- 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
Since completing my first marathon in October 2013, I've decided that I really love the longer races. Being familiar with the Fredericton course from doing the Fredericton Fall Classic in September 2013, I knew that this was a marathon I had to do - flat, scenic and hopefully, fast.
Starting with the race expo and kit pickup it was obvious that the organizers had things well in hand. Even though the location of the expo (the Crowne Plaza hotel) dictated that the kit pickup (and some expo exhibitors) were in a somewhat out of the way section of the hotel the presence of highly visible volunteers made the traffic flow smoothly and kept confusion to a minimum.
The expo itself had a fair amount of local presence but not much in the way of interactive exhibits that I have seen at other races.There were a couple of stores there with limited stock as well as some other fitness related businesses and some local/regional races - all of which were informative and friendly.
The swag itself was pretty sparse - limited to a tech t-shirt. As well the t-shirt colours for men and women were different - green for men, pink for women. It's a picky point but I prefer one colour - or at least give people the choice. My wife, who was running the 5 km, does NOT like pink. The finishing medals were nice, but again, there was no difference between the medals for any distance - 5k, 10k, half and full finishers all received the exact same medal. Not taking anything away from people who do any distance, but a small distinction would be nice.
As for the race itself, I will start with my concerns first, as there were only a couple of issues I had with the race organization. My main concern with the event was that there was a mass start. Not just of the marathon runners, but all four events. Over 2000 people running or walking four different distances all started at 8 am. Runners were expected to gather by approximate pace/km groupings. Many runners don't know what their pace will be and many overestimate how fast they are. Ultimately this lead to a very crowded start and a very slow first km or two for many of the runners I spoke to after the race.
My only other suggestion for organizers would be to make sure all aid stations are well trained and manned. My experience with the aid stations was perfect. They were always prepared and many volunteers took the time to look at your bib and encourage you by name - a nice touch. The main concern I heard from runners is that the two aid stations farthest out on the course were caught unprepared at times. Several runners had to wait for water to be poured or chose to skip the station rather than wait. On any day this isn't good, but on a hot day it's worse. Many runners were hit hard by the temperatures and not getting enough fluids for whatever reason was a contributing factor. It's definitely more important for stations to be over prepared than to be under prepared. Fortunately, this is something that can be addressed fairly easy for next year.
The course itself is one that I really like. Even though it was super crowded, starting the race with a couple of kilometres through the very scenic downtown area was a nice touch. I also really like the trail section of the course as for large portions you are running next to the river, which is just beautiful.
Overall, the Fredericton Marathon met my expectations. I hope some of the logistics get tinkered with for next year, particularly the mass start for all events. If you are looking for a chance to improve your PB time, this is a great event to check out and I certainly will be back.