Race Report: Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon
I’m not one for spontaneous decisions, but once I found out my BRF, Alison, would be heading up to Maine to run the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon in Portland Maine, I decided to crash her party! Heck my plan called for 14-miles anyway – I might as use the race as a training run with a cool medal as a bonus. Plus Alison’s sister has a home near Old Orchard Beach, just south of Portland, and graciously allowed me to spend the night.
This race would be my 29th Half Marathon in my 10th U.S. State (omitting the DNF from the 2012 Iron Horse Half and relay from the 2012 Rock n Roll Providence Half). It would also be my 8th Half Marathon of 2014!
I had missed early registration by the time I had decided to register for the race late Friday night. This was supposed to be a weekend without races, but since the family had other plans, I decided to drive up to Portland after HMF’s Red Dress Run 5K Saturday morning. Race morning registration was offered, but I decided to drive straight to the expo to register on Saturday. I arrived at 5:10pm to mass chaos at the pier – well, chaos to me – a huge festival to the crowd. The expo was set up on the Maine State Pier and was open from 11am to 6pm. There they had vendors, bands, and bib pick up. Parking was non-existent so I illegally parked, put on my hazards and raced to registration were I quickly filled out the paperwork, got my bib and ordered an elite race tech to be shipped to my home at a later date!
After a wonderful dinner, we turned in early to get some shut-eye. Race start was a manageable 7 in the morning. The sun was up, the sky was clear and the breeze was comforting. We made our way to downtown Portland and quickly came halt behind a line of cars trying to find a place to park (tip – get there early or stay at one of the hotels across from the start). Even though we were in a little late we quickly made our way to a parking garage – the fee was only $10 for the day.
The race began ON Ocean Gateway Pier – which was a new experience for me. Pacers were provided and corral line-up was on the honor system and based on pace per minute. The race began under a balloon arch and quickly turned left onto Route 1. We ran in the center of the road between cones so the street could remain open to traffic. It was congested, but manageable even when run/walk/running. There we made our way south until turning up-hill towards Valley Street Dog Park. This was our first hill – steep but no Heart Break. We were soon upon Mile 3 and a water spot. Good thing for me, I was carrying my own water. Bad for others because there was a line for water and the volunteers were frantically trying to fill cups from a hose. I stayed left and avoided that mess.
The neighbors were pretty and the race went fast. There was a steep downhill on Clark Street as we finished the loop and then retraced our steps back down Route 1/West Commercial Street. Once we hit the pier again, we turned onto Hancock Street and then right onto Fore Street. Here we journeyed along the water and Eastern Promenade. There was one additional uphill, but it wasn’t a bad hill. It was a very pretty course and overlooked the cove.
From there the course took us along Back Cove Trail for 3 miles as we made our way around Back Cove. Just as the name implies, it was a gravel trail and made for a nice change from the pavement. It was a beautiful 3 miles, but it was time to finish the race crossing back over I-295 on Washington Ave bridge. The worst part of the entire race was running by the sewage plant at mile 12 (it reminded me of the Walt Disney World Marathon course). We picked up the pace to escape the smell of the sewage plant. After this, all that was left was the mile back to the pier, past a misting station, running through the finisher chutes and under the arch for the medal!!
Here is the official course map complete with a video.
I was pleasantly surprised how enjoyable the course was – granted we did have a perfect day, although a little warm (low 80’s). My tips would be to bring your own fluids and gels, wear sunblock and a hat, and definitely put this race on your bucket list! I would highly recommend this half marathon and cannot wait to do it again!