Monday, May 29, 2017

2017 Frederick Nut Job Challenge

This was my fourth time attending the Frederick Run Festival.  For the last few years I have been opting for the Nut Job Challenge, and this is the second time I am also doing the King Crab challenge.

The Nut Job challenge in Frederick is the Twilight 5K on Saturday night just after packet pickup at 6pm which makes this event very convenient, followed by the half marathon on Sunday morning.  This was the first year that the 5K event provided a finishers medal to all participants thanks to the generous support of Frederick Foot and Ankle.  I have used them a few times for issues and found them to be both effective, kind and very knowledgeable.  While they have several doctors in the practice I have been fortunate to deal with Doctor Brenna Steinberg.

The King Crab Challenge is in cooperation with the Baltimore Running Festival and provides for bonus bling for doing the Frederick Half Marathon, the Baltimore 10 Miler in June and then either the Baltimore Half or Baltimore Full Marathon in October.  You can also opt in for the BaltiMORON-a-thon which gives you an extra medal for doing the Baltimore 5K immediately before the Half Marathon; which I am doing this year.  So, all in all, if you max out on races and medals, you would get 9 in total.  Given for the following reasons:

  • Frederick Nut Job Challenge (3 medals in total; 5K, half marathon and bonus nut job medal)
  • Baltimore 10 Miler (1 medal)
  • BaltiMORON-a-thon (3 medals in total; 5K, half marathon and bonus BaltiMORON medal)
  • Bonus MD Double (1 medal for doing Frederick Half and Baltimore Half)
  • King Crab Medal (1 huge medal that is 2 lbs for doing the whole thing)

That is a lot of medals in total, so hopefully I am not calculating incorrectly.  You do have to be careful to sign up for all the special events to get all of these, not just the King Crab Challenge, so if you go for this next year, be careful.

I supported some family members this year, so it made the whole event a different experience.  In the past I have normally gone all out on the Frederick Half since this is the event where I hold my half marathon PR.  This year I ran the 5K with my daughter, and the half marathon with my wife who is training for a full marathon in January.

The 5K is a nice course and is basically and out and back with about 53 feet of elevation gain according to Strava.  As you can see from the map photo it is basically an out and back that starts and finishes on the horse track at the Frederick Fair grounds.

Frederick 5K Strava Elevation

This track is packed small gravel so if you are prone to getting rocks in your shoes, or you are a bare foot runner, keep this in mind.  All in all you will spend about a half a mile on the track.

Frederick 5K Strava Map
After you leave the track you head left on a relatively flat road until turning left on Monocacy Blvd just after the 1 mile mark.  After a few tenths of a mile you will benefit from a downhill run just under a half mile before making a 180 degree U-Turn and heading back up the hill the way you came.  There is one water stop on this hill at mile marker 1.5 or so.  This allows you to pass it twice (once downhill and then again uphill).  Once you re-enter the race track you head around to the left for the last tenth of a mile across the finish line.

My daughter and I on the course
There are a few photographers on the course and around the start and finish line.  This was the first year where photos were free to all participants which is great.  You can also purchase them at a very reasonable cost if you want versions without the banners.

The Frederick Half starts promptly at 7am on Sunday morning.  There is plenty of parking for this event if you arrive about an hour or so prior to the start time.  I really haven't had any issues in the past getting a space or leaving.  But this year, I did decide to park downtown in one of the parking decks since they are free on Sunday's until 2pm.  The closest deck off East street is about a mile from the starting line, so if you want a good warm up walk prior to running, I would recommend this.

As I mentioned earlier, I ran this event with my wife and followed her 30/30 intervals the entire time.  There is plenty of food and drinks on the course, so you really don't need to carry anything with you.  I did bring one Gu just in case.  Water stops are about every 2 miles (sometimes a little less), so again, no need to lug yourself down with water bottles on a belt or a hydration pack.  I saw many runners with both of these, and never understand why you would put yourself through that in a running event like this.

This is the second year of the new half marathon route, and even after my second time I still prefer the original course.  You can read last years post to get more background on why they change it if you are interested.

Overall the course is pretty flat given other events I do in the area.  According to Strava the overall elevation gain comes in right around 197 feet.  As you can see from the elevation chart below the gains are relatively spaced out with a noticeable gain right before mile 12.

Frederick Half Marathon Strava Elevation Chart

The Frederick Half is a great event.  It is very well run, organized and offers a lot of great scenery.  Crowd and volunteer support is off the hook and everyone is very friendly.  For those that like to indulge Dunkin Donuts provides small cups of Munchkins just past mile marker 4.

The course takes runners through some great areas.  After leaving the starting line in front of the fair grounds on East Patrick Street you make a left onto East street and start to head out of town.  You turn right on Monocacy Blvd going past Key Stadium and then right onto Stadium Drive.  You will find Mount Olivet cemetery on your left.  This is a beautiful area where Francis Scott Key as well as other well known figures are buried.

After passing the cemetery you will find yourself turning left and heading down the famed Frederick Market Street.  There are a lot of spectators in this section as residence are out enjoying coffee as you go by.  As you head further into town you will pass the numerous bars, restaurants and shops the town has to offer.

Frederick Half Marathon Strava Map

You work your way all the way north to 6th Street where you hang a left, then a quick second left as you go downhill on Bentz Street.  You then turn right onto Carroll Pkwy and wrap yourself around Frederick's largest park.  Just after mile 5 you make a quick left onto Kline Blvd and start to head into one of the small communities near the park.  This is a slight uphill grade for the next mile or so.  After turning right onto Fairview Ave you will begin to head back downhill and towards the park area again.

Almost back to Baker Park

You will make a right onto West 2nd Street and head back down the other side of the park area eventually passing the newly renovated Culler Lake.  The next couple of miles is fairly flat through the older area of Frederick just South of Hood College.  Just past the tennis courts you turn left onto Dulaney Ave and then a quick left onto 3rd Street.  You will pass some beautiful old homes in the downtown Frederick area during these 2 miles or so.  In fact, after turning right onto Upper College Terrace you will pass one of my two favorite houses in Frederick.

You will cross over Rosemont Ave and head into Hood College.  As you exit Hood College this is where the Half Marathon Relay exchange point is located.  This happens right around mile 7.7 so if you are doing the relay be sure not to get that leg of the race unless you are feeling generous.

After you leave the exchange area you turn right and work your way counter clockwise around Frederick Memorial Hospital.  You cross over 7th Street and go down a few back roads before making a right onto Fairview Ave again.

You cross over Motter Ave and then turn left onto the North side of Market Street turning right on 16th Street and heading East out of Frederick. Within this area between mile markers 9 and 11.5 things are relatively downhill.  After 16th Street you hang a right onto Schifferstadt Blvd.

In order to get the 13.1 miles in you have to do a quick out and back on South Street before heading right back onto Monocacy Blvd and up the last hill of the race.  This is the same hill you ran on the 5K if you participated in the event, so you already know you can do it.  At this point you take the same route back as the 5K except this time after entering the race track you go counter clockwise the long way before crossing the finish line.

Frederick Half Marathon and Nut Job Challenge Medals

If you did the Nut Job challenge you will be presented with the Half Marathon medal as well as the Nut Job Challenge medal as you enter the race area.  I didn't take a photo of the 5K medal but is is similar to the Half Marathon medal, just smaller.  The Nut Job medal changes about every two years.  This is the first year of this design.

Crossing the Half Marathon finish line
Overall this is a great event, in a wonderful location.  I highly recommend this race to all my running buddies that are within 2 hours.  It is totally worth the drive.  And frankly it is even worth staying over on Saturday night so you can do the Nut Job challenge and after the half go grab a quick shower and have lunch/brunch in one of the amazing local restaurants.  You won't be disappointed.

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