After a bit of a delay, here’s my race report for the 30th Annual Fall Classic Half Marathon.
First things first. I got a PR! While I knew it was in the cards, and had set a 1:50 goal time, I was unsure if it would be achievable. I’m still feeling a bit sluggish after my full marathon in October, and—instead of tapering— I had a couple of tough runs the week before, so my legs were more tired than I would have liked. On the upside completing a marathon gave me the mental endurance to push past the hurt in the later stages of the race, and the rain stayed away, making the weather ideal for running.
The race was at the University of British Columbia and the course was two laps around the campus and NW Marine Drive. Before the run, I was a bit fearful that the route would be boring, as it is a double loop with two out-and-back section. However, my fears were unfounded as the route was varied enough and had several distinct sections, including some great ocean views. The out-and-back sections were a great opportunity to catch a view of the race leaders and cheer on fellow runners.
As I mentioned earlier, my stated goal for the race was a 1:50 time. My strategy was to run the first 10K and a moderate hard pace, and then pick up the pace a little during the second half for a negative split. This strategy was modified somewhat given the number of hills on the course, which played havoc with my pace. Instead I ran based on perceived effort for most of the race and it seemed to work for me (one of the benefits of racing often is that you get a good idea of how to judge race effort levels). I must admit the last 4 K was pretty tough and I had to dig deep to push past the hurt and finish strong!
One minor criticism of the event was the uneven quality of the volunteer. I found the water stations to be especially frustrating. One station didn’t have the water ready for you and I had to wait several seconds for them to pour it. At another station, the volunteers were all clustered together so you couldn’t easily grab a cup and runners were tripping over each other. And at the last station, they were seemingly handing out water and Gatorade at the same time with no real indication about what you were getting. This led me to accidentally spill Gatorade on my shirt as I tried to drink while running away from the station.
This was my first half marathon in some time running without my fuel belt, so perhaps I’m being overly picky, but my experience here makes me remember why I carry my own fuel in most of my races!
Another frustration with the volunteers was at the finish line. I barely had a chance to cross the finish line and stop my GPS before I was being mobbed by volunteers handing me a medal and shoving snack bars at me. It was very claustrophobic and enervating. I also heard that the mob of volunteers made it difficult for the race photographers to get finish line pictures of most of the runners.
Moreover, there were no people handing out water in the immediate finish area—you had to walk several meters to a table of to the side and waiting—yet again— for a small cup of water. Additionally, there was no healthy food options in the finishers area; runners had to walk over to the Student Recreation Centre. While i appreciated having a warm (and spacious) area to unwind after the race, it would have been nice to at least have a table or two with some fruit and bagels for the runners closer to the finish area.
I know it may sound petty to criticize over eager volunteers, but things like this leave a lasting impression on the overall race. All it would have taken to avert this situation was some extra guidance for the volunteer coordinator or crew leader to give runners some more space and have enough water ready for the crush of mid-pack runners.
Fall Classic 2013 Half Marathon Stats
- Clock Time: 1:51:02
- Chip Time: 1:50:11
- Average Pace 5:14
- Male 30-39: 56/124 (103 completed)
- Male: 159/405 (334 completed)
- Overall 231/966 (778 completed)