A Race with my Mom! (a.k.a. Emerald City Half Marathon Race Report)

I just returned from Columbus OH, where I grew up, after running the Emerald City Half Marathon. What made this race special was that my mom participated in the Quarter Marathon; it was her first race and it was her birthday. I talked her into doing this race with me months ago, but when we had to be up at 5:00 AM on race day, she was questioning the idea. I understood the desire to sleep in on a birthday morning, and this was definitely not sleeping in!

Large, inflatable shamrock at the start/finish area

The weekend started off with my arrival on Friday night. Mom and I went to one of my favorite Columbus restaurants, El Vaquero, for an early birthday dinner. On Saturday, we went to packet pick-up at Fleet Feet, and mom picked out some new gear (a Spibelt and a handheld Nathan water bottle). The race shirt was the same for the half and the quarter marathon: it was a gender-specific tech tee in navy with the race logo in green. We both liked the shirt. So far, so good.

On Sunday morning, we drove to the Columbus suburb of Dublin for the race. There was ample parking, which was good; there were 1526 finishers in the half marathon and 1513 finishers in the quarter marathon, so it was a solid, mid-sized race. The start/finish and the entire course were definitely outside the downtown area; they were out in true suburbia and even out in farmland (mom counted 5 different crops planted in the fields we ran past).
These strange toilet trailers had several stalls in each side: one side for women, and one side for men, which also had urinals. After a while, the women just got into the shorter men's lines; port-a-potties should not be gender segregated at a race.

We lined up at the back of the corral and crossed the finish line a few minutes after the gun. The two races shared a course for the first 2.5 miles, so I walked with my mom. Her plan was to walk the entire way. While she can run, it always bothers her knees afterward, so she prefers to walk. And she is a much faster walker than me. Those first miles got us used to the race experience. It was interesting to see the range of paces and types of people that make up the walkers.

Bagpipers and drummers near the start

Mom (Ruth) at Mile 1 of her first race event

When the course split, I checked my RunKeeper app. It took us over 40 minutes for the first 2.5 miles. After hugging my mom goodbye and wishing her a good race, I started running. I won’t lie: it felt really good to be passing so many people after I picked up my pace. I’m sure they all wondered where I came from. I wasn’t fast by any means, but I was faster than them. As I ran along the course, I took note of some hills. I was under the impression that the course would be flat. While it wasn't extremely taxing, it was not flat. The Quarter Marathon didn't get the hills; just the half marathon.

A lot of the course looked like this with either crops or McMansions as the scenery

The aid stations were frequent and all of them had both water and Gatorade. Most, if not all, had medical volunteers. One aid station in the back half of the race had Gu. There were also medical volunteers patrolling the course on bike, and there were volunteers and/or police officers and/or park rangers at every intersection and turn. In short, the course was extremely well supported; it ranks among the best-supported courses in the 53 marathons and 26 half marathons I have run.

The wooded sections of Glacier Ridge Metro Park provided nice shade, but most of the time we ran out in the open

There were a few Half Fanatics in the race, but I didn’t know any of them. I wasn’t dressed in Half Fanatic gear, so they wouldn’t have recognized me as one of their own. I did walk for a bit with a Fanatic named Giselle from Cleveland; she and her friends were working toward earning 10 Moons, or Sun level in the club. I was impressed.

This was a swampy, nature preserve area with bird-watching towers; we liked running on the wooden walk

I checked my weather app at about Mile 9 and saw that it was only 67F degrees, which wasn’t bad, but we had 93% humidity. Ugh. So even though I was doing a good job catching up to my normal pace and passing people, it still wasn’t easy. With my slow start and the humidity, I simply wanted to break 3 hours, and I did. I felt very good about my performance, and mom was waiting for me when I crossed the finish line. She finished her quarter marathon (6.55 miles) in 1:55, which I thought was great, and she confessed to picking up the pace and running through the finish chute – go mom! And…remember how she wasn’t happy with getting up so early on her birthday? Well, after the race she said it had been fun! I’m so happy I had the opportunity to share a race with my mom, and I hope she will consider doing another one with me!

Daughter Sandy and mom Ruth as finishers; Happy Birthday, Mom, and congrats on your first race!

The medal and towel we received at the finish; the t-shirt had the same design as the towel and was a navy tech shirt

The finish experience was great at this race. After receiving our medals and a bottle of water, volunteers handed us wet, ice cold towels with the race logo. The towel was an awesome touch at the end of an August race. The food options were good too: bananas, nice bagels from Panera, Nutri-Grain bars, chocolate milk and yogurt. We skipped the after-party at the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings, but there would have been a complimentary rum drink for each of us had we attended.

I want to offer major kudos to the race management and the volunteers of the Emerald City Half and Quarter Marathon. Everything from pre-race to post-race was well-organized and well-executed. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of race management, and this one ranks high. I’m tempted to run the Capital City Half Marathon next year, as it’s produced by the same organization, M3S Sports. I only have one small quibble: there was no date on the medal or the ribbon. I loved the beautiful medal, but I had hoped my mom would have a souvenir medal with her birthday printed on it. Most medals at least have the year, but this one had no date at all. I’m not sure if they reuse medal designs from year to year, or if this was simply a design oversight, but it is my only complaint.

Question: What is the best-organized race you have run?


  1. That's great that you got to share a race with your Mom.

    1. I agree. I hope she will want to do another one with me. But she sort of encouraged me to visit sometime when I wasn't running a race. I'm not sure I understand that concept of travel: sans race. Hmm...

  2. I love seeing moms & daughters running - always the coolest.


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