On Saturday I ran my 10th half marathon, the Zooma Annapolis Half and 10k. Despite the heat and humidity, it was a great race day and a fun race!
Beyond just wanting to run a Zooma race since I’d heard so many good things, one of my primary motivations in signing up for this race was that my mom would be able to see me cross the finish line. Due to distance or schedules, it just hadn’t been able to happen. Having a run in Annapolis, 20 minutes from where my parents live, was perfect.
Heading into the weekend I’d been watching the weather all week. I knew it would be warm, but it’s Maryland and you just never know what it will be like on any given day. The forecast held and it was a beautiful sunny day, but very warm and humid even at 6 am when I arrived at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Temperatures were forecasted to be in the 80s by mid-day.
The start and finish area had plenty of parking, organized parking attendants and plenty of porta potties. The start/finish chute was set up with pace times to help with lining up. The space was a bit narrow making it hard to warm up, but everyone made do. I did feel like some of the women around me were a bit grumpy, which was sad considering it’s a women’s race, but I’ll chalk it up to the early morning we all had.
Based on the course map I knew it would be relatively similar to the Annapolis Running Classic that’s held in November. There were some minor differences, mainly at the start and finish, but other than that it was the same. Despite people thinking Maryland is flat, especially by the bay, that’s not true at all. This is actually a pretty hilly course, especially between miles 6-10. I recall warning two fellow runners when I heard them talking about hoping to not have to run the bridge hill again.
However, the course is beautiful. After leaving the stadium area you head straight into downtown historic Annapolis, around Church Circle and down Main Street to the harbor area. After looping around that, you head down and around many of the new and old government buildings before leaving the downtown area running past the Naval Academy baseball stadium. You make a right turn and head toward the bridge over the Severn River. The bridge is a large hill, but offers breathtaking views of the river, the Naval Academy and the river mouth to the Chesapeake Bay. You could see for miles on Saturday.
After crossing the bridge you have two out-and-back sections that are both hill climbs on the return. This section of the course proved to be the hottest for me personally. While you get a nice breeze in downtown Annapolis and on the bridge, this area is very wooded. There was no air moving and it seemed extra humid. Zooma was prepared though having added more water stations to the course.
You return via the bridge and make one more out-and-back section past the baseball stadium again before beginning the final stretch to the finish line. The course flattens out until you get to the stadium where you have to climb to the finish line. After crossing the finish line, they snap your photo and give you your medal, which is really nice. You can take the sailboat charm off for a necklace if you want. I’m planning to leave it on as it adds something extra to the medal imo.
I finished with a time of 1:58:28, by no means my fastest but still under two and not bad considering I’m not used to the warm and humid summer weather yet. I was the 101st finisher out of 1,015 and the 15th of 168 in my age group.
They do have a nice after party area with wine tastings, vendors, free snack boxes for participants and more. My mom waited while I grabbed a snack box before we headed to the car. I honestly was just ready for a shower and it was only getting hotter. My brother lives about 3 minutes up the road so I had stayed at his place the night before and was able to shower there before my mom and I went off to shop for a bit at the mall.
Overall, Zooma puts on an excellent race. The aid stations were run well by the volunteers (a big thank you goes to the guy at the aid station near mile 10 who gave me a high five), the swag is great, including the virtual goodie bag you also get, the finish line was organized and the after party had a great set-up. The race fee is a bit on the higher side for a half, but it wouldn’t deter me from doing another Zooma race. In fact, they give you a discount for a future Zooma race in the virtual goodie bag. Another tip to save money is to follow the Zooma Ambassadors. I got a discount code through one of them. In fact, apply to be a Zooma Ambassador for even more perks!
Have you run a Zooma race? What did you think?