Overall Rating
Overall Rating (97 Reviews)
4.2
(97 Ratings)  (97 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.1
SCENERY
4.2
PRODUCTION
4.2
SWAG
4
Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner, casual runner or training for your first 5K, the Detroit Free Press Marathon has a race for you. On Saturday, we kick off our weekend of races with the American Home Fitness 5K, Meijer Kids Fun Run and Competitive 1-Mile. Then on Sunday, the Full … 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
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    SCENERY
    4
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    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 🙂

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    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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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    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……

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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!

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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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    sjuris1 FIRST-TIMER '18

    What a fun race for my first marathon! First time marathoners in the Detroit Freep are known as 'greenies' and get a special bib - and a little extra cheers … MORE

    What a fun race for my first marathon! First time marathoners in the Detroit Freep are known as ‘greenies’ and get a special bib – and a little extra cheers on the course because of the accomplishment! This course was well laid out and it was a ton of fun to run in two different countries on one run! Because the International Half is the most popular course (and the first half of the full), it thinned out quite a bit in the second half, but the fans in that section didn’t disappoint! The volunteers were great and there was plenty of fluid support on the course. Was an awesome experience, a great course with great scenery, and well supported! I didn’t get to go to the after party, but even the finishing chute (while very long) was supported with volunteers handing out medals, thermal blankets, and bags of food (rather than having a lineup for individuals that do, or don’t, want specific items). Thanks Detroit for a wonderful first time experience!!!

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    Plecerf FIRST-TIMER '18

    Fun to go into Canada More energy and spectators than expected Crossing of bridge at night with city lights very beautiful Nice for Run tourism and get an idea of … MORE

    Fun to go into Canada
    More energy and spectators than expected
    Crossing of bridge at night with city lights very beautiful
    Nice for Run tourism and get an idea of city
    Relatively flat and fast course
    Very big and nice medal

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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.

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    fawnwolf FIRST-TIMER '17

    This was a fun and well organized race. I loved running across the Ambassador Bridge at sunrise, through residential Windsor and then residential Detroit. Great crowd support. Only one complaint! … MORE

    This was a fun and well organized race. I loved running across the Ambassador Bridge at sunrise, through residential Windsor and then residential Detroit. Great crowd support. Only one complaint! From everything I read on the official website (for months before race day), carrying liquids across the international borders was “discouraged” but the website said it’s “up to the runner’s discretion.” It was noted that if you’re carrying liquids you may be asked by border patrol to show your documents, possibly dump your liquids. I took this to mean technically you’re not supposed to, but it’s a marathon and carry liquids at your own risk, realizing you may have to dump them. I brought my usual electrolyte drink, since I saw they were only offering water and lime Gatorade (don’t tolerate either well on long runs). The day before the race I pick up the registration packet, and the language is very different, indicating under no circumstances were you allowed to carry any bags or liquids. I arrived at the race, and in fact not a single person was carrying bags or liquids. I feared being disqualified, so ran my bag and liquids back to the hotel. It was warm (72) and humid (85%), and having to consume only the water and lime Gatorade (bleh) was not optimal. I’m not sure what I would have done differently had I known ahead of time, but it kind of stunk having to change my nutrition plan last minute. It was frustrating that there was such a difference in the language on the website versus the language in the packet pick up, particularly affecting nutrition during a marathon.

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    jnsnewsletter FIRST-TIMER '17

    The internatonal half is difficult. You can actually look up the elevation rates to see how high the bridge is and the tunnel is to see the height that you're … MORE

    The internatonal half is difficult. You can actually look up the elevation rates to see how high the bridge is and the tunnel is to see the height that you’re gonna need to do. There are plenty of water stations. For the 1st 3rd of the course, have a water station every 2 miles. The middle of the course, have a water station every mile and a 1/2. For the last 3rd of the course, have a water station every mile. I think that this is one of the best run courses I’ve ever done. Very organized, lots of water, loss of signage, and lots of communication beforehand to make me feel comfortable.

    On the negative side, I was disappointed that there weren’t as many people along the marathon route as I thought there would be to cheer people on. For example, I’ve been to some 5 k’s that have a bunch of bands and/or school cheerleaders or marching bands performing to keep people energized along the route. This one, I only saw 1 actual band of 3 guys performing. In general, there weren’t a lot of people outside their houses cheering us on or anything like that. that sort of bummed me out. The other disappointing thing, and my friend Kathy and I both said the same thing, is afterwards the after party was really lame. I was disappointed that there wasn’t some activity going on. There was a beer tent that you have to pay for. But other than that, there were a couple of tents where there were specific sponsors that people had their teams coming in to say Hi. But there wasn’t any music or anything. there wasn’t really a celebration type of feel afterwards.

    The marathon and international 1/2 marathon people all start at the same time, but it’s based on your pace that you select and tell them. So on your bib it will give you a letter and that is the corral you need to go to. Although the start was at 7:00 a.m., because I was in the last corral, I didn’t actually go through the start line until almost 7:30 a.m.. They said they would close the race course at 11:00 a.m., which would have been 4 hours. But for me, that only gave me 3 and a 1/2 hours to finish the course. So, that’s why I was nervous about getting swept. I took longer than 3 and a 1/2 hours and I was fine. I honestly think they over estimate the time for the sweepers, to scare people. But there were people that came in an hour after me. So I know that I was safe.

    The tunnel was no joke. I legit had to stop and lean against the wall because I was about to pass out. It was stuffy and the exhaust fumes were awful with zero fresh air. I was so relieved when I made it through the tunnel and was out in the open again. There were 0 cars in the tunnel. But it was just the fumes. Keep in mind it’s almost a mile long, underground. So there really isn’t much air. It was that it was stuffy. More so than the actual fumes, for me anyway. I did realize that on the outside of each lane, there was like a vent that had some cool air coming in for part of the way. So I was running right next to those to get as much of that air I could. But I still got very light headed. The bridge however had one lane that was being used sporadically. It looks like they were Letting cars over, escorted, a few cars at a time. I would see an escort Before & After about 5 cars coming from one direction to go across. And then a few minutes later 5 cars coming from the other direction escorted to go across the bridge. I heard that several thousand people started the international half and or full but didn’t finish. I also heard that several quit after the tunnel. So be prepared for the tunnel!

    I really appreciated all of the communication for this race. It was very well organized!

    I did it anyway. I have the medal and the photo to prove it. And I’m pretty damn proud of myself. For all of you that have considered starting to run, or even walk more frequently, I hope that I was able to provide a little inspiration. No one will ever accuse me of looking fit or having a runner’s body. But, I run. And therefore, I’m a runner and I have a runner’s body. Don’t let anything stop you.

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