November 17, 2013

Race Report: .US 12k National Road Racing Championships

The inaugural .US National Road Racing Championships (odd name since it's sponsored and promoting the '.us' top-level internet domain) took place this morning, and it was definitely an interesting event. The event is the flagship road race of the USA Track & Field USA Running Circuit, offering $100,000 in prize money to elites in various categories. The elite race included Olympians and world class athletes such as Shalane Flanagan, Abdi Abdirahman, Molly Huddle, Sara Hall, and dozens others. The race also featured an open category for everyone else...which is obviously what I participated in.

Much of the logistics were outsourced to Pacers Events, so the check-in, bag check, etc all ran very smoothly. I'm not sure if it was the cold weather, odd distance, or number of other race options in mid November, but the race was not very well supported at all in terms of runners. Barely over 700 people, elites included, ran the 12k; that doesn't bode well for the sustainability of the race. Closing off almost eight miles of city streets is a large undertaking for less than a thousand participants. The city itself didn't really come out either, as most stretches were completely empty of spectators.

The Course

The course was a turn-filled trip through Alexandria with some rolling hills. Click the thumbnail below to view the full map courtesy of USATF:

Race Day

Before I started my race I watched the elite women and elite men corrals start. Once they were off I lined up in the sub-6:30 corral; the 12k distance, about 7.5 miles, is a really odd race and one I'm not familiar with. I also wasn't familiar with the course or elevation profile. So I decided to gun for 6:30, which slots between my 10k and half marathon PRs.

The low turnout of runners cleared pretty quickly and I found plenty of space to run. The course had very little in the way of sites or crowds. Sponsor Burke & Herbert Bank had a couple cheer stations, but other than that it was a very quiet and plain run along city streets. I clicked through the miles in an even 6:30 pace, feeling good at the halfway point but still holding back a bit; I was very concerned either an unexpected elevation change would sabotage my pace or my body wouldn't know what to do with the odd distance. As I cleared the 10k mark and hit some hills I picked up the pace to finish and ended up running a 6:28 pace.

Ultimately, the event ran smoothly although between the plain course and lack of turnout, for both runners and crowds, I'm not sure I'll run this every year. There's a lot of other races on the calendar in that time, most of which are conventional distances with more to offer.

The Results

12k :         48:10  |  6:28/mile

The Swag

Included in registration was a non-technical short-sleeved white shirt with the .US Championships logo. All finishers received a charcoal-colored medal with a sharp ribbon of red, white, and blue. The colors and design of the ribbon and medal were really nice. Additionally, the expo and the race had merchandise for sale from USATF; I ended up picking up a set of red thermal sleeves, a beanie hat, and even my daughter got a little something.

12k Open Medal

Baby's First USATF Bib!