Here’s what I looked like nearing the finish of the Milton Half Marathon on Sunday, September 16. I was going quickly and I was tired, so my form was a little off, but I was still feeling pretty good. (The photo was taken by a race spectator, and later posted to the organizers’ Twitter feed.) It was a good race for me, as I was able to set a new PB for the distance (1:55:55 versus my previous PB of 1:57:32).
This was the inaugural running of the Milton Half, and it was a beautiful day for it. The organizers did a superb job in putting the event together, and were rewarded with a good participant field (234 for the Half, and about the same for the 5K, which started 30 minutes after the main event). In a brilliant coup for the race organizers, Milton native Ed Whitlock, 81 years of age, set new world record of 1:38:58 in the 80-84 category. Here’s what Ed looked like nearing the finish line:
The race route combined the best of all worlds, in my opinion – small town setting and atmosphere, some good views of the surrounding countryside, a couple of long straight stretches where one could get a good groove down, and some twisty-turny back street segments. The road surfaces were good (and therefore barefoot friendly), and the organizers were careful to ensure that the entire route was camber-balanced, which was a nice touch.
I really liked having a small entrant field. While I sympathize with the organizers’ wishes to have a good number of participants (and will support them to grow that number in coming years), it’s really nice to have a low number alternative to the huge events that are so popular these days. This race had a friendly, community feel to it, which was delightful. And that was true of the venue itself. Milton’s a small town, and the majority of runners were locals; that meant lots of cheerful greetings being exchanged between participants and spectators. That said, there was a strong sense of competition there too, as Milton has a very active running community. Ed Whitlock isn’t the only fast Milton runner, for sure – just the oldest fast runner!
The only thing I’d like to see changed next year is the start/finish line. There was a very short – perhaps 10 meters in length – distance from the start line before we turned sharply to get on the road and the course proper. The same held true for the finish, but in reverse. I suspect there were good reasons why it was placed as it was, but I’d much prefer it if the start/finish could be in the street itself, without the annoying (and potentially dangerous) dogleg. A minor quibble, though, all things considered.
Also on my wish list for next year is a category for barefoot runners. I was the only one this year, but there are lots more of us out there, and having such a category would help attract them. The Milton Half organizers have an opportunity here to add some sizzle to their event by doing this, and also to have something that differentiates the race from others.
One of the great things about this race was it marked the first official appearance of Team Tie-Dye. We got together before the race, and met at the finish line to cheer each other on. Three of the four of us set new PBs, which is certainly something to celebrate! It was good fun, and I’m sure we’ll do it again at future events. Here we are in our our post-race glory: left to right, Nicole M., Philip M. yours truly, and Emma I.
I’ll certainly be at next year’s Milton Half. And I’m very much looking forward to running the full Milton Marathon one day!