Race Review: Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Leading up to me deciding to run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon, I heard so much from other BibRave Pros about how awsome this race was.  The combination of what other Pros had to say and my wife and kids fall break lining up the week of the race made me jump on board for this race.  Hard to believe I registered for this race back in late January.  
Anyways, we took the kids with us to Louisville, KY for a little fall trip.  This was not just a race weekend.  On Thursday, We took the kids to the Zoo for Trick Or Treating.  On Friday we went to the Louisville Slugger Museum ( we didn’t do the tour this time but will when we come back in the summer of 2017) and the Kentucky Science Center.  

Expo

The race expo was held at Louisville Slugger Field. It was a smaller expo by designed as the race wanted to show case the bourbon rather than make it a large expo with vendors.  First stop was to the bib table.  Lines were set up by bin numbers which you were emailed a link to check your bib number a few days earlier.  After getting your number you walked over to the shirt table to get your race shirt. I would have preferred another shirt color. The shirt was a coral color (real close to pink) but it still looks ok.  A red shirt I think would have really popped.  There was an opportunity to swap out shirts if they didn’t fit well.  

There were also opportunities to taste some Bourbon there as well.  The only vendor that was present was Fleet Feet Sports for all your last minute needs.  Also, they had a wide variety of running apparel that was buy one get one 50% off. 

Following the race expo, we headed back to the hotel to allow me to get off my feet and let the kids rest as well.  Rest time mainly consisted of watching shows such as Paw Patrol. 

After carbo loading with some Olive Garden, we hit up a few stores to walk off the food before going to bed.  As far as sleep goes, I got a great nights sleep. It’s probably a good thing that the Cubs were not playing in a playoff game the night before the race.  

Race Morning 

Alarm went off around 6:00 with the race starting at 8:30. After getting the kids ready and getting dressed ourselves, we headed to down town Louisville.  From out hotel acrossed the river into Indiana, it is only a 10-15 minute drive.  Finding parking right by the start/finishline was real easy. We did arrive at 7:00 so we had some time to kill.  We went into the host hotel lobby to keep warm and met up with BibRave Pro’s Josh and Laura. At around 8:00 we went outside and met up with another BibRave Pro Cassie I turned my bag into gear check, we got a BibRave Pro team picture in and headed to the start line.  We wished each other luck and got into our appropriate starting positions. BibRave Pros from left to right: Cassie, Laura, myself, and Josh.

The race starts and finishes right in downtown Louisville on Main St.  Right before the race, in Louisville fashion, the runners were called to the starting line by Churchill Downs bugler Steve Buttleman, he also played the state song and the national anthem. 

The Race

With it being a cool morning (temps in low 40s at the start, I decided to wear my arm sleeves but no gloves, my hands felt fine. I also took along my Orange Mud Hydraquiver for my hydration of choice. I was also wearing my new Legand Compression socks for the first time in a race.  

The race started promptly at 8:30 and we were off heading east on Main Street.  After about a quarter mile into the race I looked at my Garmin and saw my pace for the first mile was around 7:05.  The thing was, it felt like I was running much faster.  After a little bit I saw the first mile marker.  Only problem was, my Garmin said I had not even ran .75 miles yet. It took me a little while to figure out what happened.  My Garmin was not getting an accurate reading because of all the tall buildings we ran by in the first mile.  The clock that we passed by at the first mile read under 6:00.  Now I am worried about the rest of my race.  I immediately back off and excepted the fact that my Garmin would be way off the rest of the race. 
I am not going to be able to give you too many details on my splits for this race because of my Garmin issues, but what I can tell you is that this is a beautiful course. At the same time, there are some hills.  The first challenge came right at about mile 4, before entering Cherokee Park. The hills really continued through mile 8 or so.  Mile 6 was the toughest.  It was one of those hills where you think at first that it doesn’t look bad but you don’t see right away that you make a right hand turn and it keeps going up. The reward was that there was a nice long downhill after that. 

At about the halfway point I finally got a good indication on where I was time wise, and I was ahead of my goal pace.  That wouldn’t be bad except for I was trying to hold back some since I have a marathon 2 weeks later. I did back off some for miles 7-10.  Miles 11-13, as we were approaching down town again, I picked the pace back up and aiming to improve my placing.  I did pass about 3-5 runners on mile 11. Miles 12 and 13 were pretty lonely miles.  The runners ahead of me were about a half mile ahead and no chance of catching them. While it would have been nice to kick it in, I considered that a bad idea for this race. 

The last .75 were back on Main Street.  I kept my eyes looking to the right up ahead for the Louisville Slugger bat to tell me that I was almost finished. Finally saw it and then could see the finish line. i crossed the finish line in 1:24:57, about 2:00 faster than I intended to run, but really my legs felt great after the run. 

 

Looking back on my run, there is only one thing I really would have done differently.  I would have ran without my Hydraquiver. I did not take one sip of the drink that I carried in it, only the water on the course. It’s not that much extra weight but it wasn’t needed.  

After the race, they put your finishers medal around your neck, took some finishers pictures and then you made your way to the food.  Before exiting the finishers area, you could get Powerade, bagels from Panera, fruit, and a couple other things.  Maybe the one thing lacking was something with salt, like pretzels.  

There was more of an after party following the race outside of the finishers area.  There was pizza, Kentucky Burgoo (which I had never had before but it was really good), and of course Bourbon! 

After all of the BibRave Pros finished, we got a picture with race director Michael Clemons.  

I did end up finishing 18th overall and 2nd in my division.  Here soon I will be getting my division award. 

There was one other thing you can take part in, which unfortunately I was not able to with our schedule.  After the race, there were 6 bars/restaurants that you could go to.  If you showed them your race bib and made a purchase, they would give you an Urban Bourbon pin.  Each place has a different pin.  Would have loved to have gotten all 6. 

Overall experience

This was a fantastic race. 

Pros

  • Great communication leading up to the race by email and social media
  • Small expo which means easy in, easy out
  • Location of the race.  Easy to find parking, plenty of options for food and drinks after.
  • Beautiful course! My favorite part was easily Cherokee Park. With the leaves changing color, it was great scenery. 
  • Great volunteers on the course.  
  • Just an awesome course.  It has its hills but it is just a beautiful course. 
  • Police were at every intersection making sure the roads were clear. 
  • Free race photo downloads
  • Awsome medals
  • Great post race atmosphere and food and of course Bourbon!

Cons

  • Really the only thing I can come up with is the shirt color.  For me, pink (or coral) is not my color.  

Overall, I highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a fun half marathon to run in.  The views along the course are spectacular and the atmosphere is second to none.  This is not a PR course but don’t let that scare you away.  I am keeping this race on my list of races I want to run again.  

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