If you're a diehard Cedar Point fan and a runner with a taste for thrills, then the Cedar Point Half Marathon weekend is an absolute must do. The Run and Ride race series currently hosts six race weekends throughout the year in some of America's best amusement parks, including Cedar Point. The weekend includes a one-mile fun run, a 5K (3.1 miles), a 10K (6.2 miles), and a half marathon (13.1 miles), so there is a race distance for every runner.
This year's race weekend took place the weekend of June 10, 2016, and after running the half marathon, I can enthusiastically say that this was one of my favorite races to date. Here's why:
- Early Entry: Runners received early entry into Cedar Point with their race bib, and what better way to celebrate your running achievement than with a ride on Millennium Force or Maverick!
- Ticket Package: This is, by far, one of the most amazing aspects of this race. For $80 (the cost of early race registration and a very reasonable price for a race), you not only receive your race entry, but you also get a 3-day park pass. Yes, you read that correctly. $80. Race entry. 3-day park pass. Can you say value?! Season passholders also receive a discounted registration fee, which is a nice bonus. This ticket package is an incredible deal, especially for those Cedar Point visitors who visit the park once or twice a year!
- Swag: Of course, no race would be complete without some great gear! With your entry, you not only receive your 3-day park pass, but you also get a tech t-shirt, magnet, sweatband, arm sleeves, free parking for the race, and food/merchandise coupons for your day at the park! You get a LOT of great goodies for this race. My only complaint: the swag is not Cedar Point-specific; rather, everything features Run and Ride. In the future, I hope that the gear can be tailored to each individual park.
- Millennium Force 5K course: The majority of this 3.1 mile race takes place inside Cedar Point, so for those runners looking to get the most in-park experience along with a solid run, then this is the race for you! Plus, the name is epic; I only wish the medal was Millennium Force-themed!
- Valravn 10K Bonus: Although I didn't run the Valravn 10k (it was at the same time as the half marathon), I was envious of those participating. Why? Because in addition to the weekend's amazing ticket deal, 10K runners also received a one-time Fast Lane Pass for Valravn! Yes, that was included with registration. Given that the Valravn lines were long that weekend, it would have been a huge advantage to have that Fast Lane Pass.
- Cedar Point Half Marathon course: The first three miles took place right around - and inside! - the park. The best moment of the race happened right before Mile 1 when we entered the park through an employee entrance, taking us right underneath Gatekeeper. Right as I ran underneath the track, a Gatekeeper train went zooming by! Nothing like a roller coaster flying overhead to make you want to run faster! We looped all the way to the back of the park by Maverick and made our way to the front again.
Once you ran through the park, the race took you over the causeway (surrounded by Lake Erie!) and into Sandusky, Ohio for an out-and-back course. From the town, you could catch some killer views of Cedar Point. The roller coasters were a welcome sight and grew larger and larger as we approached the park.
- Rides: Gatekeeper wasn't the only coaster running; many of the other rides in the park were racing on their tracks, which made going through the park even more fun! It would have been neat if runners could go on the rides mid-race.
- Post-Race Spread: The Cedar Point Half Marathon had one of the best post-race spreads I've ever experienced. The race staff provided runners with water, sports drinks, chocolate milk, bagels, bananas, and more. Trust me, after running 13.1 miles, you're going to want this fuel to prepare you for a full day at the park!
- The Medals: This year's medals were Peanuts-themed, with each race featuring a different character riding in a roller coaster car: Snoopy for the one-mile fun run, Woodstock for the 5K, Sally Brown for the 10K, and Charlie Brown for the half marathon! The coolest part? The medals connected with magnets, so if you ran multiple races, you could have a whole roller coaster train to wear proudly around Cedar Point!
Overall, this was a phenomenal race weekend, and one I would highly recommend to any runner or Cedar Point fan. The courses were fun and beautiful, and runners can still enjoy a traditional Cedar Point experience in addition to running their races!
By - Tracy Brätt