This review is for the the half-marathon.
Pre-race: Had to pay parking for the expo. The staff at packet pickup didn’t tell me anything about where to go, or that the clear plastic bag had to be used for Gear Check, which I found out later. Expo was small and cramped. It spanned more than one building and was like a maze to get through. The shuttle system was not planned well. My wife was assigned a 4:45am shuttle, and I was assigned a 5:45am shuttle. So I had to arrive early and then wait an hour in the car. After arriving at the start, my wife said the shuttle was quick and easy. So I walk up about 10 minutes prior to my assigned shuttle time, only to find that there was a line wrapping around the fairplex. By the time I got on the shuttle and rode to the start line, it was about a half hour after the race had started. I noticed several Bomb Squad with K-9s checking the shuttles(buses), so I assumed the delay was due to post-Boston events but I heard from others that some of the bus drivers didn’t know where to go. I figure that several people also run late and miss their earlier shuttles so everyone gets piled in at the last minute. Lesson learned: Just take an earlier shuttle.. (they don’t check).
Course: Thought it was great at first, since the course was nice and wide open (because of being late). Then I came up to the walkers, and that along with the fact that the course goes on a narrow bike path, made it impossible to get through. I was on pace to best my personal best by at least 5 minutes but had to walk because I couldn’t get through. I ended up missing my PR by 35 seconds. Also, this is a point-to-point course, which is very inconvenient. It is also why they have to use UPS trucks to drive the stuff to the finish line, which I believe partly caused issues with Gear Check which I will mention below. As for the on-course stations, there were plenty of water and Gatorade. Some of the Gatorade was very watered-down. There was also Clif Shot gel at mile 9.5 which was nice. Didn’t see much on-course encouragement/entertainment, like bands, radio-stations, music, etc.
Post-race: They did provide water, Gatorade, and some snacks, but then the nightmare began. The festivities area was far too small for all the people there. Many people couldn’t find the location of the UPS trucks. Others mentioned that it wasn’t posted on the map, but it actually was. It was just printed very small, with low resolution graphics, so that it was not visible. So I proceed to make my way there and found my truck with some sort of line spiralling like a whirlpool. So I go in the middle and wait. Then I notice others are coming up just going straight to the back of the truck. But I just wait.. for about 45 minutes. Then a kid (literally, they were just teenagers) from UPS staff shouts out that we weren’t really in line. Everyone was getting very frustrated. We hardly see any bags even coming out of the truck. Keep in mind we just ran, it’s windy and we are freezing cold. The UPS kid comes out with a couple bags yelling out the numbers, hoping that the one or two owners would be there. At this point people are feeling hopeless and yelling to just throw all the bags out. After about another 15 minutes, that’s what they started doing. Throwing all the bags out, and asking to see your bib number before leaving with a bag. Sure, an honest person will show you, but will someone else really do that? There were so many people, they had no control over the situation at that point. I just stayed and watched for my bag, and grabbed it and left as soon as I could.
Happy that I could finally leave, we head for the car and find that there is a huge line of cars waiting to leave. We waited for about 15 minutes and saw that it didn’t move an inch. We later realized that the marathon route crossed over the exit path so no one could leave. Hungry, we head back to the festivities and deal with the crowd to get something to eat and kill some time. Come back 30 minutes later, and manage to leave the parking lot another hour after that.
In the end, my 1:40 half marathon took about 7 hours of the day.
I’ll give some slack due to the Boston events having had some possible delays. I did notice extra security all around, from pre-race to post-race, which I appreciated. It doesn’t excuse the marathon path crossing over the parking exit, UPS Gear Check disaster, etc.
I was thinking about becoming a legacy runner for this event and going for another Beach Cities medal, but I don’t really want to run this event again next year.