The Great Southwest Marathon is GREAT! (about: 2002)|
A Runner from Dallas, TX (3/22/02)
The Great Southwest Marathon is a jewel in the middle of Texas. Though small, it celebrated it 22nd annual running this year. The organization is top notch including a very friendly race director and staff. They provided lots of free food and drinks at the packet pickup, before the race, and after the race including fresh fruit, bagels, donuts, cookies, sodas, fruit drinks, and water. The t-shirts were wonderfully designed long sleeve models with the design carried over onto the very nice brass finisher?s medal. The race starts and finishes at an Abilene YMCA located in a large city park, giving runners the chance to stay inside and warm before the race (and avoid using porta-potties) and shower and relax after the race (even soak in the whirlpool or have a massage). The race course was very well marked with orange directional arrows painted on the ground at every corner and intersection for the first half and lime green arrows for the second half. Mile markers were also painted on the ground in large orange or green numbers. The course is very flat with roughly four small hills (two are minor railroad track under-passes). Scenery is principally residential neighborhoods with some of the downtown area and lovely Abilene parks thrown in for good measure. Police support was great for a small race but there were some busy intersections that necessitated runner caution (there were simply too many intersections to cover given the distance the runners got stretched out over, the small town police force, and the city-wide course). The 10 aid stations were staffed with eager and friendly people and included sports drink and water (and energy bars at some). The awards were super with the age group prizes being gender-correct brass runner statues about eight inches high. After the race the runners and volunteers gathered in the YMCA hospitality room and enjoyed talking about the race over donuts, food and sodas. An overall outstanding event!