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Review of San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon by

Posted by: on June, 3 2013

COST: It’s purely a personal beef that much of the high registration fee goes to the post-race festivities that I skip and to live bands some of whose only talent seems to be loud, distorted-sound amplifiers. Still, the cost is not terribly out of line with other marathons with fewer “frills” and the best part of the marathon – a running tour of San Diego – is part of what you’re paying for.
PACKET-PICK-UP/EXPO: Very well organized and fast, but with the notable drawback of being situated at the Convention Center which is in a highly congested part of town on Saturday. After struggling with congested traffic to get near the Center, we found parking about 1/2 mile away so it worked well for me because my wife was able to wait. The Expo itself had many nice vendors and displays, though predictably congested as I went in the afternoon. Swag bag was fine – personally I don’t really get excited one way or the other about such stuff; it’s not why I’m running.
PRE-RACE/START LINE: My wife dropped me off 3 blocks from the start line – very easy. I heard some people complaining about the public transportation – which in my experience is always problematic. In the corral I also heard some complaints about long porta-potty lines, but I had used one at the south end of the park where the lines were much shorter (5-10 minutes). The potties near the start were ridiculously crowded – I suspect many runners were just unaware there were shorter lines nearby. I liked the booths near the start line with bananas and bagels, but I don’t think most runners eat immediately before a race. I’d have preferred water instead.
START: Corral system was well organized with access points to each corral right up until the start – a very nice feature. Start went smoothly. While not important, the singer for the national anthem sounded awful.
COURSE: Overall I loved the course as it toured most of urban San Diego including downtown, Gaslamp district, Little Italy, Old Town, Mission Bay and Balboa Park. Really nice. The narrow pathway through Mission Bay was a bit tricky when encountering stopped or walking runners (seriously, why do so many runners not have the basic courtesy of moving off to the side when walking?) One notable aspect of the course is that the first half is mostly downhill while the second half is mostly uphill until about mile 23. In particular the 163 freeway at mile 20 is a brutal hill. I inflamed a hip ligament on the very long banked onramp preceding the 163 hill. Banked roads are a real danger on any course and especially bad after 19 miles when you’re muscle strength is compromised. Overall a challenging and largely scenic course.
SUPPORT: Plentiful and well-stocked/well-organized water and gatorade and GU stations that remained open even for slower runners like me.
CROWDS/BANDS: I really enjoyed the enthusiastic crowds along the route. The live bands ranged from excellent (loved Todo Mundo and the mariachi band in Old Town – great ambiance!) to mediocre/pathetic, with about one-half of them leaning toward the latter category.
SPECTATOR ACCESS: One real gripe is that it was difficult to figure out from the materials suitable spectator viewing areas for friends/family because of the complex road-closure network. It’d be a very nice feature if the organizers could provide a map highlighting access roads to the marathon route.
FINISH/POST-RACE: Not as nice as some, but overally good. Nice selection of tasty treats and goodies afterward. I did not attend the Petco Park festivities so I have no comment on that.
OVERALL: “I’d do it again”, which I suppose is the most relevant praise one can give.