In 2015 I said I might be back for this race, and sure enough, I did return. Overall the race was the same except for a couple differences. One is that the course changed slightly from last year so that now the runners run through an Amish farm! That happens towards the end of the race, and that was very cool. The other key difference was the weather. Last year it was hot – this year is hot and very humid.
Weather is not something we or the race directors can control, so it has no impact on this review, but I will provide a suggestion at the end. In the days leading up to this race, I knew the conditions predicted were not going to be ideal and tried to prepare by taking in extra fluids and electrolytes the day before the race. To the credit of the race organizers, I felt that their email communication was very helpful with tips to help runners prepare for extreme weather conditions.
I arrived Friday afternoon, and as I arrived , hot air balloons were being launched – it was very neat to see. I picked up the race packet and was in and out of the expo quickly. My friend from Virginia, Hala, was with me and was also entered into the sold out race.
On race morning, it was humid but didn’t feel that hot. However, once the running started, the humidity was much more noticeable.
I usually sweat a lot when running, but I noticed I was really sweating even more than usual. To compensate, I started drinking water early and often. The race organizers actually added more water stops than originally planned to compensate for the heat. They also put out coolers of ice, and I took advantage of this by placing ice under my hat.
I was pretty much on target pace for the first 8 miles, and then the heat caught up with me. At that point, I just felt really fatigued, with 5 miles to go. My pace started to tank some and even had to walk at points. That was pretty discouraging to me at the time.
Around mile 10, I took an energy gel, and by mile 11.5, I starting to pick up the pace again. At that point, I decided I would not walk any more and finish strong. Things picked up, and I passed a lot of tired runners, even ones that passed me miles beforehand.
After finishing, I was definitely overheated and spent some time in the air conditioned tent to cool down. I personally thought my performance was bad, until I saw that I finished in the top 28% of the race. My finish time was approximately 2:15, compared to 2:01 a year before. A 2:01 this year would have place me around 150/1600+, just to show the impact the heat/humidity had on this race.
My one suggestion for this race, if possible, would be to move this race to October or early November. Over the past three years, the weather has been very hot/humid in September for two of the races (2014,2016). Just two years ago, approximately 50 runners were treated post race for heat exhaustion, etc. I’m not sure how many runners were treated this year. Despite this weather, I still think this is a race worth doing.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars