Yuengling Shamrock Marathon 2013 – Race Recap!
Green, green, and more green as far as you can see . . . and beer.
The marathon is part of a weekend-long event in Virginia Beach involving over 28,000 total runners in various events including an 8K and a children’s race on Saturday and the mini-marathon and the full marathon on Sunday. So, you can bring the whole family and everyone can have something to do. The event is a great size, with just short of 3,000 runners completing the full and about 8,500 runners participating in the half.
We arrived in Virginia Beach on Saturday and headed off to the expo. The expo was drenched in green, with all the vendors pulling out anything and everything they had in that lucky shade. The expo itself was well organized with plenty of booths to pick up your packet and a large area for T-shirts and – super-nice – a location to exchange shirt sizes if necessary. The rest of the vendors were typical, but that did not stop us from shopping away. We arrived on Saturday, but the expo started on Friday, and from what we could read on Facebook, if you could get to the expo on Friday, there was more and better stuff – like smoothie samples and beer samples.
After the expo, we took advantage of the many spots to eat lunch on the main drag through town (a road running parallel to the beach). That night, our hotel hosted a (rather overpriced) pasta buffet, and between it and the regular menu, we managed to feed several regular eaters, multiple types of vegetarians, and a gluten-free vegetarian. Whew.
Our hotel was perfectly located directly across from the end of the finish chute and from the entrance to the party tent. We also only had a very short walk to the marathon start, so the logistics were just fantastic.
Next up – marathon day!! And more green! The start for the mini is an hour and a half before the full, which ensures that neither the start nor the finish line is overly crowded. For both races, be prepared: Everyone takes the Shamrock theme very seriously. We saw green tutus, a plethora of shamrock socks, green outfits of all kinds, and even green mustaches and hair. Our group busted our matching PRO Compression shamrock socks!!
(Note – Because the marathon is by the beach, the weather is a bit capricious. The forecast changed multiple times, and it ended up being a chilly 40 degrees for the race with some rather stiff winds off the ocean at several locations. A jacket was a very good thing to have.)
The marathon course is basically a flat and fast figure eight, with only one overpass offering any grade change. In the first loop, you visit Camp Pendleton and some other things I cannot recall (but I am sure were very interesting), and also have the opportunity to cheer on fellow runners in your party as you overlap briefly from the turnaround. Then we then headed out through the main road in town toward what I think was a park and then entered the grounds of, yes – I definitely remember this part, Fort Story. The run up to Fort Story was a very pretty tree-lined road, with little crowd support, but great atmosphere. After exiting Fort Story, you were back on the main road into town with only four miles to the finish. There was nice crowd support the whole way, with a wonderful tunnel of supporters in the last half mile as you entered the boardwalk to run by the beach to the finish line. There was still plenty of food, Gatorade, and water as you finished, and several special finishers’ swag items, and then . . . the best part . . .
This marathon has by far the best finishing parties of any marathon I have completed, including a finish line party in a huge tent on the beach with a terrific live band, hot Irish stew, and more Yeungling beer than this marathon finisher could drink. (Each runner gets four free 16 ounce draft beers, I could only drink two – but no worries that they went to waste, we had plenty of folks willing to use the extras!) We had five runners set PRs, so there was plenty to celebrate.
This was one of the best organized and most enjoyable of all of the races I have participated in, and I would definitely do it again – I ended up with a PR, a great shirt, functional bottle-opener medal, a real polartech-type blanket, a finisher’s hat, and more beer than I could drink. What else do you need? This is a great for first timers and experienced runners alike – go forth and Shamrock On!