Rivertown Races: Half Marathon Race Review

Rivertown Races take place in April at Millennium Park outside Grand Rapids and include a 5k and half marathon. The race has all of the necessities: chip timing, medals, a shirt, aid stations, and, uh, people. I think I registered a little late and got in for $60, too, so not high for a half, but not particularly budgety. In a jam-packed spring training season when you’ve got your pick of events, I figured I’d write a few pros and cons to help you pick whether this one’s for you.

Okay, so let me start with things that could improve.

The weather started cloudy and bleghk, but it got better as the morning went on.

Not my favorite

The website

Yeah. It’s not easy to navigate, and I looked for info a few times that I couldn’t find (because it wasn’t there). It doesn’t appear to be updated frequently or fully. Homeslices need a good webmaster.

Packet pickup

Pickup was nothing to write home about. Smaller races like this don’t tend to have a big festival at packet pickup, but it’d be nice to bring the kids and have a snack or find a reason to stick around and chat. I just got my packet and peaced out because nothing was going on.

Pre-race email communication

Was there any? I got an email about extended lower prices, but I am searching my archived email and not seeing anything about race day. At least one or two emails in the week or so before the race is helpful to get people informed (especially when your website is no run in the park).

Enough with the waamburgers and french cries.

these were the pros!

the race shirt

The shirt is like butter and my favorite color (medium gray—booyah). They’re unisex sizes, which is fine with me because the ‘women’s’ cut just seems to be shorter and they never fit me quite right. Plus, it’s a pleasing enough design that you can wear it with jeans and a blazer to work on Friday (why not, right?). Bonus. Don’t have a casual dress code? Wear a fancy scarf to distract people. They’ll never notice you’re wearing a race shirt. And you’ll stay cool in meetings.

the half marathon medal

The medal is nice. It’s always a plus when a smaller race gets a baller medal instead of asking someone’s cousin to cut tuna cans into some awkward shape using tin snips or whatever.

Oooh, yeah. Everyone loves bling.

All dem people

The people were awesome. All of the volunteers were on point and enthusiastic. There was not, you know, a River-Bank-Run-amount of crowd support, but there were groups of people here and there cheering us on. A surprising amount of younger people peppered the race course, cheering for their friends and sticking around to cheer for others. When the race was over, I chatted with some friendly people and a lady gave me food. Mmm.


Oh yeah, post-race food! It was no gourmet buffet, but on top of the usual fruit, bagels, granola bars, and drinks, there were homemade pigs in a blanket. I had to get a few more miles in after the race because this was my scheduled 20-mile run for marathon training. I popped a couple piggies into my console and had a boss snack after I finished my solo run.

om nom nom nom

A dog, obviously

A dog named Ginger. This is totally random, but a dude ran the half with his dog. I should have stayed to take their pic and talk to him! It’s mind-blowing that a dog ran a half marathon. I passed them around mile 8/9 and they were having a great time. Ginger even wore the bib and I thought that was the best thing ever.

The course

The course was good, too. There was a weird, smelly spot where you run the path through a kinda marshy area, but whatever. They can’t control the smell. Otherwise it was pretty flat and it isn’t a course that I’ve done a million times, even though it overlaps some with River Bank and I think GR marathon courses. Starting and finishing at Millennium Park was great, too, because it’s easy to find and there was a lot of parking (and appropriate facilities for people who wanted to bring the fam, cookout, etc.).

So, good race! I’m totally glad I signed up for this for my 20-mile run because it was way more fun than running for almost 4 hours alone. I’d definitely do it again sometime, especially because it fits so well into spring training.

Still waiting for my race pic, though!


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So you’ve caught the bug! Yes, yes. We’re all basically crazy people, but you probably know that from your existing running habit. Of course, the statistic that many people cite is that less than 1% of the population has run a marathon. Maybe that’s because running 26.2 miles is 100% bananas, but regardless, you’re about to accomplish a huge feat. Be excited! Then settle down and let’s talk about how to pick your first marathon.

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