So I've been out here in Northern California for a week now on a company trip. The first thing I did when I found out that I was coming here was to look for races. destination Events runs a Wine Country race series and I just so happened to be here during the Napa to Sonoma race. This race had sold out in just under 24 hours, so I thought my hopes where shattered of getting in. I went on their Facebook page and managed to find someone willing to sell their race bib to me for just $80!!! This was a steal considering its cost was originally $135. Destination. events is one of the only race companies that I know of that allows for transfers of a race bib. Albeit there is a $20 fee for doing it, totally worth it.
I went to go to the packet pick up in San Francisco but the girl at the front desk said there was no packet pickup that day. Leaving frustrated I didn't know if I was going to get to run the race so I went ahead and sent an email to the race director email address posted on the site. I received a response within the hour telling me not to worry, but show up at the start line and they would have a bib for me. I made the 2-hour trek up to the Sonoma winery confident that I would get to run. Since there is no parking at the start line, they arranged for busses to take the runners to the start line. Not wanting to allow for any delay I went for the first bus at 5:15am. I got to the start line and they let me run with Anthony's bib. He is the person I bought it from.
I met with a few people on the bus ride over, which I never saw again but the conversation as good. I remember Michele and Susan being their names. Michele had just gotten engaged the night before so Congratulations to her and her future husband.
Bart Yasso was the master of ceremonies, followed by the national anthem. And the race was kicked off at 7:05am, just a few minutes late as we were waiting on some busses to drop off runners. I've never been at a rcw that he has been to. We finished near the same finish time, with I had gotten the chance to meet him but I never saw him on the course.
As we started down the initial downhill, it was quite crowded. Im not sure a steep downhill with 3,300 runners starting a race is a good idea, I'd probably change that if I was the race director. With that number of registered runners, and imagining that a few never showed up, this has to be a maximum and I hope they don't ever increase it. As far as my experience goes with other races, it seems to be a good number so the course does not get too crowded. I do wish some of the walkers would have chosen to run in the back of the pack since I started having to weave around them pretty much from the start.
There were a ton of people running/walking with Team Challenge and the coaches out there for them did a great job encouraging and pacing runners. As they encouraged others, I took that as encouragement. On a race with practically no spectators, this was a huge deal for me. They really don't have any spots for spectators but some of the locals were out watching and clapping and encouraging us onward. Water stations were well placed, I stopped at a portapottie once about half way through and missed the water station, my fault for not turning back, which would have probably helped me out. As far as the course goes, it was amazing! The scenery here really is the best I've run in. The views of the mountains, grape fields and the local ambiance was just unbeatable.
One family was out handing out Guinness around mile 11. I took it thinking from a distance that it was some sort of flavored sports drink, but glad they announced it was beer. Lots were taking it, I chose not to.
Considering i ran 8 miles late in the day before, I was happy with my finish time of 2:10:22. This was my slowest half-marathon out of 3. I was initially kind of bummed but after talking to a few other finishers, and being in agreement that it felt like the entire course was uphill, I was quite happy with that time. The net elevation gain/loss is -77′ starting at 159′ finishing at 82′ with maximum elevation at 220′.
I usually use Runtastic for tracking my runs, but since I had a 2 hour drive to the race needing GPS the entire way, and knowing I'd need it on the way back, I decided not to use it but instead enter the data on my way home. I did have music the entire way which was a big help.
I am excited to have had this opportunity, thanks to Anthony for selling his bib to me for so cheap! This one goes on the list of favorites.