Who doesn’t love a hometown race? I mean, you get to sleep in your own bed, you typically see lots of friends on the course, and you are also usually familiar with the organization putting on the race! And another bonus: if you are a procrastinator signing up for races like me, there’s far less planning with regard to places to stay.
Sports Backers put on their newish format, semi-pandemic cautious, multi-day race again this year. It’s just casual enough to not create too much anxiety about race day, but with distances from a 5k to a full marathon, it’s serious enough to suit any runner! You may remember that I ran the half marathon last year with my best friend. We are so lucky in the Richmond area to have the Capital Trail, a multi-use path that connects downtown Richmond to Jamestown, and this race uses portions of this path, beginning and ending in Dorey Park in Henrico County. The course was scheduled to be open Friday through Sunday, 7-3.
Mother Nature had some wicked plans for this race weekend, however. Although Friday was gorgeous, sunny and in the 60’s with a warm breeze, Saturday was a typical Virginia late winter/early spring temper tantrum. I was awakened early that morning by thunder, lightning, heavy rain, and howling wind. The temperature was in the upper 50’s when I left for work Saturday. And although I took every patient who desired to do so outside on Friday, I wouldn’t have dreamed of it Saturday. By mid-morning, temperatures had dropped into the 30’s, and it was snowing. We got almost 2 inches of snow by the time the storm was done! Sports Backers wisely closed the course on Saturday, as parts of the trail are prone to flooding. Sunday was sunny, but the high was only in the 40’s, with temps at 7am in the teens!
Well, you already know that I worked Friday and Saturday, leaving Sunday as my only choice for my run, with the added bonus of springing forward for daylight savings time. (Who needs sleep, right?) Plus, my friends wanted to run that day, too, as soon as the course opened. But, wow! It was cold! Sports Backers actually had to wait to open the course until it was light enough that you could see all of the black ice. All of the bridges were covered in snow. And it was a really good idea that the course was closed Saturday. We ran through sections that had clearly been under water the day before.
The half course was essentially two out and back routes, beginning with a 5k that headed east on the trail, followed by a 5 mile out and back west from Dorey Park.
Overall, I had fun with my friends, and having run this course before, I knew what to expect. There was water and Nuun available every couple of miles with adjacent porta-potties, too, as last year. What was new were the ice patches and debris from the storm. Just enough to keep things interesting. We walked the ice patches, since none of us were super interested in falling. Safety first!
The swag was great! The shirt was a pretty turquoise blue technical tank, and the medal was substantial. Both designs were inspired by the trail itself. We also received a branded headband!
I’ve heard a rumor that this race might not happen again next year. But I do appreciate this open style of race, allowing you to pick your race time, stalk the weather for the best conditions, and choose your day to run. What’s not to love about that? Sports Backers once again put on a great event!
Have you run any spring races yet? This is my first of two half marathons this spring. Up next? The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.