Latest reviews by Stephanie
Expo: This year the Atlanta Track Club held their number pick-up and mini Expo at a closed down restaurant at the race site. It acted as a mini Head Quarters. While not a huge expo, it was easy to get what you needed from your bib and shirt (just needed to know your bib number) and they had Mizuno gear and running necessities from Big Peach. Simple and easy!
Parking: There's tons of parking in the parking garage but the roads getting in can get backed up. I got there at 5am to volunteer with no problem but those getting there around 6:30-7am were pushing it. Definitely try to get there an hour and a half early.
Bathrooms: They put a ton of porta potties (maybe 20 of them?) all in the same location near the start. This made the start a little chaotic with people trying to cross the corrals to get to the bathrooms and made the start smelly. I would recommend scattering them across the race area. Note, if you volunteer you get private bathrooms!
Race: The corrals were A-F. Runners were corralled based on segmented time unless they were Triple Peach runners in which they got to self seed. The self seeing bothered me as people took that as a free pass to jump ahead to corrals that didn't match their abilities. Seems like no big deal when you do it but when you're the one having to dodge people, it's irritating!
The course is hilling with a gain of about 700ft. There are 2 big hills within the first mile. So you definitely need some hill training before taking on this course. ATC did a great job with a cheering competition of about 10 or so organizations strategically placed throughout the course.
The Cardiac Hill contest is always fun. They put a timing mat at the bottom and top of the hill (a mile) and you get a separate time just for that section. They do a contest for the top 100 up the hill. While I'll never be one of those top 100, it's fun to race myself over previous years! I beat my time 2 years ago by 2+ minutes!
There are some parts of the course that still have traffic going through and you have to stay on one side of cones. Some people don't pay attention and run on the wrong side of the cones, with headphones in and could not hear runners telling them there was a car back. So you definitely need to be alert on the course!
I didn't pay attention to how many, but there seemed to be plenty of waterstops...maybe every 2 miles? There was one Cliffblocks stop at the top of a hill as well.
This was my second year running this race (ran it in 2014) and took about 10 minutes off of my time.
The medal was one of the best ATC has had and the shirt was a great Mizuno tech long sleeve shirt with hood, thumbholes and a front pocket.
After the race there was bottle water, powerade, bananas and a small food box. They've made some changes to their food boxes recently and I haven't been as excited about the choices in there...but I'm picky :-)
There were also great breakfast options after the race around Atlantic Station.
This was 10th annual Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon and the first since Atlanta Track Club acquired the race.
This was my first time running the course. Out of all of the Atlanta races I've done, this might be my favorite course now. While certainly hilly, it takes you through some of the most beautiful and coolest areas of Atlanta. With about 2,000 marathoners and 8,000 half marathoners registered, it was just enough to keep the course fun without it being too crowded, despite not having the full road at times.
Registration was easy. ATC has always done great with this through Chronotrack and Athlinks. They even offered a deal on the half marathon in January for $50 right after they acquired the race!
I'm not a fan of expos but this one was certainly one of the most tolerable. Easy to get to with Marta. Parking lots were $10 if I remember correctly and across the street from the Georgia World Congress Center. Tip: Volunteer for the expo and you'll get free parking plus a volunteer shirt and hat!
Packet pick-up was EASY. All you needed to know was your bib number. Nothing to print, no ID. Then you picked up your shirt after the bib and you could then leave immediately after if you didn't want to go through the expo. There was a desk to help you look up your bib, another to help you drop from the marathon to the half and then a registration desk if you were registering that day.
As you entered the expo there was the Mizuno store. They had a lot of great stuff and knowledgeable Mizuno reps there to help. I liked it a lot better than the typical Brooks stores at other races. Then you could go throughout the expo and check things out. It felt a lot more organized and less chaotic. There was a table to register for pace teams and they had options from 1:30-3:30 which was nice to see! At the end, ATC had a bunch of previous race shirts that you could buy for $5. That was a fun surprise.
So many options to get to Centennial Square! Marta, parking, walk/bike. Prepaid parking through Parking Panda was $16 for a lot that was usually $20. This was .1 mile away from the start.
There were tons of tents in the park for the different groups which was a nice way to gather. The park itself was beautiful and just being in the middle of the city filled you with energy.
Race start was organized and quick! There were 5 waves. Wave A started at 7am and wave D started at 7:09. So not a lot of waiting around.
While they say the most of the hills are on the last half of the course, I remember about 4 really good hills early on. So if you don't train on hills, these might come as a shock. I felt like they were manageable though and didn't last forever. We went through downtown, Midtown, Piedmont Park, Little Five Points, Virginia Highland and Georgia Tech. It was a great tour of Atlanta!
There were 9 aid stations were very organized. The volunteers did a great job of communicating to the runners where the water vs the Powerade was. I never felt like I had to stop to get water...they were great and getting it out to the runners. They also provided, jelly beans, sports beans and oranges.
The cheer stations were a pleasant surprise! They had different groups sponsor cheer stations. They would have big groups cheering, dancing, playing music and just having fun. the Phidippides Running Store cheer station in Piedmont Park was by far the best! There must have been 40-50 of them all in orange with loud music and it was like we were running through a tunnel of cheers!
The medal was one of the best I've received with a beautiful etching of the Atlanta skyline which is cool to receive as you are viewing the skyline itself!
The employees and volunteers for this race were outstanding. I couldn't believe how peppy they were after being out there so long in the chilly wind!
ATC is dedicated to making Atlanta active and healthy and it showed by their support of the walking community. This is definitely a friendly race for those intimidated to try a half marathon (just train for the hills!) but still a great race for a more advanced runner looking for a challenge and to tour Atlanta!
I loved it so much, I think I may do the full marathon next year!
I signed up for the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon for $50 over a year ago through a Groupon. This was before I had done a marathon. As the time approached, I decided I didn't want to train for a marathon in the winter and dropped it down to the half which was very easy to do - at the split at about 12.5 miles, you just follow the signs for half marathon!
The Expo: Parking downtown is expensive and difficult. I thought I scored some street parking (where a bunch of others were) but came out to a parking ticket to learn there was no street parking. Lesosn learned! I would suggest walking from your hotel if it's nearby, taking the street car and walking or taking uber. The expo itself was like any other expo. You had to go all the way through it which irritates me. It's like getting off a ride at Disney World and being forced into the store afterward.
Getting to the race start at Lafayette Square is pretty easy. If you are in a hotel anywhere downtown it's easy to walk. We took an Uber from Mid City and we were dropped off practically right at the start line. There was plenty of room to roam around. They had a different start line for 10k vs half/full runners, but you could all mingle together on the square which was great because I had friends running the 10K. They even had water and bananas at the start which was a nice surprise. They had plenty of porta potties as well. I did not feel any chaos or stress beforehand.
If you are running in NOLA, run in the middle of the road. Their roads are awful and if you run on the sides, you'll be running on a slant and really mess with your ankles. There were points that some of us ran on the dirt where the streetcar tracks were. Now, I don't know if this was "legal" but there were many people doing it and it saved my body with a nice dirt impact.
This was my first Rock n Roll race. I was expecting more bands and more exciting music. The best band was a high school jazz band playing some peppy stuff. The best music was some of the spectators bringing their own music!
I felt like there was plenty to look at almost the whole way. I love the buildings in NOLA and there was a lot to see.
After running through the French Quarter and turning on Esplanade, while the buildings are beautiful, it is a long stretch. Then you get to a point where you go through a construction zone and then under an overpass and NOLA starts to lose it's charm. Luckily after that, you get closer to City Park and it regains it's charm again.
The temp changed about 15 degrees between the start and the finish of this race and I felt it. They had very adequate hydration and aid stations, but I still felt the impacts of the heat. At about mile 12, one of the runners said, "This sh*t ain't fun no more!" and I had to laugh. There are no hills except for a baby bump that is the bridge that takes you into City Park. Flat is good except you keep using the same muscles over and over with no change in terrain. Once I hit that bridge at mile 13, my legs were like, "you want me to do what?"
The finish line was well organized with plenty of hydration and food (I couldn't hold it all!) Lots of entertainment and plenty of room to just sit in the grass and listen to music.
The medal was a fun NOLA medal with beads. The shirt ran small so consider that when ordering! When leaving the race, the walk through City Park is beautiful! Take some time to enjoy that if you can!
While I'm not typically a fan of "chain" type races, I have to admit it was organized and well put together.
As the daughter of a retired Marine, I knew the Marine Corps Marathon had to be my first marathon! I have to admit this race had a lot of personal meaning to me due to my time as a Marine Corps brat and my time living in DC earlier in life. I think I went in with higher expectations that I would any other race because it was by the Corps.
I entered the race through the lottery on March 13th. Lottery ended on March 23rd. On March 25th at 1:46am EST I received a confirmation email that I was in!
-Pre-race communications were great! Lots of great emails and social media posts communicating resources and getting people excited!
-They gave an offer for Run Coach to help with your training. I believe I paid $20 for it. I wasn't impressed. It basically put the MCM logo on the top of the Run Coach page.
- There was an offer through MarathonFoto to pay early and get a deal on pictures later. I usually would not do this but I did this time since it was my first marathon. I'm glad I did. They did a good job of taking a lot of pictures (33 pictures total) with great backgrounds. It was worth the investment. I can't blame them for my ugly running face though!
- Readiness emails about pre-race events, hotels, race day prep, etc were great. Very detailed - just what I would expect from the Marines!
- Expo: The signage for the expo within the conference center wasn't great. We got to one point where we passed a turn and when we realized, we were not allowed to turn around. We had to exit the building, walk all the way back to the entrance (about a city block) and then walk back toward our turn inside the building. The expo itself was like most expos. Expos stress me out so I'm not really a fan. Be prepared for crowds, long lines and chaos.
- Pep Rally - We took the Metro to the hotel where the pep rally was being held and had to walk through a sketchy area to get there. Once we were there, we were a little disappointed. It was basically a mediocre dinner with some speakers. Now, in all fairness, we stayed for about 10 minutes. It just wasn't where I wanted to be 36 hours before the race. I wouldn't pay for this in the future but it might be fun for a first timer.
- Runners Brunch - This was my favorite pre-race event. They originally wanted it to be a light shakeout run and then brunch but they weren't able to get the approvals for the run. We all met at the Marine Corps Memorial and heard one of the organizers talk about the race. Then we went inside a tent and had breakfast and listened to Bart Yasso and others speak. They also had retired US Air Force Reserve George Banker speak. He has a book, "The Marine Corps Marathon - A Running Tradition" and we all got a copy. He's run 70+ Marathons, many of them being MCM. He stuck around and signed copies and wrote lengthy entries. The whole brunch was like having brunch with my running family back home and was a great way to get ready for the race!
- Carbo Dinner - I sold my ticket to this. After seeing the pep rally, I wasn't excited about going. I really just wanted a quiet dinner near my hotel.
- As long as you follow instructions well, getting to the start is not too difficult. Metro will be crowded. Be prepared for delays. One Metro train hit a deer which caused delays.
- Security was a mess. When you leave the Metro station and walk toward the start of the race, there was a huge crowd and you couldn't see ahead. No one knew what was going on or why were weren't moving. People started to get stressed as it was getting close to early wave start times. We had some light drizzle and it turns out that didn't agree with the metal detectors they had us walking through. This was a surprise as I expected Marines to have a plan B and be better with communication. Though, I do appreciate the security measure!
- Because of that delay, the bathrooms, bag checks, etc were all a blur as we were all rushing to get to the start line. It was a lot of stress prior to a race. I do remember that it was a lot of walking between the Metro, through security, bag checks and to the start line. It may have felt long due to the crowds and the rush. I would just say schedule extra time, and then add some more time to that!
- The course itself I would give a C. Again, I think I went in to this with too high expectations. When you think of running Washington DC, you think of all of the monuments, historical buildings, etc. The only monuments we ran passed that I remember seeing are the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial from a distance. (Note: part of not seeing as much could be this runner's fault disappearing into runner's lala land) There was a 5 mile out-and-back into Georgetown that was hilly and a little boring. Then you spend about 6 miles along the water before getting into the monuments.
- Beat the Bridge: As soon as everyone got to the bridge, it was like the wind was sucked out of everyone's sails! There weren't any spectators to cheer us on the bridge. The bridge itself is only about 1/2 a mile I think, but it was the longest 1/2 mile of my life. It seemed to get hotter on the bridge and it was harder on my body. Plus, once people met the time limit to the bridge, they started walking which also killed the morale some. Luckily, once you get into Crystal City, there are tons of spectators, nice wind tunnels through the buildings and just a nice pick-me-up to get you to the finish. And don't forget that last steep hill as you run up to the Marine Corps Memorial!
Finish Line/Post Race:
- There are bleachers at the finish line where your family/friends can wait. They have the area completely blocked off to spectators so you can't see your family/friends until you do a bit of walking.
- The first thing you see after the finish line are young Marine Officers fresh out of school there to hand you your metal. Note, give your phone to someone to take a picture of the Marine saluting you after s/he gives you your metal. That salute made me cry!
- Then you are directed to get your picture taken in front of the Marine Corps Memorial. This went pretty fast. They had plenty of photographers.
- Then you are sent down a path for hydration and food. After that, you walk up hill to the street where the spectators are allowed to be. There are some great MCM signs along the road that you can get some good pictures at with your family and your medal!
- They had a massage station that was closing down by the time I got through (with the security delays and my slow time) it was probably about 6.5-7 hours post start of the race. Luckily, MCM still had hydration, food etc this late!
- Brooks had a tent with finisher gear. This gear was different than they had at the Expo and I actually liked it better! The MCM shirt you get as part of the marathon was nice, but it was a turtleneck and VERY thick so I rarely wore it. Brooks had a cool finisher long sleeve shirt that I get many compliments on.
- Be prepared to walk quite a bit after to get to the Metro or anywhere you can get to a cab. We walked to metro and saw the lines and ended up calling an Uber!
- If you have the opportunity, definitely go to Quantico (about 35 miles) to visit the Marine Corps museum. It's open to the public and is very impressive! Plus, it's a great spot to get some pictures with your awesome MCM medal!
- I stayed at the Residence Inn Arlington Courthouse and was very happy. It was near a Metro station and close to the start, reasonable price, plenty of restaurants, nearby CVS and was very accommodating to runners. I would stay there again!
I think the MCM is a must for any marathoner. It truly is the people's marathon.
This was my first half marathon. While the elevation might be a little tough if you don't train on hills, it is a beautiful and scenic race with lots of spectator support. Plus, you can't beat running through Sanford Stadium and seeing yourself on the big screen!
The expo was my favorite expo as it was just a few tables, not busy and very pleasant. I was in and out in 5 minutes!
Post race you get your medal (which was a weird design), a water and fruit. There wasn't any hoopla at the end. Note, walking to your car at the end might be slow as you are walking the hills of Athens!
If you enjoy scenic runs, this is a great one to do!