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M_Sohaskey REPEAT RUNNER '16

BOTTOM LINE: I love LA, and Los Angeles should be high on any serial marathoner’s list. California has something for every road runner – the breathtaking beauty of the California … MORE

BOTTOM LINE: I love LA, and Los Angeles should be high on any serial marathoner’s list. California has something for every road runner – the breathtaking beauty of the California coastline in Big Sur, the classic SoCal beach vibe of Surf City, the enchanting allure of San Francisco. LA in turn shines with its unique mix of big-city energy, iconic attractions and laid-back SoCal ambience. If preconceived notions of smog and plastic people are all you know of LA, then you don’t know LA.

Aside from San Francisco, Los Angeles is start-to-finish the most interesting road marathon course I’ve run. Don’t let the net downhill profile (789 ft up, 1,192 ft down) fool you though – most of that downhill is at the very beginning and very end. Nor is the rest of the course particularly flat, so be prepared for several uphills, particularly in the first half.

Another positive note from this year’s race: the number of spectators seemed much greater than I recall from 2012. So if spectator support is important to you, don’t let the LAM’s reputation as a spectator-sparse event dissuade you from running. Sure it’s no Boston, Chicago or New York, but then again not every race can be a World Marathon Major.

LA isn’t a cheap race (I paid $160 on opening day of registration), but it’s reasonable relative to other big-city marathons, and you definitely get what you pay for. And weather-wise, the year-round warmth that draws so many visitors to SoCal is a double-edged sword for runners, since it means temperatures on race day tend toward hot. Just a word of “warming” for those hoping to chase a personal best at LA.

PRODUCTION: Aside from the usual expo chaos in downtown LA (with suggestions for its improvement noted in my blog post), the entire weekend – from the Olympic Trials to the marathon itself – was a seamless production. As staging areas go Dodger Stadium is among the best, and parking there is relatively easy. Post-race snacks were abundant, and any post-race festival with a free beer garden (+ short lines!) is a sure winner.

That said, I was admittedly disappointed by several aspects of the production & marketing:

1) that on a course with so many iconic landmarks, the organizers didn’t do a better job of calling attention to those landmarks during the race;

2) that pre-race emails lacked personality and were used primarily for sponsor messaging, rather than taking the opportunity to highlight the Stadium-to-the-Sea course

3) that the organizers haven’t done more to #UniteLA, to embrace the community and rally the locals around their event – the truth is that the LAM simply doesn’t resonate with many Angelenos.

4) that the organizers don’t seem to treat their race with the respect that it deserves. Case in point: rather than pre-race communications focused on the course and getting me excited for the marathon, one dedicated email let me know that by running both the LAM and another SoCal relay race, I’d earn a kitschy-looking double medal in the shape of the state of California. How this odd partnership stands to benefit the LAM or its brand is unclear.

Plus, no other heavyweight race would move its date up a month for no good reason, much less for an event like the Olympic Marathon Qualifying Trials which few recreational runners even notice. In 2012 when Houston hosted the Trials, the Houston Marathon didn’t budge from its traditional mid-January weekend slot. By moving this year’s race so it fell a week after the nearby Surf City Marathon (which is always run on Super Bowl Sunday), the LAM organizers cannibalized their own audience, including runners who usually run Surf City as a warmup for LA. And that’s not just my opinion – the race failed to sell out this year, and with just 20,627 finishers, this was the first year since its inception in 2010 that the Stadium-to-the-Sea course boasted fewer than 21,000 finishers. That number is down 6% from just one year ago.

So let’s hope the organizers stop treating their marathon like a small-town race and start marketing it like the world-class event it is – you’re Los Angeles, not Omaha!

All that said, these are behind-the-scenes details that don’t affect the actual runner experience, and overall race production was impressive by any standard – so much so that I happily used the discount from my virtual event bag to buy a pair of Skechers LAM model running shoes after the race. Turns out Skechers makes a comfy running shoe!

SWAG: Keeping with the Valentine’s Day theme, both the short-sleeve tech tee and finisher’s medal are a nice shade of red. The shirt lists course highlights on the front, though in small dark font that sort of defeats the purpose. The medal, though, is the real keeper ­– it’s a shiny round keepsake with the year & downtown LA skyline emblazoned on one side, along with the race logo & iconic LA scenery on the other. It’s among the most substantial medals in my collection, with a heft similar to Chicago or New York.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4
My Media

5 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

dansolera FIRST-TIMER '14

The first 2 miles of this race are a sight for sore eyes, but immediately after that, it only gets nicer. It runs through downtown St. Louis, then the Anheuser-Busch … MORE

The first 2 miles of this race are a sight for sore eyes, but immediately after that, it only gets nicer. It runs through downtown St. Louis, then the Anheuser-Busch brewery, back downtown, through Forest Park, Washington University in St. Louis and Delmar Boulevard. The course is almost constantly a false flat, so be sure to get some hill training. The t-shirts and medals are almost always consistently of top-quality, and the early April date means it shouldn’t be too warm. There’s also a separate competition for who can run “Holy Hill” the fastest, which even includes separate timing mats.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4
My Media

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

hollybluedog FIRST-TIMER '15

Fantastic scenery! Part of this race is on graded dirt road, and part on asphalt. Some elevation effects and the Jonesville Beast ( a long uphill run) can be a … MORE

Fantastic scenery! Part of this race is on graded dirt road, and part on asphalt. Some elevation effects and the Jonesville Beast ( a long uphill run) can be a challenge, but is also why I love this race. The year I ran this it was a small event, but had great support along the entire route. The organizers are enthusiastic and do a great job.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4
My Media

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?