2016 Winter Warrior Half Marathon. After some confusion (created by your's truly) I finally have a handle on the course's location (reading plain written directions is not a strong suit), which had changed since last year's race (one that though I had not participated in, was familiar of the course). Though I had an idea where the Rochester Tech Park is, not having been there since it was part of Kodak wa-a-a-ay back in the early 1990s, a drive out was in order.
With the new course certification sketch map in hand, as well as a self-generated USATF Map It! route, I set out last weekend with the intent of scouting the route for the January 7 run. The official sketch (to the right above) is much more folk art than practical actual guide as the scale is (it says as much in the liner notes) very out of whack. Occasionally, landmarks are not exactly where they depicted to be on the map either, which makes solely using one to scout the course very difficult. Just as when I run an unfamiliar around the city, the Google map allows consideration of the course in a more realistic manner.
The half-marathon is, in this case, literally four 5ks run successively. While loop courses are great for spectators (family and friends who brave the elements for anywhere from 90-120 minutes get to cheer you on four times), the redundancy of the view can offer other challenges to those participating. As it is, the entire course, set in a suburban industrial office park, is fairly light on interesting scenery. Other than the occasional Canadian goose, there is also little wildlife activity to note, suggesting that much of the run will be in the participant's head. Of course, because the race starts at dusk and the sun will have set by the time even the best athletes finish, the value of viewing distractions is slight.
The slight incline to the water tower at about the 2/3 mile mark (from the start in loop 1) is the only real "hill" to speak of. The roads are well maintained and on the Sunday morning I went to check out the course, I was nearly the only person on them. This race takes place in the evening, so I am unsure as to what visibility the lighting permits--it would appear another trip (this time at night) is in order before race day.
The course goes out onto a main road only briefly before quickly returning to the safe confines of the park.
If there was ever any doubt in the race organizer providing truth in advertising (not that there ever has been) this would appear to be the legitimate "flat and fast" course promoted. No counting chickens before they've hatched though. The last time I thought I'd be running one of those up at Hamlin Beach, there was 100% humidity the day of the race and I could barely hold on to finish after a brief (and confidence-crushing) walk break. But that was in July and this will take place in January, so there remains the real possibility of snow and wintry winds.
But that would be why the race is called The Winter Warrior, right?