This past weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the Delaware Running Festival, which provides runners with the increasingly available option of running in more than one race in a single weekend. The fun began on Saturday night with a 5k that started and finished at the same spot as the marathon, which made it perfect for shaking out my legs and to do a run through of the logistics of getting to the race start/finish line. The 5K was an out and back along the beautiful and historic Delaware Riverfront, covering some of the same ground as the next day’s half and full marathon. It was hard not to get swept up in the enthusiasm, and I might have run a bit harder than I planned to, but the post-race pizza helped get my marathon preparations back on track.
Temperatures dropped overnight, and half and full marathoners were met by cool but dry conditions at race time. The course retraced the 5K and then looped out towards beautiful parkland along Brandywine Creek. From there we faced a challenging climb that covered most of two miles, but were rewarded with a tour through the stately slate-roofed Tudor homes of Brandywine Heights, and a quick run down the row houses and restaurants of Wilmington’s Little Italy. While there wasn’t much spectator support, aid stations were stocked with water, Gatorade, and several flavors of sports gel, and the course was well-marked, with plenty of police support.
From Little Italy, we ran downhill from the park to the finish line, where marathoners set off on another loop. Not every racer likes a double-loop course, but I appreciated knowing what to expect, and having the chance to revisit my favorite spots in this small but charming city.
At the finish line festival, were were treated to pizza (again!) and beer, along with protein bars and the usual bananas. For those of you interested in bling, I earned a medal for completing the 5k, another one for finishing the marathon, and then yet another oversized one for being a “Dare Devil” by taking on both challenges – three medals for two races! The race premiums were short sleeved and long sleeved technical shirts by Under Armour, as well as branded beer glasses. But for me, the experience of enjoying a true race weekend on a memorable course was the best part.
For more information, go to http://www.delawaremarathon.org.