This past weekend I headed to Atlantic City with my friend Kristine to
gamble away my life savings run the April Fool's Half Marathon. If you're looking for a flat, fast course along the ocean, then this race may be the one for you!
The race was held on Sunday, April 1, 2012. There were three events running at the same time - 7k, 11k and a half marathon. The race was small, only about 1500 runners in total. Packet pickup was offered the day before and the morning of the race. The pick up was very organized which made for a quick check in and t-shirt pick up. I can't speak to the parking situation since I stayed at a hotel near the start, but we were given parking vouchers for the garage at Bally's.
The race was very casual - There were no corrals so you could line up wherever you liked. Apparently there was a bit of a traffic jam, so the start of the race was delayed 15 minutes. This was the only issue of the day; the race was run very well. At 8:15, we were signaled to start and we were off. The 7k and 11k races started five minutes later.
For about the first four miles, the race route ran on the boardwalk along the water. Outside of Disney races, I'd never run on a boardwalk and certainly not for that distance. I didn't notice any difference but I had to be sure to keep my head up or I got dizzy from the spaces between the boards. Even though much of the race was run on the boardwalk, it wasn't crowded because the race was so small. During this stretch of the race, both the 7k and 11k runners turned back to head to the finish. The half marathoners continued off of the boardwalk and onto Atlantic Ave. This was a tough part of the race since there wasn't much to look at while you ran.
One of my favorite things about races that have an out and back course is you get to cheer on the lead runners. It's exciting to see the lead runners heading back toward the finish - Especially when you
are one of them still have so far to go! :)
Since this race is small, there are times when you are running alone. If that's a problem for you, then this may not be your race. I also didn't see a lot of spectators along the route until we were back on the boardwalk. Even then, I think they were just people who happened to be on the boardwalk during the race as opposed to cheering on the runners. I just made sure I turned up the music and enjoyed the ocean while I ran the last few miles. The closer I got to the finish, there were definitely more spectators, which is always great. Sometimes I need the cheering for the final push of the run.
Post race refreshments were pretty good and plentiful (I'm slow, so many times all the good food is gone by the time I finish!). We got a free beer (always good!) and they had oranges, bananas, tons of water, soft pretzels, frozen lemonade and Dum Dums. There may have been more but I was pulled in by the soft, salty pretzels! YUM!
Overall, this was a well run race. The course is primarily along the ocean and it is flat, so it could be a good one to PR (I didn't). With the exception of the lack of spectators, this was a great race. There were lots of aid stations along the course where water, Gatorade and GU were handed out to runners. I think Powerbars were passed out too. I'm already thinking about running it next year! Oh, and another great thing about this race is that it was pretty cheap for a half marathon - $65. With the entry fee, you get a great sweat wicking tee, a nice little backpack and a fun medal... Not to mention the views while running along the ocean!