1. Timing tags--You tie this little plastic thingy to your shoe, and it records your start time, end time, and mile split times. That way if you're running a little late--due to crazy porta potty lines, say--it's still just fine; you can start with whatever "wave" you are able to mingle with when you get to the starting line.
2. Mobile lockers--A shipping company--FedEx, for example--parks a buncha trucks near the start and hands out trash bags. You put your stuff in a bag, they give you a number, and your stuff is driven to the finish where you can claim it after you're done. Well worth the $2 cost, in my opinion, especially if you don't have the fortune (as I did this year) of having personal assistants to drop you off and pick you up and look after your gear. Or even if you do have assistants, and still decide to send some stuff via mobile locker. It's that cool.
3. Live music--Various bands set up along the race route. Rock & roll, etc. The 80's cover band was great. The belly-dancers were undulatory and bare midriffed. The djembes were, of course, awesome (but I'm a little biased there). A young teenager sounded strikingly like Bono to me--that kid had pipes. Speaking of which, the bagpipes were Scot-a-rific. And Elvis was...well, Elvis. He high-fived me, which I thought was cool.
4. Costumes--Folks dressed up as any-and everything. Faeries. Ballerinas; or at least tutu-ed runners. Captain Hook...or Captain Morgan; I couldn't tell which. Pinocchio, complete with strings. Sadly, caterpillars were against the rules.
5. Drink stations, official--According to legend there are margaritas at the drink stations, but dang it if they didn't turn out to be Gatorade instead. I was a little sad about that. Not a lot sad, but a little.
6. Drink stations, unofficial--Much of the route wound through the local neighborhoods, where residents were kind enough to cheer on the runners and offer refreshment. Here the term "drink" should be applied loosely. There were marshmallows via slingshot. Shots of red something or other. I felt it necessary to partake of as much as possible, in order to make the most of the experience. In the approximate order of consumption I had Doritos, bacon (though I declined the Krispy Kremes), and beer (I opted for the Dixie cup rather than the pint-can--I'd have felt bad wasting 15 oz of beer that someone else would've appreciated more). "I thought you didn't drink beer, Skerrib," you are saying. Well, in this case I made a special exception, although I must say it wasn't a very impressive effort. After a promising first swig, I sort of hack-gagged down the second bit. It's probably not a very good idea to drink beer while attempting a 6-mile run.
7. Thousands of running partners--my final, official finish time was 58:11. I was shooting for under an hour, so while I didn't smash my goal, I did meet it. My pace varied greatly, but was always in the 9's as far as mile times, and I felt pretty comfortable (relatively-speaking) the whole race, which is not normal for a 6-miler. I attribute this comfort to all the people and sights along the way. Distraction can be a powerful ally in the world of running. Maybe drinking beer while attempting a 6-mile run is not such a bad idea after all.
8. Athletic supporters galore--the human kind, that is. I got a bazillion cheers and high-fives, and pretty much felt like an anonymous, unknown superstar. The kids, of course, gave the best high-fives. They should just hire children to line race routes all the time. Heck, I should just hire children to line my running routes all the time.
9. Swag bags--I got a reusable lunch bag full of snackies at the finish. I'd have gotten an entire can of beer had I had my ID with me (a hex on the Cat Daddy for discouraging me from bringing it!). Would I have drunk it? Probably not. But I'd have sipped it, for sure. "What's with your obsession with alcohol at a race, Skerrib? This is so not like you." Sorry, it can't be explained.
10. Sponsor booths--Free food. Enough said.
If you are ever remotely in the vicinity of Boulder, CO during Memorial Day I highly recommend this experience. You can run, walk, or any combination thereof--it's much more about the experience than about the race itself. You can even ride in a wheelchair, as long as you provide your own arm-power for said chair. But you get (usually) gorgeous weather, lots of things to see and do, and a little exercise to boot. You can't beat it.
But I'm still pushing for margaritas next year...