Eric Van De Vens Blog

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Race Around the Lake Part 2 Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!

This post will be a review of the Race at Lake Minneola.

We registered for this race in February after the A1A Half Marathon as we wanted a race to train for in between the Disney Wine and Dine. As the race was only $60.00 and the course actually went right by Tealas Fathers house. For $60.00, how bad could it be?

By comparison, the A1A Marathon for 2014 costs $85.00 and we got a $10.00 discount. What is a $15.00 discount as it pertains to quality of an event? Read on……………….

We will start with the registration and payment. This , as it seems to be with everything these days, was the easy part! Payment was made, a confirmation email was sent, and everything seemed normal. So far, so good.

Three weeks prior to the race, I emailed the company putting this event on, Sommer Sports, for information on where the package pickup was going to be, a map, little things that one needs to know before a race. I received an email back stating that those things will be sent out prior to the race. Fortunately, the Wife and I were at her Dads place for Easter and we mapped out what we thought was the route while we were there. On April 19th, at 2:38 in the morning, I received an email with the information…sort of.

Here was the “map” of the race course: Map   😦

We drove up Friday and got the packet pickup. It only took four minutes and was very organized. This is where the problems started. First  here is the advertisement from the Somer Sports websiteentry

We can start with the “tech shirt”. The shirt we got as well as everyone else, was a plain white cotton T-shirt with the race logo on the front. We will come back to the promises made on the advertisement a little later on.

Saturday: As the race was slated to start at 7:00 am according to all of the emails and website information, we arrived at 6:00 am. Although we had planned to get there at 5:30 am, it didn’t matter. The first thing we noticed was that there were no race personnel to tell you where to go…like for instance, where the starting line was. A lot of people were milling about wondering the same thing. Apparently, this is a somewhat local event and others that had been here before told us where the starting line was.

There was an area under a pavilion which was serving fruit, coffee and a few other food items. Again, a sign telling you that would have been helpful.

As it was getting near the start of the race, we followed the crowd to the starting line. At five minutes to 7:00 am, a man using a bullhorn informed everyone that there were a few issues with the “traffic situation” and that the start of the race would be delayed. This was where I determined that this was a local event as some of the participants we talked to said this was common at this venue. Others that had never run this race, and were like us, used to Disney races, couldn’t quite understand how this could happen.

The race around the lake is run on public streets for the most part and as such, one lane of traffic on a two-lane road has to be blocked off. We have been to Tealas Dads place during other races and the signs telling you the road will be blocked off Saturday morning were already in place, and they were at this event as well. Maybe the cops were still at Dunkin Donuts!

At 7:25 am it was announced that the race would start at 7:30 and as the sound system had not been erected or installed, instead of singing or at least listening to the Star Spangled Banner, everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance while looking at a flag that was about a mile away. We also had a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon. At 7:30 am, using an air horn, the race was started. There were no fireworks, no countdown, just “go” and a blast from the horn!

Fortunately, this was a small race as far as participants go because if there had been a couple of thousand runners, it would have taken 20 minutes to go one mile. The path was narrow as we headed out. Now that we were out running, the previous issues didn’t seem to matter.

As my Endomondo tracker announced that I had run one mile, I noticed that there were no mile marker signs. I seem to remember the signs neatly stacked up against the trailer Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. As the race went on, there were no markings of any kind.

Let’s go back to the advertisement. “A flat and fast course”. The A1A marathon was classified as a flat course. It had one bridge to traverse. This course, had several hills throughout the entire race. Those that expected a “flat” course, were in for a big surprise.

The first 5K of the race, goes off to a park and then you have to come back and cross the starting line. There were race volunteers there to help you…at least for the early runners. After a majority of the half marathon participants went through this area, the 12K participants were sent off. Unfortunately, for those that were slower than a 12 minute/mile pace, you got caught in that traffic. The Wife and several other runners got caught in this mess and were forced to run on the grass which was about five feet wide.

As I carry 60 ounces of refreshments, I usually do not have to stop for water until mile 7. If I remember correctly, the first water station was at mile 4. I took a drink of the water and it was the same crappy water you get out of the tap…..which is barely drinkable. At least there were people there to give you water and Gatorade. There have been numerous people who have posted on the Sommer Sports Facebook Page, that there were no personal present at the water stations after 10:00 and my wife can verify that as she had to pour her water into cups herself.

The traffic was supposed to be blocked off for everyone except the runners of the event. Here is a quote from the FB page: “Hi Stephanie. for the safety of the runners no bikes are allowed along the course”. That is in response to a pre-race question if bikes were allowed on the course. Apparently, the race organizers did not tell the bike riders or enforce this rule. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the traffic signs around the course clearly stated that the roads would be for one-way traffic from 7:30-12:00 noon. The law enforcement officers apparently didn’t think it was important to separate cars and runners, as several cars were driving the wrong way down one-way streets. Others were right in back of runners. One lady in a van, with her 4 or 5 year-old child, in the front seat with no seat belt, nearly plowed into a water station as several of us were waving her over into the other lane.

As I neared the finish, I noticed, that there were no signs directing you to the actual finish line. There were a bunch of cones….but no markings. Several individuals missed the turn and ran an extra 1/4 mile before realizing that they had missed the turn! As I crossed the finish line, I noticed there was no clock. I also noticed that during the run, there were no “humps” for interval timing. All you got was your finishing time and pace. Unfortunately, none of that matters as this race was about a half mile short.  My Endomondo tracker voice announced 13.1 miles..before I crossed the finish line. Several others have reported that their Garmin watches showed what seems to be an average distance of 12.8 miles.

To add insult to injury, when my wife crossed the finish line, and I ran the last 1/4 mile with her, she was greeted with a water bottle and a kid stating, “we ran out of medals”!!!!!!!! I said, “What?” Yes, they ran out of medals. And here is the response from Sommer Sports:

Mary, our medals are custom die cast medals and they have to be ordered 6 weeks out from the race. When we order medals we have to estimate how many finishers we think we will have. At the time we placed the oirders we had about 300 athletes registered so we ordered 800, which we felt would be more than enough to cover the race and allow us to have a few extras on hand. Last week we realized we may not have enough so went ahead and ordered an additional 100. Because these are not stock medals that you run down to your local trophy shop to buy, they have to be cast, color filled and shipped to us, and that will take about 3 weeks. We know exactly who did not receive a medal and all finishers who did not receive one will be sent one as soon as they arrive at our office. We apologize we did not have enough on hand, but when athletes wait until the last minute to enter a race, it makes it a challenge for a race organizer to determine the number of shirts and medals to order

To quote one of the other posters, “That is Bulls**t”!!!!

Although they did run out of medals, they didn’t run out of t-shirts!!!

Out of the promises made by the race advertisements, so far, none have been met.

Tech shirt? No!

Flat course? No

Race medal? Only to some.

Great food? Under-cooked hot dogs and fruit, not quite.

Free photos? Only if you had a cellphone or your own camera.

Entertainment? Yes, there was a band there…who started playing as most were leaving or had already left!

I think I have covered about everything. In conclusion, this has to be the most poorly organized event I have ever been to. After the race, I searched around and found that it appears to be the normal operating procedure for this company, Sommer Sports, as there have been many of the same complaints, no medals, no signs, etc.

I would advise anyone thinking about participating in one of their races, to do your research and if you do participate, expect the worst and hope for the best!

From now on, we will stick to for all of our race events!


April 22, 2013 - Posted by | Health and Fitness, Home, Running | , , , , ,


  1. […] Here is the recap for the weekends racing event. It is being broken down into two separate posts. This entry will be the race, stats, preparation, etc. Part two will be a review of the event itself. […]

    Pingback by Race around the lake recap Part 1 « Eric Van De Vens Blog | April 22, 2013 | Reply

  2. The Mission of The 100 Mile Club is to provide to all individuals the opportunity to experience the powerful feeling of fitness and TRUE personal success. Participants use lifeskills based on The Pyramid of Success , designed by the legendary basketball coach, teacher, and 100 Mile Club mentor, the late Coach John Wooden. Incentives will be offered at the 25, 50, 75 and 100 “mile”stones. If you are able to help track miles/laps at school during lunch please contact Kuuipo Benson or Hilary Larson.

    Comment by Brittney K. Gay | May 20, 2013 | Reply

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