Review: Runner’s World Half & Festival

Disclaimer: I received a complementary entry to the Runner’s World Half-Marathon & Festival to review as a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro ambassador, and check BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

I signed up for this races months ago as I had entry into the “Hat Trick” aka the 5k, 10k and half-marathon. Back in April, I already had hotel and race confirmation for this race.  Luckily, I got some friends to sign up too. I have wanted to do this race for years!


Because of all the NYC traffic Friday evening, we didn’t get into Bethlehem, PA until 9ish, well after the expo closed.  It took almost 5 hours to get to Bethlehem (even though its supposed to be a 2 hour trip!). So I ended up picking up my bib and swag the next morning, right before the 5k. 

Saturday schedule

5k – 8am start
10k – 9:30am start
dog race! – 11:30am start
seminars – 12pm to 5pm
half-marathon eve dinner – 5:45pm or 7:15pm

So the SteelStacks is an amazing venue that is primarily used for concerts and events.  It is the perfect place for this type of event.  

Our hotel was about 15 minutes from SteelStacks so we got there around 7:20am and had plenty of time to use the bathroom (SO MANY BATHROOMS INDOORS!) and pick up the swag and bibs. 

The swag was awesome.  The hat, an amazing Headsweats one, was perfect because it was freaking cold. Plus the hat had the pony tail cut in the back. The shirt was a women’s cut and matched my very yellow shoes. 

Post-race 5k/pre-10k race selfie

At the start, there were paces listed (7mins, 7:30, etc.). I think I got in the 10 minute pace. The 5k started right on time with Deena Kastor high-fiving runners as we ran by.  It was really chilly (like 40something degrees).  They weren’t kidding with this course – it was hilly.  Within a mile we were already climbing a bridge then another steep hill afterwards.  

After the 5K, I ate a banana, got my medal and went back inside.  I actually had time to kill so I sat in the very warm building until 9:25am.  The expo was already open so we walked around a bit before going back outside.  

The 10K also started right on time on the same start line.  The course was similar to the 5k, still hilly but not quite as bad from what I remember.  Both the 10k and 5k provided amazing views of the city while running.  I mean it is beautiful! 


^The view over the bridge – about a mile from both the 10k and 5k finish. 
Post-race stretch/cool-down area
hey 5k & 10k medals!

After stretching, eating (bananas, water, bagels, cookies from Subway, etc.), and getting coffee (courtesy of my sister), we went to hangout with the dogs!


They were so cute!!!! So cute. I just want a dog so bad. The dogs and their humans ran a one mile course which was 2 laps of the same portion of the 5k & 10k finish line.

Look at these humans racing with their dogs!

After watching the dog race, we signed up for the nutrition seminar and we went to the seminar…with beer and popcorn on hand. The beer was not mine but I participated in the popcorn eating. We awkwardly sat up front as the presenter spoke but it was all good.

Because we were all about to fall asleep since we had been up since 7am and running, we went to the expo on the 3rd floor of the building and walked around.  I got my foot wrapped at KT Tape for free for both my achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis issues (although I did end up buying some KT tape anyways). 

Also, the bar was open for beer on the 3rd floor. So I bought my sister beer for buying me a soy latte and we all just walked around trying out different vendors.  We also took some pics at the RW photo booth on the second floor.

shenanigans outside SteelStacks
After hanging around the expo, we stopped at Wegman’s (which I have been obsessed with since college – their subs are amazing) for some lunch and went back to the hotel for food and a nap.
After a much needed nap and some studying, my sister and I took off for the dinner, which was hosted by the RW editors and included an awesome chat of the founder of the “Sub-30 club” and RW writer, Ted Spiker. 
I love this message. So true.
so good but still pretty healthy
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep (just kidding – we watched Bridesmaids and ate chocolate until really late haha).
Sunday – half-marathon start at 8am
We grabbed some snacks and ran out around 7:15am, which was more than enough time for my sister to drop me off and for me to run inside.  Although the finish line was in the same place, the start line was much farther out from SteelStacks, not quite a mile but close. It was a little past the casino, which is right next to SteelStacks.
If anything, the race is efficient and it wasn’t crowded the way it is before say a NYRR race.  We started right at 8am and although there was a bit of crowding in the first mile, it soon disappeared. 
The best thing about this race: the weather (a brisk 35 degrees when we started) and the sights. It is beautiful. 
The worst thing = the hills. Oh the hills. 
From Runner’s World

There was one hill in the first half of the race that was immediately after another hill. Like you just get up one hill turn a corner then BAM – another freaking hill.

I didn’t have to use the porta-potties along the route so I don’t know if there wasn’t many or what not but there were a good amount of fluid stations and Clif Shot Bloks half-way through.
I can’t tell you how happy I was when the race was over. I loved how beautiful the course was but the hills. THE HILLS. I will never get over those hills.
The post-race festival was awesome and included free beer (because there was no drink ticket, you could get seconds so yes I had both the white ale and lager). Post-race food included the same things as the day before: bagels, cookies, bananas, etc. 
I don’t usually like bands at races but the band that was performing was really good and performed a ton of throwback songs (think songs you would sing at a dive bar at 3am). 

my sister stole my phone
Overall thoughts?
A few words come to mind but the best way to sum up this race: a race for runners put on by experienced runners.

From having heat at the beginning of the race (the SteelStacks building with a ton of bathrooms indoors) to the pasta dinner to the race swag, what stood out is that whatever pet peeve I have with other races (porta potties, long lines, crowds, etc.), you didn’t find in this race.  It was very clear to me by the end of the weekend that Runner’s World not only can put out a great magazine but also put on an amazing race weekend. 
But not only that it was definitely all runners that weekend. I can rarely turn to the person next to me and just start talking about the next race, next training run, etc.  I could do that here.  It was great meeting a ton of other runners at the races and at dinner.
So in conclusion – yes, I would absolutely recommend doing this race and staying and doing the whole weekend if you can. There’s something for everyone – the newbies, the kids, the trail runners, the dogs, etc.  
—-
edited: 
They also do awesome virtual goodie bags of discounts plus FREE post-race photos.

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