Run Like A Diva DC Wine Country- September 2015

This was my second race in the Diva’s series.  I previously completed Diva’s Long Island in October 2014.  The Diva Series is very popular so if you want to do one sign up early.  They tend to sell out and the later registration prices are obscene.

The Diva series likes to run in obscure places.  They will plan a race in an area with lots of potential routes and then pick a route no local would ever run.  Because of this, you have to be bused to the start.  There is no on-site parking.  There is VIP parking available for an additional fee but you will still have to take a shuttle to and from this parking lot.  The benefit seems to be that more shuttle buses run to the VIP lot so you aren’t waiting as long.

The wait for the shuttle bus in the regular lot was about an hour.  During this hour your only option was to wait outside or risk losing your spot in line.  Even though the pickup location was at a school, the doors were locked and participants weren’t able to go inside to use the bathroom.  Once the shuttle bus picks you up, you have a 20 minute drive through the woods to the start line.  Actually to a field about a mile from the start line.  Once you are dropped off you have to walk down a gravel road to the get to the start.  Lucky you, you will also get to start your half marathon on this loose gravel road.

After 2 hours of waiting and busing, you are finally ready to run.  The race is done in waves that are roped off.  The waves were well separated to prevent walkers/slow runners lining up where they shouldn’t and the race staff actually checked people’s bibs to make sure they were lined up where they were supposed to be.  This was done better than any race I’ve been to.

Once you get out of the woods, you run through a nice upper middle class neighborhood.  The neighbors were all very friendly and cheered the runners on.  This neighborhood was extremely hilly but the crowd support helped.

The next part of the course goes through a more rural area (though not less hilly).  This part of the race was pretty treacherous.  There was a very thin shoulder along most of the roads and the police opened the roads up to traffic after about 40 minutes.  The people in this area were not happy to see the runners.  They sped by, honked horns and, in at least one case, forced a runner off the road.  I’m sure the locals were aware that the run was taking place ahead of time but they didn’t seem very happy to have us there.

The race finishes in another hilly middle class neighborhood and then it’s back to the woods.  The race is advertised as taking place at a winery.  This is technically true but the actual winery is pretty far from the finish line.  I’m sure some runners visited the winery after the race but I know that a lot weren’t up for the hilly hike in the opposite direction from the shuttle buses after running 13 miles.  You’d think they would have had wine at the finish or had the finish line closer to the winery.  The winery definitely would have made more money if they considered the runners.  I would have loved to have a bunch of half drunk people toasting me with their wine as I ran across the finish.

The post race recovery was sad.  Bagged pretzels, one type of store-bought cookies, bottle water, mini granola bars and bananas.  This was the exact same post race recovery that was laid out for the 5k the night before.  I’m not expecting a 5-course meal but for such a big race series (and for the price of admission) they could do better.

Tough course.  Long lines and crowds from check in through the finish.  Over-priced for what you’re getting.    Oh and did I mention no professional photographer.  So unless you are one of the lucky folks with a funny costume or who happened to be near one of the race staff at the start, there is no picture of you.  No finishing shots, nothing.  Long Island had a better course, better post race and a professional photographer but it also had a lot of the same logistical problems as DC.

You can call yourself a diva without doing this race.  Save your money and sign up for a better race.

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