Quite a scenic course
A smooth online process through a quick, easy-to-complete form. Received an email receipt within seconds of completing the process.
The packet pickup and expo was held at a small-medium size facility in La Villita, near the convention center in downtown San Antonio. La Villita is a quaint and picturesque area full of small shops and restaurants that is actually fairly popular with tourists and local alike. The building in which the packet pickup is held is at the west end of La Villita, at the corner of Presa St. and Villita St. The process of picking up my bib and shirt was extremely easy and quick, took less than 2 minutes. The staff handling the process was very friendly and professional. When they gave me my shirt, I noticed that it was much larger than I'm used to on a size L. They allowed me to try it on and exchange it for a Medium size that fit much better. Big kudos to them, that courtesy and gesture is more than appreciated!
The race swag consisted of an AWESOME looking medal and red tech shirt combo, both included the shields/symbols that are representative of the various cultures of individuals who fought at the battle of the Alamo in 1836. Both are keepers no doubt.
The start line was conveniently located on Alamo St. immediately adjacent to the Hemisfair Park grounds, which are quite spacious and comfortable, with plenty of room and areas such as benches and wide walkways to stretch and relax prior to the race. There were also plenty of port-a-potties to handle all the runners in hand; I didn't see or notice any particularly long lines on any of them. This event catered to most runners out there (with the exception of those looking for ultras) offering distances ranging from a 5K all the way to the full 26.2 miles marathon.
Climate on race day was not optimal for racing, but as we all know, that's completely out of the control of everyone, including the race director. At start, temps were in the high 60s and there was high humidity with the threat of rain looming over the race. Despite that, to me it didn't feel bad and I was able to run my race without a struggle or being uncomfortable.
Course & Support:
A sweet & sour area for this race. The course itself I absolutely loved and is what I would consider, by far, the #1 reason to run this race---an interesting, varied, and scenic course that never got dull or boring. It winds through nice cobblestone streets in downtown, neighborhoods full of beautiful Victorian-homes, historic Spanish missions, and well-developed trails all along the San Antonio River. It is such a nice course that I did something I had never done before, and that was to stop to take photos SEVERAL times throughout the course to just capture the memories. I have been running races for about 18 years now, and with the exception of the Marine Corps Marathon Course, I don't think I have enjoyed a course as much as I enjoyed this one at the Alamo 13.1. That being said, the support along the course, primarily at the hydration stations, was disappointing. There were at least 2 stations where there were only 1 or 2 volunteers, with no water or electrolyte drink ready for the runners to grab. Keep in mind that I wasn't a back-of-the-pack runner, more mid-pack as I was running approximately a 9:30 minutes/mile pace. Imagine the scene as you are approaching the table and notice that there are literally 6-7 people completely stopped, waiting for the 1-2 volunteers who are trying to pour the drink into the cups and hand them over because there is no one else to help them. I distinctly remember this being the case with the hydration station around mile 8. I didn't want water, just electrolyte, and there was no line for that container, so I literally had to grab an empty cup, pour myself the electrolyte from the container, and keep going. I went into the race's Facebook page and read quite a few reviews there which addressed the same issue. I did find one comment/reply from the race organization on those Facebook reviews which indicates that apparently a couple of days prior to the race, a group of 40 volunteers they were counting on to help dropped out, so they were severely understaffed and it clearly had an impact on race day. I personally feel that they will learn from that experience and will do whatever it takes to get it corrected for next year and in the future.
The finish line had plenty of volunteers handing out medals and water and was quite wide with plenty of room for runners to walk or greet friends and family on the sides. The medal is a large, chocolate bar unwrapped at the top that makes it appear that you're about to eat it, and it's a neat, unique design---definitely a keeper. The post-race food was, as expected, all themed around chocolate, with delicious dark hot chocolate, marshmallows, etc. It truly is good, quality chocolate believe me. I consider myself a chocolate-snob and theirs passes the test with flying colors.
I enjoyed literally just about every aspect of this race with the lone exception being the issue with the hydration stations. Other than that, there wasn't a component that I felt was not done professionally and with thought behind it, and feel that the race organizers will improve on it on next year, and thus would definitely considering signing up for it again in 2019.