Saturday, May 9, 2015

Frederick 5K and Half Marathon (Nut Job)

The Frederick Run Fest is an overall fantastic event.  While I may be partial since it is located so close to home, with all the races I have done over the last few years, it is definitely one of the best run, well organized and community supported events.

The Frederick Run Fest participants along with the Baltimore Running Festival to give runners a wide range of challenging opportunities.  The Frederick festival alone offers a 5K on Saturday night at 6PM along with the Half Marathon on Sunday morning.  There is also an option to split the Half Marathon into a Relay for runners that may not want to complete the entire 13.1 mile course.  Runners that attempt both the 5K and the full Half are entered into the Nut Job Challenge which grants them a second running medal (one for the half and one for the Nut Job challenge).  In addition, runners can sign up for the Maryland Double or the King Crab Challenge by running the Baltimore 10 Miler as well as the Baltimore Half.  Specifics on these combinations can be found on the Frederick and Baltimore Run Fest websites.

Waiting for the 5K to start
The Frederick Running Festival gives participants a number of packet pickup locations by utilizing Sports Authority stores throughout the Frederick and Baltimore area.  The final packet pickup takes place at the Race Expo on Saturday usually from 10AM until 5PM.  The 5K is also on Saturday night at 6PM, so runners participating in the 5K (or the Nut Job challenge) can simply pick up their packet and premium right before the race.

The 5K race is on a closed course with Police and volunteer protection.  It is an out and back that starts at the Frederick Fair grounds stadium, heads North to the intersection of Monocacy Blvd and E Church Street and then heads back.  For all you bare foot runners, be advised that the Fair Grounds stadium is finally granulated gravel since it is primarily used for horse racing.  While my friends that run barefoot state it isn't "great" it is certainly manageable.  The distance on this loose surface is about 0.4 miles on the way out and another 0.1 miles when you come back into the stadium to finish.

Strava Map of Frederick 5K
The facilities of the Fairgrounds are accessible on both race days which provides plenty of places to sit, get some shade, talk, plan your run or just relax.  There are numerous porta potties just outside the stadium area as well as bathroom facilities that are all open.  The runners village past the finish line has another large series of porta potties.

View of runners village at sunrise
The Half Marathon course starts in front of the Frederick Fair Grounds on E Patrick Street, passes through Downtown Frederick to the North, works its may back south and then along the linear park down Carroll Parkway, through an older community to the South, back North along the opposite of the linear part past Culler Lake along W 2nd Street, through an older large home community as you head North towards the Frederick Memorial Hospital where you continue North until you make a right onto Schifferstadt Blvd, passing through newer homes and then you head back South down East Street making your way into the back of the Frederick Fair Grounds stadium to the finish.

At the starting line waiting for Half Marathon to start
Overall the course is relatively flat with a total elevation gain of about 200ft.  35 Feet of it are over 0.2 miles when you are within sight of the finishing area.

Strava Map of Frederick Half Marathon
I can't say enough about how amazing the spectators are throughout the course.  Some are just cheering and holding signs, while other were blaring music and even offering water and snacks (strawberries, M&Ms, Bananas, and even beer).  With close to 1,000 volunteers helping out at the Expo Packet pickup ad the ample aid stations, things ran very smoothly throughout the day.  On average there is a water stop every 1.5 miles with Gu after the half way point.  For those doing the Half Marathon Relay, the exchange point is at approximately mile 7.8 on Fairview Ave.  I guess you have to flip a coin to see who gets the longer distance.

Half Marathon and Nut Job medals
The only area that I would like to see some improvement is the post race food.  Aside from the normal banana the variety isn't really there.  For me, I usually eat Gu Energy gels along the route (at least two for  Half Marathon), but could always use something extra at the end.  However, I am not a cracker or potato chip fan.  Races that offer trail mix, pizza, and even sandwiches are a very special treat.  Checkout the Gettysburg Half and the Freedom's Run for those kinds of post race refreshments.  But as always I can't wait for this event next year.

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