The Wadsworth Matchstick Challenge Half Marathon

I can hardly believe that spring has come and gone! It seems like just a few weeks ago we were saying goodbye to the winter snows and the trees were just starting to bud. I have to say that in my little corner of the world our springtime, while blooms having added a pop of color, was full of gray skies and rain. I mean lots of rain. In our area we’ve been dealing with flooding, damp basements, waterlogged everything, and lawns growing wild because it’s nearly impossible to get out to mow. But every once in a while we get a glorious, not too hot, sunny day. One of those days just happened to fall on June 21st…Matchstick Challenge Half Marathon race day!

Scrolling my Facebook feed a couple weeks ago I was surprised when a post for an evening half marathon popped up. I was hoping to get one last spring half in before taking a break for the hot summer months, and this one was nearby (only 35 minutes away) and affordable (I think it was $45 when I entered and I entered kind of late) so I took the plunge. I mean, a race on a Friday evening? No early wake up? No interfering with my work schedule? A festival going on at the same time so my hubby/support crew would have something to do? Could it get any better? Turns out, it was as perfect as I thought it could be and more!

I went on Thursday evening to pick up my packet early. I figured it was one less stressor on race day. I’d know exactly where I needed to be on race day and ready to go. The volunteers were beyond friendly and helpful. It was a quick process and I was on my way home pretty quickly.

Race day arrived and it was nice to not have to get up early or rearrange my schedule. I work a restaurant lunch shift, so I just brought my gear with me, worked my shift then changed afterwards. My hubby picked me up after my shift and we were on our way!

We arrived in Wadsworth with plenty of time to park and find the starting line. It was less than a mile away so we just skipped the shuttle and walked there. We arrived with lots of time to settle in and relax before the race.

This was a smaller race (around 160 runners) so it was a nice change from the big races I had run earlier this year. It was well organized and friendly, which I really liked. We started promptly at 6:15, and once on the course you realize that they aren’t kidding when they talk about rolling hills and it not being a course for a PR. The first 7 miles were an out and back past the matchstick factory, through neighborhood streets to a gravel park walking path and it was hilly! The streets were beautifully shaded and welcoming, and even with all the climbing, it was incredibly enjoyable.

The course ran back past the stadium around mile 7. We ran past the participants of the 5k and 10k races which were also being run in conjunction with the half. The other runners were cheering us on, giving us high fives and so supportive. It was a great pick me up at the halfway point. I also liked the fact that since the shorter races started later, it gave us a little bigger crowd to run with at the end. Being such a small half we were getting pretty spread out, so I liked having some runners added to the mix.

The second half of the course was all neighborhood streets filled with lots of residents cheering on us runners. I have to say, the support for this race was amazing!! I was starting to feel the miles toward the end (I forgot to bring any fuel and probably should have grabbed a second GU from the aid station just before the stadium) so I was happy to see a couple kids from the neighborhood handing out tootsie pops. I very happily thanked the girl and took one for the extra sugar I needed. I was also able to grab a small bottle of water from one of the aid stations which I could carry with me to the finish which was pretty awesome too.

Ah, the finish! We finished at Art Wright Stadium and it was awesome! As you entered the stadium there were people cheering, ringing cow bells and holding signs. My goal for this race was really just to enjoy myself. I told my hubby I planned on maybe a 2:30, but as I neared the finish line I couldn’t believe my eyes. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I really enjoy running hills, or that this race was run when I normally do my daily runs or what, but the clock said 2:17! I crossed the finish line, got my medal then made my way to the water, food and my race crew.

We made our way to the festival area where we took in the sights and gots some festival food before the drive home. It had been a long time since I had funnel cake or fried Swiss cheese on a stick…and why not get some, I’d been moving all day long. I kinda earned it, right? 🙂

After checking the results I found that I had placed 3rd in my age group! There were no age group awards at the race this year, which is kind of disappointing, but on the other hand I know I placed and really, do I need a trinket to remind me? Not really, I know what I earned with my effort and that’s what matters. Overall this was a great race, and I’d totally recommend running it. From the organization, to crowd support, to the unique start time and after race festival, it’s well worth running!

As for summertime, well I’m not very good with hot weather and my body is telling me it needs a break, so my plan is just to run to run for a while. I’m going to work on more general fitness as well. More stretching, Pilates, maybe some heavier weight training and even getting the bike out for some miles. I’m not signed up for any races until November at this point, but we all know how things can change, lol. For now, however, I’m just going to enjoy the summer months and whatever adventures they bring my way!

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