When coming in from out of town, I don’t mind a quick “expo” experience. The packet pickup was in a back room at Cabela’s…and I wish it was in a running store. I went straight to the pacer pickup first and got my shirt, band, and stick. I then stepped over to the bib/shirt/swag pickup for the race. I should have done this process the other way around because the lady wasn’t going to give me an event shirt… “She already has a pacing shirt” is what she said to the guy behind her asking why shirt size. “I closed the page because she already has a pacing shirt.” Well… I looked at the guy and said medium would be great and he handed me the one in his hand. The lady seemed annoyed that I would get a pacer shirt AND an event tee…oh well.
The “swag” consisted of the usual shirt, bib, “register for _____ race” x5, and a braided Cabela’s bracelet. While the bracelet isn’t something I would wear on the regs, my hubs would probably be interested in it if it were big enough 🙂
Minus the rude lady, the little man were in and out, and I then wandered around the store looking at all of the animals! I didn’t have anywhere to be for a little while, so it was a good way to stretch out legs after the 2hr drive. If I needed any fuel, I would have rather been in a running store atmosphere…
This race is unique in that you start and end the race in the Kansas Speedway! Any racecar racing fanatics?! I am not…but it was still cool to be on that level! Due to being a pacer and not a runner, I didn’t get any pictures from the course.
The morning started briskly, with a cold north wind. I headed into the Media Center to exchange my event tee because they were a little on the big side and the same volunteer (the shirt guy from Cabela’s) from the day before was happy to help me get a new size 🙂
The start area was just outside the Media Center so we were able to stay warm for just a little bit.
Once in the start area, we (the pacers) lined up so everyone could see where they wanted to start. I had one woman question where she should start, and I told her to stick with me and I would get her to the finish. You can read a little more about our time together on my Weekend Happenings post here.
Before long, there was a moment of silence for a local Detective that was killed in the line of duty last week (his funeral was today in a nearby location), the National Anthem sung by local Boy Scouts, and then the race started!
The 5k and half marathon started in the same area, so it was hard to tell who was going to stick around me. The first mile was around the inside loops of the track. Around mile 1.15+, the 5k split to the left and the half marathon went to the right.
We then exited the Speedway and started the loop around the speedway parking lots. The slow rolling hills were great and we were able to warm up our legs! The wind was a bit much, so I told the runner to stick to my back as I would take the wind for her 🙂
The rolling hills continued on 110th street and State Ave. The traffic was cut to 1 lane so the runners could have the other lane. This was the most eventful section of the race because we were being passed by the faster times heading back to the Speedway. I wouldn’t call it “crowd support” but I was able to cheer on passing runners. This section ended off 126th and we went into Wyandotte County Park.
The beauty of Wyandotte County Park was a great distraction! I took it all in… The park road winded around and there were golfers, geese, and an opossum crossed the road ahead of us! The most “hill-looking” hill (or 2) of the course was between mile 7.25 and 8). We passed the Agricultural Hall of Fame and the backside of the Renaissance Festival on our way back to State Ave.
This route backtracked us through State Ave, 110th, and the Speedway parking lots back to the Kansas Speedway. The vast open space was easy on the eyes, but it seemed like we had so much more to go… There was no crowd support other than road blocker volunteers and water stop volunteers.
This section continued around the driving loop around the Kansas Speedway. There was no crowd support and the open parking areas seemed vast. The wind had blown over port-a-potties, a media tent, and trash cans…not the greatest sights! The final turn around was solemn…there was a huge American flag stretched across two fire truck ladders. The funeral for the Detective was starting nearby and there was a lot of police traffic coming by to pay their respects.
Around this point, we headed back into the Kansas Speedway! The final countdown! There were a lot of runners leaving the area that would yell out their windows and honk at us for support…I thought it was great, but my runner was really struggling. This last stretch was in and around the pit boxes and the final 4 turns of the track.
The race organizers played the finish well – we finished on the track finish line! How fun is that?!
This is definitely a race that I can see doing again! I am okay with the smaller scale race (200-300+ participants) and the course was great! The only major pitfall is the complete lack of crowd support. There were a few people near the start/finish areas, but the only “support” we received was from the traffic volunteers and water stop volunteers.
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This race was so much bigger than just an event to pace. As a smaller race, 200-300 half marathoners, I had one woman that wanted to run with me…she just wanted to finish. After injury 8 months ago, this was her first half (possibly ever, I don't remember) to complete. There were good times, there were difficult times, there was a finish line…I used my powers of persuasion to will her to run. "Jesus, help me" is her mantra…and I just talked her through it all. The final mile may have been the hardest, but we broke it down into smaller bites and made it through. I pushed her to get through the last quarter mile and if I would have stopped talking, she would have stopped running…she gave it all of her heart and finished! Runners highs are great…but the high you get from taking the impossible and making it possible for someone is so much higher! Happy tears all around!!
This is a race that I can see running or pacing again next year!
There was ample water, bananas, granola bars, muffins, and pretzels! Finishing at the end of the cutoff, there is always the question if the race stocked well enough to last through all of the finishers. Yes, yes they did! 🙂
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