Going into this race, I had some concerns about the trail and the logistics of putting roughly 3000 runners into such a confined space.
On top of my concerns, this was a first year race so I expected there to be some issues.
So while my thoughts are fresh from yesterday's race, I want to post my feedback about the race.
Here are things that I liked about the race.
- Packet Pick-up was simple and easy.
- The Expo was excellent
- Water, Sports Drinks, and Gels were excellent
- Workers at the Aid Stations were very motivated
- Police at the road crossing were great.
- Enjoyed the trail section of the course. The packed trail wasn't a major issue. Not as fast as a road marathon but still nice.
- Liked that the gates were all open at the road crossings.
- Liked the race shirt
- Liked the chip being in the race bib
- Nice touch calling out the finishers names as they crossed the finishline.
- Providing massages were great, but I didn't get one because the line was too long.
- I like the parking procedures but it would have been nice to give those bused from the remote parking lots or hotels to some place go. Especially, if you arrived at 6am or before. Standing around trying to stay warm for an hour is very hard.
Things I would change
- It would have been nice to have packet pick up on race morning
- Extend the hours for the expo to at least 9pm on Saturday night so people have time to arrive for packet pickup
- Would eliminate the rough section on the north end of the trail. It was extremely rocky.
- The U-turn turn arounds. The first one at 7 miles isn't that bad, but at 19 miles making a complete stop and turning around and heading back is tough on tired legs.
- Start ½ marathon 30 minutes before the marathon. There were many instances where I was weaving between runners – passing some from behind while trying to avoid those coming at me. With only 8 feet or less of running room, it was a real challenge.
- Many of the ½ and some of the full marathoners were running 2, 3, or 4 abreast and didn't want to budge on the running room issue. I don't know how to fix this issue but it does make navigation very hard.
- The portion of the course where we were coned down to the bike lane (miles 24 and 25) was nearly impossible. Just two runners, running side by side filled up the bike lane. We need the entire lane for running and not just the bike lane
- Don't allow the IPods in the race. Many times I asked runners to make hole as I came up from behind. Many those runners never moved over, they didn't because they didn't hear me.
- Have the finish line clock turned on. I saw the clock but it was turned off.
- Sync up the ½ marathon clock. It was 3 minutes off.
- I know this was first year race but the awards were extremely slow to happen and appeared to be much to disorganize. Many people left before the awards because it took so long.
- The whole top 10 finisher didn't really make sense to me. If you are going to give a top 10, then give it to the top 10 finishers and not the top 10 after you have sorted everything else out. Giving someone a top 10 finish award when they finished 15 doesn't make sense.
- Pizza. After race, I stopped by the snack tent for a banana, orange, and piece of pizza. They were only allowing people one piece of pizza. I just finished running 26 miles, and to only give out one small, tiny (and I do mean tiny piece) is just nuts.
- Flat and Fast, I would disagree that this is a flat course. While there are no steep hills along the course – on the trail sections. There are plenty of long 2%, 3%, or 4% climbs some of which last more than a mile. For example mile 23 is essentially all up hill and 24 and 25 both are have some flat areas but are largely a long steady climb. This is really not what you want after running 20 miles hard – just being honest here.
- Porta Potties. Turn on the base field lights much earlier if you are going to stick the porta potties behind it. It is pretty hard to us a porta potty in the dark.
- I wasn't happy that Embassy Suites was charging for a late checkout – $25 dollars for each additional hour. I mean they opted to be the host hotel and giving runners a late check out should be part of the deal. In my opinion, Embassy Suites tarnished their reputation with this policy. I would probably opt for another hotel next year and suggested that the race organizers move the Expo to another hotel.
If you are planning to run the race next year, in my opinion, the ½ marathon is probably the better race of the two and definitely the ½ has the better of the 2 courses – even thou much it overlaps.
If I were to return for next year, I would probably opt for the ½ over the full marathon.
Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner