A group of friends and I decided to make the Fontana Days Run half marathon the first of back-to-back races in our self-titled #Fontana2SD challenge. You can search #fontana2SD on social media if you would like an in-depth look at the weekend’s activities. It was my second time entering the Fontana Days Half, having previously run in 2014, and all I really remembered about my first go-around was a no-frills, see-how-fast-you-can-run-down-a-mountain race where almost everyone set a personal best by several minutes.
I was not one of those who PRed that day, nor did I PR this day. Funny how that works out.
Truth be told, I am not sure there was even an expo for this race. There was an option to pick up bibs during a four-hour stretch Friday night but I had prior commitments so I opted for the free race-morning bib pick-up. It was a very easy process, from claiming my bib to picking up my race swag. There really was nothing more I could have wanted.
This race is a point-to-point run which starts up in the mountains and as such, it requires a bus ride to the starting line. This race is limited to about 1,000 entries so it is small and that made for easy travel to the starting line. There seemed to be plenty of school buses available to runners but there was a cutoff time for when they stopped sending people to the half marathon starting line.
The post-race food was nothing special but there were several food trucks available in the post-race village. I did not partake of the post-race party but it looked to be a good sized event even for a smaller sized race.
The Course: C
This event is the only one I have participated in which takes place entirely on the same road. Yes, you read that correctly. The road you start on is the one you finish on. Coming down the mountain there are some nice views but once you hit the bottom, around mile seven, there is nothing inspiring about it. It was akin to being on a lonely stretch of desert road which goes on as far as the eye can see.
The Medal: D
The medal will, without a doubt, be the smallest and cheapest looking medal I receive this year.
I know, I know. Not one element of the race scored higher than a ‘B’ but here I am giving the race an overall grade of ‘B+’. What does not previously show up on my report card for this race is the intent of the event. This half marathon is all about speed! There is a reason it sells out each year and that is because the people who enter want to run fast and that is where this race excels. With a drop of around 2500 feet, most of which comes in the first six miles, runners are afforded the ability to run faster than normal without as much effort. Even after you reach the bottom of the mountain, the course is still a slight decline with only one small incline. An incline which would go unnoticed on most courses. If you are out to establish a new PR then I highly recommend the Fontana Days Run. If you are more interested in running a big race with lots of bells and whistles, you will be underwhelmed by this one. There is no national anthem at the start, there is no starting gun, there are no gels on the course (there are water stations every 2 miles), there is no entertainment nor bands on the course, there are only a handful of spectators. However if you simply want to run fast, Fontana Days is the race for you.