McKenzie River Half Marathon, Oregon- 36th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Oregon was my 36th state.

I thought I had chosen my Oregon half marathon well in advance and everything was taken care of.  About a month before the race, my daughter informed me she would like to run a 5K in Oregon when I ran my half marathon, so I went to the website to register her and myself (I just hadn’t gotten around to registering myself but since it was a small race I wasn’t worried about it) and I had some questions about the 5K.  I emailed the race director, who got back to me within a half an hour saying the race was cancelled and wanted to know what website I was getting my information from (since it needed to be updated).

I was in a panic.  What do you mean the race has been cancelled?  I have my flights, hotel, car all reserved.  We’re going there next month!  She asked me if I might be interested in another half marathon in Eugene that just happened to be that same weekend, only instead of Saturday like the one I thought I was going to run, this one was Sunday.  I looked up the McKenzie River Half Marathon online.  It was perfect.  I signed up immediately and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

But then I began to realize just how crazy runners are in Eugene, Oregon.  Eugene is the birthplace of Nike.  It’s where the famous runner Steve Prefontaine “Pre” was from.  I would be dead last against all of these die-hard runners.  I had to let all of that go and just focus on running my best race, which wasn’t easy.  At packet pickup at the Hilton Garden Inn in Springfield, I asked someone there about the course and was told, “It’s not bad at all.  It’s pretty flat with some rolling hills.”  In my experience, rolling hills = HUGE NON-STOP HILLS. That’s pretty much how I describe the course- uphill except for the first 2 miles and the last mile.  No downhill at all.  Yes, these Eugene runners are crazy.

The race starts at Emerald Dance Center in Springfield (with shuttles dropping people off here due to limited parking) and ends inside Armitage Park in Eugene.  The course goes through the Hayden Bridge neighborhood then to Old Mohawk Rd and McKenzie View Dr. before ending at Armitage Park.

Click here for a GPS COURSE MAP.  When I checked out the course elevation profile from the race website, it didn’t look too terribly bad, but when I was actually running the course it seemed pretty difficult.  It’s funny how they are often deceptive like that.  Despite all of the hills, I managed to finish third in my age group, winning a nice beer glass.

Shirts were available for purchase (not included in the registration fee) and I chose not to get one this time.  The medals were unique and nice, however.  There was a lot of food and drinks at the finish from the usual bananas and fruit to pizza, soup, Gatorade, and beer.

Note, my husband, who takes all of my race photos had issues with the camera so I only have two photos from the race and neither are that great.

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A couple of days before the race, my family and I flew into Portland and from there it was a little over a 2 hour drive to Eugene.  After the race we drove to Bend (about 2 1/2 hours) and did a ton of hiking there.  Bend is a really fun place if you love outdoor activities.  For things to do in Eugene and Bend see my post: Central Oregon-Eugene and Bend.  I also recommend going to Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area before or after the race to see multiple waterfalls.

From my post-race notes:  “McKenzie River Half Marathon started in Springfield and finished in Eugene.  Was flat for the first 2 miles and last mile, but was uphill for the rest. Was extremely difficult because of the hills but was pretty scenic, going past farms with glimpses of the river here and there.  The weather was good- overcast and in the low 40’s at the start and upper 50’s at finish.  No spectators and only a few aid stations along the course.  Didn’t receive a shirt since it wasn’t part of the entry fee (could have bought one but I didn’t) but did receive a nice medal.  Finished third in my age group so I won a beer glass.  Very nice array of food and drinks at the finish- pizza, beer, Gatorade, fruit, energy bars, soup.  Was one of the toughest races I’ve ran.  Finished in 2:02:32.”

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McKenzie River Half Marathon and 5K

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Dixville Half Marathon, New Hampshire- 35th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. New Hampshire was my 35th state.

Before I chose this race, my daughter’s best friend from grade school had recently moved several states away from us to Vermont.  My daughter missed her greatly and kept asking when she could go and visit her.  I had already ran a half marathon in Vermont (Covered Bridges Half Marathon, Vermont-9th state) but I hadn’t ran one in New Hampshire.  I knew how close parts of Vermont and New Hampshire can be so I started looking up half marathons in New Hampshire.  Beyond belief, I found a race about a half an hour from my daughter’s friend’s house- the Dixville Half Marathon in Colebrook, New Hampshire.

Most people probably have no idea where Colebrook is or what there is to do there.  Let me save you the trouble and tell you it is in the far northernmost corner of New Hampshire, bordering on Vermont, and about 45 minutes from the Canadian border.  It is a very remote portion of the United States, sparsely populated, with not much to do.  I had a very hard time finding a decent place for my family and I to stay, with such limited availability, and there are only a handful of restaurants anywhere within a 20-30 minute drive of Colebrook.  However, as I mentioned, Colebrook is close to the Canadian border and Montreal is only about 2 and 1/2 hours away by car.  I can’t recommend visiting Montreal enough. The architecture, food, and things to do are all unique and well-worth a visit. See Montreal, a City Unlike Any Other.

The Dixville Half Marathon is a very low-key race as you might imagine, being in such a small town.  You can expect 100-200 people for this race most years.  The 40th annual Dixville Half Marathon was September 24, 2016.  It just goes to show even small towns can keep a race going for many years with enough support!  Packet pickup was at Coleman State Park the day of the race.  We received a long-sleeve t-shirt of nice quality but nothing extraordinary.

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The nights get quite chilly in northern New Hampshire the end of September and I was glad the race didn’t start until 10:30 am, since it allowed some extra time to warm up just enough for nice running weather.  The race begins on Diamond Pond Road but the majority of the course is on Route 26, with parts along the Mohawk River.  With the fall foliage at its peak, the scenery is nice as you wind along the countryside at a very gradual downhill descent.  There are views of farms, barns, and pasture but not much else including spectators.

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The course drops by about 1,200 feet in elevation, with the last stretch going through town streets of Colebrook and finishing at the North Country Community Recreation Center. All runners have free access to the recreation center to change and take a shower after the race.  This race is so small and low-key the race wasn’t even chip-timed.  I did manage to finish second in my age group, so I won a silver medal.  Medals weren’t given out to all of the finishers; only the top three in each age group.  Food at the finish was the usual bananas, bagels, etc. but there was some food available for purchase that was more filling. They also had music with a local band and it was a nice day so we hung out for a while on the grounds of the recreational center, after I took a shower and changed into dry clothes.

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The finish (the blue tent)!
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How many of you have seen one of these at a race?

From my post-race notes:  “Dixville Half Marathon was called “a scenic, downhill course along the Mohawk River,” but while there were some downhill portions, also had many steep uphill portions so it was quite difficult. There were no spectators along the course, even where possible (by homes or businesses), only volunteers with water/Gatorade. Last tenth of a mile was up a hill. Finished in 1:57 (was not chip timed). Long-sleeve unisex shirts were on the large size and were ok, food was average, and the only medals were for top three in age groups. I finished second in my age group so I did get a silver medal, which looked like an average race medal. Weather was perfect for the majority of the race but was getting hot by the end (mid-60’s).  Was nice to have a shower on-site at the finish.  Hung out for a bit on the grounds of the rec center and listened to some local music.”

Dixville Half Marathon

Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon, South Dakota- 34th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. South Dakota was my 34th state.

When researching half marathons for my race in South Dakota, I’ll admit I wasn’t really looking forward to running a race in the state after finding North Dakota so plain and unexciting; see Bismarck Marathon, North Dakota-16th state.  Fairly quickly into my research, I found out just how different two adjacent states can be.  South Dakota is home to the Black Hills, Badlands National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, the Missouri River, Historic Deadwood, and Mount Rushmore (all of which my family and I visited and recommend). Travel South Dakota link

South Dakota is an outdoors lover’s paradise and my family and I loved every minute of our vacation here before and after the race.  I also loved this race and highly recommend it. As far as getting to Spearfish Canyon, the easiest way to get here if you’re flying is to fly into Rapid City and pick up a rental car.  It’s about an hour’s drive from Rapid City to Spearfish Canyon.  We stayed the night before the race at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge in the Berry Patch Cabin and it was awesome.  Rapid City is also a great place to stay if you’re exploring the area, since it’s less than an hour by car to the majority of places I listed in the previous paragraph.

The Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon is an annual fundraiser which benefits the abused and neglected children through the Northern Hills Area Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program.  Pre-packet pickup was about the most sparse I’ve ever seen in all of my races.  It is at the CASA office in Spearfish and there was only one person there handing out shirts (technical, unisex short-sleeve) and bibs.  That’s it.  Nothing else.  No expo.  No bag filled with junk you didn’t really want anyway.  I like it.  Don’t come here for the bling, though, or you will be disappointed.

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At 7 am on race day, the course begins at the top of the beautiful Spearfish Canyon in Savoy in the northernmost section of South Dakota’s Black Hills National Forest and finishes at the bottom in Spearfish City Park.  When I was running the race I remember constantly telling myself how lucky I was to be able to run through this gorgeous canyon. Although the course is net downhill starting around 5,000 feet above seal level and dropping about 1,300 feet by the finish, it doesn’t feel too steep on your quads.  The race is held in July every year and while you can expect it to be hot, because the race goes through a canyon surrounded by mountains, it is a bit cooler and there is abundant shade.

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I actually set a PR (personal record) for myself on this course.  I was a bit concerned about running at 5,000 feet above sea level but I didn’t feel any more out of breath than I normally would at a race or have any other elevation-related side effects.  In fact, I remember checking my watch throughout the race and being surprised that I was able to sustain the pace I was and yet I felt great!

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From my post-race notes:  “Started at the top of a canyon and went downhill into the town of Spearfish.  It was a high elevation course and was very hot (70’s at the start, mid 80’s at finish) but was one of the most scenic races I’ve ever ran.  Virtually no spectators and just a few aid stations, but that wasn’t an issue.  Shirt was plain as was the medal.  Usual food at finish.  Passed a lot of people especially last few miles.  Finished in 1:55:28, which is my fastest finish time to date!”

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Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon & 5K

Target Beauty Box- Travel Tip for Packing

For you guys who see this and think you’ll skip reading this post because it has “beauty” in the title, let me try to convince you to keep reading.  How many of you have been “asked” by your significant other to carry one or more of their bags when traveling because they have packed so much stuff?  This post is really about minimizing what you pack and one way to do that is with Target’s Beauty Box.  Whether or not you buy Target’s Beauty Boxes, you can pass along this information to your significant other and even friends, co-workers, siblings, your mother, or anyone else you know who travels.

Truth be told, I haven’t checked a bag with an airline in years.  Even when we flew to New Zealand from the east coast of the United States, and were there for over 2 weeks, I only had one carry-on bag plus a small backpack; see New Zealand- My family’s North Island Adventure.

None of us from my family has checked a single bag in so long I can’t even remember the last time but most likely it was when my daughter was too young to carry her own bag.  Not only has this saved us money, it’s also saved us time by not having to wait at the baggage carousel after our plane lands.  We just get off the plane and go straight out of the airport. For more on packing see Never Check a Bag with an Airline Again.

One way I’ve been able to pack minimally is with help from the Target Beauty Box products.  Not to say this alone is going to radically change the way you travel but I look at it as a time-saver because I don’t have to refill those tiny bottles before a vacation and it’s a fun way to explore new products.

About once every season, Target releases what they call a Beauty Box filled with travel-friendly products Target Beauty Box link.  These are typically higher quality products of anything from shampoo to lotion to makeup and hair styling products.  The boxes range in price around $7-$10 and includes free shipping.

I have been receiving the Target Beauty Box for about a year now and have been happy with most of the products I have received.  There was a lipstick that wasn’t my shade in one box but it was a nice quality lipstick, just not my color.  I’ve often received full-sized products, especially for things like mascara and lipstick and a couple of times for shampoos and lotions, but for the most part, the shampoos, conditioners, and lotions have been 100 ml or less, which is perfect for travel, especially on airplanes.

Without any further ado, here is the latest beauty box:

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L’Oréal Advanced HairCare Volume Filler Thickening Shampoo
This rich formula permeates and expands every strand to make hair look and feel twice as thick.

Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Beautiful Day Cream
Alpine rose stem cells, pomegranate, hyaluronic acid and aloe vera nourish, tighten and revive skin on a cellular level.

HASK Keratin Protein Soothing Deep Conditioner
Moisture-rich ingredients work to repair damaged, over-processed hair while helping reduce breakage and static.

Laneige Water Bank Soothing Mask
A non-slip sheet mask infused with hydro-ionized mineral water that delivers intense moisture while soothing skin.

W3LL People Bio Brightener Stick
This illuminating cream creates an instant glow with premium natural ingredients and organic botanicals.

L’Oréal Voluminous Primer
A lightweight primer that enhances mascara, helping it go on smoothly for visibly longer, thicker lashes.

Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner
A retractable, waterproof pencil (with a built-in sharpener) that keeps lines neat all day long.

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This is what I would call a typical Target beauty box as far as contents included.  I usually don’t use eyeliner so this is the only product that I may end up giving to a friend, but I’m pretty happy with the rest of the products.  I’ve been saving up my previous beauty boxes for an upcoming vacation and will definitely be taking them along.  When you pack light every little bit helps!

Frederick Half Marathon, Maryland- 33rd state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Maryland was my 33rd state.

Frederick, Maryland is located about an hour north of Washington, D.C. and about the same distance from Baltimore, Maryland.  There are over 30 half marathons to choose from in Maryland throughout the year with the majority of them in Annapolis.  However, I needed a half marathon in May and the Frederick Running Festival was a perfect choice.  My daughter had commitments at school for surrounding weekends before and after this race.  Since she and my husband have always gone to my races with me, I was lucky enough to find this race on a weekend that worked for us.

My daughter’s teacher at the time was always asking me when she would see me about my races and what race I had next.  When I told her I was running this one she told me her niece was the race director.  What a small world!  This race was one of the best organized races I have ever ran from packet pickup and expo to the course and volunteers to the finish.  The Frederick Running Festival has many options for races, such as the Nut Job Challenge if you run the 5k and the half marathon.

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The weather that day was perfect for racing- mid 40’s at the start and 60’s by the end so it was in the 50’s for the majority of the time of the race.  People in the neighborhoods through which we ran were fantastic supporters.  Many of them were out cheering us on and handing out water, oranges, candy, and one guy was handing out cups of beer!  The volunteers on the course were plentiful and actually seemed like they knew what they were doing (not to bash volunteers at other races; I love them, even if they don’t know what to do).

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At the finish, there was the usual bananas, bagels, water, etc. but also runners were treated to up to two beers each.  Often after a race I don’t have the energy to hang out and just want to get back to my room to take a shower and relax, but for this one I actually had my two beers and relaxed.  The weather was perfect and it was a nice sunny spring day.  The shirt we received was a long-sleeve technical one with thumb holes- perfect for chilly spring or fall runs.

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When I was looking at things to do in and around Frederick, the riots had just started going on in Baltimore.  See background info here:  Baltimore riots.  We were going for a long weekend the first weekend of May.  The state of emergency wasn’t lifted until May 6 so we would have been there during the chaos had we chosen to go to Baltimore.  We decided to go to Annapolis instead and spent one night there after the race. Given the circumstances it was definitely a smart move.  It turned out we had a great time in Annapolis and possibly enjoyed it more than we would have enjoyed Baltimore anyway.   We visited the United States Naval Academy Museum and found it even more interesting than we initially thought it would be.  Honestly, we just enjoyed walking around Annapolis and taking in the scenery.  There are many historical buildings and unique local shops.  May is a perfect time to visit as well since it’s before the heat and humidity of the area really kick in.

From my post-race notes:  “Frederick Half Marathon was a very scenic and mostly flat course, with the only significant hill being at mile 12.  Was perfect weather at the start (44 degrees) but got warm quickly and was pretty warm at the end (mid to upper 60’s).  Course was through nice neighborhoods with flowering trees and many people were out cheering from their front yards; some people had fruit, water, or other snacks for runners and one guy even had cups of beer for runners.  Volunteers were plentiful and exceptional.  Course was very well done as was the race in general; very well-organized.  Good quality long-sleeve men’s or women’s fitted technical shirts and nice medals.  Usual food at finish but also included 2 beers.  We hung out for a bit afterwards.  Felt strong at end and passed many people last 3 miles.  Finished in 1:59:48, which is my best finish time in quite a while.  I really enjoyed this race!”

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Frederick Running Festival

Never Check a Bag with an Airline Again

There are many reasons to not check luggage with airlines.  The most obvious ones are the cost savings and not having to worry about the airlines losing your luggage.  By not checking luggage, you also don’t have to wait around at the baggage claim after your plane has landed.  It’s nice to just step off the plane and leave the airport immediately.

For me, the biggest reason why I stopped checking luggage when I fly is that I was worried about my suitcase not reaching my destination or not reaching it on time.  I run half marathons and have the goal of running one in every state.  I’ve ran 39 half marathons in 37 states to date so I’ve traveled to races quite often.  Initially, I would wear my running shoes so I knew I would at least have those but I would worry if all of my running clothes and other racing gear would actually make it to my destination with me or if my bag would get lost by the airline.

The first time I tried not checking a bag when I flew, I had a wheeled duffel-type bag.  It was definitely nice having all of my things with me the entire time on the airplane and to just grab my bag and leave the airplane.  However, it still wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

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My black Patagonia bag along with my clothes plus running gear

I did a lot of research on travel bags and ultimately decided to get a soft-sided bag that can be worn as a backpack or a cross-body bag using a strap or even like a briefcase using handles.  I bought the MLC (stands for Maximum Legal Carry-On) by Patagonia and have loved it.  You can buy it from ebags here: Patagonia Headway MLC.  It is a 45 liter bag that weighs only 3 pounds.  It has multiple zippered compartments, with the main one opening fully for easy packing and unpacking.  The nylon material is super-tough and my bag still looks brand new even though it’s been all over the United States with me including Canada three times, Germany, Austria, Greece, and New Zealand.  Even on the smallest of airplanes, I’ve never had to gate-check my bag.  My husband and daughter who both have small wheeled carry-ons have had to gate-check their bags on small planes however.

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My clothes plus a pair of flip-flops in a large packing cube

There is a great debate going on whether you should roll or fold your clothes.  Personally, I roll mine and combine that with packing cubes.  You can also buy packing cubes at ebags here:  Packing Cubes.  I have the three piece set that includes a large one, medium, and smaller one.  These packing cubes are guaranteed for life under the ebags lifetime warranty.  I’m not part of any affiliate programs and I don’t get any kind of money or anything for mentioning these things here.  I just have had great experiences with them and have been very pleased with my Patagonia bag and packing cubes.

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Running clothes, running belt with bottles, watch, charger

The great thing about having different sizes of packing cubes is I can pack all of my running clothes and everything else race-specific that I have together in the medium cube then come race prep I can just pull out that cube and I don’t have to hunt for things in my suitcase.  I pack the rest of my clothes including shirts, pants, socks, underwear, and bathing suit in the large cube.  My family and I use the small cube for food-related items like napkins, hand wipes, extra spoons, etc.  Another great thing about rolling your clothes and putting them in packing cubes is when you get to your destination and unpack, your clothes won’t be wrinkled.  I always ended up with very wrinkled clothes when I tried the various ways of folding them.

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My running gear neatly zipped up in a medium packing cube

One big tip for packing lightly is to only pack one week’s worth of clothes.  When I went to New Zealand for 16 days (New Zealand- My family’s North Island Adventure), I only packed one week’s worth of clothes and did laundry at the end of the first week.  It’s really not as difficult or as much of a hassle as some people might think to do laundry on vacation.  Many hotels, hostels, and resorts have laundry facilities available on-site and many places in the United States through Airbnb have a washer and dryer you can use.  If that’s not an option, you can drop off your clothes at most hotel or hostel front desks or at a local dry cleaner although those options will be more expensive than doing it yourself. I’ve never had to resort to going to a laundromat to wash clothes while on vacation, but that would be another option.

Another way to save space in your carry-on luggage is to pack toiletries lightly as well.  A fun way I’ve found to do this is with the Target Beauty Box.  It allows me to try new products, most of which fit into a small quart-sized ziplock bag.  Most hotels and inns also come stocked with a hair dryer in the bathroom so you don’t need to bring yours and leaving that out will save a ton of space.

Finally, one way to not take up so much space in your luggage is to have an e-reader or if you’re like me and really just prefer good old-fashioned paper books, only bring one small paperback.  If you finish reading it during your vacation, take it to a local Goodwill or other donation center and buy another one.  There are many options for book exchanges. Just ask some locals or at the front desk where you are staying.  Chances are good they have books there you can borrow during your stay.

The longest vacation I’ve ever packed for with carry-on luggage only is 3 weeks.  For that case, I was staying in three different places, each for about a week each.  I made sure there was a washer and dryer at the first and last place so I would have to do laundry twice, but to me that’s far and away better than having to check luggage and deal with all of the hassle and stress involved with that.

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My Patagonia bag with my packing cubes and 2 pair of shoes inside

So what all did I fit inside this bag?  Here’s the list:

6 shirts, 1 pair jeans, 1 pair shorts, 6 pair undies, 6 pair socks, 1 pair flip-flops, 1 pair casual shoes, 1 pair pj’s, 1 bathing suit, 1 running shirt, 1 pair running shorts, 1 sports bra, 1 pair running socks, 1 sports watch and charger, 1 running belt with 2 bottles, 1 container sports drink mix, 1 pair running sunglasses, 1 running hat.  Usually I’ll pack more than one running outfit but for this particular instance I really only need one.  I’ll wear a light-weight jacket on the plane.  All of this will get me through a week, upon which point I will do laundry.

I have a small backpack in which I will put my toiletries which are mostly items I received from the Target Beauty Box in a quart-sized plastic bag, plus a hairbrush, toothbrush, my phone, wallet, camera, 1 small paperback book, and tablet.  Honestly, all of this would fit into my Patagonia bag, but I prefer to have a small backpack for hiking and things like that when I travel.  Oh, and of course I also have some snacks for the airplane and a water bottle in my backpack.  I don’t carry a purse when I travel by plane.  I’ve found it’s just not worth the hassle and I really don’t need it.

I’ve heard of people who travel for much longer- months or even up to a year with only carry-on luggage and they buy and discard things as needed along the way.  If they can do it for that long, anyone can for a couple of weeks or so for sure!

 

 

Roller Coaster Half Marathon, Missouri- 32nd state

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.”