Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Vine to Wine Half Marathon Recap

Last weekend I ran my 44th half marathon, the Vine to Wine Half Marathon in Greenville, Illinois. This was the 2nd year for the race and I was excited to check it out since I was not able to run it last year.

Why you should run this race:
  • Greenville, IL is off of Interstate 70.  It took me just over an hour to drive there from Creve Coeur, MO so it is very easy location to drive to for a day.  The town is quaint and scenic and contains quite a few restaurants for carb loading the night before or celebrating post-race.
  • Packet pick-up was available the night before and on race day.
  • Great pre-race communication and price increase reminders.
  • Ample parking adjacent to the start/finish line.  I was in my car watching Hurricane Irma updates until 10 minutes before the race.  Then I just walked right up to the start line.  So easy!
  • Plenty of porta potties at the start/finish.
  • Packet pick-up was quick and easy.
  • Long sleeve tech shirts in unisex sizing!
  • Great finisher medals.

  • Water stops every mile.
  • Amazing volunteers!!!!!
  • Post race wine and entertainment.
  • Post race snacks like granola bars, fruit, Gatorade, and bottled water.
  • Additional on-site food for purchase.
  • Post-race survey.
  • Friendly runners!!!  Numerous times I heard "good morning" or "keep it up" or "good job."  Numerous times as in too many to count.  It actually caught me off guard because in my experience, that atmosphere isn't typical outside of Disney races
  • Nice country scenery along the course.  I saw a lot of wooly worms on the road, which I never see in the city.  My grandma, a former farmer, says that their frequency and color show you what kind of winter to look forward to.  I would say 80% of them were black or brown....whatever that means.

Suggested improvements for next year:
Really the only suggestions I had are for better signage for both the winery and race day parking.
  • I drove right past the winery by following Google maps.  I turned around in a subdivision and as I was exiting, I saw three other cars turning around too.  The sign for the winery itself is very small and when you are unfamiliar with a place, it is very easy to miss.  I might also be slightly biased because I am used to the wineries in St. Charles County which have large signs at the winery itself and when you are within a mile or two of the entrance. 
  • I heeded the warning and came early to race day packet pick-up, but there were no signs about where to park.  I saw freshly mowed fields, but I followed the other cars to the main building before someone ran out to tell us to park at the far side of the field.  A few signs would really make a difference for us newbies. 

My experience at the race:
Although I have been running this summer, I haven't been running longer distances consistently.  I have also primarily been running on treadmills, indoor tracks, and flat trails.  Having grown up two counties east of Greenville, I should have realized that "rolling hills" in the country is very different from rolling hills in St. Louis.  It seemed like the steeper hills were towards the end of the race and I specifically remember hills around mile 10 and one around mile 11 that were so steep that even walking was difficult.

Road conditions also vary a lot more on country roads than in the city, so my ankles were sore as if I had run a trail race.  Even though it took me over three hours to finish, the time actually flew by and the scenery and volunteers along the course kept me engaged.  For those looking for a fun 5k or half marathon, I would recommend adding this race to your 2018 schedule.

Did you run this race too?  Be sure to add your review to Bib Rave to help other runners decide which races to run.