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M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '17

BOTTOM LINE: Victoria Falls may not be the largest, or the sexiest, or the most hyped marathon in Africa. But unlike many American marathons, it continues to grow each year … MORE

BOTTOM LINE: Victoria Falls may not be the largest, or the sexiest, or the most hyped marathon in Africa. But unlike many American marathons, it continues to grow each year and for good reason. No other race on the planet promises immediate proximity to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a potential close encounter of the two-tusked kind. If you’re a Seven Continents hopeful or a traveling runner of any kind, I’d recommend you take a good long look at Vic Falls when planning your African adventure.

Other than the initial out-and-back across the bridge alongside the Falls, you won’t have the benefit of head-turning landscapes. The dusty two-loop course lacks compelling scenery, a fact made more conspicuous by having to run it twice. And even in winter, you should plan for a warm day—you can always be pleasantly surprised if cooler temperatures prevail. This is Africa, after all.

And yes, a disgruntled African elephant (the largest land mammal on the planet) wandered onto the course next to me in mile 15, an encounter that seemed to surprise us both. I’m proud to say I managed to give him clearance and still snap a photo, all without spooking him or soiling myself.

PRODUCTION: The organizers do a first-class job of hosting their third-world marathon. The Kingdom Hotel where we and many other runners stayed is a 3-minute walk from the start line, always a huge advantage. Likewise the outdoor expo held at the Kingdom Hotel was pleasantly small and easily navigated. At the expo we were able to sign up for shuttle service from the finish line back to the hotel on race day. And though shuttle service at the finish line at Vic Falls Primary School was a bit disorganized, the brief inconvenience was nothing that a bit of patience didn’t resolve.

The course could have used another aid station or two in the closing miles, and maybe a few more buckets of ice in which to store the water sachets. And there weren’t a whole lot of spectators, but then again that’s not really the expectation in a tourist town like Victoria Falls. Besides, I’m pretty sure my ears were still ringing from all the cheering at Comrades, so a low-key but well-supported race was just what this doctor ordered.

The course wasn’t closed to traffic, but on sparsely traveled two-lane roads this was never a concern, aside from the clouds of dust kicked up by passing vehicles. Though seeing discarded water sachets being blown into the underbrush by passing trucks was disheartening, and I hope the organizers and volunteers were able to find and collect them before the wildlife did.

SWAG: First time ever I received a finisher’s tanktop (rather than t-shirt), and an attractive one it is—eye-catching red and blue with the race logo emblazoned on front. And it was cool to see everyone wearing theirs at the finish line festival. I’m not a huge “suns out, guns out” guy with my runner’s physique, but I’m sure I’ll find ample use for it in the SoCal heat. The finisher’s medal is also nice, though small and understated, and depicts three (male?) runners with the Falls in the background. And despite its diminutive size, it’s still the largest of my African medals!

For more details including traveler’s tips for Zimbabwe, check out my race report at https://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2017/09/13/victoria-falls-marathon-race-report/

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4
My Media

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '14

BOTTOM LINE: New York City is a marathon in every sense of the word, and if you don’t like your races epic, you probably won’t enjoy New York. But I’m … MORE

BOTTOM LINE: New York City is a marathon in every sense of the word, and if you don’t like your races epic, you probably won’t enjoy New York. But I’m willing to bet you will – and that like the rest of us, once you’re running through its five boroughs with thousands of raucous strangers cheering you on, you’ll be willing to forgive New York its logistical hoops. The lengthy lag time between rise-and-shine and time-to-run is now an engrained part of the New York experience; it’s well worth the chance to start on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and it hella beats running several loops within Central Park (as runners did until 1976). And by the time you reach that start line, you’ll be ready to run through a wall. Besides, what marathoner doesn’t want to be part of the world’s largest running party? Boston may be the marathoning mecca for the fast kids, but for everyone else, that distinction goes to New York City.

PRODUCTION: Not once did I hear – nor have I ever heard – a single runner complain about the marathon’s $255 entry fee ($288 for me, taking into account my three previous lottery entries at $11 apiece). Because it’s clear where all the money goes. This is a first-class production, choreographed down to the smallest detail and on par with the Best of Broadway. The NYRR did a {insert superlative here} job of ensuring the race and the entire weekend went off without a hitch. The expo was easily navigable, the swag (nice shirt, cool medal, sleek finisher poncho) was great, and the entire weekend was laid out in a colorful 53-page PDF, of which half the pages were ads.

So race production was silky smooth from the time we set foot in the expo to the moment I crossed the finish line. Which makes the NYRR’s misstep in mile 27 even more perplexing. Once the cheering died, and despite finding ourselves in the city’s emerald oasis, exhausted finishers were unceremoniously funneled out of the park and regurgitated onto Central Park West. Even – or maybe especially – with post-marathon brain it struck me: Why can’t we hang out here?

Note to NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg: official post-race party or not, that’s your call… but you need to convince the city to open up Central Park to your runners and spectators. You already have the biggest race on the planet – this will bring you one step closer to having the best.

You must know better than anyone that endorphins sell merch. Were I in your position, I would a) be overwhelmed, but b) take full advantage of each and every runner’s post-race euphoria and hard-earned sense of accomplishment by setting up food carts, sponsor booths, a massage tent, the Asics finisher gear store and a medal engraving station right there in Central Park. My guess is the NYRR lost a lot of potential profit by inexplicably herding runners out of Central Park immediately after the race, and by asking them to return on Monday to buy finisher gear and have their medal engraved. Many folks were on their way home or already back at work by Monday, so this finish-line faux pas was a head-scratcher.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4
My Media

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

JoJoRunner FIRST-TIMER '18

I like the middle eastern food and winter in Europe is always a nice excuse to go somewhere warm. January in Oman is mild with temps around 20-28° C. The … MORE

I like the middle eastern food and winter in Europe is always a nice excuse to go somewhere warm. January in Oman is mild with temps around 20-28° C.
The Muscat Marathon was held for the 7th time- venue and course have changed since the last review here .
There are various options (full, half, relay, 10k, kids run). The registration closes about 4 weeks prior to the event, so dont delay registration to the last minute. Most runners in the half and full marathon field were foreigners, since running is not that implemented in the sports culture. All events (spread over 2 days) had about 7.5k runners. The sportsvillage offered a lot like massage and cryo therapy after the race, food and games for the kids.
The race starts and finishes in Al Mouj which is a new development on the coast but about 20mk away from old Muscat. I stayed in Mysk Hotel which was newly opened and only 1 minute away from the sporting event. The race course led along new residential devolpements a golf course and the promenade but inbetween also along some constructions sides which will probably be gone next year. I loved seeing and hearing a traditional Omanian music band that played for the runners, other than that though very little course entertainment or spectators. T-Shirt, Medal and back pack with some give aways, a box with food (criossant, roll, cheese, cookie) at the finish.

Suggestions for a trip to Oman:
– apply online for the visa and you save a little bit of time at the arrival
– ask the cab driver first what he wants for the trip/ negotiate
– there is no uber, you ll need money for the cab ride, but most restaurants take credit cards
– try a wadi walk (oasis) and see a performance at the spectacular Royal Opera if you have the chance

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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anawoj FIRST-TIMER '10

I ran the Auckland Marathon with my wife in 2010 and found it to be a great race. On the morning of the race, you can take the ferry ride … MORE

I ran the Auckland Marathon with my wife in 2010 and found it to be a great race. On the morning of the race, you can take the ferry ride across Auckland Harbor to get to the starting line… it’s a fun way to meet other runners and get a nice view of the city skyline before the sun comes up. You then get another great view of the city when you run back to Auckland over the famous Auckland Harbor Bridge. There are many scenic miles along the waterways of Auckland in the latter half of the marathon, and you get to finish in a nice big park in the city center. Weather was perfect the year we ran it, and there were plenty of aid stations along the course. Auckland is a beautiful city and a great home base to start exploring other parts of New Zealand, which we did after the marathon. Overall, I’d definitely recommend it to other runners.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?