Category Archives: Road Race Review

Race Review: The Big D Texas Marathon

Race Review:

The Big D Texas Marathon

Dallas, April 12, 2015

Anyone in Texas knows that it’s risky to enter a marathon in the middle of April. The temperatures can range anywhere from 30 to 105. There can be ice, or there can be thunderstorms.

The weather for Sunday’s Big D Marathon could have been worse, but was far from ideal. Temperatures were in the 70’s with high humidity. By the 5K mark, I was already soaked with sweat. Had the sun come out at any point, I probably wouldn’t be here today to type this.

The course was great. Runners started in Fair Park and ran a mostly flat route to White Rock Lake. The majority of the course after that was around the lake itself, with the turnaround being on the far side. There were a few small hills, but nothing to fret over. The scenery was beautiful for most of the course, there were police officers at every intersection, and the water stations along the way were plentiful. They never ran out of water or Gatorade along the course itself.

For those who care about the souvenirs, runners received a cotton blend T-shirt and a nice finisher’s medal.

I do have two complaints, one small and one major. First, the small one:

The maps and instructions for arrival said that runners would enter Fair Park through gates 5 and 6. When I arrived, gates 5 and 6 were closed and barricaded by the Dallas PD. I had to stop on 2nd Street to ask one of the officers where we were supposed to enter. She had to radio someone else to find out that we could only get in through gates 9 and 10. That’s a small detail since I was early, but would have caused some anxiety had I arrived a little later.

And for the big complaint:

The Big D website says, “The Texas Marathon will host a post-race party … with plenty of post-race food, liquids & activities.” When I crossed the finish line, instead of being handed a bottle of water, I was given a Dixie cup sized drink of water, so I headed straight for the “party” to find a real drink. The Grand Palace Building was about 70% empty. I walked to the far side, where they were serving some burritos, but still couldn’t find the drinks. When I asked, they pointed me back to the door that I had entered where there were more medicine cups and an empty water jug to fill them with.

Without something to drink, I wouldn’t have cared if they were serving lobster and steak; I didn’t want any food. As for the party, it consisted of some people providing sports massages and a vendor handing out free coffee samples.

As soon as I could manage to walk the ¾ of a mile back to my car, I left for the nearest gas station where I could buy a bottle of water.

While there are advantages to small races—same day packet pick up, less stress, smaller crowds—I’m not sure they are worth it. The entry fees are nearly as high, but the return is never as good. For about the same price, it’s better to stick with Cowtown. You may have to run up a few hills and navigate through a few more runners, but at least you’ll have plenty to eat and drink when you’re finished.

Abilene Runner’s Club Turkey Trot

100_2754I’ve been to several races this year, but I had the most fun at the Abilene Runner’s Club Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving Day.

The race itself was one reason. It was perfectly organized. The course was on wide streets with no traffic and almost no hills, and with long straight runs with few turns. The only thing that may have kept a runner from a PR was the crowd—there were over 1,200 people to weave through. *

The race was chip timed without a hitch. There was music. There was plenty of water. And cookies; I love races with cookies. All runners got long sleeve tech shirts that are really sharp. And the kiddos got super nice finisher medals.

The second reason that I had more fun at this race than others is because I didn’t actually race, I just ran. I decided to run with my 9-year-old, to help her pace herself for a PR, and to enjoy the time with her. We did have a lot of fun, and she did run her PR—a 32:12. (She beat her daddy, who ran a 32:13.) If you haven’t run a race just for fun, I recommend it, especially if you can run along with a friend or someone you love.

For more competitive runners, put this one on your list for next year. You won’t win your age group without a fight. Regardless of your age group, you’d better wear your fast shoes. **

On the way home, we (Lamont, my father-in-law, and Bonnie and me) decided to make the Abilene Turkey Trot a Thanksgiving tradition, so I hope to see you there next year.

* There were 1282 timed runners listed in the results, but several entered as untimed runners.

** The open male winner ran a 16:56, and the open female winner ran a 19:11. The top 17 all finished in less than 20 minutes.

Road Race Review: The Fort Worth Marathon

100_2718http://www.fortworthmarathon.org/

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.

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.

Despite the Heat, Eastland Glow Run a Big Success

Despite the heat, 202 runners and walkers finished the first annual Eastland Glow Run on Friday, June 28, making it one of the most successful 5k’s in Eastland County.

Kathy and Derek Harris: Derek, 8, ran a 43:01 and also won the costume contest.

Kathy and Derek Harris: Derek, 8, ran a 43:01 and also won the costume contest.

The race was scheduled to start at 8:30 P.M., but organizers made the wise decision to postpone it until 8:45 to give the sun more time to go down. And by then, it had cooled off considerably–the official temperature at 9:00 was only 92.

The effects of the heat were evident. There were more stops than usual at the water station, and many runners ran times that were slower than normal. The top male time was 20:20 (Fisher Pyburn), and the top female time was 24:15 (Lilian Wilks). By comparison, the top male time on the same course in May was 17:45, and the top female time was 21:21. Still, there were some great efforts made, and overcoming the heat just added to the accomplishment of finishing a race.

Brandi Foster and daughters: Brandi ran the course while pushing her little girl in the stroller!

Brandi Foster and daughters: Brandi ran the course while pushing her little girl in the stroller!

Race Day Event Services hosted the race and did a terrific job, as did all of the organizers and volunteers. Also, special thanks to the Eastland Fire and Police Departments—they were on almost every corner and continuously monitored the course, ensuring that runners were safe and motorists behaved. Thanks also to all the sponsors, including Nature’s Health Shop in Eastland who provided water and sports drinks for the runners.

Besides the race, there was a best (glowing) costume contest, and DJ Cameron Buck did a great job with the music and lights, making the whole event more like a family friendly party than a race.

Little Birds and Swearengins cheering on the runners

Little Birds and Swearengins cheering on the runners

The Eastland Glow Run was a great success and helped raise money for a great cause—Kids in Motion. We can’t wait until next year.

See overall results here, and age group results here.

Road Race Review: C.A.R.E.’s Run 4 the Rescue 5K/10K

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Photo compliments of Microplexnews.com

The Community Animal Rescue Effort hosted their first 5K/10K on Saturday, April 13, 2013.

Over 100 runners and walkers showed up in the rural town of Gordon, Texas, which lies about 70 miles west of Fort Worth on I-20.

Both the 5 and 10 K courses were out and back on a beautiful paved country road, which was closed to traffic during the race. The road curved through the shaded country side taking runners over old bridges and passed fields of bluebonnets and paintbrushes. For the 10K runners, there was one significant hill to conquer, both going and coming.

Race Day Event Services chip timed this race and, as usual, did a terrific job of quickly posting times and results.

My running buddies and I enjoyed this race. Overall, it was a great first effort, and there’s a good chance we’ll be back next year.

The things I liked about the race:

There was coffee before the start! More races should provide coffee.

Runners received nice items in their registration bag, and there were also booths with freebies.

The volunteers were helpful and friendly.

The course and scenery were great.

There was live music and a festive, small-town atmosphere.

There was plenty of water and fruit for the finishers.

Things that could be improved next year:

Fewer announcements at the starting line; runners are generally nervous and ready to run at this point.

Better restroom facilities.

Don’t give finisher medals to every participant, but do give better awards to age-group winners (medals rather than ribbons).

If you do advertise finisher medals, then give real finisher medals.

**Representing Eastland were Glenn Copeland, Lamont Sosebee, and John Bird, who all did well in the 10K.

Road Race Review: TSU Glow Run 5K, Stephenville, Texas

577910_137533836423802_2057336262_nThe Tarleton State University recreational sports department hosted their first ever nighttime run on Saturday, March 2, 2013. Organizers considered the race a success, as there were over 230 runners, 100 or more of whom signed up at the race itself, causing a short delay in the starting time.

The Glow Run was chip timed by Race Day Services, which is a plus. The company provides music, an exciting start and finish line, and accurate results which are posted as soon as runners start coming in. Within minutes of finishing, competitors see their times and placing.

The course at Tarleton was fair. It was flat, and fairly fast, though runners had to navigate a few torn up paths and narrow lanes and sidewalks. Also, there were several times when runners had to step onto or off of a sidewalk, which, especially in the dark, was a tripping hazard. Being that the entire course was on or around the university, it could have been improved by staying within campus and away from traffic.

The course was lined in cones, and volunteers were on nearly every turn to direct running traffic. But miles were not marked, so it was harder to determine your pace.

TSU’s goody bag was a bargain considering the $20.00 entry fees: a T-shirt, Gatorade, toothpaste, lip balm, and other goodies. This was offset, though, by the fact that the race ran out of water after the finish. That’s one thing a race needs plenty of.

The awards were also generous, though there was some disappointment that they only went to the overall winners and first in each age group. The prizes given to first place in age divisions—two T-shirts, a toboggan, a TSU water bottle, a tote-bag—could have been divided up among the top 3 places in each age group. And no, I’m not a sore loser; I won my age group and was grateful for the prizes, but would have been glad to share.

With the free glow sticks, costume contest, music, and dance floor, there was a fun atmosphere for this race. And the race itself was good. I rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars, and I would be happy to go back next year.

Note to organizers:

Clearly mark each mile
Have plenty of water and ditch the energy drinks (unless it’s Gatorade)
Keep runners off busy streets
Award top 3 finishers in each age group
Keep using Race Day Services
Wash the apples