THE FINE PRINT: The following preview is written using the information available at time of publishing. Race organizers reserve the right to change the details, including route, sometimes without warning. That said, the details listed below may change come race-day. I do my best to avoid that whenever possible -- but sometimes it simply isn't possible. Thank you for understanding. Keep R/B/S'ing! -R3KC
This race is an easy favorite for the nearly 2-3,000 participants that run it every year. In it's only seventh year for 2017, it has quickly ascended the ranks as the top-participated 10k of the racing calendar. Beyond its note-worthy prize purse, the race brings much to offer, including a gorgeous race venue, and idyllic-placing in the calendar year: With half- and full-marathon season ramping up for many, a 10k race in the second weekend of September is spot-on.
The beauty of such a large race (and of KC Running Company hosting it) is the availability of packet pick-up. JUST MAKE SURE YOU DO IT BEFOREHAND, as race-day pick-up will NOT be available. I cannot stress that enough.
Race Day Parking
If you've ever had to park at Country Club Plaza, nothing will seem unusual on race morning. There is plenty of on-street parking, as well as open (and free) parking garages for use. 7am on a Sunday morning also means there will be no shortage of spots. Just be sure to avoid parking RIGHT next to the start line: Ward Parkway east of Broadway will be closed off, so it will be impossible.
Honestly, anywhere you park on the Plaza is within walking distance (maximum 10min walking from the western-most garages, for example). Just mind the race course: If you plan on racing fast and leaving early, you may get blocked in by the route.
Here are the basics for the 2017 route, which has not changed in the 5 years that I've participated (which is a good thing!)...
Runners will start on Ward Parkway, between the front rows of shops and Brush Creek. The route heads West on Ward Parkway to Pembroke Hill Academy, and a turnaround back East on Volker. Once back in the Plaza, left and right turns put runners back on to Ward before the left turn North on Jefferson Street, and the first (and steepest, albeit short) climb of the day. This is the "half" climb I allude to above. It is, by the map, only about 30 feet climbing, but it's a bit of a heart-breaker, and kills your stride.
From there it's straight East on Emanuel Cleaver II, past the Nelson-Atkins (pretty!), all the way to Hwy 71. Climb 2 comes in at the turnaround back on to Volker Boulevard, this time West. This time, length beats depth. The climb is long at nearly a mile, but is divided in to two with a flat between. Overall you'll climb 50 feet over its length, and though it won't be obvious, it will wear on the legs.
Approaching UMKC, a climb 3 of sorts comes in, though is relatively short, much like the Jefferson Street climb, and less steep, so we won't really count it. But it WILL hurt. Around the backside of the Northern-most edge of UMKC's campus, the route turns South briefly, only to run back North, ending at the finish line on Ward Parkway.
Of the four races in the Heartland 30k Series, this is the flattest, with under 300 feet of total climbing over the entire 6.24-mile route.
Though there is a non-timed fun-run (2 miles), the 10k is the only race option for the Plaza 10k.
That's all I got! Short and sweet. Until then, keep R/B/S'ing.
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