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.
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.