Runnin’ on Route 66 – Mother Road (Half) Marathon

Mother Road Half Marathon

Yep, it’s our second half marathon in seven days! All it took was one to get us hooked. Of course, we don’t plan on keeping this kind of race schedule… gonna wait till November for our next one.

The Mother Road (Half) Marathon, the name says pretty much everything. Yes, this race is run on some of the old sections of historic Route 66! The half marathon route goes through two states (Kansas and Missouri) with the full marathon route adding a third (Oklahoma). It’s not often that you get to run through multiple states, add to that the fact you are doing it on Route 66 and this race definitely has destination race potential. Did it make the grade? Read on to find out.

Race Registration, Packet Pickup and Expo

Race registration was handled by LocalRaces and went without a hitch. I did have a question about the cutoff time for the half marathon, and was answered quickly by the race director Tom Rogers (TwelveOne Group).

Packet pickup was speedy. We didn’t have any issues picking up shirts and info for the family that bailed on us. The health & fitness expo was pretty small, with mostly local vendors. Hopefully, it will continue to grow.

Race Day

This was our first time doing a point-to-point race. Thankfully, everything ran smoothly. We parked at the shuttle location and only waited a few minutes before boarding a bus to the starting line in the next state (makes me tired just typing that!).

We look pretty cheery for 5am!

There were actual bathrooms available at Baxter Springs HS where the race began.

The only issue is that there weren’t very many, so the lines were long. Oh well, we didn’t really have anything better to do!

Running back uphill to Joplin, the course was well-marked and mostly closed to traffic so the road was wide open. I didn’t see any interim timing mats, but there was really only one way to get back to the finish line. Up…the…hill…

The hills! Or is it just one big 10-mile long hill…..
Aid Stations

There were plenty of aid stations and porta-potties along the route. Since the stations were to serve both the half and full marathons, they were all very well supplied when we passed through. Sandy and I had scouted the course a bit the day before and laughed at some porta-potties that looked precariously located on the side of a hill. And wouldn’t you know….

Yes, Toto, there is a little bit of  Route 66 in Kansas!

It was interesting that there were snacks available at many of the aid stations. We’re new to longer road races and I didn’t really expect to see CheezIts, animal crackers and the like instead of gels. Then again, I’ve seen odder things at trail races (can you say burritos?), so maybe it’s just me.

Finish Line and Post-Race Refreshments

Free massage! Free pizza, beer, and smoothies! What else can I say? Actually, I can say that I really appreciated the massage, which was done by City Pointe Beauty Academy, a local beauty school. They had the students going through a nice assisted stretching routine that really eased my tired legs. We did have to wait a bit in line, but it was worth the wait! We also enjoyed the smoothie and pizza, but skipped the beer this time.

The Swag

The shirts for all three race distances (5k, 13.1 and 26.2) used a similar design, with a different color scheme and a “name drop” below the logo which indicated the distance you ran… I could have skipped the latter, since it was printed really low on the front of the shirt and really screamed afterthought. Or maybe I just have too critical an eye for this since t-shirt design has been my business for 30 or so years. I did appreciate the fact that the t-shirt (and medal) design paid homage to the iconic Route 66 highway sign… a nice touch.

Sandy’s take on the shirt:
Please, can the person in charge of ordering the shirts get a freakin’ size chart?!? If not, can you avoid ordering the junior (or is it child) size shirts for the women?  I know I’m kind of fluffy, but you’re really bruising my ego by ensuring that even the largest women’s shirt (2XL thank you very much) doesn’t come close to fitting.  In this case, the folks were really nice about swapping the tiny thing out – for a men’s Medium.  That’s right, the 2XL women’s shirt wasn’t even as big as a men’s Medium!


As for the medals, they used the same logo as the t-shirt design, and were HUGE! (The ones for the full marathon were even bigger).

Final Thoughts

This event was amazing! The hills (hill?) killed us, but we made it and are glad we did. Yes, Virginia, this is a destination race. Judging from the fact that most of Texas must have been there (it seemed like everyone we talked to was a fellow Texan), it surely was a destination from my home state! Aside from the few hiccups we experienced, I was happy with the way this race was managed and supported. So, would I do it again? Sadly, probably not. this has nothing to do with anything about the race itself, but more to do with what it is… a destination race. That’s kind of the thing about true destination races. That whole been there, done that kind of thing. So unless the route changes or something additional is offered (I have some ideas that I would love to share with the race directors) OR I am traveling with others who have never done the race (a very real possibility), this is probably not a race I will do again. But I never say never. And I wouldn’t turn down the chance for another amazing meal at Eagle Drive-In (more on this one later).

The finishers