Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Miler: Race Review

After running 12 races last year, and 4 already this year, I’ve realized I’ve become a bit of a race diva. There are things I expect from big races now, especially those which regularly make Race Bucket Lists.

Pre-Race
I was impressed by the amount of pre-race communication. We regularly got emails with updates and information. This included the virtual race bag and program. I rarely keep much from races other than the shirt and medal, so I was happy they didn’t print things out.

Race Expo
The race expo was good for a non-corporate race. The bib and shirt pick up was easy (although not well marked, had to ask someone where to go). I was surprised, however, that for a big race in the Nation’s Capitol IDs weren’t required for pick up.

The Expo had good representation: CEP, Sweaty Bands, New Balance (which had some great race specific gear I had to talk myself out of, including limited release Cherry Blossom shoes), Sparkly Soul, and lots of local races and running stores. I picked up a few things:

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New Sparkly Soul bands, including the Rockstar 13.1 which isn’t available online yet! I’m now building my Pittsburgh half outfit around it.

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110% Play Harder Compression Sox. I’m a believer now. Cori has written about them, and finally decided to check them out. They’re nice and compressy, yet not too thick.

Before the Start Gun
From the moment I got close to the staging area, I knew I wasn’t going to love the organization of the race. The area was fenced off, but entry areas weren’t clearly marked. Once inside the fence, the signs showing what each tent was were barely visible.

Bag check was easy, as there were tons of drop spots, with limited numbers for each spot, so it was quick and easy.

The Porta Potties were all set to one side, and grouped so each line was leading to 5 potties. It made the lines move swiftly and easily.

I was surprised when water and bananas were out on tables before the race. I assumed they were pre-race treats, and saw some people enjoying them, which solidified this in my mind. This is an important thing to remember for later.

Also, I was excited to see they were handing out Mylar blankets before the race because it was much colder than expected until the sun came out. I was prepared, so I didn’t take one, but looked forward to it later.

I met up with my friend Heather easily, and we headed for the corrals. There were very small openings to get into each corral, but there was no one checking your bib color to the corral color. There was also no one trying to limit in and outs. So there was a constant flow of people in and out of the corral. Since there was no control over the corrals, they were packed. No room for any kind of active stretching, so I deeply regretted not really warming up pre-corral.

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I look happy, but was being crunched into the corral. Also, I inadvertently ended up in the corral ahead of me.

The Race
In every race, you expect the first few miles to be crowded. You have a lot of people moving in the same direction, so you deal with it.

But, in a corralled race, you’d expect that they would control the number in each corral so that parts of the course wouldn’t be an issue with a lot of runners. There was no thinning out in this race. At every point, people had to hop onto the grass or onto medians in the road to pass people. I thought Disney races tested my calisthenics capabilities of side sprints and front-backs, but this took it to new levels. I’ve never been so frustrated about not being able to speed up when I wanted to, in my life.

There was a perfect amount of hydration stations. Every 2 miles or so. For someone who was not properly hydrated coming in, this was great. Until, I realized that they weren’t well planned. By the 6 mile stop, you had to physically stop and wait for them to pour water or Gatorade. Like, actually stop, not just slow down, or for a second, but there were lines. Major fail.

There were great cheering sections along most of the course, and the finish line was amazing. I was excited to cross through, and immediately saw Courtney, who put a big smile on my face.

Post-Race
I continued walking down the chute, looking for water, and suddenly there was no water, and the end of the fence. I could not figure out how to get out for a few minutes, and finally figured it out. I was still looking for water, and finally found someone handing them out. I skipped bananas because I wanted none of them, and went in search of where to get my medal. You had to pay extra for a medal, which I was so happy I did because it was amazing. I got my medal, went and retrieved my bag and met up with Heather and Christine.

We chatted about the race and suddenly I saw people with Lara bars. Heather said there was a table full of boxes of them, so we went in search. They were gone. Probably because they weren’t in a finishers only area, but everyone who was milling around could grab a bar. Thankfully Heather gave me one of hers. That’s a good friend ๐Ÿ˜Š

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Heather & I recreating a picture from 2006. She’s still a beast.

Overall
Overall, it was a good, fun race. If I’d known all the potential issues, I would have been more happy with the race. It’s a big race, with big race issues. But it was a perfect race day, I finished and met many of my goals, and spent the weekend with so many amazing friends.

What’s your biggest race pet peeve?
Do you prefer water or Gatorade during a race?
Have you ever corral hopped?
;

12 thoughts on “Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Miler: Race Review

  1. Hmm. Interesting comments. I’ve done this race 3 years in a row and think my experience was different because I was in the red corral (#2). Not that it’s an excuse for the organizers, just that I didn’t experience most of the issue you did. I was a bit lost post race, but I didn’t order a medal or check a bag, so all I had to do was get water and a banana. It is annoying when non-runners take post-race snacks — that’s just rude!

    • I’ve heard a number of people say the earlier corrals weren’t as bad, but since most people aren’t in those (or because of a hard time getting to the corrals more early corral folks ended up further back, crowding them).

  2. I ran this race in 2012 and it stands as the most crowded race I’ve ever done, and I’ve run lots of Disney races, New York races, and other big events. It’s the only time I’ve ever not been able to run at the speed I wanted, not even able to weave. Other than that, the course is beautiful and I love that they don’t build the tech shirt and medal into the price, but make them optional.

  3. I’ve hopped back in corrals to run with friends but never forward, omg. I am a RULE FOLLOWER. Haha.

    I’ve heard amazing things about those socks! Are they the ones with the ice pockets?

    I like gatorade and water because I alternate (actually I usually carry my own water, and grab gatorade every so often). How terrible that runners had to stop. That’s crazy.

  4. Great recap, Cyanne! I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’m a bit of a race diva myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I don’t consider it too picky, but when you are used to a certain type of treatment from a majority of races and then find a race that DOESN’T do it – it stands out. Or, if they’ve done it in the past and then cut it (that happened this weekend in AC) I notice it and I’m all HEYYYYY.

    I haven’t corral hopped because I usually find myself placed in the corral that I’m supposed to be in. I have hopped BACK to be with friends though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I really want to run this race, but I am reading a lot of less-than-stellar reviews which is disappointing. You would think that considering that it’s in the nation’s capital and such an amazing showcase of a beautiful city, thy would have every detail down to a science. Here’s hoping they learn and work on improving.

    My biggest race pet peeve is poor organization. I have never corral hopped. I don’t mind water but my tummy prefers Gatorade.

    • I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one thinking these things! They are pretty easy fixes, too. It could really be an amazing race experience with some minor adjustments ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I completely agree with you on the congestion and the finishers village! The water stops were very crowded (volunteers were great). I wish the space was wide enough that they could have the water on both sides to alleviate some of the crowding. As a lesson learned I try to run as far as I can go and cut to the last volunteers with water (but it is a risk, sometimes I go straight to gatorade vs. water). It was a beautiful day, but there are some refinements that can be implemented.

  7. A few of my friends commented on how poorly organized and crowded it was last year which is why i’ve never registered for it. But sounds like you still had a great time!
    Emma

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