Fun times; improvements needed
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Craft Classic Atlanta Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
I was excited to experience a new half marathon course in Atlanta, even if I’m usually wary about inaugural races. Overall I’d say it was a positive experience even if there is room for improvement; any issues I had I’m going to assume they were due to first year growing pains. I would like to run another Craft Classic race and would recommend to others, but there definitely needs to be some improvements. Please read my BibRave race review for additional details.
First, let’s talk about what I enjoyed most: the course. Yes, it was very hilly (as are most races in ATL) but it was a nice change starting in the Grant Park area. The Atlanta Half, Publix Half, and Hotlanta are popular half marathons during the year, and I was happy that Craft Classic hit up some different neighborhoods than those. Also, parking in Grant Park was very easy, leaving you very close to the start finish area. I did get there early, but it seemed like there was plenty of parking.
Another positive was the abundance of aid stations (every 1.5-2 miles) and the use of Nuun, rather than typical Powerade sugar fest. It would have been nice if the aid stations had ice though. September is still quite warm in Atlanta, and it was a particular hot and humid morning. Most of the water and Nuun was room temperature or warm.
Of course, the swag was also great including a pint glass, sunglasses, free race photos, and a women’s specific tank (yay for something other than a tech shirt). My haul looked pretty good!
— Jessica Fun Size (@moore27) September 9, 2016
What didn’t work?
So, there are two huge things with this race that really pissed me off. First, the schedule and location of the packet pickup was horrible. We only received our ONE pre-race email on Tuesday before the race. Packet pickup was offered that Thursday and Friday in the Buckhead location of Road Runner Sports. If anyone is familiar with Atlanta, getting to Buckhead during the work week for anyone that doesn’t already live or work in Buckhead is like traveling through the pit of hell. The email and race website made it clear that there would be NO RACE MORNING PACKET PICKUP! So I braved the Atlanta traffic shitstorm to get there; the lovely drive required allowed me to listen to the entire Hamilton soundtrack, all 2 hours and 45 minutes of it. Honestly, if a race is going to insist on no race morning pickup, they need to offer more pickup days/times and preferably include some days during the previous weekend, when it would be at least manageable to drive to the store. To put salt in the wound, when we arrived at the race start on Saturday, they had a tent with race morning packet pickup. I guess Craft Classic has no problem paying for my gas and Xanax needed to make it to the in-store pickup?
The second major issue I had was at the post-race party. I have done many races that include beer at the end; I have never needed my ID. A smart person would understand that you have to show your ID to get your bib and your bib has your age on it. But NO! Myself and my group of friends running the race were not permitted to enter the post-race area because we did not have ID. So, this was a beer themed race, where you received a medal with a bottle opener, and none of us actually got any beer.
Again, I’m willing to chalk these issues up to first year mishaps, but they are both pretty unacceptable in my book. Next year, I will be watching the Craft Classic races in other cities to see if changes have been made before I make a decision to run or not. I really do hope they get this together because overall it has the potential to be a great race. There are also not a lot of in-town half marathon options in the fall until Thanksgiving so I’d love to be able to put this on my yearly calendar.
Final Verdict: Fun race and course with some frustrating first year issues. Hoping for improvements in the future.
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