I promised a race review for the Griffith Park Half Marathon – so here it is. Disclaimer: The race director did provide me an entry for the race, but I am writing my honest opinions about the event.
This race is no joke. If you are not a trail runner, you’ll probably curse the day you were born around mile 7. If you don’t run hills, you will probably hate your life 300 feet in. This bad boy has an incline of about 5,100 feet and a very brutal 5,000 foot decline. It’s not for the weak of heart. This is the hardest half course I have ever run. Even the declines were hard, slippery, and I had to borderline walk at spots on the downhill.
Can I just give Keira Henninger the hugest shout out for putting together one of the most organized race I’ve seen with less than 1,000 people? Parking was easy, bathrooms were quick to find and Keira sent out great tips before the race to make things totally seamless.
Race Day Pickup
I opted for race day pickup and had to wait for all of 2 minutes to get my bib despite it being only 45 minutes before the start.
There were a few bathrooms, bagels, muffins, juice, tons of coffee (which then meant lines to the bathroom, but they were reasonable) all waiting for runners.
It was raining as we started to get ready, but most runners were huddled under tents, or didn’t care at all since, let’s face it, trail runners are a *little* more laid back than street runners.
As with any trail race, the bag check in was high quality. I knew it was rainy so I brought a garbage bag to put my stuff in….
The starting line was the finish line and the race got started right on time. (And yes, it was a chip timed race)
There were aid stations scattered across the course. They weren’t overabundant nor too sparse – always seemed to pop up just when I was thinking I really needed a drink of water. They had energy gels, oranges, electrolytes, water, etc. Once again, thank you trail racing culture for the excessive food at aid stations. I love you.
Give the race was through Griffith Park, there was a strict no littering policy. I think Keira, the race director threatened to lock you up in the LA Zoo if you littered or something. There were lots of hikers who either looked at you like you were crazy, or cheered you on….oftentimes a mixture of both which was nice. Plus, the actual race organizers had a slug of people out there keeping you on path, cheering you on and responding to snarky comments tired runners like me yelled their way.
The views of the course were amazing. At the beginning of the race it was so foggy I could only see the guy in the neon orange shirt when he was less than 100 feet in front of me, but the fog slowly lifted (and the rain dissipated which was nice). You got great views of the city, Hollywood sign, etc.
I’d like to blame my photographic moments on my shift from 2nd to 3rd place, but sadly it was my innate desire to walk when my legs wouldn’t move uphill fast enough.
Everyone got a super cute tote bag and t-shirt of which I did not take a picture of. #fail Finishers got a totally blinged out medal and those in the top 10 ended up with a fabulous mug. As I crossed the finish line I got a medal, lots of cheers saying, “Third place female” and then was promptly informed my mug had broken and that I had to wait a few weeks for it to come. I just remembered that good things come to those who wait.
After the race was over there was a huge array of food: sandwiches, pasta, kale salad, orzo salad, etc. I tried to eat, but my stomach was a little whacked out from the mountains…not because the food wasn’t good. I hardly ever turn down a free lunch.
I had a great time getting to know new people. As I mentioned previously, I got to meet Shawn and Reuben who literally kept me not only entertained and encouraged for several brutal miles, but provided some fabulous post-race conversation after.
Overall, I was completely and totally impressed by the race. Despite the weather that was beyond anyone’s control, the race went off smoothly, showcased the awesomeness of the running community and provided every whim and need of the runners participating. I’ll give it a #winning
Update: I found this picture online so you can see the fog.
Have you ever run a trail race?
What is your favorite “off the beaten path” race you’ve ever done?