Let me put this out there: Although this was my first race where I didn’t accomplish what I set out to (a PR), this review has NOTHING to do with my personal performance.
Instead, it’s about my experience with the race organization itself. And it sucked. to put it eloquently.
This was the 25th anniversary of the LA Marathon, and it was celebrated by having a new “Stadium to the Sea” course, and the race is under new ownership, I believe. It was sold out at 25,000 people and cost $135 to register. There was also a 5k race on Saturday March 20th.
As it is right now, I don’t think this race isn’t worth the entry fee. It is a bit of a logistical nightmare. The only redeeming factor is the new course where you get to run by famous LA landmarks, but you still do plenty of running over busy freeway overpasses. fun.
The line to get to the expo was out of control. We went on Saturday but heard it was the same on Friday. They would only let a couple people into the tent at a time hence the huge line. I wisened up and went in the tent through the “out” door and guess what, it was empty in there.
To add to the fun, they ran out of shirts ( if the race is sold out… meaning every one of the 25,000 spots is taken, shouldn’ they have at least 25,000 shirts?!) and I wasn’t given a corral tag or even told about the corral system.
To be fair, there were a lot of vendors there giving out stuff, but between the traffic to get to the Dodgers Stadium (which basically has 1 entrance and 1 exit) and the line to get the bibs, we left as soon as humanly possible without grabbing a single thing.
The signage at the expo was pretty poor too; we had to ask where to go, and I heard a ton of people ask the same thing. The set up was confusing, inefficient, and a pretty poor first impression of the LA Marathon organization.
One last tidbit of expo grossness: we found 1 (and only one) porta potty at the expo, and it was the FULLEST john I’d ever seen. It was almost to the top with waste and toilet paper. A guy working at the expo actually said he couldn’t believe I went in there! and he worked there! wow.
On the plus side, parking was free which was nice.
Parking, Shuttles and the Race Start:
I didn’t have a problem with parking and shuttling, but I arrived early, very early (4:30am). Plus I didn’t go get in the end of the long shuttle line, I just hopped aboard.
Even with all the shuttles, the race started 22 minutes late because people were late in arriving and roads weren’t secure. I can understand a couple minutes, but 22 is sort of ridiculous.
The porta potties at the start of the race were weirdly corralled off so when the race started people were still over there waiting in line. Although I thought they were sufficient, I read online that other runners said there weren’t hardly enough.
The redeeming factor of the race was the much-hyped “Stadium to the Sea” course where you start at the Dodger’s Stadium and end up in Santa Monica. Every mile you pass a landmark or famous spot which was fun. Some of these include the Chateau Marmont, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Sunset Blvd, etc. This was my first time running the race, but I’m assuming this course was probably a big improvement to the last one.
The course is not flat, more like rolling hills with a couple steep declines.
The other great part of this race was the volunteers, all 5,000 of them. There were water and powerade stations fully manned with volunteers every mile which was wonderful because it was warm out. I thought they were supposed to hand out an energy gel around mile 19, but I didn’t see it. I might have missed it though, I’m not sure. But there was plenty of water and energy drinks.
My SkinnyRunner Summary:
I’d rate this race a 4.87 out of 10. The inefficiency, logistical nightmares, and traffic just aren’t worth the new course. I extol the virtues of Rock ‘n’ Roll races often because they are organized well and are just easy to be a part of. You don’t have to wait in line or fight to get a shirt, corral bracelet or porta potty. I’ve never been to such an inefficient expo as LA’s. The crap you put up with is what you’d expect from a small $50 race.
But if you want to run LA, my tips:
*Wear sunglasses and warm weather clothing because it will be warm. And it wasn’t very cold at the start.
*Pick up your race bib early Friday morning when people are still working or have someone else pick it up for you.
*If you’re from out of town, take a camera with you during the race and take pictures of the famous stuff because that’s the cool part of the race.