“Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Hospital Hill Half Marathon & 5K 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!”
What a wonderful race weekend and weekend in general. I was overjoyed when I was granted an entry into this race for 2 reasons: I had never been to Kansas City and it gave me a chance to visit a good friend of mine that lives in Kansas City. Hospital Hill is ranked #11 out of top 27 half marathons in the country by Runner’s World.
My departure didn’t get off to a smooth start. Once we got to the park and ride lot, my traveling companion tells me that she left her cell phone back at home. Luckily we left early enough and lived close enough to the airport that we were able to go back for the phone and still make it back with time to spare. After a short stop in Nashville, we arrived in Kansas City around 10am CT. I decided to rent a car since my friend lived 45 minutes from the airport and was working the day of arrival. I got a really good deal on the rental $8/day.
I headed over to the expo right when it opened at 3pm. The expo was held in Sheraton ballroom. It wasn’t the largest one I have been to but the booths there were of high quality. My favorite booth was the beef one, they cooked you a slider and gave you a sample of wine. It didn’t matter that we had to wait about 10 extra minutes for them to finish cooking, it was well worth it. The packet pick-up was well organized and everything flowed in a counter-clockwise circle. The provided computers for you to look up your bib numbers, before picking up your bibs, and finally claiming your race swag. If you were expecting the typical race t-shirt for swag, you would be mistaken. Hospital Hill went the creative route and we got pajama bottoms and towns. It was a first for the pj bottoms but I welcomed the change. The bibs weren’t your typical bib either, we got a bunny bib and a top hat bib. Another genius idea Hospital Hill came up with is the bar codes on the bibs, so after you finish your race, you can simply scan you bib with your phone and be taken directly to your race results. Genius, because no one likes to stand in line after running to get your official results.
THURSDAY NIGHT-DRINKS AND NBA PLAYOFFS
Since the 5K didn’t take place until Friday night, we decided to take advantage of the thursday night. We went out to dinner, drinks, and watched a little NBA Playoffs. It was a fun evening and some of the 8 people in our party had a little too much to drink. The evening didn’t end until almost 2am, and I hoped that would not effect my 5k time the next evening.
FRIDAY- 5K RACE-DAY
Since the race wasn’t until 7pm Friday night, it gave us most of the day to venture out before coming back to relax before the race. We hit up a few stores and, against my better judgment, we went to a bbq spot for lunch. Originally I would never eat something as heavy as bbq before a race but how could I resist trying Kansas City famous BBQ. We went to a place called Jack Stacks and i have one of the best beef brisket sandwiches I have ever had. We got back home around 3, and I was able to lay down for about an hour before it was time to get ready to head to race start. Parking was very convenient, as they had designated a parking garage that was about 20 yards from the start of the race. The 5K didn’t have any corrals, even though, there were about 1400 runners. Nevertheless, the race starting exactly at 7pm, which I appreciated. It was a very humid evening and warm, so the coordinators advised runners to take it easy and not push too hard. The race itself was nice. I was not sure what to expect since I never study the course map, so I was trying to prepare myself for anything on the run. We encounter the namesake “Hospital Hill” first thing on mile 1. The hill was definitely challenging but felt great fighting through it. Honestly there were a few other hills on the 5k course that were just as challenging as “Da Hill”. The finish was a slight uphill, and we were met with medals, decals that read “I conquered the hill” and refreshments. I was very disappointed that the bottle water they handed out to the runners was HOT. I couldn’t even drink mine. Luckily there were a few booths set up at the finish, and one of them had cold bottled water….not to mention the cold beer we got. Headed home to prepare for the half marathon that would take place in 12 hours.
I was nervous to see how my body would respond to taking on a half marathon, only 12 hours after fighting through a hilly 5K. I arrived at the starting line festivities at 6am, in preparation for a 7am start. It was going to be another hot day, mid 70s at the start and would get up to close to 80 degrees by the end of the race. One thing I noticed is that there were ample porta-johns available for runners. I didn’t have to wait more than 2 minutes before one became available. I was in Corral A so I would be heading out at the first gun. True to form, the sent us off at exactly 7am. The race started with about a half mile slight down hill before we hung a right and began our trek through downtown. We encountered “Hospital Hill” on mile 3, along with tons of spectators along the runs cheering on all the runners. After conquering the HILL for the 2nd time, I began to realize one thing….the course was not going to be flat-friendly. The whole race you were either going uphill or downhill, so I found it very hard to open up my speed like I wanted. I choose to preserve my energy early and hopefully gradually increase my pace as the miles added up. The course took us through scenic downtown, past several parks and by a few beautiful landmarks. I tried to take as much in as I could, at least when I wasn’t trying to concentrate on breathing heading up a hill. The water stops were well-placed. After every 1.5 miles, you usually ran into a aid station. I found every time I felt like I needed water, I look up and could see a water stop in the distance. After mile 8, we found ourselves heading back towards downtown. We encountered one more significant hill at mile 11, before enjoying a downhill finish for the last mile. Upon finishing we were greeted with ice cream sandwiches, water, chocolate milk, chips, form blocks soaked in cold water, etc. After making my way through the finish line area, we could partake in some gelato, beer and fruit by some ventures. The highlight was runners, were treated to free pancakes with all the trimmings; syrup, whipped cream, chocolate chips, fruit. This was another first for me, pancakes after a race….BUT I LOVED IT.
I would definitely recommend this race to ANY runner that loves the challenge. Yes the hills are tough, but the feeling of accomplishment after you finish that race is amazing. Not to mention, runners are really well taken care of for this race. If you have the means, you should add this race on your race calendar in the future and don’t forget to partake in some Kansas City BBQ while you are there.
My friend surprised us with tickets to see the KC Royals play. I was excited and it just happened to be free bobblehead day at the stadium. I got a Alex Gordon bobblehead to bring home as a souvenir. Outside of it being extremely hot, we enjoyed cheering on the Royals to a 11-5 victory of the reigning American League champs, Cleveland Indians.