This past Saturday was probably, in my opinion, one of the most overrated races in the South Bend area. Sunburst races are always the first Saturday in June during Notre Dame’s Alumni weekend and consists of a full marathon, a half marathon, 10k, 5k run, and a 5k fitness walk. There is also a 5k family walk on Friday night the day before all the races.
The big draw of this race used to be that it starts in downtown South Bend and then would finish a the 50 yard line in the football stadium. Because of construction on Notre Dame’s campus they haven’t been able to do this for the last three years. Many people wonder if it’ll ever finish on the 50 yard line ever again. As a life time resident of Michiana (Michigan + Indiana = Michiana for those of you not from the area lol) I can honestly say Notre Dame is the MOST OVERRATED college in the area. I worked while in high school at a local grocery store in the guest convience area (I made fruit and veggie trays) and I have to say that I’ve always hated Notre Dame. So for me, I seriously could not care less whether we end anywhere near Notre Dame. I’d rather stay completely downtown and end at the stadium of the Minor League Baseball Team (South Bend Cubs) but that’s my own personal opinion.
Sunburst is a race you love to hate. Every year there seems to be something they screw up. A friend and local runner said on Saturday as we were waiting for the race to start “Sunburst will do anything to get your money and then the seem to forget you exist on race day”. The race is a pretty costly one even from the start but thanks to our running club we’re members of we were able to get a $15 discount for our races (which also paid for our membership lol) so the 10k end up being $15 – okay, for $15, can you really pass up a race?? Didn’t think so . . . .
As I said, I love to hate this race. Between the shirts, the medals, the after race food, the start times, etc. something gets jacked up. Last year was the shirts. They were horrible – the sunburst logo was barely able to be found on the shirt, the front logo made it seem to be a kids fun run shirt, and the women’s cut ran EXTREMELY small and was a v neck (and if you’ve read any of my blogs, you know I can’t stand v neck shirts). Also last year, after many people had already signed up the race decided to change the start times of the races – the marathon started at 6AM, the 5K started at 6:30, the 10k started at 7 and then the half marathon started at 7:30. And then there’s always complaining about the food running out of the marathoners that finish after the 5k walkers which I get.
This year the shirt was better, the sunburst logo was prominently on the front and the color wasn’t horrible. However, the women’s cut was still small and still had a v neck (why?? what makes a v neck shirt for women?? I’ll get over this at some point, I promise – okay, maybe not . . .) but I was able to swap it out for a men’s small which is a crew neck so I’m a happy runner 🙂
We arrived downtown shortly before 5am since the half, which Mark was running, starts at 6 and someone has to be at a race at least an hour early even though the 10k didn’t start until 7. Whatever, it gave me time to pee and wander around a bit lol. After watching Mark take at pretty much exactly 6 I just wandered about and tried to wake up a bit and tried to get ready for the 6.2 miles that I was hoping not to completely suck at. The last 10k I ran a PR and was at close to the top of my training. Since the half and half challenge my legs have hated me and I haven’t run more than 4 miles and at a pace I’m a little ashamed of lol.
So the course . . . The 10k course was the exact same as last year which has some issues in my mind. First issue, when we start we go about 20 feet and then make a sharp right turn, as a runner, you really can’t start running until after you make that turn so it kills the momentum you want to start with at the beginning of a race. We then wander around downtown until we get to Indiana University South Bend’s campus shortly before the 3rd mile marker which caused issues because 1. we’re on pretty narrow sidewalks which makes it hard to pass and 2. there were students try to cross the sidewalks and get to the buildings and didn’t seem to care that there were runners in their way. And then we get to mile 5 . . . where Hallelujah Hill is located. For anyone not from the midwest, this hill is probably pretty lame but for those of us in the flat lands this hill is pretty decent and that fact that it occurs right a the end of the race when it’s starting to get hot and humid and your energy is starting to fade.
My garmin read the course to be 6.4 miles which was the exact same as last year and we all know there will be some variance with distance when is comes to GPS devices. (Just don’t ask about the half – most people end up with 13.6 or the full – which many people got near 27 miles. Sunburst is catching A LOT of flack right now . . . .)
After the race they had cups of water and gatorade, bananas, bagels, assorted chips, cups of fruit, popsicles, and, of course, chocolate milk.
Mark was waiting for me at Hallelujah Hill and ran the last mile with me and then waited as I grabbed some water and food. We then proceeded to gear check (only for the half and full marathons) which was at a new location than last year and somewhat out of the way and then proceeded back to our car in downtown. The race does offer shuttles to take you back into town but Mark and I have always used the walk as a cool down/shake out after the run.
Overall, Sunburst is what it is. Would I go out of my way to do the race? No, absolutely not. Would I do the race if it wasn’t part of our running club race series for points? Probably not lol. But will I do it again next year? Probably . . . like I said – I love to hate it.
Be sure to check out my review and others on bibrave and remember to share the love and review all your races so others know the best races to run.