I was not the one running in this race, I was merely a spectator there to cheer on my sister, Kinley during her second official 1/2 marathon! She signed up for this race shortly after it was announced as it was the first race that has been put on by Summerfest and during Summerfest. Ashley came up to join in the cheering and we even made t-shirts for the occasion!
We left the house at 7am to drive down to Milwaukee and find parking. It was already so hot… I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts and was already sweating, and worrying about the runners because of the heat! The corrals were set up outside of the Summerfest grounds and compared to the Bellin Run, were tiny and so crowded with the participants. Kinley decided to head to the back of the corrals instead and not be surrounded by hoards of people pushing and shoving their way in the corral. It was chip-timed as well, so it really did not matter what time she crossed the start line.
After Kinley lined up and the race had gotten under way, Ashley and I headed to Alterra at the Lake to wait for Kinley to come to the first planned meeting point around 7 miles. It was around a 2 mile walk for us up the street and even just walking, it was a welcomed relief to be in the air conditioning with an iced coffee instead of the muggy warm 80*+ temperature outside! We also had a view of the course so we could see other runners. Mom and Dad came down as well and were able to see Kinley after she ran over the Hoan Bridge which was 6 miles in. So we waited a few more minutes and then went out to the course to wait for her to pass.
She finally came up to us and was extremely glad that we had a fresh water bottle for her to replace her other one! She took one and packed another, both filled with her Naturally Clean Sports Drink. She was also planning on alternating between that and water on the course so figured she would be ok during the run. Kinley also put a couple of the ice packs on her neck to help cool down – but she was over 1/2 way done so that was a plus!
Before Ashley and I headed to the next stop, I ran back into Alterra and filled up her other water bottle (just in case) and grabbed a handful of salt packets for a quick electrolyte fix if she needed it. We then headed a quarter mile back to the 11 1/2 mile stop just over the Brady Street Bridge. A photographer was also there so it was a good spot to wait! We waited for around an hour there for her to pass. She was desperately in need of water so it was nice to be able to change her bottles again! It was a quick stop, or run-past rather, just saying, “I can’t stop now!”.
Ashley and I then headed back to the Summerfest grounds to get to the finish line. We knew we wouldn’t make it to the end in time to see her cross (that’s what Mom and Dad were doing anyways so Kinley at least had support at the end!), and we just walked near the course toward the finish line. On our way, my first sign of race struggles was one guy sitting up against a tree (about a 1/2 mile from the finish line), surrounded by Medics with an IV put in his arm. That was when I first heard them saying the course had been black-flagged. I had no idea what that meant but they were also telling everyone to walk back and stop running and time wasn’t going to be recorded.
We made it back to the grounds by the finish and tried to look around for Kinley, Mom and Dad. We found them after dodging a bunch of people working our way back closer to the lake. Kinley had also packed a smoothie which we had in a cooler so I was able to give that to her for some recovery – which was good since the race was OUT OF BANANAS! How does a race run out of bananas when they are the main food runners look to after the finish? It blew my mind. But I guess if the race officials were unable to get an adequate supply of water to the runners, it’s surprising they even had bananas at all.
I really could not believe it when I heard there was little to no water along the course. Kinley finished in the middle of the 1/2 marathoners, and from a few statements it seems like the people near the front of the pack had no issues, but the ones further back did so it is really one runners tale versus the other. But the stories of runners having to cup their hands together to get even a few ounces of water and pouring all of the water gallons into a clean garbage bag to fill up water faster was really disconcerting. And so many of the other runners had no water with them… I’m not sure how many runners didn’t finish the race at all, or turned around at the 10k point, but I do not blame them.
The organizers of the race failed, in my opinion. No runner should have to worry about dehydration on the course, after being told there would be water stops, and especially after paying over $80 to run the course. Fifteen runners were hospitalized and I think that two of them are still in the hospital recovering. My heart goes out to these runners because the officials failed to protect them. Some runners are even blaming those complaining about not having any water by saying that they didn’t prepare enough or were not training correctly, but even just after walking four miles I had drank 32 ounces of water – there is no way a runner would even be able to carry that much water around with them.
Thankfully Kinley had brought her own water and I filled up that third bottle for her. Although she did talk about one point where she debated picking up a half-eaten banana because she needed food – I’m so glad she was able to find a new one on the course somewhere! She didn’t beat the time at her last 1/2 marathon (they did end up posting the results), but with the conditions the way they were I am just proud she was able to finish!
Nice work, Kinley! And here’s to no more summer marathons!