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HITS Running Festival Recap – OKC

It’s been six long years since my last half marathon. That race was quite a humbling experience filled with IT Band issues and foot injuries. I was new to long distance running and thought the only training I needed to do was to run and still ate whatever I wanted. Since then I have moved to a different state, changed jobs, had four surgeries, and two kids. My biggest take away from my first half marathon and subsequent life changes is that taking good care of myself goes a long way in my training. So over the past few months, in addition to my runs I incorporated clean eating principles and strength training using The 21 Day Fix. The half marathon I ran this weekend was so vastly different than my last. I wasn’t plagued with injuries, I felt strong, and had a bond with the local running community. This was also my first race in my Oiselle singlet. It felt amazing getting to rock that thing, FINALLY! Considering I got a PR, this race gave me loads of confidence to continue training and striving towards my fitness and running goals.

This past weekend I ran in the HITS Running Festival in downtown Oklahoma City. I was hemming and hawing for months about whether or not to sign up. So the day before the scheduled event, I had the brilliant idea that it could serve as a good dress rehearsal for the upcoming Route 66 Half Marathon and decided to go ahead and sign up. Ultimately, I’m so glad I did. I have so many positives comments on this race.

  • Field Size – The number of runners was drastically lower than events like OKC Memorial or Route 66. So the start line wasn’t crowded. I was able to arrive 30 minutes before the start, get a nearby parking spot, and had plenty of room to warm up. 
  • A Distance for Everyone – They really offered every distance from Marathon to 10K to 1 mile fun runs. I saw a lot of groups and families (mine included) with members each participating in races of various distances. Families could watch and cheer each other on throughout the morning because each race had a staggered star time. For example, the half started at 7am and I was done in time to see my husband start his 5K race at 10am.
  • The Course – Each race followed a flat and fast course along the manicured River Trails of the Oklahoma River. The flat course was appreciated. Also, not having to fight cars and traffic was great as well.
  • Refreshment on the Course – Each water aid table along the course was stocked full of water, gatorade, oranges, bananas, and mini candy bars. A varied and delicious selection.
  • Ballpark – Each race FINISHED inside Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. This was sooo much fun. It made it nice for spectators because they could lounge in the stands and watch for friends and family to enter the stadium and cross the finish line. For the runners, you can feel like a super star athlete when seeng yourself on the jumbotron in the stadium and the soft and well manicured track feels so good on tired feet at the end of a long race. 
  • Treats After the Race – Lots and lots of donuts, bananas, oranges, grapes, bagels, coffee, and more. Super good snacks. I had a great time just snacking on treats and hanging in the stadium while waiting for friends and family to race.

Every race has some downsides and this one had only a few.

  • Smell – holy smokes y’all. You may be running on a well manicured path along the river but when you run by the stockyards the smell gets pretty rancid. It was a cool, windy morning and the smell was still pretty bad. And because it’s an out and back loop race you have to hit that smell a second time on your way back. phew!
  • Confusion at Starting Line – When you were finishing your race you basically crossed back over where the starting line to get into the stadium to finish your race. This was confusing for some marathon and half marathon runners finishing their race while the 5K, 10K, and mile racers were starting their races.
  • Not Enough Finisher Medals – They had many runners register last minute (like me) and therefore didn’t have enough finisher medals for everyone. It’s a bummer but it happens. They are ordering more and will be mailing them out to folks though.

In speaking with several other runners from the event, there seemed to be a consensus between our opinion of the race and how it was organized. Ultimately, it was a great race that was executed well. I would run this race again and encourage others to check it out next fall.

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