It's the little things Jul 14, 2017 | Marathon Overall Rating: RunnerMeg FIRST-TIMER '17 Follow I ran the 25th B&A Trail Marathon in Severna Park, Maryland (basically Annapolis). This was an easy add for my race calendar as it's a relatively short drive from home … MORE I ran the 25th B&A Trail Marathon in Severna Park, Maryland (basically Annapolis). This was an easy add for my race calendar as it’s a relatively short drive from home and I needed Maryland for my 50 states quest. B&A is put on by the Annapolis Striders running club, and it is obvious they know how to put on a race. This event, from start to finish, was great. It was extremely well organized, the course was well marked, and they clearly know what runners want to see at a race. To me, it’s not all about bands and entertainment on the course. It’s about the little things – having a warm place to sit and stretch before the start; having easy access to bathrooms before the start; marking the course well and having enough water along the way, etc. There’s nothing glitzy about it, it’s just a very well run and enjoyable race. In keeping with my preference for low-stress, low-hassle events, I found the small packet pickup/expo to be perfect. The expo, start, and finish are all at Severna Park High School, there’s ample parking, and it’s fast. I was in and out of there in about 5 minutes after getting my shoe chip, bib, and awesome zip-up fleece (in place of a t-shirt they offer a different premium each year), and exchanging some pleasantries with the volunteers. Packet pickup was available the day before and the morning of if needed (a nice amenity that few races seem to offer). The start was low-key and awesome. My husband dropped me off so I can’t speak to ease of parking, but it looked like if you arrive a little early it wouldn’t be a problem as the school lot was large. I hung out in the warm school cafeteria, used the school bathrooms (there were also portajohns outside) and then made my way out to the start, literally right outside the front doors. This is a half and full marathon and we all started together (there were no corrals, as this was a small race of no more than 750 half runners and 300 full runners, but there were helpful pace signs to seed people). After the National Anthem, we were off right on time. About the course: don’t let the word “trail” in the name fool you or scare you off. This is actually a rail-to-trail paved running/biking path so nothing technical or even dirt. We all ran a mile or two in the neighborhoods before jumping on the path for the next 6 or so miles, turning around, and running back. At around 12.9 the half runners turned left toward the finish at the school while the rest of us kept straight past the halfway point before turning back around mile 19.5. It’s basically two out and backs but in different directions. The path was open for others to use but there weren’t any problems. Also, technically headphones were prohibited as the path intersects with roads a few times so runners needed to be alert. I didn’t bring mine though I did spot some runners who wore them anyway. I thought I might be bored without music but surprisingly, it wasn’t a problem. Full disclosure, this is not the race for you if you’re a crowd-driven runner. Basically the only people out there were the volunteers who were awesome and enthusiastic, but other than that it’s you and the other runners, and after the half split off, it got pretty quiet. I don’t have a problem with that and in fact prefer it most of the time so I found it serene, but just be aware of the type of race you’re signing up for. In terms of scenery, it’s mostly residential around the path; not mind blowing scenery, but pleasant. As for difficulty, I found it to be a nice mix of flat, downhill, and uphill: just enough variation to keep it interesting and let your leg muscles change it up from time to time. There was really only one “big” hill around mile 7. As for aid stations, they were located about every 3 miles which ordinarily would make me carry me own fluids, but I chanced it and it worked out just fine in the cool temps. Plenty of water/gatorade available. The finish line was just the other side of the start line back at the school. After crossing the mat, I collected my nice medal (which doubles as a bottle opener) and went inside to peruse the results. There were massage tables, water, and a variety of food available. Usually I don’t feel like eating right after a race but the pizza smelled too good to pass up. I grabbed a slice, checked the results, and met my husband outside. The finish and exit from the scene was a breeze. My bottom line is that it’s a great race, especially if you want to run in Maryland and maybe avoid the bigger events. This is a very well organized event and as far as I could tell, went off without any problems. Even the weather cooperated: after a week of forecasting rain and snow on race day, it ended up cool and overcast: perfect running weather! I applaud the RD and team for a great event tailor-made for runners and highly recommend the B&A Trail Marathon to anyone looking for a solid event. DIFFICULTY 2 PRODUCTION 5 SCENERY 4 SWAG 5 My Media Please login to reply to this review.