On Sunday I completed the Mike to Mike Half Marathon in Fayetteville NC. This was a race organized by the military so it started in Fayetteville and ended in Fort Bragg.
The military organization was clear from start to finish. So much so that I was surprised that this was only the second year of the race. Also surprising for a relatively new race was the size of the field
595 Full Marathoners, 1782 half marathoners and 759 5ks including 100 British paratroopers. The packet included a face cloth, Chapstick and a tshirt. The tshirt is a nice design but the seams are a little odd so the fit isn't quite right.
I got up at a very early 4.45 on race morning to catch the race shuttle (from the host hotel) to the race start. The area was spread out over Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville. Lots of port-a-potties AND a genius little handwash station, if only all races had these. The race started at 7 am to the roar of a Howitzer.
Running through the smoke from the gun I knew I should have peed one last time. Never mind, I'd been sick with hay fever pretty much all week so I knew I'd be lucky to get through this one with a relatively ok time. I stopped at the first set of port-a-potties at mile 1.5 and waited a few minutes to pee. I didn't have to worry about cooling down as I hit a hill as soon as I started running again.
This theme continued- hills and bathroom breaks as I had to stop again a few miles later...not feeling so hot.
After that I settled into somewhat of a rhythm. I just ran fast when it felt good and slow when it felt bad. Although none of the hills were monsters most of the course was a steady climb towards the finish and my legs felt it in the last few miles. I also felt my feet burning like I'd walked in high heels for hours...new shoes are ordered.
The course scenery was kind of boring and the on course electrolyte drink tasted awful, not good when humidity is over 90% and I'm only sucking down water. BUT the aid stations were frequent and well stocked (1 or 2 had fuel including Sports Beans, Shot Blocks and Gu gels...something for everyone), lots of marshalls (lots of miltary) out at the intersections and lots of potties. On course there was some music as well in including an army band.
What does get you, and got me even though I'm not American, is strong theme throughout the race of remembering the fallen soldiers. Besides all the military participants, people were wearing blue to remember the fallen, and there is a mile dedicated to fallen soliders lined by pictures and flags. I choked up a bit at this point. It was very emotional.
The cool part of it being a miltary associated race was getting to see the fort and some of the trucks and other vehicles parked up at the finish line festivities. They went all out with the medal for this race, it was massive and heavy. Finishers also got a big backpack which is a bit more useful than the usual string bags.
I finished in 2.05.44 with splits all over the place.
I walked around all the vendors at the finish area and then hopped on a bus back to the start and then another back to the hotel. I made it just on time to get a shower and get a hotel breakfast before checking out. We planned on walking around some shops etc but after some coffee we realized everything was shut for Sunday and by everything I mean everything but 2/3 restaurants were shut. Then it was home for a rest and a happy end to Sunday with some TV time. A solid race that I think will continue to grow in years to come.