Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Report – John Gregson

Race: Lake Sammamish Half Marathon

Runner: John Gregson

Race Date: 03/05/2022

Location: Redmond, WA

Results: 1:48:15

Strava Activity Link:

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

  1. Nice and flat (minus one hill) scenic course that’s minutes from my home.
  2. Typically well run Orca race. Great volunteers, organized, good post race food, etc.
  3. Perfect weather (clear, low 40’s)

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

Due to some trail maintenance, the course had a two-mile detour that took racers up a ~4% grade hill between miles 7-8.

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

I don’t know if this is “weird” these days, but Orca’s races are cupless, which means carrying your own hydration.

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

I loved that this race was on my go-to training trail. I feel like I had my nutrition/hydration dialed in and stuck to my goal pace throughout. I was also able to meet up with some TRR runners beforehand for a little warmup jog, which was great.

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

Other than the hill, which should be a temporary thing, plan for a flat course with moderate racer congestion over the first couple of miles. The course is primarily paved, but there is a section of compact dirt/gravel. Ample nearby parking (I parked in the Redmond Town Center garage near the Marriott and walked to the start line) and the portapotty lines weren’t too bad.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

My watch GPS was tracking pretty well until the last couple of miles and the finish line came up a little sooner than I was expecting. In hindsight, I should have started my final push when making the big right turn on NW Sammamish Road, which leads into the finish line park.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The trail is very popular, so keep your head up and eyes/ears open for non-racers. Also look out for the posts in the middle of the trail that you’ll find at road crossings.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes, course runs along East Lake Sammamish which is beautiful.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

No. Other than the (temporary) detour up the hill, the course is really flat. Typically great running weather in the area this time of year too.

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

Well-oiled machine.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Seemed like a strong field. Even with a PR, I finished slightly ahead of middle of the pack for my division, which was maybe a little lower than other recent halfs in the area. I get the sense that this fast/flat course attracts a lot runners looking to PR.

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 it sold out or not, but I registered for the race in early February (one-month prior to race) without any issues. Given that the start line was 3.5 miles from my house, I didn’t need to worry about hotels or anything. Can’t imagine that it would be an issue though. With the Microsoft campus nearby, there are quite a few hotels to choose from.

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

Again, Orca’s races are cupless. They had stations for filling up bottles, but I blew past them. Seems like they were set up every couple of miles.

Weather and typical race conditions

Temps (40’s) were pretty typical for Redmond in early March, but not having rain was a bonus. You just never know around here. It rained in the days before/after, so we just got lucky I guess.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

Something to carry hydration if you’re so inclined. I went with a bottle on belt, which was fine. There is a bit of standing around before the race, so if it’s looking like a rain, a disposable rain poncho (or trash bag) might not be a horrible thing to throw in your race bag.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Yeah, lots of places to catch runners going buy. I saw the same guy (who may have been with the race) watching about six different times.

How’s the Swag?

Pretty typical. Tech shirt and medal with the race name and artwork. Good quality stuff, but I always like it when they include the date (or year), which they didn’t in this case.

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

Five Stars. Yes, highly recommend.