Billed as the only nighttime half marathon in St Louis, the Equinox Half Marathon was a must run for me. The race took place on September 16, just one day after former police office Jason Stockley was acquitted of murder. That decision has sparked several days of protesting, with destruction of property and violence occurring after dark. While the decision was announced in downtown St Louis, the protesting occurred all over the city. However, the race organizers had worked with the Maryland Heights police and fire departments to ensure adequate race coverage. As I live in south St Louis city, my husband was very hesitant of me running. Not so much worried about the race itself, but about me getting home. The judge in the decision lives in our neighborhood and protests were expected there the night of the race. Fortunately, protesters stayed away from both the race area and my neighborhood.
The race originated from Westport Plaza, a unique multi-use area including hotels, restaurants, bars, theatres, and corporate offices. Check-in was to occur at a new entertainment spot called Westport Social. Not being familiar with Westport Social’s location within the plaza, I parked in the large open parking lot in front of the plaza. I saw others were parking there too and there was a truck selling various athletic apparel. Following the line of people took me to the back of the plaza. Check-in was set up outside of Westport Social within their outside seating area. The line was minimal and check-in consisted of several tables. The first stop was to obtain my bib. The half marathon and 5k had the same bib, no differentiation in wording or coloring.
The next stop was swag! Swag consisted of a hat, socks, pint glass and a bag full of coupons, including a free margarita at Fuzzy Taco and a free beer at Trainwreck Saloon with your pint glass and bib.
The course consisted of two 6 mile loops in the Maryland Heights area. Beginning right in front of the plaza, we proceeded to run through the plaza and run along the back side, including the new World Wide Technology facility. We wrapped our way around Westport Plaza before heading east, running by O’Fallon Brewery’s new location. It had been many years since I was last at Westport Plaza and there were so many new buildings and companies and restaurants that had moved out there. Around Mile 1, we entered Edward Jones Blvd. From I-270, you can see 2 large Edward Jones buildings, but I didn’t realize how large their campus was off Dorsett. They have numerous single story buildings spotting the whole area.
Overall, the course was very well marked, with plenty of volunteers, police and firemen along the course to keep traffic away and tell you where to go. The only place that I got confused was heading back into Westport Plaza after my first loop. I could see people running towards me and I was far enough behind the person in front of me that I couldn’t see where they had turned. There was a volunteer at the intersection with a sign with arrows pointing which way to go, but they made no sense to me so I just yelled out to him as I approached.
It always amazes me how I never notice how hilly a road is while I’m driving. I would have never thought this section of St Louis would have been hilly, but I was wrong. There were long stretches of up-hill climbs. Which I love hills, so this was my opportunity to leave and pass people along the back end of the route. I tend to run negative splits during races, which just means that I tend to speed up as the race progresses. I follow the Galloway run-walk method, using 30 second run / walk intervals, but usually when I hit about the 10 mile mark during a half marathon, I start stretching out my run portions. But, no matter how long I run, I only walk for 30 seconds, which has been shown to be the most efficient recovery time.
Upon finishing, I was handed a medal. And it actually glowed in the dark! Very cool! Many of my friends from Big River Training Team were volunteering at the finish line handing out water and bananas. I stayed around with them until some of the last runners came in. It turned out to be a beautiful night after the sun went down and was able to cool off a little.