This is a recap of my personal race experience. If you’re looking just for the nitty gritty details about the race itself, check out my BibRave review.
Where/When: Crystal City, Arlington, VA, April 22, 2016, 6:30 pm
Weather: Warm, humid and overcast
I signed up for this race completely last-minute; I literally got in line for on-site registration at 6 pm. The packet pick-up/registration table is in a mall in Crystal City, so tons of people came straight from work and changed in the bathrooms. They also had bag-check. This was great for me, as I met up with Nicole after wandering around DC all day, and I needed to change and a place to stash my backpack. It was a little hectic with people trying to register last minute, but they had two registration computers going, so I made it with plenty of time to hastily change, check my bag, and get to the start line.
This race is actually part of a series put on by Pacers. The races take place every Friday night throughout April, and registration is $25 for one race, or $100 for the series. If you register for the entire series, you either get a tech shirt, or a $10 gift card to a local running store, which is a pretty good deal.
The race starts in a park across the street from the mall, with a DJ, a water station, and an actual start/finish line arch, which I thought was pretty nice. They started right on time at 6:30, which according to Nicole, is not always the case.
On the Course:
The first mile or so is lots of turns onto side streets, and my Garmin hadn’t had a chance to find a satellite before we started, so mileage ended up being a bit off, and my GPS data is hilariously all over the place. Nic and I went out pretty quickly, but I felt good, and it was nice to have company during a race. We chatted a lot, and the first mile went by super fast. My Garmin says I ran that mile in 8:04, but I don’t believe it. It was probably more like 9:04.
There were tons of spectators out, and lots of police presence for security, but the roads we were running on were generally completely closed to traffic, and I felt perfectly safe and happy the whole time. There was one water station at around the halfway point, but we didn’t feel like stopping. There was a guy running carrying a giant American flag, and lots of people obviously knew each other and were yelling out greetings or encouragement. I loved the community feel of this race. It’s very dog- and stroller-friendly, and Nic and I spent a lot of time pointing out cute puppies to each other.
The race is chip-timed, which is really nice, and right at the finish line, volunteers were handing out full-sized bottles of water, which is one of my biggest race requests. Water at the finish is KEY. The DJ/announcer was still there, and lots of runners were just hanging out after. As part of your race “swag,” you get a ticket on your bib for a drink at a participating sponsor, but since I hadn’t eaten anything for several hours and had to meet back up with Ben and his sister, I opted not to redeem mine. My official chip time was 30:22, which I was very happy with, considering that this was my first actual race of the year.
For $25, you get a chip-timed race with great support and a free drink ticket, which I think is a pretty great value. If I lived in the DC area, I probably would register for the entire 5 race series. It’s very metro accessible even though Crystal City is kind of out of the way, and if had such a small-town feel to it. I loved it!
Do you ever get distracted by dogs during races like me?