Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Harper's Ferry Half Marathon Race Recap: A Spectator's Perspective

Day one of our weekend can be found here.

When Nugget and I joined DJ Research at the start area, the first thing I noticed were the other runners.  "Wow, these people are fit!" I told the DJ.  He admitted he has been checking out their legs to see who might be strong on the hills (it was a very hilly course) and noticed that just about everyone had nice legs.  What a weird thing to be scouting.  He's so weird. :)

As we were having this conversation, guess who pulled into the parking lot?  Dr. Mark Cucuzella!  Dr. Mark is a guru on barefoot/minimalist running, and the guru behind the super informative website Natural Running Center.  Check out his video on barefoot running and running form:

We've listened to Dr. Mark on Trail Runner Nation podcast, and the guy is just a wealth of knowledge.  He also owns a running shoe store called Two River Treads that is an exclusively minimalist running store (we stopped by later that day, but more on that later).  So this was a total celebrity sighting for us!

Dr. Mark was not only the race director for this race (Two River Treads was a sponsor), he was also running the race.  Er...correction...he was also leading the runners during the race.  He was at the front of the pack with two other runners the whole race.  And when I say front of the pack, I mean waaaaaaaay ahead of everybody else.  I got a pic of him heading out to the start line:

I only follow celebrities with good running form.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, this race was very low key.  There was a little confusion as to when the race was starting and where the start line was, but soon a guy with a fog horn led everyone down the street to a long piece of duct tape across the road--aka the start line--and it was all sorted out.  The fog horn blew and they were off!

Not a very good pic, but there they go!
DJ Research started at the back of the pack (BOP).

This race was pretty awesome for spectators.  The first three miles are an out and back through what we later discovered were Civil War battlefields.  Then the runners head into the town of HarperĘ»s Ferry before turning around in the middle of town and heading back to the finish line (also at River Riders).  So there were more opportunities to see your favorite runner than most races, a perk I definitely appreciated.

Nugget and I hung out at the start line waiting for the runners to pass through on their way into town.  There was a lot of rock throwing (which is not really throwing but more rock-leaving-hand-falling-straight-down-to-ground.  He is not yet two, after all).  And lots of banging on stone walls.  And some running down short hills (future mountain runner maybe?  Oh wait, that would be running uphill).  And then the runners came back through.  Nugget enjoyed clapping for the runners, mostly because he really loves to clap.

Cheering the runners! Clapping is fun!

When DJ Research came through he was now in the middle of the pack (MOP) and would stay towards the front of MOP for the rest of the race.  He was smiling and looking great!  We cheered him on as he tackled his first big hill of the race.

First of many crazy hills.

We then headed into town to catch the DJ at the turnaround.  At the suggestion of one of the volunteers (everyone was so nice!), we parked at the 7-11 in front of which the turnaround was positioned.  The leaders arrived just as I was getting Nugget into his stroller.  We made ourselves comfortable and cheered for the runners as they made their way to the midpoint. 

Cheering and catching up on some reading.

One of the things that I loved about this race was that the roads were not closed.  About 3 miles of the race was in town, so runners were racing alongside--or more usually in front of--vehicles for a little less than a quarter of the race.  Volunteers were positioned around the course to direct traffic and ensure no one--runners or drivers--got injured.  There were also a lot of turn-offs were drivers could take another route.  Really gave the race a small town feel: it was just another day in Harper's Ferry.  I thought that was really awesome.

Cars and runners co-existing in
 harmony on the road.

Nugget's energy was beginning to wane, so we headed back to River Riders and hung out in the car for a while, listening to music and enjoying some snacks.  After about 20 minutes, Nugget was ready to romp around again, so we walked to the finish area, thinking that we had about 10-15 more minutes before DJ Research came running in.  As we're walking up the hill, I notice someone who looks and runs almost exactly like my husband.  Wait, a minute!  IT IS MY HUSBAND!  DJ Research came blazing into the finish line, finishing 15th in his age group and 33rd overall.  Holy smokes!  When did he get so fast?!

I've asked the DJ to write a guest post about his race, so that race recap will be right around the corner.  Right, Hun?

We enjoyed the post-race festivities, including pizza, oranges and live music.  And unlimited rock throwing (that might not have been an official post-race activity, but Nugget was sure into it).

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