LIBERTY HALF MARATHON/JEWELL 5K
Liberty Half Marathon Recap: Why The Hill Not
I ran this race on March 26, 2022. The beautiful, ENORMOUS medal we received for crossing the finish line made signing up for the Liberty Half Marathon/Jewell 5K worth it! Without a doubt, this was the largest medal I’ve ever gotten from any race, and by far one of the most gorgeous. Also, this race boasted some of the most amazing volunteers — I couldn’t stop laughing at the hilarious signs they made that kept us smiling at every aid station!
Race day started out with an outside temperature of a balmy 32° F, and by the end, it was perfect race weather in the high 40’s. This is pretty typical for Missouri during the spring, and having been living in the Midwest for at least the last 10 years, this wasn’t unexpected for me. If you live in a climate that is typically warmer all year round, consider bringing some layers to the start/finish line that you don’t mind shedding during the race. Spend some time here in the Midwest, and you’ll learn quickly that if you don’t like the weather, all you have to do is wait 5 minutes and it will change. I started out the first mile wearing a fleece jacket over a long sleeve shirt, and I shed it shortly after we passed the marker for Mile 1.
The race starts and finishes near the football field at William Jewell College and takes you down a scenic route through downtown Liberty, and some residential streets. I should have known what was coming when I learned the official race hashtag is #whythehillnot. The entire course was RELENTLESS. HILLS. ALL. THIRTEEN. MILES. After the first two miles, I quickly decided it would be more about having the discipline to manage my energy, as opposed to managing my time. Not being fixated with my finish time alleviated a lot of the stress, and I was able to just have fun after eliminating my expectations about time.
I conserved energy on every uphill, and capitalized on the downhills, and for the first 5 miles the downhills were super enjoyable after taking my time getting to the crest of the hills. If I’m remembering correctly, there is about a mile and a half stretch between Mile 7 and 9 that is all downhill, and prior to this super fun downhill, we ran past a sign that said, “ENJOY THE DOWNHILL!” I can’t explain the relief that washed over me when I read that sign! Each aid station had 2 restrooms. The half marathon course had a total of 9 aid stations: Miles 2, 2.75, 4, 5, 6.25, 7.25, 9, 11, 12. Gatorade was served at Miles 4, 6.25, 7.25, 9, 11. Mile 7.25 had Honey Stinger Gels & Bananas. In looking at some of the reviews of this race online and on social media, and some of the information on the race website, I went into this knowing this wouldn’t be a PR due to the notorious rolling hills this race is very well known for.
It was by far one of the most challenging courses I’ve ever run to date, which made finishing it all that much more rewarding. At the end of the course, my Garmin logged 13.1 miles about a quarter of a mile before I actually reached the finish line. I knew from previous experience that GPS watches aren’t always 100% accurate when it comes to logging distances during races, however, I did indicate this discrepancy in a survey that was emailed to me following the race. The race director was kind enough to address my concern and responded that the course is certified with USATF, and reminded me that it has to be at 13.1 before it passes. He also pointed out if runners run in the middle of the road, go get a drink, bathroom stop, etc, it will show long.
I did stop for a potty break around mile 8, so that probably explains why my watch logged the longer distance. I am absolutely the kind of runner, though, that will continue to run in circles until my Garmin shows the exact distance I am trying to complete during my training runs. Considering this is the most challenging course I’ve ever run in my entire life, it’s safe to say the rest of my races this year should all be PRs! I recommend signing up for this race if you love a challenge, love running hills, and choose your races based on the atmosphere. It was extremely well organized, from packet pick-up at the Expo, to all of the logistics, and the atmosphere was super fun. The entire race was so professionally coordinated, I would have never believed this was only its 5th year.
The race organizers were kind enough to include gloves in our swag bags! You know it’s going to be a cold morning when gloves are included. The swag for this race was pretty decent. We each got a really great quality, soft, long-sleeve T-shirt, a drawstring bag to be used for gear check, a stick of Chapstick, a set of HyVee gift cards, and mints. One of the things I really appreciated was that a pamphlet with everything we needed to know about race day was included with our bibs.
Know Before You Go: Parking/Access
Parking was limited at the Mabee Center at the start/finish, so alternate parking was available at the Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, which was about 10 minutes away from the start/finish line. There were shuttles for runners who opted to park in the alternate parking lot. The shuttle buses ran from 5:30 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. every 10 minutes to and from the shuttle location. I opted to take my chances and arrive super early at the Mabee Center, since I already have severe pre-race anxiety in general, and taking the shuttle was one less thing I wanted to worry about on race morning. I arrived at the Mabee Center early enough that if there were no parking spots available, I still had time built in to drive 10 minutes to the shuttle location and take the shuttle.
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Happy running and safe travels!