This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. New Jersey was my 40th state.
When I arrived in Morristown, New Jersey three days before the 2017 Superhero Half Marathon, the highs were in the low 90’s, not exactly running weather. Fortunately the weather gods came through and at 8:00 the morning of the race, it was 54 degrees, more like my idea of good racing weather for a May race.
Packet pickup was as simple as it comes, simply pick up a short-sleeve technical shirt and bib at the local running store, Morristown Running Company. There were two days plus race day morning for packet pickup, which was very generous.
Honestly, this race kicked my butt. The course description states there are rolling hills for “the first three miles but the last 10 are relatively flat.” I guess the term “rolling hills” and “relatively flat” can be subjective. In my opinion there are pretty continuous big hills for the first four miles then you get a little break before the hills begin again, and these are not “rolling hills” but steep, seemingly never-ending hills. I drove the course the day before the race so I knew it was going to be a tough race but even still I underestimated just how hard it would be.
The best part about the course, in my opinion, is when it goes through Loantaka Park. Although it’s a bike path, by the time you reach this portion of the race the crowds have thinned out enough that it doesn’t seem too crowded. This portion of the course is shaded pretty heavily, mostly flat, and scenic. Unfortunately the course only briefly goes through the park. The rest of the course takes you past many nice homes in what I’m sure are extremely expensive neighborhoods, but as beautiful as some of the homes are, it’s not nearly enough to provide a diversion from all of those hills.
So what do you get for your registration money? In 2017, the first 3000 registrants got a bright yellow wicking t-shirt in addition to the medal, water and aid stations every 1.75 miles, personalized bibs, and photos at the finish (although I didn’t hear about this until after the race so I didn’t get one). Food at the finish was bagels, bananas, cereal bars, and water (alas, no chocolate milk).
I did enjoy seeing other people’s superhero costumes even though I didn’t dress up myself. There were many Wonder Women and Supermen on the course. Some of the more original costumes included Poison Ivy (from Batman) and Dr. Octopus.
The only thing I can say to explain my slow slog to the finish is the hills just were too much for me. Even though I did my long runs on a hilly route, and even had a breakthrough before the race, it wasn’t enough to prepare me for the hills of this race. My legs felt tired after the first two miles, and that was just when the hills were really getting going. I was doing great following the 2 hour pacer until the hills started getting intense, then the group got so far away from me I knew there was no way that was going to happen for me in this race. Usually I can make up some time in the last 5k of a half marathon, but by then I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was just to finish.
My sad stats are as follows:
Chip time: 2:13:46
Gender place: 337/667
Age Group place: 36/82
All I can say is, these women from New Jersey are FAST!
If you enjoy hilly half marathons that are pretty low frill, this one would be for you. There is also a relay option for the half marathon.