There were some challenging moments during this race, but I took advantage of this time to think about the objective nature with which I will discuss of these races I am doing. I decided to develop a "running rubric" which I will use to rate each run.
The Rubric will rate each category on a scale of 1-5, discussing: Communication, Course, Amenities, Support, and Value.
Overall Average Score: 4.2
The website for this race, found at www.mastersofallterrain.com was organized and professional. In addition it directed runners to their Facebook page promising a direct line to the race director.
Much praise can be found on the Facebook page noting the responsiveness of the race director, which was followed by his visibility on race day. Even during some tense moments, he was on his gator moving through the crowds communicating updates.
You got what you signed up for here. The race was called "masters of all terrain" so the grass, gravel and dirt roads came as no surprise. In addition, the surroundings were calming and beautiful. The picture above doesn't begin to capture the tranquility of this course, a welcome change from so many packed road-races that flood our race schedules.
I found the course to be incredibly well marked. Red flags indicated the turns, and pre-race instructions told us to keep these to the right. At the few turns where there could have been confusion there was either a water stop or bright yellow tape that you would need to step over to go the wrong way.
The only reason for my 1 point deduction was because I was told there were some runners who got lost and looped around, running extra mileage. Personally I cannot imagine where this happened, but it would be terrible if it did. In addition to this, the course was long, coming in at 13.8 miles, even running the tangents as efficiently as possible. This would have been a bigger deal if we had not been told before the race started that this was the case.
Runners received both a custom sport-fit T-Shirt and Medal at the finish line. The t-shirt is of good quality - heavy and soft, and the Medal is better than many I have received at much larger races. Those that "Run for Bling" were beyond satisfied.
Age group certificates were given out three deep, and custom trophies were handed out to the over-all male and female winner.
In addition there was a massage tent with 2 tables doing post-race massages, as well as an optional fitness competition at the end, with no additional fee to enter. Plaques were given to the "fittest man", "fittest woman" and "fittest team".
Organization and Support: 2
There were some struggles here, but nothing that is not an easy fix for the next event.
However, lets start with the positive. Although this event was in the middle of nowhere, an address was provided that brought my GPS to the exact spot where a volunteer was standing with a flashlight pointing to the parking area, well before the sun came up.
There were six scheduled water stops, with the promise of both bananas and energy gels at two of them.
There was a 35 minute delay at the race start, which is a pet-peeve among seasoned runners. This was due to the lines at the porta-potty's. Much criticism was made about the fact that there were only 2 available for 200 runners.
According to Boston Marathon Race Director Dave McGillivray, you need one porta-potty for every 50-75 race participants. Before the race began the race director said, "I should have ordered 4, next year there will be 4". That said, the lines were not longer than those I have waited in at Disney, and theyreally only got long 20 minutes before the race started, so there may be shared responsibility with runners who tend to come to smaller local races at the last minute.
The bigger problem, and the one bringing this score down, was the water. It was a very hot day, and the volunteers ran out of water after I was at the 6 mile mark, and I was told that runners behind me had nothing after 4. This is the "unforgivable sin" of race day. Runners will forgive a lot, but dehydration is a tough one to overcome. A few things to note:
Because of the heat, everyone early on took water, and most took 2 or 3, and sometimes 4 at each stop, dumping them over their heads. This made a shortage for those in the middle and back of the pack. The reality is simple, there needs to be so much water that running out is not a possibility. Like the former issue, I am confident this will not be an issue at future races.
The saving grace for the race director was this. Where some would have (which I have seen first hand) hid and laid blame, the director and his team were frantically going back and forth to runners with jugs of water from the finish line. While I missed the water at miles 8 and 10, the gator with cold water arrived to me at mile 11, this got me safely to the finish line.
The race was not expensive to enter, and most I talked to had either bought their entry on a discount site or had a code for half-off their entry. Even those entering at the last minute were given 20% off.
So yes, there were some complications, but it was a beautiful day with great people from the running community. I have already made new Instagram friends after viewing fellow runners photos using #mastersofallterrain, including @fitmomofthree (great name) who commented "Hey I remember you!" on my photo.
Runners are forgiving, especially when a director is new. Like I said, the things that went wrong are easy fixes, and June half-marathons, for those of us who wish to do them, are not an easy find. A good discount code, the promise of more water, and maybe slightly bigger bling will bring us back in droves!