I have to start by saying that there were ups and downs with this race, but overall I really enjoyed it and PR’d for my 5K time.
This was the first year for the Haunted Half and 5K in Gilbert, and myself along with many of my friends signed up as there was a Groupon available, which made it virtually impossible to turn down.
Registering was easy and I had no issues with using the online system. There really was not an Expo, but rather a tent for packet pick up in front of the Sport’s Chalet, with a local running shoe store tent set up (they had some great deals and discounts though). The actual pickup was rather organized, and I quickly got my bib number as well as my sisters, and went to the second tent to get our shirts and “Halloween Goodies”.
The first issue that came up was that the shirt was advertised as a “long-sleeved technical shirt”, however we were given short-sleeve cotton-poly blend tees. When we got to the race, some people had long-sleeved tees, and they said they had to request them specifically. The only other items in the bag with the shirt were 2 temporary tattoos and a sticker. The half marathoners also received a pair of gloves (as described in the race description).
The directions specifically stated that there was no morning of race packet pickup, yet many people were still allowed to pick up packets before the race began.
The race info said to be there 1 hour before race time (which was 7:45am for the 5k and 7:00am for the half marathon). When we arrived at 6:45am, nothing was set up and it was very unclear where we were supposed to be for the startline. We asked a volunteer, who confirmed we were in the right place and then instantly told us we needed to walk across the street to a gray building for the start of the race. There was no signage directing racers.
The race itself started on time, but there was no welcome from the race directors and the only way that we knew the race was starting was because someone started counting backwards from 5. We were towards the front of the pack, but I am sure it was more difficult for those in the back (as there were around 900 racers).
The route was clearly marked, and safely blockaded to prevent traffic from injuring a runner and was relatively flat with some small up- and downgrades. There was one water station at Mile 2, with several volunteers who informed runners what they had in the cups, and where there was water or gatorade.
The race finished in the parking lot where we had parked, so that was convenient.
The post-race food was interesting, and included apple cider, a cloudy gatorade, and Meta Fiber bars. As more racers came through the finish line, the snacks changed to donuts and pizza, and eventually orange slices. I would suggest that the fiber laxative style bars, be replaced with a protein bar or even a regular granola bar.
The participant medal did not disappoint for both distances. They were vampire medals. The 5K version was a bit more simple, and the half marathon was a high-quality vampire that opened and closed his cape. Both were great!
The race was advertised with the motto “R.I.P.” which stood for “Run, Indulge, Party”. The run was great, and I’m guessing the pizza and donuts were the indulge portion, but the party part was in need of some excitement.
The announcer/DJ explained that awards for overall and age groupers would be starting in 5 minutes and that all racers should walk to the other side of the event to wait for it to begin. Both my sister and friend placed, so we headed over. Another hour and half went by, with no additional information being provided. All the racers who were waiting for awards were getting antsy as it was a holiday and many had other places they needed to get too.
At this time, I decided to check with a staff member or volunteer to see what was going on. I approached a volunteer, who then told me that the race director had left the awards in her car and we were waiting for them to arrive at the venue. As the volunteer was saying this, another woman pulled her aside and began whispering to her and the volunteer left mid-sentence to go somewhere else. At this point, I asked the women (who seemed to be a staff member as she was also the one handing out medals eventually) if she could let us know how much longer it would be before the awards started. She told us to “go back over there and wait and it will probably be starting sometime”. After waiting an hour and a half, this answer was a bit disappointing.
However, it was about 5-10 minutes later when the award ceremony started and the medals were beautiful, and very impressive for those that placed. In the end, the awards were worth the long wait and lack of communication.
In Summary, I feel this race will continue to grow and improve in future years. Participants enjoyed it, it was an overall pleasant run, and a fun, themed medal. Some things to work on would be communication before and during the race and making sure the items promised to runners are delivered.
I really enjoyed the race and can’t wait to go next year! I am sure that the inaugural kinks will be all worked out, and it will be even more fun!
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