Sunday, May 21, 2017

Inaugural San Diego Beach & Bay Half Marathon

Living in San Diego, I frequently run on the coast exploring the beaches and bays.  When I heard about the Inaugural San Diego Beach & Bay Half Marathon and 5K, I knew I wanted to check it out.  Run somewhere I do a lot of my training runs at and get a medal for it? Sign me up!  I went into the race knowing there might be a few glitches since it was in its first year, but also knew the views would make up for any of those.  With two distance options, I decided to run the half marathon.    

Like all races, I knew there were going to be things I loved and things that I feel can be improved for the next year’s race.  The things I loved about this race were:

Bib Pick-Up

You had two options for bib pick-up, either picking it up the day prior or race day (with no additional charge).  I like to have my bib before going to a race so opted for the day before.  It was scheduled to start at 2:30pm and I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at 2:00pm and it was already in full swing.  It was quick and easy- organized with friendly volunteers and people ready to answer any questions you had.  It had a mini-expo feel to it as there were also vendor booths, free beer samples and discounts available for the running store it was at.   

Race Start Time

The Half Marathon started at 6:30am and as an early runner, I loved it!  It meant waking up super early, especially since I was car pooling with Smitha and we were getting there early.  But it also meant that I had a fantastic nap that afternoon and I never miss an opportunity for a good nap.  

The Course

The beach is one of my favorite places to run and this course did not disappoint. The views were pretty and even the “ugly” parts of the course were pretty.  It even took me through some parts of the bay/beach that I’ve never explored by foot.  It was also clearly marked and there were volunteers to direct us at all the important turns. 

The Volunteers

I know that a big part of races being successful is the volunteers and they were awesome for this event, from bib pick-up to the finish line.  And the big shout out to the volunteer just after mile 3—spirit fingers and high kicks with shouts of encouragement definitely added a little pep to my step.  

The Swag

From the medal to the post race snacks, they took care of us for the half. I also loved that they have a v-neck shirt for the women's shirt-- I appreciate when races have the different shirts as I am not a fan of the any unisex shirts fit me. (You were able to pick your shirt fit/size in case you do prefer a different fit)

Race Guards

I have said it in previous recaps, but it’s worth repeating.  I love races that use Race Guards.  I feel safer on my run knowing that first aid is readily available should I need it.  During the race, I did see a few injured runners and the response from Race Guards was on point.  A big kudos to all the Race Guards who volunteer their time to make sure the runners have a safe race.  

The Post Race Experience

I don’t often hang out after races, but this way too fun to miss.  There were booths with samples, fun picture opportunities, live music, food trucks and a beer garden.  Fun for the whole family!   

The Brew Dr. Kombucha Samples were so good! 

With so many good things about this race, there were just a few things that I think can be improved upon for next year.  

Aide Stations
The weather in San Diego during May is a little unpredictable and when I saw earlier in the week the expected highs for the coast on race day was 80 degrees, I knew it was going to be a hot race.  I kept my fingers crossed for an overcast morning, but that didn’t happen—there wasn't a cloud in sight.  I know the heat is not a controllable factor, but I definitely felt it.  I do carry my own hydration, but also use the hydration on the course to make sure I will have enough for the entire race.  If I didn’t have my own hydration with me, I wouldn’t have had enough with just relying on the race’s aide stations.  In my opinion, there could have been at least one or two more stations on the course.  There were also a couple stations that were set far back off the course and it was a bit congested as people had to walk off the course to get the water and walk back on after getting their water.  I don’t know if I would feel this way if the weather wasn’t as warm as it was, however I would rather err on the side of having too much hydration than not enough.  

The Course

Yes, above I said that I loved the course, but there were a couple things I didn’t love about it.  Other than the portions run on the road, the course was not closed to the public.  This meant that we were sharing the course with other people out running, walking,  or riding their bikes. This caused quite a bit of congestion at the parts where the course narrowed and it was a safety issue a few times when I saw runners almost hit by people on bikes or have to come to a sudden stop when the walkers in front of them suddenly stopped.  There were a few times I saw people cutting the course and I think this might have been in reaction to getting around the other people out there. I’m glad that people are out enjoying the sites of San Diego and quite frequently I am one of those people so I don’t know what the solution is to this.  I imagine it would be hard to get permits to close an entire beach boardwalk or path.  Maybe next year, they can have a few more volunteers dispersed to help with “traffic control.”  

Race Photographers
This is the first half marathon I've run that hasn't had race photographers. At the very least, I thought I'd see one at the finish line- if this was my first half, I'd definitely want a finish line photo.  With so many pretty views, there was definitely great scenery for awesome running shots.    

UPDATE: The race organizers sent out an e-mail to all the runners and the lack of photographers was not due to the race organizers- the contracted photographers did no show up for the event.  I'm looking forward to seeing if there are any photos of me in the ones that will be made available to us and I appreciate the race's candidness about the situation.  

From the email sent out

With this being the Inaugural year of this event, I wasn’t sure what to expect so I went to into with a very open mind.  Overall I had a lot of fun (even if it didn’t feel like it at the time—I am not a fan of hot weather running and my time definitely showed that) Despite the few things that I feel can be improved upon, I would love to run this race again.  It will be fun to see if they do any type of legacy status for the upcoming years of this event.  

Have you ever run an Inaugural race?  Did you run it again?

Until next time, happy running.


Disclaimer: I received my race entry in exchange for promotion of the event, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.  

1 comment:

  1. Yes! All of this! ANd Suja could have been at the finish line. No place for it at Mile 12.


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