- 3 miles/5K, 13.1/Half Marathon
- Road Race
I paced this half marathon for the fourth year in 2019. I always enjoy returning to the pace team for this race, and it is an added perk that this race offers pacers.
The course is unique — runners board buses at the Ocean City Inlet and are driven to Assateague State Park, where the race starts. Then, we run back to the Inlet. Scenery is beautiful at the beginning and end, but the middle can be a little bit boring, which is the reason for the 4/5 rating. The course is extremely flat, aside from one hill in the first mile over the Verrazano Bridge, which takes runners from Assateague to the mainland.
Much of the race is on Route 611. The race also has about a mile in a neighborhood along the way. Somewhere on the bridge that crosses into Ocean City, you hit Mile 11 (there was no Mile 11 mile marker, probably because it was on the bridge). Runners head toward the Inlet and then run up and back on the Boardwalk before getting to the finish.
There were plenty of water stops, which is certainly appreciated, but it seemed like some stops weren't quite ready for the runners, with not enough volunteers handing out the water. I grabbed some cups off the tables. It didn't bother me as a pacer, but if I had been going for a fast-for-me time, that probably would have been more annoying. I also didn't see mile marker flags for Miles 1, 8 (was painted on the ground) or 11. If possible, it would be nice to have Miles 1 and 11 painted on the ground as well, since they were on bridges. I think the finish times were also about a minute off (at least mine was from what I had on my watch).
Parking at the Inlet is easy, but it's unfortunate that runners have to pay for parking, which is why I rated that a 4/5 as well. As a pacer, I was given a code for free parking, but it's $3/hour, and I saw the guy in front of me in line paid about $16. It would be a good idea to carpool if you are not staying in a hotel within walking distance.
I do appreciate that the race starts at 7 a.m., because April weather is somewhat unpredictable, and it was really hot one year.
Swag was a nice tech shirt and the finisher medal. The post-race party offered beer (which included local craft beer - Evolution) and pizza. My BF did get sick after eating the pizza, but my friend and I that also ate it were fine.
This is always a fun event with a great atmosphere. There are lots of runners, so you're never alone, at least where I was in the race (2:30).
After the race, I would highly recommend heading to the Bayside Skillet in Ocean City. We also stopped at another favorite, Rise Up Coffee, after that. Delicious!