This weekend, I experienced Peoria in a whole new way, through the eyes of a runner. My lovely fellow alumnae and I decided to give Peoria another shot and signed up for the inaugural Run River City Marathon Relay months ago. We made a whole weekend out of it and had a fabulous time (which I'll recap tomorrow).
On Saturday, we took the short walk down to the Peoria Riverfront Museum to pick up our packets. We were already leery - the course for the relay and the marathon as a whole had changed several times in the past week and we weren't sure who should run each leg based on the distances and elevations. The expo was disappointing - it was really just three tables for charities, a store and the place to pick up your stuff. When we asked for further guidance about the legs, the people there looked at us like we were aliens. It was 3:30 p.m. and the expo had been going on since 10 a.m., so we were surprised we were the first to ask.
After much discussion, we decided Rachael would go first (and babysit the baton overnight), Jackie would run second, Amber be next and I would run last. The legs were split into roughly 6.1, 6.3, 5.75 and 7.7 miles each, respectively, and at each exchange, we would have to both pass over the timing mat with the baton at each interchange. Oh, and there was no race-provided shuttle, so we relied on fifth team member Chris to Sherpa us from stop to stop. Thank goodness he knows this city more than the people who wrote the directions.
Jenny made us, walked down to the start line and watched Rachael start. Then I ate breakfast while waiting for the first exchange. Jackie picked up the baton flawlessly and ran a fantastic 8:55 overall pace. Our little firecracker is quite the speedy one. The following interchange went just as smoothly and then it was my turn to run.
By this time, the sun was high in the sky and the humidity was out. Lovely match, right? I noshed on my homemade running fuel, since it had been several hours since I last ate. The baton was quite sweaty and slippery by then, and I was also super scared I would drop the baton/spirit stick. I took the baton from Amber, who told me there were no bathrooms and only mile markers on the odd miles, and no timing clocks. Welp, at least I knew.
My leg started through a nice residential area where families were sitting out watching the runners. There was a house offering gummy bears, another with sliced oranges and many with ice (THANK YOU) and water. There were also plenty of thoughtful residents who turned on their sprinklers. My favorite was a house that had a huge inflatable Santa with a sign in its hand that said "Respect Your Pace" and signs up the yard that said "Run Run Run As Fast As You Can, You're Going to Beat that Gingerman!" Adorbs.
|Thank you, Chris!|
Also, I don't know how we could have done this race without Chris. There was supposedly no on-course parking, even though I noticed lots of cars downtown that we had to dodge.
All that said, we had a great time running the relay and thought that was very well-done. It was a fun way to run together without being side-by-side and still accomplish something pretty amazing. Since this is the first year of the race, I think they just have a few kinks to work out before runners will start clearing their schedule for this event. It's awesome for Peoria and its economy to have this race as a tourism draw and I look forward to the day that it's a destination race.
Cost: $35 for the relay with early registration
Time: 4:06:34 for the whole marathon, which is 8th out of 50 female relay teams. My 7.7-mile leg was 1:09:54 for an 8:58 pace.
Pros: Awesome medals, nice gender-specific tech shirts, free parking, unlimited post-race beer, fantastic community support.
Cons: Sparse on-course bathrooms, poor pre-race communications, tiny race expo, no post-race snacks, not a lot of signage on course (for the relay or the race itself), no instructions available for the relay hand-offs or procedure, would have been great to know there was live tracking before the event
Would I run this again?: The relay, yes. I think that have a bit of growing to do before I'd run the full (but I'm not ruling it out).