Raccoon Mountain Marathon, Half Marathon & Relay – RACE DAY EMAIL

We’ve had a few last-minute registrations and a few people having issues getting the first email, so in case you missed it, here’s update #1!

Hey runners! Y’all getting excited yet?

This is the first of a few informational emails that are headed your way as we get closer to the inaugural Raccoon Mountain Marathon, Half Marathon & Relay. This email ONLY has RACE DAY INFORMATION in it, because it’s what most of you have been asking about! It’s not short, because there have been lots of questions, so take a potty break and get a snack and a drink, because we’ll be here for awhile.

There will be packet pickup the morning of the race. The gate to Raccoon Mountain opens at 6:30am Eastern (if all the stars align and the person who is supposed to be awake that early gets it open.) We cannot set anything up the night before, so please understand that we’ll be busting our butts to get everything ready to start the race at 8:30am. That means if you show up at 6:30, we’ll be recruiting you to help set up, and we won’t be ready to hand you your packet. Please don’t plan to be up on the mountain any earlier than 7:30am; our volunteers need to be able to move around the area easily and get things ready for the race (unless you want to help out, in which case, come on up and we’ll put you to work!) Packet pickup will open at 7:30am EASTERN.

Directions to the start line can be found on our website at https://runchattanooga.org/rmm/rmmtravel/ . We will have signs out on the main roads at the turns. There is no official address that Google Maps recognizes for the top of the mountain, but it DOES recognize “Raccoon Mountain Pumped Station Reservoir” and those directions will take you to the Visitor’s Center on top of the mountain. Once you are on the rim road, you have to go almost all the way around before you can go down to Laurel Point. It is a one-way road (along the dam) once you get past the Visitor’s Center, and we will be cutting off traffic to this road at the start of the race until the bulk of the runners get by, for your safety. Please be aware that if you are not past the Visitor’s Center by 8:15am, you will not be able to get past it until at least 9am. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re not incredibly serious racing type people, so if you miss the start (hey, sometimes that morning coffee requires two trips to the bathroom), we’ll still let you start late as long as you can finish by 4:30pm, and we’ll adjust your time accordingly.

Especially for locals, please carpool if you can! There is room for everyone to park their cars, but the more cars that are down there, the further away you’ll all have to park. Once the parking spaces fill up, you can park on the side of the road, but please leave the roadway as open as possible, since we’ll have cars and runners going in and out all day. Relay teams will be getting a separate email with specifics about parking at the relay point.

One of our local runners will be completing the half marathon barefoot as part of Barefoot March, an event he and several local students are participating in. They will also be collecting shoes to send to orphanages in Honduras and Ethiopia, as well as local homeless shelters. There will be a box for these near the start/finish area. You’re also welcome to make a monetary donation if you’d like; just drop it right in the shoe collection box. For more information, check out http://www.lb4c.com/bare-foot-march.html.

We will NOT have bag check, because this race is capped at 400 runners and most of you will be able to park relatively close to the start line. The beauty of this small of a race, though, means that we WILL have a car key “valet”. We’ll have masking tape to label your keys with and you can drop them into the container that corresponds with the LAST number on your bib. For instance, if you are 698, you’ll put them in the box with the 8 on it. If you wait until race morning to pick up your packet and don’t think you’ll have time to put your stuff in your car, we’re happy to hand you your bib and you can pick up the rest when you’re finished.

Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics:  your group photos will be taken near the start line at about 8:15am. We’ll make an announcement beforehand. We’ll post the pictures on your respective Facebook pages, as well as on our Facebook page. If you will qualify for Marathon Maniacs or Half Fanatics at this race, we will have the qualifying signs at the finish line for you to take a photo with. (If you have no idea what we’re talking about, just ask a person wearing Marathon Maniacs or Half Fanatics gear on race day what a Maniac or Fanatic is. They are usually the friendliest people on any race course.)

Another beauty of a small race:  if you wear warm-up layers at the start and want to take them off later, as long as you drop them at an aid station, we’ll be picking them up and transporting them to the finish line. No need to buy anything special from a thrift shop just to throw away. Any clothes not picked up after the final runner finishes will be donated. If you drop your clothes somewhere on the side of the road, we can’t promise that they’ll be picked up, so please hang onto them until you get to an aid station.

Speaking of those aid stations, there will be one at approximately every 2-3 miles along the course, including one that you will visit twice (for half marathoners) and four times (for marathoners.) Aid stations will have water, Gatorade, and Coca-cola (after 11am) to drink, and a ridiculous amount of energy gels, Clif Shot Blocks, and all kinds of candy and snacks, including potato chips, Fritos, pretzels, cookies, banana bread, Twizzlers, gummy bears, Gushers, Swedish Fish, Milky Way/Snickers/Twix bars, jelly beans, peanut butter filled pretzels, pickles, dates, bananas, grapes, oranges, and so much more.) We do have some runners with dietary restrictions, so please don’t mix snacks!

Also at each aid station will be a medical box with ibuprofen, salt tablets, Tums, bandages, athletic tape, duct tape, Vaseline, BioFreeze, baby wipes, and feminine products. Please don’t try anything new on race day, but if you need something from the box, it’s there for the taking.

Tennessee Valley Authority is being incredibly kind to let us use their beautiful property for this race. The trails are maintained by volunteers and the reservoir is used for providing energy to the area. Litter can seriously damage the property and the energy-producing equipment, and prevent us and other local organizations from using the mountain for future events. This isn’t a big city race, so please do not throw your trash from energy gels or cups on the roads, on the sides of the roads, or along the trails. Take an extra second to make sure your cup lands in a trash bag and hang onto your gel packets if you use them on the trails to dispose of them in a trash can. We will have ample trash cans at and near the aid stations and at each mile marker.

There will be port-o-potties available at the aid stations. Please do not use the trails as your own personal restroom. (Exceptions will be made for oops-I-pooped-my-pants. It happens.)

It has been a crazy winter and many races have been affected by the weather. Should we have weather-related issues that prevent us from using the trails, the entire race will be run on the rim road that goes around the reservoir. If we adjust the course at all, it will be for safety reasons only. If we can get up on the mountain (i.e. there is no ice/snow, which is not likely, but not completely out of the question in Tennessee in March), and there is no lightning going on, we will have a race. You all trained long and hard for this (well, some of you did anyway), so we will only call off the race if we ABSOLUTELY have to. Keep a close eye on your email, as well as the race Facebook page, should bad weather show up in the forecast. If it rains, we’ll add shampoo and soap to the aid stations so you can skip your post-race shower.

The trails will be marked with ribbons and directional arrows. If you go more than half a mile without seeing one of these things (or a mile marker or other obviously-put-there-by-us thing), you might want to turn around and go back where you came from. We don’t give extra points if you end up in another state.

Marathoners will split off from half marathoners extremely close to the finish line and then turn around and head back out on the course in the opposite direction from the first loop. This means that there will be two-way traffic on some parts of the course. Please stay to the right, particularly on the trails near the end of the half marathon course, so that there is room for passing. These are technically considered single track trails, but they ARE wide enough for respectful passing, so play nice with each other. You get extra points if you high five and encourage the marathoners heading back out for more running as they go by.

Several people have asked about the trails. These are considered beginner trails and they are where we usually suggest newbie trail runners try things out; they are also considered technical, because of roots and rocks. We like to joke that it’s not a real trail run if you don’t trip at least once. Just watch your step and make sure you’re picking up your feet and you’ll be fine. There aren’t any major inclines or declines on the trails we’re using, but they are definitely not flat. Most of the Run Chattanooga crew that runs these trails on the regular do not wear trail-specific shoes. If you have them and want to wear them, great, but regular road running shoes will work just fine.

The first couple of miles of the race are on the road, which will help thin out the crowd before you start the first trail section. If you need to pass someone from behind on a trail, call out to them so they know you’re wanting to pass. If someone wants to pass you, please stay to the right. You are welcome to wear headphones during the race, but we ask that you keep one earbud out so that you can hear other runners and instructions from race staff.

If you signed up for the marathon and decide mid-race that you’re only up for 13.1, please feel free to finish but understand that we will only have enough medals for our official registration numbers. If you are registered for the half but decide BEFORE the race you want to go for the full marathon, you will be required to pay for the difference in pricing ($15) and again, we can’t promise that we’ll have an appropriate medal for you at the finish. In either case, we’re happy to mail you the correct medal (at your cost) if you’re from out of town, or arrange for you to pick up the appropriate medal if you’re a local, after the race, if we aren’t able to give you one on race day. Those of you who have already told us that you would like to switch distances, you’re all set.

Remember that this is not a Boston-qualifying, super serious race. We will have awards for the top male and female finishers in the marathon and half marathon, and awards for the “caboose” in each race – the person who finishes behind everyone else (but doesn’t give up!) To be eligible for an award, you must finish within the 8 hour time limit. We are not chip timing the race, but you will have an official gun time. Results will be posted on our website sometime on March 22nd, when we are finished recovering from the post-race sleeping we’ll be doing the night of the 21st. You can ask for them on Facebook and Twitter all night on the 21st, but it won’t make us post them any faster. If you absolutely must know your time, ask the timing table when you finish and they will write it on your arm with a Sharpie.

If your Garmin doesn’t read exactly 13.1 or 26.2, the world will not end; not only does the tree cover on the trails sometimes affect GPS signals, no race should ever have your Garmin reading the distance perfectly anyway. If your Garmin does not reach 13.1 or 26.2 and you feel cheated, you are welcome to run some more until it gets to the number you’d like and then check in at the timing table when you’re finished. If you are running the marathon and your Garmin goes over 26.2, we’ll have Sharpies available and you can write ULTRA on your medal.

Once you finish, you’ll get your locally handmade medal and coonskin cap. We will have a recovery zone set up with an ice bath area, foam rollers, yoga mats, and other recovery goodies. These are all on loan from our very generous local Run Chattanooga crew, so please treat them with respect (and don’t take them with you!) We don’t have a masseuse in the recovery zone, but maybe you’ll make friends with someone. 😉

We’ll be doing post-race food old-school backyard grilling style, with burgers (and all the toppings – cheese, sautéed onions and mushrooms, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles), the usual sides like macaroni and potato salads and sweet treats for dessert. There will be vegan and gluten free foods available, so those of you with dietary restrictions will be taken care of. (Again, please don’t mix serving utensils so that we don’t have any medical reactions!) Keep in mind that burgers will be grilled fresh, so if there aren’t any available the moment you finish, hang around for a few minutes while we get things hot for you. There will be sodas, water, and Gatorade to drink. Your race director is a solid back-of-the-pack runner and one of those moms that won’t stop feeding you until you beg for mercy, so she has made sure that we will NOT run out of food, no matter how long it takes you to finish. Keep in mind that we have enough food for RUNNERS and VOLUNTEERS. If you have friends/family coming to the finish, TVA rules do not permit us to have vendors for them to purchase food from.

We’ll be posting photos on the Raccoon Mountain Marathon Facebook page, as well as the Run Chattanooga Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter throughout the weekend. (Instagram and Twitter are @runchattanooga.) Please include the hashtag #RMM2015 on anything you post on social media so that we can see it and share it, or you can tweet it at us and/or tag Run Chattanooga in your social media photos. We’ll be taking pictures and video throughout the day, so anytime you see someone with anything that resembles a camera, get your vogue on and strike a pose.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this race is focused on FUN. If you thought you were signing up for something serious, we’re really sorry to disappoint you, but that’s just not how we roll. Run your hardest and aim for a PR if you want to, or take some time to slow down, chat with the aid station volunteers while choosing a mid-race snack, enjoy the pretty views, and get to know your fellow runners. Have a laugh at some of the encouraging (and not so encouraging) signs and surprises along the course and enjoy running for the purity of running.

If you know anyone who has not signed up to race yet and wants to join us, there are only a few more spots left. Race bibs and coonskin caps don’t grow on trees, so we can’t just procure them at the last minute. That eight hour time limit is for both the full and half marathon, which means walkers are welcome. On the flip side, if you are injured, have a hangnail, got a bad haircut and refuse to leave the house, or just don’t feel up to having a good time, you are welcome to transfer your entry to another runner (you have to let us know and pay a $20 transfer fee) or defer your entry to next year for a $15 fee. If you defer to next year and then decide you don’t want to run then either, you can transfer your entry for $5 (bringing the total for deferral + transfer up to $20.) Just shoot us an email at run.nooga@gmail.com and let us know what’s going on. We’ve had several 4-person marathon relay teams switch over to two separate 2-person half marathon teams and there’s still room for that if you’d like to do it, we just need you to let us know by March 15th.