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 …
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 Saturday gives an opportunity to take on the Shark or Dolphin challenge! Run the 7K Saturday and the Full or Half Marathon Sunday and get 3 medals, cool shirts, extra beer tickets, and the ultimate in bragging rights.
Feeling at the top of your game? Ready for a race packed weekend with extra bling, shirts and yummy craft beer? Then the Shark Challenge might be just the thing for you. Run the Big Beach 7k on Saturday and the Big Beach Marathon on Sunday for a total of 30.6 miles and get a cool Shark Challenge medal and t-shirt to recognize your achievement. And we’ll throw in 2 extra beer tickets for Sunday’s Big Beach Bash! Register Now!
Maximize your race weekend with extra bling, shirts and yummy craft beer. Chose the Dolphin Challenge and run the Big Beach 7k on Saturday and the Big Beach Half Marathon on Sunday for a total of 17.5 miles and get a cool Dolphin Challenge medal and t-shirt to recognize your achievement. And we’ll throw in 2 extra beer tickets for Sunday’s Big Beach Bash!
I completed the dolphin challenge which was the 7k on Sat and the Half on Saturday. Well organized race except for the challenge race check in on Saturday. They did … MORE
I completed the dolphin challenge which was the 7k on Sat and the Half on Saturday. Well organized race except for the challenge race check in on Saturday. They did not pre-assign numbers for those doing both races and the process was really slow. But other than that, great races. The Hangout was a fun place to finish in Sunday. Food and beer were amazing. The course was really pretty and ran through the state park for most of it. Good support. I recommend staying at the host hotel if you can. Great rates and such a pretty place along the beach. It made for a fun weekend.
Big Beach! Big Fun
Great pre race communication Expo was good and super easy Staff and volunteers were very helpful Great course, did have some hills Very nice medal and long sleeve dri-fit shirt … MORE
Great pre race communication
Expo was good and super easy
Staff and volunteers were very helpful
Great course, did have some hills
Very nice medal and long sleeve dri-fit shirt
Post race snacks included a wrap with chips and cookies and gumbo
1st time running the marathon, I had ran the half marathon a couple of years ago. I definitely would recommend this race.
More Like Big Swamp
I was initially planning to do this race last year but my flight got canceled and I couldn't make it. This race company is excellent and very runner friendly and … MORE
I was initially planning to do this race last year but my flight got canceled and I couldn’t make it. This race company is excellent and very runner friendly and I wrote to them about my flight getting canceled and they let me defer to this year even though it was way past the deferral deadline. The host hotel the Lodge also let me cancel my reservation the day of the reservation because of the canceled flight. Because of that alone I would highly recommend this race and the host hotel. It was also a very good race. Last year I attempted to fly into Pensacola Florida which is the closest airport but there are so few flights from Rochester to Pensacola that I wasn’t able to find a Saturday morning flight last year and had to cancel the trip all together. Therefore this year I decided to fly into New Orleans so there would more options if my flight got canceled. New Orleans is about a 3 hour drive to Gulf Shores but it’s always fun to stop in New Orleans and get some vegan food. I took Friday off and flew into New Orleans in the morning, ate lunch there and arrived at the Lodge around the time of hotel check in. The hotel is very nice and a good deal with the race discount. I was doing the Dolphin Challenge (7K + Half marathon) and picked up my packet Friday evening. You can also do Saturday packet pick-up if you arrive late Friday night. Packet pick-up was relatively quick with just a short line. You got a short sleeve tech shirt for the 7K and a long sleeve tech shirt for the half or full marathon. You also got a bag with some pamphlet, coupons and a few smaller swag items. There is also an expo Saturday. I didn’t have time to go to the expo as I had plans in the afternoon. I stopped by at the end but most of the booths were shut down. There was a section to buy race stuff but the lines were long and I had everything I needed. The half marathon is on Sunday and starts at 7:30. I paid extra to take a shuttle from the Lodge. The start is about 1 mile away. There are hotel options closer to the half than the Lodge but the shuttle worked well. The start is at a bar called the Hangout right by the beach. It is a great place to start. There is both an indoor area and an outdoor area right by the beach. I was worried as it looked like rain was predicted. Luckily the rain held off for the race but if it was raining you could hang out inside and you could also warm out outside by the beach. Weather was pretty great race day though a touch hotter and more humid than perfect for me. There were plenty of porta potties outside along with some bathrooms inside. The start was relatively well organized. There was about 1000 participants in both the half and full. There were pacers which helped people line up by pace. There was no marked corrals and it was a mass start. The beginning of the race is on a street and wide so it was not an issue. I lined up a bit before the 3 hour pacer. I knew this was the kind of course I am fastest at and I was determined to get back to an under 3 hour half marathon. The first about mile is on a half closed street and the next 10 miles or so is in Gulf State Park. While it starts on the beach, pretty much none of the race is on the beach and almost all of it is in the state park so I’m not sure Big Beach is the right name for the race. The state park though is quite scenic and swampy with lots of cool vegetation. The course was very well marked. Most of it was on pavement with some on boardwalk. There were a few occasionally crowded part but for the most part runners were much more spread out and even the sections that shared with the marathon I hardly had any issues passing people. There are a lot of back of packers so I was almost always running with people. As it is mostly on more remote areas of the park there aren’t a ton of spectators but there are pockets of spectators at a few sections. The elevation profile is perfect in my opinion. There are no hills but its mostly minor inclines and declines which is generally the fastest type of course for me. I did run-walk intervals and was able to keep the pace I needed for my goal the entire race. There were lots of aid stations with water and Gatorade. They used reusable cups which was a nice environmentally friendly idea. One had gels. I did notice they were low on gels so not sure if everyone got one. The last mile is on a coned off road along the street. I was very excited because I realized I would be making my goal of under 3 hours by a few minutes. I did not find the course to be short and my GPS said 13.2 miles so I assume the distance was correct although one reviewer said the course was short. The finish line was nice and you get a really nice beach medal. I was really happy I was back to under 3 hours. For doing the dolphin challenge you get an additional medal to clip on. It does not have a separate ribbon you clip it on the Big Beach medal. There was water bottle and fruit at the finish line. Inside at the Hangout they had boxed lunches with wraps, chips and a cookie. I was happy they had veggie wraps which I believe were vegan. One minor critique would be I would have liked a non-alcoholic drink option besides water. Overall this was a great race. It was between a 4 and 5 sneaker race but given how great the company was about my flight getting canceled, I was definitely rounding up. This is a race I would definitely recommend for Alabama and would consider doing again.
Short but Nice Course
Well done and well organized race. My biggest (maybe only) complaint is that the course was only 13M. I was worried about running on "boardwalk" but it was not slippery … MORE
Well done and well organized race. My biggest (maybe only) complaint is that the course was only 13M.
I was worried about running on “boardwalk” but it was not slippery and not difficult to navigate. Course was well marked and supported with water. I did see one station that had gels but didn’t see what kind. I was also very pleasantly surprised to see them using reusable cups on the course.
Post-race party was nice. Bananas and oranges and water immediately at the finish line and then inside the courtyard was 3 different wrap options, including a veggie wrap, with chips and a cookie. Free beer but they ran out so I feel bad for people doing the full, unless you were in the leadpack you probably missed out on beer.
Overall a nice, smaller race.
Nice easy race
The 7K is a nice easy race, good warm up if you are doing the half marathon or Marathon the next day. They reward you for doing both races too! MORE
The 7K is a nice easy race, good warm up if you are doing the half marathon or Marathon the next day. They reward you for doing both races too!
Great venue.. great running surfaces.
Paved pathways, some road / sidewalk and some board walk. Some Water stations started to run out of water, no food on course. Course was marked well and manned well. MORE
Paved pathways, some road / sidewalk and some board walk. Some
Water stations started to run out of water, no food on course. Course was marked well and manned well.
Big Beach was Big Fun!! Well Organized!
We came in on Friday and Stayed at Luxury RV Resort a few blocks from The Hang Out - everything was in walking distance. We rode our bikes to packet … MORE
We came in on Friday and Stayed at Luxury RV Resort a few blocks from The Hang Out – everything was in walking distance. We rode our bikes to packet pick up. Very impressed with the shirts – We did the Dolphin Challenge – 7K on Saturday Short Sleeve Shirt and Half Marathon on Sunday Long Sleeve Shirt. We received 3 Medals for the Challenge. 7K was out and back on the Gopher Tortoise Trail and The Half ran through the Gulf Shores State Park – Beautiful. The after party was loads of fun at The Hang Out – Great Food, Entertainment and Band! Kudo’s to The Beast Pacers they did an Amazing Job!
Great flat race!
Fairly flat race! The best part were the aid stations having blue Gatorade!! Easy parking for the race, great restroom facilities, awesome post race area! We also lucked out with … MORE
Fairly flat race! The best part were the aid stations having blue Gatorade!! Easy parking for the race, great restroom facilities, awesome post race area! We also lucked out with some fabulous weather!!
I read everywhere about how this course is flat. I have to disagree with this statement. There is a steep incline around mile 10 and I feel as if I … MORE
I read everywhere about how this course is flat. I have to disagree with this statement. There is a steep incline around mile 10 and I feel as if I could of been better prepared for this if I hadn’t expected flat. I enjoyed the race. The expo was small but fun. As others stated, I also showed a distance of 13 miles. I would repeat this race for the scenery, the generosity of everyone there and of course for the beach!
Short & Crowded
I did this 7K as part of the dolphin challenge with the half marathon on Sunday. My review for the half has more details. While I was very impressed with … MORE
I did this 7K as part of the dolphin challenge with the half marathon on Sunday. My review for the half has more details. While I was very impressed with the half marathon I was not that impressed with the 7K. You get a nice medal and a nice short sleeved tech shirt so if you are doing the half or full and going to be here Saturday morning you might as well do it. The race is right across from the Lodge and very convenient. It is just an out and back mostly on the boardwalk. It was a mass start and there was no suggested waves. The course was extremely congested and it was impossible to pass people for the first mile which was a bit frustrating. The turnaround had water and was at a natural turn around. However it was at about mile 2 and the course ended up being about 4 miles and not a 7K. This was more than 1/4 mile short. I doubt many people cared or noticed since I don’t think anyone even knows what a 7K is (it is ~4.35 miles). However I actually did another 7K this fall. I am currently overcoming injury and still running about 1 to 2 minute/mile slower than usual so haven’t gotten many PRs this year and this was an opportunity to get a PR by beating my 7K time in the fall. I obviously PR’ed by a lot given the short course but it felt cheap and I would have liked to beat my time on a real 7K. While the half marathon was great, this 7K race was just okay. If it is easy to fit in your schedule you might as well get the extra bling but I wouldn’t go out of your way for this race.
Do the Shark or Dolphin Challenge
If you Love Bling then Do the Challenge! The 7K Course was Beautiful and it's an out and back around the Gopher Tortoise Trail. Shirts were short sleeve and bright … MORE
If you Love Bling then Do the Challenge! The 7K Course was Beautiful and it’s an out and back around the Gopher Tortoise Trail. Shirts were short sleeve and bright yellow – Nice Bling
I would run it again
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.
Fun and flat on the coast
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.
Very nice race
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.
Party at the beach
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.
If looking for AL, a good pick!
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.
I'm not coming back
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.)
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.
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.
It’s a beach marathon so it was awesome!
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.
Sand, Sun, Fun
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!
THAT INCLINE AND WIND THOUGH
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: