On paper, this past weekend’s inaugural DC Divas Half Marathon and 5K in Leesburg sounded like a dream: a road race through Virginia’s wine country followed by Champagne at the finish line. But based on the hundreds of complaints flooding the race’s Facebook page, it’s clear runners were none too pleased with the outcome.
The Saturday race, which had 3,511 total participants for the half marathon and 5K, experienced a series of snafus that led to a start time delayed by about 90 minutes, long lines at the bathrooms, and no celebratory drink at the finish line.
The first issue involved a long line to get into the parking lot, an issue that numerous organizers have encountered at Washington races in the past. Hundreds of panicked runners took to Run Like a Diva’s Facebook wall, asking for a delayed start time as they were still stuck in traffic moments leading up to the race.
Emily Canis of Arlington says she was ten miles away from the race location when she encountered the traffic on route 15. “At 6:20 AM I came to a dead stop. I didn’t pull into the parking lot until 8 AM,” she says.
By 7:25 AM—ten minutes after the planned start time—Run Like a Diva posted on Facebook and Twitter that the race would be delayed to accommodate those stuck in traffic.
By the time the race finally began at 9, however, many participants had been standing in the corral for more than three hours without food or drink. “I had finished my water in the car stuck in traffic and had eaten breakfast by 5:30,” recalls Canis. “By 9 AM, they weren’t passing out any water bottles and it was sunny at that point.”
The lack of portable toilets at the start line were also an issue. Canis. says she counted about 20 or so, although there were a good number of them along the course.
Also an unwelcome surprise to the runners was the hilly course, which was described on the run’s website as “soft rolling” with only two areas of uphill running. However, Canis says the entire first half of the race was hills. Many runners were also not prepared for the amount of the course that took place on gravel roads, since it was described as a road race.
Yesterday afternoon Run Like a Diva representatives sent an e-mail to the race participants, stating that they took full responsibilities for the “issues that came up on race day, specifically the parking/traffic issue.” They’ve been in touch with Loudoun County officials and plan to use shuttles at next year’s race, which is scheduled for September 14.
As for the race course complaints, representatives used the elevation description provided by Map My Run, and had the course officially measured by USA Track and Field.
Canis, who says she ran her slowest half marathon time at this race, says she’s not sure she’ll run a DC Divas race again. Her biggest complaint: “They definitely could’ve planned better for traffic, but they should’ve taken better care of the runners.”