My Profile

Favorited reviews

Evwatkins FIRST-TIMER '17

This is definitely one of my top five favorite races of all time (50+ marathons). MDI is beautiful. The race is small and easy to navigate. The start was right … MORE

This is definitely one of my top five favorite races of all time (50+ marathons). MDI is beautiful. The race is small and easy to navigate. The start was right outside our hotel (Bar Harbor Villager – cheap rates!). I literally had 50 steps from hotel to start! My husband followed the spectator guide and was able to see me at several areas along the course. He enjoyed driving around the island and seeing all the quaint little villages and areas. The course is not difficult (hilly – but not difficult).
Take a few extra days and visit Acadia National Park.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

5 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

Make this event a family vacation. Enjoy Acadia National Park. Great tranquil and peaceful views on a moderately difficult rolling hills course. Absolutely loved the route. MORE

Make this event a family vacation. Enjoy Acadia National Park. Great tranquil and peaceful views on a moderately difficult rolling hills course. Absolutely loved the route.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

mikebeckwith REPEAT RUNNER '16

This is my favorite race of the year. The race offers individual twelve hour and six hour races, as well as team events in these times. They also do morning … MORE

This is my favorite race of the year. The race offers individual twelve hour and six hour races, as well as team events in these times. They also do morning and afternoon 5k and 10ks. The atmosphere is super fun and encouraging for all levels of runners and walkers.
It is held at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. The 12 and 6 hour races start at 7am. It is a fun loop of 3.37 miles that is basically flat, with just a couple small little hills. I think only 100 or so feet elevation gain per 3.37 mile loop. After doing laps, however, those little hills can feel bigger. 🙂 It starts at a great big staging area where people line up tents, chairs, canopies, etc, where they keep all the support stuff they’ll need. There’s also two aid stations. One about mile 2 and the other at the start/finish area that you run through with each lap. The aid stations are stocked full of awesome food and drinks and ICE. Loved having ice to put in my water, and in my bandana.
You’ll start by joining the Bay Trail, then jumping on to the Bay View Trail. It runs along side a cool shoreline with tons of great views of bill mountains like Mt. Tam. Just before the first mile, you’ll hit your first little hill (remember what I said, it’ll seem a lot tougher 10 hours later). You’ll join the Bay Trail again just before mile 2, where you’ll get your first (and every other odd number) aid station. This aid station was so fun, where they had funny signs that changed through out the day. After the aid station you’ll jump on the Tramway Trail where you’ll run to the Packhouse Trail, followed by the Woods Trail. Then you’ll turn right on to the Biazzi Trail, jump quickly on the Nitro Trail, then back on Packhouse Trail. This part in the latter hours of the day can be hot. (oh yeah, bring lots of sunblock) :). Then, lastly, back on the Bay Trail to finish that lap. Then, rinse and repeat. During the last hour of the 12 and 6 hour race, there is a little course (0.60 miles) that you can do as many of those laps as you can if you don’t have time to do the big 3.37 mile lap. Only full laps (big or small) are counted towards your total.
This year’s race had a super excited competition in the Women’s division. Natalia and Angela battled all day, and finished an amazing race by coming in just 0.23 miles apart, with Natalia edging Angela out, with 63.29 miles (WOW!!!). Seeing the respect they had for each other all day was so awesome. Also, third place Liz kicked butt and got 55.72 miles and to see her and the winner embrace each other at the finish brought some additional moisture to my eyes. Love this race, and love my Brazen fam!!
Oh yeah, I forgot. BBQ at the finish FOR THE WIN!!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

Angela REPEAT RUNNER '16

**PRICES** It looks like the website now has only the most recent price ($110), and I don't remember what it was when I signed up or how many times it … MORE

**PRICES**
It looks like the website now has only the most recent price ($110), and I don’t remember what it was when I signed up or how many times it increased. Fail. It might have been like $80 in September & I think I had a discount code. If you decide to run this race, I recommend poking around the internet for Groupons, race ambassador promo codes, and other discounts.
**DEADLINES/SELLOUT FACTOR**
This year all three races sold out. I think the 10K went first and the other distances sold out closer to race day. (Weirdly, there was a “Race Registration” tent in the staging area. I’m not sure what that was about. Maybe early registration for next year?)
**FIELD SIZE**
4225 in the half, 1544 in the 10K, 1472 in the 5K
**THE EXPO**
The expo/bib pickup was Friday and Saturday at Berkeley Sports Basement. There is no race day bib pickup, but you can have a friend pick up for you.
**STAGING**
Race Start was on Milvia St. at Kittredge St., & the finish was just a block or two away, on Milvia at Allston. Bag check was in the Berkeley High School gym right by the start, and when the rain showed up it was REALLY nice to have an indoor area available after the race!
**THE COURSE**
The course was a big loop with lots of turns, a few steep-ish hills, and one nasty two-mile out-and-back section along the Bay. This year’s course was MUCH nicer than the first year I ran it, meandering through various parts of Berkeley. I’ve been told that in the second and third years the course actually wound through parts of the UC Berkeley campus, but no such luck this year. Some of the roads were fine but a not insignificant portion of them were chewed up and riddled with potholes. (Between this and the rain, I decided to wear trail shoes.)
Aid stations were every couple of miles with water and Nuun, which makes the second time I’ve run this race without any useful sports drink out on the course. Nuun is electrolytes; it contains no calories. This makes it next to useless in terms of distance running. One of the aid stations had chews and a few had granola bars of some kind, so there was that. But still. I don’t understand why so many races seem to be switching away from calorie-rich sports drink to low- or no-calorie drinks. It makes zero sense to me.
Pretty much everyone I know clocked a short course, starting at the mile 10 marker. The course isn’t certified, I believe, so it’s hard to say whether this was a GPS issue or a legitimately short course. Also there was definitely some sort of issue in that out-and-back section that will need to be sorted out, as well as the issue of the fastest 10K runners getting stuck behind thick crowds of half-marathon mid-packers. Either something went very very wrong with the 10K or someone just didn’t think the whole situation through.
**SWAG**
Long sleeves tech shirt & finisher medal, plus post-race snacks and free race photos.
**IF YOU DECIDE TO RUN**
– Poke around for discounts from race ambassadors and other sources. They’ve usually been out there & you can often get ~$10 off or so.
– There is plenty of street parking along University if you get there a bit early, or you can be a good person & pay $20 to park at Berkeley High School (though I think it’s actually not closer). But do not repeat DO NOT pay any for-profit company $21 to reserve you a parking spot ahead of time. It’s a total racket.
– If you’re driving back toward SF after the race while it’s still going on, just remember you can’t take University or realistically anything south of that. Instead head up to Gilman & take that to I80 & the Bay Bridge.
– There are no super bad hills, but two reasonably long-ish ones that definitely take some extra work. Just know they’re there & adjust your time goals accordingly.
**OVERALL ASSESSMENT**
This race was fine, I guess, but I didn’t love it. The course is okay but not particularly fast or scenic, and there is some question in my mind as to whether it might be short. (Though, I think the course has been different every year, so who knows what future years will bring.) It’s not stupidly expensive, but not particularly cheap either (~$80-110, I think, maybe a little less with a discount), so the only real reason I can come up for running this particular race is that it’s nearby and the date most likely means cooler weather (though you could also get a downpour as we did). Due to all the turns, the few hills, the uncertainty about the distance, and the funkiness with the course in the out-and-back section, I don’t think I’d recommend this race for a PR/time trial course.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
My Report
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3
My Media

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

runningriddles FIRST-TIMER '18

I was looking forward to this marathon all year long after reading incredible reviews of how it is one of the most beautiful races on all of the east coast. … MORE

I was looking forward to this marathon all year long after reading incredible reviews of how it is one of the most beautiful races on all of the east coast. It did not disappoint!

The course itself runs from Bar Harbor, ME along the coast through Acadia National Park, finishing at Southwest Harbor..another coastal town on Mount Desert Island. I was blessed with incredible marathon running weather on race day (temps in the upper 30s / low 40s with clear skies) and the trees were at peak fall foliage. The view of the water, mountains, and trees was incredible.

Regarding elevation, the course is not an easy one. With a total elevation gain of around 1700 ft., there are several large, drawn out inclines that you will need to run. However each incline is followed by a nice decline…and the last two miles of the course are mostly downhill too. Be sure to include some hills in your training plan.

The race organization was top-notch. Constant updates were sent out via email and posted on the Run MDI website full of pre-race information along with a very detailed race packet PDF that was helpful not only to runners, but spectators as well. Packet pick up is a breeze in the town of Bar Harbor, which also features many things to do including shopping, boat / trolley tours, or visiting Acadia National Park.

Course support was very nice as well. There were few points on the course were there were not any spectators. The highlight of the course support to me was a large fishing boat of some type blowing its horn to cheer on and encourage the runners.

Due to proper training, amazing views, and great weather I was able to run my first-ever sub-4 hour marathon…so my experience was a fantastic one!

One final tip…I would register for this race early and book lodging ASAP. Bar Harbor has many bed and breakfasts with a few other hotels, and they fill up quick due to the tourists visiting to see the autumn colors of Maine. We were fortunate to stay in a hotel that was only a 10 minute walk from the starting line, and made our booking 9-10 months in advance.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

bayna6 FIRST-TIMER '18

This has been the most beautiful race that I have run. It runs along the shouting for most of the race. It is a point to point race for the … MORE

This has been the most beautiful race that I have run. It runs along the shouting for most of the race. It is a point to point race for the marathon and they bus the half marathon runners to the halfway point of the marathon. The weather was a little cold to start with, but considering that it rained all day the day before , I was just happy that it wasn’t raining. It was sunn so it didn’t stay cold for too long. The only down side was that we were running on the shouder or an open traffic road. The shoulder had a pretty good size pitch to it and we were on the same side the whole was. Tough on the joints.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

IRun2live REPEAT RUNNER '16

I think i may say this all the time, but i have never found a more down to earth, family, friend, friendly group of organizers and events. You really feel … MORE

I think i may say this all the time, but i have never found a more down to earth, family, friend, friendly group of organizers and events. You really feel like family there when you go.

This race, for this year was moved from Lake Chabot (the last two years), to Fremonts Quarry Lake where it was flat, but a pretty run since it was on paved and dirt trails.

This race is extra special since its the Streaker Inauguration. What that means is that if your Streaked this year, you got a special number issued to you, a cool shadow box and your own shirt with your number on it.

https://brazenracing.com/community/streakers/

The food at the end and hydration is awesome throughout, and the metal is top notch. Their shirts are also wonderful, although i tend to prefer colorful shirts, and they sometimes use gray and black a little too often for my preference. But the art is amazing.

This was also my very first 10k with Brazen Racing, since i usually do the Halfs.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

RunnerMeg FIRST-TIMER '15

MDI is one of those races that I always think of immediately when someone asks "what's your favorite marathon?" It's just a standout for so many reasons, some of which … MORE

MDI is one of those races that I always think of immediately when someone asks “what’s your favorite marathon?” It’s just a standout for so many reasons, some of which are below:

It’s in Maine. I’d never been before this race, but I hope to go back. Maine in October is beautiful. I took so many pictures of the changing leaves, it’s a little ridiculous. There’s also great food in Bar Harbor, and it’s a nice drive from the airport in Bangor.

Lots to do. Bar Harbor closes down the week after the marathon, for the most part, and you get there just after the majority of tourists have left, which is nice. I stayed in a B&B right around the corner from the start, so walking distance to everything (and when I say walking distance, it was like 50 feet from the green in the center of town). Good restaurants and things to walk around and see, little touristy things, nice paths, and great views. I recommend you do a Maine foodie tour if you want to sample the local fare. Lobster rolls, blueberry-everything, crab cakes…yum.

The start was casual, because it’s not a HUGE race. I was able to walk out of the B&B a few minutes beforehand which meant my own bathroom up until the gun went off!

The weather: lucked out last year. It was crisp, cold, and sunny with blue skies. This made for comfortable running and great views.

The course: Absolutely nothing like it. It is challenging, with pretty much hill after hill. By the end, my legs were pretty sore! But the views were rewarding. The leaves were changing, you run along gorgeous shoreline, and you pass the famous tree. I ran with my phone and snapped quick photos along the way just because it was so pretty. If you can train on hills, it will help. I ran Chicago the weekend prior (flat as a pancake) and my MDI time was 7 minutes faster, so don’t be scared.

Did I mention the views?

The medal: it’s a big golden lobster claw. What’s not to love about that?! I gave the SWAG four stars only because the marathon shirt was bright pink, not my favorite. But the medal made up for it!

My husband was with me and met me at the finish, and there is a drive back to the start/Bar Harbor. There were probably shuttles but I didn’t investigate since I had a ride. Easy drive back though.

Overall: I loved MDI. It’s so well organized and executed. Some of the best scenery and great small town support. Everyone was friendly and enthusiastic, and very excited about the marathon. There was great food and drink, a local vibe that was really fun, and of course, beautiful fall weather and foliage. Highly recommend MDI!! Oh, and if they’re auctioning/selling race banners, it’s a nice keepsake. I got one and it’s hanging on my wall.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4
My Media

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

ajnov5 REPEAT RUNNER '16

What is there NOT to like about this Race? Absolutely beautiful course. Terrific finishers medal! Great post race swag, and did I mention the scenery! Stayed in southwest Harbor, at … MORE

What is there NOT to like about this Race? Absolutely beautiful course. Terrific finishers medal! Great post race swag, and did I mention the scenery! Stayed in southwest Harbor, at a rental house, Steps away from the marathon Finish line. Why am not the easiest race, logistically, to get to, it is well worth it.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

Profile photo of Mark Stodghill
St0dghill REPEAT RUNNER '91

Beautiful course. Well organized. Good spectator support if that's important to you. Usually close to perfect running conditions. I have run it 31 times and will continue to do so … MORE

Beautiful course. Well organized. Good spectator support if that’s important to you. Usually close to perfect running conditions. I have run it 31 times and will continue to do so until I can’t.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

Profile photo of Mas Hsu
xu3xin4yi4 VOLUNTEER '17

Brazen races are all about community. Their goal seems to be to retain the trail runner spirit of kindness to all, and get everyone of all abilities out there having … MORE

Brazen races are all about community. Their goal seems to be to retain the trail runner spirit of kindness to all, and get everyone of all abilities out there having fun.

Other ammenities include great food (and lots of it), awesome medals (everyone gets one), and cool shirt designs.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

GregCarter REPEAT RUNNER '17

Beautiful weather (never guaranteed at this time of year) stayed with us all day. The course was challenging -- lots of long uphill climbs, descents, and then climbs again -- … MORE

Beautiful weather (never guaranteed at this time of year) stayed with us all day. The course was challenging — lots of long uphill climbs, descents, and then climbs again — but the trails and fire roads aren’t very technical for the most part. Friendly volunteers and a very well-marked course, topped off by a cool wooden finisher’s medal and post-race barbecue and beer, made it a great day. I’d happily do this race again!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

Jen_L FIRST-TIMER '16

Field size: 4211 finishers in the half marathon. There was also a 5K and 10K that started at different times/locations. All distances were sold out the day before the race. … MORE

Field size: 4211 finishers in the half marathon. There was also a 5K and 10K that started at different times/locations. All distances were sold out the day before the race.
Cost: $85+ for the half marathon, depending on when you register.
Course: All paved, though look out for potholes and uneven roads. Two large climbs in the beginning and a gradual incline over the last 3 miles. Total elevation gain/loss: 512 feet (Garmin).
Parking: There was plenty of free street parking north of University. You could also pay $20 to park in the Berkeley High School parking lot.
Aid stations: Plenty of aid stations serving water and Nuun. They gave out Clif Bloks at one of the aid stations.
Bathrooms: A lot of porta potties at the start/finish, and I saw several on the course.
Swag: A nice medal and a green long sleeve tech tee. Each bib had a ticket for a post-race beer, but it was raining so hard that I doubt many people stuck around for that. GameFace took race photos and provided them for free.
Post-race food/drink: I don’t know if this was affected by the rain, but the post-race spread was disappointing. I got a bottle of water and skipped the energy bars. I saw they were handing out chocolate milk too, but I’m lactose intolerant so I skipped that as well.
What I liked about this race: It was fairly easy logistically, for a medium sized race. I thought the first half of the course was nice, though challenging. I wished that we got to run through UC Berkeley campus as they’ve done in previous years. The wave starts were nice to relieve congestion – which was still a problem in some areas.
What I didn’t like: Two major flaws. First, there’s no excuse for the course to come up a full tenth of a mile short! Second, the misdirection and confusion on Frontage Road was also disappointing. Related to that, I felt so bad for the 10K runners who had to weave through the mass of half marathoners. It seemed like poor planning. I’m not sure I would run this race again due to the cost and the unpredictable weather.
PR-ability: This would be a tough course to PR on, given the elevation gain and the very real possibility of bad weather. I think the motivation here would primarily be to run a decent-sized half marathon and do a running tour of Berkeley.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3
My Media

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

SlowJuan FIRST-TIMER '18

If this race isn't already on your bucket list, get it on there.....stat! I'd heard that MDI was scenic, but that doesn't do it justice. The course is spectacular; winding … MORE

If this race isn’t already on your bucket list, get it on there…..stat! I’d heard that MDI was scenic, but that doesn’t do it justice. The course is spectacular; winding through wee port towns, skirting Acadia National Park, along beautiful bays with vivid Autumn foliage. If this isn’t the single most beautiful marathon course, start to finish, that you’ve ever run, you just might be…”deaf, dumb and blind, boy, but sure play a mean pinball.” We were fortunate to have “Chamber of Commerce” weather for the 2018 edition; 38 degrees at the Start, full sun, blue skies, light breeze, 52 degrees at the Finish. Along the route, if you’re watching closely, you’ll see deer, wild turkeys, seals and lobster buoys bobbing in the small bays. You’ll hear mournful loons, the wind rushing through the birch trees and bell buoys ringing like church bells from the swell. At the Finish, you’ll receive the coveted “Crusher Claw” medal. Simple and very cool. For the “brewies” out there; be sure to check out Atlantic Brewing Company for a celebratory ale or three. Is this an epic marathon? “You bettah, you bettah, you bet!”

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

K2ayers FIRST-TIMER '17

Like most things that are worth it in life, the journey started way before race day. I chickened out of my first marathon attempt in July 2017 and almost immediately … MORE

Like most things that are worth it in life, the journey started way before race day. I chickened out of my first marathon attempt in July 2017 and almost immediately jumped back on the horse training for another one. The race of choice was the 35th Annual California International Marathon. My training leading up to the race was moving along well at first, but it wasn’t long until similar patterns of missed weeks began to surface. I clawed myself back into shape repeatedly only to have it stripped from me time and time again. Dropping out of the race, although this race does offer deferrals for the next year, wasn’t an option for me. I missed my opportunity in San Francisco and watched thousands of runners pass by; I couldn’t bare to watch another chance do the same. I decided to line up and take the grade that I earned.

Leading Up to the Race

Long before race day I had accepted that this wouldn’t be my long sought after Boston Qualifying race. With helpful advice from several experienced marathoners, I was able to put together a plan and set goals. For those who have never run a marathon, I can now tell you from experience that there is nothing or no one that can prepare you for what you go through in a marathon. I don’t say these words to discourage, but instead to prepare you. Common advice that I received in the months leading up to the race would include:

•”respect the distance”
•”your mind will be tested”
•”it’s going to hurt”

After hearing such advice repeatedly I began to think that marathoners are pessimistic people who don’t want new people joining their exclusive club. I nodded, smiled and usually left these conversations unscathed by their hurtful words.

In hindsight, I now see that these words weren’t hurtful or malicious. They were intended to prepare me for the reality that I was going to face. As my wife and I sat in the hotel room on the night before the race she voiced an analogy that continues to resonate with me and my first marathon attempt. She said that she was nervous for me, and that it reminded her of how I probably felt while she was in labor with our son. She was right in more ways than one.

Race Day Morning

At about 4:30 am, I woke up, showered and began to put on the clothes that I had carefully laid out the night before. Unlike most races, CIM does not recommend drop offs at the starting line nor do they encourage spectators to watch the start of the race. Instead they provide shuttle buses that take you to the starting line. Our hotel of choice was at the halfway point between the starting line in Folsom, CA and the finish line in Sacramento. It had rained the night before. The air was cool, but the wind was still. As we pulled up to one of many bus pick up locations I was shocked to see the parade of school buses that circled the entire Whole Foods parking lot efficiently loading thousands of runners in a manner of minutes. The line was extremely long, but in no time I was seated on a bus that obviously wasn’t intended for anyone over the height of 5’1.

Some runners slept while others talked to old or new friends. I was seated next to an older gentleman from the Folsom area. He too would be running his first marathon today. We talked the whole way about our journeys that led us to this day. I was candid in admitting that I hadn’t trained like I wanted to and about my aspirations for Boston. We laughed and joked for most of the trip which helped ease some of the nerves I was wrestling with. The bus parked amongst hundreds of its identical twins,each carrying 40 plus people all hoping to complete a marathon today. CIM allows you to stay on the bus to stay warm for as long as you’d like. A convenient offer being that the outside temperature was approximately 43 degrees and the sun was yet to show its face. While some got off immediately, I sat and enjoyed this luxury for about 20 minutes while enjoying a light breakfast that I had prepared the night before. Once done, I decided to venture out to see what all the fuss was about.

The streets were packed with runners. It was now one hour before the race was scheduled to begin; too early to warm up so I figured I could go for some coffee. Near the starting line was a gas station. The place was bursting with runners all trying to stay warm, grab a bite to eat or to use the facilities. After paying for my coffee, I made my way back outside to meet up with my friend and running mentor, Onyanga. After several text messages and roaming around in circles we were able to find each other. It was now thirty minutes before the race. We shared our morning stories and plans of action over a brief warm-up jog. Following the warm-up, I went to bag check, made a brief stop by the porta-potty and lined up with the thousands of other runners. It’s game time!

The Early Miles

My plan of attack was pretty simple. I’d line up with the 3hr 30min pace group and run with them for the first half of the race. At this point I could assess how I felt and determine whether to push the pace or not. As the horn sounded I started my watch and began the longest race that I had ever attempted. I was warned by many that the first mile of the race is downhill and that it’s important not to get ahead of your pace goals. I listened. I monitored my watch closely for the first mile hoping to preserve all the energy I could for the many miles ahead. Mile 2 began with a slight incline which was helpful in maintaining a conservative pace. The consensus that I heard about this course was that the first half of the race is riddled with “rolling hills”. If you live in an area that has hills, you probably won’t even notice them. If anything, they were helpful in varying up the muscle groups used to conquer the distance.

I grabbed a cup of water and a cup of nuun at every aid station I passed in hopes to stay hydrated. My focus was mostly on keeping my pace conservative and fueling. By the time I looked up, I was 10 miles into the race and feeling great! The crowd support was phenomenal. When I first looked at the logistics of the race it appeared as if we’d be running through some pretty peaceful and serene wooded areas, but I was gladly mistaken. This was CIM’s 35th anniversary and the people in the area showed up to celebrate. Every intersection was packed with faces and cheers. Almost every house we passed had residents out front watching, cheering and spurring us on. My favorite sign that I saw made me laugh as I passed it. I wish I had a picture, but it read something like: “Don’t poop on anything but the miles behind you”. Well said.

The Middle Miles

As a first time marathoner, my longest race leading up to this point was 13.1 miles. As I approached the halfway point of this race I began to feel some anxiety towards the unknown. My mile times remained consistent and I was smack dab in-between the 3:27 and the 3:30 pace groups. Everything was going as planned (surprisingly).

By mile 14 I decided to push the pace a little. By mile 15, I had changed my mind. This back and forth went on through mile 19 where I took my first walking break as I went through a water station. I wanted to ensure that I was fueled up enough to make it through “The (infamous) Wall” that every marathon runner dreads. This race took it literally and physically built a wall that the runners actually go through at about mile 20.

I had some aches and pains at this point in the race, but I had been running now for over two and a half hours. Of course my body hurts! I crossed the H St. bridge that many had warned me about at mile 22 still feeling nostalgic. The woman on the bullhorn said that this was the last “hill” of the race and the countdown begins now!!!!

The Countdown aka The Meltdown

A running friend of mine, Ron, who has run CIM several times told me that not long after the bridge you’ll begin to see that the streets are numbered. The counting starts on 57th and the race ends on 8th. When he told me this, I felt that this would be helpful. I could mentally count down the numbers and initiate my final kick home!!! The reality was on the contrary. It made me completely underestimate how tired I actually was after 3 plus hours of running. 57th St. starts in the middle of mile 23. Mile 24 begins at 49th. “WE’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!”, my legs screamed.

By mile 25 (35th St.) my calf muscles had begun to lock up and I was forced to take my first unscheduled walking break. My pace had slowed significantly turning my sub 8min/mi pace to barely under 9min/mi. The shuffle had begun. I clung to the shoulder of the road to stay out of the way of faster runners. A gentleman who I had been trading the lead with for miles ran past me as I walked/hobbled past 26th St. He tapped me on the back and encouraged me to keep going. It truly helped and I appreciate him for it.

I mustered up enough energy to move in a way that somewhat resembled running. I couldn’t bring myself to look up at the street signs anymore at this point. “Just watch your feet and make sure they’re still moving!”, I told myself.

The crowd size began to swell. I could hear the announcer, the music! Bands lined the intersections playing emphatically marching us towards our goal. As I turned onto 8th St. I saw my family cheering. It gave me strength. I gave everything I had to those last 15 steps and crossed the finish line of my first marathon in 3:28:13.

The Aftermath
After I crossed the finish line I felt like I was on the top of the world. I had completed my first marathon! I could now run for president of the United States, cure world hunger and with the grace of God, make it to the car. The moment of euphoria was swiftly washed away by all of the pain I had been running from for the past hours. My knees could no longer hold the weight of the accomplishment or my body. My wife lovingly helped me to and into the car after a brief photo shoot (shown below). Forming coherent sentences was like putting together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Needless to say, I was tired.
After a couple days of walking around like a penguin, I think I’m ready to get back to business. While I’m ecstatic that I was able to complete my first marathon, I’ve realized that I have a lot of work to do in order to earn the opportunity to ring the Boston Qualifier bell, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

Joerobe FIRST-TIMER '18

Overall Rating: I would rate this one above average. Course Difficulty: Easy-squeezy. Rail trail with low grade hills and crushed limestone surface that was really soft on the feet. It … MORE

Overall Rating: I would rate this one above average.

Course Difficulty: Easy-squeezy. Rail trail with low grade hills and crushed limestone surface that was really soft on the feet. It was an out and back and the 15 miles back in gave us 20mph sustained headwinds (ouch).

Course Scenery: Not really. It would probably be prettier in the late spring early summer, or if the sun was out, or if the wind wasn’t screaming (lol). I’m sure there are prettier places in Kansas.

Race Production: Race production was outstanding; no surprises at all-everything was exactly as it was supposed to be. Manned and unbelievably well stocked aid stations every 4-5 miles, unmanned with water in between. Super friendly volunteers who had obviously run before. Tons of good food at the pre-race and post-race meals. Free pics. Really good production!

Race Swag: Awesome Kansas shaped buckle (even for the 50k) and a sweet cotton poly blend shirt.

My Performance: I got to ring the PR bell on this one. I could have finished a little quicker than I did, but I came across a young guy (17) who was struggling a little, and turned out to be great company. He pushed me on my speed walking, and I kept him going for about the last 9 miles (for me the camaraderie is worth much more than a better finish time).

I wanted to complete another 50k before my 50 miler in April, and was previewing this course for a 100miler later in the year. It was a very good race with good people. If you’re into no frills and no surprises, this is your race. If you like big crowds, busy expo’s, and tons of epic scenery, you should prob look somewhere else. I personally loved this race!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5
My Media

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

amandasava REPEAT RUNNER '17

The Pros: - There are challenge medals if you run any of the SF Marathon races - You do get some nice scenery The Cons: - You have to take … MORE

The Pros:
– There are challenge medals if you run any of the SF Marathon races
– You do get some nice scenery

The Cons:
– You have to take a shuttle to the start
– The parking is atrocious
– The 10k start is halfway through the half marathon course so you are merging with some fast or tired runners
– They don’t space the waves out enough and so you end up with A LOT of traffic for the first 3 miles
– The last three miles are all uphill – it’s not a big hill, but if you don’t like hills.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

Duma FIRST-TIMER '15

As other reviewers have stated- this race is top-notch! It's challenging, but not defeating, and has beautiful scenery (ocean, beaches, eucalyptus groves) that saves you from the reality of what … MORE

As other reviewers have stated- this race is top-notch! It’s challenging, but not defeating, and has beautiful scenery (ocean, beaches, eucalyptus groves) that saves you from the reality of what you are doing. We shuttled from San Francisco to the start with no problem and were able to stay warm in a North Face dome tent that had been set up for results (BTW- don’t underestimate the warming power of the tablecloths). You easily get lost in the scenery and the continual up and down of the course. If you are looking for a flat race, this is NOT your race. At the aid stations there are lots of options for snacks and those who don’t mind bubbles while they are running can “Do the Dew”. I highly recommend looking at the race profile before the race so you know how many more hills you have until the finish and won’t be surprised by the last little climb to the finish. The only issue we had was with the shuttles at the end. We had to wait around 45 minutes to catch a shuttle to where we needed to go. I guess the “endurance” and “challenge” applied to more than just the run…

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

M_Sohaskey REPEAT RUNNER '13

OVERALL: Unless you’re allergic to dirt or ocean breezes, I’d strongly recommend The North Face Endurance Challenge (the Bay Area edition is their Championship race). If you’re looking for a … MORE

OVERALL: Unless you’re allergic to dirt or ocean breezes, I’d strongly recommend The North Face Endurance Challenge (the Bay Area edition is their Championship race). If you’re looking for a memorable way to round out the year’s race schedule, this is it. The course is stunningly scenic, the weather’s been beautiful all three years I’ve run it, and Ultramarathon Man mojo (in the form of North Face athlete Dean Karnazes) hangs in the air. What’s not to like?

Now let’s talk details…

The Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, is an awesome playground for runners. Thanks in large part to the GGNRA’s 117 square miles, the Bay Area deserves its reputation as one of the country’s trail-running meccas. I’d run the half marathon distance for this race twice before and decided this time around to step up to the marathon distance (50-mile and 50K options were available as well, but sold out more quickly).

WEATHER: Despite near-freezing rain the day before, Saturday (race day) dawned on a brave new running world. Bright blue skies, near-windless conditions and temperatures in the low 40s coalesced into a dazzling morning. Maybe, like the rest of us, the running gods wanted to see trail-running phenoms like Rob Krar, Emelie Forsberg and Max King tackle the technically demanding 50-mile course in ideal conditions. Whatever the reason, the crisp clean air that greeted runners in the grassy, sun-dappled staging area at Fort Berry confirmed that today would be a very good day for a run.

As a bonus adrenaline boost, Dean Karnazes was waiting at the start line to encourage and send off the marathoners.

COURSE DIFFICULTY/SCENERY: After an initial ¾-mile descent on asphalt to awaken legs and lungs, the course crosses Bunker Road and left-turns onto the forgiving and well-groomed dirt trails that lay stretched out ahead, like a rock-strewn orange carpet, for most of the next 25.5 miles. A quick right turn leads on to the popular Miwok Trail, where our eager caravan faced its first physical and psychological test, an ascent of 600 vertical feet over 1-1/4 miles.

The marathon course comprises six major hills, including two climbs each up the Miwok Trail and Marincello Trail as well as separate climbs up distinct sections of the Coastal Trail. Together these six major hills account for most of the course’s 4,757ft of elevation gain, and break down as follows:
1) Miwok, mile 1
2) Marincello, mile 3.7 (followed by Alta, mile 5.8)
3) Miwok, mile 9
4) Coastal (part I), mile 12.6
5) Coastal (part II), mile 16.4
6) Marincello, mile 20.3 (followed by Alta, mile 22.4)

Near its summit, the Marincello Trail opens out onto panoramic views of Marin City, which like a newly painted small-scale model lies neatly laid-out below at the foot of Richardson Bay.

The second half of the marathon is equally demanding but even more scenic. The Coastal Trail runs along the western edge of the continent overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with unspoiled coastline and the crash of pounding waves to distract from the hangover of another tough climb. For me the second climb up the Coastal Trail from Muir Beach was the most ughhhhh ascent of the day – 970 vertical feet in just under two miles – and required my first bit of power-hiking to reach the crest of the trail and the zenith of the course, at 999 feet above sea level.

The final descent of the day down the Rodeo Valley Trail offers glimpses of iconic S.F. landmarks Sutro Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge, both peeking over the hilltops to your left. From there it’s a short transition back on to asphalt, followed by a brief ascent up Bunker Road and back to Fort Barry to finish under the familiar red start/finish arch.

While the rest of us were enjoying the epic views, overall 50-mile winner Rob Krar and women’s winner Michele Yates were each earning $10,000 for their efforts. Talk about a runner’s high!

PRODUCTION/SWAG: The North Face organizers do a great job of staging a race they’re obviously proud of. During race bib pickup at the SF store, I had animated conversations about the race with two employees, one of whom would be running it as his first 50-miler. On race day the course was well marked, and strategically positioned aid stations were well stocked and manned by terrific volunteers who, despite having to stand out in the cold, were unfailingly supportive.

Other than the venue, one of the main reasons to recommend this race is the always impressive swag. This year’s goodies included a tastefully designed finisher’s medal, a pair of SmartWool socks and a nice royal blue TNF tech t-shirt, with the TNFECC insignia on the sleeve plus the option of having your race distance and “California Championship” screen printed on the front. And the virtual goody bag included a gem I’ve never seen before – a free magazine subscription from Rodale that allowed you to opt for a $20 refund rather than the free subscription. All this, and a $95 registration fee (not including a $5.75 processing fee from RaceIt)… so even without the sweet offer from Rodale, the marathon is reasonably priced for a high-profile trail race.

As the third-place finisher in my age group, I earned additional swag in the form of a nice pair of TNF arm warmers, assorted CLIF products, a Road ID coupon and – check your excitement – a SmartWool product brochure and stickers. Luckily we’d be celebrating my nephew’s sixth birthday later that day, so thanks to SmartWool I now had a present to give him.

The post-race buffet offered a selection of very decent options for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, as half the grassy field of the finish line festival enjoyed the warmth of full sunlight while the other half found itself trapped in bitterly cold shade.

My only (minor) grievance would be the 50-question post-race survey sent out by the folks at TNF. Unfortunately I didn’t realize its scope until I was already committed (I’m sure that’s their intent), and though I did complete it, I was definitely losing patience by the midway point.

For an even more verbose synopsis, check out my race report at http://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2013/12/21/the-north-face-endurance-challenge-championship-marathon-race-report/

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?