Sunday, June 8, 2014

2014 Oddyssey Half Marathon Race Report

Two races in one weekend.  Overkill?  Not when the races are this good.  Wissahickon Trail Classic yesterday, and 5th annual Oddyssey Half Marathon today.

I ran this race spontaneously last year when a free race bib came my way.  I didn't worry about time and stopped at most of the carnival games along the way, and the great course through Fairmount and the post race atmosphere all brought me back for more this year. 

I will probably be coming back for many years to come, and here is why:
  • It started back in April when the race director, Carl Ewald, took the time to cross the bridge and make an appearance at my local running store to promote his race.  It helps that he brought his race day beer provider, Sly Fox with him, and offered discounts for in-store sign up.  I think I only paid $60 to register that night.
  • It's easy to drive to and park relatively close to the starting line (located outside of the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park).
  • The course is gorgeous, taking in both Fairmount Park and the Skuylkill River.  It is mostly flat but still includes some wicked hills, including one in the last quarter mile.
  • The post race atmosphere is amazing.  They set up a beer garden with free beers and pint glasses for runners, along with free massages and live music.
I didn't run a PR today, given the heat and my lack of speed training lately, but still finished in a respectable 1:33:22, good for 48th place out of close to 3,000 finishers.

But PR's just weren't important today.  It was the sheer amount of fun I had on the course.  It felt so good to be out on a course, running relatively hard, and I just had such a positive racing experience for it.  

During the race I was trying hard to photobomb other runners whenever possible (sadly I can't find any of the pictures, perhaps because I was behind them and my bib was obscured). When that failed I tried to strike a pose on my own.

Serious race photo
Penn Images

Not-so-serious race photo
Penn Images

When a group of spectators clapped for me as I ran past, I bowed while yelling, "thank you, thank you... and for my next trick..."

When a spectator yelled, "go runners!" I yelled back "go spectators!"

And when I crossed the finish line, there were no runners up to 20 seconds behind me and 20 seconds in front of me.  For the first time in a somewhat large race, I had the finish line completely to myself.  The crowd gathered there cheered solely for me, and the announcer called out my name and my hometown.  It was one of the greatest race finishes I've ever had.

Penn Images
The medals aren't too shabby either.

It was a hot and humid day today, and after the race I drank two bottles of water one after the other.  I then made a beeline for the beer garden where I was one of the first people to get a beer.  Ice cold beer from Sly Fox Brewery in a brand new Oddyssey pint glass while sitting in the shade watching the finish and shooting the breeze with other runners.  At 8:45 in the morning.  It doesn't get much better than that.  It made me thankful to be able to finish early in races, because by the time I left the beer garden, the line for beer was obscene.

Thanks for a great race guys, and see you next year.

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