Overall Rating
Overall Rating (27 Reviews)
4.4
(27 Ratings)  (27 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
1.7
SCENERY
4.1
PRODUCTION
4.6
SWAG
4.2
The Big Beach Marathon courses are flat and fast, running on the fully paved trails through Gulf State Park, with the start and finish located at the Hangout with stunning beaches and views of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to Sunday’s Marathon and Half Marathon, the Safari 7K on … MORE
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Recent reviews

    Profile photo of Katie Starling
    starlingk2003 FIRST-TIMER '22

    The course should have been easy. My struggles were due to catching a serious chest cold 6 weeks out and then completely falling off of my training without ever coming … MORE

    The course should have been easy. My struggles were due to catching a serious chest cold 6 weeks out and then completely falling off of my training without ever coming back.

    Communication was good from the race director! Numbers were assigned early. My son and I both opted for the “challenge” of a 7k the day before the full. We had to go grab the bib, etc for the 7k, run it, and then come BACK to pick up the packet/bib/shirt for the marathon later that day. I think this could be done differently.

    There were issues with RaceJoy which was offered? utilized? by the race organizers. There was a place I think right after mile 10 where you had to do a little out and back of just under a mile, the app RaceJoy completely freaked out about that. It gave me warnings that I might be off course, and then the mileage updates were wrong after that for the remainder of the race.

    I enjoyed the race and would do it again if say my brother were to want to go run it with me. Otherwise I will move on to other states, other races.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    pleegenes FIRST-TIMER '22

    Easy course in pretty state parks. There is a slight elevation in the 2nd half but other than that, mostly flat. Can be windy but only last few miles was … MORE

    Easy course in pretty state parks. There is a slight elevation in the 2nd half but other than that, mostly flat. Can be windy but only last few miles was windy this time. Not much spectator support but peaceful surroundings. If you thrive on hype, this is not the race for you. Excellent support for back of the pack run/walkers and 50 staters. Can be indoors until the start with indoor bathrooms. Also a 7k the day before with pretty medals.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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    kloskyj FIRST-TIMER '22

    Nearly perfect weather. A little bit of wind (always a headwind of course). Started with a little ice on the windshield driving to the start, but it was Florida/Alabama cold...warmed … MORE

    Nearly perfect weather. A little bit of wind (always a headwind of course). Started with a little ice on the windshield driving to the start, but it was Florida/Alabama cold…warmed up to nice 50s and 60s quickly. The course is flat and scenic. It runs through the Gulf Shores State Park. You run over some of the same trail, but it isn’t repetitive. Not very crowded, even in the beginning miles. Well supported with aid stations. Stations have mostly just Gatorade and water. Some had gels, and one (toward the end had some bags of chips). Would have liked a little more food, but pretty good. Got in late, so I missed the expo. Packet pickup and all the start line activity was easy and great. Parking didn’t seem like a problem, even if you got there late. Restrooms were available and staff/volunteers were great. Other than a little more food, my only complaint would be the hotel. The lodge at Gulf State Park was a very nice property and the location was awesome. I asked about a late checkout to take a shower before heading to the airport. They said the organizers negotiated a $75 late checkout rate to go past noon. The rate we got was $120 out the door, which was good for that hotel, but the $75 would have been more than a normal rate and as I diamond member at that chain, I would have normally gotten a late checkout, no problem. Small complaint…found a YMCA on the way to the airport. Post race food was a little limited, but did the trick.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    vltr.jonas FIRST-TIMER '22

    Atmosphere was great, and the volunteers did a great job. A lot of water/Gatorade stations throughout the course which helped space things out. Starting and ending at the beach was … MORE

    Atmosphere was great, and the volunteers did a great job. A lot of water/Gatorade stations throughout the course which helped space things out. Starting and ending at the beach was great, the boardwalk running definitely was a little weird sometimes but allowed you to run through some pretty state park areas. Swag was great, and the post race food, snacks and two beer tickets were awesome. Live music from a solid grungy southern rock band playing some good hits from a lot of decades that will get you taping your foot.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    honlde FIRST-TIMER '22

    The event is definitely an “event”. The course workers were nice, the bling was cool, and the post race party was awesome (great band in 2022, 2 full sized beers). … MORE

    The event is definitely an “event”. The course workers were nice, the bling was cool, and the post race party was awesome (great band in 2022, 2 full sized beers). It was a little chilly once you stopped running but perfect running weather. The last 3 miles kicked my butt, but running up the boardwalk was cool and can’t really help the direction of the wind on race day. Post race food of chips, Oreos, wrap, and my fave-gumbo (first timer) was also great. It was upper 30s at start and just about 60 when we left the party. A far improvement from the -4 it would have been at home at start time! You don’t actually run the beach, but start/finish is at the beach.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    FightingSheep FIRST-TIMER '22

    This is a review by a serious (not necessarily fast) runner going for a PR. I picked this race as it is known for a flat and fast course. "Having … MORE

    This is a review by a serious (not necessarily fast) runner going for a PR. I picked this race as it is known for a flat and fast course. “Having a good time” wasn’t why I ran this, so there’s no review about the scenary, t-shirts and medals. (There are other excellent and relevant reviews for those.)

    1. Webpage.
    1a. It’s a tiny detail, but there is an error on the marathon course map. The final 1/4 miles…. The actual course makes a left turn into a sidewalk at E 2nd st. It doesn’t really matter, but I wish the organizers paid more attention to it.

    1b. Parking map shows where public parking lots are, but it fails to mention that the closest two to the start/goal line are not available on the race day. It’s probably obvious because these parking lots are on the course, but a little note would have been nice.

    2. Race day logistics.
    2a. Parking is plentiful. This being offseason, all public parking lots in Gulf Shores are available free of charge. I parked in the lot only 800 ft west of the start line. There were only a few cars 90 minutes before the start.

    2b. There were 8 or so portable toilets at the start line, but the line was quite long around 7am. There are many restrooms in the area at the public beaches and public parking lots. It pays to study the area and know these locations. There are restrooms at Hangout, too.

    2c. Being able to wait inside (Hangout) was nice.

    3. Course
    3a. The most of the course is inside Gulf State Park. There are very few spectators. At one point around mile 20, I didn’t see a single person between two water stops (2 miles). No fellow runners, no dog walkers, absolutely no-one. It felt like a speed work-out rather than a race.

    3b. You run on boardwalks here and there. Toward the end, there is one stretch of over 1 mile of boardwalk. I didn’t mind it, but some runners complained about it after the race. You can do a test run on the boardwalk from the packet pick up location.

    3c. At 7:00 ~ 7:10/mile pace, you get lonely from the get-go. It was basically a solo-run.

    3d. The final 6 miles or so are shared with the half marathon course. There are some slow runners/walkers there. That itself was ok, but the boardwalk is only 6-or-so foot wide, and I had to do some zig-zagging, and I had to shout “on your left!” twice. This was a significant problem for me.

    3e. Water stations are plentiful. Water and gatorade.

    3f. Gels. I don’t care. You should carry your own anyway.

    Overall, this was a very well organized race. A small, hustle-free, excellent race.

    Why am I not coming back?

    WIND. The final 3 miles were against rediculous head wind. True, the wind probably helped me earlier, but it wasn’t that strong at the start. The locals said winter wind was unpredictable, and my friend who ran this in 2017 had the same problem. So, I’m not going to take a chance and hope for a calmer weather. I will not run this marathon again.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    labrew2 FIRST-TIMER '21

    It’s a double loop encompassing most of Gulf State Park which is really nice. The Hilton hotel at the state park is nice too. I loved the marathon and saw … MORE

    It’s a double loop encompassing most of Gulf State Park which is really nice. The Hilton hotel at the state park is nice too. I loved the marathon and saw and alligator while I was running. It’s definitely a fun time! The medal was cool and reminded me of beach glass. The weather there is good in January for a marathon.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    cfconwayiii FIRST-TIMER '21

    A very well organized event with great staff and volunteers. It was a great course even though I struggled with humidity. But anytime your are at the beach it is … MORE

    A very well organized event with great staff and volunteers. It was a great course even though I struggled with humidity. But anytime your are at the beach it is good!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    runningservant FIRST-TIMER '21

    Hello. I’m Aaron Burros, the Running Servant and wanted to share about my 50th Birthday Year Celebration Running of Marathons. I’m running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 weeks … MORE

    Hello. I’m Aaron Burros, the Running Servant and wanted to share about my 50th Birthday Year Celebration Running of Marathons. I’m running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 weeks benefiting St. Jude Children Research Hospital. Please take an opportunity to listen to the podcast TRENDS, BENDS and OPPORTUNITIES and read the article AARON’S AUDACIOUS GOALS and donate (links are at end).

    “This past weekend, I ran the the Big Beach Marathon — and the beach isn’t the only thing that’s BIG. From the production to the people, this race, along with the Safari 7K the day prior, is HUGE. If you have never been to a 311 Production, treat yourself don’t cheat yourself. The Swag is Swaggerific, the food is fantastic and Gulf Shores Alabama is a great place to vacation and run. For what I paid for the entire run and Lodging, I went away feeling like I stole something.

    Going into race day I was excited about running, especially after experiencing a unique and excellent 7K. I wasn’t disappointed at all. The course had its up and downs (literally) followed by what seemed like the incline to hell as opposed to the stairway to heaven. The great thing about the incline is the possibility of seeing the wildlife. Having this expectation makes the incline inviting. And at the top of it was the noisiest aid station that I’ve yet to experience. I literally thought we were passing the finish line. After running to the top, I welcomed running the portion of the course on the wooden bridge — don’t worry it wasn’t slippery even though it was raining a little.

    The next challenge would come in the form of one, if not all, the four winds of the earth. I’m 6′ 2″ 280 pounds. The wind stood me up and pushed me back. After completing the first loop, I was told by race personal and others that the wind was more disrespectful last year. Yeah, THAT’S WHAT I SAID. Just be prepared to wind run miles 11-13 for the half and miles 22-26.1 for the second loop of the full.

    I wasn’t able to complete my second loop. I ran consistently for the first mile which was a steady incline on the road then turned and dropped down before a slight incline and turn into the park which continues up and down (declining for 10 miles) to I reached the turnaround at mile 7.1. From there, your at the base of the park and run up a continuous incline which levels of and turns only to continue to incline. When I was just passing mile 8, I couldn’t run the incline any longer. If you aren’t familiar with my story, I was shot several times in a workplace shooting and have damage in my glutes ; and if you don’t understand running, the glutes are rhe power houses that gives you the ability to run. Just imagine driving your car but your engine is misting, and when you push the gas there’s no power to increase the speed. That’s my glutes.

    Therfore, after my first loop, I tried resting for a twenty minute window in hopes that I could continue. When the sweeper Pacers came by, I knew that I was not going to be able to continue and make the cutoff. The pain was debilitating.

    Runners on every level were hitting their goals for the second loop — SHOUT OUTS TO THOSE IN THE 50 STATES MARATHON RUNNERS. My goal, as usual, was just a goal, but I wasn’t out there for a personal goal — I was out there for Aiden, a young boy I previously met at a marathon, and for Gabby, my two year old great niece who was diagnosed with a cancerous growth on her kidney along with all the other children with cancer and other childhood diseases. #IRunforAiden and #GettingItForGabby was my why regardless if I had to crawl across the finish line. But in this case the finished crawled to me.

    My pain was very uncomfortable to say the least. And while I can’t imagined the pain Aiden, Gabby and other young children go through daily from cancer, treatments and surgeries, I keep pushing through my 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 weeks Goal even if I can’t cross every finish line. But there’s a finish line you can help me cross.

    I need your help reaching my goal to benefit St. Jude Children Research Hospital of $50,000. Give what you purpose in your heart and share my need because you have a heart. Because of people like you, families never receive a bill from St. Jude. Join me in supporting this great organization by donating to my goal for the 2020 Team St. Jude! Click here to donate:
    http://heroes.stjude.org/runningservant.

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

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    Bluebird46360 FIRST-TIMER '21

    Love the COViD drive through packet pickup, for us was very smooth and simple, volunteers were very friendly. Race start was very well spaced (with several different starting corrals). I … MORE

    Love the COViD drive through packet pickup, for us was very smooth and simple, volunteers were very friendly. Race start was very well spaced (with several different starting corrals). I think the race directors did a great job keeping it COViD safe, while maintaining a bit of normalcy. We stayed at the Comfort Inn which was less than a mile from the start, reasonably priced & worked out perfect for family/spectating as it was along the course. Most of the run was through the state park with was very nice – mostly paved trails (and wooden bridges/walk way) , Cypress (?) trees were amazing, and I even got to see an alligator. It was great seeing so many fellow Maniacs & Fifty Stater’s on course! I can not say enough about the after party at Hangouts, 2 free beers, and a boxed lunch – tons of open space to social distance outside! I would love to do this race again if just to see what the normal after party would look like! They also had a Big Beach marathon sand castle for pictures afterwards! Overall I would give this race an A+!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    mzfisch FIRST-TIMER '21

    This was my first time visiting the state of Alabama and we stayed at The Lodge at Gulf State Park, which I highly recommend! We got a discount for the … MORE

    This was my first time visiting the state of Alabama and we stayed at The Lodge at Gulf State Park, which I highly recommend! We got a discount for the race and it was in a perfect location, in the park and on the beach, perfect for cooling down tired feet in the cool gulf water. We wanted to play it as safe as possible with COVID, so decided to dine mostly here as well and really enjoyed the restaurant’s food (although a bit expensive but understandable at a Hilton). The staff here was fantastic. We also enjoyed renting the free bikes and touring the park a little more!

    It’s tough to comment on the race party/production due to COVID. This is the 3rd race I have run during the pandemic and they are all pretty similar with social distancing, little/no expo, etc. I did enjoy the corrals. They gave out full water bottles at aid stations and no sports drinks (is this normal?) and I didn’t like that they only offered GU energy gels – I prefer more natural brands such as Honey Stinger. However, with the flat course and humidity, I didn’t feel like I needed much supplementation during the race.

    I loved running through the park – it was beautiful! I heard a few people comment that this course was not flat but I think that is relative to your individual training. Being from Colorado, this is the flattest course I have ever run to be honest. There were some minor elevation increases but not what I would call a hill, and I ran one of my fastest times at this race despite having some foot pain at mile 8-10.

    The medal was gorgeous and I love my long sleeve tech shirt! I would run this race again!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    rma2001 FIRST-TIMER '21

    It's really hard to give a good review of a race during the pandemic days since everything is so scaled back. This race I think on a normal year would … MORE

    It’s really hard to give a good review of a race during the pandemic days since everything is so scaled back. This race I think on a normal year would be a great, fun time. This year the marathon was a double loop which was kind of a bummer. The park out there is beautiful and we don’t got to see a portion of it. The course is pretty flat with some gentle up and down (hesitate to even call them hills). There wasn’t much of an after party, food or drinks this year. I understand, but still a let down seeing those tags for beer on your race bib…

    Packet pick up was easy doing a little drive through thing. I’d recommend this race based on the other reviews, should be a lot more runner friendly on a normal year.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    [email protected] REPEAT RUNNER '21

    This race was a nice surprise considering all the restrictions because of Covid 19. The organizers did an amazing job making you feel like times were "normal" again. From the … MORE

    This race was a nice surprise considering all the restrictions because of Covid 19. The organizers did an amazing job making you feel like times were “normal” again. From the drive through packet pick-up to the specific time starts and smaller corrals – they did their best to accommodate runners. I stayed at the Gulf Park Hilton and would NOT recommend. It was over-priced and not accommodating to those participating in the race. The race was 80% through a swampy state park with the highlight seeing a real alligator watching us. It was sad not getting a medal when crossing the finish line (the medal was given during the packet pick-up) and I missed not having an expo. Overall it was a great race and so fun to participate with happy running people.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    3

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    runningservant FIRST-TIMER '21

    A great warm up the day before the big day of Marathon running. I had a great time. I'll tell more about the entire weekend after I finish the marathon. … MORE

    A great warm up the day before the big day of Marathon running. I had a great time. I’ll tell more about the entire weekend after I finish the marathon. Here’s a video you may watch.
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/rLVeFb1JVHFFrG4E6

    DIFFICULTY
    1
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    5
    My Report
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    pablopelos Jan 27, 2022 at 12:02pm

    Great video man, you run like i do, to have a great time and encourage others, keep it up man. I'm running the 7k and the Marathon this weekend, looking… MORE

    Great video man, you run like i do, to have a great time and encourage others, keep it up man. I'm running the 7k and the Marathon this weekend, looking forward to it. LESS

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    Plecerf FIRST-TIMER '20

    Best pre and post marathon set up at the "Hang out" restaurant. Beautiful course in the park. First half is an easy flat course. The second half is a little … MORE

    Best pre and post marathon set up at the “Hang out” restaurant.
    Beautiful course in the park. First half is an easy flat course. The second half is a little more challenging with many wood bridges and boardwaks over marshes. Layed back and small race atmosphere. Very nice organizers.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    Very smooth running race! I missed the expo due to flight delays. Was able to pick up packet that morning. Course was very well marked and plenty of aid stations. … MORE

    Very smooth running race! I missed the expo due to flight delays. Was able to pick up packet that morning. Course was very well marked and plenty of aid stations. The end had boardwalks for miles… or what seemed like miles! Awesome party at the finish for you and your family! Wasn’t my best race due to illness day before:(

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    RRWAEB83 FIRST-TIMER '20

    I was really pleased with this race. Great swag/medal, well organized, tons of food at the finish, fast flat course. I really liked that the staging had an indoor waiting … MORE

    I was really pleased with this race. Great swag/medal, well organized, tons of food at the finish, fast flat course. I really liked that the staging had an indoor waiting area since it was drizzling and cool prior to race start. The weather cleared just as the rate started and held! I cannot recommend this enough!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
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    erbVanZan FIRST-TIMER '20

    Course is a calm stroll through a beautiful park. Of course I was hoping for slightly warmer and no rain, (I seem to bring the north cold weather wherever I … MORE

    Course is a calm stroll through a beautiful park. Of course I was hoping for slightly warmer and no rain, (I seem to bring the north cold weather wherever I travel to), but it wasn’t disturbing and I think many PR’d. The hangout party post race was really fun!! The animals from gulf shores zoo were so cool at the expo

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    TravelPrincess REPEAT RUNNER '20

    I needed "state of Alabama" race and this one was recommended by Jeff Galloway who was there for a short shake-down run on Saturday and his running school. This is … MORE

    I needed “state of Alabama” race and this one was recommended by Jeff Galloway who was there for a short shake-down run on Saturday and his running school.

    This is really a “Runcation” race. Staying at The Lodge overlooking the beautiful white beaches and gorgeous sunsets of the Gulf was like staying at a resort. (Pay the extra $ for an ocean-view room.) It was an ideal location – across the highway (with a pedestrian overhead crossing) from the start of the 7K on Saturday, a shuttle was provided to the start of the Half/Full Marathon, Expo was on site.
    Race Course: Both races were in beautiful Gulf State Park. FLAT on the wide asphalt trail and across the very unique wooden elevated walkways. Generous finish time made it very walker friendly. Plenty of water stops and restrooms. Bring your own nourishment, i.e. gels – there were none on the half marathon route. Quiet route since we were in the park but there was little chance of getting lost on the route. Course ends the last 2 miles along the road parallel to the beach.

    Race Swag: Tech long-sleeve shirt for half, soft t-shirts for 7K and Dolphin Challenge (if you did both 7K and half), Great medals. Half had a moveable runner and the Dolphin hangs from the bottom of the Half medal. 7K was patterned after a giraffe, the Alabama zoo charity supported by the race.

    Expo: Expo was large for a “small” race. Loved the steel drum band and the animals brought from the Alabama zoo.

    Pre- and Post-race: Wonderful experience pre-race at The Hangout where we could sit inside and keep warm before the race. Post-race, again great to have a place to sit inside (it was overcast and became rainy); food: yummy box lunch and 2 beers and many snacks.

    Negative: The only negative about this race was how disrespectful the runners were towards this fragile wetlands environment. The empty gel packets and cups scattered all over were so disheartening, especially when they blew off the path into the wetlands. There were enough trash locations that could have been utilized. Come on Racers!!!

    Overall: This race had almost all 50 states represented so really enjoyed talking to runners from all over. Definitely recommend this race and although it requires an airplane ticket, I’d fly there again to experience it.

    DIFFICULTY
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    5
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    TrudyF FIRST-TIMER '19

    Fun and flat. This race is a nice combo of street, paved paths, and elevated boardwalks. It would also be a great course for a pr. The production is wonderfully … MORE

    Fun and flat. This race is a nice combo of street, paved paths, and elevated boardwalks. It would also be a great course for a pr. The production is wonderfully done. Packet pickup is smooth, small, but nicely done. Post race, wow! Sand castles, food, beer, candy table, and a great live band. So fun.

    DIFFICULTY
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    5
    SCENERY
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  1. Races
  2. Big Beach Marathon