This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Missouri was my 32nd state.
I’ll admit it. Often I sign up for a half marathon because of things to do in the area after the race. If I was choosing a race simply for the course I probably wouldn’t have chosen the Roller Coaster Half Marathon in Branson, Missouri. It was 2 1/2 loops and typically I wouldn’t choose a course like that; however, Silver Dollar City is in Branson.
What is Silver Dollar City, you ask? Well, it’s an 1880’s theme park that all started with a cave, Marvel Cave to be exact. Marvel Cave, which has been designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior, was first excavated in the 1860’s and can still be toured today. On the same grounds as Marvel Cave, Silver Dollar City opened May 1, 1960 and drew 18,000 visitors on that opening day. The first year, Silver Dollar City had more than 125,000 people, four times more visitors than the number that toured Marvel Cave.
At Silver Dollar City, there are resident craftsmen who can be seen practicing their craft and exhibiting their work for park visitors. Visitors have the opportunity to purchase from these craftsmen such as blacksmiths, bakers, glass blowers, candy makers, chip carvers, leather craftsmen, glass cutters, and pottery craftsmen. Recurring shows, festivals, and performances at theaters, stages, and other buildings are also in abundance. Last but not least, the real draw for my family was the rides. After riding Powder Keg, a roller coaster, my daughter declared she was moving to Branson when she was an adult so she could ride Powder Keg every day.
A unique aspect to the race is the option for non-runners. You can ride a distance on the roller coasters of 5k and win a medal. You get a wristband to track your distance. They also offer a (running) 5k and a kid’s mile. You can even combine either the half marathon or 5k with the “Roller Coaster Ride.” Although Silver Dollar City is no longer a part of the Roller Coaster Race series, there are still races at Six Flags in St. Louis, Missouri; Vallejo, California; Arlington, Texas; Upper Marlboro, Maryland; Kennywood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut; and coming soon (according to their website) Great Escape in Lake George, New York. If you’re intrigued by Silver Dollar City (as I was) and want to combine a visit there with a race, the Run for a Vet Half Marathon and 5K is in June in Branson.
Oh and I got a big surprise for this race. When I finished, my husband told me we should stick around for the awards ceremony. I said, “Really?” because normally we don’t since I typically finish around top quarter for my age group, but never top three. When they got to my age group and announced third place and it wasn’t me, I thought maybe I won second. Then they announced second place and I said to my daughter, “I remember passing her at the end.” My husband said, “So what does that tell you?” Then they announced first place- ME! I was trying to hold back the tears but I was absolutely thrilled! Never had I even finished in the top three in my age group and now I finished FIRST!
Here’s the link to the Roller Coaster Race series.
From my post-race notes: “Was relatively flat except for 2 steep hills on course but was 2 1/2 loops so had to run them twice. Fairly scenic as it ran along the water for much of it and through a nice park. Minimal spectators along course. Volunteers were great. Plenty of water and Gatorade at aid stations. Weather was perfect- low 50’s at start and overcast entire time, upper 50’s at finish with light mist. Shirt was ok but lettering was flaking off, nice medal. Finished first in my age group. Won a nice plaque. Food at finish was typical but plenty- bananas, apples, cookies, water, chocolate milk. Felt strong at finish. Passed several people in last couple of miles. Finished in 2:04.”