Rachel Ross HF6506
I had a good time today at Gilbert Half Marathon in Gilbert, AZ. The event also included a 10K which joined in midway through the half marathon course.
Some history of the race: The Gilbert Marathon is a dream built by the founder of the Shun the Sun Foundation, Dr. Gregory S. Allen. His passion is to educate children and families on proper sun protection and skin cancer awareness. All of the proceeds from the Gilbert Half Marathon events are donated to Shun the Sun Foundation in order to build shade structures.
I went to the packet pickup on Friday afternoon to get my bib, shirt, and goody bag, which did include several goodies like sunscreen sample, an electrolyte serving, and a gift card for a free milkshake at Chick-Fil-A. Nice. The organizers were very careful to let everyone know that there would be no aid stations on the course, that everyone had to carry their own water, as a covid precaution. There were two stations along the half marathon course that refilled water for anyone who wanted. The packet pickup was outdoors and had a live band playing.
The course started out on a closed major road which had police and/or volunteers at all major intersections. We ran a long, straight way down that first road. At around mile 3, we branched off onto an out-and-back on a cement walking path with the return on packed gravel. Back onto the long straightaway. Finally we made a left turn sometime around mile 6 and soon after we were again on cement walking/bike paths. After that came a stint on packed gravel as we ran along a canal and then came a left turn and through the gates to a wildlife preserve. There were low trees arching across overhead which made it seem like we were running in a tunnel and here and there we had glimpses of water with ducks swimming on it. Upon exiting from there we were again on the cement path through park-like areas. We had some nice cheering squads along here. The final left turn brought us over a little rise and onto the parade route of the annual Gilbert Days Parade! We runners had our roped off route as the parade was going on the opposite side. Bands were playing, floats were going by, people were tossing candy and the children were running to pick it up. All the while, people in the crowd were cheering us on. After a few blocks, the finish line came into view and then we were being cheered again and our names being announced and a medal was being put around our necks.
The finish area had people handing out sparkling recovery drinks, chilled, in cans, some free samples like chapstick and hand sanitizer. We received a bag with water, an orange, and a protein bar in it (delicious, by the way). Then came the booths. I got a 15 minute stretch session by a physical therapist at one booth, and a 15 minute massage/pressure point session at another. I waited 10 minutes at the first booth and had no wait at all at the second booth.
This was a point to point race so we had to walk one block to the bus loading area to be shuttled back to our cars at the start. I waited 5 minutes for the shuttle bus.
All in all, a very good experience. I think the medal is very nice. It’s good and solid and has pictures of the area on it. My finish time shows 606 runners in the half. I would recommend this race at least once. Where else can you run alongside a parade? I would hope that by next year they will have aid stations back up. The airport I flew into was Phoenix and I stayed in Chandler. Perfect.
Photo and Post Credit Rachel Ross