I ran OC in 2011 and I LOVED it (but I was dropped off and picked up), so this year was a completely new experience, which I have a lot to write about. I’m sad to say it’s no longer my favorite race.
Packet pickup was very easy and organized. You do have to pay $5 for the expo parking, which is pretty decent consider some other expo’s that charge $10 or more. It was such a small area to squeeze in that many vendors.
I purchased $5 parking permit at the expo to park at the finish line. I showed up in time to my assigned bus time (5:45am), and I got so nervous when I saw the HUGE line. It was my first time taking the shuttle, so I’m not sure if it’s usually like this at other marathons. I was told that nobody checks your assigned shuttle time, so people usually show up towards the later hours. We didn’t get dropped off at the starting line until almost 30 mins after the race had already started. My GPS started at exactly 6:42am.
I remember how I loved the OC half the first time I ran it, so I was really excited to run it again this year. The best thing about this race is the course; it is beautiful. There are several small hills, but not so steep and easy to conquer. I don’t think there was ever a dull moment along the path. However, one thing I noticed was that the mile markers were a bit off from my GPS, and my watch logged more than 13.1 miles. I’m not sure if it was just me, or if others were having the same problem. I have used the same watch to other marathons and never had that issue. There were many police officers and police dogs throughout the race. Like always, police officers, volunteers, spectators, and EMS were EXCELLENT and I couldn’t thank them enough for their time and their help to keep us safe, hydrated, and motivated.
NIGHTMARE! That is pretty much the only word I can use to sum it up. The goodie bag had no bananas, drinks, fruit cups, bagels, and all the other common things other marathons give out to the runners. There were lines EVERY WHERE. I waited forever to get my bag, because there was only ONE line for all the 5000-10,000’s! I would’ve had to wait longer, until they decided to split out the 5000, 6000, and 7000 bags. After waiting for almost an hour for my bag, I had to wait another 2 hours to get out of the parking lot. There was only 1 exit and nobody was directing traffic, so all the cars were merging from all sides, and people were getting very frustrated.
I don’t want to be harsh, but I would give this race a C overall. I would run it again, despite the negative things that happened along the way, because I really like the course. Please check up on the mile markers though. I hope the race director would change some things that were mentioned. If it’s this bad again next year, it might be my last time with the OC Half Marathon. Until then, I will give it another chance. Next year, I won’t take the shuttle, won’t check in my bag, and will ask to get dropped off and picked up again to avoid the headache.