On Sunday, I took part in the Joggers World Half Marathon, part of the 41st Adelaide Marathon Festival.
The Festival includes the Adelaide Marathon, Joggers World Half Marathon, Physio Smart 10km, Embrace 5km, and Race the Popeye Kids Fun Run. Overall, the event seemed well-run with only a few areas for improvement.
The Half Marathon started at 8am, 1 hour after the marathoners took off. There were over 1000 people at the start in the front of the Adelaide Oval, and there was a really good atmosphere. Also, the weather was just about perfect – good news since it has been raining off and on all weekend with more rain on the way. The course was a mostly-flat loop that weaved around Adelaide park lands, River Torrens and river precinct over a combination of bike path and closed roads. It had a few small hills as the route changed from river path to road and back again, but nothing too dramatic or long. Along the route, there were drink stations every 2 – 3 km, with every second one having an electrolyte drink as well as water. The route finished on the grounds of the Adelaide Oval, which is a unique experience (getting onto the pitch is pretty much reserved for professional athletes playing AFL or Cricket). The half marathon did the loop once, the marathon twice.
- The course: While it looped back on itself a few times, the switchbacks created the opportunity to cheer on friends as you passed them in the opposite direction. Also, because the course looped through and around one part of the city, it made it easy for spectators to view from several different points. The road closures meant that there was ample running room during the busiest sections of the course.
- Signage: The route was well sign-posted with volunteers assisting with road closures and directions to ensure a safe run for everyone.
- Drink Stations: The frequent drink stations were evenly spaced in easy-to-access locations. The frequency itself was also quite good.
Areas for Improvement
- Bag Drop: The bag drop wasn’t very secure, just a lightly-monitored, roped-off area where runners could leave their bags. There was one volunteer directing runners to leave their bags in a general area, but they were not present when I picked my bag up. While it was quick, anyone could have easily walked off with your stuff. In past years, the drop was monitored by volunteers, bags were labeled with bib numbers and matched to their owners on pick up. This would have been preferred.
- Pacers: While there were several pacers over multiple time goals, I heard several people comment that they had no idea where any of the pacers where. I had difficulty finding them myself. It seems silly to have them if they can’t be found. All the pacers had to identify them was a pacer bib on their back with the per-kilometer pace. In the past, pacers had bibs with their finishing time. I think the finishing time would have been easier for newer runners to identify. Also in the past, the pacers had balloons tied to them that hovered over their heads. The balloons are an excellent way to spot the pacers at the start line, as well as from a distance during the race.
- Double-Loop: Despite the one-hour head start, the double-loop course for the marathon meant that the front-runners lapped the half-marathoners. (I wish I could run that fast!) The leader had a bike lead-out advising runners to keep to the left, but on the bike path this got tight and the next few places had to contend with the slower runners in their path.
Overall, I had a great time at the event, despite not being able to finish (you can read about my run here). I enjoyed myself because of the course and the atmosphere. Were you at the Adelaide Marathon Festival? What did you think of the event?