On Saturday, May 12, we ran the Happy Half Marathon in Ellicottville, NY, held at the Holiday Valley Resort. This is in the downhill ski area in the southtowns of Western NY. We hadn’t done this race before, but had heard about it and thought it would be fun so we entered on a whim.
Registration Cost: This race’s registration cost about $80 (because we were in the late registration time, though the cheapest was about $55 and went up from there). Some of the entry fee is designated to various charities, which makes the hefty entry fee seem a little better.
Packet Pick-Up: This was held at the main lodge at Holiday Valley, so because of the distance for driving we did the packet pick-up in the morning before the race. This was organized by last name and was easy to get through. We were given our shirts, which are gender-specific cotton shirts. The registration had advised to size up if you didn’t want a tight shirt so we both did and were grateful for the warning. The swag bags also inluded some samples of hemp hearts, biofreeze, a keychain with a bottle opener on it, and some other items/coupons.
As a side-note: What’s up with all of these cotton shirts? The Skunk Cabbage and Seneca7 also had gender-specific cotton shirts this year (so lots of sizing up going on here)!
Pre-Race: The pre-race area was mostly in the lodge due to rain. There were restrooms available and other merchandise if you wanted to purchase it. There was an announcer and some volunteers around for the pre-race.
Course: The course begins and ends by the lodge, with it starting on a loop up through a parking lot. That was a little surprising but not a big deal. The rest of the course was on the side of the road with most of it on the shoulder. There were a few lane closures, but not many. There were several signs along the road with positive/funny messages–some better than others, but it was a nice thought. There were also some unicorn-headed volunteers around along with a couple of unicorn signs.
Some stretches of the course were on the shoulder of a highway so there was a lot of traffic going by, which was loud and also gave a lot of roadspray from the vehicles–especially the big trucks. There were also some cars driving on the course, we think this was mostly from local residents going to and from their homes though they were driving a bit fast for the conditions. There was also a car and a truck with the race that were monitoring the course.
The lead runners had bikers with them. Parts of the course had two-way traffic for runners, but these sections didn’t feel overly crowded.
The course was described as having rolling hills. This seemed pretty accurate with some hills, but nothing overwhelming–we were a little worried because we were in downhill ski country. This ended up being fine.
There were a lot of water stops, all of which had water and Gatorade. One stop had Gu gels and bananas, so there were two times for those because this course was an out and back design.
Finish Line: The finish line was on an uphill–yay for Violet! There was an announcer, though he wasn’t announcing much by the time we finished. There were also volunteers handing out medals and mylar blankets. We were happy to get our glittery unicorn medals and just as happy to get the mylar blankets because it was raining.
Post-Race: There were some options for food and water right after crossing the finish line, with water, soda, cookies, apples, and little bags of chips. The beer tent was also outside and all participants were given two beer tickets (but you couldn’t swap these for coffee… what a bummer!). Inside, participants had the option of a hamburger and fries, meatball sub and fries, macaroni and cheese, or a fruit and yogurt parfait. We both went with the burger option and thought it was tasty.
There was a lot of room for sitting and eating, especially if you were ambitious enough to take stairs to the upper or lower levels. We went upstairs and found seating on our first try. It was nice that it was inside because it was pretty chilly and raining still.
Weather: The temperature was in the lower 50s with rain pretty continuously throughout the morning. There were some claps of thunder partway through the race–probably when we were about 6 miles in. We were grateful that it didn’t downpour and that we didn’t see lightning with the thunder. Also, there was no snow and it wasn’t too windy! Despite the weather, we both had fun 🙂
Apparel: Charcoal wore a pair of running tights, mid-winter socks, long-sleeved tech shirt, merino wool t-shirt, Pearl Izumi jacket, running cap, and Brooks Pure Cadence 6 shoes.
Violet wore capri-length compression tights from Old Navy, Pro Compression marathon socks, an elastic bandage on the recovering ankle, a tech t-shirt from a previous event, a Canari bike jacket, Smartwool liner gloves, a running cap, and Saucony Guide 10 shoes.