Friday, October 25, 2019

Hershey Half Marathon and Relay


As you may know, this year was not a good running year for me. It’s hard to run when you have a broken heart.  However, I did one race in the Spring (The Run through the vineyard), one race in the summer ( Disney’s Southern Most Point Race),  So I thought that it was only fitting that I find a fall race.  I wanted it to be something a little more substantial than a small town 5k race, yet something that was low pressure. 
relay race in Pennsylvania

The Hershey Half Marathon has been on my “Running List” for quite some time.  I wasn’t sure that I was up for running a half marathon quite yet, but I remembered that this race also offered a relay option as well.  I knew my mom was also looking for a fall race, so together we decided that we would run as a team!


I ran the Hershey 10K a few years back. I did not care for the race course but I loved staying at the Hershey Hotel and Spa!  Because I enjoyed staying on Hershey property (and a perk is they offer transportation to and from the race), I thought I would try the Hershey Lodge which was supposed to be just as fabulous as the Hotel.  The Lodge does not have a full service spa, but it had an indoor pool area with slides!
relay race in Pennsylvania

On Saturday morning, we arrived in Hershey, Pennsylvania and went straight to the Hershey park Stadium for packet pick up.  The pick-up was under the grandstand and I was actually impressed with how many vendors were there.  I thought it was just going to be a quick bib pick up.   Bib and shirt pick up went smoothly. The Shirts were long sleeved tech shirts with a hood. They are actually quite nice.  They are uni-sex sized.  I ordered a small because I did not see X-Small as an option when I registered, but they actually did have X-Small race shirts.  They were not accepting any exchanges for shirts until after the race the next day (which is understandable), but they were nice enough to let me try on an X-small to see if it was worth it for me to make the exchange the next day.  It was.
After getting what we needed at packet pick-up, we made our way to the Hershey Lodge.  This place is beautiful and I wish I would have taken more photos. You always think you have more time to take pictures but time goes by so fast!

We were there way before check in time, but our room was ready so we were able to go up right away.

Wouldn't this be a nice backdrop to pose the dogs in front of?

With our race registration, we were given 2 free tickets to Hershey Park in the Dark. That is what they name Hershey Park in October, but really you can go as soon as the park opens. It doesn’t have to be dark!

Afterwards, we headed back to the Lodge to get ready for race day.

I ended up not even wearing the arm warmers.

 We’ve been stalking the weather all week and expected the weather to be sunny and great running weather. Shorts and short sleeves for me and shorts and a tank top for my mom.  When we woke up on Sunday morning, there was a great chance of rain.  I was hoping it would hold off until we were finished running, but just in case, I decided to wear my running rain coat. I knew I would be warm, but I thought I might regret not having it.

The race shuttle picked us up right outside the Hershey Lodge in a timely manner. It dropped us off right outside the stadium, where the race would begin.  Before we got off the bus, another runner asked the driver where the bus was going to pick us up after the race.  The driver did not know, but another runner on the bus said that we needed to go to the park bus stop. I reiterated that I too read that. So now everyone on this bus knew we were to go to the park bus stop #3 (The Hershey Lodge) to go back to the Lodge after the race.
My mom stayed on the bus because it was the same shuttle that would take her to the exchange point of the relay.



A few days prior, I was feeling a tug on the side of my knee, and I thought “Oh no, I hope this isn’t going to turn into something.”  In spite of the rain that was starting to fall, I was feeling good that morning. I was excited to be running!  I was wondering if the first half of the half marathon was going to be the same route as the 10k I ran a few years back, but I was happy to find that it was not exactly the same.
Check out that sky!

 The first mile started out in the parking lot like the 10k did, but after that I remember it being slightly different.  The course was incline after incline after incline (I would say it was “hilly” but I heard the second half makes this part look flat).  We entered the park at mile 3 and exited a little past mile 4.  Running through there was also “hilly”.



One thing I have to mention is the crowd support for this race was amazing! Even in the rain, the roads were lined with spectators.

May You Run and Not Be Weary: Isaiah 40:31

After exiting the park, we ran up a hill next to the Presbyterian Church and they had spectators there with this Bible verse.




 I wasn’t really looking at my Garmin ( I was keeping it covered from the rain), and I wasn’t sure how much these “hills” were slowing me down ( I did not walk AT ALL, even though I felt like it), but I was worried that my mom would be waiting at the relay area all by herself.  I did not want her to be one of the last runners still waiting for their partner. Turns out as I approached the relay area, there were still a TON ( hundreds) of runners still waiting there.  I told this concern to my mom later that day and she said I was actually one of the first few relayers that came through.  Turns out, maybe hills aren’t that bad for me because I really made good time.

My mom was off for her leg of the race and I made my way to the aid station for my medal, goody bag, and water and then made my way to the bus that was going to take me back to the finish line.



I had just enough time to get a free massage, exchange my race shirt, and eat a snack before seeing my mom cross the finish line!  I thought for sure she was going to kill me after running all those hills but we were both so excited about our joint finish time. This finish time was better than when we ran Virginia Beach, which was mostly flat.  I guess running hills in the rain must be our thing!
We both even felt good afterwards (the DOMS hadn’t set in yet, but it did later).


We didn’t stick around like we usually do because it was raining. We wanted to get back to the Lodge, have brunch, and use the pool.   We made our way back to the bus stop we were SUPPOSE to be at.


I really did like this race so I don’t want to end this recap on a negative note. For that reason, I am not going to go in depth as to the miscommunication and misdirection we received but I do want to mention it so it will be brief.


Turns out, us and about 20 other runners waited, and waited (in the rain mind you) for our bus back to the Lodge to arrive.  I called to see where the bus was, and was told it was in a traffic jam trying to get to us but it was coming and we were to stay put.  Okay that is understandable.  After waiting some more for the bus to arrive, other runners started calling as well.  We were then told that we were going to have to wait until the race was over to be able to get back to the Lodge. The road was closed, the buses could not get through. Okay, THIS WAS UNACCEPTABLE. The Hershey Lodge is a Host Hotel of this race, they should have had a plan as to how to get the runners back. The roads being closed should have come as no surprise!  We are all wet, we are tired, we are furious!  We paid the extra money to stay at Hershey Lodge for the convenience. Heck, there were runners who stayed at the Holiday Inn for half as much and they got in their car and left right away!  After the race was over, we found out that the bus was actually parked in a different location.  We eventually found our way to the bus and got back to the Lodge.  By this time, some runners were going to miss check out, and they were worried about being charged another night, but the front desk staff was really great about that and didn’t charge any of us for the extra time we had to be in the room.  A group of us runners talked to the manager on duty about what was going on, so he was aware of all the miscommunication the staff was giving us and how this could be prevented for next year. Long story short, that manager was so rude and disrespectful to the runners.  These runners brought up some really good points too.  I hate conflict like this and I hate leaving a place I like so much with a bad taste in my mouth.  When I left, I wrote a letter to the General manger of the Lodge to let him know how the runners had been treated. It just wasn’t right.


Hershey Lodge

Regardless of the snafu there at the end, I really DID like this race and I wouldn’t mark it as one that I would never do it again. I think doing the relay was a good distance for me to do at this stage in my life and I’m so glad my mom wanted to do it too.   -M






28 comments:

  1. I've only done one half relay, but it was fun -- also hilly, I was also first, so yeah, knowing someone is waiting on you can help your time (but we did have beautiful weather).

    I always thought I'd do this race, but then decided on Gettysburg for my PA half.

    That's too bad about the bus, and really too bad that they weren't at least courteous. :(

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  2. I've heard good things about Hershey. Glad you had a good time up to the end. Also glad you wrote the manager. It is not acceptable for a host hotel! I actually prefer some hills on a course, just not super long, steep ones!

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    1. I actually did very well on the hills. I am wondering if I am starting to like them too!

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  3. Your experience post race reminds me of how I always feel when I fly home after a fun trip away. There's always a glitch and it bursts my bubble every time. That is such a shame that the buses couldn't get you back to the lodge. Even worse is the rude manager. Whomp whomp. I hope you hear back from him or the race director.

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    1. I did not hear from the race director but I did hear from the General Manager and she apologized.

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  4. Welcome to my corner of the world! I live about half an hour from Hershey. Glad to read that your race was mostly good. I ran the inaugural Hersheypark Half and I ran it one or two other times too. The chocolate theme is appealing and I like the half marathon course better than the 10k. I only ran the 10K once and it seemed like half the race was just running in the parking lot, which I didn't like.

    You were smart to write a letter to the manager of the Lodge. I hope he responds.

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    1. For Herhsey, it doesn't really have that much of a Chocolate theme although he did get a small pack of Hershey kisses for finishing which was nice. They do a nice job on their races. The shirt was fabulous!

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  5. So glad that you enjoyed the race - sounds like it was a lot of fun.
    That's really a shame about the shuttle bus issue. You are right - they should have had a plan to fix this, especially since so many runners paid more for this convenience. I hope that you hear back from the General Manager. They really should offer you and the other runners some type of refund for the inconvenience.

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    1. I talked to the General Manager since and no discount was offered for that stay!

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  6. I also did this race as a relay a few years back. I was also surprised by how hilly it was but it was lots of fun! We stayed in the Holiday Inn bc it was close to where the relay exchange was. Glad you had fun despite the hotel annoyance

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    1. It was a good race and I wouldn't mind doing it again ( without the rain)!

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  7. That's too bad there were all those issues after the race. But I am glad you still had a good experience overall! The relay sounds like the perfect distance.

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    1. I love doing the relay distance and would love to find more races that offer it!

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  8. That's a great idea to do the relay together with your mom! Great job with pushing through and getting a good time in spite of the hills and the rain. That's too bad that it ended on a bit of a sour note with the bus/hotel snafu :(

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    1. I am sorry that I let the bus issue bother me. I think I would have let it slide had the manager on duty not have been so rude!

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  9. Love that you do this with your mom! I enjoyed Facetiming with you when Lacey was here for the marathon! We had a bus mishap like that when I did a race in Snoqualmie. Things happen - it would be nice if the host hotel took some accountability!

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    1. I am so glad that my mom agrees to do events like this! I think she liked this better than the Triathlon I signed her up for last year...lol

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  10. So fun to do a relay with your mom. I think relays are great. I've done two in VT.

    I've always wanted to do this race. Too bad about the end. Boo!!

    And rain. I've run many halfs in the rain and they are not fun....

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    1. I would love to do another relay. This is the perfect distance!

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  11. I would love to run at Hershey because HERSHEY!! I'm glad you found a race with your mom that you could do together! What a major bummer about what happened in the end. It just kind of leaves a bad taste, doesn't it?

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    1. Yes it does. I did talk with the General Manager after I got home and she was very kind about the situation.

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  12. Ahhh - boo!!! That's not a high note to end on. Dang it. At least you know the race itself is good & hopefully issues like this are noted so they can fix things in the future.
    THAT PURPLE SKY!! Prince must have been singing in Heaven that morning :)
    Love the scripture from the spectators!!! So cool!

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    1. It was a great morning for sure. I wouldn't mind giving it another try some year!

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  13. What a neat race! I'm glad you can distance your review from the terrible shuttle service, ugh. Those medals are really cute.

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    1. I think the manager being rude was worse than waiting in the rain for the shuttle!

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  14. How fun to run Hershey! Ugh about the shuttle and rude manager - glad you still had fun overall!

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    1. Yes, I did have fun and wouldn't mind doing it again!

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Fairytales and Fitness is a personal blog authored and edited by us, Meranda and Lacey. The thoughts expressed here represent only our own and are not meant to be taken as professional advice. Please note that our thoughts and opinions change from time to time. We consider this a necessary consequence of having an open mind in an ever changing society. Any thoughts and opinions expressed within our out-of-date posts may not be the same, nor even similar, to those we may express today.