So, maybe I didn’t win the race. Maybe I only finished slightly higher in the top half than usual. Didn’t matter. It was important to me. After 7 years, I finally achieved something I had worked for so very hard. And I didn’t quit. And they can’t take that away from me. That’s all that mattered as I enjoyed my tiny bag of peanuts on the flight home.
Mother nature seemed to take the spotlight at the 30th running of the Los Angeles Marathon. The 2014 race was one of the warmest on record and this year’s edition seemed hellbent on breaking that mark. A week before the race, the 26,000 participants learned the awful truth. We were going to apparently be running a marathon on the surface of the sun.
I have to admit a little personal bias toward Surf City, as it was the site of my first ever half marathon (you never forget your first). But this is just a solid race presented on an enjoyable (if unremarkable) course and offering a slew of runners a chance to run along the beach before heading off to watch the big game. I look forward to running Surf City again next year.
I’ve run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon twice before, in 2010 when it was still a morning race and again in 2011, the first year it was run at night (and an unorganized disaster). It seems that Rock ‘n’ Roll has fixed many of the shortcoming of that original nighttime race. The current incarnation of the half marathon/marathon is rather enjoyable. This is definitely one of the larger (and pricier) races you’ll run with over 25,000 finishers in the half marathon alone. Nighttime races are not the norm and that novelty alone is enough reason to give the race a try. And if you’re a fan of Vegas, this gives you another reason to check it out. Also, if you’re one of those hardcore racers who want to to run two races in a single weekend… or even attempt two races in a single day (which I did)… this is a great destination.
Inaugural races usually have some kind of problem: running out of water, unexpected delays, course problems or some other snafu (which we all typically forgive). Happily, I didn’t find any significant shortcomings at all with REVEL Canyon City. The race officials clearly did their due diligence and put on a fun race. Given that Canyon City is limited to a set number of runners (about 1000 for the half marathon and 700 for the full), it has the benefit of not being an overly-complicated affair like many of the larger races (much less stressful for runners). In addition, it also allows them the opportunity to provide perks not typically seen at larger races. I had a real fun time running REVEL Canyon City. I plan for it to be an annual addition to my race schedule.
As I said earlier, I’ve run the Long Beach Half Marathon four times now. I like this race; I really do like it. But I don’t love it. It’s a solid and fairly well-organized affair, but it does have a few shortcomings and lacks the extra touches that could elevate it to the next level. The race is reasonably priced, local and part of the Beach City Challenge (a series I like). I’ll continue to run it each year when it fits my schedule, but I wouldn’t be overly heartbroken if I missed it from time to time.
Ready to get back to nature and chase a PR at the same time? If so, then look no further than the REVEL Big Cottonwood Marathon/Half Marathon. As the flagship race in the new REVEL series (also includes the REVEL Rockies and REVEL Canyon City races) this scenic downhill course is situated in the mountains just outside of Salt Lake City. Although a relatively new race, Big Cottonwood has already earned a reputation as a well-run event and also serves as a prime Boston qualifier. This year’s race sold out and drew in excess of 2500 runners for the half marathon and over 1500 participants for the full marathon.
Sure, not every marathon is going to be a grand slam event, but I do have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. If this was a new event or a smaller race, I would have easily forgiven some of its shortcomings. But this race is the cornerstone of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series. They’ve got plenty of experience in putting on races (so kinks should be worked out) and the prices they charge should help guarantee an A-level experience in ever part of the marathon. Unfortunately, the weak course layout gives me pause about running the full marathon here again. I really like visiting San Diego and welcome any opportunity to head south and check it out (even worth dealing with that icky traffic on the I-5). But the gang at Competitor Group really needs to take another crack at that full marathon course. Perhaps the half marathon is the way to go as the course may be the better of the two and at least I’ll finish in time for the concert at the end.
The OC Marathon/Half fits in well with its sister races (Surf City and Long Beach) as part of the Beach Cities’ Challenge. Each of the three races has a nice laid back feel to it (must be the proximity o’ the sea) and offers runners a chance to PR on a mostly flat and scenic course. And like the other two Beach City races, the OC Half Marathon shines when compared to the full marathon. So if you’re caught between doing the half and full marathon distance, know that the race starts pretty, but ends nitty gritty. This was the second time I’ve run the OC race and it will remain as one of my annual races (I do enjoy it). And even though the race is less polished in the latter half, I plan to run the full OC Marathon again come 2015.
“I love LA!” Yes indeed. Randy Newman’s “unofficial” city anthem got plenty of play this weekend at the start of the 2014 Asics LA Marathon. An annual tradition since 1986, this year’s race featured a “sold-out” field of 25,000 runners dashing along the popular “Stadium to the Sea” route. Other events included the “Big 5 LA 5K” on Saturday as well as the option to run the marathon as a 2-person relay (handing off at the midway point). This year’s race also featured two unexpected twists to give the race a little “added drama” (and boy does this city love drama). First off, this year’s race coincided with “Daylight’s Savings Time” (“Spring Forward” everyone) robbing us of an hour of much-needed pre-race sleep and guaranteeing that everyone set numerous alarm clocks to ensure they didn’t oversleep. In addition, “Mother Nature” decided to overdo things a little (okay, a lot) on the California sunshine, but more on that later.