Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Race 13.1 Greensboro Review

I am a little behind on catching up with spring race reviews but I've been anxiously awating the the chance to sit down and write this one.  I've seen so many social media posts about Race 13.1 that it made me curious enough to experience one for myself.  They promise a top-notch race experience and all the perks that go along with large races, however their race capacities are mid-sized.  I happened to run the Greenseboro Race 13.1 Half Marathon which sold out in every single distance.  It was the largest event in the history of Race 13.1!  They comped my entry as a blogger so I got to experience this race for free.  If you're interested in becoming an ambassador for Race 13.1, check out their ambassador expectations and perks here

Greensboro offered three race distances- a 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon.  Wanting to moon up to Saturn (Level 3) in Half Fanatics, I chose to compete in the Half Marathon to round out my fourth Half Marathon in 37 days.  If you're not familar with Half Fanatics, I encourage you to check them out and consider qualifying for Neptune (level one).  You can do so by running three Half Marathons within 90 days or running two Half Marathons within 16 days.  Both qualifications are achievable with proper training and I will be sharing my tips to fulfilling the requirements in the near future!  At the time of registration, I saw that 49 other Half Fanatics were running Race 13.1 in Greensboro. 

What I didn't know was that 1,500+ runners from Black Girls Run were also running this weekend!  I was not familar with BGR until this weekend, but I came to learn that they are a national group of women encouraging each other to live healthy, active lifestyles while sharing their running journeys.  Their experience levels ranged greatly, but they all came together during the 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon races to support eath other.  To see 1,500 women come together from all over the country to run a race beside each other was extremely inspiring.  Their energy on the course was incredible and every runner could feel it.  Of all the cities they could've traveled to for a Race 13.1 experience, I'm glad they selected Greensboro.  BGR, you're welcome back anytime! 

Before Race 13.1 arrived in town, I saw on their website that runners could volunteer to earn credits towards running a future race.  I've never seen a race series offer this opportunity before so I decided to volunteer during packet pickup on Saturday at Omega Sports.  I actually picked up my packet on Friday after work because I saw Race 13.1 was hosting a block party at Omega Sports and wanted to check it out!  Apparently the race series does this in all locations.  There were food trucks, vendors and live music playing for several hours during Friday afternoon's packet pickup.  This block party got me really excited for the race.

On Saturday, I showed up to volunteer and helped hundreds of runners get their bib and race information for Sunday morning.  I didn't get to talk to as many runners as I would have liked because there was a constant line out the door of runners picking up their packets.  I don't want to sound biased, but I think the volunteers did a great job of moving everyone through the line quickly.  Runners had the opportunity during registration to personalize their bibs and I heard a lot of positive feedback from runners on this perk.  I prefer bibs with my name on it, especially since it gives spectators the chance to cheer you on by name! 

I arrived about 30 minutes before the Half Marathon start time.  The races began and ended in The Friendly Shopping Center parking lot near Harris Teeter.  Race information instructed us to park in front of Harris Teeter, but most shops don't open until 1 PM on Sundays and we were free to park anywhere.  Since I'm a Lilly Pulitzer-loving girl I decided to park in front of Palm Avenue.  The window displays of my favorite Palm Beach-inspired clothes must have been good luck for this race! 

There was music playing and an announcer getting runners pumped for the race.  The Half Marathon distance had pacers at the starting line to help runners achieve their desired time goals.  I really liked the energy of this race at the starting line.  I was pumped and ready to go!  There was music in a few areas on the course as well as several places for spectators to cheer runners on.  Out-of-town BGR members must've brought some spectators to town with them because I saw a lot of BGR shirts on the sidelines. 

Post-race, there was a DJ playing music, an awards ceremony, TONS of food for runners (they had watermelon which is officially my new favorite food to eat post-race), and a giveaway.  At all their races, there is a grand prize given to one lucky winner.  All you have to do is register for the race to become eligible.  If I remember correctly, $1,000 was the prize drawn in Greensboro.

Race Review:

The course 8/10
I loved this course!  Race 13.1 presented a new course this year with 40% less elevation than 2015.  The course started out and ended a little hilly, but other than that it was relatively flat.  The few hills on the course were equally balanced with ascending and descending.  In addition, a portion of the course was on the Downtown Greenway Detour and went right past my old high school, Grimsley.  I ran a lot of this course while on the Grimsley Cross Country team several years ago.  The course had a turn-around point, and after this point there was some crowdidng from runners going in both directions.  I ended up beating my PR previously set in April by seven minutes so that's always a good sign.  With a little bit of weaving I finished with an estimated 13.3 mile distance on my GPS. 

The swag 7/10
All runners got a tech shirt for the race.  I was also able to pick up a cool Race 13.1 bumper sticker at the expo.  The personalized bib was my favorite detail, though. 

The medal 8/10
I felt like the mason jar medal was truly representative of Greensboro and the Piedmont Triad.  What motivated me to select Race 13.1 Greensboro as my fourth race towards qualifying for Saturn in Half Fanatics was the medal.  This medal is the first medal I've received in my currenty city of Greensboro, North Carolina so it's a special one for me. 

BGR runners who registered through the member registration link also received an additional BGR medal for any race distance.  I'm not in BGR but I secretly wanted to add this bling to my collection, too! 

Overall Experience 8/10
I'm still surprised by how much I enjoyed this race.  One of their goals is to exceed the expectations of runners and they have definitely accomplished that goal for me.  I didn't expect to have such a great race experience without having to travel anywhere.  I woke up in my own bed and went directly to the race.  I love that this race series travles to so many nearby cities so I can experience Race 13.1 more than once a year but I am especially glad they have selected Greensboro as a host city. 

For the race fee and the experience, Race 13.1 is a great value.  Whether they are stopping in your city or coming somewhere nearby, it is definitely an experience every runner should check out!  If you're interested in running three or more races per year, it pays to get the season pass which is good for 365 days. 
Race 13.1 does an excellent job at fulfilling their goal of giving runners a first class race experience with a local feel.  They also present opportunities to earn additional bling by completing multiple races in one year.  You can find all the details on how to earn extra bling in my post Bling Alert: Race 13.1 Series

Although a date has not been set for the 2017 Race 13.1 Greensboro weekend, I have been told it will fall around the same time next year.  I definitely plan on running it again.

Looking forward to seeing many of you at another Race 13.1 event!  My next Race 13.1 Half Marathon will be in Charlotte on 9/24/16.  Stay tuned for my experience running through The Queen City!