I’m officially back to racing! Technically, my break was only 2 months long, but what with life and angst, it actually felt longer. Even if I’m not training hard, I enjoy having races to break up the monotony of running, and also give me a reason to train.
Sadly, I’ll miss this year’s Tel Aviv Night Run, so I was excited to see that Haifa offers one as well. Night Runs are extremely popular in Israel, and it’s a nice, festive alternative to the more competitive races. However, after the disappointment of the Eilat Night Run (where I ran most of the last kilometer alone, even though I finished in about an hour and was definitely not the last runner on the course), I’ve become more reticent to register for night races. It’s one thing if a morning race is small and somewhat disorganized…you show up, run, grab your medal (or not…), and go on your way. But if a race ends after dark and it’s chaotic, I’m less interested. Plus, the logistics mean that if the race isn’t in Tel Aviv, I either need to figure out evening transportation home, or I need to find local accommodations. Eilat was fine, but I’ve passed on some other Night Runs because dealing with all of the logistics on my own isn’t worth it. If I had a car, it would be much less of an issue. These races are organized for city residents–I doubt they anticipate out of towners traveling to the run.
So why did I decide to register for the Haifa Night Run?
The event seems pretty well-organized
I miss racing and this was the first race I found that fit my schedule
I checked (more on that below) and it looks like there’s a medal
I’m currently unemployed/on vacation, so I don’t have to rush to Haifa after work to make packet pick-up
Originally I considered making this a day trip, but since the race starts at 9:10pm, I’ll be finishing a bit after 10, and would probably get home around midnight at the earliest. Then I started looking at hostels. Then I asked Lior if he wanted to join me and he said yes, so instead I booked a nice Airbnb that’s less than 5 minutes from the Night Run start/finish area…which also happens to be in downtown Haifa, an area with lots of bars and restaurants, as well as the train station where I arrived from Tel Aviv. It was more than I’d pay on my own, but not crazy expensive. Plus, during the week Lior usually works late, and during the week+ that we’ve been home we’ve been eating almost all of our meals at home. (I’m trying to save money and make up for all the cooking I did not do in NYC.) Basically, this was also a nice opportunity to have a fun date! I’d arrive to the Airbnb around 4, get our race bibs, Lior would arrive a bit before the race, we’d run, get dinner, then grab brunch the next morning before returning to Tel Aviv. How nice! This was the perfect opportunity to repeat our little trip last November, where I ran the Haifa Half Marathon and Lior joined me for some sightseeing.
The last time I ran 10K was at the NYRR Mini 10K. I ran five miles on Sunday and it was kind of rough. Mentally, I have no issues with the 10K distance, but my physical fitness isn’t quite there. Sure, I know I can run the race, no problem, but that’s about the extent of my expectations.
Price: 100 shekel, or $28.25. I’m okay with this! I registered during early registration, so I saved up to 40 shekels ($11). Given that the race tried to market itself as fancy, it seemed like a good deal. Price: A
Website: Could have been better. I had to watch the video at the bottom of the site from last year’s race to see if there was going to be a medal. (There was.) I wasn’t going to register for the race–and bring Lior, for whom this would be his second race since running the Tel Aviv Night Run a few years ago–unless there would be medals. Also, since Lior has to work a full day and then drive to Haifa, I wanted to pick up his race shirt and bib. The website said I needed a power of attorney form. I had to email the race organizers for clarification, only to be told that I just need a picture of Lior’s ID card. In the end, the site had all of the information I needed, but it took way too long to ascertain everything. Website: C
Publicity: I found the race on one of the sites I use to search for running events, and I also received emails because I signed up for all of the race orgs’ mailing lists. The process was very simple. Publicity: A
Transportation to race: I walked. It was super close. Yay!
Weather: It was in the low 80s, which was fine. What wasn’t fine was that the air was extremely still, meaning that it was a little hard to breathe, and the sweat just clung to me. Not fun.
Time: 9:10pm. Lior ran the 5K, and his race started at 9pm, which seemed odd.
Start/finish area: The start/finish area had a party vibe, and it was very fun! A+
Packet pick-up: No frills and no lines, so I was in and out.
Race shirt: Why do night runs have black shirts?! This is the best possible opportunity for tacky neon colors. Also, I ordered the same size shirt I always do, and this one is a bit snug in the chest (which never happens)…so I doubt I’ll be wearing this much. At least it’s not unisex?
We also got a drawstring bag, which was a nice touch.
What I wore: race shirt, compression shorts, and a smile
Bag drop: Since my Airbnb was so close to the event, I didn’t use this…but there was one!
Course: Overall, the course was decent. There was very minimal crowd support. The first 4 kilometers followed the same route as the 5K, and since the 5K started before the 10K, we would occasionally pass some of the slower runners. KMs 5-7 were an out and back, then we ran up a ramp (the only real incline on the course). After that we briefly returned to the 5K route, before completing a second out and back, and then finishing. Personally I liked the out and backs because it helped break up the course. The course was reasonably lit, but with the exception of a DJ stand, it didn’t feel especially festive. Course: B
Water stations: There were a few water stations, but they were kind of hectic. In the end, I only stopped at one water station, and was okay.
Bathrooms: None on the course, but there were several port o potties in the start/finish area. Bathrooms: F
Pictures: Free, and available the next day. I only had three, and none of them were attractive…oh well, next time.
Medal: The medal is nice, but I liked last year’s better…
While I ran the 10K, Lior ran the 5K! He almost didn’t make the race because he left his office maybe two hours before the race started. In the end, I found a parking lot on Google, and he parked there (at 8:55) and ran down a hill to get to the start in time. Good thing races in Israel usually don’t start on time! Later, we walked back to the car and parked in a parking lot next to the Airbnb…
The Haifa Night Run was fun! If you’re looking for an excuse to visit Haifa, this is very nice. The race was extremely central and accessible, and most of the course was flat. As far as Night Runs go, it was fun, and I think it’s nice that they have both a 5K and 10K option. The Tel Aviv Night Run is definitely a bigger event, but Tel Aviv is a bigger city, so it makes sense. Depending on my work schedule and race calendar next year, I would consider returning.