- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other
- Road Race
I got so wrapped up in finishing my first marathon I completely forgot to review the darn thing!
This was my first ever marathon so I don't have other experiences to compare it to but overall I loved this race. I chose the Coastal Delaware marathon because I grew up in DE and have fond memories of summer visits to the Dewey Beach/ Cape Henlopen area. When both my sister and I decided we were finally ready to give our first marathon a shot it was a no-brainer that Coastal Delaware would be the perfect race.
Most of the races I've run recently have been Rock 'n' Roll series races so Coastal Delaware was much smaller than the races I'd gotten used to. I knew this going into the experience but thought I'd offer that as a preface since it definitely influenced my experience with Coastal Delaware. Aside from reminders about price increases, communication leading up to CoDel was pretty light until probably about 2-weeks before the race when we started getting all of the race details. For a small race, they were definitely very well organized and the website was especially useful in planning for the race as well as the weekend.
Since this was my sister's and my first marathon, we were going to have plenty of family spectating and I really appreciated all of the spectator resources on the website. With the course info and spectator guide, we were able to put a detailed plan for everyone coming to watch us run which helped then but was also great as a runner knowing exactly where and when I would be seeing my cheer squad.
My number one recommendation for anyone running this race is to take advantage of the nearby Dogfish Inn. That's where we stayed for the weekend and it was incredible! It's about a 10-15 minute drive from the start but absolutely worth it for the accomodations and vibe of the hotel.
This being a smaller race, the expo was pretty small but we still had a good time going booth to booth to check out what was on-site. I become an Athlinks addict earlier this year so it was great to stop by theire tent. They also provided live runner tracking for the race which was another awesome resource for our cheer squads.
I do wish there were marathon specific options in terms of swag since this was my first marathon, all of the finisher gear was just for the race in general. Also, for superstitions sake, I was disappointed you could only buy finisher's gear at the expo, I would have preferred to have the option to buy gear AFTER the race once I'd actually finished. Thankfully there were no mysterious disasters on-course so I'm still able to proudly sport my finisher's quarter-zip and it has become one of my favorite long-sleeves. Quality wise the gear was pretty solid.
As I mentioned, organization wise, the race oirganizers were well-prepared which made race-day navigation easy. We got to the starting line with plenty of time to use the facilities, stretch out a bit, and see family before we were off to the races.This was definitely one of the best views I've had from a starting line because the race starts on the board walk and we could watch the sun rising over the ocean as we lined up.
After the start, the course winds through some neighborhoods before runner's work their way into Cape Henlopen State Park which made up the first 9 or 10 miles of the course. After that we were back out on the roads exploring Dewey before eventually wrapping back around and finishing on the same board walk where we started. Navigating the course was easy and I was actually pleasantly surprised with how many spectators there were. Because the course sort of worked around in one big loop, it was easy for spectators to spot runner's at multiple locations so it was fun to start to recognize the same groups cheering you on along several spots on course.
If I had one complaint about the race, it would just be that the aid stations weren't terribly well managed from my perspective. I know that it can be tough to find volunteers but there were a few spots where aid stations got backed up because volunteers weren't prepared for runners. Luckily I carried a camelbak so I didn't have to worry much about it. I did notice lines for water and gatorade staring to form at a few points though.
The finish line however, was incredible. Part of the benefit of this being a smaller race was that I recognized many of the runner's at the finish after seeing them on the course. The cammeraderie at the finsih line was awesome as we all worked our way through the crowd congratulating each other. Even a few of the spectators I'd seen a few times on course came over to congratulate me after the race. This being my first marathon, I was in pretty rough shape immediately following the race so unfortunatley I didn't get to check-out the finisher's party sponsored by Grotto's Pizza but I'm sure it was INCREDIBLE.
Following the race we got the typical emails offering discounted registration for next year's race and within a few days, we got the email with our FREE race photos included. I'm always appreciative of races that offer free photos. Unfortunatley I look like I'm slowly dying in many of the shots but I appreciate the memories none the less!
I tend to choose races that feel like a weekend getaway and this race definitely meets that criteria. If you're looking for a marathon that also offers you an opportunity for a relaxing beach weekend. I can't recommend Coastal Delaware enough. We had a blast, plus there's no sales tax in DE so everything was a little bit cheaper :)