Overall Rating
Overall Rating (97 Reviews)
4.2
(97 Ratings)  (97 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.1
SCENERY
4.2
PRODUCTION
4.2
SWAG
4
UPDATE (July 29, 2021): For the third time in the 44 years of the Detroit Free Press Marathon, this year’s event will be run solely in the City of Detroit. Running internationally is a beloved and unique component of our race, and because of that, we exhausted every opportunity and avenue, … MORE
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Recent reviews

    Runnerkaty FIRST-TIMER '21

    We stayed in a downtown hotel to walk everywhere and it was perfect. The race is fun, nice expo and swag. The afterparty was okay....would have been nice to have … MORE

    We stayed in a downtown hotel to walk everywhere and it was perfect. The race is fun, nice expo and swag. The afterparty was okay….would have been nice to have a little more food (other than a banana and granola bar). The beer was for sale, not free. The people and volunteers were wonderfully friendly!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    mle.kathryn FIRST-TIMER '21

    Even without the trip to Canada it was great! The course was flat for the half. Plenty of water stations. Maybe some more bathrooms on the course. I waited till … MORE

    Even without the trip to Canada it was great! The course was flat for the half. Plenty of water stations. Maybe some more bathrooms on the course. I waited till almost the end because of the long lines. Love the spectators they made the event special 🙂

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    DrewNYC FIRST-TIMER '21

    **NOTE THIS REVIEW IS FROM 2021 - RACE DID NOT GO INTO CANADA THIS YEAR.** I have planned to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon as my Michigan marathon ever … MORE

    **NOTE THIS REVIEW IS FROM 2021 – RACE DID NOT GO INTO CANADA THIS YEAR.**

    I have planned to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon as my Michigan marathon ever since I decided to run all 50 states (back in 2009). One of the reasons was that this race typically runs into Canada. Unfortunately, this year (2021) the course was altered because of COVID. I will definitely return to run the half marathon of this race weekend so that I can get the full “run into Canada” experience.

    I remain extremely grateful for the race organizers who are putting together races during this time. Despite the alterations made to the course and the weekend, this was a well run event and I would definitely recommend.

    I signed up for the “Supreme” – I ran the 1-miler and 5k races on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday. I came home with three medals, a long sleeve technical shirt, and a zipped up hoodie, so the swag was great!

    I stayed at the Marriott at the Renaissance Center. This was sort of in the center of the weekend events (1-miler & 5k were in one direction and the expo and marathon start/finish was in the other).

    The course was mostly flat–there were more speed bumps then hills. Of course, that all changed in the last mile. That is where there were two hills! Race directors must love putting hills in at the end.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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    kloskyj FIRST-TIMER '21

    Flat and easy course through urban to suburban Detroit and Belle Isle (no Canada due to COVID-19). Not overly crowded, but a very well attended race where you are never … MORE

    Flat and easy course through urban to suburban Detroit and Belle Isle (no Canada due to COVID-19). Not overly crowded, but a very well attended race where you are never out of contact with multiple runners. Half/M Relay folks run at the time/course, but not as issue. I don’t like crowds personally and this was entirely ok. Aid stations and bands were frequent, spectator support was average in places to awesome in some neighborhoods. Lots of viewing opportunities for your spectators. Bands, music, beers, fireball, food, etc. was also provided by locals not as part of the race itself. Weather was comfortably chilly the entire race. Communication was awesome. Expo was not over the top, but nice and appropriate. Results were emailed almost instantly along with links to photos that could be downloaded free. Start was via corrals and not an issue. We had no trouble parking for the expo or start, but I could see that as about the only potential complaint. This is an excellent marathon!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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    hseitz FIRST-TIMER '21

    I traveled from central Illinois for this race. Thanks to covid, we weren't able to run into Windsor, Ontario like all the other years. I kept hearing how much we … MORE

    I traveled from central Illinois for this race. Thanks to covid, we weren’t able to run into Windsor, Ontario like all the other years. I kept hearing how much we were missing out on this year.
    We started and ended downtown, which was cool to run down streets with 30-story buildings. We ran up the northwest corridor of neighborhoods for the first half, went downtown at 13 miles to drop the half marathoners off, and then ran up the northeast side for the back end. Some marathoners say it’s tough mentally to run past the half marathon finish line. If this is you, prepare yourself mentally for that.
    Belle Isle was both the highlight and lowlight of the race for me.
    We ran onto it from miles 19-22, and while it was very pretty, you’d better prepare for 20-mph winds and goose droppings everywhere.
    There were about 2000 marathoners this year, down from 4000+ a few years ago. Production and fan support were great, and the roar of the crowd echoing off the skyscrapers down the home stretch gave me chills, so it was a solid Michigan race.

    *I heard “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen played on loudspeakers FOUR times.
    *I’ve run past tables offering beer at races before, but here, one table (mile 15?) offered Bloody Marys, and some dude at mile 24 was even handing out shots of Fireball to runners. Y’all crazy, Detroit.

    DIFFICULTY
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    SCENERY
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    M_Sohaskey Oct 19, 2021 at 10:10pm

    Nicely done Harrison, and especially two weeks after Maine! 👏 Great review, and glad race day worked out well despite staying in the States this year. I had to laugh… MORE

    Nicely done Harrison, and especially two weeks after Maine! 👏 Great review, and glad race day worked out well despite staying in the States this year. I had to laugh when you said you heard "Born to Run" 4x... I ran in NJ (his home state, of course) in Atlantic City this past weekend and kept expecting to hear The Boss around every corner... but it never happened. 🤔 (By the way, if you think Bloody Marys at mile 15 is a bold move, wait until you run Route 66 next month—great community support, to the tune of Bloody Marys starting at mile 3!) LESS

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    MattyIce FIRST-TIMER '21

    Ran the 2021, the 3rd time in 44(?) years the race did not cross into Canada. Weather was tremendous, high 40s and overcast. Very mild mostly flat course that took … MORE

    Ran the 2021, the 3rd time in 44(?) years the race did not cross into Canada. Weather was tremendous, high 40s and overcast. Very mild mostly flat course that took you through some lovely residential areas and the downtown space. Lots of local turnout to support. Race expo was great, swag was very nice: long sleeve tech shirt, long face mask/ head bib and some other goodies. Production was very impressive, this is definitely a premium racing experience. Nearly PR’d if it weren’t for 3 inopportune pit stops– oh well.

    Highly recommend.

    DIFFICULTY
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    5
    SCENERY
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    SWAG
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    My Media

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    Smyles FIRST-TIMER '20

    I did this race virtually while physically racing 7 Bridges half marathon. The swag was great! , shirt with 13.1 on the back, a race pullover and a jacket!! 4 … MORE

    I did this race virtually while physically racing 7 Bridges half marathon. The swag was great! , shirt with 13.1 on the back, a race pullover and a jacket!! 4 medal because I did the Wonder… 1 mile, 5 k, and half marathon.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    mazzyoc FIRST-TIMER '14

    - get to run through Canada (bridge to and tunnel from). Canadian spectators were wonderful. had to have my passport with me during the run though (requirement when i ran … MORE

    – get to run through Canada (bridge to and tunnel from). Canadian spectators were wonderful. had to have my passport with me during the run though (requirement when i ran this)
    – get to run through downtown Detroit and surrounding neighborhoods
    – great looking medal
    – nice cool weather
    – organized race

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    laurenmarcon FIRST-TIMER '19

    I don't have any other full marathons to compare this to since it was my first, but I honestly couldn't have chosen a better one for that experience! It's also … MORE

    I don’t have any other full marathons to compare this to since it was my first, but I honestly couldn’t have chosen a better one for that experience! It’s also cool because it’s international – you’ll run through Canada as well as the U.S. (and the Canadian border patrol is so friendly when welcoming you into their country, as Canadians typically are :)).

    The expo was extremely fun and there was so much set up for it I didn’t have time to look at it all! They had flags for each country that was participating in the race lining the entry-way, and a giant video screen showing a car’s view of the full marathon route. It was nice to watch that beforehand. The race shirt is awesome too – it has the Ambassador Bridge on the back of it which is my favorite part of the race!

    The race starts in downtown Detroit and they play Eminem before you start which is pretty badass. Within the first 2 miles you are crossing the Ambassador Bridge into Canada while the sun rises over the Detroit River. Lots of people stop to take selfies at this point, so it’s best to stay in the center of the crowd to avoid getting stuck behind them. There’s a little bit of a hill to go up the bridge and back down, but it’s nothing extreme. I trained for elevation thinking it was going to be more drastic than it was!

    You’ll run in Canada for about 5 miles and then head back to the U.S. through the tunnel, or the “Underwater Mile”! It’s a little hot in here, but I didn’t feel claustrophobic at all. There’s a similar dip in elevation to the bridge, maybe a tiny bit more drastic. You’ll reenter the U.S. at the end where a TON of crowds come to cheer you on back into the city.

    The half marathon ends in the city and the full marathon runners leave again to head to Belle Isle. You’ll run through really pretty Detroit houses with old architecture and lots of families standing in their lawns to cheer you on. After you pass these you’ll come to Belle Isle at mile 19 where almost all the crowds of people disappear and you’re out on your own. The bridge is nice and open and there are people on each side exiting or entering the island. The only negative part of the race is how empty Belle Isle was – I really appreciate signs and music so it was hard to get past the hardest part of the race without cheering! This is the only part I put my headphones in for.

    You’ll run straight back to the city where the end of the marathon is. There are gates holding back crowds with bleachers(?) of people cheering for you. It was amazing! The medal was super cool and heavy and had an old time Chevy vehicle on it, appropriate for the Motor City.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    klmeyer13 FIRST-TIMER '19

    First half-marathon, and I am hooked! Well-organized expo, the energy at the start was awesome! Seeing the sunrise over the bridge, going through Canada, and running through the tunnel were … MORE

    First half-marathon, and I am hooked! Well-organized expo, the energy at the start was awesome! Seeing the sunrise over the bridge, going through Canada, and running through the tunnel were awesome features. I will be back to run this again soon!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    wonderjess FIRST-TIMER '19

    A friend of mine picked this race as her first marathon. I was coming back from an injury, and all in we brought 7 runners to complete the full (4) … MORE

    A friend of mine picked this race as her first marathon. I was coming back from an injury, and all in we brought 7 runners to complete the full (4) and half (3).
    Registration/Communication/Website: A+ all around here. Website and registration were clear and easy. Communication was also very good. There were some logistical details that were shared around border crossings, bringing your passport, not bringing water/bags across the border. I feel like the level of communication was really good. Although, I did see complaints after the run that runners didn’t know they couldn’t bring their own hydration. Also, there was a Detroit Marathon facebook group that was super helpful, and kept everyone up to date.
    Expo/Bib Pickup: A good variety of vendors, even some local products (locally produced energy bars). Bib pickup was efficient. We showed up to the expo Saturday afternoon, and while most booths still had great stock, the official merchandise was running low on sizes.
    Swag/Merchandise: the bib pickup bag had lots of goodies — gender specific race shirt (tho many complained the sizes ran small), gloves, a buff, and some other goodies. The official merchandise and race shirt was mostly New Balance – lots of great stuff. Also, race photos are free to all runners — with the option to purchase higher resolution versions. The medal is a good quality.
    Race Day Logistics: Parking wasn’t too bad. We parked in Greektown (free parking in the casino deck), the start was about a mile from the deck. The corrals were fine, people were milling around for a good hour before the start (we had all be warned to get there early). Corrals weren’t monitored too strictly, but it all seemed to work out. Race started on time.
    Course: Super flat, can be a little boring. The only elevation is the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, and then the tunnel back into Detroit. The race is pretty congested for the first half (running with the HMers), and then spreads out in the second half. Got to see some cool neighborhoods and areas in Detroit. Indian Village was a nice pick-me-up around mile 17 – tons of people out with impromptu aid tables (including beer and mimosas). The finish chute was a little lack-luster. For some reason they had very high chainlink fence up leading into the chute, so it discouraged people from cheering you in at the finish. The finish line itself operated really well, they moved you through and gave you water, chocolate milk, a food bag, opportunities for photos.

    Overall: I have no complaints about Detroit – at the same time, there was nothing extraordinary about the race. If people have ties to Michigan they may feel different. Happy to have run it, but not sure I would mark it a ‘must do’ or travel back.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
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    4

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    M_Sohaskey Nov 25, 2019 at 10:57pm

    YAY, congrats Jess! And so happy to read about you back on the roads... in fact, I got a nice dopamine hit when I saw your review 😊. This one's… MORE

    YAY, congrats Jess! And so happy to read about you back on the roads... in fact, I got a nice dopamine hit when I saw your review 😊. This one's personally helpful, since there are quite a few races in Michigan vying for my 50 States $$. Sounds like a smooth production overall, though like you I don't get the high chain link fence thing, since that sounds like a huge buzzkill for runners and spectators alike. But thanks for the typically excellent review — glad you had a solid race and hope you've recovered well! LESS

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    samanthadolen FIRST-TIMER '19

    This was a well organized race with a great expo. The course is interesting with 2 border crossings, the ambassador bridge, the tunnel and Belle Island. It had a few … MORE

    This was a well organized race with a great expo. The course is interesting with 2 border crossings, the ambassador bridge, the tunnel and Belle Island. It had a few hills but was mostly flat. There is good spectator turn-out and support throughout the race.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    5
    SCENERY
    4
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    CJYooper REPEAT RUNNER '19

    I ran this race two years ago and the production was just so much better this year. The post-race area was really well organized and run. The aid-stations were well-stocked … MORE

    I ran this race two years ago and the production was just so much better this year. The post-race area was really well organized and run. The aid-stations were well-stocked and the swag was much improved with great looking medals. The first-time pre-race party was also nicely done and i suspect will only continue to improve.

    Honestly, this is a terrific race course. There are probably few more amazing views on any course in the country that compare to sunrise over the Detroit River as you cross the Ambassador Bridge. Running in a foreign country and then coming back via the only underwater mile is also pretty interesting. The course is actually pretty technically challenging and between the bridge, tunnel and all the turns on the first half, it isn’t easy to save fuel for the second half, which is really the easier and prettier half of the race. A negative split strategy isn’t a bad idea.

    I don’t typically like to race the same course multiple times, but I’ll be back for more in the Motor City……

    DIFFICULTY
    4
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    SCENERY
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    jahbrink REPEAT RUNNER '19

    As a repeat runner, I'm still awed by the view as we run up, across and over the Ambassador Bridge at dawn. That really is a sight to see. The … MORE

    As a repeat runner, I’m still awed by the view as we run up, across and over the Ambassador Bridge at dawn. That really is a sight to see. The tunnel is a hot can of sweaty runners, but that first breath of cool fresh air as you emerge is like nothing else. The production is ok – they could label, stretch out and organize aid stations better so you know where water and gatorade are. Those turn into congestion nightmares. The Detroit swag is the best I have experienced so far, especially if you run the Saturday and Sunday races. Still lots of fun!

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    jahbrink REPEAT RUNNER '19

    This was a fun pre-race 5K along the Detroit riverfront. Parking can be a little nutty, so give yourself extra time or park a few blocks away and walk. The … MORE

    This was a fun pre-race 5K along the Detroit riverfront. Parking can be a little nutty, so give yourself extra time or park a few blocks away and walk. The staging at the start could be broken up a bit better considering the number of participants… but that’s typical of the majority of 5Ks. The scenery is nice and the swag is great! Detroit knows how to do swag!

    DIFFICULTY
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    3
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    3
    SWAG
    5

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    jae0049 FIRST-TIMER '16

    I loved this marathon. Maybe it was because my first one, but I just loved the energy. I’ll never forget standing in the starting corrals, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” blasting while … MORE

    I loved this marathon. Maybe it was because my first one, but I just loved the energy. I’ll never forget standing in the starting corrals, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” blasting while spotlights and helicopters light up the dark sky! I was excited about running over the Ambassador bridge (gorgeous views!) and running through Canada was fun! The tunnel was hot, stinky, and kinda freaked me out though… I enjoyed running through Corktown, the block parties in Indian Village, and even though I felt like I was being water-boarded by the rain, running around Belle Isle is cool! The expo was huge and awesome – lot of cool stuff!

    My only complaint was that this year they didn’t get the marathon shirts printed on time. They have us a yucky plain black ink on white cotton t-shirt at the expo, but we didn’t get the performance long sleeve tees for a few weeks. I ran a marathon – i want the d**n shirt to wear proudly the next day! Lol

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    3
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    SCENERY
    4
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    westja2005 FIRST-TIMER '07

    Ran race because of the Race Stoppage in Chicago due to heat. I'm from Detroit so I thought this was good alternative rather than waste months of training. Running over … MORE

    Ran race because of the Race Stoppage in Chicago due to heat. I’m from Detroit so I thought this was good alternative rather than waste months of training. Running over the Ambassador Bridge was pretty cool. The grade elevation was harder than I anticipated. It seem like the whole race came to stop as cameras came out from everywhere while people were taking a photograph of runners straddling the USA/Canada border (In 2 countries at the same time).

    Running through the tunnel was very hot! (Don’t let the boarder agents see your camera). They made a friend of mine delete all of her pictures.

    The cobble stone streets in old Detroit was a pain to run on.

    Running around Belle Isle was great and very scenic.

    This was my first marathon so I didn’t know what to expect and since realize they have the best pre-marathon race food. Actually, a bit too good. You can over eat.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
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    3

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    Carebear10378 FIRST-TIMER '17

    This very interesting race! I don't think there is another race that goes underwater and over a bridge. I really enjoyed running over the bridge and on the Canadian side. … MORE

    This very interesting race! I don’t think there is another race that goes underwater and over a bridge. I really enjoyed running over the bridge and on the Canadian side. they were very friendly and the city views were pretty. running through the tunnel was quite the experience. My favorite part there was seeing the border line of US/Canada. Just be prepared that it will be very warm in the tunnel!
    The spectators along the way were great, very supportive and fun! I enjoyed the race even with the crazy weather.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    jahbrink FIRST-TIMER '18

    The international aspect of this race is a lot of fun, but the hills of the bridge and tunnel can be tough. Luckily they are in the first half. Stay … MORE

    The international aspect of this race is a lot of fun, but the hills of the bridge and tunnel can be tough. Luckily they are in the first half. Stay towards the walls in the tunnel – there’s cool air coming from the lower vents there.

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    BrooklandRunner FIRST-TIMER '13

    What is neat about this race is you run into Windor, Canada. I thought that was fun - I had never been to Canada before this race. My effort could … MORE

    What is neat about this race is you run into Windor, Canada. I thought that was fun – I had never been to Canada before this race. My effort could have been better, but it was another BQ (although not by enough to get into the 2015 race).

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    My Report
    SCENERY
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