Airbnb Brooklyn Half MarathonThe Airbnb Brooklyn Half is officially over. Wah. Before I dive deep into what I love so much about this race, let me preface this recap and channel my inner Arnold- “I’ll be back…” It was that good. This race was the biggest run I’ve ever participated in, and while the sheer volume of runners was slightly daunting (over 27,000 participated) the intensity of security was also slightly anxiety inducing. Us Canadian chicks aren’t used to passing thru metal detectors en route to our corrals, and while the colour coded flags at each water station were a happy and low-threat level green, it was an awful reminder of why those flags have to be there in the first place. Here’s my shakedown of the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon!
Race Kit Pickup
Picking up the good was more than you would expect from a kit pick up. Held at the ridiculously scenic Brooklyn Bridge Park which overlooks a delicious view of NYC and the waterfront. I walked over from my hotel with ease- they had a path of signs for people to follow, leading them all the way to the massive space on the pier. The vibe was a party atmosphere- beer garden and food trucks onsite, DJ and stage cranking out the tunes for runners and revelers to soak up the sun and sights. I have never seen a race kit pick up like this- instead of grabbing my bib and running, I hung out, chatted with fellow runners, got some Instagram pics printed, bought some New Balance swag and even got my race kit T customized- for free! Not only was it organized to a T, dozens of volunteers were on hand to guide you to where you needed to go- there was no lineups at all when I stopped by. Airbnb had a ton of info for out-of-towners such as myself to get acquainted with Brooklyn. I’ve been to NYC several times but only been to Brooklyn twice. The guides they gave out had oodles of fave indie coffee spots, best pizza places and other underground must eat attractions that made this fish out of water fit right in!
The starting line at Prospect Park was equally as organized, or as best as it possibly could be. With that many runners weaving through getting to your corral was a bit of a mission- organizers did their best to guide people to their wave, one started at 7am and the final wave was 7:45am. The waves were broken down into letter corrals which helped. The port-a-potty situation was pretty dire, the lines were very long so best to arrive ‘ready to go’!
The route is relatively flat, with some downhill distance as you leave Prospect Park. The roads in the park are pretty freshly paved and very wide, so the beginning of the run and throughout there was no clipping peoples heels in front of you (or getting stomped on). There was plenty of room for everyone to share the road. Once you leave the park you run on Ocean Parkway for pretty much the rest of the run. That road is slightly bumpier, so watch out for the odd pothole or uneven pavement. At about mile 8 and 9 the roads get quite slippery as people are tossing their gel packs on the ground from the nearby water station. Veer to the left and avoid the slip and slide- I even saw one runner stop to pull a pack off the bottom of his shoe.
I try to avoid wearing a fanny pack when I run, the bulk and shifting bugs me too much and luckily on this run I didn’t need it at all. Water stations were at every mile, with gatorade, water and at at least two of them, gel packs. Volunteers were quick with handing out the hydration and while I didn’t ever stop fully I did slow down to do a bit of chugging at each one.
The race was amazing coming down to the finish line. All along Ocean Parkway you’re counting down the streets, the letters of the alphabet just trickled down and you knew you were getting close. I loved seeing Coney Island emerge from the skyline and then all of a sudden you’re running on the boardwalk. There is one bend and turn up a small hill right at the finish, maybe 200m to go. I was thrilled that although I didn’t PR I did something almost even better, my last half of the race was all negative splits, my last km was also my fastest. Love the Nike+ app for breaking down all the nitty gritty!
Medals were handed out quickly right at the finish, no waiting around. The medal itself is HEAVY, it’s a really solid piece. Runners were guided to grab bags with gatorade, pretzels, a granola bar and a green apple. That’s right, no bananas! We then pushed through the crowd to get into the adjacent MCU Park to meet up with family and friends. I was running with a pal and knew her husband was waiting for us but cell reception was terrible, that many runners all bouncing texts resulted in spotty service at best. In a flukey miracle I stood in front of Nathan’s hot dog stand and my pal found me! In a crowd of 27,000+ the family, friends and cheer squads it was literally like finding a needle in a haystack! We grabbed beers, hotdogs and hung out on the Cyclone for the rest of the day. A true Brooklyn tradition! All in all, I would highly recommend this race- it’s fun, the crowd is hype, the photos are FREE and views are spectacular!