- 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other, Relay
- Road Race
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Disclaimer #1: This was my first marathon in 14 years, so this is from the perspective of an almost first-timer.
Disclaimer #2: This year's weather was crummy. The days leading up to the race were in the 60s, but the race day wind chill never reached above freezing. The following day was 58 degrees. Fall is like that. Bring lots of options. I saw too many runners who were under-prepared for the cold day and were miserable.
Communication: The communication via email and social media was great, and they were responsive to questions throughout the days and evening before the race.
Course: The course is hilly. Some of the hills are short and sweet, some are the long buildup kind. Practice hills before you come so you aren't discouraged and your quads are prepared. Many of the hills are in the second half of the race, including a short steep hill shortly before the final turns to the finish.
There are so many lovely neighborhoods in Tulsa that I had never explored in my years of visiting family there. Some of the run is in less scenic areas, but you soon realize it is worth it to get to the beautiful parts.
I have heard from past participants that the race is typically full of spectators. This year, due to the cold, windy and sometimes wet conditions, many of the spectators decided to stay in by the fire. I probably would have, too. Many neighborhoods still had stations set up with drinks, selfie stations with props, candy, or Vaseline. The people who did go out to cheer on runners were effusive and friendly. I loved the support from the Tulsa community, and I can only imagine it would have been better had the weather not taken a freakishly cold turn that day. The great Bart Yasso was the true hero sitting in the cold calling out all of our names for hours, with no sign of weariness for back-of-packers. I was honored to have his distinctive voice waiting for me at the end.
My family was able to see me about 9-10 times along the route! I have some family who are local, so they were able to navigate around the outside of the route, and then park close to the finish. It is a lot easier to see people frequently in this race than in a larger city like Chicago or New York, so if you need a mobile cheering section, this is your race!
Aid Stations/Amenities: The official aid stations were plentiful and well-stocked, even for me near the back of the pack. There were plenty of porta-potties along the route.
IF you have the ability to upgrade to the MotherRoad VIP experience, it is well worth the money if the weather is at all chilly! REAL toilets in the tent at the start, with coffee and pastries. After the race, the indoor VIP experience was amazing with a catered buffet, free beer/wine and massages. I enjoyed a bowl of chicken noodle soup that was perfect for post-race rewarming. That was almost worth the price of admission alone. Treat yourself if it is within your means. This was the first time I have ever upgraded a race, and I was so glad I did. Even without the VIP experience, there are beers, pizza slices, and other goodies awaiting you at the end. You will be rewarded for your accomplishment either way.
Swag: Finishers received a jacket and high-quality spinning medal. If you complete the "Center of the Universe detour" of .3 miles, you also receive a high-quality commemorative coin that I liked almost as much as the marathon medal. The race photos are not free; however, they are great quality, and some of the best race photos I have ever had. Kudos for making me look strong!
Safety: This course had so many police officers along the route blocking/directing traffic that I could not believe it. Most of them were shouting out encouragement to us, and one near the finish had a speaker in his trunk pumping dance music. I thanked him profusely as I managed to shimmy a bit while I passed. His music gave me my final push. A huge thank you to Tulsa officers keeping us safe!
Expo: This was on the small-medium side compared to some of the larger races I have run; however it had everything you might need if you have forgotten anything. I tend to avoid walking through expos too much prior to a race, so it was perfect. No lines! No fees for parking!
Finally, feedback from my spectator family: Print out your own Tulsa map or grab one from the hotel lobby and mark the route on it yourself. The race doesn't hand out printed brochures, and the course route on the app doesn't have cross-streets on it. Sometimes the shorter jaunts through neighborhoods don't have clear street names on the app so it can be confusing. Also if your spectators are older (like mine), then the route map on the app is difficult to navigate, more so with cold fingers. Hopefully in the future they will have more detailed printed maps at the least at the expo or in race packets for spectators.
Overall, I am proud of my accomplishment, and loved going to Tulsa for this race. The new Gathering Place (a nearly 100 acre park with trails and playgrounds galore) is the perfect place to shake out before race day, and to wear out any children who might be traveling with you. It is unlike any other park in the world, and worth arriving at least a day earlier to see while local kids are still in school.
You will love the vibe in Tulsa, and you will feel loved, even if the weather keeps many locals indoors.