Race Report: Hershey Half Marathon
I kicked off my birthday week running the 5th Hershey Half Marathon, held on Sunday, October 19, 2014. The race was $75 and included a long sleeve tech, goodie bag, finisher’s medal and 2 tickets to Hersheypark in the Dark! As a frequent theme and amusement park patron, race entries which include park tickets entice me to participate and to bring my family along for the weekend.
Please note – a Kids Fun Run was also offered for children ages 2 to 13 for $12. The race distances ranged from 30 to 340 yards. Registration included a Fun Run t-shirt, Fun Run Medal and a “sweet treat.” Unfortunately, we could not make the Kids Fun Run due to a Cross Country Meet, but maybe in 2015!
This was my first time running the Hershey Half Marathon, but I have visited Hershey Park as a child and with my family when the kids were younger. Now that they were older, and more importantly TALLER, we were all excited to see which coasters we could ride together!
We arrived at Hershey mid-afternoon, checked into our hotel and promptly headed to packet pick-up. Packet pick up and Expo was held at The Ice Palace. The expo was two rows of vendors with packet pick up located in back. Although the expo was extremely small, there were plenty of free, GENEROUS samples and it was very well-organized.
After a quick stroll through the expo, we headed to the park for the Hersheypark in The Dark event with our FREE (included) tickets!
The Hersheypark in The Dark event’s hours were from 12pm to 10pm – 10 hours of park fun, again with 2 tickets included with your race registration. The park’s “roller ghosters” were renamed for the event and there was themed entertainment and attractions. Kids 12 and under were invited to visit Treatville. Treatville was a walk-through trick or treat area. My children received a bag of Hershey candies. Adults were not offered any candy – so I had to steal my kid’s candy and I shamelessly begged the volunteer for a Cadbury Scream Egg – MY FAVORITE!!!!
The park was not crowded. The longest line wait-time was 30-minutes – and this was for a top coaster. My only wish was that we were dressed warmer. The cold coupled with the early race time had us heading to the park exit earlier than expected. We grabbed a quick dinner at Red Robbin (located right outside the gates) before heading back to our hotel, Hampton Inn and Suites.
Race start was scheduled for 7:30am. My friends, Scott and Susan, advised me to get to the stadium before the roads closed. This was important since my hotel was located on the race course. I listened and arrived early enough for a front row spot. Susan joined me to wait in the warm car while Scott went back home for a forgotten item. Both were course veterans and pointed out the important things – like the location of the best flush toilets to use before the race.
After my less than stellar performance at the Hartford Marathon the week prior, I decided I was going to run for time. Without consulting my coach, I decided on a 2 minutes/30 second interval. I also decided I was going to break in my new Mizuno Wave Rider 18’s…
Soon it was time to begin. The Hershey Half Marathon has a self seeding start – meaning wherever you wanted to start in the crowd, you could…and soon we were off running.
The race began within the parking lot outside the Stadium and ran around another parking lot until we entered Hershey Park. Inside the park there was some congestion and tight corners, but in a blink of an eye, we were again outside the park and running through the surrounding roads headed towards Milton Hershey School.
I had been warned about the Hershey hills, but they were relentless. These hills were rollers. And on and on they rolled…
Some of my favorite parts of the race were the roads around Milton Hershey School. The students came out to cheers us on and we welcomed the support on the rolling hills. Another race highlight was having my family come out of the hotel room to cheer me on! Note – I run so many races, my family is unimpressed with my running. I chose a hotel that was literally on the course so all they needed to do was step outside the door to see me pass.
With every mile I passed, I knew I was putting in a good race with a good time. I knew I wasn’t going to PR, but considering the rollers, I knew my run/walk/run finish of 2:17:25 was a success. I was ecstatic. I haven’t seen a time like that since BC (before cancer) and the course had unrelenting hills and wind. Also, I felt strong at the finish.
My only disappointment with the Hershey Half Marathon was the 5th anniversary medal. The medal was not shaped in the form of a Hershey candy like in previous years. It showed the Hershey factory with its 2 smoke stacks….meh. I wanted a Mr. Goodbar or a Hershey Kiss shaped medal!!! But other than my personal disappointment in the medal design, Hershey was a solid, well-run race weekend. The volunteers were excellent. The post-race refreshments were stellar. There was SWAG, with the medal and race shirt – did I mention the 2 free Hersheypark in The Dark tickets…..THUMBS UP HERSHEY! Well done.
The Hershey Half Marathon will be run on Sunday, October 18, 2015.
Is the Hershey Half Marathon on your #bucketlist? Have you run the Hershey Half Marathon – what did you think?