This is a gem of a race (about: 2010) Course: 5
P. F. from Palm Beach Garens, Florida (2/2/10) 11-50 previous marathons
| 1 Ocala Marathon
Like others, I ran this to prepare for Boston, and feared the hills. It is gently rolling: no big hills (unless you are from south of Orlando Florida). It is never flat, always gently rolling, and totally drop-dead beautiful. Horse farms nearly the whole way, with lots and lots of curious equines. Very well organized, less than five minutes from the hotel to the start/finish, cool awards (horse statues), and the best water stations I have ever seen. Water every mile or so, and every station had water and sports drink, and most also had gels, energy bars, Twizzlers and bananas: it was like running through a convenience store every two miles. The volunteers were wonderful, and as it is horse country with very few spectators, the organizers had people with rosters at various places on the course so that at least two or three times someone would cheer for you by name, and of course they called out your name as you finished. Very nice touches and considerations for a small race. I will run it again.
Outstanding small marathon (about: 2010) Course: 5
J. G. from Albany, New York (2/2/10) 11-50 previous marathons
| 1 Ocala Marathon
Beautiful course, but be ready for a lot of small hills with a few larger ones thrown in. The staff was clearly dedicated to putting on a race to take care of the runner i.e. mile markers every mile, water stations every mile, enough porta-lets, etc. Not a lot of spectators, but the volunteers at the water stations made up for this with tremendous enthusiasm. I ran the half. The full is a repetition of the same loop. The start/finish is at the same point, and there is ample parking. Overall, a very good experience.
Nice small marathon (about: 2010) Course: 3
A. D. from Livermore, CA (2/2/10) 6-10 previous marathons
I should preface my comments by admitting that I was disappointed in my own race performance - this was my 2nd slowest marathon to date, and I clocked nearly 20 minutes slower than the 4 other marathons I've run over the last year. I was not happy with myself. For whatever reason, I bonked so very hard in this race. It took all of the determination I could muster to run through the pain. Also, from reading the reviews for previous years, they were all so stellar that my expectations were very high going into the race. That said, I believe this was a nice marathon - a good small-town experience, with some room for improvement.
First, the course. I gave it 3 stars because I have a mixed opinion on it. I must say parts were beautiful - scenic horse ranches. But it was the double loop course that threw me. I found it mentally difficult to cover the same ground, and passing the mixed mile markers messed with my head (mile 15 marker just before mile 24). I could be wrong, but I thought I passed two different mile 13 markers as well (think the half marathon course intersected in a way we ran passed the same mile marker at different points?). I really am not sure, given the physical pain I was in. My mind was just swimming with too many numbers, so I may have hallucinated about the duplicate markers. The one mile marker I would have loved to see was 26 because I was so close to giving up and walking, and the final stretches had turns and corners that prevented seeing the finish line until you were just yards away. I suggest marking mile 26 for next year; I think it would have been in sight when I needed to see it most. My happy ending on this race was coming in first in my age group, and getting that beautiful horsey trophy. The awards ceremony erased (almost) all of the pain and disappointment. I will treasure that trophy for years to come - thank you!
The organization gets 4 stars - nice job. I enjoyed the expo; the guest speaker gave a very informative, helpful talk on improving running performance, and even spent time with me after. I very much appreciated her time and helpful recommendations. Although I could have mentioned this in the course section, it is really more of an organizational problem. My only issue was lack of sports drink at the later water stations. They ran out of sports drink, so only water and gels in the aid stations after about the 15-mile mark. I switch from water to sports drink in the later half of marathons because I don't like gels, so missing the carbs was tough. Finish line food was a bit sparse, but I never expect a gourmet feast, so I was fine with it.
I did not expect lots of spectators, and don't mind this. the volunteers did a great job to cheer us on. I figure if you want a ton of spectators, you really should go to a big-city race.
So overall, a nice, small-town race; this crosses Florida off my list, and was my 1st (and most likely last) experience to snag an age group award. Will be happily remembering that for quite some time!
Very well run (about: 2010) Course: 4
Fans: 2 greg short from ocala, fl (2/1/10) 6-10 previous marathons
| 1 Ocala Marathon
Nice course and just the right number of runners. Nice after-race party and trophies.
WOW! We didn't think it could get better. IT DID (about: 2010) Course: 5
Fans: 3 A. N. from Florida and Vermont, USA (2/1/10) 11-50 previous marathons
| 2 Ocala Marathons
Ocala was Incredible! The weather was great and they did such a good job that we are still smiling. It is amazing how much effort they give to make the event special. We thought last year was great, but this year they did even more. It was like a running buffet all along the course. Water, HEED, gels, Twizzlers, Fig Newtons, cookies, oranges, grapes, bananas, Clif Bars, Clif Shots, coffee, and electrolyte tablets. That was just on the course. The after-party was fun and they had grilled sandwiches, pizza, Dunkin Donuts, coffee, bagels, beer, fruit platters, Odwalla Bars, chips, coffee, hot cocoa, juice, fruit smoothies. They had outdoor heaters at the party, so you could stay comfy while the band and DJ played. They gave lots of door prizes (we both won $60.00 Gift Certificates to Dick's Sporting Goods), beautiful horse sculptures for age group prizes, technical shirts, really nice medals, and all of the sponsors gave discount coupons for their services. Even the massage school gave free massages and offered $20.00, 1-hour massages every week as part of the promo. All of this for a small little race that is trying to get 1,000 participants so they can fully close the roads next year. POLICE SUPPORT AND VOLUNTEERS WERE THE BEST AROUND Yep, we are planning on doing it again.
Hard to describe; very relaxed marathon experience (about: 2010) Course: 4
H. T. from Jacksonville,Florida (2/1/10) 2 previous marathons
GREAT, well marked course and very friendly and helpful event staff. The delay of the race for 15 minutes was a bit of a concern since hotel checkout extension was noon only. I think host hotel checkout time should extend until the closing ceremonies of the race! My overall experience was fantastic. The well organized and caring volunteer crew made this marathon one to visit again.
Friendliest marathon in the US (about: 2010) Course: 4
Fans: 3 B. W. from Winter Park, FL (2/1/10) 50+ previous marathons
| 3 Ocala Marathons
This was my third Ocala Marathon, and I already knew it was a well-organized event with the friendliest volunteers and police support, but this year was even better. The awards were artistic horse statues, in keeping with the horse theme. Beautiful! And jewelry for the women. This is one of my favorites.
This race was amazing (about: 2009) Course: 5
Fans: 4 Josh Baldwin from Pittsburgh, PA (11/4/09) 11-50 previous marathons
| 1 Ocala Marathon
When I came to run in Ocala, I did not know what to expect. I am very experienced runner and had not heard much from the Ocala Marathon. This course rocked! There were horses up and down the course, and when you would run by a fence, they would run with you! The course was simply beautiful. I will definitely be back for 2010.
I love this race! (about: 2008) Course: 5
M. G. from Gainesville, FL (11/1/09) 4-5 previous marathons
| 2 Ocala Marathons
I ran this marathon several years ago and again in 2008. The 2008 race was so much fun! The volunteers along the route were so friendly, the water stops were well-stocked, and of course, the course is beautiful.
A nice little gem - highly recommended! (about: 2009) Course: 4
Fans: 2 m. o. from Gainesville, FL (2/2/09) 6-10 previous marathons
| 1 Ocala Marathon
Wow, I drove to Ocala to do a low-key training run and wound up discovering a terrific race! The organization is top-rate, with numerous fully-stocked aid stations, porto-lets at every aid station, and great post-race amenities. The course is mostly on rural roads, with some nice views of farms and small-town Ocala. The law enforcement presence was very good. The only parts on busy roads were either coned off or on a bike lane, so traffic didn't bother you there. It might be hilly for Florida, but if you think these hills are tough, then you aren't tough enough to be a marathoner!
Spectators are sparse to non-existent, but the ones who were there were enthusiastic, especially the aid station volunteers from local Vanguard High School - thank you! My only real complaint would be there were a couple times I wasn't sure I was going the right way at the end behind a commercial area.
If you like a well-supported, smaller but scenic race, then Ocala is a really good choice. Plus with the smaller field, the majority of runners went home with some age group loot! Great job, Ocala; thanks for the 26.2 miles of smiles! I will be back in the future.