I have a ton of running friends that are running their first half marathons at Brookings. It is one of my favorite halfs, and this spring will be the fourth time I've ran it (previous race reports here: 2012--1:55, 2014--2:02, and 2016--2:15)! I've been giving out tips and advice left and right and realized that maybe some folks in the far reaches of the interwebs might also enjoy some of the tips, so here they are!
Brookings is awesome. The course is flat and fast. While it is flat-flat-flat there are some stretches in the final miles that are the slightest bit uphill (and then downhill), then back uphill, and finally downhill. It is so gradual, you can't even see the difference, but you can feel it, and it sucks. So be prepared for that and know that after each sucky bit you get a nice mini downhill reprieve. The first time I ran it I thought I was losing steam on the first tiny uphill only to realize later when I was analyzing my data that, oh, guess I was going up. Makes sense.
There are a LOT of turns. I think the shortest distance I've ran according to my garmin is 13.3, upwards of 13.4 other times. So if you're shooting for a PR, plan accordingly with your pace! Turn+turn+turn+turn+turn+turn+turn+turn+turn=there's no way you're going to run perfect tangents. Trust. The last time I was close to running sub 2 I was 2 minutes over and way more than two minutes in distance. Grrr.
The weather is usually pretty great. But it is South Dakota, so plan for wind. Spend some of your long runs cursing the wind. That shouldn't be hard because for three years straight of training for a spring marathon, every.single.long.run I did was 30-40 mph wind gusts. Woof. If it's a sunny day, the final 4-5 mile stretch isn't super covered with trees so it can feel a bit toasty.
Make sure you stick around long enough to enjoy Nick's burgers. Seriously. These little gems are a god send. They tend to start serving closer to the first marathoner or marathon relay to finish, but they're more than worth the wait. Little sliders sent directly from the heavens.
The medals are legit. Some of the largest medals I own. I always enjoy some great, well-earned bling.
So I hope to see you in Brookings. I'll the one in green sweating profusely even if it's nice and cold out.