The Layton Classic sets a high standard for local road racing at a distance that is not marathon or half marathon.
I have never been a full on Race Director myself. I have, however, been involved in the process. From what I have observed, when people go from putting on a 5k to putting on a 10k, the distance doubles, but the workload only increases by about half. However, in going from putting on a 10k to putting on a half-marathon, the distance just about doubles, but the workload triples or quadruples.
This makes the racing experience rather interesting. I expect completely different things from a half or full marathon than I do from a race that is 10k or shorter. Different things make them a good race. In short, there is a different feel and a few different grading criteria.
However, for continuity’s sake, I will review the Layton Classic based on some universal criteria, baring in mind that it is not a major full or half marathon.
Packet Pickup: A- I can’t speak for the packet pickup that occurred the night before the race. I am sure that it was well run and had very few hitches. I picked my packet about an hour and fifteen minutes before the start of the race. There was no line, I was able to get my packet and get out of there in less than five minutes. The race also did a great job of sending e-mail reminders so I knew exactly where to go, when to go there, and what to have. The only reason the packet pickup does not get an “A” is because about 40-50 minutes before the start of the race a line started to form that got pretty long. If someone wanted to come and pickup their packet in this time they would have had to stand in line for awhile. That being said, I think the folks picking up packets that close to race time expect a bit of a wait.
Course: Grade – A (disclaimer, I ran the 10K and only did a portion of the 5k course during my warmup, but the 5k course seems to follow a similar layout with about half the climbing to go along with half the distance.)
If you are looking for a course where you can set a big pr without a lot of work . . . Run the Deseret News 10k. If you are looking for an honest course that you can run fast on, but will challenge you, the Layton Classic is for you. The first half of the course is a mixture of flat and slight uphill. The race finishes at the same elevation that it starts at, so you do the math on the second half of the course. If you are running this course hard you will feel tired at the halfway point, and you will likely be behind pace. I would advise you not to despair. I felt the same way and I negative split the second half of the race by about a minute.
Aid Stations: I really can’t speak much to quality of the aid stations as I didn’t stop at any of them.
Volunteer Support: Grade – A-. Really this should be an A, I am being as nitpicky as possible with this grade. The volunteer support was great. I always knew where to go on the course, everyone was friendly. Everyone cheered. The only complaint (and this is very small) was that the folks at packet pickup didn’t know the difference between a “cotton shirt” and a “tech shirt.” They asked me my shirt size and I asked if it was cotton or technical. I generally get a medium if it is a cotton shirt because it will shrink to fit me. The girl told me it was cotton, I got a medium shirt, only to realize that it was actually technical. I didn’t care enough to say anything. As I said before, this is a very small deal. The support/volunteer crew was fantastic.
Shirt/Swag Bag: Grade – B. I really have no complaints on the shirt, but I have a LOT of race shirts, and even more technical shirts. The gift and curse of managing a running store is that you have access to all the best gear. To get an A from me in this category you have to step up your game. The Layton Classic shirt is a standard long-sleeve technical race shirt. Here is my logic on the grade: In order to get an A the shirt has to be a nice technical shirt (think brooks, nike, asics) Because of the cost involved with having upper echelon tech shirts only very large races have them, but they are out there. Overall I would say the Layton Classic shirt is an average tech shirt for a race of it’s size, but it gets graded up for being long sleeve and for the design. If average is a C and it gets graded up for those items, that makes it a B in my book. That being said, it is right on par with any shirt in Utah road racing, and DEFINITELY one of the best shirts amongst races that are not marathons or half-marathons.
Post Race food: B+ Post race food may be the most circumstantial grading criteria in this review. What is a B+ for me might be an A+ for someone else and might be an F for someone else. That is the nature of food. The Layton Classic had water, gatorade, and a lot of fruit. I cannot remember all of the different fruits exactly, but if there is any kind of fruit that you like, they probably had it. There was also some bread available. I personally snacked on some grapes, watermelon and bread. This category gets points from me for having grapes and watermelon. These are some of the less common post race fruits. However, some points come off for a lack of more substantial food. Gagels, granola bars, and chocolate milk are some standards that I expect. Races earn major points for creamies or some other type of ice cream, cookies, doughnuts, great harvest bread (I mean actually having great harvest come and slice different kinds of bread and providing honey and butter,) and probably some other things that I am not thinking of or haven’t come across yet. In short, the healthy stuff is great, but I just ran a race, I deserve to be a little unhealthy.
Timing and Results: Grade – A- in my opinion there is little wiggle room in this category. either it is some form of A or it is an F. At the end of the day the timing and results are 95% of what I care about, and if there is some kind of mistake, I am not happy. That being said Stride Racing always does a great job of timing races, and the Layton Classic posted physical results quickly (you don’t always see that these days.) The only complaint I have about Stride Racing is that I am not a big fan of the chips that you tie into your shoe lace. This isn’t because I don’t like having them on my foot, but because I don’t like having to deal with getting them snipped off after the race. I also don’t like the e-mail you get from stride racing if you forget to have your chip snipped off after the race (it makes me feel guilty,) and I definitely don’t like having to mail the chip back to them (it’s not that I want it, it’s just that I am lazy.) I prefer disposable chips preferably the ones that are right on the back of the bib number.
Awards: Grade – A+ I will start this by saying that awards mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For example, many people are very fond of race medals. I personally feel like I have too many of them and they just take up space. The reason I am giving the Layton Classic an A+ in awards is completely because of the awards ceremony. First of all, They give awards to just about anyone they can justify giving awards to (overall top finishers, age groupers, etc.) That is pretty standard. What is not standard is the energy at the awards ceremony. If you are one who sticks around for awards ceremonies, you know they are mostly awkward, and boring, and pretty much everyone is sitting around waiting to see if they won some big raffle prize (a treadmill or something along those lines.) That is not the experience you will have at the Layton Classic. Race Director, Ken Richardson keeps the energy up, and the ceremony, while long, is perfectly paced. There is ample time allowed for competitors to come get awards and raffle prizes, but things keep moving. 3-5 raffle prizes are given between each age group and gender award to keep everyone involved. All awards ceremonies are long. Prior to September 6th, I thought they were all boring as well. The Layton Classic proved me wrong.
All in all the Layton Classic didn’t get straight A’s, but that is just one opinion, and a very critical opinion at that. I, personally, consider myself a very harsh grader (I am like the college professor who takes pride in his class average being 54%.)There was no category that the race botched, and I was actually very pleased with how well the race was done. Some may disagree with me on the specifics of the grades in any individual category, but I can guarantee that you would be hard pressed to find a better race experience within the state of Utah, especially by a race that is only 5k or 10k in distance. I would highly recommend the Layton Classic.
John Coyle is a recent Graduate of Weber State University where he ran Cross Country and Track. He now runs professionally. He also manages Teton Running Company in Idaho Falls, ID and is the Marketing Manger for RunnersOnTheGo.com.