Long Beach International was the 2nd race of my Beach Cities Challenge.
Pre-Race – Packet pick up fairly easy. At the Long Beach Convention Center. Paid parking if you parked in the Convention Center but since its an easy walk from pretty much everything around there you can find plenty of metered (cheaper) and free street parking and walk in. Packet pick up wasn’t fully staffed when I arrived about 20 minutes after opening. They had one volunteer handling 3 sets of bibs numbers. One line funneling into those 3 sections. After awhile more volunteers showed up but instead of telling those of who had waited for 15 minutes already to now line up behind the proper bib# grouping shown on the hanging signs and that it was no longer one line for all the NEW arrivals were allowed to do so and got their bibs picked up first while those of us who had already been waiting – were still waiting. Not nice.
Expo was nice with typical vendors you see at running Expo’s. They had a 3D film of the course running which was nice to watch. KT Tape booth was my favorite for a free tape up for race day. Lots of freebies/handouts at this expo.
T-shirts. Long Beach International has some of the ugliest race day shirts I’ve ever seen. They ran big….REALLY big this year. Somehow I had a medium and they will not change out the size that’s listed on the bib. However, the shirts ran so big the lady looked at me and had pity on me, looked at the medium and said “no way” and ran and got me a small shirt instead. I really needed an xsmall or even an xxsmall – that’s how big they ran this year. Ugliest design. Confused as to why they had a “what color shirt would you like” thing on their Facebook page and didn’t even seem to listen to what people said. If your going to do your own thing with the shirt why bother getting opinions?
Race Day – I can’t talk about parking or traffic since I stayed down there and walked to the start line. Plenty of porta potties – I mean tons of them so very little wait time. Here’s where I became “unhappy”.
October in Southern California is hot. Period. Every year. This year even more so. Long Beach needs to start at LEAST an hour earlier. They need to not allow walkers an early start as us runners catch up to them pretty quick. Corrals are self seeded. These maybe need to go to checked corrals. The current course just can’t handle the sheer numbers of runners anymore. For most of the first 10 miles your running 15,000+ runners and walkers through a boardwalk area that is 8′ wide. Add the early start walkers into the mix and it just gets really crowded the whole first 10 miles. I’m not a super fast runner but usually finish in the upper third of both age and gender and usually above half in the overall. My stats say I passed 413 people. Yet only 50 passed me. I self seeded in the correct corral based on finish time. All the weaving around walkers, slower runners that seeded themselves higher than their abilities and the narrow race course added almost 2 extra miles onto my half marathon.
Course support by residents was pretty good. Course water/gatorade stations were well staffed and well placed. There were a couple of water/gatorade stations that couldn’t keep up. Not the fault of the volunteers but those areas might need to have more pre-poured/stacked cups before the race starts so that doesn’t happen. The volunteers kept apologizing and felt bad and were doing the best they could. Wasn’t their fault.
After mile 10 the half/full runners split and the half runs down Ocean Blvd. Finally there’s enough room that your not jostling with hundreds of runners in a small area and can actually spread out a little bit. Finally.
I crossed the finish line at 9:30am and it was 80 degrees. The last mile felt longer than the first 12 because of the heat.
Finishers Chute – One of the WORST zig-zagging finishers chutes I’ve ever experienced. I just ran what amounted to 15 miles and needed to walk/stretch. But I was zig-zagged and crammed into an area that was so crowded that we ended up standing there for several minutes unable to move. With the heat it almost became unbearable. I realize peoples’ families are wanting to find their racers but spectators’ needs must take a back seat to the runners. The finishers chute really needs to be larger, straight and 2 tables of finishers stuff with 4 lines needs to be implemented.
Finishers goodies – The food bag handed out at the end is one of the better ones that I’ve received.
Medal – of the 3 beach city marathons the Long Beach medal is one of the nicest ones. Medal design is one thing they got right!
Of the 3 beach city marathons this is one I wish to not run again. Late start combined with the heat that time of year with the skinny course for the first 10 miles and some of the ugliest race shirts I’ve ever seen I will not run this one again. I might do the bike option but as far as running – until they tighten up the corrals, push walkers to the very back, change the course or enlarge it and start much, much earlier I will not run it. My least favorite of the 3.