Race InfoLocation: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Date: May 8th 2016
Distances: 26.2, 13.1, 10k, 5k, 1 mile
This is part two of the Earn Your Mittens Race Reports. Part one was the Wisconsin Marathon held 24 hours prior. If you're looking to fill a weekend like I was, this was a great option.
As I had mentioned in my prior post, I signed up for the Earn your Mittens a week out, so I looked up camp grounds in the area instead of searching for more expensive hotel options. I picked solely based on proximity to the race start and ended up at at Markin Glen Park. I made reservations over the phone for a grand total of $31. I was told that the park was built mainly for RV use but all I needed was a place to crash. The park itself was large with a beach and plenty of trails. With more time I would have checked these out. We got into Kalamazoo around 5pm set up the only tent in a sea of RVs and headed to the expo.
This was easily the best expo I've been to since my first marathon (a Rock 'n' Roll event). Packet pick up was a breeze and there were plenty of free samples. The Mitteners got a light blue bib instead of the darker blue that the other marathoners received. I think most people in the race had no idea what the light blue meant, but it made it easy for me to pick out other Mitteners.
This race had multiple "challenges." One was 50 states, where if you were the first person to sign up from your state you were included in the group. 45 out of 50 states were there although I never fully grasped the benefits of being in this group. Then there were the Half and Half-ers, (back to back halfs with either Wisconsin or Indy on Saturday then Kalamazoo Sunday), and then the Mitteners (back to back fulls). We all had to gather 40 minutes before the race started for group pictures. The Half and Half-ers had just under 200 people sign up and the Mitteners were at 100. I have no idea how many people finished both races but below is how many showed up for the group photo.
Start - Mile 13.1
My goal was to run until the halfway point and just figure it out as I went from there. I've done back to backs in the past but the longest I typically do on a second day will be 13. For much of April I would do a 20 miler on Saturday with 7-13 either on Friday or Sunday. So back to back 26.2s was a jump but it was definitely doable. There were some ups and downs with how I was feeling in these miles, thus, I relied heavily on sticking with the 4 hour pace group to distract myself. I was also looking for other Mitteners on out and back sections which helped the time of the first half pass pretty quickly.
13.1 - Finish
At the halfway point I stopped to walk and take a gel. I had planned this and had been looking forward to it for a while. From here I scaled my pace back and took it easy. I talked to quite a few different runners and enjoyed the company. I wanted to finish before the next pace group, which was 4:15.
Final Time: 4:13:05
What I Ate Since there was no way I'd be breaking any records at this race (and I somehow managed to leave my gel belt in the car after being dropped off!) I ate just about everything that was offered to me. This included:
- 1 strawberry wafer
- Bacon at the halfway point
- 2 Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies
- 1 popsicle
- 1 orange slice
- 3 gels
At the finish line I got iced wrapped around my right knee by medical because it had taken quite a beating over the past 2 days. From there I headed to the food tent to redeem my free BBQ food voucher that all the Mitteners got. Regular racers/spectators could purchase the food for a reasonable price. The event was sponsored by Arcadia Brewery, who offered beer for purchase at the finish. It even came in a Kalamazoo marathon souvenir cup.
This was a extremely well planned race. Although Kalamazoo isn't usually considered a "destination location," I would consider doing this race again just due to how thorough the race directors were.
Race Shirt and Medals
The medal on the left is the special Earn Your Mittens finishers medal. The race bib was also specific for Mitteners.