The first Modesto Midnight Half-Marathon drew some raves, but runners said the race needs work before it hits its stride.
Nearly 470 runners finished Saturday's 13.1-mile race, from Tenth Street Place downtown to El Vista Avenue and back.
Runners' chief concern was the nearly 7-mile stretch of the race along the bike path that follows Dry Creek. Some parts were nearly pitch black under the trees — despite a full moon. The path was narrow and some of it became a slippery hazard when the sprinklers came on.
"The moon was awesome on the part of the path that was open," said Kathy Herman, an Escalon resident and member of ShadowChase Running Club of Modesto. "But it was pretty dark in some parts. ... They need to make some changes and tweak it, but they have a great idea on their hands."
About half of the runners had flashlights or head lamps.
Race organizer Tony Vice said he will address the concerns by requiring all runners to bring flashlights or head lamps or by moving the course to a better-lighted route.
"We're very pleased for a first-year event," said Vice, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Stockton. "Obviously, lighting issues on the bike trail need to be addressed for future years. We definitely are coming back with this event with improvements."
Some runners reported seeing other runners stumble and fall on the bike path. Vice said the worst injury was to a man who fell and hit his head. An ambulance was summoned but, Vice said, the man refused treatment and continued running and finished the race.
Modesto police received two reports of minor injuries to runners who fell, said Sgt. Brian Findlen. The Fire Department did not receive any calls for service related to the race, said Battalion Chief Mark Johansen.
The race was a fund-raiser for The Salvation Army and included a two-mile fun run and a beer garden at Tenth Street Plaza for the runners. The event drew about 700 participants, plus 150 to 200 people downtown to watch the race.
Vice said he still has bills to pay for the race but hopes to net $5,000 for The Salvation Army.
Residents on downtown streets along the course sat on front porches and on lawn chairs and yelled and clapped as runners trod through the night.
"One house was playing 'Eye of The Tiger.' A lot of people were cheering us on," said Modesto resident Roos Antonis, who walked the half-marathon with his 10-year-old son, Connor, while his wife, Leslie, ran the race, finishing second in her age group.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2316.