, we knew we would have to walk it in.  We had reached Mile 9 at exactly 2 hours, so we were again well under the pace requirement at this point.

At Mile 11, we thought we were getting swept.  Vans with race staff flew by us and one member of the staff approached us.  He said we could continue on and made sure we were okay.  They way he spoke to us made us think we were last and had barely scraped through.  To our surprise, at the next there and back, we noticed 6 runners behind us.

The Finish Line

We finished the race 10 minutes over the pace requirement.  We did have to move on the side walk to finish the race, and we 100% understand and appreciate that to open the roads.  What we didn’t expect was our finish line experience.  There was no one to cheer (except one rude man who said “there ya go” when we did jog it in at the end).  There was no DJ.  They were disassembling the finish line as we went through.  Most surprisingly there were no volunteers with water… or medals.

We hunted for anyone who worked at the race and they all seemed to point at each other.  There were a handful of 20K medals on the table, that non-runners were also walking by and taking.  We finally found a volunteer who took us to the awards tent.  They assured us we would get a medal and took down our name and address.  We will post an update here when they arrive.

It is a shame that an amazing race with amazing support was ruined in the last 20 minutes of the race.  We understand that medals aren’t the most important thing in the world, but there is something really gratifying when one gets placed around your neck after a hard race.  This was grueling and we were believe that even if we had finished closer to pace, the ending would’ve been the same.

Our message to the race director would be to consider opening your hearts and your race to the back of the packers – our money is just as green as the elites.

September 2017 Update: We received a package in the mail from the New Haven Road Race!  We were pleased to see they had custom made a Run the Impossible finisher trophy for us.  They also wrote a nice letter stating that they would take our suggestion and increase volunteers at the end of the race and keep an eye on pace requirements.  Thank you New Haven Road Race!

Our custom finisher trophy from the New Haven Road Race!

Swanzey Covered Bridges Half Marathon Review

We just finished up our 4th state towards the 50 State Challenge.  We chose back to back races for Labor Day Weekend in New Hampshire and Connecticut.  Monday we ran the Faxon Law New Haven Road Race.  Even though these states don’t touch, its actually a pretty easy drive in between cities.  Get creative when looking for a multi-race weekend in the Northeast!

Travel

Since we were doing a back to back weekend, we flew into Hartford Connecticut.  It was a cheap direct flight and only about an hour and a half from the race.  To be as authentic as possible, we stayed in one of the only accommodation in Swanzey, the Bridges Inn and Whitcomb House.  Aside from being potentially haunted, it was a nice place to stay only 6 minutes from the race.  Be forewarned though, the neighboring church bells do ring every 30 minutes… even at night.

Before the Race

Swanzey Covered Bridges Half Marathon Themed Race Bibs!

Since there was no packet pickup the day before, we decided to explore the neighboring town of Keene, NH.  It was a quaint city with a variety of restaurants.  Naturally, we chose Mexican before the race.  We knew the consequences and took the risk!

The race also didn’t start until 9AM, which is SUPER late for us.  We were up at 6AM and repacked a little and tried to slowly prepare for the day.  Eventually we decided to drive over to get our packets, and ended up sitting in the car to avoid the impending downpour.  Packet pickup was held at the local high school, so they did have the gymnasium and locker rooms open for runners.

About thirty minutes before the start we wandered over to a big tent they had set up for runners and volunteers.  We figured we better wait there to get acclimated to the mid 50s temperature.  Then we noticed a few runners begin heading down the next road.  After asking around, we learned the start was actually about half a mile down the road.  So we walked over and quickly learned the road was still open to traffic.

The Race Course

Swanzey Covered Bridges Half Marathon Course Map

We should be upfront and mention it rained the entire time we were out on the course.  It poured, it sprinkled, and everything in between.  This might reflect our views in a slightly disappointed tone.

The first two miles on the course were on a converted rail road track.  It was a nice exercise trail width dirt path that went through shady trees and over giant rivers!  The views were breathtaking and we sped through those easy miles.  Ironically, this was the part we were most concerned about since we have limited trail experience.  It was well packed and the trees blocked a large amount of the rain.

The next 4 miles were pretty uneventful.  The course was mostly flat and even and had a small section on the main thoroughfare.  These sections with road were coned off and we were able to run in the easement single file.  While a little annoying, it was safe.  This part also had many volunteers directing runners and ensuring we were safe.

The relay transition point was at mile 6.  We can’t really confirm too much about this.  By the time we got to that point, we did see one lady get into a car, but no one came out so we aren’t too sure if she pulled from the course or if they sent her relay runner early with the weather.  It was after this point that we began to slow down substantially.

With the miserable weather and a race the next day, we made the decision to slow to a walk and slow jog for the remainder of the course.  This was also made in part to being completely alone on the course for large sections at a time.  If we didn’t have each other, we would’ve been unable to see a runner in front of or behind us.  Not to mention a few turns were not staffed by volunteers and we had to check a photo we took of the course map to ensure we were not lost.

Scenic vistas and farm land on the Swanzey Covered Bridges Half Course

Our only other concern was that this course was not closed to vehicular traffic.  We were on roads with tight turns, banked sides, and limited easement.  We did our best to run single file and go on the side gravel to avoid cars.  It was flat out scary at some points.  Cars are used to the area and will take blind corners at 40+ MPH.  That means they can’t see if you or another car is around the curve.  Our suggestion is to start the race earlier to allow for less traffic on the road.

Overall this race was an enjoyable experience.  We got to see (and run through) four gorgeous covered bridges.  The water stops, every two miles, were also run by sections of the high school band who dressed up to compete for best water stop.  Katie loved the Color Guard section and Spencer favored the Low Brass.  The volunteers at this race were very pleasant and were genuinely concerned with your well being.

Please note there were no “outhouses” on the course – so you better be prepared to go in the woods!