Packet Pick-up: Easy to find with lots of friendly volunteers to answer questions. The vendor booths were a little disappointing to me, but this was a smaller race so not a huge deal.Race Day: -Unexpectedly colder (39°F) which actually felt great! -Marathoners started before half marathoners which was amazing. -Lots of port-a-potties & actual park bathrooms on the race route. -Plenty of aid stations with items like water, Gatorade, fruits, & gummy bears -There were some hills, but if you live in this area or train for them, you should be fine. -My only negative would be the inability for my family (or really any spectators) to get to me at any other point on the race route other than the starting/finish line. It made it difficult to get my extra fuel, & having support on miles 20-26 would've been helpful. -Finish line was full of snacks, the rhino medal, water bottle filled with water, & towel. *Overall a great race if you like a smaller atmosphere (like 300 or so) and don't mind the hills. Thank you 7 Bridges for being my 1st marathon:)
This was my first half marathon that was not in Cincinnati and I found it pretty disappointing. The expo was almost nonexistent and the race T-shirt was poorly designed and a ugly green color. The city of Chattanooga is a whole is a city that once I spent time there I asked myself "why is this a city I know of" because there really was not much in this small city. While running, the race was alright at best, but the best part was going over multiple bridges. The two things that soured my opinion of this race was the medal was lame and poorly designed. The major issue I had however was the race was measured wrong and the half was too short and the full was too long. This mistake has stuck with me and feels like the most basic mistake to avoid. The most enjoyable part as this was a smaller race and felt like there were more runners at my pace than at a more elite pace.
This was my second year running and pacing the 7 Bridges Marathon. Both years I have paced the 5:45 group and this year I paced by myself. This year was a lot warmer than last year hitting close to 80, and quite humid, but still had great views of the river, city, bridges, galore. I really enjoy this race and think it's especially good for a first time marathoner. It's rolling hills but generally pretty fast course. The race has several thousand runners but only a few hundred run the marathon. It was pretty quiet on most of the course, so having a larger marathon field with more crowd support is probably the one thing that would make this race better. Pros: - Parking/access - there's plenty of pay lots and street parking all around downtown Chattanooga. If you head to the start early you're more likely to find street parking which is free on Sundays. I was able to park for free right at the start/finish. - Pace teams - I may be biased but I think we're pretty awesome. - Expo - for a relatively small outdoor expo, they did a nice job with a dozen or so local vendors. They had a card you got marked at each vendor to then be eligible for a raffle prize. - Swag - very cool, gender specific race shirt, hat, towel, HUGE medal - LOTS of bathrooms at the start - Post race waffles - duh - Aid stations every mile is a nice benefit. Each station was pretty small, but they were well stocked. I took a star off for this because they had very few volunteers and it appeared many of them had never worked an aid station at a race before. Bless their hearts. Cons: -Aid station volunteers were very nice but not so great at actually handing out aid. Most of them were high school kids so I guess this makes sense. :-)
Marathon morning dawned cold (temps not far above freezing). Large half marathon field and much smaller marathon field. Course was through Chickamauga Battlefield. Marathon did two loops while half did one loop. Footing was a bit rough getting from start area to roads in park. There were three places where the loops for the marathon and the half were different. They were well marked but you need to be alert. Marathon sometimes aligns with prime foliage, but not this year. Spectators were few. Volunteers were many. Tech shirt was a bit bland. Medals and post race food were well done. Plenty of parking near start and finish. Needed to go to Chattanooga for hotels - about 10 to 20 miles away. Overall Chattanooga Track Club did nice job organizing this marathon.
I selected Chickamauga as my Georgia marathon based on stellar reviews. 2015 also had Ohio (my state) as the featured memorial on the medal, so it was too perfect to pass up. We flew to Atlanta and drove up to Ft Oglethorpe, but Chattanooga is also a travel option.We parked in a large field and were clearly directed by volunteers. (There was a moment of confusion on the main road, as other cars were traveling to a color guard event next door, but that parent knew where to send us for the race!) Day-of packet pick-up was easy and we sat in the car until close to the race start.The race began with re-enactors firing a cannon, which was a nice touch for the race theme, and also loud enough to wake us up! I began the race with the 4:45 pacer since I had had a rough training cycle, and they did a great job. (I ended up dropping off from them around mile 17, but that was no fault of the pacer.) Almost all of the course runs through Chickamauga Battlefield National Park, and it was incredibly scenic! Most of the leaves in Ohio had already fallen, but they were at peak color in Georgia. It was also a nice distraction to see the various historic signs and monuments along the course. This would be a great place for Civil War buffs to visit! There were a few sections of rolling hills, but I had trained specifically for them and wasn't bothered (until the end when I was hurting!).The marathon course consisted of two loops, which I actually enjoyed. It was nice to know what to expect the second time around. The course was very well-marked, and I never felt lost, even when I was alone at the end.The finish line was set-up in the field, right by parking, and there was a large tent with chairs to sit under, which was nice, as the sun was pretty hot. There was a nice selection of food and drink at the end, and it was so easy to go right back to the car.As long as you train for the hills, I couldn't recommend this race more!
Great race. Tough course with almost 1200 feet of elevation. Not a fan of the double loop, but that's not a deal breaker by any means. The course was a little long. 26.45 miles. don't think they had the turn around marked correctly. my watch, along with no less than 6 other people I asked, was only about .05 miles ahead at mile 14, but the mile 15 marker after the turnaround wasn't until 15.20. every other mile was the same way, 16.2, 17.2,18.2, etc. Otherwise, a very challenging course with hills to test you, but the last 5k is flat and begging for a PR.