On Saturday I ran my second Marine Corp 17.75K in an attempt to gain access into the full marathon. Since I wrote a review last year, I will focus mostly on what changed for this year.
As before, I parked at a nearby commuter lot and took the shuttle to the race start. As I was sliding out of my seat, my hip popped quite audibly but I was so caught up in everything, I didn’t pay close attention to it. That was a mistake.
The start was moved closer to the entrance to Prince William Forest Park. They also had shuttles from several different sites so people were being dropped off on either side of the busy highway. I liked that we only had to run on open road for a quarter of a mile or so but I found the start to be very confusing. I didn’t find my running group for the group picture (they were across the street) and the lines for the inadequate port-a-pots was insane. I was able to quickly check my bag before getting in line but, as last year’s marathon, I was “occupied” when the actual race started. Thankfully it was chip timed! I hustled and made my way to the inflated arch, thinking it was the start but no! it was actually a bit further down the road. I didn’t realize where the start was until I hit the mats!
We made our way down the main road and then turned into the park where we ran on a fire road and then a very compact trail for just shy of two miles. Even though it was the same number of runners as last year, just over 1,700, it was very crowded until we dumped out onto the main road in the park. It was almost impossible to pass anyone.
As promised, there were a lot of hills! My hip was not happy. I kept a pretty steady pace until we hit the monster ones at mile 8. After that, I walked all of the hills. The course didn’t seem to be as pretty this year. Maybe it was just because of the funky weather we have been having but I’m pretty sure we were in a totally different section of the park last year. I feel like I spent most of my time just looking at the road instead of the scenery.
The course was a lollipop so the trail and fire road (with more hills) was waiting for us again at the end. I beat last year’s time by 3 minutes, which is a bit frustrating as I know I can do better. Ah well, every race can’t be a blow out.
The finish was decently organized. They had food set up right at the end of the chute. I was immediately given a bag with two bottles of water, a leftover snack box from last year’s marathon (expired by a couple of weeks but it was crackers and fruit cups so no biggie), plates of greasy pizza (no thanks), and a thin throw-away jacket (also leftovers from the marathon). I was also given my Warrior Chip and instructed where to go to exchange my ticket for the my marathon entry code. There were some vendors with tents but I was hurting pretty bad by this point and just wanted to go home.
Small enough race so packet pick up and most logistics were simple.
Organized bag check.
Efficient finishing area.
On course aid – plenty of water!
Since it was a lollipop instead of a point-to-point like last year, there was no long waits for the shuttle buses at the end.
Not As Good
Not enough port-a-potties.
Fewer Marines on the course this year.
I wore a tank top (with sun screen!) and compression shorts. I wore my Asics Gel and have come to the sad conclusion that they are not for me. My big toe always starts to hurt in the joint around mile 8 when I wear these shoes – so much that it feels like I’ve broken it but the pain stops immediately as soon as I stop running. Such a bummer! I wished I had worn a hat or sunglasses as it was pretty bright at times. It was also pretty humid so I sweated off all of my Body Glide and had some awesome chaffing going on at the end. I carried my Simple Hydration bottle (AKA, my butt bottle since I carry it in the small of my back) with a strong mix of EFS. I refilled the bottle at one of the last aid stations and felt my hydration was spot on for the temperature.