- 5 miles/8K, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Relay
- Road Race
This was my second year running the One City Marathon. It was well done race in 2016 and with some questionable weather in 2017 it was even better. A smaller point to point race, it's a great first marathon or chance to BQ. Here's the nitty gritty:
Expo/Packet Pick Up - Held at the community center there's easy access to the small expo. It carries all of the necessities without being overwhelming. If you don't want to shop, it's a very quick in and out.
Overnight - Because the race is point to point most of the hotels end up being somewhere towards the middle of the course. Special rates are offered and the official race hotels offer shuttles to the start and finish. There are a myriad of options for dinner, including a pasta dinner at one of the race hotels. It's definitely a less expensive hotel stay than many other races which is a nice perk. *Note: daylight saving time starts race morning so you do lose an hour of sleep*
Weather - 2016 was a warmer year with temperatures in the 50s. In 2017 temperatures were in the 30s. Luckily the forecasted snow never happened and the winds were much light than predicted. One thing to note about the Newport News/Hampton Roads area is that if you don't like the weather, all you have to do it wait five minutes. Be prepared for just about anything. Due to the below freezing temperatures, the race really stepped up their game this year. The relay runners were provided buses and buildings were opened to keep people warm while the waited for their hand-offs. Heat lamps and electric blankets were added along the course and at the finish party.
Race Day Parking - There's plentiful parking at the start but no shuttle back after the race. You'll need an Uber or a friend to get your car. The hotels shuttles are a great option and can save you some trouble. Parking at the finish is also plentiful and shuttles will take you from a designated place near the finish to the start before the race. Bonus? It's all free!
Start - The start in Newport News Park is nice. Of course with the lost hour it's still a little dark but getting there is easy and lining up even easier. There are indoor restrooms a bit away from the start line mayhem and loads of port-a-potties only feet away. Gear check is available along with plenty of space to get a good warm up in.
Course - You start in Newport News Park with tree lined streets and plenty of scenery. We even had deer race alongside for a while (no one got run over, luckily). There are small rolling hills throughout the course as it takes you through quiet neighborhoods, down main drags and through the CNU campus that amount to about 250 feet of elevation gain. A short portion of the course before Mile 20 is on the Noland Trail, a paved trail through another set of woods, where you need to be careful of uneven surfaces and pot holes. There are long straight sections and some twisty sections so be prepared to run a little further than 26.2 miles, especially on the main roads. They're four lanes wide and water stations are all the way on the outside. I tried to take tangents but had to run essentially across 8 lanes to get water. An altogether flat and simple course, it's a good one to tackle when you're looking for a test.
Course Support - Water stops every two miles are great. GU at Mile 16 is also nice. Cheer sections give you a push periodically but with the cold weather the neighborhoods were sparsely populated at the early hour. If you're someone who needs lots of cheering, this might not be the race for you. If you like predictable and well stocked water stops with a free re-fill on GU, register today. Police and volunteers are plentiful and did a great job controlling traffic on roads that were only half closed.
Finish - A long straight shot brings you to 26 miles and a right turn dumps you onto the finish line. This is where the biggest crowds are but because of the race's small size the area doesn't feel crowded. I'm a big fan of not staring at the finish line for a long time before I get there and really like that it pops right up after your turn. You'll get a big medal, a banana, a few beverages, some snack bars and two free beers after crossing that finish line. This year they also had extra heat sheets/jackets and heat lamps.
Party Time - With the cold temperatures I didn't hang out for the post race party. Your bib gets you two beers and one serving of food. The party location is right next to the scenic James River and a nice place to recoup a bit from a long run if you're not freezing cold.
Swag - Big shiny medals, long sleep tech shirts and plenty of edible goodies make for solid swag.
I definitely recommend this race for anyone who likes smaller events that are well organized with fast courses.