Let’s run a 25k they said.
It will be fun they said.
Woof. Just, woof.
In case you’re wondering, a 25k is 15.5 miles. Which is a little more than a half marathon, and significantly less than a full marathon.
After training for a marathon, it SEEMED easy. Except that I wanted to run it aggressively with my friend Anne. This was the first race I did after Nashville went to hell in a hand-basket, so I had strong legs, a running buddy, and great weather.
This race is the second weekend in May, which for Michigan can promise cooler weather, but also warm up quickly. I also signed up for this race prettyyyyyy last minute.
I can’t really comment on packet pick up, because I didn’t go, I had my friend pick up my packet for me.
In terms of why I signed up, it was mainly because I heard great things, and time wise it just worked out well; AND I heard that if you did the 25k and Gazelle Girl you got a THIRD MEDAL!!!
A THIRD MEDAL!!!
The River Bank offers a few distance options: a 25k, a 25k relay, 10k, and 5k, and the 25k actually draws some pretty notable elite runners (people who race for cash money), which I didn’t realize, but ultimately thought it was cool!
I spent the night before at my in-law’s, and drove part way in, and uber’d the rest of the way to the start. I was very pleased with the amount of indoor space that was available pre-race – including indoor bathrooms. Honestly if it were up to me to “rate” a race, I would give one start just for having indoor bathrooms.
My one and only gripe was the start corrals. They were an absolute mess, bottle necked, congested, faster people couldn’t move forward, slower people couldn’t move back. Fortunately as we started moving forward things evened out, the first few miles were a bit congested, but I’ve definitely ran in worse.
The course was A LOT different from Gazelle Girl, which I was relieved about, because if it’s not yet obvious, I really didn’t research this race at all (don’t worry, my lack of research is a common theme for this race), which leads my next point, the course is MOSTLY flat.
I heard there were “some” hills, I ignored this. That was a terrible idea, in case you were wondering.
Around mile 7 you are at the farthest point away from the finish, around mile 8 you get a few hills. Problem is, in my mind I thought “just a few hills”, and I kept barreling on at my goal pace. There were more hills.
So, it would behoove anyone planning to do this race, to plan for some hills in the second half of this race. I say it’s hilly because I run in Lansing, which is flat as pancake, realistically I think it’s only mild-to-moderate elevation gain, and the location of the hills is what presents the problem- they come in the second half. The second half of the race is also less shaded, so you get a combo of more fatigued legs + more sun exposure.
BUT the race is MOSTLY flat, and the hills stop around mile 11-12. The on course support and aid stations were AWESOME! We were mostly on trails, and kind of felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, but it was nice to still see a fair amount of spectators- which was both welcome and impressive. And the trail system in the Grand Rapids area is also very nice – so when I say “trails” they were nicely paved, and shaded bike/running paths.
Also, the aid stations had BLUE electrolyte drink, which is always an awesome change up from lemon-lime (I don’t ask for a lot you guys), and there were PLENTY of aid stations too!!
I’ll fast forward to the post race party, and swag! The medal was pretty cool, and the beer selection was pretty fantastic, both domestic, and local craft brews which was super nice. So if you paid a little extra (I think it was ~ $20) you got a Saucony tech shirt, which is what I opted for, and was pleased with, I think if you didn’t upgrade it was a regular cotton shirt. I also got that extra medal because I did both Gazelle Girl, and the 25k.
Ultimately I would recommend this race, but I’d also recommend a few other things:
- If you live in a flat environment do some hill training
- Mentally prepare for the fact that you are running MORE than a half marathon (personally I went into it thinking I was doing a half “and some change”, so I went after my half goal, and the last two miles took a lot of mind games from to get through)
- Do it with a friend! One of the best parts of this race was the post race party, so it was really nice to hang out afterwards with someone, sip a beer, and enjoy the sun!