Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Race Rating: Run for the Grapes Half Marathon

The Run for the Grapes Half Marathon is run in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada and the vineyard region on the western outskirts of town. The race is run in September. My overall view of the race is that it is well organized, scenic, fast, and an overall good experience for most any runner.

1. Bathroom facilities - 1 (As far as I could tell, there were only 6 portapoddies for 1000 runners and their families and friends - however, I may have missed something as the lineups weren't outrageous. Therefore, I'll give the benefit of the doubt with a 1 instead of a 0.)

2. Race day organization - 3 (Fantastic. This was a very smooth operation from the minute you pulled into town.)

3. Course scenery - 2 (City, vineyards, corn field. It is the Run for the Grapes...)

4. Course creativity - 2 (There was only one out and back section. The starting and finishing 4 or so km were duplicated but, not being from there, I hardly noticed...)

5. Value - 3 (Entry price was quite reasonable. The shirt and medal were good quality and some of the best I've seen. Parking was cheap, ample and close.)

6. Shirt or gift - 3 (The Merrell shirt is truly one of the best I've had in 20 years of running, as is the medal. I have a picture of both up on the race report post.)

7. Parking availability - 3 ($2 flat rate - not as good as free but pretty darn close. The municipal lots were within a very short walk of the start / finish.)

8. Website quality - 2 (The site had all the necessary information but had an awkward design due to it being part of a whole running series at the same site. The site lacked any photos or race history.)

9. Online registration - 3 (Very simple link from main website.)

10. Accessible for spectators - 3 (Very spectator friendly. Those on bikes could follow the race as the roads were only closed to traffic on one lane.)

11. Convenience of race packet pickup - 3 (There was no unnecessary picking up of race packet the day before. Because of the later, 9:00, start time, there was plenty of time to accommodate everyone before the race start. There was no race day registration, so everyone was there to simply pickup.)

12. Pre-race expo - 0 (There was none.)

13. Entertainment on course - 0 (None.)

14. Post race food - 2 (Standard. Although, this was the first time I've ever been limited to one trip through the food line - ensured with a bingo blotter stamp to my race number.)

15. Race day vendors/exhibitors - 1 (Merrell, of course, had a big set-up. Other than that, just the usual back specialist and a table with some running pamphlets.)

16. Volunteers / marshalls / police & emergency services support -3 (Awesome as usual. The Niagara Regional Police were some of the friendliest cops I've ever seen marshall a race!)

For a grand total of 34. This score makes Run for the Grapes my highest ranking race by 1 point over Toronto Pearson Runway Run 5k and Rattlesnake Point 12.7 Trail Run. I will do this run again - maybe not next year because I really do want to get to Montreal in September...

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