Kelly the Culinarian: Run River City Peoria Marathon Relay Race Recap

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Run River City Peoria Marathon Relay Race Recap

Back in the day, I did not run. In college, I occasionally went to the sparsely equipped on-campus gym to use the elliptical while watching reruns of Unsolved Mysteries. I kid you not. There were huge swaths of my college existent in which no physical activity took place.

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.

Race morning, we donned our matching Beta Sigma Babes shirts that 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.

As I may have mentioned, it was hotter than blazes. I felt bad for the marathoners and saw two medical assistance situations on my 7.7-mile journey. I also had to take a walk break midway through because of the heat and got annoyed that I was running through some very undesirable parts of Peoria. I kept counting down until when I would see the ladies again - we all got to rejoin our team in the last .3 miles to finish together, and I was there before I knew it.

We actually had to pass another team in the last few hundred yards because we wanted to make sure we got our own team photo. We finished together and found water, oranges and bananas in the finisher's chute. I got stretched out and met up with Chris and Kristin, our Peoria-based support crew, then wandered on over to the post-race "party." I say this in quotes simply because it consistently of a really great cover band that I would have loved to watch, but there was not a lick of food to be had. There was a food truck charging for snacks and a Michelob Ultra truck serving unlimited beer, but no bagels or snackies. There really wasn't any reason to stick around after finishing.

Thank you, Chris!
The lack of post-race food and on-course bathrooms perplexed me big time. It was fine for a relay, but if I was running the full marathon, I would have been pissed. They charged $75 for the full (if you bought in early), and I wouldn't feel like I got my money's worth in that instance. Every distance also got the same medal with different ribbons, so especially if it was my first marathon, I'd be a bit underwhelmed. It's strange for a 5K to get the same medallion as a marathon. The Web site also over-promised, saying there would be a bacon stop and a mariachi band. Those never materialized.

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).


Losing Lindy said...

Sounds like you still had fun. It was hot, great job!

Unknown said...

Chris needed a pink shirt too! Good job ladies!

Amber said...

I'm really glad I got the opportunity to finally race with you. Despite its few flaws, this was definitely a weekend I'll remember for a long time!

Amber said...

I'm glad I finally got the opportunity to do a race with you! It felt so great to finish as a team -- despite the few flaws in the race, that was the icing on the cake. And also all the other incredible things that happened this weekend. Thanks so much for organizing! I'll remember this race for a long time, and I'm happy to have made it my first race to receive a medal!

KellytheCulinarian said...

We said later that we should have made him a shirt, too.

Unknown said...

I ran the full marathon and I think the only complaint that I agree with is the medals. A 5ker should not receive the same medal for the race. You can roll out of bed with zero training and still do a 5k but somehow they still receive the same medal if you were being punished out in that heat for four hours?

Bathrooms - There wasn't as many bathrooms as I have seen in other races but for the amount of people it was more than adequate. Anyone doing the half or rely should be smart and be able to plan before or after their split. Although even if you didn't plan that well the way the course route was, you could have easily gone into a number of gas stations or fast food chains which would have been a definite improvement than the usual porta potty.

Snacks/water - Very well done. Even if the race is well stocked with refreshments, I never run a race without something. You should never rely on the race to provide snacks. So anything that they provide is a plus and with that being said I thought they did an excellent job. I believe there was 5 stations that handed out snacks and 20 that provided water. This is not including the station just after mile 11 that was the gel pack station. Which any smart runner stocks up on when they have the opportunity.

Expo - 1500 runners for the race. That includes the 5k. This the 2nd smallest long distance run ive been too and there was more at this expo than ones twice its size.

KellytheCulinarian said...

I bring my own fuel, too, because you never know what they'll have and if it will agree with you. I was more confused about the lack of food at the post-race party. Most marathons I've run at least have bagels, and usually there's pizza, sandwiches, chips, etc., to help replenish everything you've lost.

I also used a gas station bathroom.