Our half this month took us to the big city of Indianapolis for the Christmas in July Half. We really liked the race and here is more about it.
Looking for a half marathon to do in the Midwest for the month of July was definitely a challenge. However, once we saw the medal for this race we were in. Communication leading up to the race was excellent. Starting about a week out from the event, daily emails starting coming in with info needed for participants. Emails included everything from parking to Christmas jokes about Santa. We decided to go to the pack pick up the night before at the Escape room downtown. Thankfully the email instructions on how to find the room made it very easy. If we would not have had any instructions it would have been difficult as there was no sign telling us where pick up was in the building. There was no expo at this one. One table, a few helpers, bibs, shirts and candy canes was it.
We picked the perfect hotel to stay in (Courtyard Marriot). We literally had a 1 minute walk to the starting line. If it has not been for a bridge being out, I believe they said the finish line would have been in same spot. However, it was a half mile from the start and after running 13 miles I was not looking forward to walking that distance.
There was two critical parts to a race we noticed that was absent at the starting area, no porta jons and no speaker for music or announcements. In the daily emails it did say no porta jons at the start, but for those that don't check emails I am sure it was an issue. Five minutes before the race started a guy got up on a concrete riser and said the race will start 5 minutes late due to people parking at the finish area and having to walk over to start. That was it. No national anthem, no music, no gun start. We just went when others went before us.
Now for the actual race, the course was great. The first 3 miles went along the downtown canal. Then we made our way across White River State Park and eventually into some neighborhoods. They had water and Gatorade at every single mile which was awesome on a hot day. All miles were marked. Very little elevation changes that I noticed. At least half the course was shaded, maybe more. There was also a great view of Lucas Oil Stadium from the path we were on for all the Colts fans out there.
The finish line was along the trail path. There was not a huge ending party but several tents were set up that had snacks, soft drinks (best Mountain Dew I have ever had), cold wash rags, beer, and hard seltzer. We got our goodies and headed back to the hotel.
Overall we really liked the race. If you are looking for a big expo, huge truss at start and finish, people all along the route, etc this is not the event to sign up for. However for us, we don’t need all the fuss all the time. For a smaller race (1000 runners estimated) we thought it was a good one and we recommend heading up to Indy next July!
The 3rd Annual Half took place 30 miles west of St. Louis in St. Charles, MO. From start to finish this was a very well organized race.
Two weeks out from race day we received our first email from the event that had a runner’s guide attached. The guide had everything we needed from pack pick-up time/location to surrounding hotels to exactly where all race water stops would be. It was extremely helpful since we had not ran the race before. The week of the race we received the guide again and also our bib numbers.
Pack pick-up took place at Fleet Feet St. Louis. Since it ended relatively early at 5:00 pm we were unable to make it in time. Thankfully there was same day pick up before the race. With our bib numbers handy, the volunteer easily found it and our shirt size. We stood in line for only a couple of minutes. We decided on a hotel that was in Chesterfield which was only a 10 minute drive to the event. All along I-64 were hotels within a 10-20 minute drive to the race so it was not an issue at all.
There was plenty of parking at several businesses that were around the start finish area. My guess is none of the 2,000 participants had an issue. We walked down to the start and there were a few vendors set up. There was a great sound system with good music. Announcements started at 10 minutes before the start. Once the national anthem was done the race started right at 7 am.
The first mile was a slight uphill climb. Once we reached the Katy Trail we were on the decline for about 5 miles. Yes you read that right. No inclines for 5 miles! This trail was crushed limestone and it was very nice and we enjoyed. It also ran next to the Missouri River and every now and then through the trees we got a glimpse. The next Trail was the Hamburg Trail. It was not quite as nice in parts since some of it was actual gravel. However it was packed enough from cars that it was ok. We hit the biggest hill of the race around 8.5 miles in. From there the rest of the course had gradual inclines and declines.
For the last 3 miles we returned to asphalt. These last 3 were brutal as all of the shade trees from the previous trails were gone and we had to deal with the heat and humidity. We returned to the business park and coasted in to get our finisher medals!
A few more vendor tents had popped up while we were running. We hit up the results, snack, and beer tents. The finish area was big enough for people to spread out so there was not really a crowd when we walked around the area.
Overall, despite the heat and humidity, we really enjoyed the race. Thankfully Race 13.1 provided 8 water/Gatorade stops to keep us hydrated. We recommend this event if you are looking for a good Midwestern half in June, you won’t regret it!
A week after running in a big city (Carmel), Jill and I went to the small town of Plainville, IN. This was the 2nd Annual Travis Burkhart Foundation Steps for Hope Half.
All participants received an email reminder two days before the race that early pack pick up was available as well as the morning of the event. Since we live an hour and a half from the town, we opted to drive up the morning of for the race. The event was to begin at 8:30 in Plainville Park and we arrived 45 minutes before. Since the event was small, we did not have any issues parking. The pack pick up was in the park shelter house and several volunteers helped us. Each participant received a neon yellow dri-fit race shirt and a small goody bag with pens, note pads, magnet clips, chap stick, gum, etc. The gum was perfect as Jill and I always have a piece in while running.
At 8:20 participants were called over to the shelter house and instructions and announcements were given. We were also introduced to Travis Burkhart. Ten years ago he was severely injured in a car crash and that is why the foundation was created in response to all the help the family received after. Since that time, the foundation has given back to the community over $150,000! At 8:30 sharp, the race began and the temperature was a very cold 30 degrees.
The course was mostly flat with a few rolling hills. Nothing to scare anyone away. The course was marked at every mile and there was 5 water|gatorade stops. Also, a few porta jons were available. For Jill and I, this may have been the most peaceful and relaxing half's we have ran in. Although the course was open to traffic, that was not an issue for us as we took in the countryside of Daviess County. One truck passed us several times checking on runners which was nice to see.
Once we crossed the finish line, we were handed a finisher medal. We headed back to the shelter house to get a few goodies. My favorite was the Nesquick chocolate milk and Otis Spunkmeyer double chocolate muffin! Since the race is very small, only the overall male and female received an award. For us, as long as we get a finisher medal we leave happy.
Susan Ramsey, the race director, did a very nice job organizing the event. Although she did not have the ability to turn off the wind, we really enjoyed the race. If you are looking for a small, peaceful half next year sign up. You will not be disappointed!
Jill and I traveled to Carmel, IN for the 8th Annual event. This is one of the best half marathons Jill and I have participated in. Even though they doubled their participants from last year to this year, it did not affect the quality and they were very prepared for over 5,000 people to attend the full, half, 8K, & 5K.
The week of the race I was very impressed with the amount of information that was sent via email to participants. These included everything from the new course map, to parking, to what our race bib numbers would be. They also made sure everyone knew the expo had a new home at Carmel HS.
The expo ran from 11-9 at the high school. It was the only way to get your shirt/bib as no same day pick up was available. There were a lot of vendor booths set up, if I would guess probably 25. Several of those were half marathons in the area. There was ample amount of parking so we had no issues at the expo.
The race was to begin at 8 am so we left the hotel to arrive at one of the four designated parking areas by 7 am. We arrived at the lot that was an 8 minute walk to the start and it was almost full. Thankfully we did find a spot at this one. We walked up to the start area at 7:40 and had no issues finding some space to get stretched out. The race started right next to a large building called the Palladium. At 7:50 announcements started, 7:55 national anthem, and race started right at 8 am. Sound system was excellent as there were several speakers to hear the music and announcements.
The actual race was great. Very little elevation change and plenty of Gatorade/Water stations. Jill and I were very impressed with the amount of first aid stations, porta jons, and safety personal on bikes throughout the race. Most of course ran through the outskirts of the downtown area through neighborhoods and city roads. There was quite a few people out along the course cheering us on. The course was excellently marked with arrows and mile markers and there were a lot of police officers blocking traffic. Several roads had cars driving along side of us at low speeds. The finish line was right back to where we started at the Palladium. We were handed our finisher medal and a bottle of water. A Dean’s milk truck was just a bit further down and we both got a chocolate milk. There were several vendors set up after the race. I had a couple Jack’s donut holes and we both hit up the pancake booth. That was a first for both of us and boy did that hit the spot. We also ran into a few fellow tri-state area runners (Chastity Hertel, Lori Wagner, and Jimmy Girten).
Overall we had a great experience and we highly recommend driving up to Carmel to participate in 2019!
The Fly with the Eagles Half took place on February 10, 2018 at Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge in Carterville, IL. Here is what Jill and I thought of the event:
This was Jill and I's first time running this half. This race has been on our list of events to do the last couple of years and decided this would be the year. It is hosted by the River to River Runners Club in Southern Illinois.
For the first time, the race did offer early pack pick up the night before but we opted to drive the 1 hr 45 minutes on race morning since it started at 9:00 am. We arrived at the race location an hour before the start and got our unique hooded sweatshirt and bib that had the race logo and our name on it. The big heated tent was very spacious and was much better than having pick up in the open cold. We then got in our car and drove to the parking area which only took 1 minute. There was ample amount of parking space on the property.
When we got to the start/finish area not much was going on. The National Anthem was sang and couldn't be heard very well towards the back. Once again, a race not having a speaker for everyone to hear was a problem. Only those at the very front would have gotten any race announcements from the race director. With no microphone, horn, or gun we starting the race when people starting moving in front of us.
The race got off to a good start. There was a nice blacktop road for a little over 2 miles that led us to a very cool causeway that went across the lake. The causeway was also the start of almost 8 brutal miles of gravel roads that Jill and I had no idea was coming. I had heard here and there over the years gravel was involved. Apparently I should have found someone who had ran it in past and asked very specific details about the course. Luckily, for a majority of the race, the gravel was packed down ruts from cars. If it would have been fresh gravel it would have been pure misery for 8 miles! Despite the gravel, the scenery was very nice. Wooded areas, lakes, pastures, and absolutely no road noise. If this would have been an all asphalt race this could have easily gone down as one of the best half's I have done. Another aspect of the race I noticed that was odd was no mile markers. It was bizarre to have 4 runners ask me what mile we were on. Luckily, I had my gps on to know how many more miles of gravel I potentially had to go. Once I reached the finish I received my medal and went over to a little tent to print off my time. We made our way to the heated tent to get some Panera soup, bread, muffins, etc.
As we drove away I had mixed emotions about the race. The beautiful scenery and no road noise was something you don't get a lot of at half marathons. However, the lack of warning on the race website that 8 miles of gravel awaited the runners was just to much. If that is something that would not bother you I highly recommend this race. As for Jill and I, this was a one time trip to Crab Orchard.
This was Jill and I's first trip to the Frostbite Half hosted by the St Louis Track Club. It was one of the events in the club race series. The event took place just west of downtown in Forest Park.
There were 2 price options for the race. $45 for a finisher medal and series shirt or $30 for medal only. The park is located just off of Interstate 64 so very easy to get to. We stayed the night in a hotel that was only 2 miles away.
As far as I know, there was no early shirt/bib pickup for this race. Same day pick up was at the park visitors center from 7:00-8:20am. When we arrived we did not have any issue with parking as there was plenty. From the get go the race definitely had the feel of a club race and not much of an atmosphere you would expect at a half. We simply went in, quickly got our bibs, and returned to the car. No music, no booths, etc. The start line was not marked for the race, however, a man with a megaphone was telling people where to go and it was 1/10 of a mile from the visitor center.
The race started promptly at 8:30. We just waited for people in front of us to start as nothing could be heard from the megaphone man unless you were in the first 5 rows of people. The course consisted of 2 loops around the park. It was well marked with arrows and miles and several water stops. It was not a flat course as there were several small hills and slow elevation climbs. The park was very nice and scenic with plenty to look at. Since Forest Park is a very busy area in St. Louis, the club is not allowed to close the park off for races. The busiest part was a 1-2 mile stretch around start area. All cars but one were very courteous of the runners and drove much slower than the posted speed limit. Jill and I never felt unsafe on the course.
The race ended behind the visitors center and was a bit disappointing. You had a choice of a cup of water, Gatorade, animal crackers, or pretzels. Again no music and had no end of race atmosphere I was expecting. We got a cup of Gatorade and pretzels and headed back to the hotel.
Overall we both liked the race. If you are looking for a January half to do not far from Evansville I think it is well worth the drive and the price. Jill and I both recommend to all of you to drive over and do this race one day!
The Inaugural Louisville Marathon/Half/10K took place on November 12, 2017 at the Parklands of Floyds Fork. This is a park area about 20 minutes east of Louisville. Jill and I participated in the Half Marathon portion and here are our thoughts!
Packet pick up was the day before at Fleet Feet Louisville. This was NOT an ideal location for a race with over 1,000 people. The sign on the building was very small so we missed it first time around. Second time around no parking since the lot was extremely small. We ended up parking a few blocks away which was fine with us and we don't mind the extra walking. Once inside we were directed to the back where pick up was. We received our bib and went to another place in store for the jacket. There was no "swag" bag for this race.
There were plenty of hotels within a 15-20 minute drive of the race. We stayed in Hurstbourne, KY. Unfortunately our iPhone map let us down on the way to the race. It instructed us to take I-64 to the event location. Once we "arrived" there was no exit off the Interstate! Needless to say with an extra 20 minutes added on to our travel time we made it!
The parking situation was another area that needs to be addressed for this race in the future. We received an email early Friday that the onsite parking would be closed due to wet grounds. We were told to park at the Papa Johns Headquarters which was 15 minutes away by shuttle. Thankfully, I checked my email before we left and onsite parking had been opened back up. Once we arrived the field where people were to park was a chaotic mess. The event did not have anyone on parking duty to show the cars where to go. Because of that, a solid row of cars had formed which closed off at least 200 parking spots! We were lucky we arrived when we did to get a spot.
The walk to the start/finish wasn't bad at all. The headaches from packet pickup and parking quickly went away when the race started promptly at 8 am. All 3 races were an out and back that went through 3 different parks in the Parklands area. A good majority took place on the park Greenway which was wide enough to not have any issues. The course itself was very quiet and scenic which led to an enjoyable race. Several bridges went over meandering streams and creeks. If the race would have taken place a few weeks sooner it would have been a beautiful course. The course was extremely well marked and there were 5 water stops for the Half. Since it was a cool morning at 45 degrees that was fine with us. Definitely the most bizarre scene on the course was a participant dribbling a basketball and making perfect chest passes to fellow runners. I was not on the receiving end of one of those passes, I did not want to break my focus :)
Once we went across the finish we were handed water and a finisher medal. I then headed to the beer wagon to try Goodwood Brewing Company's Oktoberfest beer. It definitely quenched my thirst. Next stop was the tent that had Kern's Derby Pie. It was the first time we had had this type of pie and it was very good. They also had grapes and granola bars for the finishers. Results were posted in a timely manner as well. That was it for the post race activities.
Overall the course itself made the 2 hour drive to Louisville very worthwhile. I think once they hear comments from fellow runners they will make the necessary adjustments that will make the entire experience great. With the distance just 120 miles from Evansville we recommend heading over in 2018!
Jill and I ran in the 22nd Annual Indy Half at Ft. Ben. The race took place in historic Ft Harrison state park in Lawrence, IN. This is on the Northeast side of Indianapolis. Overall we had a very good experience with the event.
The bib/race jacket pick up took place on Friday evening at the Sterret Center. It was 2 blocks from the start/finish line and lasted 9 hours. The week before the race, bib numbers were sent out to participants with a plethora of other race info. This made bib pick up extremely easy. All the info in the email was very helpful including where to park morning of which is always something we fear going to a new race. There was no morning of pick up.
There were several vendors in the center including a really unique one called @73threads. They had at least 25 different running inspired tanks/tshirts/hoodies that could be made on site. The owner was very nice to talk to and she said they just started traveling around the US going to events.
We arrived an hour before the race started and there was plenty of parking at the Major General Beane federal building a couple blocks from the start/finish. There were several vendors in the large grassy area and even 5 fire pits going. Corrals were clearly marked and sound system was great. Race started right on time.
The course mainly wound through the park and was also on some city roads. There were NINE water/Gatorade stations and almost all were manned by the local JR ROTC. Very encouraging young men and women working the stations. There were several areas of declines and inclines with nothing major. I stopped my Apple GPS watch at 13.1 miles exactly and wasn't done yet. My guess is course would have measured 13.3 if I had kept it going. Jill's watch had almost 13.2. More course for the $$! We were disappointed with the post race. We got water and a banana. As far as we know, the only other food/beer on the grounds was for purchase.
Overall we were very pleased with the event and recommend it to all runners. We only had a 10 minute drive to and from the race as we stayed in Fishers. The quarter zip jacket was the best garment we have received from a half and the medal ranks up there as one of our favorites.
Jill and I traveled to the sleepy village of Morrow, OH for the Little Miami Half Marathon. It is a 4 hour drive from Evansville and about 45 minutes Northeast of Cincinnati.
The shirt/bib pick up was at a small running shoe store in Mason, OH. We arrived right at the start and there was no wait at all. Since Morrow is a town of 1,000 people, there are no hotels located there. The closest we found were 30 minutes from there and we stayed in Liberty Township. Mason and West Chester also had a lot of places to stay and about the same distance to the race.
The race started at 7:00 am sharp and 430 people finished the half and 300 did the 10K. Even though it was a small race, it was very tough maneuvering through the runners the first mile as the streets in town are narrow. Once we reached the Little Miami Greenway it started to spread out rather quickly. Although the course is entirely flat, it was a mental challenge as we ran 7 miles straight to the turn around and came back the same way. Water stations were spread out every 2-3 miles.
We were very fortunate to have race temps of 65-70 for entire race. However, if it would have been hot, I think we would have been fine as the entire course was in the shade trees running right next to the Miami River.
If you are looking for a big post race event, this is not the race for you. There was plenty of water, bananas, orange slices, and a few other snacks for the participants. However, not much else was going on.
Overall, Jill and I liked the race and we recommend participating one day if you like a small town organized event.
Jill and I ran in the Abe Lincoln Presidential Half on Saturday April 1. It was our first trip to Springfield, IL. Pack pickup took place the night before at the Abe Lincoln Double Tree Hotel. This was very convenient for us since it was also our hotel for the night. It was well organized with a few vendors in attendance. On Saturday morning, the race started and finished 2 blocks from our hotel. Announcements began right at 7:30am and Abe Lincoln himself spoke a few words. The race started at 7:35am with the roar of Civil War era muskets.
The course was flat a majority of the way with 3 nice sized hills. We didn't get to these until the last half of the course. The 3 best views on course was that of Abe Lincoln's house, his tomb, and the state capital building. Of all the races I have ran, the view of the capital building was the most beautiful sight to date. We ran a mile up the street leading to it and with the sun hitting it just right made it a breath taking view. The rest of the course ran through the neighborhoods outside the downtown area. There were ample water stops along the way and several had Gatorade. One had GU gel as well at mile 7.
The course measured 13.25 on our GPS watches. We believe the longer distance was due to a small detour on the course.
After the race was over, we were immediately handed the coolest race medal we have to date. Gatorade and water was right next to the finish line. The snack tent had Krispy Kreme donuts, chocolate milk, granola bars and bananas. Beer was provided by a local brewery and a local band was playing.
Overall we really liked the race and recommend it to all. Driving distance from Evansville was 218 miles (3 hours 20 minutes).
Hello fellow runners & walkers! My name is Brandon Barrett and I am the owner of Tri-State Fitness and several 5K races in Evansville. I am married to Jill and we have 4 children Brennan (9), Braelyn (7), Brecken (5), and Brycton (3). Needless to say my wife and I stay very busy! In the little free time we have we enjoy running countless local races and also traveling around the Midwest to run in Half Marathons.