Cold would not even describe the weather for the first annual Kansas City Operation Jack Half Marathon in the Snow on December 29, 2012. The race started under partially cloudy skies around 19 degrees with a few snow flurries flying around. Those weather conditions and a few snow and ice packed spots on the trail didn't stop around 40 runners from coming out to enjoy a chilly 13.1 miles.
The motivation was to raise funds for the Operation Jack organization that supports the Autism Society. This run marked the third year of the Operation Jack marathon held in California. Traditionally this run in Kansas City had been a satellite run with participants running on their own and raising funds, but this year organizers put together a half marathon course and put together a coordinated event.
Runners descended upon Shawnee Mission Park in the suburbs of Kansas City to run the 13.1 miles mainly on paved trails. The route was challenging and at times snow packed, but all runners made it to the finish line none the worse for wear.
The Kansas City endurance sports examiner was a part of the race and below is a review of the event.
- Half Marathon
INDIVIDUAL ASPECTS OF THE EVENT
- Registration: Online and straight forward. You could also register in person or mail in a form.
- Communication: The organizers created a Facebook event page and were very proactive in updating information and answering questions. A great feature was to subscribe to the updates and you get any new messages sent straight to your email inbox. No need to miss anything!
- Packet Pickup: Racers could pick up their shirts, bibs and goodie bag at the packet pickup on Friday or on race day before the event. Since this was the inaugural event, with around 50 racers, it was not an issue for those picking up their race gear the day of the race.
- Port-a-potties: Operation Jack Half in the Snow utilized the existing pot-a-potty situation at Shawnee Mission Park. There were two at the start area and a variety along the race route open for use. Plus, if the need arose, the trails were lined with trees and in limited visibility, if racers chose to commune with nature.
- Course: The course was right at 13.1 miles. It was not an easy Saturday jaunt, as the trails within Shawnee Mission Park have some steep rolling hills and tested runners’ stamina coming back into the park, gaining the most elevation at the end of the run. The turns were well marked. The turnaround had a tent and aid station, so there was no missing that. Kansas City did get some snow a week prior and due to freezing temperatures since, there were sections of the trails that were snow and ice packed. It wasn’t that much of an issue since the snow wasn’t deep and runners could skirt the trail in the grass and snow, avoiding slipping dangers. The trail system is kept in great condition, so there were no serious issues with potholes, cracks and uneven running surfaces. As far as running 13.1 miles in sub 20 degree weather goes, it was a quality laid out course. Some runners did get lost on a few turns and ended up running more than their 13.1, but no one really complained.
- Finish Line: The race ended at the Theater in The Park with an event tent and warming tent. The only thing missing was a warming lamp, but when nearly 100% of the funds are going back to the Operation Jack organization and everyone is there in support on a volunteer basis, you can’t really argue with the amenities. Sam Felsenfeld, Operation Jack founder, also greeted every one of the finishers with a medal and a hardy handshake.
- Post-Race Accommodations: The food post-race was standard fare of bananas, yogurt, chocolate chip cookie bar, water and a few other items. With temperatures still hovering at 20 at the finish line, most runners only had 20 minutes before their body temperature lowered and all that sweat now created a wet layer to induce freezing. Most people grabbed a medal, a drink and a bite and headed to their cars to warm up.
- Would I Come Back: Yes!
- Would I Recommend to a Friend: Yes.
This event was put together to build more community around the Operation Jack project. They had the satellite run in the past, but nothing officially organized in Kansas City. This was a solid inaugural event and hopefully catches on a spreads throughout the Kansas City community. The Indian Creek Trail system that hosted the run was scenic and was laid out great for aid station timing and supported a low budget fundraising event such as this. For those looking to keep up their miles over the winter while supporting a great cause should definitely put this race on their calendar.