Category Archives: 2014 WV Race Reviews
WOW….I knew I hadn’t posted for a while, but didn’t realize how long it had been. February 23rd was my last post. I had intentionally taken some time off as my scheduled just got a little crazy recently. I work a full-time job as a facility director for a correctional training academy, but I’m also an adjunct professor for a small local college and teach a couple of classes a week. I can typically handle all that and still get my housework/laundry done, blog once in a while and keep up with my running and racing schedule. However, my son added an extra element to the mix that made it near impossible to keep my head above water. I ended up with too many irons in the fire.
You see…my son is a senior in high school this year. Plus, he is the baby. I have no more “kids”, just adult children. So I made it a point to make him, his education and sporting events top priority this year. Of course he has to play three sports which keeps us busy year round, but that’s ok. Football season wasn’t too hard to keep up with since they only play one game a week. But basketball proved a little more difficult with 2-3 games a week, and now it’s baseball with as many a 6-8 games a week. He keeps me running, and it’s not the kind of running that prepares me for half marathons. But…. just look at this face….
Who could refuse this man-boy the simple pleasure of having his mom watch him play baseball?? (Just so you know, he’s being a goofball in this picture because they just won the game.)
Well, I couldn’t resist. However, I couldn’t keep up with everything and something had to go. So I took a hiatus from Running Hills and Hollars….the blog, not the actually running.
His season is winding down which is proving to be very bittersweet for me. I’ve watched this boy play baseball since he was just a tot and even shorter than the bat he would swing. I can remember his first hit off the T when he took off towards 3rd base instead of 1st base, and when everyone started yelling, he just cut across the pitcher’s mound. Best of all….he was still safe. You gotta love T-ball. 😀
In just four weeks, he will be graduated from high school. He’s already registered for fall courses at college, and he will be on his way in the adult world. Although I’m so very excited for him, I need something to keep me distracted from the inevitable heartache and deafening silence of the empty nest I’m about to face, so I’ll be back to Running Hills and Hollars more. This spring I have run some distance races on which I’ll be posting reviews very soon, such as “Haulin’ in the Holler 25K Trail Run” and the “Gristmill Grinder Trail Half Marathon” to mention just a couple. I’m also now eligible to become a Half Fanatic, so that’s definitely worthy of a blog post when I receive that honor.
I’ll be back at blogging this week with my first of many reviews for summer races here in West Virginia. Be sure to stop back in to catch up, and I appreciate the patience of my readers during my time off.
Have you ever needed to step back from blogging for a while….
maybe due to burnout, or family obligations or some other reason?
Please share your story. I’d like to think I’m not the only one.
Until next time…..enjoy the run!! 😀
For the first time ever, I ran a race on the first day of the year with the Third Annual Race Into the New Year 5k. What an awesome way to start out 2014! My husband, Tony and racing buddy, Wanda ran it with me. We traveled to St. Albans, West Virginia (near our state capitol, Charleston) to run this afternoon 5K race. Scheduling it at 2:00pm was a little different from what I’m used to, but they did that so people could stay up late on New Years Eve to celebrate, but not have to get up too early to race. Being in mid-winter, I especially liked the afternoon time as it give the sun time to come out and warm things up a little. Fortunately, the weather fully cooperated with a sunshiny day with temps in the 50’s to 60’s and little to no wind. The cost for this race was $20 if you pre-registered and $25 on race day which included a nice T-shirt and post-race snacks. This is the third and final race of the St. Albans Race Series which includes a quarter marathon in August, and 2- 5k’s (one in November and this one on New Years Day). If you complete all three races, you earned a really cool looking medal (which is why I want to run the series in 2014).
There were a total of 189 runners participating in the race this year ranging in ages from 7 to 66. It was a very nice turnout. Over forty of the participants were involved with the 2013 racing series. The race is a typical city race with a the course that started and ended at the St. Albans High School and winding around the streets of a small neighborhood. There wasn’t much scenic beauty, but the neighborhood was well-kept and several people came out of their house to cheer the runners on. The course was flat and fast with the exception of one small hill that even a beginner could easily handle. The course record was broken this year by David McCollam, 34 with a time of 15:28.
The race was well run with a very unique starting event…. after making the general race announcements and before shooting the starting pistol, the race director got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes and all the racers and volunteers cheered for the young couple. It was quite exciting. The race was chip timed, so that sped up the awards program after the race. For the post-race activities, there were the usual snacks and water available for the runners, and the race awards and series awards were handed out. Instead of medals, the age group winners for the race received cool trophies with penguins on the top and a Christmas tree ornament.
The series awards and medals were definitely an encouragement for everyone to run all three races for the 2014 series. I finished the race in 30:46, but didn’t place nor did I set a PR, which was a disappointment since the course was so flat and fast. But, just like the half marathon I would run a few days later, I had let the holidays get the best of my diet and training. It was just a fun race anyway and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with Tony and Wanda.
I plan on doing this race again next year…. it was a great way to start out the new year and charge right into my running resolutions. The only problem with the flat, fast course is that it’s easy to set a PR on it making the other 364 days extremely challenging to PR. But since I didn’t do so well, I guess I don’t have that problem personally.
If you ran in this race, feel free to share your opinion. What did you think of the proposal at the beginning of the race?
The Run to Read Half Marathon took place at 2:00pm on a beautiful, wintry Sunday afternoon on January 5, 2014. There was no precipitation with temps in the 40’s with no wind, so I thought it was perfect weather. However, as the sun went down, it did start cooling off a little. The entry fee for the race was between $25 to $40, depending on how early you registered. The proceeds from the event went to the Literacy Volunteers of Marion County, a very worthwhile and deserving organization.
The organizers were hoping for 400 participants, which they came fairly close with 268 people finishing the race. The beginning of the race was very crowded on the narrow course, so another 100+ people would have made it very packed. But more about this issue later. There were runners from all over West Virginia and several other states. The ages ranged from 13 to 69, so there was a good representation in each age category.
The race was held at the historic site of Prickett’s Fort. It is a “rustic log fort and is a re-creation of the original Prickett’s Fort of 1774, which served as a refuge from Native American war parties on the western frontier of Colonial Virginia.”
The course itself is one of the unique aspects of this race, especially since it is held in West Virginia. This course is almost completely flat. The most gain in elevation my running app showed was 200 feet during mile 10, which for anyone who has run in this state knows that is very minimal. This made for a pleasant flat, fast course. A former railroad track, the course has been converted into a rail-to-trail to include bridges, a tunnel and beautiful scenic views of the river and woods. Less than 5 miles of the course was asphalt, with the remainder being crushed limestone. The park crew had cleared the majority of the trail of snow and ice the day before the race, so on race day there were minimal icy spots, and a little mud in a few places. The crew did an awesome job prepping the course to make it safe for the runners. 😀
The race was well run by the director and committee. The volunteers were friendly and always helpful and supportive. With this many participants, I’m sure it took a lot of work to organize it so well, so the race crew definitely gets a two-thumbs-up. The post-race event was awesome. Since it was chip timed, awards were handed out as soon as the winners crossed the finished line, so there was no need for everyone to wait until all runners had finished. But there was lots of great food…. including hot chili, fruit and more following the race. There’s not much better than a bowl of hot chili on a cold winter’s day.
As for how I did… well, I didn’t set a PR which kinda bummed me out since the course was so flat and fast. But over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, I ate too much and didn’t stick to my training as I should have. So I paid for it during the race. I finished 212th overall and 5th in my age group, with a time of 02:23:11 (4 minutes slower than the half marathon I ran 5 weeks earlier). The bling wasn’t too bad… everyone received a finisher’s medal, and instead of T-shirts we got a toboggan and gloves. The toboggan had the Run to Read logo embroidered on it and is very well made.
I really liked this race as it allowed me to kick off the new year with a major run. The flat, fast course was a pleasant change of venue as it was nice for once to not worry about the hills…. you could just set your pace and run. A couple of things I feel could use some attention was in regard to the beginning of the race. The start line was overcrowded, and I was surprised no one was knocked down. On top of that, some of the speed walkers were in the middle of the pack, holding people up (one of my biggest race pet peeves!). I wonder if waves of runners according to past race pace could be set up so smaller groups could start at different times. If that’s not possible, at the very least it would be nice if the chip timing mat were at the beginning. Racers in the back of the pack have a lot of time added before they ever get across the starting line. Granted, it’s only a few seconds to a minute, but every second counts…. right?
Overall, it was a good race and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s definitely one that I will plan on doing again next year. Additionally, this is the first race of a three-part race series, so this year I hope to run the 10k and 5k (or possibly changed to a 1 1600 meter, I’ve heard) to get in the whole series and earn the series T-shirt. If you’re looking for a flat, fast long distance race in West Virginia with some history, beautiful scenery and competition, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed in the Run to Read Half Marathon in Fairmont, West Virginia. For this race, I’ve given a gold medal.
For an additional review, visit Sandy Runs. Her blog tells about her stories as a Marathon Maniac, Half Fanatic and 50 State Marathon Club member. It was a pleasure having her visit West Virginia and she gives an excellent review of the race.
If you were at this race, feel free to add to the review. What did you like the most about the Run to Read Half Marathon? What did you like the least?
A correction from the RD, Jim Woolfitt: Just to set the record straight: MCPARC (Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission) gets the credit for clearing snow off the trail & the parking lots. The parking lots are not under MCPARC’s jurisdiction but the park superintendent is not complaining. MCPARC also helps with the water stops providing manpower, tables, chairs & water coolers.