I ran this race in 2011, which was a great year. Started in perfectly chilly conditions and it was set to be a sunny day, but without getting too hot.
The start area is easy to navigate, well organized, though parking seemed like an adventure – I got dropped off, which I recommend doing if you have willing friends or family members. That is by far the quickest way to the start. Since the marathon started well in advance of the half marathon (which draws more participants), marathoners had priority in the lots nearer the start, but there was still a huge jam leading toward them, from what I saw. There are shuttles to get you to the start if you park in one of the more distant lots, but that’s something to factor into your early morning start. Bottom line…get there really early or get dropped off.
As for the course, aside from a very few small rollers, this is a pancake flat race. Great for a PR, if you ask me….if you handle the last 8-10 miles well. It can be tough, mentally, to run past the point where cheerful half marathoners are celebrating their almost-finish (i.e. past their mile 12), and follow a sign down toward the boardwalk with 10 more miles to go of your own race.
And don’t get me wrong – I love an awesome beachfront run. But do not underestimate the power of sunshine past mile 22ish. The beach boardwalk loop means you are running quite a few miles at the end with the sun shining down on you “head on”. If you want to avoid headache and misery on a very sunny day…bring sunglasses and/or run with a white hat on.
Overall, it’s a race worth running, but I’ve heard many say that it’s a better half marathon than full marathon. The marathon course does get a little repetitive, and a tad boring…but it remains nonetheless very picturesque!