So this weekend I was supposed to run the Diva’s Half Marathon in “DC’s wine country.” I put that in quotes because, well…DC doesn’t really have wine country. This race was actually about an hour outside the city north of Leesburg, in Virginia.
But hey, no one outside the area would know where that is, so the race directors stuck the closest big city on the name.
I was really sad that I couldn’t actually run the race. From all the emails and the advertisements, this race looked like it was going to be a great time.
The Diva’s race series is billed as an all-female event (though guys can run if they want) where finisher’s medals are handed out by shirtless, buff dudes and runners are given roses and champagne at the finish line. On the course, runners can pick up tiara’s and pink feather boas for an extra girly kick.
I had signed up to run the race with Emily and Aila, but since I couldn’t run I figured I’d still go spectate.
Because the course was run on some of the same roads necessary to get into the parking lots, everyone, spectators included, had to be on site by 7:15 a.m.
I dragged my butt out of bed at 5:30 and hopped in the car for the hour drive north.
Everything was going really smoothly until I got off the highway in Virginia. I was about 10 miles from my destination with about 25 minutes before the lots closed when I hit the worst traffic ever.
Turns out when there is only one road into a race site and you have more than 4,500 people going to the same place, well that’s going to cause some problems on the roads. I sat for a while, trying to be patient, hoping things would clear up so I could get to the start line.
Needless to say, traffic didn’t move for a very, very long time. I kept inching along, asking Emily about her progress and checking the Twitters to see if the race directors were saying anything about delaying the start time. (Only when I was stuck at a traffic light…don’t worry I wasn’t all texting and driving.)
This instantly reminded me of the epic Hot Chocolate 15K FAIL of a race from a few years ago.
Eventually the race director’s tweeted they would be delaying the start of the race to get the cars in the parking lot.
To those running the race this morning – if your are stuck in traffic don't worry! We won't start the race until you're all in!
— Divas Half Marathon (@runlikeadiva) September 14, 2013
I got stuck in the back up at 6:48 a.m. I eventually made it into the parking lot at 8:21 a.m. Yes, it took me 90 minutes to go 10 miles. Yes, I was filled with murderous road rage at that point. Man at least I wasn’t running though. If I had been running, it would have been so, sooooo much worse.
Emily had eaten hours before and was starting to get hungry again by the time the race eventually started — a problem that I imagine was fairly common.
Also, the lines for the porta-potties were insane. How do you have a race that’s all women and not get more porta-potties?
The race eventually started at 9 a.m., 90 minutes after the planned start time of 7:30 a.m.
After we saw the runners off, our little group of spectators wandered over to the finish line to wait for them.
The course was hilly (I drove a little bit of it during a detour to avoid more traffic) and a lot of it was run on dirt roads — something that wasn’t advertised on the race site. Emily said she saw a girl bite it near mile 6 that wasn’t able to get back up.
With the later start time the sun was out, and race conditions were much warmer than people were prepared for. Luckily, the weather was fairly perfect for running. Emily said there were large stretches of road that weren’t in the shade and if it had been a hotter day, the delayed start time would have been even worse because of the heat.
Both Emily and Aila said the course was really pretty, but majorly lacked race spectators. There were a few music stations along the course, Emily said, which were helpful, and people came out in one of the neighborhoods to cheer, but otherwise there wasn’t crowd support.
Things the race did well according to the runners?
The volunteers, who had been out there for hours because of the delayed start, were fantastic. Emily said they were extremely kind at all the aid stations and did their best to be extra supportive.
The course was well marked. Mile markers were always on the same side of the road and the race directors had weighed them down with sandbags so they wouldn’t blow over.
The race bling. Yes, I had a little bit of medal envy.
But that was about it.
Getting out of the race site was about as much of an epic failure as getting in. I went home a different way that had less traffic, but it was still a nightmare until you got back to the major roads.
So I didn’t get home from the race until close to 2 p.m. Pretty much killed my entire day.
Emily and Aila finished strong, but I know Emily definitely wasn’t happy with her time. It was nearly 18 minutes slower than her PR.
The day before the race, I got an email telling me to sign up for the 2014 DC Divas Race. But after this weekend’s epic fail, I seriously wonder if they will be coming back. Hot Chocolate didn’t. And even if they did come back, they would have to pick a completely new race site with better access for me to even consider signing up.