The Women’s Running Series is promoted on their website as ‘the nation’s premier half marathon and 5K series uniquely catered to women’ and it is definitely a race that you do not want to miss. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you only choose to do 1 half marathon a year, this one should be your first choice.
The event is runner and walker friendly and the St. Pete course is fast, flat and utterly breathtaking! If that doesn’t convince you, well the after party will.
Not only do you receive a medal that is spectacular but you can also enjoy cookies from the cookie café, freshen up in the freshen up lounge, drink some sparkling wine in the bubbly booth, get a massage and so much more. This race is fun from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave.
The Women’s Running Series Half Marathon cost $85 for early registration and goes up to $125 if you register at the expo. I would highly suggest registering early because it is totally worth it. The 5K cost $35 for early registration and $50 at the expo.
Packet pick up was at the race expo which was held at the renaissance Vinoy Resort. The pickup was smooth and easy and the expo was a lot of fun. You can read more at the expo in this post.
The race started at 7am on Sunday morning and the race officials suggested you get there about an hour early. MacGyver dropped me off at the runner drop off area which was very close to the starting line and we had no problems at all. MacGyver then parked at a nearby business for free and had no problems.
I got there at exactly 6am so before the race I stood in line for the port a potty which really wasn’t all that long. They had a DJ playing some pretty good tunes and people were dancing around and having a very good time.
I was surprised at how quickly the lines for the bathrooms moved. In fact after using the port a potty, I walked around for 10 minutes and then got back in the line for a second time just to be on the safe side 😉 or maybe I just like port a pottys….anywho,
The race starts in front of the Mahaffey Theatre along the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg. This race was prompt and on time with several corals and the first coral hit the pavement at exactly 7am. Then about a minute later the second coral and so on. I was in the second coral so I got off pretty quick except for the jam at the beginning which is to be expected in any large race.
The race heads down Bayshore drive along the waterfront then heads over to Snell Isle and around Coffee Pot Bayou. I loved this part of the race because it’s one of my favorite areas in St. Pete. After making our way around the bayou we then headed back down Bayshore drive toward Straub Park and somewhere around Straub Park we turned toward 2nd avenue and into downtown St. Pete. I don’t really remember much about the streets that we went down at this point but we did spend a great portion of it on Central Ave. and one of my favorite parts of this course was the crowd support because it was spectacular.
The only part of my body that is sore today is my right palm because I gave out more high fives to the cheering crowd than in any race I have EVER run before in my life. And can I just say, the kids, ooooh the kids were too cute. Thank you to all the parents who brought out those little mini cheerleaders because their smiling faces totally made my day.
One little boy started yelling ‘Go Flower, you can do it, Gooooooo’ and obviously at around 2 years old he couldn’t have read my name from my bib so his parents were helping him out and he was taking it from there and cheering away. When I slapped his hand with a high five he blew me a kiss and I tell you I just died, he was adorable.
If you read my short review yesterday, you already know that I did not sub 2 on this race or even come close. When I realized it was not going to be my day for a PR, I just let go and had fun and it was the most enjoyable race ever.
Crossing the finish line, you are immediately handed a towel and there are tables with bananas, pretzels and blueberry and banana muffins. After you pass the food tables a volunteer hands you your medal, and it is an awesome medal with a detachable charm. Then you enter the after party where friends and family can join you.
Usually, I don’t hang around the after party for too long but this one was awesome. I had sparkling wine, 17 a few chocolate chip cookies and lots of juice. MacGyver and I walked around and visited all of the booths and there were several. They also had a freshen up booth where you could wash off with some baby wipes and they had body sprays and deodorant to use. I believe they gave me some free chap stick as well. I noticed there was a changing room too across the park although I didn’t use it.
About the only thing I didn’t take advantage of were the free massages. I should have but the line was long and I was enjoying meeting new people and just having a great time living in the moment.
Men were welcome to run this race although they are not eligible for any of the awards and are encouraged to participate only in support of women or a charity.
I loved this race and I highly recommend it. It will be on my race calendar again next year and I hope you’ll be there too! You can meet me in the bubbly booth after, mmmkay?