What You Need to Know
Packet Pickup: Yes. Packet pickup was at the New Balance store on Stickney Point Road on the Friday and Saturday before the race. Parking can be tricky in this busy area of town. There are two lots adjacent to the store. Pickup was an easy 3-part process; no bottlenecks. Received shirt and beer wristband. There was a tent sale in the parking lot.
Race Course: The half marathon began and ended at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. We ran on city streets, over the John Ringling Causeway bridge, around St. Armands Circle, back over (and under) the bridge, past the Kissing Statue, along the waterfront, through historic neighborhoods, then Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and finished by running Tamiami Trail back to Van Wezel.
It's a very pretty course, even in the dense fog. I love the historic Cherokee Park neighborhood with its huge shade trees.
Pacers: Yes. I saw pacers for 1:40 to 4:00 finish times.
Aid Stations: Yes. Water and Gatorade every 1.5 miles. Port-o-lets at every aid station. There were Glukos Energy chews and gels served buffet-style at 7 miles. Runners passed the Glukos table twice, so there were two opportunities to grab fuel.
Parking: Parking was FREE in the Van Wezel parking lot. Get there early, and you won't have any trouble getting a spot. There were more parking lots available a few blocks away.
Cost: Depends on when you register.
Half Marathon $49-$125
Special 2018 registration pricing available on race weekend was $49. The price was $60 from Feb. 6-12, 2017.
SWAG (Stuff we all get): Short sleeve tech shirt. Nice weight and fun colors. There was a Virtual Goodie Bag with discount offers available from Feb. 4-9.
Happy Surprise(s): Phone charging stations next to the starting corrals. Nice touch!
Random volunteers (in volunteer shirts) all along the course who cheered runners.
The priest who stood on the street splashing Holy Water on runners for the third year in a row. "Bless you, bless you!" "Thank you, Father!"
Girl Scout Cookies around mile 8. Yum!
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens looked beautiful. I literally walked through there because I didn't want to miss anything.
Post Race Festivities: Finishers received their medals, then headed to the picture spot, or down the stairs to the buffet.
Negotiating the stairs from the parking lot to the south lawn looked difficult for some people.
The four buffet lines moved quickly. It was a feast: eggs, muffins, french toast, potatoes, sausage, bacon, omelet station, coffee, ice water, fruit. The beer tent had a short wait, but not bad. Light and dark beer were offered.
There were vendors, massages for a fee, and results/registration tents. A live band played while runners relaxed on the lawn and patio.
Photos: Yes. Finisher Pix was on the course, and at the finish line. Runners received a link to pictures Tuesday morning. Pictures were available for a fee as digital downloads or prints.
Awards: The awards ceremony was short and sweet. The top three overall male and female finishers, and the top male and female in the masters (40+), grandmasters (50+), senior grandmasters (60+), and the super grandmasters (70+) were awarded live. Awards for the other age groups were picked up at a tent next to the Main Stage without ceremony.
Timing Chip: Yes. The chip was on the race bib. Digital displays were plentiful on the course, which was really nice.
Race results were available immediately by scanning the QR code on your bib.
Weather Report: February can be fickle when it comes to weather. This year was foggy and 50s. I was happy to wear my jacket over the bridge and after the race.
-> Cloudy the entire race
-> Dense, moist fog
-> Breezes on the bridge
-> Temps were low 50s to low 60s
Race Rating: A+