Overall Rating
Overall Rating (60 Reviews)
4.7
(60 Ratings)(60 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.6
SCENERY
4.7
PRODUCTION
4.8
SWAG
4.4
The Napa Valley Marathon and Half Marathon is dedicated to fostering and promoting quality road racing in an inspiring setting. Known as the “biggest little marathon in the West,” the Marathon has earned a reputation for outstanding runner support, attention to detail, and a beautiful point-to-point course. The Napa Valley … MORE
Local Weather (Mar 03)
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H (°F) 48 61 62 61 57
L (°F) 38 43 56 42 52
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Recent reviews

    ucd76 FIRST-TIMER '11

    Start drop-off is congested so arrive early. Plenty of rolling hills and twisty roads keeps the course interesting. Several good access points for spectator viewing. Small aid stations. Long last … MORE

    Start drop-off is congested so arrive early. Plenty of rolling hills and twisty roads keeps the course interesting. Several good access points for spectator viewing. Small aid stations. Long last couple of miles after trying into town.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    cneilan REPEAT RUNNER '18

    Expo: Small and crowded but lots of good vendors, including some with free food and wine! Some older NVM clothing for sale at rock-bottom prices. Start: Buses take you from … MORE

    Expo: Small and crowded but lots of good vendors, including some with free food and wine! Some older NVM clothing for sale at rock-bottom prices.
    Start: Buses take you from Napa to race start in Calistoga. You can hang out on the bus to stay warm for a while. Since the number of runners is kept o around 1500 (I think) there are only small lines for portajohns and bag drop-off.
    Course: Rolling, and beautiful. Gradual downhill towards finish. You don’t ever have to worry about where to go as there are only about 4 turns total, all at the end of the race. If you rely on crowd support, this is not the marathon for you. Personally, I prefer the quieter marathons.
    Finish: The BEST thing ever – each runner crossing the line has a volunteer come up to them and make sure they are OK, hand the runner water, and guide them through the shoot. I have only ever seen this in Ironmen, so this is such a GREAT thing for a small town race. Love it. Also, the hot showers at the gym are a big bonus.
    Swag: Great medal this year (bunch of grapes), nice long sleeve tech shirt, and a duffel bag that converts into a back-pack.
    I loved this race from start to finish. I talked with so many other runners during this run. All of the runners seemed very engaged and I rarely saw anyone with headphones. And I thought this was very, very, well organized. Major kudos to the race organization. I will be back….again.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

    2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    rcjacobson Apr 19, 2018 at 6:16pm

    I ran Napa Valley Marathon for my first marathon two years ago and was awed by the runner support. Yes, a volunteer handed me a water bottle when I crossed the line (he even twisted the cap off for me) and kept me walking and talking through the chute to the photographer. I felt like a VIP. I'll also never forget the volunteer on the bike at Mile 23 who gave me the best encouragement I've ever heard in a race: "Don't stop running, you can do this, you trained for this." NVM is such a well-organized race. Headphones were banned until the last year or two, I think, which I really liked. Also, no relays and no pacers. No half marathoners jumping in mid-course to make you doubt your pacing, like in San Francisco. NVM is a pure marathon.

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    The start was easy to get go, the early miles had some rolling hills and the last half was straight and smooth. The race was organized very well. There were … MORE

    The start was easy to get go, the early miles had some rolling hills and the last half was straight and smooth. The race was organized very well. There were several points along the way where friends/family could cheer participants on. I would definitely run this race again!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    karlin23 REPEAT RUNNER '18

    NVM is the best especially if you like to run in beautiful scenery and perfect weather. It was the third year in a row running it and every year I … MORE

    NVM is the best especially if you like to run in beautiful scenery and perfect weather. It was the third year in a row running it and every year I have set a PR at the event. I am amazed at how well the race and expo are run.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    strshpbronk REPEAT RUNNER '18

    This is one of the prettiest courses for a marathon. Spectacular views of the Napa Valley, net down, very nice gear bag, great and friendly staff and support, all in … MORE

    This is one of the prettiest courses for a marathon. Spectacular views of the Napa Valley, net down, very nice gear bag, great and friendly staff and support, all in a BQ certified run.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Profile photo of Justin Liang
    Justin_Liang FIRST-TIMER '18

    I couldn't have selected a better race for my first full marathon, as the 2018 NVM far exceeded all of my expectations! I've run several half marathons, along with countless … MORE

    I couldn’t have selected a better race for my first full marathon, as the 2018 NVM far exceeded all of my expectations! I’ve run several half marathons, along with countless 10Ks and 5Ks, but this race was by far my favorite–and the most memorable. From the race expo–which had a ton of amazing freebies–to the course, the swag (nice bag, shirt, and medals), and the overall logistics, I applaud the organizers for a job well done! The course, by the way, is magnificently scenic; fixing my eyes on the bucolic vineyards, I almost entirely forgot I was running 26.2 miles. We were blessed with perfect running weather, and I loved the cheer-points (there were bands, people with signs, and throngs of folks at the finish line); the check-in/check-out situation; and the finishing area. For folks looking to do a destination race, look no further. I turned the weekend into a relaxing getaway, and clearly benefited from the pre-race festivities, which included some wine-tasting and outstanding food! Would highly recommend NVM for anyone looking for a fun, scenic, and memorable running trip!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    M_Sohaskey Mar 22, 2018 at 3:18pm

    Huge congrats on conquering your first marathon, Justin! Along with the well-deserved euphoria that goes with it — there's no better feeling. And YES, it sounds like you really did choose wisely. Thanks for the enthusiastic review, I clearly need to get this race on my schedule. Hope you're recovering well!

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    hsm2130 FIRST-TIMER '18

    This was my third marathon and by far the best expo and race experience. The expo included some wine tasting, had a lot of merchandise for purchase that was very … MORE

    This was my third marathon and by far the best expo and race experience. The expo included some wine tasting, had a lot of merchandise for purchase that was very reasonably priced and very cheap merchandise from previous years. Whole foods was a sponsor in 2018 and had their own swag bag, they also had a really nice set up with cheese and even free facials! The race itself was very well organized with very quick potty lines at the start. The downhill is surprisingly rough, I wish I had trained on more downhill as my quads were dying by 20 miles. The scenery is gorgeous the entire way. By the end of the race the sun is beating down on you so I would definitely advise wearing shorts if the high is above 50. In 2018, it started at 30 degrees and got to just above 50, there were places to dump clothing at every mile marker. The mile markers are good, but there was no display of the timing on the course. They did tracking at mile 7, the half and mile 20. There were plenty of water, gatorade and portapotty stops, and all the ones near the end had orange slices and banana halves. At the end, there was physical therapy and massages, some food, and the bag pickup was very well organized. Overall, a very well organized race and definitely one I will do again.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    aahumada18 FIRST-TIMER '18

    This is a great race for a PR. I was able to finish well even though I was out with an injury for a few weeks during training because the … MORE

    This is a great race for a PR. I was able to finish well even though I was out with an injury for a few weeks during training because the course was so easy. The light, rolling hills add muscle variation that makes the course easier. The course support is great, though it would be nice to have a couple more stops. Transportation to the start line from downtown Napa was easy, so I would recommend staying near the finish line, not the start line. Weather was perfect.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    2

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    suegoose FIRST-TIMER '18

    This is a great race. So well organized and a great atmosphere amongst the runners and volunteers. The scenery is amazing and the course is great. It is the first … MORE

    This is a great race. So well organized and a great atmosphere amongst the runners and volunteers. The scenery is amazing and the course is great. It is the first marathon I have run in 13 years. I really enjoyed it.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    markv REPEAT RUNNER '18

    What i liked most: - Being able to check your own special drink bottles ahead from the start to the aid stations. - Not too many people, not too few. … MORE

    What i liked most:
    – Being able to check your own special drink bottles ahead from the start to the aid stations.
    – Not too many people, not too few.
    – The hills seem to be moderate in distance and angle.
    What i didn’t like:
    – Nothing to complain about, but it didn’t seem like the most fun crowd (runners and spectators). More businesslike. The scenery was lovely but not spectacular. But really, nothing to complain about.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    shaners41 FIRST-TIMER '18

    The beauty in the race is not one to miss. I had the best run ever and the temperature was perfect. Although there were not many spectators, it was nice … MORE

    The beauty in the race is not one to miss. I had the best run ever and the temperature was perfect. Although there were not many spectators, it was nice to enjoy the scenery. I will be back again next year!!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    ballml15 FIRST-TIMER '18

    The race was beautiful and well put together. The buses to and from the race start and finish were a great feature. The elevation chart was somewhat off. There were … MORE

    The race was beautiful and well put together. The buses to and from the race start and finish were a great feature. The elevation chart was somewhat off. There were more hills than indicated and there were several curves that provided uneven (slanted) roads.
    Overall, it was a great event and would happily do it again.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    vhjimenez FIRST-TIMER '18

    I would recommend this race to anyone. This was my first marathon, and it was such a great experience. Slight rolling hills, but nothing too crazy. Much of the course … MORE

    I would recommend this race to anyone. This was my first marathon, and it was such a great experience. Slight rolling hills, but nothing too crazy. Much of the course is secluded, so it makes for a peaceful run, but with plenty of aid stations that were well organized and offered Gatorade or water, and sometimes snacks if you needed. The volunteer help and support from the community is outstanding, and after the finish, there was plenty of food and ways to rejuvenate yourself after the long race!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Teence REPEAT RUNNER '18

    The course is beautiful! Tons of grape vineyards and rolling hills, but overall the course is downhill. There are plenty of water stations with Gatorade, water, sliced oranges, bananas, and … MORE

    The course is beautiful! Tons of grape vineyards and rolling hills, but overall the course is downhill. There are plenty of water stations with Gatorade, water, sliced oranges, bananas, and gels. Lots of friendly volunteers and fans cheering you along the way. The number of participants is limited to 3,000 so the start line and course aren’t overcrowded, allowing you to easily settle into your pace without any major traffic jams. The expo was small, and ran smoothly. Penta water raffled a bike, and I won! First. Time. Ever. All registered participants receive a long sleeve shirt and duffel bag of decent quality. I highly recommend purchasing a start line transportation ticket for $10. They are available online during registration and at the expo. A school bus picked up participants right outside my hotel, totally awesome! Lots of wine tasting at the expo, and a pasta dinner ticket is also available. My husband and I chose to eat in town. Lots of great restaurants in the local area. Overall, a superb race, and I love the grape cluster finishers medal! I had a PR of 3:32.24. Hoping to register for Boston in the Fall! It was a great weekend getaway for my husband and I. So much to do and see in the local area. I highly recommend the marathon and a trip to Napa. You will not be disappointed!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    Profile photo of Jeanne Corey
    jeannecorey64 FIRST-TIMER '18

    This was my 51st marathon and one of my favorite. They were well organized from the expo to the finish line. Great race swag too! We are bussed to the … MORE

    This was my 51st marathon and one of my favorite. They were well organized from the expo to the finish line. Great race swag too! We are bussed to the start and able to stay on to keep warm until the start. I love this course as it was challenging but also superfast. There was not a lot of crowd support but it wasn’t necessary with the never ending beauty of the course. Each water stop had plenty of port-o-lets, friendly smiles and fantastic encouragement. The higher miles water stops offered honey stinger products and fresh fruit. Post-race offered use of the High School for showers & free massages. The cafeteria had the best hot tomato soup and ice cream too! There was raffles at the end with some pretty cool swag and gifts. Can’t wait till next year.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    M_Sohaskey Mar 22, 2018 at 10:38pm

    Wow, congrats on #51 Jeanne! We'd love for you to track & review more of your races (maybe give Hartford a shout-out?) here on RaceRaves, to help other runners find the best races. As a fellow Maniac you may also be interested in our "smart" 50 States Map, available on your profile page — you simply add each race to your Past Races, and the map colors in that state based on the distance(s) run. I'm a 50-stater myself, and it's a great way to track & visualize your running travels. Thanks for the thoughtful review, and keep running strong!

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    speedgoatee FIRST-TIMER '18

    Late last year I was still flying high from the accomplishments of my first year of running and races. There is so much upside that comes from achieving awesome things. … MORE

    Late last year I was still flying high from the accomplishments of my first year of running and races. There is so much upside that comes from achieving awesome things. The flip side is that it also helped to boost my ego and confidence. Which normally isn’t a problem, per say, but when you hang out with more seasoned ultra-runners, they can come up with some really BAD ideas (which of course means they are good ones and I HAVE to join in).
    So when my dear friend said, “You should totally run the Napa Valley Marathon. It is a fast course and you will crush your PR from the Truckee Marathon.” I of course said no at first, but instantly started to envision and effortless float along a downhill section of the wine country. I have to say the actual course was truly more visually impressive than even my day dream that got me into signing up.
    As with most BAD ideas, I feel the need to try to recruit others to be part of my journey. Just before December I had on the hook the brain child of this race idea Adam Kimble, his wife Karen, and to my amazement… my girlfriend suddenly posted on Facebook a training schedule saying she was in. I quickly stole that training schedule as well and we were off to the races (pun intended).
    Over the following three months, Olivia and I miraculously found ways to incorporate the long runs into our weekends together. The fact that we live 3.5 hours away and she is a working mother of two amazing kids is really about as much of an accomplishment as completing the marathon itself. There is definitely something to be said about having time together that is totally uninterrupted by silly things such as cellphones, tvs, etc. Some of my fondest memories along this journey were the laughter and lame jokes (always mine, not hers) that we shared as we continued to climb the weekend mileage.
    As a planner by profession, the journey this race took proved that you really can’t plan or predict what will happen on the race day or race week. Within the two weeks leading up to race day, Olivia suffered from a knee injury that ultimately forced her to make the tough decision to not run on race day. I can’t begin to imagine how frustrating that must have felt to have put in so many miles (we ran a total of 140 just together on our run-dates, not to mention the runs she did all on her own). But she was such a trooper, never once complaining. Instead she basically focused her attention towards making sure I was taken care of for the race and post-race.
    Adding to the mix of twists, Adam was signed up for a 50K the day before Napa. Now if you know Adam, running back to back distances of a marathon or greater isn’t a problem for him, but rather “that will be awesome man”! Well the Wednesday before he got a stomach bug and was literally making the decision to go at the gun minutes before. He ended up running the Way Too Cool that day and finishing 10th overall (you rock brother). But the effects of the race and the advice of his coach post race resulted in Adam not running the full course for Napa, but he would be my “seeing eye runner” for 8 miles (insert Eminem lyrics) of the course and another one of my fonder memories of the race day.
    Because all things come in threes, I had had the added pleasure of being in a hurry when I got home from work a week and a half before the race and slipped on the ice in my driveway (the judges gave me a 10.5 for STICKING the landing). Unfortunately I also smacked my shining bald head in the process and gave myself a nice concussion that also made my race start questionable days before the race. Fortunately, my run two days before the race felt pretty good so I decided to roll the dice.
    So race morning went for me like “normal”. I ended up super nervous, for really no reason. But it is a good way to get the heart rate going right? The four of us got to Calistoga early and had a nice warm coffee or tea in the coffee shop that had just opened when we arrived. We chatted and had some laughs then headed to the start line. I got there just a minute before the gun went off and started through the pack at a slightly slower pace than I had been running in training. But I was still a little groggy and off, so this was ok. I embraced the pace and decided to go easy in my weave through the crowd. This served as a good warm up, since I really didn’t do much to prepare before getting to the start.
    The temperature on race day was PERFECT and started out at 30 degrees with a nice little fog that sort of mimicked my head conditions the week prior. I was amazed at how many spectators were there along the way to cheer us all along. The course itself has very few climbs which seemed to be over soon after they started, and a nice gradual descent followed the course as it winded through some of the most beautiful vineyards. The participants all seemed to be having a good time and were super friendly. In fact I spent several miles running with two gentlemen and had the opportunity to chat about life and running. Eric Townley and Graham Mc Bride were running their very first marathon and were in training for an IronMan. I had such a great time getting to hear about their training and embarking on knocking off their first 26.2 (they both finished by the way. Way to crush it). As the day went on, the sun came out and warmed it up a bit, but always within the comfortable range. The race coordinators really did a great job with the event. The aid stations were nicely spaced with everything you would need (I had the A-Team race crew of Adam, Karen, and Olivia, so I ran through all of the stations). Each station was very well staffed and complete with an awesome crew of folks cheering the runners on. It was impossible to pass through each one without feeling a sudden boost of stoke.
    As I mentioned, the race day wasn’t what I had originally been anticipating, but had its own level of awesomeness and lessons to be learned. What was intended to be a social run became a quest for a new PR. I may not have mentioned, but this was only my second marathon (and the first race distance that I had duplicated since beginning running just 14 months prior). So it presented the opportunity to go all out on the course. My time at the Truckee Marathon was 4:40 and I crossed the finish line at the Napa Valley Marathon this past Sunday with a chip time of 4:02:44. Although two entirely different courses, I was beyond pleased with the results for the day. And I would definitely consider running this race again. Between the course itself, the cool people I met along the way, and how well the race was organized, it is a race anyone would enjoy. Thanks to my dear friends Adam and Karen Kimble for being a part of yet another race of mine. And huge thanks to my lovely girlfriend Olivia, who sacrificed a lot to train with me, but also was so supportive before, during, and after the race.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

    1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

    M_Sohaskey Mar 22, 2018 at 10:42pm

    This is amazing, Steve! Loved reading about your journey and, though I'm sorry neither Olivia nor Adam could join you for the race itself, way to absolutely crush your PR! Shows where hard work and dedication can take you, and I have no doubt you'll only continue to improve. Huge congrats to you, thanks for an awesome review, and I hope you'll continue to document your successes and struggles here on RaceRaves!

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    jpsanchez FIRST-TIMER '18

    Course is characterized by having rolling hills for he first 20 or so miles. Pretty flat from this point all the way to the finish line. Well supported, with aid … MORE

    Course is characterized by having rolling hills for he first 20 or so miles. Pretty flat from this point all the way to the finish line.
    Well supported, with aid stations and porta potties every 2 miles.
    Crowd support is good. Scenery is simply outstanding.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    JenniferCannon REPEAT RUNNER '18

    This is a great course with a net down. The swag is better than you will receive at any other race. You receive a duffle bag which is great for … MORE

    This is a great course with a net down. The swag is better than you will receive at any other race. You receive a duffle bag which is great for weekend trips. The volunteers are better than you will get at any other race. At the end of the race, you can get hot soup and a shower…Who else does that?

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Beautiful scenery and gentle rolling hills provided for a great first marathon. The rain cleared up just in time to start the race and we watched the fog lift up … MORE

    Beautiful scenery and gentle rolling hills provided for a great first marathon. The rain cleared up just in time to start the race and we watched the fog lift up along the vineyards. My one tiny complaint would be that the scenery is a bit monotonous but if you are prepared for 26.2 miles of of gorgeous grape vines you will not be disappointed. The rolling hills in the course are just enough to give you some variety in elevation but not too extreme.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    meganbry FIRST-TIMER '18

    Arrived at the Napa valley Marriott inn a Saturday morning which housed the expo and bib pickup. Everything was easy to find and I loved the samples of Nuun, cheese, … MORE

    Arrived at the Napa valley Marriott inn a Saturday morning which housed the expo and bib pickup. Everything was easy to find and I loved the samples of Nuun, cheese, wine, rx bars and Acai bowls by sambazon. Shirts were long sleeve tech and had a relaxed fit and the duffles were a nice touch although lightweight and small. On race morning I opted to take the bus to the start from the same hotel and got there in a breeze. Race started promptly at 7 and I loved the support located about every 2 miles. Volunteers were so friendly and motivating. Once the fog cleared, the vineyards and mountains were just beautiful! I crossed the finish line and was decently happy with my time considering the rolling hills for a good portion of the course. A volunteer handed me a water and was there to lean on, not that I needed it! 🙂 I loved that they served warm tomato soup with naan, Acai bowls, bananas and yogurt in the gym. I was also handed a Whole Foods bag with a small banana and kind bar which was underwhelming. Wait times for massages were an hour but I was fine without one. Really my only suggestion for 2019 is for more port o johns to be located on course. Lines were starting to form every few miles and I hated the idea of waiting several minutes. I saw a few runners seek the woods rather than wait. Overall the water stations were frequent and the scenery was outstanding!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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  2. Napa Valley Marathon and Half Marathon