First off, I always laugh when this race is billed as a DC race. I live less than 2 miles outside of the DC border, and this race started an hour northwest of my house. It’s a beautiful part of the country, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not Washington, DC.
So as we all know, Kelly and I were spectating this race, both of us rehabbing injuries. So I’m going to give you my point of view.
This was a Saturday race, so the expo was Friday and Friday only. No packet pickup on Saturday. There was no way in the world that we wanted to be driving out to Leesburg in Friday afternoon traffic, so everyone took the day off work, headed out early, and we did some amazing outlet shopping. Definitely the highlight of the weekend.
The expo was nice enough. Some good vendors there. But it was a very small space, and as we left, we could see that it was starting to get very crowded. Wasn’t going to be fun as the day went on. But that happens when you have a bunch of women ready to shop!
We had a great day on Friday and finished up the evening with dinner and cupcakes. You know, gotta fuel up for all that tough spectating.
We were staying about 15 minutes from the start, according to Google Maps, so we left the hotel on Saturday aiming to get there by 6:30 for a 7:30 race start.
That was a ridiculous plan. Traffic on a little two lane road with apparently no one directing parking (at first) meant that we were inching along. 7:30 came and went. Thankfully, we had a friend at the start who was relaying what was going on there. The race organizers also posted on their Facebook page that the start would be delayed. Go read that thread. It’s pretty hilarious to watch the comments coming through.
(Important note to remember – if you are going to be mean on the internet, do it anonymously. Snarking on Facebook with your real name is just idiotic. One rude woman was so awful that someone used her name to pull up her bib number. I wonder if anyone found her and gave her a piece of their mind.)
Apparently, the traffic was so bad that the Sheriff was threatening to pull the permits unless someone did something about the cars all backed up.
Finally, we made it. I’m not sure what time we finally got there. Maybe a little before 8. Not good, considering we were aiming for 6:30. And we weren’t the only ones. Some people didn’t even get to run, as the police had to start turning away cars.
The race finally started at 9am. At this point, Kelly and I called our hotel to tell them that we wouldn’t be back by checkout and we were very sorry. We then wandered to find a place to sit. And well, being at a winery…
We watched the 5K runners come in and then the half marathon runners. We had a nice time sitting outside on a beautiful day. Our running friends, not so much.
I will let them tell their tales. This was Betsy‘s first half marathon, and it’s not what I wanted for her, but she made it and she is now a half marathoner! The course was advertised as having rolling hills. From what everyone has said, these weren’t rolling hills. These were large hills and many said the course was worse than Baltimore, which is known for being hilly. Hilly courses are fine – just advertise them as such so runners can properly train!
Post race, I got to meet up with other friends who were running, which was great, but we had to rush back to the hotel to make our delayed departure.
Remember that traffic getting into the winery? Yeah, same thing going out. We didn’t get back to the hotel until almost 3:30. We left before 1:30. Two hours. Of course, we called the hotel multiple times and they were amazing. We finally asked them to just grab our bags out of the rooms and store them for us so that they could get the rooms clean. Thank you, Holiday Inn at Carradoc Hall! Other hotels required people to pay for an extra night. They were well within their rights to do so. All because of poor planning on race management’s part.
So far, the only response from the race organizers is a quick sentence on their Facebook page apologizing for parking and traffic delays. Personally, that’s not good enough for me. Of course, I would be shocked if they get permits for this race next year. And if they do, they’ll have trouble getting the same runners to come back. I’ve heard such great things about this race organization, so I thought this would be a well planned race. I thought wrong.