The race was held on Sunday, April 28th at 7:00 AM. The course map can be found here. We started and finished on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to Freedom Plaza. Entry into the race is done by a random draw between November 16 and December 6. Runners may apply at anytime during the registration periods, and early registration does not improve your chances of being selected. Selected runners were notified via email between December 10-14th.
Race fee: $160, college students discount - $125
Nike reserved a number of spots for military members.
On race day, there were approximately 14,000 participants.
The EXPO was located by the Georgetown Waterfront. Super convenient for me, as I could just walk there, however parking can be difficult for others that do not have that option. You had the option to go on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. I opted for Friday evening and was able to walk through and pick up my packet without any trouble. (I heard those that went on Saturday had a serious wait).
The EXPO wasn't huge, but it was fun, vibrant, and full of energy. Of course there was a Nike+ area with Nike app demos, an area to try on Nike sports bras, and of course, lots and lots of Nike shoes for sale.
There was also a lot of representation by the sponsors complete with Bare Essentials skin care consultants, Kaiser massage chairs, Nuun electrolyte samples, Luna Bars to sample, and even hair styling by Paul Mitchell.
In the race packets we received our racing bibs, wrist bands indicating our determined starting corrals, and product samples from the sponsors. This is the first half/full marathon I have done where we don't get our shirts until the finish.
There was a wall in the EXPO where runners could put down what they were running for. It was fun to see what people were putting...lots and lots of Boston love.
Outside the expo, Nike had taken over a wall in Georgetown highlighting all the runners who had registered. It was a fun way to highlight the individuals at the event.
There was no designated parking for the event, but Kyle and I were able to park just 4 blocks from the start / finish with no problem, as parking on the streets on Sundays is free in D.C.
If you were not driving, participants are advised to use the metros, which opened at 5:00am on race day.
I met up with my friends at about 6:30 near the start, snapped a photo, and was able to jog to my corral entrance and get in line with plenty of time to spare. The organizers did a great job of keeping the crowd energized. Right before the national anthem, there was a moment of silence for Boston. It was amazing how among all the commotion of the morning, it seemed like all off D.C. came to a halt. All you could hear were birds chirping. So moving.
As previously stated, we were given wristbands indicating our assigned corrals. I was in the 7:30 - 9:00 min corral, which was fine, but this is in my opinion a very wide range for only the third corral. It took me a few minutes to cross the start line, and then I spent the majority of the first mile boxed in or running around groups of girls that were running together at a slower pace. It would have been nice if they would have had the corrals go off in waves, and to have them be in smaller groups.
The course was fantastic. Flat, picturesque, and full of spectators. There were seven water and nuun hydration stations on the course. I had no problem with the water stations, but from what I heard, later in the race the volunteers were struggling to keep up with the levels of runners and were unable to have hydration prepared for runners as they came. Some runners said they had to stop to fill their own cups. Clif Shot Blocks were available around mile 5, and Luna bars were available around mile 8 (I can't remember the exact mile markers). I grabbed the Clif Blocks and ate one block a mile after grabbing it. I didn't grab a luna bar.
There was also a lot of entertainment around the course which kept the energy high, including drummers in the tunnels and at some of the turn around points.
Obviously one of the best parts about the Nike Women's Series is the Tiffany's necklace you receive for a finishers medal. I have received a lot of ugly medals over the years so this was something I was really looking forward to. They had men waiting in tuxedos to hand them out, and they were more than willing to take pictures with the finishers as they passed.
Other post race refreshments included fruit, bagels, water - the usual. One nice touch is that we were given Tiffany's bags to put all our loot in. I always find it annoying that they offer all the things after a race but most runners are too tired to try to hold and carry it all.
Right before exiting the finisher's area we received our race t-shirts. We usually receive these at the EXPO before the race, and although I get the significance of getting this only after you finish, its annoying to had to carry around more things post race.
They had a lot of post race activities for the finishers to check out, but I pretty much bee-lined for the car as I had brunch plans on the agenda.
I heard some complaints about there not being enough porta-potties, but I feel like this a complaint at every race...
The Nike website allows you to put in your race number or name to find out your official results but there seems to have been a lot of discrepancies over times people had on their clocks and the chip times. Also, many runners wanted to check out overall results (top finishers, age group results, etc) but they (as of now) are not available.
Another thing that seemed to bother a lot of runners was that there was no official race photographer on the course.
There were options for baggage check located right next to the start/finish, and I heard no complaints about these.
It was the inaugural DC half, and while there were a few kinks, I thought it was a great race and I can't wait to run it again!