I was lucky enough to get an entry to the Wineglass Half Marathon in Corning, NY. I wanted to do this race for only one reason, the finisher medal. It’s the most beautiful race medal I’ve seen. I’ve done something like this only two other times; the Los Angeles Marathon and the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (I will do pretty much anything for a Tiffany necklace).
The drive to Corning, NY from Toronto, if you don’t take the wrongs exits, will only take between 3-4 hours. Since I hadn’t really expected to be doing this race, I didn’t have a hotel booked. This was a good opportunity to cross off another bucket list item; pre-race camping. For October, it was slightly cold, but so much fun. The campsite I stayed at has cabins as well and it’s conveniently located close to Bath, NY where you can park, get to the start line, or shuttle to the half marathon start.
Race day always requires a bit of planning luckily this one is pretty easy. The marathon race starts in Bath and the half marathon race starts in Campbell. Both races finish in downtown Corning. I really love this kind of race start. The marathon will eventually catch up to the half marathoners and it allows for a better finish for racers and spectators. The race is very organized, I however wasn’t. I didn’t realize that I had to drive to Bath and get a shuttle down to the start line of the half marathon. I kept thinking how lucky I was that I was so close to the start line. After I finished the race, I realized the errors of my lack of planning.
The racecourse is beautiful, flat (pretty much a net downhill in fact) and is point to point. Race day ended up being a headwind kind of day, other than that, the weather temperature was perfect. Picturesque autumn scenes of rolling hills, trains, and rivers were the views from beginning to end. Water stations were perfectly spaced out, showing up roughly every 2 miles. GU gels were generously handed out and for someone (me), who didn’t come fully prepared; this was a happy dance moment.
The crowd support was surprising. A race, which runs through three small cities, crowds cheered as each neighborhood got behind the race. It was hard not smile and give a few high-fives. One of my favourite moments of this race was about 2km to the finish line along a suburban street; kids had completely covered a 400M section in inspiring words with chalk. This is the stuff that chokes me up during a race. So many happy words of encouragement made me smile from ear to ear.
The finish line made me feel like I was running a race as big as The Boston Marathon. The screams were so loud and even though I was only doing this as a long run, I felt like it was my very first race. I crossed the finish line and all I wanted was that medal. Once it was around my neck I was ready for some food. The post-race was just as well organized. Full chocolate milk, cans of soda, hot soup, apples, bananas, bagels, cookies and at the very end, pizza! I took one of everything and enjoyed my post-race feast. Recovery never tasted so good. The bag check was easy and I got my stuff and was in warm dry clothes, ready to find the town’s best coffee shop. The town market square is a really cool artsy place, and I can honestly say they have N. America’s best cappuccinos.
Getting back the start to get my car would’ve been easier had I actually followed the instructions. However, since I needed to get back to Campbell, I had to kindly ask, well actually beg to kindly make a special stop for me. They happily obliged and I made a note for next time to read all instructions for race day.
This is a race that sells out fast so when registration opens, get signed up. Take a bunch of friends and make a weekend of it. Whether you go camping, glamping or stay in a hotel the town is very accommodating to the runners that come into town. Make sure you don’t miss this race next year. If you’re looking for a great October personal best course, this race has got the right ingredients to get you that goal.