OK this review is just a little late, but you know the cliché…better late….
Wow! What an action-packed race weekend! Now before I give my review, please keep in mind that no matter how many “not so great” things I list, I LOVE this race. It’s my second time and it is the ONLY race in the past three )ears that I’m not nervous before and during or wondering what the heck I’ve gotten myself into. In addition, the Marines put on an awesome event given the many challenges of orchestrating an event of this magnitude. So my disclaimer is, heck yeah, I will be there again next year…
What went down…the good, the bad, the ugly and the great!
DC metro safe-track situation may have been a deciding factor in the location change to the Gaylord. Despite all the negative comments on Facebook, arriving to the expo on Friday was a non-event for us. Plenty of police and their trusty cones directing the traffic flow led us to a $10 all-day event parking spot with no problem. I know that some people ended up paying up to $28 for the day.
After a short walk to the Gaylord we wondered around a bit until we finally found signs directing us to the expo (there was another convention going on at the same time). Coming down the stairs we saw others joining, what appeared to be, THE line. When we tried to follow suit, however, a security guard told US we needed to go to the back of the line. Just curious why he didn’t redirect the many that we watched as we made our way down the stair case. No worries the long line moved really quickly.
Received my bib from one of many very, polite marines (didn’t get any pins though – again a non-issue). Received my race shirt in short order and was released into the expo. The only problem is that following the crowd to the right, I was instantly immersed into hundreds of shoppers looking for gear in the race store. A bit of signage at the beginning would have saved me time, but again a non-issue since in my “awestruck-ness” I may have missed it. I had the chance to work the expo twice while I waited for my sister who spent time on a really long line to buy merchandise. (Slow system and so many on line). All in all, I enjoyed the expo.
Definitely on the not-so-great list, was the $15 pep rally. Last year’s rally was held in a separate location from the expo, parking wasn’t great but the rally was so much fun…you went into a room, checked in, grabbed a pom-pom went down into the pep rally, plenty of food! Great speeches, photo-ops and great swag. Fast forward to 2016. There were apparently registration people…but no one on line knew that was the check in desk. No one checked tickets as we entered the room; we were handed a pom-pom and went right in.
The food was not as good or abundant as last year. MMM…shaker salad in a cup, nacho chips with an assortment of toppings, and chicken on a stick. Due to people loading chicken on plates, they ran out quickly and were not replaced (plenty of shaker salads left though). So for $15 we paid for??? It wasn’t very well attended. I’m thinking because it started at 7 p.m. and people didn’t want to stick around and pay to park all day (which we did 10 am until 8 pm or so). After a few people said a few words, people pretty much left. So I basically paid $15 to hear advice, like bring your own toilet tissue (which is advice I’m so glad I paid attention to – tell you why in a bit)
Race day parking. My sisters and I had the bright idea to park at the Gaylord to take the shuttle assuming that most people would want closer parking. No police using their nifty cones directing traffic and no problem finding a parking spot. It was a perfect plan in the beginning, despite another kerfuffle about which buses were for the regular folk and which were for VIP’s. The ride to runner’s village was super smooth.
Runner’s Village…now this one, I’m wondering about. I’m thinking perhaps the organizers didn’t take into consideration that the “village” would now be home to all 30,000 racers and not just the marathoners. The marathon started at 7:55 and the 10K started at 9:15. The port-o-potties ran out of toilet paper by 7:30, not a square to be had. That $15 advice really paid off, because I brought just enough to take care of business.
Off to the races…this year the entire 10K was run in Arlington instead of part in DC, which meant the first few miles were along the same route as the marathon…which further meant a super-killer hill! Unfortunately there was only one water stop at somewhere after mile 2 or 3, can’t remember it’s so vague now…water a ’plenty. The problem was that despite the predicted record high temps, the next “water stop” was somewhere around mile 5. I use the term “water stop” loosely. Apparently they ran out of cups so tons of marines had jugs of water. Unfortunately if you didn’t have a container you couldn’t get water…thought they would pour it in your hand or your mouth which meant….someone else’s sweat was already on the jug. No thank you…the problem is that I was starting to feel those dreaded leg cramps. I had to slow my pace to something much less strenuous to ward them off.
I finished…that is always the goal… The high fives from very enthusiastic young marines felt great. After our race, we stood near mile 26 to cheer on the marathoners as we waited for my sister to finish her race.
Afterwards we discovered they were no longer running shuttles back to the Gaylord at 2:30 in the afternoon. We would have to take the blue line to the yellow line to get on a bus to go back. Sore from running, hot from record high temps…are you kidding me! Assuming that they had shuttles and we wouldn’t have to metro, I had left my metro card at home. Fortunately, I brought $12 in cash and a credit card. Despite the metro craziness, all went well from that point. We got back and spent a great time with family to celebrate.
Despite the lack of toilet paper, the incredible heat and a few other logistic kerfuffle’s…I would ABSOLUTELY run this race again…and again…