Detroit Half Marathon 2012 Race Report

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Detroit Half Marathon Race Report:  The Detroit Half Marathon is unique in that it is one of the few marathons whose course spans two countries.  The Race starts in downtown Detroit, crosses the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, Ontario, and then takes you via the tunnel under the Detroit River back downtown.  The scenery is constantly changing and the race is over before you know it.

Race Course

Detroit Half Marathon Heath Expo

I went to the Detroit Half Marathon health and fitness expo to pick up my race packet.  The expo is held in Cobo Hall.  This year I choose to park on the roof, but I won’t next year.  The line to park on the roof was rather large, and the cost was the same price as it was to park in a garage on street level just a couple of block away from the Detroit Half Marathon expo.


This caught my eye at the Expo

Since this race crosses international boundaries, you need to present your passport to receive your bib.  The health and fitness expo is pretty large and there were many vendors selling nutritional products and running gear.  My favorites were the safety products.  I really like the new LED devices coming onto the market.  I saw some really cool LED dog collars and leashes.  Those would really show up on the road.

The Day before the Race

On the day before the race I kicked back and took it easy.  I tried to stay off my feet and not eat too much junk food.  That was kind of hard, as I was at a UM versus MSU football party; however, I generally stayed away from chips and cookies.  :)

On Saturday evening I started getting my race gear together.  I have a check list I follow.  It is surprising how much junk you need to run!




Items to have when getting ready for a half marathon

  • Running Shoes
  • Socks
  • Running Shorts
  • Running Shirt
  • Hat
  • Gator Aid G1
  • Goo – two packs
  • Phone, holder, and earphones Watch
  • Band-Aids for chest

Pre-Race Items

  • Baby Wipes
  • Runners Glide
  • Banana
  • Pre race water bottle

Post-Race Items

  • Shirt
  • Sweat Shirt
  • Jacket
  • Gator Aid

I put all my Pre and Post race item in a duffel bag.  The other stuff I put on before I leave the house.  This year I also stopped drinking the evening before and just sipped on a bottle of water an hour before the race.  I think that helped with the porta potty issue.

Race Day

The race starts 7:00 AM on Saturday morning.  Since I live about 40 minutes for downtown Detroit I get up at 4:00 AM to make sure we have time to get ready and be downtown.  We were on the road at 5:00 AM and down town a little after 6:00 AM, which was too late!  By then the traffic started to build up and we got bogged down getting to our normal parking lot to the south of the start line.  I was getting nervous so my wife offered to drop me off and find parking afterwards.  This worked out great.  I just walked to the start line and was there with forty minutes to spare.  Just enough time to spend in a very long porta potty line!

The Start – – Miles 1, 2

Race Start

The Start – It is cold, but we are ready!

The Detroit Half Marathon starts in waves.  I was in the G corral so it took about ten minutes for my group to get to the start line and go.  Each was has their own start countdown, which is great, so you still get the feeling you’re having your own start and not just part of a hug group of thousands muddling across the line.

Ambassador Bridge – – Miles 3, 4

The first two miles of the race head due south and position on the approach of the Ambassador Bridge.  This is an eighty year old suspension bridge, which provides a great view of the city and river, and takes you from the US to the Canadian side of the course.  As I was running up the bridge a wave of nausea hit me.  I think I got a “shot” of adrenaline and it made me really dizzy.  I got weak knees and had to pull over to the side of the bridge and chill for half a minute.  Once the wave was over, I continued on, with no further effects.

On the bridge I took turns taking pictures with another runner.  I was having a good time and wasn’t too stressed about the time.  I think I spent three extra minutes on the bridge goofing with pictures and dealing with my dizziness.

Ambassador Bridge

Posing on the bridge

On the far side of the bridge is the Windsor welcoming party!  They are so great.  It really feels good to be greeted by our Canadian neighbors.  J

Detroit Half Marathon in Windsor, Ontario – Miles 5, 6, 7

Once in Windsor the race course run along the Detroit river North to downtown Windsor.  There is a really great turn out of people along this route.  They provide really good crowd support and are cheering for all the runners.

The view of Detroit is beautiful.  The view from Windsor provides a unique perspective of the city.  Detroit looks awesome from Canada!  Somewhere along this beautiful stretch I crossed the half way mark of the race, but to be honest I didn’t notice it.  I was having such a great time running I didn’t focus on the distance.

Detroit Half Marathon Windsor 1

Detroit as seen from Windsor, ON

Windsor 2

Detroit from Canada

I would watch my watch to keep pace, but I really didn’t focus on the mile markers.

The route turns into downtown Windsor and heads inland a bit and then connects to the Detroit tunnel.

Detroit Tunnel – Mile 8

The most unique part of the Detroit Half Marathon is running under the Detroit River!  The tunnel runs from Downtown Windsor to Detroit.  The tunnel is rather large so you don’t get claustrophobic, it is the size of a large mall hallway, but it does get stuffy.  The run to the middle of the tunnel is on a downward slope so it pretty easy, but as you climb up out of the rive r for the last half mile you start to notice the heat.

Detroit Tunnel

Crossing from Canada to the US within the Tunnel

I was glad to emerge from the tunnel in the cool air.  Besides, I could help wondering what I was going to do if the tunnel sprung a leak!

Downtown Detroit – Mile 9, 10

The route leaves the tunnel and then goes along the river towards Cobo Hall and the Joe Louis Arena.  This is my favorite part of the race because I get to see my Wife and Kids.  That is a great booster.

Downtown Detroit

I’m in Orange with the Ren Cen behind me

I needed it to, because I had a setback.  Once I got out of the tunnel I noticed my GPS watch was out of synch.  At a mile market I went to set a split, but accidentally stopped the watch.  I don’t know this for several minutes, so my time was off.  Also, I got my splits out of whack and had a hard time, from that point forward knowing whether I was running at my goal pace.

Since the race was pretty far along at this point, I knew recognized many of the runners that were running in my pack, so I just made sure to stay in tune with my breathing and stay with the pack.

Mexican Town – Cork Town – 11, 12

This part of the race winds through small working class neighbor hoods.   There aren’t too many large buildings to look at, however at one time the old train rises from the industrial plain as a sentinel to an earlier and grander time.

Back to running —  I felt great!  I have to say this was the most fun half marathon I’d run so far.

The Finish – Mile 13, 13.1

Half Marathon Home Stretch

Could I loose some weight? Yes, but still looking good afert 13.1!

Before the final stretch the course heads along Michigan Avenue into the heart of Downtown Detroit.  The course then turns at Campus Martius for the final stretch to the finish.  I really like this part of the race.  Obviously the race is almost over, which is always a good thing, but the view coming into the city is nice.  The stretch along Michigan Avenue has a big city feel to it.


For the final tenth of a mile I ran strong, but didn’t sprint.  I was pretty happy with my time as well.  I finished in 2:10:23, which I think is a PR for me.  I’ve yet to look it up.  I guess I should, but to be honest, I enjoyed the race so much, it hasn’t been a concern.

I would definitely recommend the Detroit Half Marathon to any runner.  The course is very flat, the race is well organized, and the course is very interesting.  There are many sights to see, the course winds over a wide variety of areas.  You won’t be bored with the course.

I’m so glad I participated in the race, and will definitely do it next year.  I may run the Chicago Marathon earlier in the fall, so this would be a great way to wind down from that event.  On the other hand, perhaps a spring marathon is calling my name.  :)



Chill’n after the race with my two racing fans.

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