It is a great race for a personal record if you are used to races in the Texas Hill Country; it is all cement though so it was hard on my knees.Because the temperature dropped from the 70s on the day before the race to the 30s for race day there was no ambiance, almost no spectators. It looked like they had a nice post-race party planned. The volunteers at the water stations were very nice but they didn't seem to know exactly what to do; or maybe it was just the weather. The police were really supportive and encouraging, and did a great job at indicating us which way to go and at keeping drivers away from the runners. You really need to arrive early to park quickly; if you get there 30 minutes before the race the queue for parking gets really long and a little chaotic. They charge for parking, this time around it was 8 dollars!!! Another runner told me that she got charged $10; and some other people complained that after they had paid other parking attendants tried to charge them twice; so make sure you keep your ticket. The medal is really beautiful and so is the t-shirt.
First let me say that I love how everything was color coordinated. Each race had different colored bibs and the distance signs for each race were respective of the bib color. Since all the races ran the same course and just turned around at different spots I loved knowing exactly which signs represented the half marathon distance. This was an out and back course that started and ended at the Irving Convention Center and down onto the Campion Trails (for the half and the full). There were plenty of aid stations and someone constantly in an off-road vehicle monitoring all areas of the trails to make sure runners were okay and on track. The trees provided nice shade and it was relatively flat throughout the trails. The beginning and ending parts of the courses (all distances), had rolling hills. If you any hill you went up, you would run down on the way back in and vice versa. Parking as super close, but you did have to pay $5 to park in the grass lot. I really don't like paying for parking in general, but for a race I've already paid for and to just park in a field, I wasn't very thrilled about that. But it is what it is, I was just happy it was close. The medal was absolutely gorgeous and there were a few vendors after the race, but just your typical ones. A chiropractor, church, running store and a local fitness program. Nothing worth really sticking around for. Overall, I would do this race again pending there is a new medal out that is equally as beautiful as the 2015 one. The scenery is just gorgeous, even if it is an out and back course.
I've run this race multiple years and the 2015 race I PR'd! The course is exceptionally flat so this is a perfect race if you're looking for a great qualifying time. Or, if you're doing the full, for a BQ. The race is still small enough to feel community but large enough to have great vendors post race and fantastic support. Sad we moved out of state as this was one of my favorite races.
The Irving Marathon was a generally positive experience for me because it was my first marathon and I finished. The race itself is fairly new, however, and while I think has a lot of potential, some areas were lacking that prevented me from giving the race a higher rating.The first half of the race was on point. I really have no complaints about it. There were frequent aid stations (almost at every mile), cheering families and volunteers and lots of signs to pump you up. The scenery was also fabulous and breathtaking.However, after about mile 13, the aid stations became far less frequent and there was nobody out there to cheer other than the police directing traffic. As a first time marathoner, hitting my first real wall, this was very discouraging and made the race feel like it drug on. It really didn't feel like a race at all, just me running through a neighborhood on the road instead of the sidewalk.I think this is fine if you're an experienced marathoner, trying to get a PR or Boston Qualifying time. It's not at all crowded, which is great if you're trying to be speedy. However, when you feel like you're completely alone, water stops are less and less frequent as the day becomes hotter, and volunteers are getting bored/annoyed at the point where your physical stamina is depleted, all of these factors become somewhat negative rather than positive. I would suggest changing the marathon course so that the last half was broken up a bit more rather than 10 bleak, hilly miles through a suburban neighborhood. More importantly, I would also add more aid stations for the last half. Also, if the volunteers were all adults, that would be extremely helpful (it's great to have kids help out, but I'm concerned that it could be a safety issue if there's not many adults, which there weren't at several stations).I still finished and relied on the support of other runners I found along the way, which was definitely cool, but I wouldn't recommend it to others for their first marathon until the race irons out some of the kinks and attracts a larger field of marathon runners. It just felt like the race wasn't organized to take great care of the marathoners, who were out there the longest and paid the most money to be there (not that it's about money, but cost is certainly important). I'd still recommend it to marathoners who are pretty experienced as well, because a race is a race, and for the most part the volunteers/staff were really nice and the pricing was fair. Experienced runners know you can't always expect amenities, but if you've never raced a marathon before and don't know what to expect, these amenities might become important.I would also recommend it to friends who were racing shorter distances, because of the enthusiasm and course support.Overall, I wouldn't be opposed to running this race again; however, I will be planning to run a larger marathon before I come back because I'd like to have a different experience.
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