- 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
This was my first time doing the LA Marathon and I had one burning question – do they play the song? Yes, at the starting line, they do play "I Love LA.” And, no, it doesn't feel corny and make you want to kick the person next to you. It's downright exciting, in fact by the time I crossed the mat I was beyond amped to get out there and see those mountains, those trees, ain't nothin' like 'em nowhere! The brilliantly named "Stadium to the Sea" course delivers on the sightseeing and provides a good challenge of a marathon at the same time.
The first thing to know about the course is the hill profile. There are some of every variety out there – short, very steep, long and kinda steep, long and steady, and gentle rollers – and they never stop. There isn’t a flat section that lasts over ¼ mile at any point. It’s either up or down. (The first 6 miles are the hilliest so train accordingly.). The one at mile 3 going past the Disney Concert Hall is the most talked about, and it is indeed steep, but in my opinion, the toughest and longest hill of all was at mile 5 on Edgeware Ave going over the 101. Also, when you’re hill training do lots of downhill work. My quads were trashed from the descent sections.
The second thing to know is city logistics. With LA as spread out as it is, and with this being a point-to-point course, choose wisely when deciding on a hotel. I stayed at one of the race hotels in Beverly Hills, thinking that was a good mid-way point in the course and would be most convenient to the start, finish, and expo. I loved the shuttle pick-up at the hotel front door on race morning and being dropped off in the Dodger Stadium parking lot at the start (with zero traffic at 5 am, BTW) but I did not love trying to get out of Santa Monica when the race was over. We waited close to 2 hours for a cab. I could’ve taken a shuttle back to the hotel and been done, but I was with my husband and the shuttles were for runners only. (Note to organizers, don’t break apart families this way!)
On race day, the organization is incredible. Shutting down roads in LA without causing another “car-maggedon” is an unbelievable accomplishment in itself. Then getting 18,000 or so people through the city safely is just amazing. Water stops and volunteer support on the course are top notch. 2014 was the hottest day in the race’s history and they were prepared. The water stops and aid stations all had gallon jugs of water stacked around and they were very generous with it. Spectators were everywhere and were incredible and fun. Look for the cheerleaders in West Hollywood and the yard parties on the West Side in particular.
The expo was the weakest point, in my opinion. It was smaller than I expected, and the range of vendors was pretty limited. With Asics being the title sponsor it was basically a big Asics road show, but there were cool touches like a wall with every racer’s name on it, and big mural photos you could take a pic in front of. They also had the Ryan Hall treadmill challenge and we got to see Ryan himself knocking out 5-min miles while answering questions from a goofy-ass announcer guy. Again, on the logistics front, you can have a very easy time getting to the expo at the convention center if you stay downtown, but for us it was a 30-min, $30 cab ride both ways to BH.
Overall, I had a blast and thought the race was very well put together. I’m looking forward to doing it again next year. I love LA!