Run the Bluegrass “America’s Prettiest Half Marathon”
Saturday March 29, 2014. Keeneland, KY (Lexington) 9 am. Rainy, clouds, started at 50 – dropped to 43 degrees
Registration: Available online and on race day. Price increased, on race day it was $100. Options included a half marathon, 7 mile or kids 1 mile. Included with registration: Nike shirt, chip timing, virtual swag bag, & finisher’s medal.
Expo: Packet pick up and expo was held Thursday and Friday before the race, hours to accommodate everyone. Not sure if same day packet pick up was available, but organizers were easily accessible via facebook to make arrangements. Expo had free stuff, information on nearby races, running apparel, & bourbon. It was easy to navigate the set up, lots of things to see & check out, nice size, not overwhelming. Free parking.
Pre-race: Plenty of free parking was available on site. Many volunteers helped to make sure all cars were routed to a spot. There were plenty of clean port-o-potties. The starting area was clearly marked. Announcements were made a couple of times before the race as music played in the background. 5 waves with pacers were set up for the half, each wave to start 2 mins apart. The 7 milers started after the half. When it was time to get the race started, there was no National Anthem, but the crowd was serenaded with a bugle player. A special mention was also made about Heather, who is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing, and was a guest of the race as they had a fundraiser for her.
- For as far as the eye could see there was pasture, wood fence, homes, barns, and horses.
- Course was run on paved or asphalt roads through horse country. No cracks or potholes.
- There were about 4000 runners, but with a wave start and width of a road it was never crowded.
- Dogs were allowed on course.
- Each mile was marked with a flag.
- 7 mile & Half were on same course, but split to get extra miles.
- There were plenty of hydration stations, about 7. Each stop had Gatorade, water, Nuun, and Sword. A mix of both plastic and paper cups.
- All major intersections had an officer or volunteer
- Not many spectators
- HILLS! Rolling hills! For every up there was a down.
- No food on course
- Chip time mat at halfway point – tracking via text
- Music groups – drum band, bands, DJ
Post Race: Finish was clearly marked. Volunteers happily put medals around your neck. Buffet of post race goodies: bottled water, bottled Gatorade, M & M’s, chocolate milk, Famous Amos Cookies, M & M cookies, Oreo cookies, bananas,& fruit snacks. Plastic bag was provided to carry all the food. There were also local products set up to try samples, Kentucky Ale and a slider with steel cut oats in the meat. Due to the weather, the festivities were moved indoors where the expo took place. Expo vendors were still set up and the JD Shelburne band was rocking! Finish times were available to view on computers. The indoor bathrooms were open. There was also the VIP option of a post race meal & separate bathrooms for those who purchased. The kids mile took place.
Overall: Great race, challenging course, due to last minute weather changes the race still went as planned.
Personal: My husband and I are still training for a full marathon, so this race was just another piece to the training puzzle. We didn’t expect all the hills, but we both set a PR. My new Half marathon PR 2:04:20, I can taste that sub 2 half.
The weather…it was tough, but we train in lots of different conditions, so we didn’t let it affect our performance. It was about 50 degrees at the start with a slight mist, then the rain picked up at mile 8 for me and the temperature dropped to 43 degrees.
I think my favorite part was when a random dog, belonging to a homestead on the course, joined the race and ran beside me.
I am not into horses or horse racing, so the course being the prettiest, really didn’t do it for me, it was nice though and probably would have looked different if the sun were shining.
I guess when I looked at the elevation gain and wasn’t worried, I should have paid attention to the actual number of hills, elevation can even out if you go up and down enough times. There were 4930 hills, or something close to that, it made the race a challenge, but it was a great primer for our full.
The only problems I had were the amount of hydration options. There were 4 choices at each stop, which just had me confused. I wasn’t sure what was in each cup, unless I checked or paid attention to what the volunteer had shouted. It’s nice to have options, but there were too many.
The entire organization did an excellent job with promoting and keeping the runners informed through social media. If someone had a question it was promptly answered. In relation the rain made for some last minute race decisions and as a racer it appeared as if they had plan B the entire time. I would also like to thank the volunteers. I believe there were around 300. They stood out in the rain til the last person crossed the finish line, they did an outstanding job.
I will be back, if not for this race, for another one in the area. We had a great time.