Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Atlanta Craft Classic Half Marathon on September 10 as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to run the inaugural Atlanta Craft Classic Half Marathon as a BibRave Pro. I was super pumped to meet some fellow BibRave Pros and run this new race in Atlanta.
So last Thursday, I headed over to Road Runner Sports in Buckhead to pick up my race number, shirt and other goodies. I was pleasantly surprised at the extra stuff you get for the race. All runners received a commemorative tee (or tank), finisher’s medal, race pint glass, sunglasses, free race photos and post-run beer! Now I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I’ll take free sunglasses and race photos anytime!
All in all, the race number/shirt pickup was very easy with plenty of free parking, which is always nice in Atlanta.
The race start/finish was down in Grant Park, which is about 20 minutes south of where I live in Atlanta. The race start was at 7:30am, but the race instructions mentioned parking might be a little tight in the park. I had asked one of the guys at Road Runner Sports and he said to expect about 1500 total people between the half marathon and 5K. So I decided to get down there between 6:15-6:30 to be sure I had plenty of time to park.
I ended up sitting in my car for about 30 minutes before making my way over to the race start to meet up with several of the BibRave Pros that were running the race. After meeting up with Chad and Jessica and grabbing a group pic, we made our way to the starting line. We ended up splitting away from each other as we all had different race paces and goals for the race.
My goal was to use this as a long training run for the Chicago Marathon and not overdo it. Especially since I had run the Disneyland Half Marathon just 6 days before (recap coming soon!). Plus, I had looked at the course map and I could tell it was going to be quite hilly. And, of course, the weather in Atlanta is still crazy hot and humid.
The race got started about 10 minutes late, which was a little annoying, but what can you do. Once we got going, I found myself in a nice solid groove, or so I thought. As I’m crossing the 5K mark, I look down at my watch and my pace is way too fast. Like a good 5 minutes faster than I should be running for a easy long training run.
I started pumping the brakes so I could conserve energy for the last 10 miles, but I knew I was going to be in for a tough one. Between the temperature rising and the hills that continued to come throughout the race, I started struggling by mile 8. Like majorly struggling. I started to have to take multiple walk breaks each mile. My pace slowed down a good 2 minutes per mile. I was exhausted.
Fortunately, the course took you through some pretty cool parts of Atlanta, from Turner Field and Inman Park to Virginia Highlands and Ponce City Market. This helped a little bit, as there was a lot to see as we were trekking along. We ended up on the Atlanta Beltline for about 2 miles towards the end, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. The Beltline was open to the community (as it should be), so there were quite a few other runners, bikers and walkers out. This made it quite a bit more congested than it should have been towards the end of the race.
As I made my way out of the Beltline and back toward Grant Park, my energy level was very low. I was taking fuel and hydrating correctly, but the humidity and hills had taken their toll. I crossed the finish line in under 2:30, which is quite slow for me during a half marathon, but after 5 grueling last miles I will take it.
I grabbed my medal, water and banana and decided to head back to my car and head home. I needed a shower and to get off my feet for a while. I was pretty bummed with my race, but more importantly with how much I struggled to run 13.1 miles when I’ve been training with 13-18 mile training runs all summer.
All in all (taking out the second half of my actual race), I was pleased with the overall race itself. The course, while very hilly, had a lot to see. There were plenty of police to help guide the runners and stop traffic. The crowd support wasn’t very strong until we got back to Grant Park and the finish line, but honestly the race itself wasn’t very large and it’s the first year, so I wasn’t surprised.
I would definitely recommend this race to someone who wants to run a half marathon in Atlanta, with the understanding that it’s a pretty hilly race and in early September so it’s going to be hot.
Thanks to BibRave.com for giving me the opportunity to run this race and give my honest feedback!