Location: Centennial Park, Ellicot City, Maryland, USA
Registration: Very good; easy-to-follow directions online
Communication: Good. Not much information (such as bike or run course description) on the web site, but when I asked for specific info, I got an immediate helpful response.
Getting to Start: Very good; easy to reach. Get there early to be able to leave your car in the park, This year there were around 1200 participants between the collegiate athletes, olympic and half full 70 participants.
Course: Very good. Swim = pretty good for being a small lake near a big city! One loop on Centennial lake. Bike = Two loops, hilly and technical (I loved it!); scenic; mostly low traffic, except near the park. The pavement was in pretty good conditions, it was rough only in two places . Run = Two loops on a mix of paved trails in the park, quiet suburban community roads and along a busy two line traffic road. Mix of rolling hills, a couple of steep hard ones, and a couple of gradual climbs. Luckily there was enough shade to keep you cool.
Organization: Very good, organised by Revolution3 Triathlon.
Price: Reasonable ($173 with all fees and permits per person).
Weather: Great; My Garmin said that it was 60 F during the swim and 81 F during the run. Last year (2012) the temperatures were in the 40’s though!
I chose Half Full triathlon mostly for its terrain: I like hills! Also as the organizer’s put it “Our Half is not quite half. At a distance of 70.0 miles, this is more than just a race. The 70 represents 70,000 young adults that are diagnosed with cancer ever year,” I liked their platform.
Packet Pick up at Centennial Park (Fri: 3 pm – 7 pm and Sat: 10 am – 6 pm), located a few yards from the transition area. They had a mandatory bike racking on Saturday too from 10 am to 6 pm.
The morning of the race, we got to the park at about 5:20 am and the first parking lot was almost full. The park opened at 5 am.
Transition: There were lots of volunteers for body marking. The transition area was very well organized. The bike racks are exceptional! They can accommodate narrow (tri type) and a wider type of wheel. They also were numbered and personalized with your name (nice!).
Personal space in the transition area was perfect; the bikes were alternated facing in opposite directions so the bike next to yours (facing the other way) left space for your equipment. The two entrances to the transition area were very well marked, swim in and run out and one to the bike(“BIKE OUT”).
Waiting to get in the water
The swim was a one-loop (0.9 m) on Lake Centennial. There were three groups: Collegiate, Olympic, and Half. The swim (except the collegiate) was a time trial start and consisted of 2 participants entering the water every 5 seconds. The time trial was arranged by waves: Survivors, Team Fight, Men 40+, Women 40+, etc., which made the swim much easier and less crowded than most. The run from the water to the transition area was up a hill!
Transition 1 (T1) was pretty good; easy to navigate from the water to the bike course. The Oly area was on the right, the half on the left, and the relay teams and collegiate had their own separate area.
The bike portion of the race was challenging but very picturesque. It was a two loop course but the start of the second loop doesn’t make it all the way to the park (about 5 miles away). The route had a total ascent of 3,878. ft according to my Garmin, was very well signaled, and there were policeman or volunteers at each major intersection and turns. The ride started flat followed by many, many rolling hills, with three major climbs (not too long but you had to grind them). Luckily, on one of them there was a team of Super Heroes at the top, who pulled you up the hill! There were four bottle exchange stations (~Miles 10, 23, 31 and 45) with water and Gatorade, medical assistance, but not food.
Coming out of T2
T2 was a breeze thanks to Rev3 bike racks! Everything was well organized and easy to navigate. Nice big “RUN OUT” sign and down hill!
The run started and ended on the park. Between mile 1 and two there were the short but steep hills that killed me! According to my Garmin the total elevation gain was 856 ft. It was scenic and mostly shady, with many aid stations providing water, Gatorade, cola, ice, and food, along with awesomely helpful volunteers to cheer us on. The times the course took us on busy roads near the end, the shoulders were wide enough to accommodate both cars and runners, and there were enough police officers and volunteers to keep us safe and help on the intersections. The rest of the running route followed quiet roads and paved trails.
The finish was very nice: up a hill though so save some energy for it!
The post-race party and food were good; there were hamburgers, veggie burgers, chips, and even beer! There was plenty of room to spread around, and everybody was very nice to talk to.
Overall, my experience was very good, and I definitively recommend this race. The area is lovely, and atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. Even though there were 1250 participants, it never felt too crowded.