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Galesburg Half Marathon Yesterday: Event Critique (Read 390 times)
IVS Ultra Marathoner
Galesburg Half Marathon Yesterday: Event Critique
, 2012, 7:41am
I participated in the half-marathon in Galesburg this past weekend. I wrote up a report about the event itself. The short version: though the event was pricey (65 dollars if you preregistered a couple of weeks in advance), they did a good job with the small things (lots of port-o-potties) and the major things (traffic control).
Also, (perhaps due to the heat?) the times were slow by "winning time" standards. A lady (former U of I runner) was the first human across the line in 1:26 and a 1:34 got you a top 5 finish among the males. My critique of the event follows; note that this comes from someone who walked it at 11:30 mpm. A runner might have a different point of view.
Note: they had a 4 hour time limit for the half, but everyone was done by 3.
I got there just under an hour early and started to worry as hardly anyone was there (save the packet pick up people and those setting up the start/finish line). It turns out that many had picked up their packets early; I need not have been worried. There was a kid's mile (started 10 minutes later) that had 126 participants, a 5K that had 226 and the half marathon which had 149.
About the race start stuff: easy packet pick-up, lots of port-o-potties (I've never seen shorter lines) and there was a nearby park where I did my warm up mile. Though the start wasn't that crowded (maybe 10-15 seconds to crossing the mat), the first part of the course was congested as it featured a few turns, and since I started in the back, there was the going around the 20 minute a mile walkers, the run/walkers who came to abrupt stops without warning (in the first half mile of the race!) etc.
But that was minor compared to other races; however anyone who is interested in moving faster than 10 minutes per mile and cares about their race performance should line up further toward the front than normal.
Eventually the 5K people and the marathon people split.
The course: mostly soft country roads, though there were two "brick road" sections and one very brief portion (between miles 2-3 going out, 10-11 coming back) was rough and hard on the ankles; I'd recommend taking care on that portion.
But that couldn't be helped; given that Galesburg is a train center, the race director had to direct the course through the train track underpasses.
<strong>Traffic control:</strong> : outstanding. There were cones the <em>entire</em> way, along with alert volunteers and police officers at intersections. <strong>Aid stations</strong> were more than ample (every 2 miles, at least and offered water, Gatorade and Gu) and there were several port-o-potties along the course (easy access). Miles were marked by signs (some were hard to spot, given that they were white and planted among vegetation) and they had a "half-way" mat that recorded your chip, with volunteers taking your number if the chip didn't record.
There were people on bikes with radios (they looked like EMT's to me) who went up and down the course to check on people.
The bulk of the half marathon course was your usual Illinois corn field road course, prone to not being shaded (though a surprising amount of the course offered some shade). One "spur" went through what passes for a suburban neighborhood and one out and back went through the "not posh, but not completely run down either" East Galesburg. Drivers were friendly (at least the ones that I saw).
There were a few "sort of" hills between miles 4 and 10; these were small "rolling" hills, slightly harder than a country highway overpass. It was more scenic than I thought that it would be.
At the finish: massage tables, water, fruit, more food (though I didn't eat any).
Swag: I liked the finisher's medal (though I did little to deserve it) and I like the technical t-shirt.
Of course, the winners finished way before I did, and note that the mild heat and wind probably slowed the times down a bit.
One further remark about the course: I noticed that there was a bit of a disparity beyond the "extra .1" on the mile markers, when I compared the "you are at mile x" signs versus the "mile y signs" that you'd see coming out. Example: I reached, say, mile 10 and then it would take 2:30 or so before I saw the "mile 3 going out" sign. Something was a bit off; then my mile 12 was about 30 seconds faster than I expected and my last "1.1 mile" was a minute longer than I expected. But...mile markers are really approximate anyway.
Overall, I can recommend the race. It was 65 dollars if you didn't sign up late, but I am fine with that given the traffic control, immediate results, chip timing, bathroom availability, etc. You got something for your money, IMHO.
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