Berry Half Marathon Race Report--A View from the Fence



By: Trey Brush

I have run a lot of races in my day.  In fact, I have run more races than I can count.  When you hear from me, you normally hear about a race that I have run.  This past weekend I had the chance to watch and help serve runners at the Berry Half Marathon.  The was the 7th year of the Berry Half Marathon.  I actually did run this race in 2010.  Some things have changed and other things are the same.

I thought about just taking an overall snap shot of the race weekend and highlighting some questions you might have about your interest in running this race in the years to come?

Do they have a race distance for me?

The answer is an easy…Yes.  You can choose from a 5k, 10k and half marathon.  If you are looking for a relatively flat 5k or 10k in Georgia this is a great pick.  I am not saying it is totally flat, but I personally would call it a flat course.  You have a chance to make it happen. The half marathon will give you some hills in the middle, but if you have run half marathons in Atlanta this course will feel great and there is room to make it happen on this course. I would call it a PR course.

One of my favorite things I got to see was the kids fun run!  This was done near the end of the day on the grass close to the finish line.  Watching the kids was a real highlight.

Is it crowded?

In my mind this is a big small race.  I know…that makes no sense.  For all the races combined you are probably looking at 2,000 runners combined so it gives you the feel of a good crowd where you won’t be alone, but it is small enough to run without fighting the crowd.  It has a really nice feel to it with the number of runners. The 10k and half marathon have a start together and the 5k starts about 20 minutes later.

There is a 10k turnaround along the half marathon course.  (A little rant-run the race you signed up for runners. Come on now. You are better than that. If you choose not to run the half marathon, do it right. That’s all I am going to say about that. Don’t cheat yourself)Watching the runners take off and come back in gave me a good sense that it has a good feel running the course with the number of runners.

Is it scenic?

Are you kidding me?!  In a word…Beautiful.  If you have visited Berry College then you know, if not then you need to sign up for next year.  Words will not do it justice, but it is one of the most scenic races you will find in the state of Georgia.

What is the finish like?

A race that I have always wanted to run is the Chicago Marathon.  One thing that stands out to me about that race is the finish stretch.  You turn the corner and you can see the finish line in the distance and you have a nice long straight stretch to finish and soak in the environment.  That is just what Berry does.  It is great for the runner and great for the spectator.  To add to that you also finish just in front of one of the most incredible buildings on campus.

What is the cost like?

The registration fees are very low and if you live anywhere in North Georgia you can be in Rome in no time whatsoever.

Is it well organized?

Smooth.  They have a great team and great volunteers.  Being a small race allows them to take care of you personally unlike most races you will ever experience.

Other factors

You might see more deer than spectators and that is not a shot on the lack of spectators.  I have never seen more deer in one place in my life, next closest would be the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon.  Since it is run on campus there is nothing to worry about it when it comes to cars and traffic during the race.The shirts, medals and logos for the race look fantastic.

Unique Personal Experience

Sitting on the other side can be a great experience.  As I stood at the start and finish line in a 4 hour time frame you get to see it all.  You get to see the fast runners at the front and some of the hardest working runners who impress me in the middle of the pack and further back who are working just as hard. 

Seeing the race directors, volunteers and staff in action can be a lot of fun.  So many people take so much of their own time to make this happen and deliver you an experience you won’t forget.  I try to never forget that.  Next time you are at a race just think about the number of hours that went into that experience.  Think about what time the volunteers and staff got up or maybe never went to bed to give you the chance to do something you might have never thought you could do.

It all makes me very grateful for those who make our race experiences happen. 

Go run the Berry Half Marathon in 2016….Until then—you have to come run the Chick-fil-A Connect Half Marathon in Athens on April 18th!  Run the Half Marathon or grab a couple of friends and do the relay.  Bring the kids Friday night and have your family run the 1 mile run.  Either way, come run the race and I look forward to giving you a high five at the finish line!

Trey is a runner and coach with a desire to help create change in others.  He lost 80 pounds on his journey from a watcher in life to a doer.  His passion for running and creating change led him from the couch to marathons and ultramarathons.  He is a husband and the father of 2 boys living in Jefferson GA.  You can follow Trey on twitter @RunOnPurpose