Overall Rating
Overall Rating (87 Reviews)
4.1
(87 Ratings)(87 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
3.2
SCENERY
4.2
PRODUCTION
4.1
SWAG
4
Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner, casual runner or training for your first 5K, the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank 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 … MORE
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Recent reviews

    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
    SWAG
    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
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    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
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
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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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    5

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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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    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

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    2

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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
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    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.

    DIFFICULTY
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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).

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    My Report
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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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!!!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
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    4

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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

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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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.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    4
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    a5mowat FIRST-TIMER '17

    I ran the 2017 Detroit marathon as a "greenie". First time marathoners get a special green bib which is excellent because I got a lot of extra encouragement on the … MORE

    I ran the 2017 Detroit marathon as a “greenie”. First time marathoners get a special green bib which is excellent because I got a lot of extra encouragement on the back half of the course from the crowd and other runners.

    I previously ran the international half in 2015 so I was pretty familiar with that part of the course. I also ran RunDetroit’s Freep Marathon 18 mile preview run so I knew the back half of the course. The course is fairly easy – the hills are the bridges and tunnel. Highlights are definitely running the bridge, corktown, and Indian Village.

    The weather was definitely a factor in my performance. It was unseasonably warm at the start so dehydration was a risk. The wind at the end on Belle Isle and the river walk was really tough to run in the last 10k.

    The race had an excellent participant shirt and medal. The expo was good as usual. It could have used some extra water stops in the back half – especially considering the warmer temperatures. I was very happy when the mile 20 station filled my water bottle because I was using my extra water along with the on-course aid stations.

    Overall I would recommend this race – particularly the international half marathon and marathon.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    5
    SCENERY
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    Lorelei REPEAT RUNNER '17

    This is a great run for families or for First-timers or for those seeking a PR. It’s scenic and flat and fast. The swag is amazing! Worth the money. I … MORE

    This is a great run for families or for First-timers or for those seeking a PR. It’s scenic and flat and fast. The swag is amazing! Worth the money. I have repeated this race and will repeat in the future.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    pkroon REPEAT RUNNER '15

    I've done this race twice, and both times I set subsequent PRs for my half-marathon distance! Where else can you cross a body of water into another country and return … MORE

    I’ve done this race twice, and both times I set subsequent PRs for my half-marathon distance! Where else can you cross a body of water into another country and return to the US of A via tunnel underneath said international waters? The course was very good and I thought it was a nice mix of what Detroit and Windsor, Canada have to offer. In order to race, you have to sign up months in advance as well as show up in person before race day to show your passport when picking up your packet. I was told to carry my passport with me on race day which I did, but it wasn’t needed since border patrol was very strict on seeing people’s bibs as their pass through the border crossing. In all, this race has given me a more positive vibe about Detroit. It’s worth training for.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
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    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Profile photo of Jennifer Sutherland
    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.

    DIFFICULTY
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    SCENERY
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    SWAG
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    labbottmccloud REPEAT RUNNER '17

    From the communication from the RD and crew to the phenomenal expo to the gorgeous course and the unique experience of running into another country and running under water to … MORE

    From the communication from the RD and crew to the phenomenal expo to the gorgeous course and the unique experience of running into another country and running under water to the outstanding community support — this is a a definite bucket list race. I absolutely LOVE the Detroit International Half because the energy and enthusiasm from other runners is contagious. You can’t help but smile as you weave your way into Windsor and then back through the streets of Detroit. I loved every second of the 13.1 miles. It’s the perfect first half and an ideal course for the beginner to elite.

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    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    cradits REPEAT RUNNER '17

    Aid Stations were good, however volunteers on both sides of the street would have been amazing. There needs to be a line to separate where walkers should be separated from … MORE

    Aid Stations were good, however volunteers on both sides of the street would have been amazing. There needs to be a line to separate where walkers should be separated from runners, in other races I have ran, there is a white line to make it easier for the runners to not run into others who suddenly decide to walk. This makes the run more enjoyable and allows those who need to walk an area where they will not be accidentally ran into. After the race workers are too strict on where they can walk and where they can’t.

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    2

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    davisr REPEAT RUNNER '17

    Race is well organized, excellent aid stations, lots of information sent out prior to race about race course, expo, etc. Fun atmosphere and lots of people cheering throughout! Simply cannot … MORE

    Race is well organized, excellent aid stations, lots of information sent out prior to race about race course, expo, etc. Fun atmosphere and lots of people cheering throughout! Simply cannot beat the view from the Ambassador Bridge

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