Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the North Olympic Discovery 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!
As I have mentioned before, June is a super busy race month for me. The North Olympic Discovery half marathon kicked everything off with a bang. The race takes place in Port Angeles, WA which is about a 2.5-3 hour drive from Seattle. I had a busy weekend with a baby shower and tickets to a soccer game on Saturday, so originally I thought I would drive over on Saturday night. I procrastinated on getting a hotel, and then looked into the drive times and found out that in the early morning it only takes about 2 hours to get there. So I decided to wake up (5:30am) and drive over on race morning. I was really looking forward to this race, and it did not disappoint!!
the start line
This course is a point to point, so you do not start at the finish line. They had options to park at start or park and finish and get shuttled to the start line. I choose the latter. Since we arrived race morning, I did not get to attend the race expo. Bibs would be available for pick up at the corresponding start line. I arrived at the half marathon start and got my bib with zero problems. If you picked up your bib on race day, they gave you your shirt at the finish line. I loved that because then you didn’t have to find a place to stow your shirt while running!
I ran into Emily, a fellow BibRave Pro, and we chatted it up before the half started. It was so great to meet her! Check out her recap here.
There were no corrals or waves with this race, however there were pacers so you could line up with them if you wished.
I was very excited about this course, and it did not disappoint. You run along the North Olympic Discovery Trail (hence the name of the race) which is beautiful! Despite it being a trail and the race not having corrals, there was no congestion on the course. Because it is point to point, the organizers have worked it out perfectly so that everyone has enough room from the marathoners to the 5K runners.
The trail is very scenic and beautiful to run on. It is paved, so you get the feel of a trail run with the surroundings, but not the terrain. You run past fields, over bridges and thru forests.
You get views of the mountains and then of the water. It is so beautiful, it really lives up to it’s reputation!
I looked at the elevation chart and knew there would be some hills, but I have to say I was not expecting them to be so intense. They are fairly steep which is good news and bad news. Good news because they are over quickly, bad news because they are so steep!
Sunday was also an uncharacteristically hot day in Washington. When we started the race at 8:30am, it was already in the 60s. While I was on the course it said it was 70, but it felt hotter. The temps just kept going up. Thankfully there was a lot of shade on the course and breezes along the way, but the heat made the hills more difficult and slowed my pace down.
Thankfully they were prepared and had plenty of COLD water along the course. They even had some damp towels and people with spray bottles so you could cool off. The aid stations were the best of any race I have run. Each had a theme and very enthusiastic volunteers. My favorites were the Star Wars stations. It made for a lot of fun along the course and a few great photo opps. I had never seen this done at a race before & I loved it!
Despite the heat and the hills, I really enjoyed the course. There was tons of community support & spectators. The scenery was beautiful and the race organizers paid a ton of attention to details. Great aid stations, each mile was clearly marked, sidewalk chalk enragement on the pavement & plenty of port-a-potties!
Crossing the finish line was so glorious. The ocean was to my right and the smell of salt water was in the air. I got my medal and had my own personal volunteer that escorted me to get water, asked if I needed medical attention and then direct me to the post race snacks. At first I thought I was in way which is why they were escorting me around, like “let’s get this girl moving” (haha) but it turns out they do it for everyone that crosses the finish line. How cool is that!? Anything you need, they will get for you. Took me a minute to figure that out while I was catching my breath haha. It was very nice, like finish line valet!
Now onto the post race snacks…. OMG YOU GUYS – they had a full on buffet. I didn’t have enough hands for what was about to come at me!!! There was tons of cut fruit, muffins, croissants, chips and salsa, yogurt parfaits, yogurt, warm soup, NUTELLA, popsicles and tons of beverages. They had lemonade, coffee, iced tea, water bottles, vitamin water & chocolate milk. I was so thankful as I was hungry and it helped replenish after the 13 miles.
One last thing…
The age group awards for this race are BEAUTIFUL. How do I know? There were awards for the top 3 in each age group for each distance. While I didn’t do horrible in my age group, I didn’t place in the top 3. However, Andy did!!! (go figure) He ran the 5K and finished 6th overall and first in his age group. I honestly don’t know how the guy does it. I super super proud of him, but can’t help but be a lil jealous.
Run it OR Skip it?
RUN IT! Well organized. BEAUTIFUL course. Finish line buffet. 😉 Great swag. PNW gorgeous-ness. Just a short trip from Seattle. What else could you ask for? Definitely a must run race.