- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other
- Road Race
- Event Website
For this race, I stayed in nearby Rehoboth Beach at the Atlantic Sands Hotel. It was a quick 3-mile walk along the boardwalk and beach to the expo, and a short 10-minute drive to the race start. The hotel was right in the heart of the shopping and restaurant area of the beach boardwalk, so it made for a fun weekend that could be navigated completely on foot.
The race start was highly organized and low-stress, beginning at Tower Beach. Parking was plentiful and porta-potty access was easy. We were able to watch the sun rise over the beach as we waited for the race to start, which was the perfect start for the day.
I appreciated that the marathon started separately from the half marathon, which kicked off at 7:30 AM, and the 9K which began at 8 AM. The staggered start meant that I didn't spend the first few miles dodging other runners and was able to get to my target pace almost immediately as we headed from the Delaware Seashore State Park into downtown Dewey Beach. We passed Dewey Beach, where the race would finish, and crossed the bridge over Silver Lake, a beautiful residential community on our way to Rehoboth Beach. By mile 3, we were running on the boardwalk along Rehoboth Beach, with great crowd support and a beautiful view.
The course continued along the boardwalk past mile 5, where we entered Cape Henlopen State Park, an extensive nature reserve bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay on each side. From here, the boardwalk turned into a packed gravel trail until mile 8.5, where we ran on a paved bicycle path through the park until mile 12. Here, we encountered the course's only three hills (only about 50 feet of elevation each - other than that, the race was wonderfully flat!) The three miles of gravel trail were challenging for me, since I had only trained on roads and packed dirt. I found my feet slipping slightly back with each step forward, similar to the sensation of running in sand, and by the end of these three miles, my quads were burning from the control it took to push forward. Note to self... train on terrain similar to the race course!
My second wind came when we reached the city of Lewes, a small residential community between the state park and Rehoboth Beach. This part of the course was four miles alongside a paved road - not overly scenic, but refreshingly similar to my training, so I was able to settle back and refocus.
The course turned back to packed gravel after mile 16 on the Junction and Breakwater Trail, and my legs started to fade. This was probably one of the most beautiful parts of the race, following a section of the former Penn Central railroad, and crossing through a shady pine forest, sprawling farmland and a coastal marsh - but I can't say I was really at a point in the race to appreciate much of it. Instead, I spent the next three miles wondering when the trail would end, and we would get back to paved roads. Three LONG miles was the answer to that question. Again, note to self, actually read the course map!
Just after mile 19, we crossed into downtown Rehoboth on our way back to the boardwalk. This part of the course had beautiful ocean views and incredible support at the aid stations. It was the friendly encouragement of the volunteers that got me in the right frame of mind again.
The last six miles passed quickly, as we turned back onto the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach. Although scenic, this part of the race was slightly frustrating, as we were dodging shoppers and beach-goers who seemed to be completely oblivious to the fact that a race was going on around them. We turned off the boardwalk at Mile 23 and crossed the Silver Lake bridge again to the most enthusiastic group of volunteers and yet. It provided me a much-needed boost of energy..
Before I knew it, the course emerged from a residential area into downtown Dewey Beach, where we ran along Route 1 for about a quarter mile before making the final turn. The race finished right on the beach, and I was more excited than ever to feel the sand between my toes! The after-party offered pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, grilled chicken and chocolate chip cookies - and obviously I had to sample it all! The race also provided free beer tickets, and I have to say, I wasn't sad about laying on the beach and drinking a beer after 26.2! The medal was stained glass with a painted version of Tower Beach, and it reflected the sun just perfectly as I laid near the ocean. I could have laid there in the sun all day!
Best parts of this race?
- Awesome stained glass medal
- Excellent post-race party on the beach
- Very scenic course, mostly along the water
- Organized start and parking
- Trail/gravel sections, especially if you are not used to running on that kind of terrain
- Lack of crowd control along the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk section