Race Review: Urban Wildland Half Marathon
This past weekend I joined nearly 900 others to run the Urban Wildland Half Marathon. This race supports environmental education to students in the Richfield public schools and holds the distinction as being Minnesota’s “green” race. It can be a place to run your first half marathon, or set a PR. This fast, fun and friendly race should be added to your summer schedule. Here’s why.
There are typically three things I look for in evaluating whether or not I will repeat a race. Registration and Organization, Course Design and Location, and Distinguishing Characteristics. Here’s how this race stack up.
Registration and Organization
Online registration opened in early February and was smooth and simple. To keep runners up to date, race organizers sent out pertinent information leading up to the race. Packet-pickup was available 90 minutes before the start of the race, as well as the day before. This was very helpful for those coming from out of town or who couldn’t leave work early on a Friday.
The race did start 15 minutes late, but that was because a storm knocked down several trees that were blocking parts of the course. Volunteers were out at 4 am clearing them. I was also impressed by how quickly they had the results posted online. Within two hours, they sent an email stating that race results were available. I’ve never experienced that and it was incredible! Huge kudos to the 400 volunteers that made this event happen.
Course Design and Location
The Urban Wildland course meanders through city streets, quiet neighborhoods, and almost two miles of unpaved trails in the Wood Lake Nature Center. There are few hills (good for beginners), but several long, straight stretches (my only criticism). There is ample shade and lots of opportunities to spectate.
Orange traffic cones lined the entire route serving to guide runners and provide a buffer from traffic. As we crossed busy intersections, police and volunteers kept cars at bay. There also appeared to be an abundance of port-potties, due in part to the several city parks we ran through that already had them. I didn’t use one, but appreciated knowing they were there. Aide stations were spaced out at miles 2, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12.
As Minnesota’s green race, had several environmental sustainability initiatives. All waste was recycled or composted. Timing chips were collected to be used in future races. Solar charged batteries powered the sound and timing systems. They were also collecting used running shoes and racing medals.
Something else distinguishing the the diversity of the urban and natural running environments. Every few miles seemed to completely change scenery. Most races are either one or the other.
Personally, I didn’t have the best run. Thankfully, I found someone within the first two miles who was also shooting for 1:35-ish. He really pushed me, and was the only reason my race time was close to my goal.