BCS belongs on the short list of premier marathons (about: 2012)|
James Cowan from San Antonio, TX (12/10/12)
3 previous marathons
| 1 Bryan/College Station Marathon
Where can I start? First and foremost, in case no one reads past these few lines, let me say this was an amazingly organized race, at every single level. For being the second year, and such a small scale compared to other Texas (and most city) marathons, I was honestly blown away. Please understand this as well: if you are a new half marathoner or marathoner, find me a better race in the world to begin. That's right, WORLD. I don't know how many newbies there were yesterday but I'd estimate around half. Then I realized, as good as they have it here, this race has potentially ruined marathons for them, regarding the organization and support. It was that good.
Okay, let's get a little more specific. From almost day one of signing up I was receiving updates via email from Chris Field, the race director. This continued up to race day. The info included everything from packet pick-up to weather. I decided to stay at the Hilton in College Station, where the packet pick-up and pre-race events were located. I made the assumption right from the moment I booked the hotel that they had the support of Bryan & College Station businesses as the hotel 'special rate' was really good (at least compared to A&M football season). This turned out to be completely true regardless. As expected, it was pretty busy at the small expo there at the Hilton. As we were actually staying there, we dropped off gear in the room and headed down to pick up my bib. Volunteers were everywhere and there was zero confusion from there on. This was small but shows precisely the amount of care and attention to detail Mr Field and team had in organizing this race: at my door in the morning upon waking up at 0500, a bottle of water and a brown bag with a banana, a granola bar, and a bagel. I look down the hall, at nearly every door, one or two of these bags! Folks, I paid $80 for this race! And I didn't even make the first cutoff before the prices went up. $80!
One point of contention I've had in previous runs is the disaster that turns out to be race day parking. Mr Field and his team obviously took this into consideration starting/finishing the race near a shopping mall on a Sunday morning (nothing opens in BCS on Sunday 'till noon). Crisis averted; zero problems parking and walking the, oh, 200 feet to the start line! And the race began.
As I mentioned above, the support was beyond amazing. Roughly every mile and a half were aid stations, all with water and gatorade. The later stations had oranges, medical aid, gummy bears, and other things I didn't use. EVERY 1.5 MILES! One of the later emails from Mr Field explained because of the hot weather (~80°) they were adding wet towels to the later aid stations. I did partake and those were lifesavers! At each station, there were tons of people, a couple dozen. Kids, volunteers, Aggies, all represented, all awesome! There were multiple road closures which multiple police agencies and Aggie corps members had covered. And I cannot neglect to mention the support beyond aid: the families, screamers, sign holders, kids with drums, and just all-around buffoonery in between the aid stations. The signs were great, typical of Aggie wit and humor. My personal highlight was the group of folks who were supporting the bearded runners, somewhere around mile 22 or so, a group of 5 or 6 with signs, oranges, cameras, and beard love! I'll spend some time to find out who these folks were. They made me laugh.
The finish was better than expected. Hundreds of people, pics at the line as you'd expect, then the best part of my day, a small girl (maybe 5-6 years old) with Downs Syndrome who put the finisher's medal over my head. Naturally, I held out both hands for some low-fives, which she gave! Best finish ever! Immediately after, I collected my race shirt (a badass Brooks tech shirt) and actually passed on complimentary beer and food. I know, right. I actually passed on the beer! Nevertheless, free beer and food were part of the race package, along with a long-sleeved cotton race shirt, and the obligatory coupons and snacks.
Let me say, this is a complete stretch, and quite honestly nitpicking, but I feel it necessary in any proper review to at least cover any details warranting improvement. Again, I'm really going out on a limb to criticize here. I'd say, as far as I noticed, there weren't many porto-potties available, at least starting off. I didn't notice one for the first 5-6 miles. I could be wrong, but I had to pee nearly immediately crossing the start line so I was keeping an eye out for them. There were not toilets at each aid station, not that I'd expect them to be. The only other complaint I had was actually from my girlfriend who met a volunteer who was pretty rude regarding a road closure. She asked the volunteer about alternate routes and the girl both had no response and was rather nasty giving it. I suppose I'd recommend that volunteers at road closures be more knowledgable of alternate routes, not sure anyone can do anything about attitudes however. That is it.