The race is one of MCRRC's low key races so there is no sign up in advance. If you are a member, you just show up with your bib and shoe tag and you're ready to go. If you aren't a member, there was a registration table set up under a tent where you could pay the $10 fee and get a bib and shoe tag for the race. The registration looked like it went smoothly and there was never much of a line.
The parking also seemed to be ok. I got there about 45 minutes early (I had lost my bib and shoe tag) and was able to park fairly close. There were alot of parking lots and my friend who cam later was able to park in one of the further lots. She said the only downside was that it was unclear of where to go for parking, but once she parked it wasn't a far walk at all. All the logistics seemed really smooth and I'm sure that is helped by the fact that there were less than 200 participants.
The race was at a local park in Silver Spring and it was beautiful. There was a lake in the middle that we past a couple times. We ran on the street for the beginning of the race, and then on paved paths for the middle and end of the race, and there was a portion on side walks. It never felt that crowded because of the small field. But there were moments on the paths that were a bit tight because they were out and backs so people were going both ways.
The course was a little weird. As mentioned, there were lots of out and back sections. And at approximately mile 3.5, you ran right past the finish line. I always hate that and it always seems confusing. Plus, the runners that had already finished were milling about right on the race course so it made it a bit tough to get through. I realize you're already done but the rest of us are still running!
The other thing I didn't like about the course is that there was a lot of uphill action toward the end of the race. It felt really tough at the end, both because of the uphills and because the sun had come out. The shaded portions were all early in the race. So I did have the opposite of negative splits. I knew that I would have a harder time at the end of the race so I tried to push it a bit in the early portion.
Mile 1 was my warm up before the race started. Mile 2 through Mile 6 was the actual race and mile 7 was my cool down after the race. So you can see my slow down as the race went on. But given the elevation and the sun, I'm ok with that.
My official time according to the race website is 1:02:14 or a 12:32 pace. This was an 8k PR for me! I haven't done a lot of 8ks and the last one was in much hotter weather so I'm happy to have a better 8k time.
Photo from MCRRC photographer...yay for free photos!
After we finished our cool down, we went back toward the finish line and there was still food! I was prepared for everyone to have packed up since we were toward the back of the pack and since we had chosen to run a bit extra after the race. It was awesome that people were still there. In addition to the usual oranges and bananas, there was watermelon. The watermelon was amazing in the heat! There were also some bagels, donuts, juice, coffee, water, etc. But to be honest, I didn't look at anything other than the watermelon.
So pros for the race ... small field made logistics easy, the location was beautiful, there were great volunteers, the cost was low, and the post race food was great. Cons... the elevation increases at the end of the race, there were weird out and backs, and having to run past the finish line when you have more than a mile to go.
As an aside, Disney just announced a Star Wars Half Marathon in Orlando in April 2016. The Orlando race will be themed after "the Dark Side." I am so tempted but I'm planning to stay strong! I would love to do this race one year but I don't think next April is it. If any of you are interested, I think registration will open up September 22nd and I'm sure it will go fast.