Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Hilly Half in Chambersburg

The Chambersburg (PA) Half Marathon has been around for 35 years, yet somehow I avoided running it. Friends talked of this race and I had heard it all: Chambersburg is hilly, it’s hard, it’s cold.  So of course as perverse as my running friends are, they return multiple times. course_map_half

The Georgetown 10-Miler was on the list in my Roughed-Out Race Schedule and was also scheduled for this weekend. I made the switch to Chambersburg, mostly to take on a tough course as a final test that my knee is ready for Boston‘s hills. It was also an opportunity to take along some registration applications for the Capital 10-Miler scheduled at the end of March.

And hilly it is at Chambersburg. What everyone describes as a “monster hill” greets runners as they climb several hundred feet beginning before mile 3, only to tackle that same hill on their return around mile 10.

It was refreshing to participate in an old-school race; no chip on the shoe or the bib, just an experienced and accurate team with a clock at the start/finish and an efficient crew pulling bib tags as you move through the finish line.

What I saw on the 13.1 mile course is beautiful farm country, cattle and barns so close to the road you can almost touch, deer running across the distant hills. It is a race open to road traffic with volunteers posted at several locations. However, it is a course where all of a runner’s senses must be engaged. Traffic isn’t heavy and drivers were patient and considerate, but dips between hills makes it difficult for vehicles and runners to see each other from any distance. 

Having scheduled a long run earlier in the week, my legs were not ready to give me a strong half-marathon time. I made the decision early in (even before the monster mile) to pace myself to run at goal marathon pace, using the race as a day of my training plan.

River Runner friends did well in AG awards and even one 1/2 PR.

Some of my running tribe – River Runners did well in AG awards and even one 1/2 PR.

Outcome? 2:06 & change and I did manage to place in the 55+ age group (as a senior runner at age 66, I should make that 55++). 

Not surprisingly, race officials prohibited strollers, dogs and headphones from the course, both in writing on registration applications and again verbally prior to the start. What was surprising was the officials’ swift action to disqualify runners who defied the prohibition and ran with listening devices. As a race director, I know it isn’t easy to enforce rules that may have runners deciding they won’t be back to your race. It was refreshing to see Chambersburg holding tough on this for the safety of all runners.

If you plan ahead and are into a hilly country course, Chambersburg has a race application for 2015 on their website, linked above. UnknownJust leave your music at home and bring your love of country roads.

How was your weekend running?

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6 Comments»

  Chocolate Covered Race Medals wrote @

The weather was PERFECT here in Denver so the running was serine! 🙂

  Still a Runner wrote @

So happy for you. We’re expecting two days of our first nice weather – followed by — rain and snow. We’ve trained through it all.

  CJ Emery wrote @

Hey Mary,

really enjoy your posts….and good to see you are still running and running….have been to Chambersburg…. a few hills…….

how is Ray doing? Have called a couple of times but no answer. Hope you are both well.

cliff & Kate

________________________________

  Still a Runner wrote @

Great to hear from you. Yes, I had a run chat w/ a 60+ friend this morning that we are so very fortunate to continue to do what we do.
I will email you separately with Ray’s number to make sure it is current.

  RunningOnFumes wrote @

the problem with the headphone prohibition is that some people were dq’d while many others were not despite their photos showing headphones. This was handled poorly and continues to be handled poorly by those organizing the race.

You sign a waiver, train how you train, and marathons and half marathons are no longer the land of hardened athletes. some people need headphones, others don’t and most of us running are adults.

I will never run this race again, and I know many other people put off by the poor handling.

  Still a Runner wrote @

Thanks for the comment. I can’t speak to how well the dq’s were handled, but, like you I have found not every race I run is to my liking. Fortunately, there are plenty of races for me to choose from. Rules or limitations published by the race (example: no dogs, no headphones), help me make that decision.


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