RACE REVIEW: ATLANTA HALF MARATHON (11/28/13)
Thanksgiving is an ideal day for race. What better way to kick off the biggest eating day of the year than with a healthy calorie deficit? Knowing that the 2,000+ calories I burned off running would be more than made up for (seconds on pie, anyone?), I signed up for the Atlanta Half Marathon as I’d be in town again visiting family. Besides, it sure beat having to help out in the kitchen (I’m usually relegated to peeling potatoes). This annual race (both Half Marathon and 5K) starts and finishes at Turner Field and gives runners a nice look at downtown Atlanta. This year’s “turkey trek” featured almost 8,900 runners (6,733 half marathon and 2,140 5K) and the 7:30am start time guaranteed you’d be home in time for the feast (and football).
Registration costs are reasonable for the race, which is great as the next day is “Black Friday” and there is shopping to think of. I registered pretty late in the season and it still only set me back $75… you paying attention Rock ‘n’ Roll? As in years past, packet pick-up is at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel and is available on the Tuesday and Wednesday before (from 11am- 8pm). Be prepared to pay about $10 for parking because lots are limited around the hotel. Pick-up is fast and while the expo is certainly on the small side, it featured a good variety of vendors. One thing I particularly like is outside the expo room the Atlanta Track Club sells off its overstock shirts/jackets from years past. If you don’t mind something with an old date on it, you can pick up some workout apparel (or toss away clothing) for cheap.
Transportation for the race is very easy, given that it’s located at Turner Field. Traffic is pretty much like going to any Braves game. Follow the road signs on the highway and you’re there. And a nice perk is that parking is FREE on race day at the stadium. Sweet.
The Atlanta Half Marathon does a nice job giving out long sleeve tech shirts each year. The 2013 edition was gray featuring red and burnt orange text (very Thanksgiving-y) with the “flame (or is it a bird)” logo. The medal was larger than years past and also incorporated the look of the T-shirt. Pretty cool.
Like I said before, the circular course starts and finishes at Turner Field and the downtown course sends the runners past (and at times through) various parks like Centennial Olympic Park and Piedmont Park. And a very nice touch is running underneath the Olympic rings prior to finish. Get ready for some up and down as the course has several areas of rolling hills… with one or two bigger ones around mile 12 as you head to the stadium. It’s a nice course and the fan turn out is pretty good, especially given the holiday and conditions… this year it was a very chilly 22 degrees at the start. And yes, I did break out the “man tights.” There was one hiccup this year as the starting line wasn’t very well marked (and the corralled start felt a little unorganized), unlike the finish, and many runners (myself included) started running about 200 yards prior to the real start line. It forced a lot of us to stop, reset our GPS’s quickly and have to start again. Annoying, but minor.
Services on the course were pretty standard with water at every two miles. I always recommend runners bring one little bottle with them in case they need a swig in between stops. Plenty of porta-potties at the start (remember to go early), but not so many on the course. Mile markers are present on the course, but no digital signs so be sure to bring a watch.
FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY
Again, standard fare at the finish line as runners are given Mylar blankets, water and food (in prepared bags so it’s easy to carry… not every race does this). There are a few vendors and booths around, but given the sub-freezing temps I decided to get my finisher photo taken and made a break for the car and some heat.
I’ve run the Atlanta Half three times now and it’s become an annual Thanksgiving tradition that I do look forward to, just like turkey and football overload. If you can sneak out of the house and don’t mind the potential for some cold weather, it’s a great way to make room for dinner.
Posted on January 9, 2014, in General, Race Review and tagged 5K, Atlanta, Circular Course, Cold weather running, Half marathon, Parking, Race Expos, Thanksgiving. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on RACE REVIEW: ATLANTA HALF MARATHON (11/28/13).