Carolina Half Race Review

Well, this took a lot longer than I anticipated. I started this post a few weeks ago, since I wanted to give my final thoughts on the race as my first 70.3 and also give the race a good review since it’s in its first year.

This was a Setup Events race, and I’ve yet to go to a race that they’re involved in that was not well done, and this was no exception. The race was located in Cornelius/Davidson, NC, which is just north of Charlotte. It was maybe a 90+ minute drive for me, so fairly close. The only race closer to Greenville is Rev3 Anderson, so definitely convenient. I did get a hotel room the night before since I figured a 3 am wake up call wouldn’t be ideal!  There were plenty of reasonable hotels in the area that were less than 10 minutes away from the race site and since it’s a small race, traffic was no issue.

Pre-Race:

Since the race was on Sunday, we had all afternoon on Saturday to get to packet picket.  It was located in downtown Davidson, which is absolutely adorable. I wish I’d left some extra time to wander around a bit.  The only issue with this was the lack of parking in the area. I had to drive around a few times before I was able to find a spot. Other than that, no problems. They had everything already broken out into envelops with race directions, numbers, and the trash bags for T1.

After that, I had to go drop off my bike at T1.  This race is point-to-point, so two transitions. Considering that this can be a logistics nightmare, they did a great job. There was plenty of time on Saturday to drop the bikes, but you could also do it early Sunday morning (mostly for locals) and the transition area was guarded overnight.

While I was over there, I checked out the swim-to-bike run, which I was warned was long. I put a picture in my recap, but here it is again.

Really far

Really far

The run was in the grass and they did a good job covering the gravel portions with carpeting, and also left an area open to leave shoes for the run if you wanted.

There was also a pre-race athlete meeting, but I didn’t attend. They did a good job going over the logistics in the race packet, so I didn’t see a need and it was fine.

Race Day:

On race day, everyone had to park over near T2.  There were people parking all over the place, but there was plenty of parking spaces at the two schools less than a block away.  At T2, I set up my run stuff, then put everything else I needed in a bag to take back to T1.  Shuttles were provided to take everyone over to T1.  When we got there, it was a little late (~6:45), and there was still a long long for the shuttles, so the race staff asked all the spectators to wait and let all the athletes on the shuttles first so we could get over there on time.  They actually had to delay the race about 20 mins to give everyone time, but that was fine.  Probably, they’ll need more shuttles next year.

At T1, there was a trash bag for everything in transition and a second bag for dry clothes at the swim start, which were bussed over to T2 later.  It was kind of a pain to stuff everything in a bag once I was ready to take off but in reality it probably didn’t take that long.

SWIM:

The swim was in Lake Norman, which is pretty nice, if a little warm for my taste =)

IMG_20130928_164006

Pretty standard lake swim around the buoys…no current. The water seemed pretty clean and it wasn’t choppy. The swim exit is up a boat ramp, which is a nice change from all the dock/ladder exits. Then…the long run to T1.

T1 is in a grassy area, and there was plenty of room for everyone (and their trash bags)

photo 4 (2)BIKE:

I really liked the bike course. It was not flat (~2000 ft of elevation) but it wasn’t ridiculously challenging either.  There was a really nice flat section of about 10 miles midway through but it was mostly rolling hills.  Mostly, the road surface was good, though there were a few places where I thought I was off-roading it. It was also very…country.  Very quiet.  There was not very much course support out there, and only 3 aid stations with water only. I like this, but some might find it boring. There are some big hills in the last 2 miles through a super fancy neighborhood.

RUN:

T2 is located in Baily Park parking lot:

photo 5 (3)The run course starts out with a loop through the park, which is nice, then head out through some neighborhoods. They are hilly. There were tons of people and volunteers out on that part of the run course and aid stations about every mile. A lot of this was not shaded, but it wasn’t too hot. The aid station volunteers did a great job bringing cups and food out to the course and it seemed like there was plenty to go around. Around mile 5, the course heads over onto the Davidson College cross country course. Also hilly. It was very shady though, and the packed gravel was soft to run on. It’s an out-and-back course so once you turn around, you get to see all those lovely hills again.

The finish line area was pretty great too. There were tons of people cheering, music, etc. Since it was in a park, there were tons of kids around to and the race did a good job providing activities for the kids. It seemed like there was plenty of finish line food, but I can’t say how awesome it was since I didn’t eat any of it! It smelled good though. I think there was BBQ for the athletes and a food truck for everyone else. There were real bathrooms at the finish, but no TP.

As far as stuff goes, we got a participant’s shirt, a finisher’s shirt and medal, and a sweet pair of socks.

The cost of this race was about half of what I would have paid for an Ironman 70.3 event, which is a pretty good deal.  While there wasn’t as much course support/aid as you would find at a bigger race, I think it was a really great local race. I definitely think it’s a race worth looking at if you’re not going for the destination (you know, like Miami or something). I know they’re already looking to nail down a date for next year! While I don’t intend to do it next year, I would recommend it!

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About Steph

Hey there, I'm Steph
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5 Responses to Carolina Half Race Review

  1. Props to you for 70.3! IM is a SERIOUS commitment!

  2. Great job and great swim leg! There were some pretty good swimmers out there :)

  3. Amy Lauren says:

    Good idea to review the race, especially since it’s a first year and there will be people on the internet looking for information (also one of the reasons why I thoroughly reviewed my Darlington Marathon race). It looks like this one was a good one; Setup events does Tris here in Charleston and are well-known, plus in NC you definitely have some different terrain and scenery than you do in SC. Lake Norman is pretty too- we always see it when we go to visit Clay’s grandparents.

  4. I get emails from Set Up Events all the time, but always just delete. I am glad to know they are really well put on.

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