Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Year Isn't Over Yet - Inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon

The Rock n Roll Series is over for 2013, but the supply of Bling continues. November 24th marked the Inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon, 10 Mile and 10K events. This was Ron's 19th and Susan's 20th race of the year. Inaugural races are always special. Everyone is doing the race for the first time making it that much more memorable. When the race organizers are experienced, it helps ensure a successful first event. Plus, you're a Legacy :). 

Weather can be unpredictable in late November, except in California. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day, cool at the start but comfortable at the end with our layers on. The course was fast and flat with two "hills" (one freeway overpass and one at the very end at Golden Gate fields reminiscent of Insult Hill in Anchorage or the final climb at RNR Seattle).  In general though several PRs were set that day. Susan included with an eighth personal best of the year!

The wave start spread out the participants nicely so the course was never too crowded. The out and back along the Bay in Emeryville allowed participants to say "Hi" to one another and cheer each other on. Near the Berkeley marina were were surprised with two off-road sections. The loose gravel is always a challenge for faster walkers to gain traction. One suggestion for next year is to redesign the course to be 100% on road to minimize the risk of twisting an ankle, but those who appreciate a softer surface would find this a welcome change. There were three distances for this event; a half marathon, a 10 miler, and a 10k, giving first timers and beginners a chance to challenge themselves. 

The Medal - The ALL important race bling - was large and beautifully designed. Berkeley partners with the San Francisco Marathon so it was similar in design, but Bigger and nicer than the SF half marathon medal this year. For those of us who did both races, there was an additional spinner medal to add to our growing collections.

Medal Mantra: It spins, we're in!
The designated parking decks filled up and oversold. After a creative parking job, we were grateful to have gotten in before the closed the garage! (Note to self:  Get there earlier next year!). If your group can arrange to have two cars, park one at the finish line and one at the start. The lines for the busses at the end of this point-to-point race were long and if not for the mild weather, would have been a bit rough as it was exposed to bay winds.

Opportunities for Adventure - While there weren't many takers for the whiskey at mile 9, apparently shocking the system with some unexpected good or drink is actually a race strategy for some extreme endurance athletes according to Al.

Nike has it's Chocolate Mile. Berkeley has the Whiskey Mile
You don't usually expect to have more adventure on the ride home than on the race course itself! Our bus driver was moving us along so quickly that one individual hadn't settled in her seat and ended up falling in the aisle while changing seats. This meant the bus had to stop so the driver could write up an accident report. Another bus drove up pretty quickly to rescue us. We were just glad we hadn't just done a full marathon because once you sit down, it's not that easy getting back up again!

A week after RNR San Antonio/RNR Las Vegas. For the Half Fanatics keeping score, this put Susan and me on Mars with 3 states in a 10-day span!

Great to see our fellow TNT walk coaches, Carolyn, Barb and MaryAnne.
The Inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon, 10 Mile and 10K was held on November 24, 2013. There were 4,682 participants in the half (Median finish time of 2:04), 486 in the 10 Miler (median finish 1:39) and 1,395 in the 10K (median 1:07). This was a relatively fast race. Results are posted here.

The 2013 Half Marathon course started at Civic Center Park, wraps around the west side of the UC Berkeley Campus, and then continues straight through the heart of Berkeley on University Avenue, passing local shops and parks on the way to the marina. At mile 4, the course turns south along the waterfront, along the Berkeley Marina, turns around to head north to Cesar Chavez Park, looping around the park, exposing breathtaking sights of the SF skyline and the bay. Finally, the route continues north for a finish and celebration at Golden Gate Fields.

Weather (2013): low 50's F at race start and mid 60's by finish. Like we said, this is winter in California!

Since this was a local race, we were treated to some home cooking by Al with a load of fudge from expert baker Caryn. Ron has now successfully (and unsuccessfully) make pizza margarita several times and we've been inspired to make our own pasta the night before our next local race. Like a lot of things that happened in 2013, we blame Al :).

Bonus note: Corrigan Sports 10-Miler/5K Series will hold their first race in Foster City on January 12th, 2014. Completing this and the other two races in Marin County (May 25th) and Santa Clara County (August 24th) earns a bonus medal. The last price increase is on January 6th, but you can get a $5 discount if you use CARINO in the coupon code for registration. Ron plans to use it as a taper for Rock n Roll Arizona the following week. Hope to see you there!

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