Race Review: 2017 Rotary Club of Weston “Run For Tomorrow” Half Marathon (12/10/2017), or “Dry your eyes, we’re gonna see skies of blue…”

You know what I love even more than a local, low-key, fast, flat, and fun half-marathon?

A local, low-key, fast, flat, and fun half-marathon in perfect running conditions. And we assuredly got that the morning of the 2017 Rotary Club of Weston “Run For Tomorrow” Half Marathon.

OK that title is a mouthful, and because I’m one entirely lazy dude writing his last race review of the year, I’m going to refer to the race as the Weston Half for the rest of this reasonably brief review.

Anyway, friends of mine have been running the Weston Half for many years, and why not? It’s a local race (Weston is one town over from our home base of Sunrise), it’s a smaller affair with about 620 runners, it falls in mid December which makes for a fine “last race of the year”, and the event also hosts a 5K as well as a 1-Mile Family Run for the entire family.

All that, plus a race fee of $55 for a last-minute registration and an imminent cold front that promised sunny, clear, and 47 degree weather at the Start Line. This was a major cold front for South Florida, folks. And I was in.

I registered the Thursday before the race, and on Saturday (the day before the race) I picked up my bib, race shirt, and other goodies over at the Midtown Athletic Club in Weston. We were literally in and out in a matter of seconds, which is to be expected with a smaller race. But at least I got to pose with the ridiculous selfie board:

So there’s that, I guess.

The next morning I made sure to dress in my best “cold running gear” which, for this South Florida iguana, was much-needed; I took one step outside and felt my nervous system shutting down. Bear in mind, it was about 46 degrees, which is nothing less than a brand new ice age for us swamp-dwelling reptilians. This mean compression pants and shirt, plus a cap. Time to enter survival mode.

The Half started promptly at 6:20 AM, so early Sunday morning Boots and I left the house around 5:30 and drove over to Cypress Bay High School in Weston. It took 10 minutes to drive to Weston. Due to parking congestion, it took another 15 minutes to park at the high school. And by then I had to make a mad dash to the porto-potties, and it felt like we were parked a good quarter-mile from the start line. People thought I was doing a little warm-up jog or something. HAH!

The pre-race festivities seemed exciting, full of energy and music and fun, but by the time I got out of the portos it was about 8 minutes from race start. I was also quite frozen solid. Still, I managed to snap a photo-op with buddies Rich and Jackie:

I waited for Jackie at the portos and then we hit up the Start Line, mostly shivering but excitable. Here was the view ahead of us:

Plus the usual selfie shot:

And with a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, we got the final countdown and at 6:22, we were off and running. It was 48 degrees out. I couldn’t wait to start moving.

The 2017 Rotary Club of Weston “Run For Tomorrow” Half Marathon!

Here’s a look at the race course, courtesy of my Garmin 920XT and Google Maps:

 

This was a serene, somewhat shady out-and-back through Weston. After exiting the high school, we ran about two miles northeast on Bonaventure Boulevard, turning left on Royal Palm Boulevard for roughly four miles. Just before mile seven, we reached the turnaround right at Imagine Charter School, and simply returned back to the Finish Line at Cypress Bay High School.

The race was mostly nondescript but enjoyable. The absolutely perfect weather made for an enjoyable morning run. I stuck into my usual “run a mile, walk a minute” intervals and enjoyed the half as a training run. And boy did I need it; the last time I had run before this race was at the 2017 Space Coast Marathon, and that was two weeks previous. I had zero expectations of competitive running or racing. I just wanted to enjoy the morning.

And enjoy it I did! I plugged in my Buttkickin’ Holiday Songs playlist on Spotify and, amid all the cool weather and holiday decorations, took in all the Christmas atmosphere I could as I continued my run. Since this was a small local race, it never felt crowded or cramped. I had plenty of room to enjoy myself.

There were plenty of well-stocked hydration tables, and I made a habit of thanking each volunteer I could. Most of them seemed to be local (and enthusiastic) high school teenagers, handing out water and Gatorade and cheering us on. The course itself was entirely flat and fast, save for a single bridge just before Mile 3 (also just after Mile 10), and that could hardly be considered an arduous incline. I did notice several runners stop running and walk up the bridge. Eesh.

Otherwise, this was a straightforward local race. Almost more like a really well-organized training run, albeit one with mile markers, hydration tables, timing mats, a Start/Finish line, and a pretty sizable post-race party. As a local race, there wasn’t anything in terms of on-course entertainment and spectators were pretty much non-existent. That’s to be expected with a small local race. And that was perfectly fine. I had enough entertainment singing “Mele Kalikimaka” to myself.

It was quite the lovely morning, and I ran a fairly good race for the first ten miles, keeping my pace in the 9:30 to 9:45 minute/mile range. After that, I felt some of the wind leaving my sails, and slowed down accordingly. No matter. This was my training run. As I reached Mile 13, the course took us right back to Cypress Bay High School and I crossed the Finish Line with a net time of 2:11:14. Not too bad for a training run.

After grabbing my medal and a bottle of water, I walked over to where Boots, Mare, and Rich (who finished in a speedy 2 hours) were hanging out, and we cheered on runners coming in and chatted with buddies hanging about the finish area. Now that I wasn’t running anymore, I was starting to feel the cooler weather. Sure it was “only” in the early 50s, but being covered in sweat and no longer warm from physical activity, I started to shiver a bit. I’m still quite the tropical iguana.

We also got to watch as the 1-Mile Family Run took off from their start line, about 40 minutes after I finished my run.

While it was cute to see all the young kids running with their parents and seemingly having a great time doing so, this caused a HUGE problem for runners still finishing up the Half. Everyone ended up at the same Finish Line together, which meant a HUGE bottleneck that started about 15 yards from the finish. It was your basic WALL blocking the entirety the Finish Line. People doing the half-marathon with an expected completion time of around 3 hours ended up with this scene in front of them:

That’s not the Start Line. That’s the FINISH Line. Yikes.

After all our buddies were in, we went to check out the after-party and food spread. Everything looked pretty good to me, especially those handmade ice-cream sandwiches.

Then came a bunch of inexplicable tree pictures:

Afterward we decided to skidaddle over to Weston Town Center and enjoy brunch over at the Prime Time cafe, where Rich, Mare, Jackie, Boots and I met up with Kelly, Mishele, Mary, and other fellow runners. Together we enjoyed beers, Bloody Marys, hot coffee, and other assorted nosh-ables.

Overall I had a good time with the 2017 Rotary Club of Weston “Run For Tomorrow” Half Marathon. For a no-frills local race, it checked off all the right boxes. It was fast, flat, inexpensive, and easy-going. There was plenty of on-course race support and a fairly impressive after-party, along with a 5K and Kids Run so the whole family can participate in the day’s events. The AMAZING weather and Christmas atmosphere didn’t hurt either.

My only real criticism was that mess at the Finish Line, when it suddenly became so entirely clogged that people couldn’t even cross without having to come to a complete stop and sort of wedge their way in towards the actual finish line timing mat. That’s about it for the negatives, though. If you’re a local, or you happen to be visiting South Florida in December and are looking for a small, easygoing local half, this one’s your Huckleberry. Anyway, thanks for reading and, as always, here’s the loosely associated video, courtesy of Fountains Of Wayne: