Finding summer races in Florida is hard, the heat and humidity can be brutal, keeping the distance running season confined to September – March. Last year when the opportunity for a half came around in July, I jumped at the chance to do the Masters of All Terrain Inagural Race. This year, one June 14th, they have expanded to not only include a full, but 50K and 50 mile Ultra options.
After many people asked me about my experience in the first year, I decided to revisit that review:
You got what you signed up for here. The race was called “masters of all terrain” so the grass, gravel and dirt roads came as no surprise.
I found the course to be incredibly well-marked. Red flags indicated the turns, and pre-race instructions told us to keep these to the right. At the few turns where there could have been confusion there was either a water stop or bright yellow tape that you would need to step over to go the wrong way. The course ran long, I measured it at 13.8 miles, even running the tangents as efficiently as possible. This would have been a bigger deal if we had not been told before the race started that this was the case.
Runners received both a custom sport-fit T-Shirt and Medal at the finish line. The t-shirt is of good quality – heavy and soft, and the Medal is better than many I have received at much larger races. Those that “Run for Bling” were beyond satisfied. Age group certificates were given out three deep, and custom trophies were handed out to the over-all male and female winner. In addition there was a massage tent with 2 tables doing post-race massages, as well as an optional fitness competition at the end, with no additional fee to enter. Plaques were given to the “fittest man”, “fittest woman” and “fittest team”.
When it came to organization and support, there were some struggles, but nothing that is not an easy fix for the next event.
There was a 35 minute delay at the race start, which is a pet-peeve among seasoned runners. This was due to the lines at the porta-potty’s. Much criticism was made about the fact that there were only 2 available for 200 runners. According to Boston Marathon Race Director Dave McGillivray, you need one porta-potty for every 50-75 race participants. Before the race began the race director said, “I should have ordered 4, next year there will be 4”. That said, the lines were not longer than those I have waited in at Disney, and they really only got long 20 minutes before the race started, so there may be shared responsibility with runners who tend to come to smaller local races at the last-minute.
The bigger problem, was the water. It was a very hot day, and the volunteers ran out of water after I was at the 6 mile mark. I was told that runners behind me had nothing after 4. This is the “unforgivable sin” of race day. Runners will forgive a lot, but dehydration is a tough one to overcome. It should be noted that because of the heat, everyone early on took water, and most took 2 or 3, and sometimes 4 at each stop, dumping them over their heads. This made a shortage for those in the middle and back of the pack. The reality is simple, there needs to be so much water that running out is not a possibility. Like the former issue, I am confident this will not be an issue at future races.
The saving grace for the race director was this. Where some would have (which I have seen first hand) hid and laid blame, the director and his team were frantically going back and forth to runners with jugs of water from the finish line. While I missed the water at miles 8 and 10, the gator with cold water arrived to me at mile 11, this got me safely to the finish line.
So yes, there were some complications, but it was a beautiful day with great people from the running community. Runners are forgiving, especially when a director is new. Like I said, the things that went wrong are easy fixes, and June half-marathons, for those of us who wish to do them, are not an easy find. A good discount code, the promise of more water, and maybe slightly bigger bling will bring us back in droves!