TriMom Productions in Rhode Island offers the Ocean’s Run Half Marathon. This March race starts cooler weather, so athletes often wear throwaway layers. The RDs put a “throwaway bin” at each water stop in the first five miles so athletes can discard extra clothing. The bins are labeled by mile marker, and are brought to the finish so participants can re-claim their items. In addition to offering plenty of water stops with great aide and great volunteers, this half marathon also has bike support crews riding back and forth on the course to check on participants and offer food, water or aide.
The Mad Half Marathon in Vermont does two things we love. Their bike support people that stay with the leaders of each race (half, full and relay) have signs on their bikes that tell you what person they are with, so you'll know if you are cheering on the marathon leader or the half marathon leader. Another unique perk this race offers: in the post-race area, the race director sets up kiddie pools with chairs so participants can soak their feet (or climb in and soak their whole body) after the race.
The Fairfield Half Marathon in Connecticut sets up several misting stations for their hot-weather race in June. In the post-race food area this year, they also had blocks of ice athletes could sit on to cool down. This plus tons of post-race food and free pre-and post-race massages add to this event.
We appreciate race directors that offer special rewards and incentives for people who do their full race series. Finishers of all three half marathons (in the same calendar year) offered by the Shoreline Sharks of Connecticut get a special streaker gift. 3C Race Productions, organizers of races in New England, gives a series jacket to participants who complete a half marathon in six states, and a hat to those who complete a half marathon in seven states.
How about races that celebrate their participants’ accomplishments? We appreciate race directors that set aside special bib numbers such as 50 and 100 for participants that are celebrating special milestones at their event, like finishing their 50th state or their 100th half marathon. Some races offer a different color bib for people doing their first half marathon at their event. And one of our favorites perks is the PR Bell, used by events such as the Asheville Half Marathon in North Carolina. There is a bell at the finish line that participants can ring if they set a new PR on their course!
Another unique offering we love to see from races- childcare! Races like the Bay of Fundy Half Marathon in Maine partner with local childcare facilities such as daycares or YMCAs to offer childcare during the race. This helps participants who may not be able to get a sitter for an away weekend.
We've all heard the expression "hitting the wall." The Lost Dutchman Half Marathon has an actual fake wall set up on their course for you to run through at mile 11. The fake "wall" is set up with a great scenic view of a nearby mountain and makes for a great photo op.
More and more races are using pace groups to help out their participants. We love races that extend their pace groups so that almost all paces have a leader. This means having pace groups that include 2:30, 2:45, 3:00, and if possible, 3:30 and/or an official sweeper- someone who’s job is to come in dead last in the results!
All of these perks are noticed and make a difference. We thank race directors who look out for their participants in unique ways!