My friend Ann is very well-known member of both the running community and the yoga community here in Charlottesville. She is the founder of the "Runners Love Yoga" movement/philosophy, which promotes yoga as a way to make you a stronger, faster, and less-injured runner.
Ann contacted me about the Downtown 1 Mile, a few weeks before the race. She told me that Runners Love Yoga was holding a Healthy Living Expo, and there was going to be a one mile race that went along with the Expo. Notus Sports, the company hosting the race, was looking for some bloggers in the area that would write about the race and Expo.
I was very excited to be involved, but also a little nervous, considering the fact that I had barely run at all since the 10 Miler in March. I was of course honored that I was asked to participate in a race, for free!
Fast forward a few weeks, and it was the day of the race. It has been threatening to rain all day, and I was really hoping it would hold off. I'm not sure I would have ended up running if it really did rain! I had all of my clothing options lined up, as usual, in preparation.
I got downtown early, so I could walk around, and check out the other race groups. You signed up for a specific type of 1 mile race. The first race was a team relay, that was timed and scored. This was followed by both the family race, and the non-competitive run/walk. Both of these options were supposed to be timed, but not scored, so you wouldn't see your results. The next race was the middle school mile, which was timed and scored for all middle school runners. Finally, the elite races were run for men and women separately, and these of course were timed and scored.
When I signed up, I wasn't sure which group to put myself in. The previous year was the first year this race was held, and it looked like it had been consolidated into one group, since there was a wide range of recorded times. I'm clearly not an elite runner, and never would have put myself in that group normally. However, I did want an official recording of my time, and it appeared that this was the only way I could get it.
They had a bunch of volunteers from Notus Sports to help out with registration
Some runners from the family/non-competitive race. Check out the runner wearing a Runners Love Yoga singlet (bright blue tank)!
As predicted, I finished dead last! Thankfully I wasn't too far behind the person in front of me - otherwise that would have been pretty embarrassing. The first women finished in just about 5 minutes - Ann came in 3rd place, even though she was helping organize the Expo! My official time was 8:07 - which is the fastest race pace I've ever had! This was by far my shortest race, but whatever, I'll take a PR when I can! (You can see from the Garmin results below, that I didn't stop the watch right away.)
After I recovered from my race, I hung around the finish to see the men finish. The first one finished in just over 4 minutes! Super fast!
After the men's race ended, there was unfortunately a lot of waiting around time. I wandered over to the area where the Expo was being held, and checked out the booths.
Finally, they started the award ceremony! The volunteers from Notus were in charge, and they had some representatives from Michie Tavern say some words as well. They even had someone there in full colonial dress, to hand out awards!
The top three male elite runners
The top three female elite runners - with Ann, the second from the right
Once the awards ceremony ended, Ann talked a bit about the Expo, the vendors there, and gave an introduction into yoga. She then set everything up so we could have a post-race yoga session! I was most looking forward to this, since it had been way too long since I had attended one of Ann's yoga classes, and now I could do one for free! While I may have been one of the slowest runners there, at least I was somewhat familiar with yoga, so I felt a lot more comfortable in the poses than some of the runners did!
A slightly sweaty post-yoga photo op! Btw, I LOVE Ann's shorts! I'm rocking the race t-shirt (on top of the shirt I came wearing - nowhere else to put it!)
Now that I've given a general recap of the events, I'm going to mention some of my opinions of the event and how it was organized. When Ann reached out to me, she put me in touch with an intern at Notus, who was supposed to take care of my registration and all of those details. I didn't hear anything from the intern until 4 days before the race - at which point, I had figured that they weren't going to give me free entry. I had hoped to get registered in advance, but was told that I would sign up at the registration table (as pictured above), and everything would already be taken care of. I figured that meant either the intern I had talked to would be there, or she would have left my information with them. The people there had no idea who I was, and when I mentioned the intern's name, it sounded like she had promised free entry to quite a few people. Thankfully, they didn't question it, and still gave me entry to the race.
This brings me to my next issue. There was no parking for the event, and there also was nowhere to drop off your belongings. I had Joey drop me off, to avoid the parking issue, but that meant I had to only bring with me what I could carry. Once I registered and got my race tech tee, that meant I had nowhere to put it. I asked if they could hold it for me, and I would come get it after the race, but that wasn't an option. I know it was a small race, but that would have been a nice additional touch.
There was a lot of confusion about the timing of the race (when it would start). I think that a lot of this came from the fact that there were several different websites where information was being reported/provided. The main website was http://www.cvilledowntownmile.com/ but not much new information was being posted there. There was a separate website, on the Notus Sports home page, that gave some additional information. There was also the Notus Sports facebook page, which I'm not sure how I even stumbled across, and that apparently had the most information. I happened to find it the day of the race, and found that the race times for the elite races had been changed. I would have had no idea otherwise, and this wasn't mentioned to me when I registered. Perhaps runners who had pre-registered online were being emailed updates, but since I hadn't done this, I wasn't hearing anything.
My next "complaint" is about the reporting of race times. When I signed up at the race table, they didn't ask for anything besides my name. At first, when the race times went up, they didn't even have my name linked to the bib number and time. They finally added my name, but didn't have my age or hometown included. And again, I had to go through their facebook page to even find the results. The results are not listed on any of the other race websites, including the main one. My biggest surprise was that they did in fact record the family and non-competitive times, meaning that I probably should have run in that group.
The race itself was run very well, which wasn't surprising, since Mark Lorenzoni from Ragged Mountain Running was at the start line. I think my general issues stem from the management that Notus Sports did - it really seemed like they left everything to 18 year old high school/college girls, and these girls weren't equipped to handle that much responsibility.
The last thing I'm going to say is about the Expo. I was so sad to see that only 3-4 groups/organizations had a booth set up. I thought that this could have been a great opportunity for many organizations to reach a lot of the running community in Charlottesville. I'm hoping that this event will be held again next summer (with better management by Notus, or a different group), and that the word will get out to many more vendors and organizations.