Full (only) Marathons

Full-only races are turning into rare birds — most marathons now have both full and a half distances, which is good because it provides flexibility if you are traveling with a group of runners with different goals. Some marathoners, however, prefer a race where everyone is doing the same thing, and your course does not all of a sudden become empty after the half, or you find yourself overly crowded in the first half and with no food left at the finish!

Remember, a race differs from year to year, and even in the same year, a runner’s experience has as much to do with how your day goes, as it does about amenities and medals — If you have a good race day, chances are your view of the race will differ from someone who has a bad race day! Links to the race website are provided when available.

So, here are some options that are for marathoners only:

Fall Full Marathons:

Who ran & when Course Logistics Swag Organization Overall
Chicago Marathon, 10/11/2015 Lisa, Sandy (2013) MB, Deborah (2004) Starts and Ends in Grant Park, runs through 29 unique neighborhoods, Pancake Flat! Lots of hotels in downtown Chicago that are within walking distance of the start. The hotels will be expensive and book up quickly. There is a train system that can be used for those not staying in downtown Chicago, but you have to get up early!  Because of the large number of people wanting to run this race, registration is through a lottery system. Running Shirt, Finisher Medal, and Magnet. Gatorade and water at aid stations. Power Gel is offered later in the race. Watch out for bananas at an aid station around mile 20. There will be lots of banana peels on the course. Sandy slipped on banana peels and fell during the race. This is a VERY crowded race. One of the world major marathons, so there will be elite runners. There are two wave starts and lots of corrals. It took approximately 8 minutes to get to the starting line from corral D. Getting to the family meet up area after the race takes a long time. If you don’t like large races, this one isn’t for you. There will be 40,000 or more finishers. If the weather is good, this is a great race. Sandy loved the flat course, sights, and crowd support. (It is one of MB’s least favorites.)
Marine Corp Marathon, 10/25/2015 (includes a 10K) Lisa, Sandy (2012) Starts on Route 110 between Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon, runs through the capital, finishes in Arlington National Cemetery. The course is relatively flat except for a fairly steep hill during the first few miles. There is also a hill when you enter Arlington National Cemetery. Lisa and I stayed in a hotel close to Arlington National Cemetery. There is a subway system that is easy to use for those runners that stay in outlying areas. Be prepared for long lines when returning to your hotel. Running Shirt, Finisher Medal. The race start was well organized. In 2012 there were lots of porta potties at the start of the race with no lines. You will need to arrive early to clear security checkpoints. There is a corral system. It took Sandy approximately 4 minutes to get to the starting line. It took a really long time to pick up the goody bag at the end of the race and exit. This is a great race. It can also be very emotional. There are Marines in uniform at aid stations offering encouragement and lined up at the end of the course thanking you for running the race. Wow! Running through The “Run to Honor” portion of the race where fallen service members are honored was the most emotional portion of the race for Sandy.
NYC Marathon, 11/1/2015 MB (2007) Point to point, covering the 5 boroughs from Staten Island to Central Park, a tour of New York!  Mostly flat. Whoa nelly complicated & expensive. Buses to the start 5-6 hours before the (relatively) late mortal runner wave starts, followed by camping in the cold on Staten Island.  Plenty of hotels, but they are expensive.  Oh, and there’s a lottery to get in.  I tried three years and then got the sympathy entry. HUGE expo.  Medals and tech shirts.  There’s lots of food at Staten Island and a well organized distribution line at the end in Central Park. This is a crowded race (50K) with multiple wave starts and multiple corrals in the waves, but it was also super organized throughout, from Staten Island, to the water stops, to the finish area’s efficient processing of finishers. You’ve got to do it once. There’s no experience like it, and it’s a great opportunity to see NYC.