This brand-new race, the Garden State 10, was run yesterday for the first time! It was chilly and windy, but thankfully dry dry dry out. I chose this race back in the winter because I wanted to try something different this spring, rather than the same old halfs that I’ve run in the past (Rutgers, Long Branch). The spring is a difficult time for me to travel with work, so I usually have to keep it local for my spring long race – and this was not only cheap (when I signed up $20!) but also right around the corner from me. While brand new races make me nervous as a back-of-the-packer, I figured if nothing else the price tag was worth giving it a go. It also helped that I was familiar with the area: I lived right near Colonial Park, the race’s main area, from 2012-16. I ended up wearing my rain jacket, unfortunately, because the weather said possible drizzle. I can’t wait to run a long run in something OTHER than a rain coat – LOL.
According to the race results:
309 people completed the 5k
536 people completed the 10 Miler
123 people completed the Half Marathon Challenge – BOTH the 5k and the 10 miler (the medal for this was HUGE and awesome! Like small dinner plate sized).
-The Price! Super affordable, especially in light of some races that are 10+ miles that get to be upwards of $75-100. At the same time, everything still felt high quality: nice bibs, decent shirts (kinda boring, though – white, men’s sized, tech material)
-Packet pickup – this was offered Friday and Saturday at a local running store, as well as on race morning. With a smallish race, it was nice to still have these options.
-Parking was easy – it is a large public park, so there were a lot of lots around. My experience was easy, but I also arrived early (around 7:40 for a 9:30 race) and left late since I’m a slower runner – so I’m not sure if this was everyone’s experience, but mine was quite good.
-Good start time for this time of year: 9:30 start for the 10 miler, 8:45 start for the 5k. We got started pretty on-time, even with the 5k prior. I had thought there was a good chance we’d start significantly late because of the 5k, but we did not. It was still pretty chilly, so 9:30 was nice.
-Water stops every other mile-ish. The race sent out a few emails leading up the race with maps and locations for water, port-o-potties, parking lots. Pretty good communication, as well. Also, water stops were manned through the end – I’ve definitely come upon races where the water is either gone or the stops unmanned by the time I get to them because I’m at the back. These were still staffed, happily.
-Free race photos!! A little weird to get to (giving facebook permissions always freaks me out) – but FREE!
YES! This was at Mile 9! After that, I smoked the last mile.
-Well-supported turns/policed cars. The roads that this race was run on outside of the park were pretty busy roads. They closed the entire roads except for one small stretch I think between 5-6 where the cars were allowed on one side. At no point did I feel unsafe. I felt like I had the whole road to myself most of the time. At each turn, a cop was set up and was happily directing traffic away. I often worry about this on busy courses and small races, because I’m at the back: sometimes those directing traffic will start letting cars in too early as the racers dwindle down. They did a great job with this as of my pace time, so hopefully this continued throughout the rest of the pack – there were about 50 people who finished with times after mine out of the 536 that finished the 10 mile.
-Plenty of water, bananas, oranges, and bagels left when I finished. There is nothing worse than finishing a race to find out that everything is already gone, or the finish line is being deconstructed. Thankfully, this was not the case. It was pretty quiet, but there were still lots of supplies left and volunteers around.
-And of course….. The Medal! They did not scrimp here. Jersey pride, baby!
There were a few kinks that felt a little bit wonky in this race, but nothing that would make me not run it again.
-First of all, the elevation map was a real fake out. This was the map and elevation posted on the web:
This was my actual elevation map via Garmin:
I don’t know much about scale, but that second half does not really look the same, eh?
However, I will say that I appreciated that most of the hills were front-loaded: around 6ish mooooost of the hills that felt and looked like hills were gone. The last one I remember was on Schoolhouse road, just after hitting 6. And as a devout hill-walker, all of the hills felt pretty rolling: I actually didn’t stop to walk all but one (the one when you crossed back near the start line, somewhere near 3.5).
-Second, Port-o-Potties. There was ONE by the start/finish line area. One. Way to make a girl with stomach problems panic. Now, the map had clearly marked where potties would be, and my lot was by a park ladies room with 3 toilets. However, there was a whole bank of like 5-6 potties that were by a parking lot that fit about 20 cars… this did not make sense! Put that bank of potties in the finish line/festival area, and put the single port-o-pottie in the parking lot with the 20 spots. Did not make sense at all!
-Thirdly, I know this was a small race – but I would have loved to see Gatorade or some energy drink on the second half of the course. I truly hate having to carry a hand-held water bottle, but I had inquired prior (thankfully) and knew just water would be on the course. In anything over a 10k, I do like some sugar in my second half.
-Fourth, it was lonely at the back after mile 6ish. Of course, this is always the case with small races and it is what it is. Through the first half, I was always around people at my 12 minute/mile pace, but by around 6-7 miles, things really thinned out into single file. Even though I started ticking off people around this time as I kept my steady pace and others were slowing, I was generally passing one person at time – a long stream of largely single runners. I did know what I was getting into, so it wasn’t a big deal. The loneliest part of the race was mile 8, on Weston Road, a long, windy one-laneish road. I literally saw no one ahead of me most of the time.
Also, it was a pretty quiet finish line by the time I got in (as I said, one of the last 50 runners to finish).
My mom coming in to the finish – note the loneliness of the area 😦 Don’t worry, I cheered hard! Not sure if the atmosphere was a bit more “up” earlier, but a little quiet at my point. It was also quite cold so I’m sure that had an impact too.
For my own race, I was nervous to start! I’ve had such a hard time on my runs lately that I just didn’t know what to expect. The weather was all over the place, 60 the day prior, 40 at the race start. It was chilly and windy, but NOT raining! I started running and was feeling… pretty darn good! As in, didn’t feel the need to stop, didn’t feel like I was dying, my legs didn’t feel like lead. All things that in nearly every single long run in the last two months were realities for me. I had only run twice in the last two weeks, due to stomach bug and extreme caution. However, apparently this was magic for me! My legs felt fresh as heck. As you can see in my splits, I was practically FLYING for me those first couple of miles – and it all felt okay. They were even on rolling hills, none of which I stopped for. At the top of the tallest hill, I did stop and turn to look for my mom (I could see her!), but other than that, I was trucking! I just… kept… moving. I did hit just over 13 pace on one mile darnit, but in all honesty, I felt GOOD somehow the whole way. It was a Christmas Miracle!
By the time I got to mile 8, I knew this was going to be a race I was happy with – and I picked up the pace. My last mile was a glorious 11:04! After the race a woman came up to me and said she was using me as her rabbit – and I “disappeared” the last mile. Welcome back, old kick! It was nice to feel that way again.
Overall, I really enjoyed this race and would run it again! It was a nice showing for a first race, and I hope it gains in popularity so that there are more folks around my pace, as well. It isn’t flashy like some of the big 10’s/Halfs around here, but it was a well-planned race, with a really nice medal at the end.