Saturday morning we woke up at 5 am, got dressed, and were on our way to the beachfront by 6:15 am. With a race start at 7:45 am, we wanted to make sure we were parked and ready to go with plenty of time. We were able to get an awesome spot just three blocks from the starting line- and because of the weekend's races, we didn't have to pay for any metered spots.
It was a gorgeous and slightly chilly morning- around 50 degrees. Matthew and I got out of the car around 7:15 to head towards the start line. On the way, we ran into a former student of mine, Stef. I'm always amazed at how I get to see friends in a sea of thousands of people- it totally makes my day! She was doing the Dolphin Challenge as well. We got to catch up more with her after the race :-) We snapped a few pictures and then went to find the start line.
|Beautiful sunrise over the ocean. The finish was just to the right of Neptune.|
Matthew and I decided to run this race together and take it nice and easy because we had the half the next day. Promptly at 7:45 am, the race started. Within just a few minutes we were on our way- I think there was only about a minute between each corral.
This course was a simple route- we started running south away from the finish, made a few turns, and then came back up towards the finish on the actual boardwalk. While there were close to 9,000 people running the race, it never felt close to crowded. There were also a lot of children and strollers in this race- and there was still plenty of room! It was awesome.
|Close to the starting line!|
|Lots of room to run and more of the gorgeous sunrise over the water.|
|People cheering us on from their balconies.|
|Course map in the program book.|
Once we passed the mile two marker, I got a text on my phone with our updates- the runner tracker for this weekend was awesome and instantaneous. Miles two-four were running back north towards the finish on the boardwalk. Again, it was absolutely beautiful to run with this gorgeous scenery.
|And what a sunny day we got! About 50 degrees and slightly breezy.|
|Enjoying the view.|
We saw some people running on the beach and decided to join them- when's the next time we'll be able to run ON the beach during a race? :-)
|Yeah, this was pretty cool.|
|I couldn't resist a selfie on the beach!|
Right around mile four, we made a left turn to run back on the street. Then we just ran about a half mile north and then turned onto the boardwalk to run the last half mile to the finish. Turning on to the boardwalk a second time was really cool- lots of cheering spectators and just a few minutes until the finish line.
|Turning back onto the boardwalk.|
|Can you see the finish line in the background?|
|You know I HAD to stop for a quick picture with Neptune :-)|
We crossed the finish line in a little over an hour. Not too bad. Then we got our medals, all sorts of shamrock-shaped cookies, water, Gatorade, and then headed over to the beer tent. Inside, we each grabbed a cup of Irish stew and a Yuengling beer and then found a spot to sit and enjoy the band- they were amazing, by the way. We didn't have to wait in line for anything and the entire crowd was laid back and enjoying themselves. It was probably the best after-party I've ever been to at the conclusion of a race.
|Stef and me after the race!|
|Post-race beer is the best.|
|Spacious but rockin!|
|Panoramic view of the party tent.|
Overall, this race gets an A+ from me. Incredibly organized, flat course, premium medal and after-party- don't tell anyone but this actually may have been better than a Disney race! This race was a runner's dream- they really are focused on the athlete and making this event enjoyable for every single runner or walker.
After the 8k, we headed back to our hotel to get cleaned up and enjoy the rest of our day. We ended up coming back down to the boardwalk to explore. Not even two hours after the race, they were already cleaning the port-o-potties and getting everything ready for the next days races. It was quite awesome to watch. And then I stopped to use a squeaky-clean port-o-potty, I know my running friends will know how awesome that really is :-)
|8k shirt and medal.|
|You have to admit, he's pretty neat :-)|
I knew that Christine from We Run Disney was heading over to the expo in the afternoon so we went back to the expo around three pm. With a little help from twitter, we finally found her listening to Bart Yasso speak. We chatted and got to meet her friend Lacey who was doing the marathon. It was really great to see her and talk about race strategy. Since she'd done this race before she gave us some great tips for the half marathon course. After a few minutes, we said our goodbyes and good lucks and then Matthew and I went to do another lap around the vendors. I ended up buying two shirts from Bay Six USA- they were only two for $25 :-)
|Lackey, Christine, and me.|
|I couldn't resist these awesome shirts!|
After the expo we went to dinner with our friend Jamie and then headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before the half marathon Sunday morning. One race of the Dolphin Challenge down, one to go. We got our race gear together and finally went to bed around 10 pm. We had a 3:45 am alarm set and dreams of half marathon awesomeness dancing in our heads :-)
|Half marathon outfit.|