One of the best perks for this race is that due to the small size you can arrive 30-45 minutes before the start and park about 200 yards away from the start line, with no lines for the porta-potties. The start of the race was really cold (~32 degrees) and we likely started a little faster than normal just to get the blood flowing and warm-up. We missed the first water station as we were expecting a larger table or at least more volunteers (one table with 2 volunteers positioned on a turn). We did a better job of finding water at later stations as we were much more mindful of looking for stations. The course itself was very peaceful and ran through Marshall University's campus, near the waterfront and through a nice park (the marathon went on a dirt trail but the half marathon stayed on the road). Overall a good course and the finish in the Marshall University football field was great. Recommended if you are looking for a race in West Virginia, but be aware there is only a chip mat at the finish so don't start too far back in the pack.
Highlights: Being handed a football by a race volunteer to run the final 100 yards across the end-zone (and doing my best Heisman pose at the finish line), and going for a casual run and somehow breaking 1h50m!
Day 1 (Saturday):
Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, KY is a 30 minute drive from the Lexington Kentucky aiport. By the time we arrived there were no more tickets left for the distillery tour at 11:00am, so our tour was limited to a short video about the history of the distillery, reading some informational displays and sampling some bourbon. Woodford was only sampling one bourbon, but it was smooth and decent. Not really worth the drive if you miss the tour unless you are a huge bourbon fan or are trying to complete the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Carter Caves State Park in Olive Hill, KY is a very unique set of caves located directly between Lexington, KY and Huntington, WV. The caves are only accessible via guided tour (stop at the visitor center and get your tickets for $9 per person). I was suprised that the cave entrance and exit were both pad-locked shut, so don't think you are going to be able to step in for a quick look. The tour takes you through a good portion of the cave and the darker parts of the tour are lit (a portion of the cave is wired for electricity). The tour ends with a stop at a small waterfall which was not as impressive as the guide made it sound. Worth the $9 entry fee.
Rocco's Ristorante in Ceredo, WV is a short 10 minute drive from downtown Huntington and serves up traditional italian food at a reasonable price. The restaurant was really crowded when we arrived but even without a reservation we were seated in about 15 minutes. The bread and salad were both good and the spaghetti and meatballs were also tasty. Everything was very fresh.
Day 2 (Sunday - Race Day):
Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe is located in the heart of downtown Huntington, WV and in addition to traditional sports bar food and drinks the Hall of Fame Cafe also has a 'mini museum' of Marshall football memorabilia. An upbeat atmosphere and a nice post-race lunch. The baked potato with chili was good but unfortunatley the Yuengling tap was broken so we had to settle for bottles. A decent option if you are looking for bar food near Marshall University.
Tip: Local liquor laws do not permit the sale of alcohol until noon on Sunday.
Downtown Huntington, WV has a really nice set of shops and restaurants near the David Harris Riverfront Park. Parking is at a premium but you can find a free spot along the street if you look or pay $2 for a garage space. If the weather is nice a short stroll along the park is nice and relaxing. It is also worth a quick stop at the Marshall University campus to check out the super famous football stadium.
West Virginia Half Marathon Medals
November 7, 2010: Marshall University Half Marathon