Spring Full/Half Marathons

When you run marathons, you get asked, a lot, for suggestions on what races folks should try. Please check our blog entries for our more detailed race reviews, but below are summaries of the key information that is important to us about  options for Spring races offering both a full and half marathon distance. These races provide great flexibility when traveling as a group!

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! Good luck and let us know what you think about any of these races.  Links to the race website are provided when available.


Who ran & when Course Logistics Swag Organization Overall
Walt Disney World Half Marathon, 1/11/2015 SOLD OUT Lisa (2011) Runs through the major Disney parks, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios & Epcot. It is not all Disney and happiness, you run through the back areas of the parks as well as near an interstate.
Flat, except the overpasses.
Lots of hotel options. Recommend staying on Disney property for all easy access to shuttles. The All-star Sports resort is comparatively cheap. Tech Shirt and Finisher Medal. Loads of stuff for sale (It’s Disney of course!) Photo ops with the characters!  (Beware long lines for some.) There were 14,000 runners, but it seemed like more. Wave starts, each with fireworks for a grand beginning (I loved it!), even though it was very early in the morning (still dark). Easy family reunion area with nearby parking. Loved this race! It was expensive, but it’s Disney!  Crowd support in the parks is awesome and Disney put together lots of bands around the course.
Yuengling Shamrock Virginia Beach, 3/22/2015 (includes a half) Annette, MB, Sandy, Lisa, Deborah, KB (2013) Flat, Figure 8, Runs by beachside hotels, military base, and on boardwalk.  Windy. Super easy – roll out of bed and walk to the start.  Many hotels on the strip, including at the start/finish.  Vacation town has plenty of restaurants. Bottle opener Medal, marathon specific tech shirt.  Our year, we also got hats, a fleece blanket, and a cookie!  Great post race party on the beach with live band, 4 free Yuengling beers, & Irish stew. Well done and a good size, not to big or small.  Half starts before the full.  Not overly crowded and access to fluids was not a problem. LOVE!  Would definitely do this one again! (Except Sandy, she had a bad day.)
Asheville Marathon & Half, 3/15/2015 MB (half)(2013) Entirely on the historic Biltmore Estate property.  It winds all over the place, with the full separating from the Half around mile 10 across an internal stream.  Paved paths & roads, and some dirt trails.  The first 6.5 miles are extremely hilly!  The whole thing is very scenic and rural. So, so.  The start is 2 miles on the Estate and you can only get in with a $20 ticket, so if someone drops you off, they have to have a ticket too.  Traffic was a bit slow.  Asheville is a great town with good hotels and many fantastic places to eat. Short sleeve tech shirt, buff, super nice fleece blanket, and a unique, carved wooden medal – one of my favorites!  Decent food at the end, but a long line. Well done & small, but not lonely.  Good water stops.  If it rains, parts of the course get really muddy.  It is annoying that spectators have to pay to enter the grounds to watch the race. I had a hard rainy run, but like Asheville enough to do it again and try the full.
Georgia Marathon (Atlanta), 3/22/2015 (includes a half) MB (2007) Big loop starting and ending in downtown, pretty neighborhoods.  This sucker is hilly, constantly – and this comes from a person who trains where it is hilly. Easy.  There are plenty of downtown hotels and restaurants. Tech shirt and medal (I don’t remember the rest, I had a horrible race and left immediately!). MB ran this the first year, and the organization left much to be desired, so she cannot comment on this currently. MB had a bad day and let’s leave it at that.  Atlanta is pretty.
GO! St. Louis, 4/12/2015 (includes a half) MB (2004, 2009) Funny looking figure 8, moderately hilly, with some big rollers.  Great neighborhoods,parks,and the Anheuser Busch Brewery. Super easy – roll out of bed and walk to the start.  Hotels and restaurants nearby, and you can tour the Arch! Medal, tech shirt.  There is beer at the end and plenty of snacky food.  Nice areas to sit around afterward and bask in the joy of finishing. Marathon is capped at 3,000, which is nice, so it’s not overly crowded once the half (over 10,000) splits.  Water stops were fine – and there was a beer stop 🙂 Liked it enough to do it twice.  Be prepared for the hills. Visiting St. Louis is a big pro.
Carmel Marathon (Indiana), 4/18/2015 (includes a half) MB, KB, Lisa, Deborah (2012) Really, really funny looking figure 8, I never knew where I was! It says it’s “slightly” rolling, I don’t remember any hills.  Mainly neighborhoods and one poorly timed park 🙂 No hotels at the start, but the local hotels all provide convenient (other than early departure time) shuttles to and from the start/finish that worked well. Be warned it can be cold! With some research, there are good places to eat. Medal, tech shirt (my year, they ran out of women’s specific, boo!).  There was food and supposed to be chocolate milk, but unless it has changed, even the fast marathoners found the pickings very slim having been exhausted by the half-ers. Another smallish race, but still not lonely once the half course splits. Water stops were fine. Biggest issue was the exhaustion of food at the end. Good small race with a course that is geared toward PRs, we had 3 in our group!
Derby Festival Marathon & miniMarathon (Louisville, KY), 4/25/2015 Everyone (half)! (multiple years) Now starting from downtown, it’s basically an out & back, with the full going further “out.”  Urban – you get to run through Churchill Downs!  The mini is flat, other than the ramps in & out of Churchill downs.  For the full, there are 3.5 miles of solid hills in a park from miles 12-15. Louisville has lots of hotels and places to eat.  Street parking available near the start.  This race has grown over the years and now has multiple corrals and is pretty crowded! Medal, tech shirt.  Great party area at the finish with a band and plenty of room to roam.  Food appeared to be controlled to make sure there was enough. This race was pretty crowded (over 10K) the whole half in 2014, but water stops, while crowded, held up.  The full can be lonely. Fun, flat, fast half let’s you be part of the Derby and a great way to see Churchill!  The full can be disheartening with the late course hilly section.
Cincinnati Flying Pig, 5/3/2015 (includes a half) MB (2005) Really big loop.  Definitely hilly through mile 15.  Be prepared for some steep ones.  Otherwise, mostly scenic course. Reserve early and it’s super easy – roll out of bed and walk to the start.  If not, you will have to drive and walk a bit.  Cindy is a fun city with tons of restaurants near the start/finish, and hotels, but they sell out quickly. Really cute medal, tech shirt, and a gear bag.  This one’s all about the pig theme!  Nice finish area, plenty of food. It was not overly crowded when I did this race, but it’s been several years. I had no issues with water stops, etc.  Nice crowd support at the end. Loved this one.  The theme is fun, the city is fun, just prepare for the hills!
Inaugural Horse Capital Marathon (Lexington, KY), 5/16/2015 (includes a half) It’s new! MB, Annette, Lisa, & Deborah are registered! It’s described as a “quasi-double loop course on rolling, scenic country roads, passing some 40-plus horse farms.” Read “rolling” as pretty hilly! We will let you know! Tech shirts and finishers’ medals that double as bottle openers. We will let you know! We will let you know, but are excited to try this out and encourage others to factor this into their racing plans!