For those of you who know me well, you know this is not my favorite race. I do complain about this race every year, but I do actually have some positive things to say this year as there were some improvements. I run it for a couple of reasons: 1. Just about every runner in the area runs this race. It gives you an idea of where you stack up in the local running community. And number 2: it’s a points race in our local running club.
Sunburst offers a wide variety of distances to run/compete in. They offer a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and full marathon. If running is not your thing, they have a 5k walk as well. I have said in the past that I would never do the full marathon again at Sunburst (I first said it in 2004, and also after going against my better judgement and running it again in 2013). This year I held true to that statement and ran the half marathon.
The major benefactor of this race is Memorial Children’s Hodpital in South Bend.
The typical course for Sunburst races starts in down town South Bend and finishes somewhere on Notre Dames Campus. The typical thing that drawls people to the Sunburst races from out of down is that in past years, all the races finish at the 50 yard line inside of Notre Dame Stadium. For the second year in a row, the races were unable to finish inside of the stadium due to construction to the stadium itself. Not a big deal to me, but apparently it is to others as registration has dropped by about 25% over the last two years.
Also this year, all the courses were drastically changed. In my opinion, they were changed for the better. No more running by the waste water treatment plant north of down town South Bend for the half marathon and marathon. The half marathon course went east out of South Bend and into Mishawaka along the river and back into South Bend before heading to Notre Dame.
I came into Sunburst not knowing what to expect. With focusing on the marathon distance over the last couple of years, I really had not run a great half marathon race in a long time. I decided on what I considered an obtainable goal, running a 1:24:00. Not real fast for me, but considering my past times, not bad, especially considering my time last year at Sunburst (1:27:17).
The race started at 7:30 for the half marathon, an hour later than originally announced. The start time was changed from 6:30-7:30 due to fears that the 5k and marathon runners would clash on the course. So the two races were switched. Runners in the half, such as myself would prefer the 6:30 start to avoid as much heat as possible. While those in the 5k were upset as well because a lot of younger kids were running the 5k. I couldn’t imagine waking my kids up for a 6:30 5k race.
Luckily, the heat stayed maniagable all morning, with temps reaching of 60s. I would have preferred 50s, but with temps getting up into the 70s and 80s in the past, I won’t complain about this years weather.
(Start of the full marathon at 6:00)
Race started on time at 7:30. The goal for the first mile was to go 6:35-6:40 for the first mile and take it easy. This didn’t happen for either of us as we ran 6:19. (Average for a 1:24:00 half marathon is 6:24). It didn’t feel like I was working too hard, but still wanted to go slower.
The next several miles were consistent with running a 6:21, 6:19, 6:19, 6:21. The only bad thing about the day’s weather was the wind. Gusts were out of the east, which appropriately enough, with the new course, was the way we were running the first 5.5 miles. Wind wasn’t too strong but noticeable. There are only so many things a race can control, and weather is never one of those.
Splits started to drop off at mile 6 with a time of 6:29, followed by 6:23, 6:23, 6:32, 6:39, 6:53, and 6:36. Right after crossing mile 12, was “Hallelujah Hill.” Marty Stern once said “if the hill has its own name, then it’s probably a pretty tough hill.” In years past, I have made fun of Sunburst for naming a the hill because it wasn’t all that difficult of a hill. This year, they moved it a couple blocks east, and it was a lot steeper of a hill.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Heartbreak Hill, but with how steep it was, it was tough.
The hill was only a .1 mile but with an elevation gain of about 40-50 feet quickly, made for a tough section in the race. The last mile was run in 6:57, a bad way to end the race. Overall I finished in a time of 1:25:03, beating my time from last year by a little over 2:00. I will take it. I finished 12th overall and 3rd in my division.
Myself and my friend Todd Hoffer, whose race I will be running in this Saturday.
Tina ran the 10k. It was not a PR race for her, but according to her Garmin, the course was .2 of a mile long. If it was closer to 6.2, she would have set a new PR. It also sounds like Hallelujah Hill got the best of her as well.
Here are my ratings for the race itself, and how it was run. Highest score is:
Registration opened up on Black Friday. Sunburst had a promotion for up to 33% off your registration when you registered on Black Friday. I think you had to register for either the family walk (held on Friday night), or the 5k walk to get 33% off.
Basically it came to be that you got $5 off your race entry. Not a fantastic deal, but I guess $5 is better than nothing. Plus throw in that in the picture, the 33% could be mistaken for 55%. Other than those mix ups, registration was easy.
Start time: 🏃🏻🏃🏻
Originally the half marathon was to start at 6:30, but in mid May, Sunburst announced a change in the srart times. To read more about this reasoning, click Here. For a lot of people, this was a late notice for child care arrangements that were already made or for other travel arrangements. Also through in the younger runners and parents trying. To get them out of bed early for a 6:30 5k race.
Sunburst got a little lucky this year on the weather. If it were a warmer day, the half marathon would have been miserable.
I would like to see the half marathon and marathon start together as they do at other races.
Packet pickup/expo: 🏃🏻🏃🏻🏃🏻
For me, this packet pick-up is the most convenient one for me, 2 blocks from where I work, so I was able to walk to it during my lunch hour. For those who don’t not have that luxury, there is plenty of parking around the former College Football Hall of Fame, where the expo was held.
I wouldn’t come to Sunburst looking for a large expo. If that’s your thing, then prepare to be disappointed. However, Fleet Feet was there selling shoes and running gear, as well as gels. Basically, if you needed a last minute item before the next days race, they had it there. There were also a couplets other races on hand that you could register for. I took advantage of a $10 off discount and registered to run in the 2016 Carmel Marathon and signed Tina up for the half marathon.
Packet pickup is smooth. You go to one tent to pick up your bib, and another to get your shirt. And your done. This year, however, they didn’t give you bags to carry your stuff in. So people like me had to go ask Fleet Feet for a bag or risk losing their bib number on the way back to their car or office.
This was the biggest improvement I believe for this years race compared to years past. I have said a few times that the only thing consistent about the Sunburst course is that it consistently changes. I have never ran on the same course twice. But this course I hope they change. The course runs towards Mishawaka, through Buetter Park which allows a large portion of the course to run along the St. Joseph River. The course is not all on the roads (wide sidewalks as well), but what is on the roads, you get to run in a course that is completely closed to vehicles.
The only part of the course I would change (other than Hallelujah Hill) is this:
It looks like I went the wrong way or had to duck into the port a potty or something, but it’s actually a small out and back section right before the 10 mile marker.
I guess if there was one more thing I would change, it would be to have the start/finish at the same place. Either at Notre Dame or in downtown South Bend. The locations are over a mile apart, just make it easier. The race does provide shuttles for after the race (not before), but in years past, it has been faster to walk back to downtown.
While the half marathon seemed to measure accurately for me, Tina had the 10k measured as long and a few marathon runners said the course was 26.6 miles long. Usually on the Garmin, a course will measure a little long (26.4 is common) depending on how well you cut the tangents.
Not a fan this year. They 🏃🏻🏃🏻 just for it being a tech shirt. Blue was for the half and full marathon, yellow was for the 5k/10k. Name of the race isn’t even on the front and the wording makes it look like its a kids fun run. Our 7 year old daughter even asked that, since it’s a fun run, does she get to run? (True story).
A lot of people have one complaint when it comes to this years medals, the date on the ribbon:
the race was run on June 6, 2015. Oops.
This is not the first time I have received a medal with an issue of the date being wrong on the ribbon. I know some are asking for a new ribbon with the right date on it. It’s just not that big of a deal to me.
Over the years, Sunburst has improved their medals:
2004 marathon finishers medals (this was at the time where all marathons seemed to have started giving out finishers medals, so at the time it was nice, now we would consider it small and cheap.
2010 half marathon finishers medal. That’s right folks, it’s a cheap medal with a sticker.
2013 marathon finishers medal
2014 half marathon finishers medal.
Finishers medals are not that big of a deal to me. I do keep them, and hang them on my medal hanger, but never put them on again. Basically they are a reminder of where I have ran and sometimes help remind me of certain events in running or in life in general. So a lot of times, it doesn’t matter what they look like or how cheap they are (or if the dates wrong on the ribbon).
Post race food 🏃🏻🏃🏻🏃🏻🏃🏻
I think I have mentioned this before, but after a long run, last thing I personally want to do is eat. I don’t think I ate anything for 2 hours after I finished. They had basically chocolate milk and fruit. That’s all I recall seeing. I just grabbed a chocolate milk (chugged it down right away) and 2 bananas (I think my 2 year old son, Derek, ended up eating them), and that was enough for me.
However, I do know that others like to eat right away and a lot of the marathon runners were upset because the chocolate milk and fruit were all gone when they finished.
Bang for your buck 🏃🏻🏃🏻
Typically you get a nice shirt and medal, but for the price, especially if your coming from out of town, I don’t think it’s worth it. Here are the registration fees: