This was my first year running the OC full; I ran the half the previous 3 years. I have to say that the full marathon was absolutely GREAT. Let me start from the beginning…
1) I arrived at the Expo on Friday afternoon around 3:30, I was shocked to see a line snaking around the front area. I wondered where all these people came from! But it took less than 15 minutes to get in, so it wasn’t that bad (except that it was a really hot day). The expo was a bit cramped and sort of odd how it snakes through different buildings, but I just wanted my stuff and got out of there quickly. For the people who didn’t realize that the clear bag was to be used for the gear check – take note that many races do that…so just know for next time!
2) My friend and I got dropped off at the start line, which was a breeze to do. We arrived just before 5am, which gave us plenty of time to use the port-a-potty and get our bags to the gear check. I had my own bag (not the clear one) so I simply transferred my stuff over to the clear bag. It wasn’t as big as the original one given at the expo, but they allowed people to tie multiple bags together, which made it doable. I was a bit leery about just one UPS truck for all the marathoners, but I didn’t think too much of it.
3) The weather was great. Not hot at all like the days leading up to the race, and not at all like the following Monday, where it rained. In my opinion, perfect running weather. The course was nice and flat, with a few inclines here and there but nothing to worry about. I know that people that completed the half marathon (and I felt the same way when I ran the half) complained that it was too crowded, especially on the part where you run under the bridge and back around. Yes, but that’s because you’re running the half! Choose the full and you won’t have that problem at all. 😉
4) The water stations had plenty of volunteers and I got to keep pace with a couple of other runners to help me remain motivated. I’m not a fast runner; I finished in 4:33 and I thought everything on the course went well.
5) Post race was great also. Got my medal, sat and stretched and waited for my friend to finish. We didn’t have any issues with retrieving our gear at the gear check; I know that others did. But mine was easy.
6) We didn’t have any problems exiting the area because we got dropped off and were also getting picked up. We left around 10:45 am or so.
All in all, I would definitely choose to run the full (over the half) again next year. The major challenge is the weather. If it’s hot (like it was last year) it’s obviously tougher to run; but if it’s nice and gloomy and cool, it makes for an absolutely great race.