Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Biggest Loser 5K - Race Review

Overview

The Biggest Loser Run/Walk race series is a good option for someone looking for a less-intimidating option for their first 5K. While there are improvements that could be made, overall I feel that the race was well-organized and well-executed.

Finding Race Information

Naturally, the first thing I did after hearing about the race was to head to their website to find out more information.


While I was very impressed with the site overall (both in how it looked/functioned and the quality of the information), there were a couple of important questions I couldn't find answers to and had to email the race director about:

  • Were strollers allowed on the course?
    • Yes, but part of the course was on grass
  • Was there packet pickup on race day?
    • Yes, there was
Other than that, the site was clean and very well laid out -- something I'm very particular about since that's kinda what I do for a living.

Race Registration

The race registration process was simple since it used the active.com site and I already had an account. Of course, even if you don't already have an account, setting one up is free and only takes a few minutes.

Packet Pickup

I picked my packet up the morning of the race, so I didn't get a chance to check out the expo. I really wish I could have made it because it sounds like it would have been a pretty good one (and I'm sure I missed out on some good swag!).


The pickup process race morning was quick and painless. I got my bib and swag bag without incident, but they only had small men's shirts left, so that's something to consider if you plan on waiting to pick up your packet.

Race Day Organization

The race day schedule posted on the website wasn't exactly accurate.

To be fair, I arrived around 8:00am (because I live about an hour away and I knew that would give me just enough time to get my packet and line up without having a lot of extra time where we'd be waiting around), so it's possible that I missed an announcement about schedule changes.

Then again, I'm sure most people would be in the same boat.

According to the website, both the 5K and 15K were to begin at 8:30am. Since nothing said otherwise, I assumed there would be one large starting corral and participants would be instructed to line up according to their estimated finish times (since both distances started on the same path).


Instead, only the 15K started at 8:30am; the 5K start was pushed back to 9:00am. And instead of one big corral, groups of 20 or 30 runners would start every few minutes (for both distances).

Actually, I think that worked out better since the course was pretty crowded as it was (see my recap for more on that) -- I just think the website and pre-race email should be updated accordingly.

I think the delayed start pushed everything back a little bit. The awards presentation for the 5K was scheduled to begin at 10:00am, but when we headed over to the stage after warming up in the car for a bit, Dan was still over by the starting line hosting and encouraging the runners as they were finishing.

Since it was cold and it seemed like it was going to be a while before that got underway, we decided to make our way over to the Alltech Arena for the Kentucky Gathering festival (we had a coupon for a free beer sample, after all).


We ended up being on the early side of things there, too; I guess I didn't read the schedule close enough, as those activities weren't set to begin until noon.


The horse show was already underway, so we watched that for a few minutes, but otherwise we just saw people setting up their booths for later in the day.

Since I had to get back to put the baby down for his nap, we ended up leaving then (around 10:30am). I couldn't tell if the awards presentations or concert were underway yet, but it didn't sound like it from what I could hear.

The Course

The course was more challenging than I expected.

Click to enlarge
I didn't pay much attention to the "part of the course is on grass" warning I received when I asked if strollers were allowed, mostly because we have a fancy jogging stroller and I knew the larger wheels could handle going off-road for a bit.

But in this case about 1/3 of the course was around the perimeter of a couple of horse fields. I've never run around a horse field before, but it was quite bumpy and it definitely took a lot more work to push the stroller through the grass.


Once we were back on the pavement, just past the halfway point, there was a pretty big hill to climb.

The total elevation gain was right around 100 feet


Be prepared to work a little on this one.

Water Stops

For the 5K, there was one water stop right in the middle of the course (so we passed by it twice).


It appeared to be well-stocked both times I passed by (I didn't stop since I brought my own water).

Swag

The race entry fee included some pretty good swag.


I think this is the first 5K I've ever done that gave out a tech shirt and a medal.


Plus, you got into all of the horse show and Kentucky Gathering activities later in the day for free!

Definitely a good value there!

Final Thoughts

The message of The Biggest Loser is pretty simple -- change your life by changing your diet and exercising. This race series fits into the overall mission of the show nicely, and works to engage viewers in a way the show can't.

A 5K is where it all starts for runners. I remember training for my first 5K and thinking it was the hardest thing I had ever done. But finishing it was such a great feeling, and obviously addicting.

I talk about this race as being a good first not because it's an easy course (it's a pretty challenging course for your first, actually), but rather because of the support you'll receive. I didn't feel like they were pushing the show or Dan or anything like that; instead, there was just this overwhelmingly positive energy about getting out and running a great race on a beautiful morning.

And that's exactly what every race should be about.


Here's my recap in case you missed it.

Thanks for reading!

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