Race Report: #RunBerkeley Half Marathon

Given the chance to find a race that I can use as a training run, I will jump to it. However, the Berkeley Half Marathon / 10mi. / 10k event was more than just another race, it was a race put on by the same folks who present The San Francisco Marathon. As many of you know, #SFM is my favorite race not only because of the course, but it is in a city which I enjoy to visit as well as the event as a whole, from the packet pick-up all the way to the post race events.

the packet pick-up swag

My encounter with the Berkeley Half Marathon started on Saturday November 23, with the packet pick-up at Pyramid Ale House in Berkeley. Other runners were able to attend a Friday packet pick-up on Friday November 22 at the Sports Basement in San Francisco or have their race bib and D-Tag mailed to them for an additional fee.

When I got to Pyramid, I tried to time my arrival for 11:00AM when the packet pick-up officially opened. It was already pretty busy when I got there, but nothing too hectic. Just enough to cause for a couple of lines, but I was able to get my bib, long sleeve technical shirt, and gear bag drop within 10 minutes or so. After a few exchanges of hellos with some of the friendly folks who put on the race, I was off to continue to rest of my Saturday.

Race morning had an early start for me as I carpooled with a couple of runners from the Sacramento area who are in my running club. We left Sacramento at 5:00AM, which was probably a bit early since we got into Berkeley just past 6:30AM, but this did allow us to find good parking near the start. With sometime before the race, we decided to still head to the start make the typical 2-3 port-a-potty stops before race time, as well as chat with other runners and take a couple of photos as well. 

Outside of the start line itself, I was really excited to see the abundance of port-a-potties at the start. The gear check was also very easy to spot as they were school buses with bib number ranges to where your drop bag would be handed off to. 

As race time started to approach, we gathered to the line, gave one another our have a good race well wishes and found our spots near the pace groups we wanted to run. I placed mysef near the 1:25:00 pacer, knowing that I probably wouldn’t run the entire run with him. However, this would allow me to start closer to the front and avoid much of the unnecessary weaving amongst runners to find space to run. The plan for this race was to run a few miles at half marathon pace and then hold back and run comfortable at and around marathon pace. With the California International Marathon in 2 weeks, I thought to use this race as a training run rather than a race.

Boom, we were off after the signing of the National Anthem. The first mile took us up a slight climb before running downhill for the next 3 miles, from mile 5 through nearly the end, the coures was practically a pancake. Just before the first switch back along the water, is where I decided to start to pull back. Rather than running basesd on what my garmin had me at, I started to run more on feel, which kept me to my plan of a training run. 

Based on my timing chip I crossed the 5.4 mile point at a time of 35:48 (6:38/mi pace). At this point I was feeling good but reminded myself I have bigger fish to fry in a couple of weeks and this was a training run not a day to go after a PR. After hitting this point in the course we started to move back towards to University Ave, which would bring us closer towards the finish as we started to wrap around where the 10mi and 10k runners would be found. 

With running on mostly pavement at this point I crossed the 9.1-mile timing mat at at time of 1:01:52, which was closer to marathon pace for me. The next few miles would take us into more gravel roaded areas, which for me is no big deal because in Sacramento our paths are a mix of pavement, gravel and dirt. This started to get a bit more congested as we gathered around the back end runners of the 10k and 10-mile runners as well as where runners would start to “make their move” to the finish. 

I got across the 10.4-mile mat at a time of 1:10:55 which brought me a little quicker than my marathon pace, but as runners started to move a bit and some areas with the help of a tailwind, I was feeling good but knew that running comfortable was still the goal of this race. 

With more twist and turns / switch backs that the course took us through we started to run into other runners, being able to cheer on some friends running in opposite directions along the course. The next timing mat came very close towards the finish as, more supporters would cheer us into the finish area. I crossed the 11.2-mile mat at a time of 1:16:40.

One final climb and downhill would bring runners into the finish line festivities, I crossed the finish at a time of 1:30:34, just around my goal marathon pace (a bit faster), which I was hoping to accomplish by the end of the day. 

After crossing the finish line I made my way to collect part one of my bling which was the Berkeley Half Marathon finishers medal. Shortly after getting some water, I made my way towards the SF Marathon / Berkeley Challenge tent to collect my second medal of the day. This was an awesome medal, as it was a spinner medal. You know runners love our bling and showing off our Challenge medals.

showing off our bling (#SFM2014 Ambassador Albert & SFM coordinator Lark)

With medals around the neck, I went to grab my gear, and then headed off to the important stuff the FREE BEER! Each runner over the age of 21 was provided a free beer in the beer garden. This area quickly became the most popular location as it was packed with runners. After we had our beers we made our way to the free shuttles that were offered to runners to get us back to the start area where our cars were parked.

the popular beer garden
This event was oraganized especially for a first year event. It offered a fun point-to-point course, with some great views of the Bay Area (Bay Bridge). The race had a fast field, where if you are looking to hit a PR this could be the race for you. Honestly, no complaints on my end regarding this race. Nearly 8,000 runners took part in one of the events offered that day. I see this event selling out in the future, so if you want to run in this event register early for it! 

Did you run the Berkeley Half Marathon? What were your thoughts on the event? Did you have a good time at it? What is your next big race? If you have a RACE REPORT to share about this race or another one you did share it on the link-up.

heading back to the start on a shuttle

2 thoughts on “Race Report: #RunBerkeley Half Marathon

  1. Sounds brilliant! Well organised, fab medal, free beer! What's not to like? 🙂


  2. it is a great event! I cannot wait until next year to run it again.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s