Nike Women's Half Marathon Pros and Cons

by - Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Every time a new race comes to town there are going to be some really awesome things about it and some things that could really use improvement for next year. The Nike Women's Half was no different.

While I had a pretty great day (snagging that PR and all), my mom had the complete opposite experience so I thought I'd share some of the pros and cons of this race.


Expo running for multiple days
This is great for locals who can miss the crowds on Saturday. I heard lines were insanely long on Saturday and people waited upwards of 50 minutes to go their packets. On Friday, my mom and I zipped through in about five minutes.

Nike women's half

Tons and tons of porta-potties
This is something Nike nailed. Putting on a race for 15,000 women they knew they needed to have many bathrooms and they did! I didn't wait in line once and I used the porta-pottie four times (I pee a lot when I'm nervous) including once 20 minute before the start.

Nike women's half

Start line accessible from multiple Metro lines.
So much win here! You could get to the start line from just about every color line on the Metro, which means you don't have to transfer lines and deal with extra Metro headaches on race morning.

Bag check was a breeze
I've never used bag check before in a race, but I wanted to check a sweatshirt for after the race so I didn't get chilly while waiting for my mom to finish. There was no line when I dropped the bag off or when I picked it up. Plus the volunteers were super friendly!

The course
Flat, fast and through some really pretty parts of town, the course itself was awesome.

Nike women's half

Finishers shirts and necklaces
I loved the cute finisher's shirt that you got at the end of the race and well the Tiffany necklace, of course I loved that too.



Expo locations
Not exactly the easiest location to get to since Georgetown isn't easily Metro accessible. Luckily it was a beautiful day so my mom and I didn't mind the walk, but if it had been raining that would have been a miserable experience.

The expo itself
I'm used to big expos with lots of different vendors selling all sorts of gear for all your racing needs. Nike's wasn't like that. I get they probably didn't want the competition, but the expo seemed really meh. I wasn't looking to get my hair or make-up done at the expo, and that's about all they offered.

The website
Nike ran almost everything through Facebook, and I had a really hard time finding the information that I needed. A lot of times links were broken or didn't go to where they said they would. My mom doesn't have Facebook, so she really struggled to get the information about the expo, the start locations and all that stuff. Websites are easy to put together. There's really no excuse for not having a good one for a race this big.

Hard to get into corrals
There were a lot of people in this race and as the start of the race got closer, it was almost impossible to get into the corrals. People were waiting on the sidewalk, pushing and shoving their way to get in. It was kind of a madhouse. I wish there had been more entrances into the corrals so there wouldn't have been so much backlog.

Nike women's half

No wave start/major course overcrowding.
Nike made a huge deal about starting in your own corral. In fact, you were given a wristband so you could only get into the corral you were assigned to. But then they didn't do a wave start. So everyone started at exactly the same time and the course was majorly crowded. I saw several people trip and fall because they got bumped the wrong way.

The course was crowded when I went through and I definitely had to watch my footing and where I was going more than I wanted to. No chance to really enjoy the scenery, and it stayed crowded the whole time I was running.

My mom said by the time she started, the course was so crowded that she came to a complete stop twice because the road narrowed so much that people couldn't get through. She lost at least five minutes in the back ups and was understandably upset. Stopping less than a mile into a half marathon is more than a little frustrating. She also said she spent the whole time watching the ground and the people around here so she wouldn't fall and never really got to enjoy the sites on the course.

Overall, I had a pretty great experience at the Nike Women's Half this weekend, but it sounds like the further back you were in the corrals, the less awesome the experience was, and I think that stinks. The experience at a race shouldn't be determined by how fast or slow you run. I was really disheartened to hear that my mom and several other runners around her thought the $160 entrance fee ended up being a giant waste of money.

Did you run Nike over the weekend? What did you think?

You May Also Like


  1. I agree with all of your pros and cons! I was one of the people that couldn't make it to the expo til Saturday and yes, 50 minutes waiting on your feet the day before a race is pretty horrid...I am so thankful the weather was nice because that would have been really terrible if it had been raining or really windy.

  2. Great recap! I love the pros and cons format - it really highlights what they did well and what they did not-so-well. As with all inaugural events, there are always areas to improve. However, I cannot believe a brand as big as Nike didn't have a website or utilize a wave start!!! I would be upset over those as well. I'm excited you got a PR and that you got to share the experience with your mom!

  3. You definitely nailed the pros and cons! The line for the expo was crazy insane so I skipped and I'm definitely happy to learn I didn't miss much. Getting out of the finish line was insane too and I know my husband was sad he didn't see me cross the finish--it was too jam packed see even see the finish line. Overall, I really loved the race though and would definitely do it again. Glad you and your mom had fun!

  4. Great list of pros & cons!

  5. The cons are what scares me away from big events like this. But it seems like they could do a few minor changes and have a much better experience next time. I hope you emailed the RD with your suggestions.

  6. I had the opposite experience with the bathrooms! I followed their instruction to enter through the side where my coral would let me in (next to Old Post Office) and there were only 10 port-o-potties there with lines 20 plus deep! I waited over 30 mins and never made it :( It was also too hard to cross back over the corrals but I had NO issue getting into my corral with 5 mins to go. Interesting to know other perspective!

  7. With Leah on the bathroom situation - the lines I saw were fairly long prior to the corral closure, so I chanced it and ended up making a pit stop at Hains Point.

    While bag check was a breeze, splitting up the bag check onto 2 different streets according to bib number was confusing, with a lot of people not sure where they needed to go.

    Agree completely with the Expotique - it was a showcase of sponsors, with the shopping to happen at Nike Georgetown, which was a madhouse when I walked by.

    Some of the pros for me included the runner's name wall in Georgetown - I thought that was a nice touch; the water/Nuun stations - they were well-stocked and staffed; the free Clif shot bloks on course; the on course bands/music was nice and energizing; and yes, the course was great.

  8. Oh, by the way, Nike just sent out a survey to runners - I never miss the chance to give feedback so next year's race can be even better! :)

  9. Completely agree on the website - cannot believe they did it all through Facebook. Although my blog benefited since I did a post early on with the name of the race as the title and a lot of people found it through google, haha.

    Also, sad to hear about runners in the later corrals having so much trouble - that really stinks!

  10. Long time reader, first time commenter. Living in the Bay Area, I've run the Nike race here and was curious to see how it would go. Sounds like DC experienced the same problems the race has every year in SF. It's too bad the race organizers have yet to make any attempt to improve it. Congratulations on your race!

  11. I think I'm with you in terms of the Expo. Sounds unusual, but I would prefer vendors to check out and explore. I'm not a big hair/make-up person, so I'm not sure where that comes into play with a race.

    Being a slow runner, I would be in the same boat as your mom (further back in the corrals) and her problems don't make me want to run a race like that. I agree with you in terms of every runner, irregardless of their speed/ability, should have the same experience. I think race directors miss that for us back of the packers.

  12. Anne collonge9:50 AM

    I ran the sf Nike race a few years back. Same complaints. I doubt they will ever fix it. Sounds like this is just how they run their races. I hated how crowded we were the entire time- so frustrating and dangerous. Ridiculous. So many big races are run so much better and for less money! The big sur half in Monterey is an excellent example. Great post!!

  13. woah, no wave starts? that's the whole point of having corrals? wow, talk about defeating the purpose.

  14. I also ran Nike. You nailed the pros and cons. I went to the expo Friday afternoon and didn't have to wait at all.

    The no wave starts was super frustrating as well.

  15. Great post and very clear points. I am interested in running this race in the future for the bling and I hope they add a corral system.

  16. I thought the website deal was annoying, too. It just doesn't make sense that Nike couldn't make it's own page for the race on their main site and then let Facebook be for social interactions like most other races. I was really surprised that there weren't wave starts, but once I got going the course wasn't TOO terribly crowded. Overall I thought the race was amazing and I'm excited to possibly do it again one day!

  17. I was more at your mom's group and I have to add that at the first two water stops I poured my own water and lined up cups and poured about 6-8 more cups while I drank mine. There was not enough volunteers and people were really upset about blowing their PRs due to the forced stopping in several places and aid station without enough staff. It was crazy negative and a major buzz kill. Other than that I agree with your assessment. I was at the expo saturday and waited about 40 minutes. I doubt that I would run another Nike race after this and the comments I have read about San Francisco being the same disappointment.

  18. The g/f did the race and had a list of the same Cons. I also noticed that the later water stops did not stack multiple levels of cups and couldn't keep up with the demand.

  19. Totally agree about the expo. Our line was long but really only took us about 20 minutes to get our packets but then the expo itself was just a waste. Very crowded, small and in a hot tent with hot lights. Location was awful and Georgetown Nike store was too crowded to even attempt to look.
    Race start was also a train wreck. Spent the first 3 miles using tons of energy to weave around walkers and even a girl on crutches - I was in the 9 pace group.
    Other than that, I did like the race and was glad I participated. Doubtful I will do another Nike event unless they improve starting as well as communicaiton.

  20. Hi Jess! Congratulations on finishing. I ran too and I can definitely identify with some of race cons. I felt like I was running on top of people and was disappointed with the expo. Hopefully, I'll run again next year and they will implement a few changes!

  21. Even though based on the American Podiatric Medical Association, you'll need to eliminate any footwear that

  22. Great post! A Nike women's race is on my to-do list someday, so it was neat to hear some perspective from one. Gotta love some Tiffany goodies! Congrats on your PR; that's awesome. :)

  23. I love your breakdown, thank you so much for this :)

    It's strange to see that Nike ran everything though facebook, watch out world.

  24. Great pro/com list! I especially agree with the no website/only use Facebook thing. I do really understand why they don't make an actual website! I always find it difficult to find NWM info!