Race Review: The Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

For the first time since either 2011 or 2012, I went back to Illinois for a half marathon. Awhile back, one of our awesome Bibrave Pro coordinators, Julia, sent out an interest sheet to see if we’d be up for the race. I had never heard of it, but it looked interesting, so I said sure, why not! After looking up the race date, it happened to be the weekend of the Cherry Blossom 1o Mile Run. After some thought, I decided to opt in for the Presidential Half for a new race (although I love the Cherry Blossom Run and would totally go back to that race too!).

The race is held the first Saturday in April in Springfield, IL, Lincoln’s home town. It’s a fun town and the state capitol of Illinois. Considering I went to college in Chicago, Illinois always is a attached to me in some regards.

Registration for the race is quite simple. The race organizers use getmeregistered.com. Registration never got to be more than $60. You could register online up until March 24, however, registration was available at the Expo and race morning. If you registered at the expo or race morning, it was $60, but you got no shirt.

I left Cleveland and went across I 80 and I 55 to Springfield. It’s in the heart of Illinois, so it’s about an hour drive. It took me about 9 hrs (some traffic secondary to an accident in Indiana, close to Chicago). Also, let’s say hydration while driving doesn’t help things. I got in around 1130 Illinois time (I forgot about the hour time difference) and checked into the hotel. I stayed at the race host hotel, the Double Tree Downtown. It was a cute hotel, a block away from the race start. Fellow BibRave Pro Angie (who also ran One City with me), also ran the race, so we ended up splitting a hotel room so she wouldn’t have to get up at insane o’clock to drive in from the race. She had gone to the expo at the hotel, which was small. She was nice enough to get my bib for me.


After getting a quick shower to get the car feel off me, we headed to bed. Fellow pros Julia, Cass and Frank were also running, and they were wanting to meet up at 640 AM for group stuff. The race started at the Old Capitol Building, which was about a block from the hotel and a quick walk away (bonus points for location and not having to drive or bus it over!). Angie was up early for coffee and such, I was banging the snooze button as long as possible, as my body was so off on time.

The race organizers are active on the Lincoln Half Facebook page, so we knew to expect some 30-40* weather with some hefty wins. I was glad for my capris, long sleeved base shirt/arm warmers/long sleeved top, because once I’m cold, I’m cold the rest of the race. Angie also brought me my Bibrave Buff, which was an awesome new addition to my Buff Collection.


This race is a tribute to Abe Lincoln in a sense. There’s a lot of historical enactors, including an Abe and Mary Lincoln. Prior to the race, all of us pros got together for a group picture with the 16th president and his wife. Mary called us Bibrave Pros the Orange Brigade (quite fitting, I think! ).

[Photo courtesy of Angie Maske-Berka]

We lined up in our respective pace settings (some in the mid 1 hours, some in the mid 2 hours) and announcements were said. We were sent off with what sounded like a cannon. Let’s just say Springfield knew we were coming! We got to run through town and past Lincoln’s House with President and Mrs Lincoln cheering us on. The course itself was an interesting mix. We got to see some modest part of down and some nicer parts of town as well. The first half of the course was fairly flat. We were running on pavement, cobblestone, and some gravel type land. Around mile 6, we were in Washington Park. There were some bunny hills, as I call them, but nothing too bad. There were splits at the 10K with timing mats that we ran over. The second half of the course, we some some nicer residential parts of town. We also found some more hills that were steep compared to the first part of the course, which seems like it maybe was different from last year or past years. We also ran through the Springfield Cemetery and past Lincoln’s Tomb


We exited out of the cemetery and went back through Lincoln Park. After we came out of the park (and some more hills), we headed back towards the finish. Around mile 11, someone was handing out frozen flavor icees, which was perfect (and really more races need to do that! flavor and fluid all at once that I don’t have to chew on).  I was trying to get under 2:30 (which it’s been awhile since that’s happened), and ended up finishing at 2:30:05. Missed my goal by 6 seconds! It would have been easy to miss the finish mats at least, because there was no signs saying Finish, but there were more than enough people to greet you at the finish.

Afterwards, you were handed your medal, water and gatorade. You were also lead past unofficial timing tents, were you could get your preliminary results printed off. After that, you were led through the food line- it had oranges, bananas, chocolate milk and beer. You could also get finisher pictures with the Lincolns (and that line was long!). They also had historical activities for the family and a band playing. Around 10:30, there was an awards ceremony for Top 3 Male and Female Finishers and Top 3 age group finishers. Bibrave’s own Julia Montag placed 1st in her age group and 2nd overall female (and Bibrave got a shout out from the event)!! Angie and I hung out with Julia, Cass and Frank (fellow Pros) before heading back to the hotel and showering.

After checking out, Angie and I headed our separate ways. Angie went to the Lincoln Presidential Museum since the race provided a free entry as part of the race swag. I got back on the road and headed a different route home (because why pay ridiculous tolls if I don’t need too). Apparently NE Ohio forgot that April is suppose to bring rain showers, not snow showers. I hit Mansfield to swirling, blinding snow that led to us drivers to go 30-40 mph. I pulled off the highway at a gas station once and pulled over on the side of the road another time. Instead of getting home at 930, I ended up home at 1130 pm (any longer, I would have gotten a hotel for the night). Needless to say, I unpacked quickly before hopping in bed with Moe the furball.

Overall, I’d go back to Springfield for this race. It’s reasonably price and well run. What half marathon can you sign up at the expo or day of for $60 if you decided last minute to run??  A few minor things that I would change: have an actual start/finish banner. I wasn’t sure where to go at the start and Angie and I were asking for directions. I’m not sure if it was due to the wind gusts we had or not. Also, maybe have the announcements at 715 or 720 instead of at 730. Also, there were no timers on course, so I only knew my pace from my garmin (though there were pacers on course, which was appreciated). I think it would also be beneficial to have a virtual race packet instead of passing out all the handouts we got in with the shirt and bibs.  Overall, awesome, though. I’m also a huge fan of the medal!



About drrunner
8 time marathoner, 65 ish time 1/2 marathoner with a bucket list item to hit all 50 states. BibRave Pro, Doctor and a mix of insanity

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