Yesterday, Rachel and I, along with two of her running friends, participated in the inaugural Cocoa Beach Half Marathon.
I’m happy to report that I had a pretty great race overall. This was my seventh half marathon, with a chip time of 3:12.37.7, and while I did not PR, I am pleased with the result.Since it is an inaugural race, there are a couple of things that could be improved upon in the future. I will be pointing these out in the hopes that the organizers stumble upon this post and consider making some changes. These are meant to be constructive, they are not meant to be offensive in any way, just some suggestions that should be taking into consideration if they expect this series to be a success.
The start time should be earlier. A start time of 7:45am is too late for a race in Central Florida. We were blessed with an overcast morning, and a slight breeze. The entire course had no shade, and almost 3 miles of running on the beach as well. Had the sun been out, it would have lead to unhealthy conditions for the runners and spectators. Many people have complained about the beach portion and the lack of shade on the course, and these problems can be alleviated in the future by altering the start time. Just an hour earlier would make a huge difference.
The course was not thought out well. In order to make sure the race was a full 13.1 miles, participants had to run through building and public parking lots. It was clear this was a last minute “fix”, as the first lot we ran through didn’t have cones separating the two sides. Runners were running into each other. Again, not a safe scenario for those participating. This race was announced in March, six months ago. There was plenty of time to make sure the race was the full distance without strange modifications to the course.
The organizers should provide, and be more susceptible to, open communication. Some changes made to the course were kept under wraps until the last minute, particularly the addition of beach running. Additionally, whoever handles the race’s social media accounts should not delete Facebook comments or concerns on their wall. Many participants have written to them with questions, concerns or suggestions, only to be deleted, and in some instances, users have been blocked. This is an inaugural race, there will be bumps to work out, and it’s not best business practice to shoot down suggestions from those trying to help make the event better.
There are some great things to be said about this race though. There was plenty of food and water for all, before, during, and after the race. The race bling, a 4 inch replica of the “I Dream of Jeannie” bottle, is wonderful, a very unique piece to earn. The volunteers were phenomenal, they all seemed enthusiastic to be there, cheering us on, and the “genies” that held the mile markers were great about taking pictures with anyone who asked. Parking for spectators was not difficult, my mom and aunt went to cheer me on and they had an easy time getting there. The pink carpet at the finish line was a fun touch, and the fact that Barbara Eden was there to present the top racers their special trophies was awesome.
At this point, this is a “one and done” race for me, but I would consider doing it again if the organizers make some changes, especially the start time.