OK so this is my first official review and I have some reservations about sharing this one with others. This was my first half marathon last year and the first one this year. Heck I don’t think I ran any other races since last year. But I loved this one and I thought it would be a good place to try to get myself motivated to start running again. Being an excellent planner I gave myself only 5 weeks to prepare. I had 5 weeks to go from 0 miles to 13.1 but you need to start somewhere.
Anyhow, I mentioned that I have reservations about sharing this race with others. It is a small race and I love that about it. If I share how wonderful it is, more people may start to find this gem.
I was supposed to run this with my sister and my niece. Unfortunately when they went to sign up, the race had reached capacity. So I would have to go it alone. If you want in for this race (and you do), make sure you sign up early or be left out in the cold. SIGN UP EARLY! There you have been warned.
Pre Race. This race is held at the Severna Park High School which is only about 15 minutes from my house which makes it an attractive race right from the start. Packet pick up was a breeze and I could have been in and out in 5 minutes (literally). They had the usual Expo stuff and some local fitness programs for kids which we stayed and checked out. Overall very orderly and very well-managed. Just the way I like it. No confusion and you can be in and out if you please.
Race day. Parking is a breeze. The parking lot for the High School is utilized and is a snap. The walk to starting line is a few hundred feet. I admittedly always get to these races early so if you are a last-minute type I can’t speak for their experience. It was overcast and drizzling that morning, but have no fear they open the High School to the runners. You can stay dry and toasty as long as you like with plenty of room to stretch or utilize the school bathrooms while you wait. It is so close to the starting line that you could wait for the gun to off, and run out of the school and into the race.
The Race. You weave through a local neighborhood for about .5 miles before you hop on the B&A Trail. Then it is a straight shot down to the halfway point and back. The full marathon (which seemed to have a lot less participants) goes down and up with the half marathoners and then continues up the trail and back down to the same finish. The course is pretty darn flat. There is a slight “hill” at the turn around point. Maybe a half mile long but gentle and not a real killer. It is in the middle of the race so you should still be pretty fresh when you get to it. Plenty of water points along the way and I think they had some GU out there as well.
If you need crowd support than this might not be the place for you. Support is sparse and is mostly at the points where the trail intersects roads. They are a small but enthusiastic lot. It usually makes little difference to me except when I have run out of gas. Which for me was around mile 10. I just hadn’t put in the miles to finish strong so I had to will myself through the last 3 miles. I did make it in 2:07:16 a personal best (OK it was my second half ever but it is the little things) . I was first place among overweight, 39 year olds, who had trained for 5 weeks.
Post Race. My family was home staying dry so I just wandered a bit. Once again it is super to have the High School available to dry off and get warm. I belive they will let you use the showers as well. They had plenty of food. The usual bagels, oranges etc.. They also had pizza. Normally I eat very little but I figured I would get some pizza. I have no idea why. Because it was there I guess. I ate about half and didn’t feel so go. So I beat feet to my house where after an hour of feeling shady, I retrieved the pizza from my stomach in an unpleasant manner. (Note to the pizza provider: It was not your pizza, it was me). From now on I will stick to more basic foods.
The Goodies. A medal, of course (for the first place among overweight, 39 year olds, who had trained for 5 weeks). They also gave out long sleeve shirts during packet pick up. As an added bonus they gave out winter hats at the finish with the race name and date on the front. I liked it. Just as a side note, last year they gave out very nice tote bags which I keep in my car with all my running accoutrement.
**I would give this race 4.5 stars and will do it again next year. The Annapolis Striders did an excellent job of putting on this race and taking care of the runners.
For more information: