Yesterday morning (Sunday, November 10) I made my second annual trip to the Fort Worth Marathon, not to be confused with the larger and better known Cowtown Marathon in February.
The Fort Worth Marathon benefits Run like a Cheetah, an organization that fights childhood obesity in the Fort Worth area.
The race had close to the same number of entries this year as it had last year—619 people finished the half marathon, 97 finished the 20 mile race, and 282 finished the full marathon.
Cory Cortesi won the 35-39 age group in the 20 mile race.
The best part about this race is the course. Last year I ran the full marathon, this year the half. Both courses (along with the 20 mile course) are out and back on the Trinity Trails, with the start and finish at La Grave Field, just north of downtown. The turnaround for the half marathon is in the TCU area, and full marathoners turn around in Benbrook. The course is about 95% paved. The only unpaved areas are where the trail is under construction or where it runs out in Benbrook. And it is flat, but not necessarily fast. Half marathoners never run on streets, and there is only a small stretch of residential roads that the full marathoners run on, so runners never have to worry about traffic.
This race is fun, especially if you like Fort Worth. It is relaxed because of the smaller number of entries, and it’s a good place to catch up with friends. It also has low entry fees; mine were $55.00. The best change for this year is that they offered race morning packet pick up, which is great if you’re driving in that morning.
Here are the down sides. First, there are few places for spectators. That’s not a problem if you can run 13.1 to 26.2 miles without being cheered for or encouraged, which we all have to do during training anyway. But still. And the organizers don’t seem to plan for enough people. Last year the water stops ran out of cups before the marathoners finished. I was tempted to drink out of the Trinity River by mile 23. Not too tempted, but tempted. And this year, before the race started, they announced that they didn’t have enough finisher’s medals. “Would anyone mind donating their medal so that newbies can have one?”
The race advertised free fajitas and beer at the end of the race, and they had both. Runners got one fajita, and one Dixie cup full of beer. But there were plenty of bananas, yogurt, and drinks, so one can’t complain about the food.
The next complaint may seem petty, and I think it is common to smaller races. The announcers and directors spend a lot of time complementing each other and their friends. Lots of time. And that is fine during warm up when runners are ignoring them anyway. But at the cold, wet starting line, it gets irritating when you are waiting for the gun to go off.
The biggest problem this year is that Cox Racing Service’s chip timing failed to work. Either that or all 1000 or so runners crossed the starting line exactly when the gun went off. I purposely started near the back of the pack of half marathoners so that I wouldn’t be forced to go out too fast. For nearly one full minute I walked with the throng around me before we got to the start, which is when I started my watch. That didn’t make a difference for me, other than the fact that my actual time looks better than my gun time. But that did make a huge difference for the top three age group winners in each division, considering that everything was based on gun time and not actual time.
So, here’s the verdict. Because I love Fort Worth, the race is fairly close, and I have the chance to meet up with old friends, I’ll probably go back. I had fun. I also got a tech shirt and a nice belt buckle finisher’s medal. It’s a good smaller marathon, although the competition is still tough. I like being able to park within 200 yards of the starting line, and being able to find my friends, both of which are impossible at the Cowtown. But it lacks some of the professionalism and extras of the larger races, so it may not be the race for more serious competitors.