Sarasota was a nice little race to throw in at the end of the Florida season. I do think it was expensive for what it was ($75 at Miami expo) but if you can get it for cheap right when it opens up then it’s not so bad I suppose.
It is also a relay, which I didn’t realized until I got there. I noticed that a lot of participants didn’t seem like the typical half marathon people. There were more very large people than I’m used to seeing, and larger even than those I tend to see in the “walkers welcome!” races. I wonder how this played out because, since the race looped around itself a lot, we were able to see the race front runners and then those at the very end, at different portions of the race. And what I saw in the back was the van collecting people who were dropping off.
It was a small race. And they bill it pretty accurately in that it’s a run through neighborhoods in Sarasota and along the water etc. It was definitely a family race. Lots of people’s spouses and kids were along the route to cheer on their parents. And there were nice spots for families to wait to see their loved ones run by (Starbucks had a front row seat at one point on the route).
Let’s start with the pros first. Same day registration was the easiest registration I’ve ever seen. I was there around 530am (race starts at 7am) and was directed in a line of cars to fill the lots around the start line. It went smoothly and I ended up in a row right by the registration tent, which was still pretty empty. I got my registration in about 30 seconds after getting out of my car. The shirt was pretty nice. I saw a bunch of people racing in it. And the port-a-potty lines were short or no wait at all at around 545am.
Then it started to get crazy. The amount of port-a-potties ended up being very insufficient for the amount of people who wanted to use them at 630. The lines weren’t moving and runners were getting angry. But then there were a lot of NON runners using them too, spectators and such, as well as relay participants who weren’t even slotted to run the first leg!! It was chaos. And then the start was delayed for some reason and I heard a lot of locals grumbling that every year it was such a cluster and so jacked up, etc etc.
Also, there didn’t seem to be enough time given to the wheelchair participants to go first before the other runners began. Some of them had chair troubles and then the other runners were on top of them. Then they couldn’t get through the mob of people once they were back up. And runners weren’t adhering to the cones and were all over the road and ended up being in the way of the returning wheelchair participants when they looped back around. It was very disorganized, but I blame the idiot runners who ignored the instructions pre-race and the instructions shouted from the police escorts preceding the wheelchairs and the front runners.
My personal issue with Sarasota, and the reason I may not run this again, is that the road was beveled for half of the race. This is just like Disney, where you run on these crazy slanted/beveled roads that dramatically decline to your right side to let water run off in case of flooding. I get it. Florida has water issues. But it’s impossible for me to run this way with my IT Band issue. I can’t do it and it was so painful. It slowed me down a lot. I had to stop and keep stretching my ITB. And there was no other place to run because we were all delegated to the right side of all the roads. (Full disclosure: I did run faster at this half than I’ve run in the last 2 halfs, which is weird. I guess some days you’re on and some days you’re off, but it wasn’t to do with training.)
At the end the medal was ok (bigger doesn’t mean better btw), the food was not as good as you would expect from some place using First Watch (a breakfast restaurant) as its main selling point, and the activities weren’t anything to compel me to stay around. However, if you are so inclined to have a beer post race, they had a really nice setup of standing tables in this cordoned off pavilion for those 21 and over. I had to get back on the road so it wasn’t an option. Plus, I tell ya, beer post race never sounds good to me. But all in all it was a decent little race.