Race: Canaan Valley Half Marathon

Runner: Art Steiber

Race Date: 04/24/2021

Location: Davis, WV

Results: 2:08:41 (1st place of 60+ age group although there were no age group awards)

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5184039119

canaan valley half race report
Photo: Art Steiber

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

1. The setting. I’m from Detroit, MI and I’ve never run in the hills of WV. It was great seeing the mountains as I ran.
2. The attitude, flexibility and communication of the organizers. Friendly, accommodating, organized.
3. Swag. I haven’t gotten a hoodie at a race before.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

I prefer courses that don’t cover the same territory so I can see all new scenery during the race. This course did have us loop back and repeat part of the course. But, on the second loop we went the opposite direction for some, so it wasn’t identical. I heard they had to change the course due to Covid, so it may not always repeat.
No age group awards and since I was the fastest old guy (60+M), I wish they would have done age group awards.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

Weird in a cool way – the MC/starter/hype man at the start/finish area was a high-energy guy with dreadlocks and bare feet that sounded like Adam Sandler. We started in several waves 5 minutes apart and he kept the crowd entertained.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

I finished faster than I expected. I hadn’t trained on hills yet this year and I also missed a couple weeks of training recently due to injuries so I was not race ready. Plus my wife and I have been here hiking for several days so I was planning to take it easy and just run it as an easy long run. But, I got caught up in the race excitement and went out slightly faster than I planned and was able to maintain for most of the race other than up the steeper hills.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

If you want to record a good finishing time, be sure you do hill training for this race. Also, this was a fairly low-key event. Fun, friendly and well-organized but not thousands of runners or spectators.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

It helped to get to packet pickup early because it got crowded fast. Also, get to the race site early for better parking as some people had a bit of a walk to the start (not a big deal, just convenience.)

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

I think the course was different this year but based on the location, it will have hills no matter where they run.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes, very pretty course. Canaan Valley, WV is surrounded by mountains and great views.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

If you are in half-marathon race shape it’s not too difficult and if you do hill training it’s a reasonable course.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

It was well organized but still casual and friendly. Good proactive communication by email pre-race with updates as Covid changes were made. A Facebook group page allowed runners to connect and share leading up to and after the event.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

165 half-marathon finishers on Saturday. They had another group of similar size on Sunday. Normally it’s a one-day race but they divided the field to help social distancing. The 10k runners started with us so it felt like a bigger field but then we split off at points on the course.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

I don’t know if they limit the field every year but they did this year due to Covid. Registration, packet pick-up and the entire event worked smoothly.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Standard placement on the course. They were not pouring or handing out drinks, we just grabbed a full bottle ourselves. Water and Gatorade.

Weather and typical race conditions

Temp was about 40 degrees at the start. Expect anything in April. There was still snow on the ground at higher elevations in the area. Wind picked up during the race as clouds came brought rain in later that afternoon.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

The only spectators were at the start/finish area which was at a very nice resort on the mountainside. No one was out on course.

How’s the Swag?

Runners got a nice quality grey hoodie. Subtle logo design so it looks very nice. Plus a good size, attractive finisher medal.

Apparently they usually have a post-race party, but again Covid cancelled that. There was beer available and it was my favorite kind – free and cold!

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

5 stars! I really enjoyed it!

Art Steiber is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Coach Art, check out his coaching page.

canaan valley half race report
Photo: Art Steiber