Training for my segment of the MS Run the US relay continues. I’m about 7 weeks out from when I start my segment in Wray, Colorado. The training is pretty heavy mileage right now. I mentioned in my previous post on the Hogeye Marathon, that I’m basically running a marathon every weekend to train for the relay. To keep things fresh, I’m trying to sign up for an actual marathon once a month until my relay. This is also a great chance for me to experience new races and places.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to St. Louis Missouri to run the the GO! St. Louis marathon. This was my first time running a marathon in Missouri; I’m slowly adding more states! I don’t have a specific goal of running all 50, but its fun to see how many I can get. Back to the marathon…
Saturday morning the family and I headed from the hotel to the nearby arena to go pick up my race packet. After walking down to the arena, we realized we were at the wrong place. Silly me, I didn’t fully pay attention to where we were supposed to pick up the packet, and I just assumed it was the one by our hotel. Small town naivety – we don’t have that many arenas in Omaha. We walked back to our hotel and hopped into the car to head to the university, where the expo was actually being held. The expo was set up really well. Brooks had a booth set up outside where you could enter to win prizes. We walked away to two cool pairs of blue shades. The expo itself had the typical vendors and merchandise. I didn’t actually need anything, so I managed to go through my first race expo without making any purchases! There seemed to be a limited number of free samples compared to some of the other race expos I’ve been to. In all, the expo was set up really well and didn’t feel congested to get around. They had staff directing you where to go to keep the flow of traffic moving well. Unfortunately, I failed to get my picture with the banner because we had to exit a different door, so I could only snap a picture of my bib:
Race morning I was up early to get a few miles in before the marathon started. I explored around the Gateway Arch Park before I headed to the start area. Check out this gorgeous picture:
The race was scheduled to start at 7:00am. The weather was looking perfect – mid 50’s and partly cloudy. Oh yes, a runner’s dream! The start area was in a big city park, so there was plenty of room for all of us runners. I hopped into my start corral a few minutes before the race start. I found some friendly faces and we started chatting as each of the corrals were released to start the race. We were surprised at how quickly we were moving toward the start line. There have been other races that I’ve participated in where it took me almost a half hour to reach the start line. In this case, 10 minutes!
The course itself had been re-designed this year, which by the way was also the 15 year anniversary of the Go! St. Louis marathon. We started downtown and ran toward the river. We crossed the EADs bridge going into Illinois, and then came back into Missouri via the MLK bridge. We were greeted with gorgeous views of downtown St. Louis and the arch. The bridges seemed to be a little crowded, and I can see where it might have been difficult to maintain a race pace if I were looking to PR. We wound our way through various neighborhoods and then around the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. They even had a Clydesdale out!! A few miles later we were greeted with the chocolate station where they were handing out dark chocolate perils! Yum!! Although those little perils were tricky to get out of my teeth while running. The course made its way back to the park where the start area was, so the half marathoners could finish. It’s always so tempting to cut off at that halfway point when you see it. But, I kept going! Somehow I missed my family here, so they agreed to meet me later on the course around mile 17.
The second half of the course was pretty nice and was set up as an out and back. We ran out to Forest Park, which proved to be a little hillier than I had expected. After reading that the course had been redesigned to be flatter, I assumed that referred to the entire course, but it seems it was more directed for the first half. The hills were all manageable though, nothing too steep. As far as the number of runners goes, there was a dramatic decrease after the half way point. I really enjoyed the views around the park, especially the area surrounding The Muny. I loved reading all of the banners for upcoming shows, and the park was really pretty. Volunteers and spectators along the course were awesome! I’m so impressed at the enthusiasm they exude, hours into an event like this. Volunteers and spectators are one of the elements than can really make a race event stand out.
The finish line was back at the park where we had started and the half marathoners finished. There was a ton of great post-race food options available – fried ravioli, Ted Drewes ice cream sandwiches, PB&J graham crackers, bars, and typical post-race food options. Ice cream used to be a regular post-race splurge for me, but I haven’t had it in quite some time. I saw these sandwiches though, and knew I had to have one! It was delicious and worth every single bite!! Too bad I ate it too fast to get a picture of it.
Overall, I would absolutely recommend this race to my running friends. The course does a great job highlighting the community and it seemed very well organized. There’s also a ton of fun things to do while visiting St. Louis, so bring the family along and make it a vacation!
Here I am post-race with my medal – 18 marathons done!
Do you travel out of town for races? What do you look for when selecting a race? Let me know in the comments below!