Overall Rating
Overall Rating (148 Reviews)
4.6
(148 Ratings)  (148 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.1
SCENERY
4.1
PRODUCTION
4.5
SWAG
4.3
Whether you’re new to running or you’ve been running your whole life, the BMW Dallas Marathon Festival really does have a race for everyone. The BMW Dallas Marathon, Half Marathon and 50K Ultra Marathon courses begin and end in Downtown Dallas and highlight the best areas of the city. Along … MORE
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Recent reviews

    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '21

    BOTTOM LINE: If it’s possible for a big-city race with 25,000+ participants to be “underrated,” then I reckon Dallas fits the bill. Running in the shadow of more prestigious urban … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: If it’s possible for a big-city race with 25,000+ participants to be “underrated,” then I reckon Dallas fits the bill. Running in the shadow of more prestigious urban marathons like Chicago, New York City and even (arguably) Houston, Big D more than holds its own and deservedly stakes its claim to the title of best race weekend in Texas.

    Though I was born and now live in California, Dallas is the city where I grew up. And yet despite a 20-year running career, I’d never run a marathon or farther here. So when 2020 rolled around, it seemed like ideal timing to tackle the 50th running of my former hometown race less than a month after my own 50th birthday. Cue a global pandemic, and like nearly every other running event on the planet, the golden anniversary of the Dallas Marathon Festival was postponed—first to May 2021, and then to its usual date one year later in Dec 2021. Despite all the uncertainty and shifting expectations over the course of an excruciating year, in the end the celebration was very much worth the wait. Without (too much) bias, I can happily say the Dallas Marathon Festival was an electric day that did not disappoint.

    Dallas is a terrific running city, and the marathon/50K course—which starts and finishes at City Hall—does the city justice by showcasing some of its most iconic landmarks and beautiful neighborhoods including Reunion Tower, Highland Park and Lakewood, plus 8½ miles around the event’s long-time centerpiece, White Rock Lake. Here on the far (eastern) side of the lake, several geese sightings and a glimpse of the distinctive Dallas skyline peeking above the trees helped to distract from the mounting fatigue in mile 18.

    Notably, the first mile of the race passes discreetly through Dealey Plaza, site of JFK’s assassination and where the former Texas School Book Depository—now the Dallas County Administration Building—overlooks the course (see photo). Though the race organizers avoid publicizing Dealey Plaza for obvious reasons, its inclusion feels like a respectful nod to its historical significance and widespread interest.

    Later in the race, I wasn’t looking forward to the out-and-back extension on the Santa Fe Trail (miles 20–25) that was exclusive to the 50K runners. And yet even that stretch was a relatively pleasant experience, a quiet reprieve from the otherwise bustling streets and an opportunity to applaud my fellow ultrarunners while acknowledging each other as kindred spirits. (Our orange bib numbers also helped to distinguish 50K runners from the blue-numbered marathoners and black-numbered half marathoners.)

    Though the course—with the exception of the lakefront path—is more rolling than flat, the most conspicuous uphill arrives as the route turns away from White Rock Lake and back toward downtown (mile 21 for marathoners, 26 for 50K runners). Essentially the Dallas equivalent of Heartbreak Hill, this ½ mile stretch encompassing the latter portion of Winsted Dr plus Tokalon Dr served as a nice gut check that slowed many runners to a walk. (Here I see an opportunity for an inflatable sponsor arch at the top of Tokalon to encourage runners as they crest the hill.) Once you turn left from Tokalon onto Lakewood Blvd, though, breathe deep and feel good knowing your last five miles are a smooth, gentle downhill to an epic finish that’s publicly broadcast on the jumbotron.

    Apart from obvious exceptions like Boston and NYC, as a traveling runner you’re never sure what level of spectator support to expect from residents during an urban marathon. So I’m proud to report that Dallas came to play; all along the course with the understandable exception of the lake itself, civic pride and festive holiday energy were on display as vocal locals showed up to support the runners. Among the spectators lining the residential route on Richmond Ave was a 20-foot-tall inflatable Santa that towered above us like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from “Ghostbusters”—HO, HO, HO, MY TINY SUBJECTS.

    Performance-wise, Dallas was one of those rare days when everything fell into place. And I couldn’t have asked for a better end to a challenging year that included four new states and a 100K personal best. After missing the five-hour mark by 68 seconds on an unpaved trail in Kansas last year, paved Texas roads seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally break five hours at the 50K distance. And at the end of a chilly morning under stunning blue skies, I crossed the finish line alongside City Hall with a 16-minute personal best while achieving not only my stated goal as printed on my bib number (a sub-5 hour 50K), but likewise my unspoken “A” goal of a sub-4:45 as I finished in 4:44:41. Calculating before the race that I’d need to average a 9:04/mile pace to break 4:45, I’d run 31.4 miles (according to my GPS) in… 9:04/mile. [Cue Success Kid fist-pump meme.]

    With Dallas (mid-December) and The Cowtown in neighboring Fort Worth (late February), North Texas boasts two of the best race weekends in the U.S. in close proximity. Throw in Houston in mid-January, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better three months of road racing anywhere in the nation than what you’ll find in Texas. Personal best and formative years aside, the Dallas Marathon Festival is a Big D-elight and a family-friendly Sunday long run I can easily recommend to first-timers, traveling runners & 50 Staters alike.

    PRODUCTION: As you may have guessed from the above description, this was clearly not the Dallas team’s first rodeo. Reminiscent of Houston (I’ve yet to run The Cowtown so I have no comparison there), Dallas is a well-oiled machine with near-flawless production. Even with high expectations thanks to positive feedback from previous finishers, still I was pleasantly surprised. Everything ran smoothly, from the pre-race expo in the spacious convention center near the start line (which included an impressive fleet of vehicles from title sponsor BMW), to the high-energy start corrals with jumbotron accompaniment, to the scenic & well-supported course populated by spirited spectators & virtuoso volunteers, to the post-race festival in Akard Plaza where pizza, chocolate milk & Sam Adams beer (not necessarily all at once) awaited. Around the plaza, exhausted finishers stretched out on the grass and around the fountain to quietly celebrate a triumphant end to the racing season. Well done Dallas, my Stetson is off to you. 🤠

    SWAG: Dallas rose to the occasion with its 50th anniversary swag. The hefty finisher medal (see photo) is an attractive blue & gold(en) keepsake with the race logo engraved inside the number 50. Both the medal and its ribbon include the year & distance. In addition, runners received a comfy, ocean blue short-sleeve participant tee at packet pickup as well as a handsome distance-specific, navy blue long-sleeve finisher tee (a Dallas tradition) in the finish chute. Best of all, this isn’t swag per se but every registration fee included a donation to the primary race beneficiary, Scottish Rite for Children.

    For a pictorial narrative of the 50th Dallas Marathon Festival, check out my report at https://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2022/01/12/dallas-marathon-race-report/

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    7 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    thestudadam Mar 28, 2022 at 6:26pm

    Great review as always, and your race report in your blog was equally excellent. This race really nails it in terms of production as many have stated. I highly recommend… MORE

    Great review as always, and your race report in your blog was equally excellent. This race really nails it in terms of production as many have stated. I highly recommend your blog posts for long form information on any races that you have run that they are considering. LESS

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    M_Sohaskey Mar 29, 2022 at 7:11pm

    Thanks Adam! Much appreciated, and likewise for your own excellent reviews... your Dallas review was a great primer and definitely got me pumped up for race day. And yes, the… MORE

    Thanks Adam! Much appreciated, and likewise for your own excellent reviews... your Dallas review was a great primer and definitely got me pumped up for race day. And yes, the production here was as seamless as any race I've run, big or small. So I was psyched to see Dallas hit all-time numbers last year, a well-deserved "mile"stone. LESS

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    dsbland Jan 13, 2022 at 2:29pm

    Congrats on hitting your "A" goal, Dallas is absolutely one of the best marathons in the state. You should plan on doing Cowtown at some point in the future, it's… MORE

    Congrats on hitting your "A" goal, Dallas is absolutely one of the best marathons in the state. You should plan on doing Cowtown at some point in the future, it's just as fun as Dallas and the course is fantastic. I've run all three (Dallas, Cowtown and Houston) and Dallas and Cowtown are 1A and 1B for me with my PB coming at Cowtown a few years ago. Cowtown also has an Ultra for those of you not content to only suffer through 26.2 miles! LESS

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    M_Sohaskey Jan 13, 2022 at 3:54pm

    Thanks Scott! I'd love to run The Cowtown and hope to do that soon... I have no doubt the production is spot-on there as well. Luckily, having hit my sub-4:45… MORE

    Thanks Scott! I'd love to run The Cowtown and hope to do that soon... I have no doubt the production is spot-on there as well. Luckily, having hit my sub-4:45 goal in Dallas, I no longer feel compelled to run 31 miles on pavement (though course that doesn't mean I WON'T run 31 miles on pavement, given the chance 😬). Hope your 2022 racing schedule is shaping up to be a good one! LESS

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    mikebeckwith Jan 13, 2022 at 8:32am

    What a wonderful write up, Mike!! So great!! I want to do this race so bad!! I would probably stop in Dealey Plaza for way too long though!! Well done!!!

    What a wonderful write up, Mike!! So great!! I want to do this race so bad!! I would probably stop in Dealey Plaza for way too long though!! Well done!!!

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    M_Sohaskey Jan 13, 2022 at 10:15am

    Thanks Mike! Much appreciated...and YES, running thru Dealey Plaza is awesome. Even having lived in Dallas and visited the plaza a number of times, I still get goosebumps when I'm… MORE

    Thanks Mike! Much appreciated...and YES, running thru Dealey Plaza is awesome. Even having lived in Dallas and visited the plaza a number of times, I still get goosebumps when I'm there. And it's a wonderful way to start the race. I guess what I'm trying to say is... do it! Run Dallas! You won't regret it. And maybe, if the timing works out, your Eagles will be in town to play the Cowboys in the Death Star! 🤞 LESS

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    mikebeckwith Jan 13, 2022 at 10:39am

    haha!! I'm not brave enough to stroll around Dallas area with an Eagles hat on. Lol. My little brother, who lives in FW does though! Lol

    haha!! I'm not brave enough to stroll around Dallas area with an Eagles hat on. Lol. My little brother, who lives in FW does though! Lol

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    romuleteayaviri REPEAT RUNNER '21

    train well its avery challenging on every aspect , the audience very heart warm and supportive audience a race that i will never forget!!the expo aswell very organized the Nutrition … MORE

    train well its avery challenging on every aspect , the audience very heart warm and supportive audience a race that i will never forget!!the expo aswell very organized the Nutrition along the course really really good and i wanna put more enfasis on this one the best hidration that i ever see in my life and shoul be the model to many other marathons

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    BRENDAHARDWILSON REPEAT RUNNER '21

    Despite a couple rough hills, the route is beautiful. The crowd support is amazing. The starting line fanfare is very inspiring. The after party is fun, with plenty of food … MORE

    Despite a couple rough hills, the route is beautiful. The crowd support is amazing. The starting line fanfare is very inspiring. The after party is fun, with plenty of food and beer. Overall a fantastic race. I really enjoyed it.

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    Overall well organized event, and I will do it again. Parking is a nightmare on the race day, and you are paying an arm and a leg for terrible parking … MORE

    Overall well organized event, and I will do it again. Parking is a nightmare on the race day, and you are paying an arm and a leg for terrible parking lots. Organizers can charge a little extra in the registration fee for the parking and assign safe and closer areas to park. Route has some very rough surfaces to run on with a risk of ankle twists. A lot of twists and turns on the route and some long uphills. No finisher shirt either.

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    mjfields REPEAT RUNNER '21

    Well organized and my experience was very positive. Much more well organized and produced than last time I ran. After race pizza did leave a little to be desired. MORE

    Well organized and my experience was very positive. Much more well organized and produced than last time I ran. After race pizza did leave a little to be desired.

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    tvcamguy FIRST-TIMER '21

    Package Pickup at 3p on the Saturday before, no line. That's a win! Arrived on-scene about an hour before the race.....I didn't spring for the VIP tent, while the warm … MORE

    Package Pickup at 3p on the Saturday before, no line. That’s a win! Arrived on-scene about an hour before the race…..I didn’t spring for the VIP tent, while the warm waiting tent would have been nice, there was still a line at the port-a-potty’s. The corral lineup was smooth. I was in the last corral, so we lined up at 900a, the first corral had started the race at 830a…they slow-walked up to the start line, played a fantastic and inspirational video with a custom-made song….counted us down from 10….shot fireworks at the start…..EXHILERATING!…….you pass right by the grassy knoll, yes that one….cross under I-35…..up through the ritzy neighborhoods of Dallas…..a lot of the homeowners come to cheer you on…..lots of water well-manned water stations with volunteers quick on the trigger with water and Gatorade….a UCAN Superstarch station……then the finish!…you come into a corral with the crowd cheering you on…….a great finish and I’m glad the Dallas Half was my first in-person big race. A nice finisher long-sleeve shirt, a nice short sleeve t-shirt, lots of samples of all your favorite products…..they handed me a big water, plenty of Gatorade, pizza, breakfast tacos galore. Great music, great announcer…….just a great flawless experience. There could have been more port-a-potty’s on-course, that’d be my only complaint. Good job Dallas!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    5
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    5
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    5

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    mudpuppyphotos REPEAT RUNNER '21

    I love this event and will participate again in the future. It is fun, well supported, and has solid swag. I wish that I had known the differences in the … MORE

    I love this event and will participate again in the future. It is fun, well supported, and has solid swag.

    I wish that I had known the differences in the men’s and women’s weekend festival jackets. The women’s is a pullover and kind of lame. The men’s looks a lot cooler. Also…it was super hard to find the station to pick up your weekend festival medal after the event. I was spent and hated walking around trying to find it. It would be better if it had been with all of the other swag in the runners’ area.

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    allygetfit FIRST-TIMER '21

    I usually do most of my running during OCR’s. However, I recently started getting into road racing and have fallen in love with that as well. Having just moved to … MORE

    I usually do most of my running during OCR’s. However, I recently started getting into road racing and have fallen in love with that as well. Having just moved to the Dallas area this summer, I thought there was no better way to check out the city than run the half marathon at the same time. Beautiful views, a fun course and lots of wonderful people made my first race experience unforgettable. Early on-set arthritis and chronic pain tried to slow me down but I managed to finish and I enjoyed every moment. I can’t wait to run the full marathon next year!

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    kellipistokache FIRST-TIMER '21

    Love that this 5k is entirely in downtown. As a Dallas resident, I think downtown makes for great scenery. According to my run tracker the course is pretty flat, only … MORE

    Love that this 5k is entirely in downtown. As a Dallas resident, I think downtown makes for great scenery. According to my run tracker the course is pretty flat, only a 60 ft range in elevation.

    There could have been more info booths or signs and maps. It was only about 15 minutes prior to race time when I finally found where to pick up my bib.

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    resendez60 REPEAT RUNNER '21

    Be ready for rolling hills at mile 20. Great course support. Need more Porta potties, especially clean ones at the lake. Earlier start time. MORE

    Be ready for rolling hills at mile 20. Great course support. Need more Porta potties, especially clean ones at the lake. Earlier start time.

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    5
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    5

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    marzia.cari FIRST-TIMER '21

    My first half marathon in a unique and unforgettable setting, perfectly organized. Beautiful track and not particularly difficult but extremely pleasant. A unique experience to try. MORE

    My first half marathon in a unique and unforgettable setting, perfectly organized. Beautiful track and not particularly difficult but extremely pleasant. A unique experience to try.

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    sydneymayes REPEAT RUNNER '21

    Great, fun weekend running the marathon. People out cheering and ran through some beautiful neighborhoods.. saw some ladies take some whiskey shots at mile 9 and they were doing the … MORE

    Great, fun weekend running the marathon.
    People out cheering and ran through some beautiful neighborhoods.. saw some ladies take some whiskey shots at mile 9 and they were doing the full marathon!
    The hill was a surprise at mile 19 but we didn’t look at the course map/elevation before the race.
    Wish there were a few more aid stations closer to the end of the race, but I’ll plan to run with a water bottle next time. Looking forward to next year!! Appreciate the fun pre and post race activities!

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    chrispstaunton REPEAT RUNNER '21

    This was the best Half Marathon that I have ran so far. The preparation, the fitness expo, and race day was outstanding. I would definitely recommend to anyone that they … MORE

    This was the best Half Marathon that I have ran so far. The preparation, the fitness expo, and race day was outstanding. I would definitely recommend to anyone that they run this race at least once.

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    5

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    eolschwang REPEAT RUNNER '21

    This is run at a nice time (December in Dallas) and is a good course through the streets of Dallas. There isn’t much to look at anywhere on the half … MORE

    This is run at a nice time (December in Dallas) and is a good course through the streets of Dallas. There isn’t much to look at anywhere on the half marathon course although there is good support from fans all along the course.

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    kameshsuri REPEAT RUNNER '21

    You are bigger than your circumstances. Let's face the fears, pursue our dreams, and make our lives adventurous. Where there is a will, there is a way. If you think … MORE

    You are bigger than your circumstances. Let’s face the fears, pursue our dreams, and make our lives adventurous. Where there is a will, there is a way. If you think you can, you can !!

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    nicole.bosley FIRST-TIMER '21

    Overall the BMW marathon was a great race on a fun course! The course ran through heavily populated parts of Dallas which allowed for spectators and a fun crowd throughout … MORE

    Overall the BMW marathon was a great race on a fun course! The course ran through heavily populated parts of Dallas which allowed for spectators and a fun crowd throughout the marathon. The only downside to this race were the couple of big hills around miles 20-21. Otherwise, the course was fairly flat with a fun start and finish line.

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    jamp58 FIRST-TIMER '21

    Easy route, Great production Cold morning Official race photos are not free, they are expensive they should allow some for free or buy them individually, not in expensive packages MORE

    Easy route,
    Great production
    Cold morning
    Official race photos are not free, they are expensive they should allow some for free or buy them individually, not in expensive packages

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    LAS3301 REPEAT RUNNER '21

    Medals are always highlights /icons of Dallas 😊 Beneficiary is Scottish Rite Hospital for children running by the hospital is so great!! Always do the challenge for the jacket the … MORE

    Medals are always highlights /icons of Dallas 😊
    Beneficiary is Scottish Rite Hospital for children running by the hospital is so great!! Always do the challenge for the jacket the quality lasts for years. This was my first Half Marathon and 10 years later still my favorite. Definitely will continue running each year as long as my legs will carry me.

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    morgancswenson FIRST-TIMER '21

    Great aid stations and everyone was so friendly. The course was laid out so well and I really enjoyed all of the swag they gave out. The food at the … MORE

    Great aid stations and everyone was so friendly. The course was laid out so well and I really enjoyed all of the swag they gave out. The food at the end was also amazing. Overall it was a great experience!

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    A friend talked me into joining his relay team, even though I'm not a runner. But I'm glad I did, because it was alot of fun! I ran the last … MORE

    A friend talked me into joining his relay team, even though I’m not a runner. But I’m glad I did, because it was alot of fun! I ran the last leg of the race, and felt exhilarated along the entire way by all the people lining course to cheer us on. The signup and logistics on race day were a little complicated to figure out, but I think that’s just inherent in an event like this. I don’t think they could have done anything more to simplify things. Overall, it was as smooth as could be. I had a great time and look forward to doing it again next year!

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  1. Races
  2. BMW Dallas Marathon Festival