March 7, 2015 was the 11th annual running of the Trinity River Levee Run. The Margaret Hill Hunt Bridge, designed by Santiago Calatrava, opened in 2012 and has since been the star attraction of the race. I ran the Levee Run the first year it featured the bridge and it was spectacular. This year was only slightly less, exciting, mainly due to the snow, ice and rain Dallas experienced in the week leading up to the race and a cold race morning. This post also comes with a disclaimer. This is the first race report I have done in awhile and there were a sad lack of pictures taken on race day. I just couldn’t seem to get back into thinking like a blogger as opposed to a
mosier runner out for a Saturday morning stroll race.
The Flat and Fast
The Good – Great location just west of Downtown Dallas with scenic sunrise views of both the bridge and the Dallas skyline. Good course that is mostly flat with the exceptions of the climbs out of the river bottoms and over the bridge. I love the race shirt.
The Bad– While there is parking in a numerous small lots and muddy fields near the course there isn’t one large dedicated lot for the race. This really isn’t a hardship though, because most of the lots are closer to the race start than a many of the dedicated lots at some of the bigger Dallas race venues.
The Ugly -The race course had to be changed at the last minute and the 10K ended up not being a 10K, but more like a 5 miler. I heard that the course had changed, and it wasn’t going to be a full 10K, but I didn’t know what the distance was going to be. Also, the course went through the after party area and I, being a slower runner, had to dodge a lot of runners who had already finished and were making their way across the course to the beer area. Not ideal. Just to clarify, I mean the course crossing the path to the beer area was not ideal. Beer areas are always ideal. My two cents.
The Full Report
Last Minute Course Changes
As I mentioned above this was the 11th running of the race but, due to the bridge and other factors, the race course has changed over the years. This is only the 2nd year I have done the race with the first time being 2012 when the bridge opened. The course and the race that year were fantastic. The race website was touting a new race course this year, but didn’t put a map of the course up until just a couple of days before the race. Then the course was changed to the shorter distance the day before the race. I am not sure why they changed from the old course to begin with -going with the if it ain’t broke theory- it was a great course. I am assuming that weather was the issue with the shortening of the course the day before the race, but I am not 100% sure.
Packet pickup was was conveniently held at Luke’s Locker on multiple days before the race and was also an option at the race location on race morning. There was no swag, just a tech tee and bib, but I can’t complain as I signed up for this race months ago for $15. Definitely the cheapest race I have done in years where you still received a technical tee. However, as always, the downside of packet pickup at Luke’s was, well, Luke’s. I love the place and I love their clothes. I can’t go in without seeing at least 5 very expensive things that I will die without I must have. Fortunately, I was able to power through and get out without melting my credit card.
Race mornings always seem to come earlier than I anticipate. I am not a morning person and I can’t think of a single race where I haven’t stood in my kitchen on race morning stern talking myself into actually doing the race. In spite of beautiful weather, this one was no different. I finally convinced myself I needed to do it and headed out to the race.
As I mentioned in the flat and fast report parking was a little bit of an issue. I finally parked in a muddy field, slightly concerned my car was going to sink, and walked the few blocks to the race start. I had to jump a few leftover ice puddles from our ice storm earlier in the week, but I made it over them all safely and spoiler alert my car didn’t sink while I was gone.
The area on the west side of the bridge has really grown over the last few years and is definitely going for the funky vibe. Hofmann’s is also my favorite hot dog place in Dallas. If you are in the area and haven’t tried them you are missing out. The upside of that is that it just means that there is more for me.
Right before the start of the race I ran into Muddy Buddy. He and Cabana Girl were signed up to do the race, but she has been having some foot issues and bailed on us. I wish I had thought of that. Sigh.
I then did my obligatory wait until the very last minute, pre-race, porta pottie stop. For any new readers, two huge determining factors in me ever doing a race again is the ratio of porta potties (preferably real restrooms) to racers and that said porta potties (or restrooms) are strategically placed. This race did a great job with the porta pottie situation AND they even had someone standing outside the line of porta potties to wave racers into the empty ones. Great job Trinity River Levee Run organizers!
Business taken care of I made my way to the starting area with only minutes to spare before the 10K stampede. I just had time to set my Garmin and my app on my phone then the race started. Or I heard it started. No one around me was moving. I eventually realized I had lined up with the runners for the 1 mile run (oh, I wish) and pushed my way through to cross the start line with the tail end of the 10kers. In the excitement I forgot to start my Garmin. It is ALWAYS SOMETHING.
The race started on a downhill which was nice until less than a mile in we turned around and ran right back up the hill. Then it was down into the river bottoms on a concrete trail along the river. This was a fairly nice area with only a few muddy puddles and icy patches in the shady spots.
This nice, flat area didn’t last long, because before we even hit the two mile mark we were headed up the steep inclines out of the river bottoms.
After much huffing and puffing and crazy beeping from my heart rate monitor I was up and out of the river bottoms. The rest of the race was relatively flat and on a road that ran parallel to the river. There were several water stops, with the best one being manned by Dallas Police Academy recruits. They were very enthusiastic and cheered us through their water stop. No picture of this. Sigh.
We finally hit a turn around point and headed back towards the bridge. The race stayed on the roadway and didn’t dip back down into the bottoms. We arrived back at the bridge only to fight our way through the crowds to cross to the East side of the river on the pedestrian bridge. We ran downhill off the pedestrian bridge and then back up the huge arc of the main bridge. The finish line was on the west side of the bridge.
All in all the race was just a smidge over 5.5 miles. I averaged just over 11 minute miles and since I was taking it easy due to my foot I can’t complain.
The After Party
There was free beer, but I decided to head home because I had a full day ahead. I know, sacrilege! But I am sure that there were plenty of people there to take up my slack. There were also a lot of booths set up with everything from yoga, nutrition products, massage, to boot camps and food trucks.
Okay, now I am going to cheat a little. When I ran the race in 2012 I took a ton of pictures, especially of the bridge, but never wrote up a race recap. So I am going to share some of those pictures now. Feel free to skip them, but the bridge is gorgeous and I thought that the people who haven’t run the race before might want to see what the bridge looks like when you are on it.
Have you ever run a race planning to write a recap and never wrote it?