Yes, I’m aware that Cold Winters Day is still on the schedule for 2011, but the State gave us 5 days off and I figure I should put them to “good use”. The following is completely unscientific and biased, based purely on my experience.
Best Overall Race:
1) Ray Tanner Home Run 5k/12k – I’ve never done the 5k, but the 12k is a great course in downtown Columbia, going over both bridges and ending in the baseball stadium. Awesome shirts and great crowd support. Ken Lowden does a great job with this race.
2) Governor’s Cup 8k/half – Again a cool and memorable course, if not the best to PR on. It was a nice tune up for my December marathon. Nice swag with a hat, long sleeve tech tee and finisher’s medal. 3 free preview runs. Kudos to Naomi Haley for making this race even better.
3) Hammer the Hills 10k – Much smaller than the other two – has a crazy hilly course that is challenging but fun. No shirt but great post-race breakfast and some of the most memorable awards – hammers and other hardware. Yet another great race director job by a fellow runner, Jenn Covington.
Honorable mention: Palmetto Half, Lexington RAH 10k, Snowman 8k, March for Meals 5k
Flattest, most PR friendly course
1) Colonial Cup 5k – pancake-esque.
2) Jingle Bell 5k in Lugoff – pool table, with one bump.
3) Runway Run 5k – Ironing board flat, but the wind is a factor
Hilliest, most brutal course: (Removing the Blue Ridge Relay)
1) Hammer the Hills 10k – Three words: Saluda. River. Drive. Learn to fear these.
2) March for Meals 5k – Like Colonial Cup with Mt. Everest thrown in the middle.
3) Governor’s Cup – You dont see many 1:30 half marathoners walking, but I saw some on Blossom St this year. Don’t forget Kilbourne either.
I like tech shirts. I have enough white cotton tees to build a bonfire in my backyard. I’d prefer a nice design and hopefully without a million logos on the back.
1) Ray Tanner – Same tech shirt as the USC baseball players wear, and a women’s version as well.
2) Cold Winter’s Day – Really nice tech shirt, different colors.
3) Gov Cup – High quality long sleeve tech shirt
Honorable mention: Hot Summer Night and Born in the USA have the best designed cotton tees.
1) Snowman 8k – Original artwork by the “Chicken Man”
2) Hammer the Hills – hardware. I got an awesome hammer.
3) Rosewood Eagles 5k – Age groups got regular medals, but the 3rd place framed kids picture is my favorite.
Honorable mention: Race for the Place – ceramic painted tiles
I dont call out races about doing things wrong, because even if they suck, I’m probably going to run them. I know, I have a problem. That being said, here are the things that races didn’t always do right this year:
1) Extremely well marked courses: This should be the absolute number 1 thing on a race directors list, yet there are always a few misdirects every year. I’d prefer USATF certified, and posted on a website. At the very least, put up a sign or a volunteer at anything even resembling a possible wrong turn.
2) Cost – Look at what other races charge. And please dont ask me to sign up 6 months in advance to get a discount. 5ks in columbia should be 25 bucks, 30 for 10ks. I like “no T shirt options too – helps slow down the white tee bonfire pile.
3) Bathrooms, anyone? – Runners have GI and urinary systems like a 75 year old guy with an enlarged prostate on vacation in Mexico. Consider a reasonable amount of portapotties for normal people and then probably double it.
4) Online registration: Its not 1985 anymore. People use this thing called the internet now.
5) Chip timing: See above. Unless its a small mom-and-pop style race, its going to take forever to sort out the awards with bib tags.
6) Results: See above. Post the results online, quickly. Its not that hard. People want to look at what they did, and not a week later when someone gets around to it.
7) Awards – I have a bunch of generic medals that have nothing on them, so I now have no idea where I got them. I really like something creative and memorable like the races mentioned above. People are used to three deep in every category, preferably every 5 years. If youre not doing this, at least state it so people wont be disappointed. Overall winners dont double dip into the age groups. Large races should have separate masters (40+) overall, or even grandmasters (50+). Get somebody who’s familiar with running to announce the awards, and try to get them out as soon as possible after the last runner crosses the line.