Nice small destination marathon. (about: 2002)|
A. S. from Boston, MA (5/7/03)
I ran this race in 2002. The thing I like best about it is that it has the feel of a big destination type of event, but the race day logistics of a small marathon. With the Stampede in town, the entire city is in a celebratory mood, and there are things going on everywhere - a great place to bring the family (I could see returning just to go to the Stampede). On race day itself, the majority of runners are there to do one of the shorter races - the marathon itself is quite small. The nice thing is that the marathoners start well before everyone else, so the start is quite manageable (I finished my warm-up 5 minutes before the start and had no problem just walking into the field about 3 rows back from the starting line which is about where I wanted to be). With the small field, there is no congestion on the course and no trouble getting water at the first stops. At the finish there are a lot of fans and there is a great support area set up to handle a large number of runners, but by the time the marathoners finish, most of the other racers are done so again there is no crowding (and no wait for a massage). These are all the pluses of a small field - the downside is that you may be running by yourself for stretches toward the middle and end of the race.
As far as the course goes, other than some hills around miles 3-4, the course is about as flat as you are going to get. The first half of the course is not very scenic (after the zoo its basically a tour through suburbia), but the second half is a return along a greenbelt next to the river which is much more pleasant (they ought to just run along the river out and back - the field is small enough that this could work).
I agree with others who have mentioned the altitude. If you are coming from sea level, do not expect to PR on this course - at 3300 feet it is just high enough for the altitude to be a factor, but you won't really notice it until the race itself.
Having said that, despite running 5-10 minutes slower than I had hoped (it was also hot in 2002), I did manage to qualify for Boston on this course.
Overall a great experience.