Race Review Running

Garmin Olathe Half Marathon: Race Review

I wanted to like this race a lot more than I did. The medal is great, at least! But other than that... I can't say it has a lot going for it.

A few weeks back, I took myself off to Kansas to visit a dear friend from grad school and run my first race of 2023. I’ve already run a Kansas race, but the medal for this one (and the excuse to go visit my friend) seemed worth the excursion. And to skip to the point… it was worth it on the friend front! Race-wise? Meh.

Before I get into it, I just want to acknowledge it’s been more than a minute since my last post. Sorry to anyone eagerly awaiting updates. And more sorry to my poor, neglected blog itself. I do love this space! And/but a lot of cool stuff has been going on – I’ve got another (very different) blog project, I enrolled in a training program to eventually become a certified life coach, I got Covid in March, and springtime in Portland has me actually invested in gardening for the first time in my life! So, those are my reasons. But I am going to try and at least show this space some love once/a month.

Back to race discussion!

Since the race is sponsored by Garmin and situated around their world headquarters/corporate offices, I sort of assumed that race would be awesome. Or, at the very least, pretty good and well organized. I was, alas, somewhat mistaken.

Olathe, Kansas is a subdued suburb vaguely in the vicinity of Kansas City. The race runs through neighborhoods, spends a bit of time on a paved running trail, and was mostly, well, boring. There were some briefly pretty bits, but the bulk of it happens on surface streets and through rather ho-hum neighborhoods. (I now have a newly acquired aversion to split-level houses. They just aren’t cute at all).

The weather was decent, but it’s not late enough in the spring for very many pretty flowers. I did see a lot of well-maintained lawns?

It’s also not especially Wizard of Oz-themed. I was stoked about the medal, and the prospect of flying monkeys definitely made me happy. There were a handful of runners in costume, though I didn’t manage to snap a pic of any. But the “theme” mostly just extended to the swag and a few cardboard cutouts scattered toward the end of the course.

People were nice. The race website/instructions left a LOT to be desired – parking was super confusing. There was chocolate milk at the finish, but the snacks were otherwise deeply underwhelming.

Thus, I pronounce it fairly meh overall. Sorry, Garmin. I’ll still buy your watches always and forever. And I do like the T-shirt and medal! But I wouldn’t run this again or send people to it.

Overall Assessment: If you’re already in the area, I guess so? Meh.

F0A7A551-C419-4460-9A63-4200450A5B1ETime of Year: late-April (4/22/2023)
Start Time: 6:45 am for the half
Temperature: 36° at start, mid-40s at the finish (I think – forgot to pay attention). Sunny. Wind: 7-10 mph (it was definitely windy in places)
Size of Field: around 1200 for the half, more for the 10k and full – so it’s a decent-sized race
Elevation Gain: 363 ft (according to Garmin), 398 ft (according to Strava – which feels more accurate.)


  • good swag! I do really like the medal, and you get a soft T-shirt, which is very much my preference. 
  • nice weather overall – chilly but sunny.
  • decent size – big enough that I wasn’t running by myself but not so big it’s overwhelming.
  • plenty of port-o-johns at the start.
  • water stops well-staffed and handed out Gu at one of the later miles.


  • boring course with not much of interest to look at.
  • only one port-o-john per water stop, which meant there was typically a line.
  • rather confusing website and parking instructions.
  • dissatisfying snacks at the finish (though they did have chocolate milk, which leaves this a bit closer to neutral than con).

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