- 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
A few things are expected when running a big city marathon, as well as running in southern California including: you expect some logistical hassles, and it might be really hot. So, I'm not going to speak about those things because you just have to prepare for them and accept them. The course is fine, I'm not someone who finds Los Angeles to be particularly aesthetically pleasing to begin with so I probably shouldn't wax on about that either.
On of the (many) things that are confusing about this race is that they keep changing the date, and even the MONTH of the race. It's LA, no matter when you have a marathon there's a chance it will be hot...so I think the event would do better to just pick a weekend and stick with it.
I paid the $75 fee for the "VIP hospitality" package so that I could pick up my packet on race morning and avoid using up and entire dat getting in and our of the city (I stayed in Laguna Niguel), I haven't heard any grumblings about the expo experience so I assume it was the usual fare. DO NOT BUT THE HOSPITALITY PACKAGE unless, like me, you were desperate to get you bib on race morning. They very transparently OVERSOLD the VIP passes, perhaps but several hundred. The amenities WERE NOT AS ADVERTISED, so I feel like I 100% paid $75 for race day packet pickup, which seems awfully steep. The "separated gear check" was simply a VIP truck in line with all the other gear trucks...so...no difference there, the tent was far from the start corrals, especially for those of us in the "A' corral, so I have a bit of a walk to get to the start. The tent was NOT heated as advertised...which is fine, but many people were cold as they dressed light expecting the tent to be heated, and the "private" porta-potties were 8 porta-potties and the line was extremely long. I waited over 20 minutes. Also, the hospitality tent was like 50 yards from the big collection of ports potties so.... those lines were actually shorter.
You have race morning options of: a shuttle from downtown LA, a shuttle from Santa Monica (where the finish is), or being dropped of at Dodger's stadium. I accidentally skirted the system because my friend dropping me off and I got a little lost. We couldn't navigate to the designated gate for drop off so she dropped me off on an access road on the opposite side of the stadium and I walked about .25mi, which turned out to be good because the runners drop-off traffic looked AWFUL!
The course starts with a really harsh downhill, and then is a series of hills (NOT gentle rollers but also not totally impossible to run an even effort either). The final few miles into Santa Monica are all downhill, and you get a really nice cool breeze from the coast coming at you. It IS possible, due to the start time (6:55am) to find shade to run in on nearly the entire course if you stick to the left side of the road, which is nice. Only TWO of the course clocks were working (I THINK at miles 8 and 20)...which honestly for me was NBD because I have my garmin, but there ARE definitely enough runners who don't race with a watch that there should always be reliable on course clocks for an event of this size.
If you collect medals, you'll love this one. From a google images search I can see that the medal have been TOTALLY different each year (and the major sponsors have changed frequently it looks like), but this years was pretty nice. It's large, and heavy, and I thought it was cute that instead of the date it says "Valentine Day 2016".
I don't think I'll sign up for this one again, there are too many other SoCal races to check out than gamble on this one again.