Overall Rating
Overall Rating (7 Reviews)
4.6
(7 Ratings)(7 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2
SCENERY
5
PRODUCTION
4.6
SWAG
4.4
As noted by Runner’s World Magazine, the Avenue of the Giants Marathon is one of the most scenic courses in the country. Staged on “The Avenue of the Giants” in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, located in rural Northern California, the paved course winds through giant old growth redwoods. The course … MORE
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Recent reviews

    thejohnsongirl FIRST-TIMER '18

    The most scenic race I’ve ever run! There was some small inclines, but no hills worth noting and mostly flat. It’s the first marathon out of 5 that I was … MORE

    The most scenic race I’ve ever run! There was some small inclines, but no hills worth noting and mostly flat. It’s the first marathon out of 5 that I was able to run the entire 26.2. The aid stations were plentiful with water and Gatorade at each. Race swag included an Avenue of the Giants bag, tie die shirt, and an awesome medal. Would recommend for beginners to advanced!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    Evwatkins FIRST-TIMER '18

    I ran the Ave for State #47. I chose this race because I prefer small/midsize races and beautiful scenery. This one was PERFECT! While Big Sur is on my bucket … MORE

    I ran the Ave for State #47. I chose this race because I prefer small/midsize races and beautiful scenery. This one was PERFECT! While Big Sur is on my bucket list only for the scenery, I’m glad I ran this one first. My Husband and I made a 4-day vacation out of the trip. We spent one night in San Francisco visiting family and then drove up Highway 1.

    PACKET PICKUP: The PP was at the starting line at a pull-off area. It wasn’t difficult to find, but to those of us who aren’t local, it was concerning. However, the race provides excellent directions including GPS coordinates which took us directly there. The race provided great canvas bags and the option to purchase other clothing. (I purchased a long sleeve dri-fit because the free race shirt was tie-dyed.)
    We spent the rest of the day driving and hiking through the trees. This area is unbelievably beautiful! Just coming in for the race would be a major letdown. We stayed at the Miranda Gardens Resort. These cottages were very nice and situated in a grove of Redwoods along the Avenue. It truly was the perfect place to stay! We grabbed some food and had a picnic off the road in the trees. Seeing these 300+ foot 1000+ year old trees up close makes you feel really small. We did several hikes and saw some of the largest known trees (over 50 feet in circumference).
    RACE DAY: The race started at 7:45 am. Getting there wasn’t difficult. The Avenue closed at 7am so getting there before 7 is recommended. COURSE: The course is 2 out-backs, one on Matole road and one on Avenue of the Giants. Both are breathtakingly beautiful! I think my neck was more sore than my legs because I spent most of the race looking up and around at the trees. The tree cover keeps the temperatures cool as well. Aid stations were adequately placed and stocked. There weren’t many spectators. This was a good thing to me because I could enjoy the scenery more. The course has several easy rolling hills and a few moderate hills. My only issue was that the roads were also pitched so after 10 fast miles, my ankles and hips were screaming! I had to slow down significantly. This wasn’t a big deal. This is one of those races where you truly should slow down to “get your money’s worth.” With the Avenue being closed to traffic, you can enjoy the race worry free.

    BOTTOM LINE: Out of my 60 marathons, this one edged out MDI and Grand Island and has taken #1 on my all-time favorite list. I will definitely do this race again!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    cathnam FIRST-TIMER '17

    The beauty of the shaded course makes this a very chi run. You are so distracted by the redwoods, the Eel River, and the other runners, that by the time … MORE

    The beauty of the shaded course makes this a very chi run. You are so distracted by the redwoods, the Eel River, and the other runners, that by the time you realize you might be a little tired, you’re already at mile 12. The course is basically flat with a few small rollers.

    From start to finish, my experience at Avenue of the Giants was perfect. It is a very well run race – from the friendly volunteers at packet pick-up, to the well stocked aid stations, to the finish line snacks. But what impressed me the most was the attention to detail the race directors showed. I rode the course on my bike the day before and there were fallen branches all over the road due to the unusual winds that day. I mentally prepared myself for having to dodge all the branches on race day…however…by race morning – the course had been swept clean! What a nice surprise.

    The one thing to be prepared for is the somewhat remote location of the race. We camped a few miles away, but even if you are staying in a hotel, many are 30 min to an hour away from the start.

    All in all, the is one for your bucket list of races – a fast, beautiful course and a well run race.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    cathnam May 13, 2017 at 8:32pm

    Ps. My Garmin hit the distance right on the nose. The first mile it beeped about 25 yards before the mile marker - and did so consistently throughout the race. I think I ended at 13.14 miles...

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    woodshc FIRST-TIMER '17

    I'd heard that this was one of the most beautiful races in California, so it seemed like the perfect course for a first marathon. The course itself was flat and … MORE

    I’d heard that this was one of the most beautiful races in California, so it seemed like the perfect course for a first marathon. The course itself was flat and well-marked, so there was no real risk of missing a turn or overdoing it on a hill.

    While I’m normally not nuts about out-and-back courses, it didn’t bother me at all for this race. It was scenic (and shady!) enough to provide visual interest in both directions, while at the same time looking similar enough along the course that you didn’t dread any specific section- it all mostly looked the same! Which isn’t a bad thing when it’s all redwood trees and rivers. *A note on the trees – I’d been warned that my GPS might not function well because of them, but I didn’t experience that at all. I used my Garmin Forerunner 235 the entire way, and while it didn’t exactly line up to the mile markers (does that ever happen?) I ended the race at 26.44 which seemed exactly right when compared to each mile marker I passed.

    There were three aid stations along each leg, which was more than sufficient considering you hit each of them twice. They had only water and gatorade, which was fine by me since I carry my own nutrition along the way. There were a couple people giving out gels to the marathoners at the half-way point. The volunteers were super encouraging and were pretty necessary for cheerleading since it’s otherwise a pretty isolated run. Because of the course layout, you only pass the spectators around the finish line which you pass at mile 13.

    I really liked that the first leg was marathon runners only, and appreciated that they put the more difficult road terrain at the front when runners are fresh enough to watch their steps. At times it felt more like a technical run than road, but I found that enjoyable since I mostly trail run anyway 🙂 The second half was equally well chosen – with the smooth asphalt and other runners still on the course, it was almost like running a different race. And I loved how encouraging everyone was to each other! It really made a difference after mile 20!

    Swag was good: cotton t-shirt (would definitely have preferred technical fabric), simple duffle, aluminum cup, and a unique medal. You could pay for a technical long sleeve shirt (which I did) and additional gear at tables during the expo and post race. Post race snacks were okay, not awesome. Water, orange slices, and I saw a few pastries. Apparently they had watermelon, but it was gone by the time I got in 🙁 And there was beer, but I think you only got one if you placed, which I thought was ridiculous. At least sell the beer to the rest of us!

    Overall a fun race, and a relatively painless experience for a first timer. I liked that it was shady and cool the entire way, and that the course was easy to follow and pace appropriately. It was also an easy staging area to navigate- parking was near, there were a lot of bathrooms, and tents were clearly marked. If you’re looking for a low-key but enjoyable race, I’d say this one is perfect!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    M_Sohaskey May 12, 2017 at 10:15pm

    First marathon?? CONGRATS, Haley!!! Sounds like you made an awesome choice – and if being a first-time marathon finisher doesn't earn you a beer or at least a slice of watermelon, I'm not sure what does. :) So happy for you, sounds like a great course and one I was strongly considering before I ended up running Eugene last week instead. Reviews like yours definitely put AOTG high on my list. And appreciate your mentioning the GPS, good to know (for future reference) that the redwoods didn't affect the signal. Congrats again on a strong marathon debut, and thanks for the awesome review. Can't wait to see what you do for an encore!

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    jimmynam FIRST-TIMER '17

    The community really comes out to support this race. The volunteers were all so friendly and welcoming. You could tell that the race was well organized by racers - the … MORE

    The community really comes out to support this race. The volunteers were all so friendly and welcoming. You could tell that the race was well organized by racers – the mile markers were clearly marked, the race started on time, and results were posted quickly.
    Because of the remote location, there are limited choices for lodging. But I think the later start times accommodate a little extra drive time to the starting staging area. There is plenty of nearby parking just an easy 5-10 minute walk to the start.
    The course is very fast – plenty of shade and just one slowing turn at the halfway turnaround. The course rolls in elevation. And there are some gentle meandering turns along the river. The road does slope a bit to the side for drainage and the centerline is a bit rough. But the racers spread out and thin out quickly and it is easy to navigate the course. With few racers there are few to draft behind.
    We previewed the course beforehand and cycled the full marathon course – the first half of the marathon was quite gravelly and filled with potholes. I imagine that the Winter rains were tough on the roads. The second half of the marathon (the half-Mary course) was on better pavement.
    It’s a bit of a trek from the SF Bay Area, but if you are looking for a relaxing run-cation give the Avenue of the Giants a go.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    M_Sohaskey May 09, 2017 at 1:13am

    Nice, thanks Jimmy! Sounds like my kind of low-key nature run, with shade provided by some of the world's largest trees. And good details on the terrain, much appreciated. I definitely want to run AOTG and actually considered it before settling on Eugene, mainly because I was unsure whether my GPS would have trouble amid the redwoods, as I mentioned to Solomon below. Did you have any GPS connectivity issues?

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    jimmynam May 09, 2017 at 9:10am

    GPS is not reliable - a friend recorded 12.2 miles for his half-mary. The mile markers are clearly marked - you could just perform a little math. I haven't been run training, so I ran without a watch. I didn't want to run based on time. My idea was to take the first half out at a mildly uncomfortable pace, and then try and finish with more effort.
    Again, the first half of the marathon course was on a much rougher road. I would consider the marathon if there were new pavement. It is a twisted ankle just waiting to happen for me.
    By the way the aid stations offered water and Gatorade - no sports nutrition.
    The 2017 swag includes a little duffle bag, cotton t-shirt and an aluminum tumbler that holds 14 ounces of your favorite cold beverage.

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    M_Sohaskey May 09, 2017 at 12:20pm

    Good to know thanks, this does sound like a race best run technology-free. Great finish time by the way, especially for not having been running – I'd say you're ready to make another run at a BQ soon!

     
    Solupia FIRST-TIMER '16

    Alright, it's not common to see me like a course with more than 1 turnaround spots. But this race is the exception. Right off the back, you get to run … MORE

    Alright, it’s not common to see me like a course with more than 1 turnaround spots. But this race is the exception. Right off the back, you get to run within the old growth coastal redwood forest in Humboldt County. It’s so beautiful and breathtaking that I don’t mind to run past the same scenery over and over again.

    So what’s it like to run a Marathon here? I would say it is an ideal course for Boston Qualifier. The course is relatively flat with some rolling hills, which helps break away from the dull flat courses. Since I am all for a moderate amount of rolling hills, it’s just the course I like. Yes, there are 2 turnaround points, so you may have to slow down a bit near quarter and three-quarter of the way (I guess the only bummer about this course.

    This is my 4th Marathon ever, and I performed exceptionally well with a full-40 minutes improvement in my time and I felt great at the finish line. Considering all the Marathon I have done so far at this point of time when I am typing up this review (6 Marathons in my belt), this is my best race yet. It may have it’s hiccup for the start, considering the untimely long lines for parking giving me a late start for the race. I had a BLAST!!! playing Indian Run, catching up everyone. From dead last to finishing Top10, that’s unprecedented. I know some peeps hated this, but I love it when we get to merge the course with the 10k and half marathon runners, meaning more people to pass near the end. *smirky laugh* The exhilarating excitement of weaving through the crowds remind me of my childhood growing up in one of the most populated city in the world, Hong Kong. Therefore, this race is like a deja vu with loads of FUN. I think the inspiration of getting to pass people in a competitive event helped me to avoid any bonking in this race. Along with majority of the course sheltered by the redwood forest, the temperature was ideal for racing.

    At finish line, you receive your medal and there’s the Perrott Creek for finisher to jump in, relax and cool off. It’s a true paradise. I would highly recommend this race to any runners.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    M_Sohaskey Mar 25, 2017 at 7:05pm

    Thanks for the awesome review, Solomon! This is so helpful. A couple of questions: 1) Did your Garmin lose the GPS signal at any point during the race because of the redwoods? and 2) What was the final distance reading on your Garmin (26.xx miles)? Much appreciated!

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    Solupia Mar 26, 2017 at 9:10pm

    Mike, I actually cannot answer your question. I did not buy my Garmin watch until the week after Avenue of the Giants Marathon. If I were to run it this year, I would surely let you know. But I will be running Big Sur the week before, and Boston 3 weeks before. So the chance of me competing in this race this year is very slim.

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    M_Sohaskey Mar 28, 2017 at 12:28pm

    No worries Solomon, appreciate your letting me know! I may be running AOTG myself this year, which is why I asked. You'll certainly have earned a nice break after Boston-to- Big Sur, and you'll want to fully recover before the summer racing season kicks in. Good luck with what promises to be an epic April!

     
    Tessa REPEAT RUNNER '15

    I did this marathon about 25 years ago, my 1st marathon. To say the least, it has changed. Back then, we had water and oranges at the AS, no medal, … MORE

    I did this marathon about 25 years ago, my 1st marathon. To say the least, it has changed. Back then, we had water and oranges at the AS, no medal, shirt only (that I still own)! Now, not only did we receive a nice shirt, but all marathoners received a bag, bandana, and medal – score! My DIL was looking for a race for her 1st marathon, and I mentioned this one to her, and we decided to do it together. IMHO, this is a bucket list race, because of the Giant Redwoods. Well, I should say we started together, she is much faster than this old gal. The scenery is just as gorgeous as it was years ago, but the course is ever better. They have added half marathon distance, they used to only have the marathon. That allows more people out on the course, but the way they have mapped the course, is very nice. The marathoners spend part of the race, the first 13.1 miles, going out and back on mostly paved road. The course arrangement; you are only with the other marathoners until you loop back around to finish the next 13.1 miles. They split the half and full participants up, but then, you are able to still see friends and family that are running the half marathon, or finishing up their full (depending on their pace) as you make your way along the 2nd part of the course. The old redwoods are so pretty; majestic. I think they do the best they can to bring all distances through the prettiest part of the course. The AS are well stocked. Especially in comparison to the oranges and water eons ago-LOL! Unless I missed something, Gu was only given out at the 13.1 mark, they actually have volunteers standing there handing out one gel packet, per marathoner. The AS had plenty of food, but if you eat gels, just be aware of this. The volunteers at the 20 mile mark…amazing! I stopped to take video of them, with their instruments. I wish I could find that video it was so much fun. I pulled my calf muscle when I stopped abruptly at mile 20 to take said fun video, but it could have also been because I had just finished the Diablo 50k the week before. Regardless, even though I ended up having to walk part of the last 6 miles, I still really enjoyed the race. How can you not, when you have the beauty of the redwoods distracting you, right? I think the only negative feedback, is that by the time some of us slower folks got to the finish area, the food was pretty pathetic looking. They did have food available when I got there at 5 hours. I think it was tortilla wraps with PB&J, and bananas, but it had been sitting out for a long time, and did not look very appetizing. Another thing that happened (It didn’t bother me personally), but I know friends were disappointed that they took down the finish arch early. So, they were a bit confused coming through the finish area because the arch was already taken down. For folks coming in later, (around the 6 hour range), they didn’t have food available. The course is gently rolling hills, mostly paved, and although there is tree coverage, it can get very warm out there. The mornings typically start out cool, maybe even foggy, but the fog burns off and it can get downright hot. I think I get so spoiled with Brazen Racing that I sometimes forget that not all race organizations spoil their race participants. That is the only reason I think my rating isn’t as high as some of my other reviews. Scenery makes it totally worth it. Considering the price of some of the races these days, this is a deal, and I am signed up again for 2016!

    Photos: My 1st AOTG finish (with my sons in the 80’s), 2015 finish with my beautiful and speedy DIL, photo of some of the redwoods coming into the final stretch, and the swag.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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