Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hatfield McCoy Marathon Race Rating

Race: Hatfield McCoy Marathon
Date: June 14, 2014
Location: Goody, KY
Year Running: 15th
Registration: $55 

Race Information
Size: 514 full, 341 half, 38 double half
Course Limit: none
Min. - Max. Elevation: 635 - 1270 ft
Min. - Max Temperature: 59 - 83
Charity Supported: Tug Valley Road Runners Club

Airports: Ahaha. Good luck. The closest airport is the Tri-City Airport in Huntington, WV, but it seemed like the majority of participants that flew used the Yeager Airport in Charleston, WV. I can fly out of Detroit (a major airport and Delta hub), but getting a flight for under $400 would've be nigh on impossible. I met Karin on the way at the Columbus Airport. I think her flight was expensive since it was bought last minute, but doing something similar and driving several hours after landing might not really be a bad option.
Rental car: Necessary. See above.
Host hotel: None. There are few options in town, so book as soon as you register. We both agreed trying to drive into town, find parking, and then find the shuttle would've been insanely stressful on race day. There is also the option to stay at one of two local firehouses for a nominal fee. This was super fun, and I highly recommend it! Just bring a sleeping bag so you don't freeze.... 

That sad sheet will not do anything for you, trust me.
Communications: A little sparse. We didn't get the pre-race email, including the final details for the pasta dinner, until Friday morning. Sending this even an extra day before would've been nice.
Expo: At the local high school, had a few local vendors, though the wares were a little strange, ie I don't normally go soap shopping before a race. My main suggestion would be to move the vendors into a classroom and out of the hall. It was very hard to browse because of a lack of space. We ended up waiting until right before the skit to look after most people had departed.
Other Activities: Pasta dinner, Hatfield-McCoy Feud skit (This is a must do, plan to stick around after dinner!)

Race Day
Parking: A mess. This isn't really the race's fault. Downtown Williamson is just very old "historic," so there are just a bunch of small parking lots jammed into random places. We had parked by the firehouse, I'm not too sure where everyone else found spaces. Clearly they did though, but I would strongly recommend to scope it out the night before when there's still daylight.
Shuttles: Shuttles took us from downtown Williamson to the start line at the Food City. It was a short ride of only a few minutes. The shuttles basically just circled the streets until full. It would've been nice if the race designated a few intersections for the shuttles to wait at, as Karin and I basically ran from corner to corner until we happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Bathrooms: Plenty. Pro tip - wait to go until the Maniac/Fanatic/50 Stater picture gets organized. The line will then thin significantly.
On Time: A few minutes late.
Corrals: None, but not needed. The roads in the beginning were maybe seven (?) lanes wide total, so everyone had plenty of room to spread out and get in an appropriate spot.

Type: Point-to-point
Terrain: Asphalt, concrete and dirt; mix of roads, multi-use paths, and a short trail-ish section
Bathrooms: Every few miles. (I didn't need to go the whole race because of how much I sweated, so I don't remember exactly.) They were readily available, and people who needed the bushes never seemed to be at a loss for a discreet spot.
Crowding: None
Highlights: historical markers about the Hatfield-McCoy Feud, mini-ponies, swinging bridge at the golf course
I'm still baffled by their saddles.
Course Support: Aid stations just about every mile, after about 16 miles they all had two or three kinds of fruit, as well as ice. In remote sections EMTs patrolled in ATVs, and ambulances patrolled on the roads. (But as I mentioned in my recap, there was no med tent....)
Spectators: Few, but there weren't many good spectating spots. Anyone that happened to be out along the course was very supportive, which was nice since very few of them seemed to understand why we would want to run. All the cars on the roads were patient and friendly, and the police provided escorts in more curvy parts of the course.
Local knowledge of race: Hard to say...I suppose good? Most of the race was away from town, so it's hard to say what people thought. They did have one of those electronic construction signs warning locals when the road would be closed.

Food: Tons of fresh fruit and other typical post-race options. A post-race meal of a wrap and chips was also included in the registration fee, though I never would've found it if Karin hadn't been able to show me where it was.
Atmosphere: Awesome! The RD scheduled music through at least 5 PM, and there were shaded tables to sit at all along the chute, so people actually stuck around for quite awhile afterwards.
Party: As mentioned above, there were plenty of places to sit in the finish and relax. The race also provided bag drop and shuttles to showers to help encourage people to go clean up and come back to the party, which was a really thoughtful touch.
Though the showers themselves left much to be desired....
Shirt: Short-sleeve technical T-shirt. I wish they picked a color other than white, since I like the design.

Medal: Huge but not obnoxious. The bullet holes just complete the look. I even had to switch it to a heavier magnet to hold it up at work.

Final Thoughts
  • Everyone talked about how amazing this race, and it didn't disappoint. Even though I had a slow time (par for the course this spring season), I never felt like a nuisance or like that the volunteers were tapping their watches until they could go home. 
  • There were a few tiny things I might change, but overall you can tell how much love the RD and his staff pour into this race. It means so much to them and their community.
  • This is a great race if you're a Maniac, I would go so far as to guess the majority of participants were in one of the three clubs. It was awesome to be surrounded by individuals who agreed a marathon was an awesome bachlorette party.
  • The hills are not nearly as terrible as they were talked up to be. If you can't train on significant hills, like me, just plan to walk up Blackberry Mountain and the hill at mile 23. It won't add much time (which isn't even a factor anyway). 
  • Even if you're slow, you'll never be alone. After Karin and I walked several miles, there were plenty of people around us - and it's not like we were setting any land speed records before that either. Lots of people seem to pick this race because of the lack of a time limit, so there's always someone to chat with or at least see in the distance for comfort.
  • This race has what I call the three H's - heat, humidity, and hills, but the race does a great job mitigating the risk, and it is so much fun! Don't be intimidated!
  • 50 Staters: Yes. Run, do not walk, to the registration page and sign up. This race can count for West Virginia or Kentucky, and neither of those states have very many other choices, especially West Virginia, so this is a great way to pick up either one. (Or both, if you run it every returner gets a personalized sign on the course!)
  • Non 50 Staters: Maybe. And I only say maybe because of how awful the travel can be, which is independent of how amazing the race itself is. If you have to fly, it can be insanely expensive. If you are close enough to drive or enjoy road trips, then I highly recommend it.

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