Better luck next time. . . . (about: 2001)|
A Runner from Alexandria, VA (12/3/01)
After traveling to Raleigh for the marathon last year and being sorely disappointed by the (non)snow cancellation and swearing never, never again . . . I understand now that the fiasco in 2000 was due to the lack of police support, and it seems that once again, a few of ?Raleigh?s Finest? managed to mess up the race for the top competitors in 2001, sadly!
It turned out to be a pretty nice race this year, for us mortals who weren?t among the speedsters in the front! I can?t imagine running 20-some miles at top speed wondering what the hell happened to the course in the first few miles, but I digress. . . .
I ran the first 10 miles of the course in a 3-woman relay team. The course started downtown at the Convention Center, and the weather turned out to be near-perfect ? sunny, little wind, and slightly warm for runners, slightly cool for spectators. I was a bit surprised by the large size of the crowd of runners at the start.
The first few miles looped twice through downtown, which was interesting the first time around and a little tiresome the second, past some attractive buildings and homes including the lovely Governor?s Mansion decked out in holiday greenery. The course then looped out away from downtown where I finished my leg at the 10-mile mark, then the course continued back into downtown for the half marathon finish, then looped back out again in another direction for another 13.1 to finish downtown. Course support was good, with water and sports drink every 2 miles and gel at 15 and 20 miles. A few of the mile markers were either nonexistent or difficult to spot. Most of the turns were marked with paint on the road. Fans along the course were pretty scarce, but the police that I saw were doing a good job of stopping traffic for runners but still letting cars through in available gaps. Rolling hills seemed ever-present! No huge ones, but I felt as though I was constantly on a slight grade, up or down.
The course did as well as it could with what it has to work with, but there?s just not too many attractive neighborhoods close to downtown Raleigh. The town is clean and well-kept, but the gentrification and development of the NC Triangle area seems to have largely skipped inner Raleigh.
As I was waiting to pick up my team-mate at the 2nd relay transfer point I heard some unhappy grumbling from locals about the race officials blocking people from accessing their churches and local flea markets. I?m not sure that the word was fully out to the community to encourage them to ?buy into? the event and support it.
It was clear that the RD was doing his best this year to try to make the runners happy, however. The shirts were interesting, with a splashy ?RM? graphic and fortunately free of the dopey running-acorn design from last year and the website. There were piles and piles and piles and piles of attractive plaques for all members of all relays (3-person, 4-person, and 5-person) 3 places deep ? the RD was making sure that all the happy participants went home with hardware, including slowpoke me and my 2 teammates, with no competitors in our division!
A clever touch was the snowflakes on the marathon finisher?s medal, commemorating the first disastrous year of the event.
I wish this event well and hope it survives its birth pangs and develops into a noteworthy event which brings together the people of Raleigh.