What a beautiful bright sunny day for a race — at least for the first few miles. I took a quick glance at the weather report on my phone before I left the hotel and didn’t notice anything that would lead me to believe anything had changed from the zero percent chance of rain that had been forecast all week. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky (or I didn’t bother to look up and see) as the race began, but by 3 or 4 miles into the race the clouds started to build, and 7 or 8 miles into the race the bottom fell out like I’ve seldom seen in a race. There was thunder and lightning but it never landed close enough to make me want to leave the course, and the rain fell so hard that the streets were flooded, ankle deep in the low-lying streets for most of the last 3 miles of the race.
This was my 79th half marathon since I began running 7 years ago, and I won my age group, which is nice, but I was disappointed with my time of 1:49:48. My only two slower half marathons were once in 2011 when I was running with and pacing my grandson, and my very first half back in 2008. I’d like to think it was because of the storm, but honestly, way before the storm began I was already chugging along taking walk breaks and running slow miles. I’m starting to think that my heart rate method of running, which I’ve been doing since my second year, is in need of a review. I used to run at a heart rate of between 165 and 170 throughout an entire half marathon without a problem. Now I’m struggling to reach that point and when I get there I’m at a speed that I can no longer hold. I’ve heard that as you age your heart rate naturally slows down, but I always thought that didn’t pertain to me. Maybe it does. It could be that I need to drop my target heart rate by 5 beats or so to the 160-165 range, which would probably be more sustainable but would surely lead to slower race times, so for the time being I’ll just try to hold on.
Because of the continuing rain the post-race activities were a mess. Most people either left or tried to find dry shelter where the roof of the World of Coca-Cola jutted out a few feet, but the rain kept coming. The awards ceremony looked like it would have been great, with a nice podium on the open field, but most of the award winners were gone by then and there was nothing left to do but cancel the awards. Running buddy Bill Weimer from Charlotte came in 2nd in my age group and we tried to pick up our awards but the directors insisted on not giving any out, saying they would mail them to us.
The weather is something that just can’t be controlled, so in my ratings I won’t be discounting points because of the rain but will rate everything as fairly as I think it would have been if the weather had cooperated.
One outstanding thing that should be mentioned about this race was the abundance of photos taken by professional photographers, even in the downpour. There are more than 5,000 photos and they’re all downloadable for FREE in high resolution. Considering that professional race photos usually go for $20-30 each in big races, this is a huge value to runners who want to memorialize the time they ran through the flooded streets of Atlanta. As a comparison, I ran the Hokie Half in Virginia last fall in similar weather. They were supposed to have photographers at various points in the race but decided it was too wet and ended up with no race photos at all. I thought that would most likely be the case for this race, so I was plenty impressed when I saw a photographer near the finish line standing under a small open tent capturing a pic of every finisher.
Race Number: 306
Race Name: HOTLANTA Half
Location: Atlanta, Georgia (downtown at Pemberton Place/World of Coca-Cola)
Date: August 23, 2015
Race Rating: 105
- M: Trent Binford-Walsh (1:14:10)
- F: Margaret Brennan (1:25:59)
Course: Quite a few hills but a mostly scenic course starting and finishing on the street between Pemberton Place and the Centennial Olympic Park. Course included quite a bit of downtown, a trip around Turner Field, a portion of the greenway, and a run through Piedmont Park.
- Gain: 573 feet
- Loss: 562 feet
- Maximum Elevation: 1063 feet
Weather at Start: Sunny; 72 degrees; 94% humidity (changed dramatically an hour into the race)
Age Group: 1 of 14
Overall: 135 of 1088
Average Heart Rate: 160
Maximum Heart Race: 169
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:27:17 (66.82%)
* RACE RATING *
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
4 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
8 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes
2 – Posted online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Easy to find results: (0)no (1)yes (*previous year results still on website link 5 days later)
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes
2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no (2)yes (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
7 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
8 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
0 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes
2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good (1)not bad (2)nice (5)beautiful!
0 – Material: (0)cotton (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
5 – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
10 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes (*Best Ever!)
2- Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)