- 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
- Event Website
My overall race experience was soured by what I'm assuming was a snafu with the race shirts. When we arrived at the expo (4:00 on the second day), they were out of every size of race shirt except XXL. I registered for the race back in October so not having a shirt available didn't even cross my mind. Not only did they run out, there was NO communication via email or social media letting runners know of the issue. At this point (2 days post race), I'm still going on the assumption it is being mailed to me based on what race volunteers provided. Race management still has not acknowledged or apologized for the issue.
+Course had a good number of hills to keep it interesting.
+Medal is as they advertise, HUGE.
+The theme was present throughout the event.
-Hydration stations were less frequent than I would prefer (~every 2 miles).
-Expo parking was unclear for this out-of-towner.
If you’ve done any searching on “best races” you’ve certainly come across the Little Rock Marathon (and half). They are well known for the size of their finisher medals. Each year they also have a fun theme that is showcased throughout. The 2017 theme was candy.
If I have one wish for every race director from here on out, PLEASE provide guidance on where to park for the expo. I always tend to focus on race day parking, because they always give you advice there and the last three races I’ve done with major expos I’ve been stressed out trying to find parking for the expo. After about fifteen minutes of driving around we finally stumbled upon a parking garage a couple blocks from the convention center.
Given the lack of race shirt, I did scope out the race gear that was for sale. I did like that they were selling items other than just more t-shirts. They had sports bras, capris, and several different cuts of shirt available. The expo was consistent with the size of other expos for a race this size. There was a solid vendor presence including Trigger Point and several other races.
Parking Sunday morning was very easy. The race had suggested two parking garages. We chose one not far off the expressway and about a ten-minute walk to the race area. We ended up paying $8 for parking for the four to five hours we were parked.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not kind and rain was in the area most of the morning. Gear check and the post-race party were inside the Convention Center. I was very grateful for the indoor gear check, as I knew my clothes would stay dry for after the race. Another major perk was having indoor facilities before the race. There were at least four separate restrooms available. The length of the lines varied, I hopped in line for the one near gear check and waited no more than five minutes.
We left the Convention Center ten minutes before the scheduled race start. The start line was about four blocks away from the Convention Center. Neither of us was starting in Corral A so we weren’t too concerned. The race wound up being delayed a few minutes. The course ran down the road that most runners were walking up from the Convention Center to the start line. To further compound the issue, the only start line porta-pots I saw were also along this road. It took the race officials a bit of time to get the course cleared so the wheeled athletes could start.
Overall I enjoyed the course. There were a good number of hills to keep it interesting (including a couple bridges, one right out of the gate). We had the opportunity to run past the Governor’s mansion. When I ran by the Governor was actually standing outside the gates cheering for the runners, I thought that was pretty cool. The crowd support was consistent with other races I’ve been doing recently. Around the water stops the volunteers had a ton of energy and then there would be very quiet stretches. I was surprised how far apart the hydration stations were. In recent races I’ve been spoiled with stops almost every mile. The stops in Little Rock were at least two miles apart, some maybe more. Given our weather conditions (rainy and 40’s) it wasn’t an issue, and perhaps the weather is consistently this way. If it’d been one of the freak warm days we’ve been having I probably would have opted to carry some extra water with me. As frequently as water stops on the course there were beer stops. It seemed to be the same brewery and I’m not sure if they were course sponsored or just fun. There was also an unofficial stand (near one of the beer stops) with grilled pineapple. YUM!!! A couple of the churches along the route also had unofficial stations with treats (bite size candy bars), water, and fruit.
The finisher’s medal did not disappoint. Consistent with their reputation the medal is massive (even for the half marathon). When my friend checked her luggage for her return flight they weighed the medal (for fun). It came in at half a pound!
Once racers were finished we were directed back toward the convention center. The post-race nutrition and band were all inside one of the convention halls. This was amazing given the rainy weather. I grabbed my gear and had a dry, warm place to change and wait while my friend finished her race. The post-race nutrition included pasta, an entire package of fruit cups, bananas, yogurt, and choice of various beverages (including my favorite chocolate milk). There was also a massage station for those willing to wait. I grabbed some food and did some of my own stretching while I waited. Shortly before we left a band started playing, the first few songs were country covers, which I enjoyed!
If I lived closer, I might do the race again as I was a fan of the all-in incorporation of the theme.