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Old 10-05-2012, 08:55 AM   #1
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Your Favorite 1/2 and Full Marathons?

We're hooked on the Disney races but DH and I would like to try others. We're seriously considering the Rock and Roll Series but what are some of the others you've tried and loved? What others would you recommend? This could get very informative and interesting as I know that some of you have run just about everywhere and also internationally.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:09 AM   #2
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That's a tough decision. So far, I've done 5 half marathons and have different favorites for different reasons.

Best Crowd support/On course entertainment:Columbus Ohio Marathon and half marathon. The city tends to come out for this race. As far as on course entertainment, the course features 100 bands and Deejay's some are good some are bad but you're always close to someone, and they are schedule to be there clear through to the walkers. The Big productions on the streets of Anaheim were nice at Disneyland but I preferred the more frequent smaller entertainment of Columbus.

Best PR Course. The Ohio River Road Runners Marathon/Half in Xenia, Ohio. This is a small local race so you don't have 15,000+ people to weave around. The half marathon course is not pancake flat the course has a couple of rolling hills but they are at the beginning. The high point of the course is Mile 9, the last 4 miles are all a gradual downhill on a paved rail/trail. So, when you're tired at the end you have that slight downhill to help you along. It's not steep where it would trash your legs just a little over a 1% grade.

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Old 10-05-2012, 11:10 AM   #3
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I really like the RnR races. I did the RnR USA twice back when it was the National Half Marathon and the 2010 race is my favorite half. They messed some things up in 2011 and I didn't do it this year which was the first year it was run as a RnR but I might do it next year. I am definitely doing the Cleveland RnR and almost definitely doing Pitt and Lexington. All three are inaugural events.

Outside of the RnR series races I really liked were the Akron marathon here in Ohio (I did the half twice and a leg of the marathon relay this year), and the Niagara International Full is a great race. It was my first full. It starts in Buffalo and you run into Canada and finish next to the falls. There is also a half but it starts on the Niagara Parkway at the halfway point of the full.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:44 AM   #4
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Best is hard to choose, to be honest. Disney aside, here are some of my favorite ones:

Zoom Yah Yah - Minnesota. In January. Indoors. 150 laps on an indoor track. Nice, because you get assigned a personal lapcounter (from the girls track/XC team). Yeah, it gets repetitive, but the track is nice and soft, there are no hills or wind, you are never far from water or an actual bathroom, the pre-race meal is in the dining hall (which had really good food), and yeah, having a bunch of people screaming and chanting your name when you start your bell lap is a lot of fun.

On the down side, it's 150 laps of an indoor track. (FWIW - the year I ran it, it was warmer than the Disney marathon. That made for some fun bragging to friends.) Also, capped at 44 runners (or thereabouts).

Illinois Marathon - located in Champaign-Urbana IL. I like it because it is my old college stomping grounds. The race is fairly flat (it is central Illinois, after all), crowd support is generally good (and only getting better), and you finish on the 50 yard line of the stadium.

The only downside is that you finish on the 50 yard line - and then have to climb some stairs to get to your gear bag and post-race food. But, if you don't collapse to the ground right after crossing the finish line, it's not bad.

I enjoyed the Air Force marathon, because your pre-race meal is in the Air Force museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. Course was ok, though I was not feeling well when I ran it. (Bad runner - tried new food during race.)
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Old 10-05-2012, 12:03 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mickeysgal View Post
We're hooked on the Disney races but DH and I would like to try others. We're seriously considering the Rock and Roll Series but what are some of the others you've tried and loved? What others would you recommend? This could get very informative and interesting as I know that some of you have run just about everywhere and also internationally.
Here are some of my favorites:

Richmond - beautiful course, decent crowd support, cool weather, medium (8000) field

Marine Corps - best volunteer support of any race I've ever run, beautiful course with mix of quietness in the reservoir and along the river and the huge crowds in downtown DC, cool weather, large (35,000) field

Madrid - you see most of the main highlights of the city plus have a nice stint through two really nice parks, medical staff on rollerblades offering support along the way, good volunteer support, not many spectators, medium field (15,000)

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Old 10-05-2012, 12:51 PM   #6
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So hard to pick, but I have been lucky to try out some pretty great ones and have been impressed with a lot of them. Some of my favorites...and I can't wait to do the MCM in a couple weeks because I have a feeling it will be added to my list of favorites.

Kiawah Island Half Marathon, SC: Beautiful course, all water stations have oranges and bananas, after race food is fantastic as is the organization and medals are recycled glass. Running the Marathon this year since it is a new course.

Air Force Marathon, Dayton, OH: Amazing support, running on an AFB is pretty cool, having a flyover (B2 Bomber this year) and various flyovers during the race, mile 10 is AMAZING!!, and running by the jets at the Air Force Museum is nice for your approach into the finish line!

Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon, Springfield, IL: What other race can you get a picture with President Lincoln and his wife with a giant penny medal around your neck? Plus, you get to run through all the historic areas, Lincoln's house, tomb, and the capitol. It is a very nice city and a great race.

University of Missouri (Mizzou) Go Girl Half Marathon, Columbia, MO: I admit I had never even heard of Mizzou before or Truman the Tiger and had never even been to that state, but I got my picture with Truman. Although it was hot, the support was great, the goodies were nice, and the course wasn't difficult. A wine glass with a smoothie and a nice medal only added to how fun this was.

Chicago Women's Half Marathon: The course was run almost entirely by Lake Michigan and like most women's focused races, you got a lot of goodies with this one too. I really loved the course (although it was hot and Lake Michigan was ironically not windy) and the support and the atmosphere.

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon: I love architecture, and the course is run by some of the coolest buildings, and having bands every once in a while to get us through what ended up being a hot race was nice. A lot of crowd support and the Expo was amazing! Good thing we drove because we got so much free stuff. I liked the support on the course, and the overall organization.

Lady Speed Stick Half Marathon - Nashville, TN: Although the course started out really hilly, it eventually turned into a nice downhill and flat course. This series was acquired by Competitor, so it is now associated with the RNR events. The Expo wasn't much, but the course and medal were amazing.
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Old 10-05-2012, 01:53 PM   #7
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Non Disney races

Fastest Marathon Course: Arizona RnR Marathon (very flat with good weather and no sharp turns)

Best Crowd Support: Boston Marathon (unbelievable, and the concentration of people who love to run is fantastic). If you can qualify, everyone should run this.

Fastest Half Course: Fontana Days Half Marathon (drops 2100' in 13.1 miles)

San Diego RnR Marathon: nice weather and finish along the bay.

Most Scenic: Big Sur Marathon

* I don't care for RnR series very much. Much more commercial than even Disney and the end of the race support was lacking for me.
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Old 10-05-2012, 02:02 PM   #8
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Since I am vetoing Competitive Racing... I would not look to any RnR that has a new course or anything else new for the year in which you are entering.

Though saying that, I loved running the RnR in San Diego, Nashville and San Antonio. They used to be a runner's race where you knew you would be safe and have plenty of supplies. I cannot vouch for that any longer.

Off soap box.

There are the obvious marathons that everyone should experience.

New York - it's a great scenic tour and lots and crowd support - but like Disney, you must wait forever int he staging area.

Chicago - Again a diverse and well supported race. Is is flat and fast and is usually cool. These folks know how to run a huge race.

Houston - A Runner's race with well stocked aid stations and lots of support. My hometown race for which I usually volunteer.

Marine Corp - This is on the list of great races, but in my opinion, the race has outgrown is course. Marines know how to charge and take a hill but race logistics can be puzzling for them. It's on the list as you cannot run a marathon where you run by the Pentagon, near the national zoo, Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington, and the Capital.

Surf City - You cannot beat the BEST medal out there.. a surf board, though the course lacks variety.

Maui - The first 8-9 miles are kind of rural, but once you crest the saddle and come back to the coast, you are running next to the bluest ocean you will ever see.

There are other big name races, but honestly, some of the best races you will ever run are the no name local or nearly local races. The best resource for these races are MarathonGuide.com. These races can be well supported, have a huge crowd support and be better run than the mega races. Look for races that have very positive feed back and read what is written. Understand what kind of race you want to run in and see if the feed back matches. You know Disney gets terrible marks from many runners because they believe that Walt will magically lasso and slide the parks together on race day and the entire 26 miles will be in a park.

Not sure this helps, but I really am liking smaller races over the mega races. The crowds are manageable and the costs reasonable and you get to sleep in your own bed
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Old 10-05-2012, 02:48 PM   #9
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I gotta put a plug in for my local race: Memphis St. Jude Half and Full. You get to run through the St. Jude campus with several of the patients and their families cheering for you. And if you are local, you get monthly training clinics and group runs with the national St. Jude running coach, also from Memphis. It's the first weekend in December and the weather in Memphis is usually great for running. Local support is great and it finishes in Auto Zone Park, one of the top minor league baseball stadiums in the country.
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:22 AM   #10
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And then there are always these...

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Old 10-06-2012, 09:30 AM   #11
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If you are interesting in coming to the Seattle area, in September they hold the Race for a Soldier. It was started by a mom who lost her son as a result of PTSD. It's held in Gig Harbor which is a terrific small town about an hour south. Small race, about 1400 people, pretty hilly at times, but the community support is off the charts. It benefits the USO of Puget Sound and other wounded warrior programs.

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Old 10-11-2012, 11:42 AM   #12
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I have only run three marathons: Disney, Mount Desert Island in Maine, and Hudson Mohawk River in NY.

I ran the Mount Desert Island Marathon because I had traveled to Bar Harbor before and new the area was absolutely stunning. It has been voted one of the most scenic marathons in North America and it completely lives up to that award. However, the beauty=comes at a cost. The fans are spread out pretty thin. It's a small field so, there are areas where you feel alone (although, it that environment it isn't necessarily a bad thing), and it is a hilly course, with a net uphill finish. I still have nightmares about the climb at mile 22ish.

If I had to choose and I didn't care about a PR. I'd do that one again. (With more hill training before the race!)

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Old 10-11-2012, 04:09 PM   #13
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Unfortunately I don't travel for events much. But I like the National Marathon to Cure Breast Cancer (Known colloquially as "26.2 with Donna") in Jacksonville. GREAT expo, lots of stuff. About 2-3 miles of the course is no the beach.

Also like the Space Coast. The course is OK, but the post race support is awesome. Make Disney a school PE class by comparison.

If you're in the area, The Ohio River Road Runner's Club 1/2 & full in Xenia, Ohio is a really well managed "Small Town" race.

Have to start traveling more I guess...............

JTA: in a couple of months I'm going to do the Daytona Beach 1/2. Part of the course is on Daytona International Speedway, and you get free tickets to qualifying that afternoon. Should be fun!!
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by mickeysgal View Post
We're hooked on the Disney races but DH and I would like to try others. We're seriously considering the Rock and Roll Series but what are some of the others you've tried and loved? What others would you recommend? This could get very informative and interesting as I know that some of you have run just about everywhere and also internationally.
In no particular order, and I'm forgetting more than a few that I loved, my favorite marathons have been

DW , of course!
Avenue of the Giants/Humboldt Redwoods
Volcano (think it's no longer held )
Coeur d'alene
Deseret News ..(Salt Lake City)
Big Sur
SF (latest version has been my favorite)

Shoot, I'm forgetting a lot that I really like. I've run a bunch but so many don't stick out as favorites,,,, but it's a great question..

Good luck with your running!

Last edited by Dizzytime; 10-16-2012 at 12:31 AM. Reason: add a couple more I really enjoyed
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:53 PM   #15
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I have two favorites:

Marine Corp: Beautiful scenery, great crowd and it somehow feels patriotic

Myrtle Beach 1/2 and or full: This is a great run!! It is flat, the crowd support is good and best of all you run partially on the strip right beside the beach so the views are wonderful. Located on the course is a Krispy Kreme. After I finish running (I have run this race 3 times) the family and I will open the back of the SUV eat doughnuts and cheer on the rest of the runners!

This is only a four mile run but my favorite speaking of Krispy Kreme! The Krispy Kreme Challenge at NC State University. You run 2 miles; eat a dozen doughnuts and run back 2 miles in under an hour. The costumes are hilarious and the proceeds go to the childrens hospital.
Rock-n-Roll Marathon 2014
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