So I ran the 2nd annual Across the Bay 10k Sunday morning and let me tell you… You want a FAST race with an amazing view?! This is definitely the race for you! BUT that comes with an asterisk. Let me explain.
I consider myself to be a highly experienced runner. 1 ultra, 13 full marathons (#14 coming up June 2016!), and I’ve lost count of how many half marathons and 5k’s…definitely double digits but I honestly have no clue. What I’m getting at is I’ve been at a few races, some appear to run perfectly smooth, ALL have room for improvement. Across the Bay 10k has quite a bit of room for improvement, but what race in their second year has all the logistics worked out, especially one as complicated as shutting down bridges and has grown immensely in popularity in its short little life. In all my races, only one has ever been as stunning at the starting line as Sunday’s race was. (Malibu International Half Marathon with my little brother – hard to beat dolphins jumping through the waves and a sunrise over the Pacific Ocean at the start line).
We had runners in multiple waves, but the earliest start wave was 7:20. I want to say we pulled into the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium around 6am. When you have a race that is going to be accommodating 20,000+ people, you have to expect lines and a wait for EVERYTHING. That’s. Just. Life. When it comes to races. We had no problem parking, no issues boarding shuttles, and arrived to our start line just in time to see the most spectacular sunrise over the Chesapeake with the Bay Bridge in all it’s glory. I mean… WOW!
The run itself was unbelievable. Pretty flat with a small incline for mile 1, mile 2 was a little more uphill (climbing the bridge) and then it was smooth sailing downhill the rest of the way. I felt like I was flying! As we were on the bridge, though – I became immensely appreciative that the organizers banned selfie sticks from the run. That was the biggest frustration, when runners ahead of you would stop suddenly and whip out their phone. This happened constantly. I’m not a very big mid-run-selfie person, especially in races like this where there are official photographers peppered all over the place and they’re going to take a WAY better photo than I ever will. So thank you, race directors for taking that out of the equation ahead of time!
Mile 3 and 4 on my MapMyFitness GPS fitness app showed sub-8-minute miles, which has never happened before! Mile 5 and 6 were mostly flat with a slight downhill right before the finish to bring you in strong… I had a huge smile on my face, as I was hoping to PR and get a sub 55-minute 10k and I knew that I had crushed both of those! My app said 51:43 and that just blew my mind! My official results were even better! 51:28!! Note to self, wait for official results before posting on social media!
Social media outrage afterward had me a bit conflicted. If you ask my honest opinion I would tell you this is a must-do race for anyone. I loved the experience, I loved the views, the volunteers were very well coordinated, and crushing your goals feels amazing! Are there areas for the organizers to improve on next year? Absolutely.
From my experience the biggest areas for improvement would be the expo (bib pickup and tshirt pickup NEED to be together, and bag drop should be right there with them), and the food bags at the finish (sorry guys, like many others – my bagels were moldy). Did this deter me from having a great experience? Not even a little bit. I especially loved their “cupless” water stations, because I’m studying sustainability and hate the waste and trash generated by races! Next year they should opt for paper bags at the finish and less pre-wrapped/single serve items, but hey – the cupless water station is a huge start! Especially being over the Chesapeake and it being a windy day… Could you imagine how many cups and garbage would have ended up in the water?!
My biggest advice to runners is to prepare. Prepare to arrive well in advance to your start time. This makes it easier on you and the organizers. If something goes wrong, or the shuttles get stuck in traffic or make a wrong turn, you still have time. No one likes pre-race panic! Prepare by putting a granola bar or snack in your bag drop so if they run out of food (seriously, this happens ALL the time) or don’t have options you like (or accidentally end up with moldy bagels), you know exactly what you have to look forward to because you were prepared. And most of all, prepare for delays. If there are 20,000 runners and probably almost as many spectators that ALL have to be shuttled there and back, you’re going to run into delays. Sit back, kick out a couple yoga postures to stretch and revel in your amazing accomplishment. Most of all… don’t slam the directors on social media. Yes, there is plenty that the organizers and directors need to know about your race experience, but there are far more appropriate ways to handle that.