Joanne Blatchley ( HF14845) The Jeff Galloway 13.1 was this past weekend in Atlanta.
The weekend consists of 3 events; Barb’s 5K and the kid’s races are held Saturday and the JG half marathon is held on Sunday. All events end in the Piedmont Park area.
This was a repeat race for me as I ran the half marathon in 2014 and back then it seemed to run much smoother.
The weather was interesting to say the least. It started out raining, then turning to mist with light wind. The rain/mist stopped and then the sun did make an appearance but then ran and hid behind the clouds. Once the rain stopped though, the temperatures dropped and the wind picked up. I think the start temperature was about 50 and by the finish line it dropped down to about 46 but felt colder with the wind.
The course itself is scenic as you run the Beltline (greenway) with art exhibits along the way, the neighborhoods, by the botanical gardens and right into the thick of Piedmont Park. There are lots of hills and they are more than rolling. Plus there are some roads which are pitched (slanted).
The start of the half is located downtown (midtown). Personally, I think they were a few port-o-johns short at the starting area. There were plenty of water stops along the course. Most had both water and an on course drink, Accelerade. This drink is described as “extending endurance – more than 24% compared to a carbohydrate-only drink. Protein greatly reduces the muscle damage, resulting in a faster, more complete recovery.” I’m here to tell you the taste is disgusting (at least to me) and almost medicinal but like anything else, it is personal preference.
What I found lacking were water stop snacks. The only snack they had were 2nd Surge gel packs (100 mg caffeine) and the ONLY flavor was double espresso. I was very disappointed since not only do I not like the taste of coffee, what about the people that don’t consume caffeine?
The course support was wonderful but the course directional signage required improvement. There were at least 4 spots that should have had either a volunteer or directional arrows sitting in the traffic cones. At one point, I came out of the Beltline (greenway) and turned the corner not knowing which way to go because the course was open and non-race runners were out and about and of course, you can’t see a race bib from the back so some of the racers started following them. As you got to the intersection there were cones but no directional arrows so it wasn’t until after I saw some racers doubling back to take a different direction that I realized we had to go up hill (oh great, another hill 😉 ). Like I said, there were a few spots like that.
The finish line this year was the same as in 2014 but it seemed to be lacking volunteers and excitement of a normal finish line. Yes, the cooler weather could have definitely kept some of the people away I guess but it was lacking crowd support. Ladies handed you your medal but then you had to let them know you did the double (5k & 13.1) so you could receive your 3rd medal rather than the volunteers looking at your bib. Then you headed to the post-race snack tables which only had 1 volunteer that I saw. There were no bananas to be found. Instead they had apples, water bottles, granola type pinwheels (not sure who thought of that one but not a great idea), and mixed fruit.
The great part of the finish line area was getting to have your photo taken with the man, the myth, the legend, Jeff Galloway himself. Nice touch. Jeff is a great guy and always friendly and willing to take the time for a conversation. He and his wife Barb are wonderful people and really have a passion for running and the running community.
I happened to be waiting for some friends to finish and ended up walking back about a mile to meet up and walk them into the finish line. From what they told me, the contracted crew who clean up the cones on the race course were a little overzealous because they were picking up all the cones right on their footstep trail even though there was a another pace group behind them. Not only is that bad form, it is a safety issue for the racers still on the course with it being an open course.
Overall, I’m glad this race went on, especially during these COVID times. Maybe that is the reason behind so many glitches this year, I can’t really say but for me, another half marathon in the books. 😊
Photo and Post Credit Joanne Blatchley