This review is for the Long Beach Half Marathon, which was completed on October 7, 2012.
Pre-race – The expo was held at the Convention Center, and it was a great environment. It had plenty of booths with plenty of the “race swag” being handed out. The race shirt was very creative, with palm trees designed at the bottom. I have a ton of these shirts, and I will definitely put it in the rotation. Also, the medal is really nice. Although I did not run the marathon, I thought it was great that the marathoners got a bigger medal to distinguish them from the half marathoners. It seems that at most of the marathons/half marathons, the runners get the same medal except that maybe the medal is a different color or something like that. Also, be prepared to pay $10 for parking, if you want to park at Convention Center. This was my first time there, and I did not have a choice because I was not very familiar with the Long Beach area. There is street parking available, and I will look for that the next time that I run there.
Course – Overall, the course was a great layout. You run through the harbor first, and along the beach path and then finally on the street. With the exception of an overpass here and there, the course was very flat, which can help you to get a PR. Unfortunately, I was not lucky enough to get to my PR this year. Hopefully that will happen another time! The only issue that I have with the course is that beach path can get crowded. This is from roughly Miles 5 through 9. I was able to keep a good pace down the path and avoid runners, but I could see other runners criss-crossing in between each other to get a better position. It is something to be aware of, even though it did not affect. I really enjoyed the course, and the course support was great, as there were plenty of water/powerade/gatorade stands throughout.
Post Race – The post race festivities were great. I had to relax and stretch a little bit before going to explore them, but I enjoyed them. The goodie bag was one of the bigger goodie bags that I have received. It had water, a banana, granola bars, and pretzels. There were people also giving out extra water and granola bars if people needed them. There were the usual vendors, which was expected, and but they were off to the side if people wanted to explore them.
Overall – I give this race solid A. I ran this course in order to complete the Beach Cities Challenge, and I will definitely run this course again.