Another half-marathon in the books. For me, this was half marathon number forty-one. This was race #194 overall. Whew, that’s a lot of races. Many more to come that we will be covering for you folks here on the “Back of the Pack Podcast”!
The race this weekend, The Liberty Hospital Half Marathon. Held at William Jewell College in Liberty, MO. Proceeds from this race go to the Liberty Hospital Foundation. Here is what they say about this foundation:
“A Liberty Hospital Half Marathon & Jewell 5K race entry will go directly to the Liberty Hospital Foundation. These funds help the Foundation assist under-insured and under-served patients, support community health education and programs, provide valuable resources to hospital employees and patients, and offer pathways to education for future and current nurses in the Northland area. Since 2015, the program has distributed over $400,000 and supported programs that increase access to care, provide mental health resources, and reduce rates of chronic disease for thousands of people.
Current priorities are based on the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment conducted by Liberty Hospital:
Focus on nutrition, physical activity, mental health, oral health, vision, speech and hearing, and injury prevention
Increased access to services and improved quality of life for under-insured and under-served populations
Reducing rates and/or prevention of top chronic diseases in our community, including cancer, heart disease, COPD, diabetes
Providing pediatric services from newborn to age 18, including but not limited to: well-child care, preventative medicine, physical examinations, immunizations, drug education, special needs, managing acute and chronic conditions”
A worthy cause to be sure of and one I am happy to use my race registration dollars to support.
Like all the races around town, it certainly appeared as though attendance was down for this race. I wouldn’t say attendance was bad, just down. The race does offer a 5k option, but they do not begin until a full forty-five minutes after the half marathon began, so it was hard for me to gauge how many folks would be participating in the 5k.
Race morning went exactly as it had for me in years previous. This was the fifth running of this race. It began back in 2017. I missed the first run as I recovered from heart surgery. My first time out for this race was in 2018. This race had the honor (and that’s a strong word) to be my first half marathon back from my two open-heart surgeries in the summer of 2016. My relationship with this race has been VERY up and down. Much like the hills on the course! An up would most certainly be this race's involvement with my heart surgery recovery. My time that year was not great. I ran it in 3:26:41. Considering what I was coming back from though, I was happy with that. That was the love part though. The hate part you say? When I went back for more in 2019, I recorded my WORST half-marathon time in my entire running career. In now forty-one half marathons my worst time came at the 2019 Liberty Hospital Half. Because I love my readers and followers of this show, I will tell you what my time was. Are you ready? Brace yourselves. I finished that race in 3:51:50. An almost FOUR HOUR half marathon. Embarrassing! Thankfully we can chalk that up as an anomaly because it has never happened again! My time in 2020 was much better, but this race then had the title of the last race I got to run before the Corona Virus shut down the planet! I’m telling you, the relationship with this race is a crazy one!
Enough about history! Let’s talk about the 2022 Liberty Hospital Half Marathon. Not that the races can control it, but it was another chilly morning with starting temps around thirty-five degrees. The course itself is described in the hashtags that the race uses. #RunLiberty and #WhyTheHillNot. The hills in this course are no joke. The hills are what will try and end your run out there. Mix in that during the race the breeze picked up and we were dealing with wind and hills, it was a tough go at times!
The course had been altered this year from the last two runs previously. The course no longer went up and around the actual Liberty Hospital. Instead, the runners were veered onto a walking trail through a park for maybe a little over a mile. If I had a complaint about the course, it would be that part. I don’t like running trails. I am doing a ROAD race, so don’t put us onto trails. They are narrow and oftentimes are very uneven as tree roots have grown and pushed up the pathways making very odd and unpredictable bumps. It’s a minor complaint, but still, something that always irks me when races do that.
Another piece to the puzzle that Liberty hasn’t quite gotten mastered yet is traffic. This year it was better than in any year previous, but traffic is still a bit of an issue. There was a stretch coming up to the 10k mart where runners run along a frontage road. In years past, this has been a disaster as that seems to be a BIG road used in the Liberty, MO area. This year was not as bad, but the runners were given such very little road to work with. We were to stay inside of the cones that may be allowed four feet of room between the cones and being off the road and onto the gravel shoulder. It was not wide enough for two runners to run side by side. That is how narrow it was. Since running to the left of the cones would have put me in the way of traffic and running to the right sent me onto the gravel shoulder, passing people during this stretch was quite the challenge. I opted to go right, and it worked out fine for me, but all it would have taken was one unforeseen obstacle to end my race right then and there.
The remainder of the course was as it had been previously. With two miles left, you can see your final destination. The only problem is that you can also see the downhill then huge uphill it will take you to get there. Once you get that uphill done and you are back on the college campus, you take a swing around all the fraternity and sorority houses. That is always my favorite part as the frat guys always show up big for this race. Yes, they hand out beer to anyone who wants one, and yes, I absolutely had a beer with about three-quarters of a mile left to the finish line. You’re darn right I did!
The race ended with a little run around the William Jewell stadium and then boon. You’re done. The post-race spread is always really good at this race. Chocolate Milk, fruits, energy bars, they're all there. Lastly are the medals! Whew, this race does not mess around when it comes to their bling! The 2022 Liberty Hospital Half Marathon Medal is the biggest medal I have ever received for either a half or full marathon. It is just massive! I don’t know how they are going to be able to improve upon it next year! That however is a 2023 problem.
This race gets two sneakers up from me. It is well done. The race director(s) clearly knows what they are doing. The expo was good, the swag was good, and the medals are great. I only caution people to take this race seriously. There is not much training time coming out of winter and getting ready for this race, so you have to stay on top of things to make it through this race in one piece. It is a beast and one that you have to be ready for!
Thanks for reading the review! We’ll see you after our next race. Rock the Parkway Half Marathon on 04/09/2022. Until next time, keep pounding that pavement y’all!