Tough course - top notch scenary! Aug 23, 2016 | Marathon Overall Rating: MrsCGomer FIRST-TIMER '16 Follow Pre-race: Newsletters were sent out at regular intervals, which I really enjoyed. Packet pick-up: The location had plenty of parking and was easy to find. I wasn't totally impressed with … MORE Pre-race: Newsletters were sent out at regular intervals, which I really enjoyed. Packet pick-up: The location had plenty of parking and was easy to find. I wasn’t totally impressed with the expo but I also wasn’t disappointed. My husband and I walked around for a bit but didn’t buy anything. Finding my bib number was a breeze and the volunteers were quick to get my bag and shirt. Race morning: The worst part about the race is the pre-race. The hotel where I stayed did not offer a shuttle but I was just across the street from the bus pick up location, so I just walked over and it wasn’t a big deal. There were volunteers directing folks to the correct buses and there seemed to be plenty of buses for all the participants. The miserable part starts once the bus drops you off at the start line. The sun isn’t fully up and it’s chilly, with nowhere to huddle to warm up. Thankfully, this wasn’t my first marathon, so I came prepared with warm clothes. I saw some people who were not prepared…. So, moral of the story, be prepared with hat/gloves/sweatpants and a drop bag. Race course: B-E-A-UTIFUL!! The course is amazing. The majority of the course are wooded and very peaceful. The “trail” is not very technical and the crushed limestone is a breeze to run on. I was worried about getting rocks in my shoes, but I didn’t have any trouble with that at all. At one point, you run through an old mine tunnel and it was soooo cool. The 14 miles of uphill was difficult, for sure, but it wasn’t totally unbearable. The hardest part was running downhill on tired legs. My legs started to feel the burn at about mile 19, where there is a big hill that I was not expecting. I walked up the entire thing and was able to catch my second wind after that. The heat wasn’t an issue until the last hour (~5 miles) of the run – when you start running in more open scenery with less shade and it’s getting closer to noon – thank goodness we were still running through beautiful scenery distract my brain from the pain. For the last mile or so, you get off the trail and start running on an asphalt bike path. The finish line was nice because there was plenty of room for spectators. Post race/swag: My one very minor complaint about this race was the t-shirt. Who gives a long-sleeved shirt for a marathon in June? I was hoping for a short sleeved t-shirt. That aside, the shirt is a quality material and it fits really nice. The medals are super cool too. I would definitely recommend this marathon for the scenery and as an introduction to trail running. I would NOT recommend this marathon for someone hoping to get a personal best due to the elevation gain/hills. Swag: DIFFICULTY 5 PRODUCTION 4 SCENERY 5 SWAG 4 My Media Please login to reply to this review.