So this is a race I actually participated in. Once upon a time this was a warm up to the ING NYC Marathon (self-postponed) and then it was a race with family (also postponed). So I lost my motivation for this race about a month ago. So the day I ran my last race (The Ft McHenry Tunnel 5k) was my last day of training for this half marathon. I basically took a month off before this race. You probably won’t find that sort of awesome planning in any of your expensive running books….
Pre-Race: I signed up for this race back in May, close to when registration opened. Good thing. This race sold out early. If you want in next year, sign up early. We also signed up early for one of their race packages. In addition to the race, you got a room at Hotel Hershey or the Hershey Lodge, transportation to and from the race and your registration brought to your room. The room is a little pricey (you can find much cheaper accommodations if you look) but it was extremely convenient. You also received free tickets to Hershey Park After Dark.
We decided to use the free tickets to the park on Saturday, the day before the race. So instead of resting the day before the race we walked mile after mile around Hershey Park and stayed until the place closed. Probably not a great running strategy but we did have a ton of fun. They also had a kids race on Saturday at 6. My little girl signed up and ran about 100 yards with a girl (Cheyenne) she met at the starting line. They were both shy but once they started chatting they hit it off. She had a great time and I was really proud. The only thing I would have changed/added would have been to give each kid a ribbon or a medal. They did get a nice T-shirt and some candy.
Race Day: Race day is when it paid off to have the Hershey Half Marathon Package. I was able to hop a bus from the hotel to Hersey Stadium, skipping what appeared to be some ugly traffic getting into the park. Shuttles ran frequently to and from the event for runners and spectators.
The Race: I didn’t have high expectations for my performance so I lined up at the end of the 2:20 pace group with only the 2:30 group behind me. If the race went well I would get to pass lots of folks and if things didn’t go my way I wouldn’t be in anyone else’s way. The course wound through Hershey Park and the parking lot before heading out around town. The course was a little hillier than I expected, but I didn’t think any of the hills were horrible. The crowd was a little less than Frederick but much more than the B & A Trail Half marathon. I guess it was a happy medium…The crowd support was especially strong during the last few miles and it was awesome finishing in the stadium. As far as my performance goes, it was disappointing but not as atrocious as I feared. I finished in 2:09:46. I walked a bunch over the last few miles but with my limited training I considered it a good day…
Post-Race: I had a difficult time finding my family after the race so I would suggest working that out in advance. Everything else went pretty smooth. I got a bag that had my water, and apple, a chocolate drink called reGen and pretzels I think. They also handed out a space blanket and the all important medal.
Hershey World was open across the parking lot for friends and family to visit, and the park opened again at 2pm.
Goodies: A nice medal, a nice shirt, chocolate.
*****I would give the race 3.5 stars. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It may have had something to do with how ill-prepared I was for this race. As far as races that are fun for the whole family, I would have to give it 4.5 stars (give the kids a medal or a ribbon and I would say 5 stars). I would probably go back just for the family fun. Most races are fun for me but not so much for my family.
Event Website: hersheyhalfmarathon.com