Disclaimer: I received a complimentary entry to the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
I have been looking forward to this race for a long time! The excitement of getting a new state under my belt, plus all the fun activities surrounding this race really made it fun to prepare for.
My sister decided to do this road trip with me, which made it all the more to look forward to. We rolled into town on Friday afternoon, and made a plan to go to the expo. I had VIP packet pickup thanks to the awesome race director, but I also wanted to go to the main expo to pick up some last minute supplies. While only located 4 miles from the downtown area, the packet pickup location – Cardinals Stadium – is kind of hard to get to if you don’t have a car. Luckily, we did!
At the expo you could pick up your bib and shirt of course, plus the bourbon bash wristband, and then just the other side of that were the bourbon samples. And boy were they big pours! We had 4 kinds to choose from including an apple flavor and vanilla which were kind of unique. I also stopped and picked up some gels and browsed the souvenirs.
We stopped for a bite to eat at 4th street live, where the finish festival was going to be. So many restaurants to choose from!
VIP packet pickup was something else entirely. Relaxing, laid back, pampered. It was on the 2nd floor of the Jim Beam Stillhouse, and we got personal check in with our bourbon bash wristband, and then there was an open bar with more bourbon (naturally) and some good looking appetizers. There was a bluegrass band playing too. I got to meet up with a few BibRave Pros – Frank and Jonathan. I highly recommend the VIP packet pickup (available for an extra charge) for the convenience and special pampering!
Then we got a private tasting down in the Jim Beam Stillhouse. 4 more kinds of bourbon, and a cool commemorative glass.
After our VIP experience, we walked back to the hotel and prepared for an early bedtime. We were both exhausted – she from driving 8 hours from Michigan, and me from taking a red eye plus part of the drive with her. We were glad that we went very light on the bourbon tastings so that we could feel good the next day!
Start time is 8am, which is such a treat! I didn’t even have to leave the hotel until 715am! Just a short walk and then met up with the BibRave Pros again for a pre-race photo opp - joined by Corey this time too. Race day weather was thankfully warmer than originally anticipated. Temps were in low 50s with a light mist. It ended up being pretty perfect for running.
They have the traditional bugler – presumably the same one that does the Kentucky Derby. It was a very unique start, for sure! I couldn’t get a good view of him, but I could hear it!
Waiting around for the photo opp cost us a little time so we ended up at the back of the pack of the start line. It’s not a huge race though – only about 3,500 – so it wasn’t a major problem. There are no corrals, just one mass start.
I decided to carry a water bottle with Gatorade Endurance, and boy did that work out well for me. The course had more downhill than what I expected, which was delightful. It wasn’t until mile 7 in Cherokee Park that we got our first real hills. They were short, but steep. I was absolutely thrilled in the energy level I had. I’ve been in a major rut for my half marathons for a few years now, and this was better than anticipated.
Overall, the course was a pretty fast course through the downtown area, along the waterfront and back. At mile 12, an ambulance came through the intersection as I was about to cross it – and naturally the officials had to stop traffic. That has never happened to me before! It was very quick, I probably only lost 10-15 seconds there.
I knew my sister would be cheering me at the finish, so that was something else to look forward to. She snapped this as I crossed. I finished in 2:08:58! Best one in a while.
As soon as I finished, the wind suddenly felt frosty. The wind had really kicked up. As soon as you cross the finish line and head into the Bourbon Bash finish festival, you were greeted with bourbon samples, and the live music from the Louisville Crashers. They were really, really good!
There were stations for bourbon, pizza, Kentucky burgoo (stew) and local Falls City beer. You just tore off the ticket from your wristband. There were 4 (FOUR!) bourbon sample tickets - you got to choose from several stations on 2 levels!
I was so cold that I couldn’t think about anything (ok I did grab pizza!) - instead we went into one of the restaurants and got hot coffee to warm up.
Finally time to celebrate with a local beer and bourbon sample. The band rocked until noon, we really enjoyed it. Also got to meet the Race Director, Michael Clemmons. What a nice guy!
Something else fun the race offers for folks to do afterwards is the Bourbon Walk. They partnered with 5 local bar/restaurants and if you went and had a drink or food , you were able to receive a custom pin from each place, as long as you showed your bib or medal. We got kind of a late start, so I only received 2, one place said they were out of pins by 2pm.
This unique spinner medal is a new favorite in my collection.
Overall, the race really knows how to throw a party, and I couldn’t recommend it more. The staff and volunteers were great, and it was a rockin’ good time! If you are a bourbon fan, you will be in HEAVEN! If you aren't, you will still have an incredible time at this world-class event!
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!