Sunburst Races – Half Marathon (2013)

On Friday I realized that I wanted to run the Sunburst Half Marathon on Saturday morning.  I wasn’t registered.  I didn’t have a sitter.  However, I was heading to my parents for the weekend so had family to help.  I jokingly called this my “super secret race”,  facebooking and tweeting the same.  However, it had been on my radar for months, I just hadn’t registered.  On Friday, the kids and I swooped into South Bend, IN just in time to register before the 8pm close of packet pickup/registration.  Here I am after registering for my “secret” race.


I’ve ran Sunburst before so I knew that registration and packet pick up would take about 2 seconds.  I also knew there wouldn’t be an “expo” to distract us from getting in and out of town quickly.  I also knew that it would be easy to convince the kids to make the stop because the South Bend Chocolate Company has a café downtown with amazing ice cream.   I could probably get my kids to run to the moon and back for ice cream.  No joke.  I use this to my advantage all the time.  Sometimes daily.  It’s an amazing tool for manipulation motivation.  So in 20 minutes I was registered,  received a cool women’s size tech shirt which actually fit me, and the kids had ice cream to go.  BAM!  Back in the car to finish the trip to Grammie’s!

shirt   choc co

Race day for Sunburst starts at 6am with the full marathon, followed by the 5K run at 7:15am, the half at 7:30am, the 10K at 7:45am and a 5K Fitness Walk at 9am.  Something for the entire family.  Seriously.  Try something!  Last time I ran (2011), I wanted to be sure to get into town before the marathoners started for fear of road closures & parking issues.  Not necessary.  South Bend is a small town.  Hospitable.  Loads of FREE parking.  No stress.  This time, I rolled into town easily at 6:45 for the 7:30 am start of the half.  The biggest snafu, if I can even call it one was waiting in line for the inside bathrooms at the Football Hall of Fame.  Took about 10 minutes. Of course, AFTER the race I did see a row of port-o-potties outside the venue but I failed to notice those pre-race.  No big deal.  There is nothing to do pre-race anyhow and parking is only a couple of blocks from the start.  I even went back to my car to grab some extra anti-chafe when I realized it might not pour rain on us the entire event like I had previously thought.  I did spot a few friends pre-race but was so focused on retrieving my anti-chafe that I failed to grab a photo.  Major fail in my opinion but I decided to steal their photo off Facebook and Photoshop myself in …… oh wait, I can’t Photoshop!  So here is Courtney & Kris getting ready to rock out their second half TOGETHER!  Loved seeing these ladies on the course!!

Court & Kris

The start came fast and was flawless.  On time.  It looked like rain but it wasn’t raining.  It was 70ish with 88% humidity at the start.  A little sticky for me.


I started slow.  I remembered the course so knew I had some hills to run and a lot of residential neighborhood’s to face, plus twists, turns, ups & downs.  As random as this course seems while running it, I like it.  What I like is that it’s shaded in A LOT of spots!  Plus we get a few miles along the river which is refreshing.


When I ran in 2011, they had to shut the race down due to heat.  I personally was able to finish before the red flag but  I remember it being so hot that I ran 5-6 miles, then had to start run/walking for self preservation.  It was hot as heck but I remember the shady areas, the kind volunteers and the residents who brought their sprinklers and water hoses to the streets to help keep us cool.  My memories did not disappoint me, it was just as nice this time around and I enjoyed the race despite the warm temps and humidity. 

I was smarter this year and started dumping water on myself at the first aid station.  Although the sun wasn’t out yet, I was warm.  I just kept steady and focused on running.  The sun then came out around the half way point (yikes!!).    To be honest, I’m not in good enough shape to run fast but I did well enough until the last 3ish miles.  I didn’t feel bad during those miles but had plugged into my iPod in the 9th mile and I totally fell off pace.  Like by 2 minutes per mile.  I have to be the ONLY person in the world who can’t run with music.  I just can’t focus.  I must have been dancing down the streets instead of running because I was totally surprised that I wasn’t going to be even close to the 2 hour mark.  LOL!  Lesson learned, leave the earbuds at home!  I did finish just a few seconds under 2:05 and I’m actually happy with that.  I didn’t push.  I didn’t stress. I just kept moving.  As a side note, this was exactly one year after I tore the tendon in my right foot.  The entire race was a bit of a celebration for me.  I wanted to be there.  I wanted to run.  I wanted to celebrate how hard we (Dr Alexis & I) had worked for the last year to get my foot back in the game.  And I had no pain.  Win!     

I ran to the finish in the Notre Dame stadium just ahead of my friends who started the FULL Marathon 1.5 hours before me!  LOL!  So I got to celebrate with them for a few minutes before I hopped the bus back to the start area.  I saw some F’N Runners too!  First Mary.  Then Keith.  Then Nicole F & company!

Me&Mary Me&Keith

Me, Nicole F, Carol K, Heather Z & Suzanne S


These ladies in the photo above (and Keith too!) are EVERYWHERE.  I’m pretty sure if I ran in Alaska, they’d be standing at the finish with me.  LOVE THAT!  Thanks for always making me feel like I have a friend in town, even if I travel to the event solo!

The Sunburst Races are nice.  Many who race Sunburst live and die for the finish on the Notre Dame Football field.  It’s cool but not being a football fan, I’d be happy to finish anywhere, just let me stop running NOW!!!  The events are very organized.  Lots of aid stations.  Lots of port-o-potties.  Lots of friendly volunteers.  I saw GU on the half course one time.  I saw wet sponges one time.  Small event (490 finishers for the full, 1377 for the half, 1162 for the 10K, & 3271 for the 5K).  Great support from the town.  I never felt unwelcome or had issues with cars being angry about waiting for us to pass.  However, there are lots of twists and turns in the course, a few not so nice hills and I’ve heard the full is rough.  To be honest, I haven’t heard any good things about the full course and lots of negativity.  I haven’t ran the full so I will reserve judgment but do know that if you pick a small town marathon with low registration numbers that it’s going to be hard.  Very hard.  You’ll be running a lot of solo miles and you’ll need to dig deep to pull out a finish.  I know that’s easier for some than others, which is why I like the distraction of big races for that distance, but I wanted to point it out.  Be prepared if you want to try the full.

Great race!  See you in South Bend next year!!!

** Run South Bend  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

14 thoughts on “Sunburst Races – Half Marathon (2013)

  1. Great job out there! What a celebration indeed! This does sound like a really fun race but with unpredictable June temperatures, I probably wouldn’t commit to running it until I saw the forecast. After the horrible summer I had last year, running races when temps were in the 80s and 90s, I’m glad I’m taking this summer off from racing! 🙂

  2. Nice! I was considering doing this race earlier in the year. However, I didn’t sign up because I didn’t know whether I’d be wrecked from the 50k I did 3 weeks ago. It wrecked me, so I’m glad I didn’t give into the impulse. But from the looks of it, I would have missed out on a great race day. Well done on playing it safe and still finishing with a great time!

    • At one point, I saw a guy who looked a lot like you in a Shamrock Shuffle shirt & white visor but he was running the half. I knew it wasn’t you b/c I assumed you would run the full given the option but I did think about you for a minute.

      I have a 50K on my list. Not sure when and I’ll probably start with a boring (aka flat) one like the Lakefront 50/50. Just want to be able to stay that I ran ONE ultra. LOL!

  3. Nice report TTF and great that you had an enjoyable time! Never done Sunburst and someday may have to give it a try. Usually June not a good time for me to do distance races. But some day would be nice to run that full and finish in Notre Dame stadium. Damn it…how does that Keith do it and run marathons all the time?

  4. Great job girl! I know what you mean about small local marathons being hard. I ran totally alone for several miles at the Carmel marathon- it was tough! I’m looking forward to Chicago, where we won’t have to worry about that! 🙂
    That’s funny that you don’t do as well listening to music, I can’t imagine running without it!

  5. Great report for a great race. It was sticky out there and I felt bad for the longer distance runners once that sun came out (I ran the 5K this year and was under cloud cover though still – the humidity, yuck). I ran the marathon in 2011 (the year of the black flag) and as much as I love Sunburst and think its courses are fun – the second half of that marathon course is miserable in many ways. Would definitely recommend Sunburst for the half or shorter though!

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