This is the last time I’ll talk about LA, I promise.
I just think I need to do another review since there were a lot of changes from last year.
The LA Marathon was held on March 20th and costs $145, up $10 from the year before. There were a little under 20,000 runners, and this is only a full marathon, no half.
The expo was much better this year in terms of efficiency. Maybe it was because I went a little later at 4pm on Saturday afternoon, but there weren’t any long lines like 2010. It was held at the Dodgers Stadium where the start was. I didn’t have any problems parking, but I heard from other people that it was backed up. That’s the problem with having anything at the Stadium: there’s too few entrances and exits.
The expo was outdoors (wasn’t raining on Saturday) and pretty big: it looked like there were a lot of vendors. I, however, didn’t grab a single thing. After fighting traffic all the way up from the OC, I wanted to get the heck out of LA.
But Sarah said there were a ton of freebies, goodies and all sorts of free stuff.
I even got a shirt! Last year they ran out.
Unfortunately, just like last year, I had corral problems. I wasn’t put into a corral and the girl helping me had no idea what a corral was so I had to talk to someone who would have rather gouged her eyes out than give me a B corral tag. Finally I got one but not before promising to name my first 15 children after her grumpy highness.
Overall, the expo seemed pretty decent although I didn’t really enjoy it since I was trying to make like a banana and split. I thought it was a fun touch to put every runner’s name on the pace car though. And this year they had enough porta potties (unlike last year) although the two I went in were already out of TP. Man, runners are dumpers.
The big selling point of the marathon is the “Stadium to Sea” course. It’s a point-to-point course which starts at the Dodgers Stadium, not a great location in my opinion, and finishes by the beach in Santa Monica.
They actually had a few changes to the course this year which were great, like not circling the stadium.
You pass by all these famous landmarks, but the problem is, if you’re not a native Angelino and know what to look for, you’ll miss it. I missed a ton of sites because I didn’t know where they were.
There’s a few hills in the beginning miles (one steep one at mile 4) but it’s not that hilly of a course and the last 4-5 miles are all downhill which is awesome. It’s not a flat course but it’s not super hilly either.
The finish in Santa Monica is fun with all the people, palm trees, ocean, party-like atmosphere, etc.
PARKING and LOGISTICS
This is the big problem that I think LA’s going to keep having if they keep the race at the Dodger’s Stadium. You can either be dropped off at the start or park in Santa Monica and take a bus. I did this (paid $20 for parking – RIDICULOUS) and they had a good system going with the busses. Can’t complain about the shuttles.
(I caught the 4:45am shuttle for the 7:25am start)
A lot of people chose to get dropped off. Guess what? The roads were all backed up. So just like last year, people were having to leave cars on the side of the road and walk up to the Stadium. Everything was so backed up that once again, the race started 15-20 minutes late. not cool.
I don’t think the Stadium is logistically a smart choice, and I think this sort of thing is going to happen every year because no one wants to sit around and wait for 3 hours so there’s a mad rush to get there at the last minute and the road infrastructure can’t handle it.
The good thing about being at the Stadium is that people could go hang out in there while waiting. I didn’t because there were also tents set up outside, but it’s nice to have an option. There were plenty of porta potties and even some bananas and one small coffee table that was severely understaffed. They needed a couple coffee stands at the minimum.
But overall, the pre-race area wasn’t bad at all. It wasn’t raining and the time passed relatively quickly. It helped that I brought a magazine to read too. Gotta catch up on the goss.
One negative: it was really crowded and congested trying to get into the corrals. There wasn’t any signage, people didn’t know what was going on, it was just chaotic. But once I got into the B corral, everything was fine and moved swiftly.
Obviously with the nasty weather, there wasn’t much of a crowd, but the people manning the aid stations were great. There was water and Gatorade about every mile. I know at some spots they were handing out gels, but I wish it had been marked with a big sign or something because I couldn’t tell until I had passed them. Same thing happened last year.
This year’s race was a lot better than last year’s, although I personally don’t think it’s worth $145. That’s more than Boston costs.
I heard someone say that they’re trying to make LA into a world class marathon like Chicago or New York and I don’t doubt that, but it’s just not there yet. Maybe at some point. But maybe for someone from out of town, it could be a good experience. I’d rate the race a 6.73 out of 10.
–Be prepared for the weather. Last year it was hot and sunny; this year it monsoon’ed. seriously. There was record rainfall.
—Figure out your parking. Are you getting dropped off or parking in Santa Monica?
—Get to the race early.
–Get to the race early.
–Get to the race early.
–Bring your own gels in case you miss them on the course.
–Plan your exit strategy. Will your car be in Santa Monica? Is someone picking you up and where? The finish seemed a little chaotic to me but then it was also flooding the whole city at that point too.