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nthome REPEAT RUNNER '13

I've done a quite a half-marathons and wanted to start by saying, since most of the uber-positive reviews are from first-timers who have no other base of reference, let's just … MORE

I’ve done a quite a half-marathons and wanted to start by saying, since most of the uber-positive reviews are from first-timers who have no other base of reference, let’s just be clear … this race is NOT organized.  First time half’ers who think this race is organized need to experience a marathon/half marathon that is TRULY organized.   Just wanted to make that clear.  Ok, moving on …….

PROS:
* Scenic course, check!  If the organizers could just get the details together, this race would be stellar.  The course itself deserves better …… it’s a nice course; some slight hills, nice neighbors and houses, ocean and back bay views.

* Volunteers – I always have to give a shout-out to the volunteers who get up so early and do it for charity and out of the goodness of their hearts. Thanks, volunteers, for keeping us hydrated and fueled!

* Tech shirt – I love this shirt!   Cute, tasteful, short sleeve, nice design, nice fabric. Thumb’s up.  

* Post-race atmosphere, though crowded YES, was spirited and fun.  Enjoyed the big stage, 80s band, Wahoo’s tacos and beer.

* Last but not least, security — in the wake of Boston, I appreciated the extra effort that was made with police highly visible but not intrusive.

CONS:
* Expo – was SO MUCH bigger/better last year (I didn’t run it last year but I was there).  I loved all the freebie samples but left this one empty-handed.  =(   I hate all the “sign up for a free trip”-timeshare pushing-type of vendors.  Just seemed like there were way too many of these and not enough of what we really want — stuff related to running.

* Corrals — what corrals? These need to be timed out better.  

* Chute — so, you thought the start corrals were a mess?  They got nothin’ on the finish line chute.   I’m a middle of the pack’er finishing with the masses.  They really need to do a better job with the bottleneck. This area is too small!

* Water — after 13.1 miles I do NOT want to be searching for water. Seriously?? I want a bottle of water and a baggie of ……

*  FOOD!!! — yes, water and food.  Let’s make sure runners don’t have to go looking for them. This would be a huge improvement.  Disappointing to only get an orange, a fig newton and a granola bar.  Again, really?

* Gear check – OMG, I didn’t check my gear (my friend did) but WOW!  This was a nightmare.  There was no organization, people were literally standing there with their bib in the air and people in the trucks were just calling out numbers randomly.  If it wasn’t true, it would be funny.

* LINES — lines, lines, everywhere …. lines!  Example, great, you get a free beer post-race.  Once you FIND out where the supposed ‘beer garden’ is … you have to get a ticket for your beer and then walk ALL THE WAY back about 100 yards away to where you actually redeem the ticket.  Same goes for the Wahoo’s taco.  How does this make sense?   Suggestion:  if you’re wearing a medal and a race bib, give them people their beer and taco!  I don’t get needing to get a ticket to redeem the freebie.  Other races don’t do this.

* Parking — making your participants pay for parking TWICE — Expo and race day — is just wrong.  

* Shuttles — I didn’t do the shuttle but from what I understand, it’s also a huge wait as well as getting out of the parking lot.  I was given the following advice and glad I took it.

ADVICE for anyone wanting to do this race:  buddy up with a friend, park one car at the Fairgrounds and take another car to the start line. We did this and it worked out perfectly.  We didn’t wait at all.  

For those wanting to do their first half marathon, I wouldn’t suggest OC.  Go for Long Beach … it’s fast/flat, out ‘n back course that is just as scenic as OC but much more organized (Long Beach, I love you!!)   If you’re going for the Beach Cities medal, you gotta do this one at least once but otherwise …….

If OC Marathon can get itself organized, I’d give it 4 stars but have to settle for 3 overall. Again, the course deserves better!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

mnjogger FIRST-TIMER '17

Berlin is a great city to visit! For that reason alone this is a great destination marathon. I've run the Chicago marathon before and use that as my baseline to … MORE

Berlin is a great city to visit! For that reason alone this is a great destination marathon. I’ve run the Chicago marathon before and use that as my baseline to compare against since the number of runners is similar. Overall I thought the Berlin organizers could learn a lot from how things flow at the Chicago marathon. That said I don’t know the constraints the Berlin organizers are under.

I went to the Expo Friday early afternoon and it was very crowded. At the entrance to the Expo they even separated runners from non-runners at bib pick up to help alleviate the congestion. What was unique at bib pick up was that they print your bib on-the-spot. I haven’t seen that before, but it meant you could enter any (marathon) line to get your bib. To get your (finisher) shirt you needed to travel to a different part of the Expo through crowds of people. One would think this could be optimized. I felt guilty getting a finisher shirt days before running the race: It should be earned.

The Saturday shake out run to Olympic Stadium was nice and had many nationalities represented. Entering Olympic Stadium, seeing where the Olympic torch was and seeing the Olympic rings was inspirational. Partaking in the light breakfast they offered afterward wasn’t very orderly as people seemed to rush the food stands. “Crowds” was going to be the theme of this weekend.

The race was Sunday, the same day as national elections. I was a little out of sorts because the map of the starting area didn’t show the bag drop off area. Textually they described it was near the start of each corral but I would have liked the visual as well printed on the map. I don’t want to leave things to Fate on race day morning and like to have things planned out. People did bring “drop” clothes to wear in the corrals. I mention that because I saw someone’s Facebook post weeks earlier stating drop clothes weren’t allowed (not true).

There were 3 waves for approx 40,000 runners. I started among Wave 2 near the 4:30 pacers. It seemed there was always a wall of people in front of me throughout the entire race. For that reason I didn’t feel I could “race” this … it would have involved weaving in and out of people probably the entire race. I finished 4:08 which was pretty reasonable for me. Another person in my group ran with Wave 1 and finished 3:23. He commented he wasn’t as blocked in as I described and he could race it. I guess it all depends where you start. On that note, the corral you start in is based on your marathon best from the past 3 years. Corral placement is not based on what you anticipate running which is how some other marathons do it. That said there were a complement of pacers in each of the three waves, e,g, 3:45,4:00, etc hour pacers in each of the waves.

Along the course I thought there was good crowd support and cheering. The volunteers were great. Water stops seemed to creep up on me. Better visual cues that a water stop is coming would be appreciated. Water stops later in the race had tea as well, sometimes comfortably warm which was welcome on this day. The plastic cups used at the water stops were hard to work with while running: I prefer paper cups that you can fold and drink on the run.

I was perhaps too focused on my running to notice the landmarks we passed. The roads would widen and narrow at times and I wanted to anticipate how I’d merge into the crowd of runners. Road conditions were pretty good overall but you did want to watch you step. Running through the Brandenburg Gate to the finish was pretty cool.

There were several who traveled with me to run this race. We compared the distances on our running watches at the end. The mileage varied from 26.4 miles to 26.9 miles.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?