Long Beach Half Marathon is my 4th Half Marathon. At this point, I am mentally prepared for a 13 mile distance. I know it is going to take about 2 hours and all I have to do when I am on the course is to count my blessings every time when the Garmin Mile Beeper goes off. Over all I enjoyed the Long Beach Half Marathon, and here is my list of 11 things I liked and 2 things I didn’t! (Also, this is my first of the Beach Cities Challenge. I will be doing the Surfcity Half in February and OC Half in May. read about it here)
What I like
#1 Nice Scenic Flat Course with almost no Hills
The course was beautiful. We started not far from the Pike Outlets, passing through downtown, Queen Mary and light house. The beach part of the course is nice. The last 4 miles is back on the Ocean Blvd, with people cheering!. Not that many hills, but there are some minor spikes of 30 to 60 ft few times.
#2 Well Organized Expo with tons of Freebies/Race Discounts.
I have picked up bib at expos in the past, but the Long Beach Marthon weekend expo was one of the well organized one. Tons of vendors were there giving out free stuff. Lot of races were on site, providing discounts, and on-site registration saving tons of money on registration! Orange County’s standard running stores were all present with their discounts. I spent good amount of time talking to several different race exhibits, and vendors. I recommend anyone to attend the expo, even if you aren’t doing the race here just for the race discounts they provide onsite. (Disney Super Hero Race was $35 off!).
#3 Excellent Parking Arrangement
Race organizers and the city has worked together so well, to provide excellent parking for the attendants. Pike parking was ‘prepaid’ only, assuring a spot for sure. Its such a relief not having to worry about parking situation on the race morning. It was very reasonable at $10. There were other alternate options provided as well, covering everyone! I kept wondering how will 15,000 people find parking in that little downtown, but it worked out perfectly fine! Kudos to the race team!
#4 Awesome Medal and tech-T
I am not an elite runner, aiming for age divisions or front pack awards, so my gratification is the fact that I get to run a race with tons of like minded people, and get a nice finisher medal to take home as souvenir. (Mind you, I am the kind of person who collects refrigerator magnet from every airport I visit, yes – including orange county airport and I know I live here – still!). I absolutely adore the finisher medal! The tech-t was very high quality and something I would love to wear to work or in public!
#5 Plenty of Water/Electrolyte Stations
Every mile and half had a water stations, and enough frequent Nuun electrolyte stations. I don’t carry water bottle when I run, so It was such a treat to have that many water stations! I know it takes tons of volunteers to execute that many water stations, but the race team did an excellent job! I loved it!
#6 Donut Station at Mile 9
Believe it or not, at mile 9, they were handing out Donuts! What is not to like about that…..
#7 Excellent Race Announcer
I am so glad to see Long Beach Marathon race team didn’t invite some random DJ to come cheer people on, but rather invited a serious athletes like Rudy Novotny & Fitz. They knew how to keep the crowd motivated/inspired. Rudy brought in other Boston elites to the stage and shouted out to veterans! It was a good spirited start because of the announcement team! Congrats to them!
#8 Snail’s Pace – Race Pacers
Snail’s Pace team provided race pacers, and the race pacers were available at most every time. I followed the 1:50 pacer to the most part of the race, and missed them at mile 9, as my body gave up because of the heat, but still managed to score a 1:51 time. Pacers are such a blessing for any race, and I am glad they had the pacers at the race helping everyone!
#9 Well thought out Official Program Booklet
Usually at races, I get a page of printout about the race day events, but Long Beach Marathon went out in full force and published a well thought out Official Program Booklet. It had every information I needed, about driving directions on race day, road closure, parking, elevation and other key information.
#10 jetBlue Flight Ticket Giveaways
I didn’t win, but it was nice to know they were giving out jetBlue Flight tickets at the race to 550 marathoners, and few half marathoners! It was extraordinary that they do that at the race! I absolutely love jetBlue for embracing Long Beach and helping with this race the way they did!
#11 High Tech Race Result Page
I work as a computer engineer, and numbers and graph make me happy! Every race has a race result at the end, but Long Beach race had a high tech race result page, that was such a delight to my data science loving brain. The page included percentage lead, and how many people passed/got passed and other vital information! Also, where I was when the first finisher finished! Good job on this reporting http://www.runpix.co/arace10/11/lbc16/rp.php.
What I don’t like
#1 Start time and the Heat
Half Marathon started at 7:30, with waves leaving through 8:00am. I know its fall, but still it feels like summer time heat and October mornings are always a bet with temperature. By the time we hit the boardwalk, the sun was out in full force, so we ended up running against the sun for 4 miles, and the sun heating up our back for another 4 miles as we turned around into Ocean Blvd. I wish the start time was little earlier – around 6:30 or even 7:00 consistent with other race start times. 7:30 is just too late of a start time for a race!
#2 Raffle announcement at the Start line
I am a genuinely happy person to see others win and proper, but something about raffle ticket announcements that just doesn’t sit well with me.When the numbers get called out and I realize I didn’t have the winning number, it does disappoint me for a fraction of second. At the running races, at the front line, I like to spend my first few minutes to gather all my positive vibes and energy and get into the race mode, but the announcers having to announce the JetBlue Free Ticket at the start line right before the race, did take a min away from my ‘zone mode’. I wish they had done that another time, not at the start line, making every one else start off on a bad note – that we didn’t win a ticket. Congrats to the winning person tho!
My request to Race Organizers for next year’s race!
- You have done an amazing job executing such an extraordinary race with about 13,000 people running the race + more participating with them! Congrats!
- Can you please consider a early start time for half marathon. 7:30 is too late, and the heat was bad. Or please provide an early start as an option. This will help us a lot!!
- I love you guys giving out raffle, but can you please not do that at the start of the race, but may be later! We like to be in our positive mindset and mood to get through the miles!
My note to fellow Runners who want to run this next year!
- If the race start time doesn’t change, just be prepared for the heat and the sun. Lot of fast runners I personally know, ran slower this year, so reset your expectation and enjoy the run if you don’t make your PR.
- Be careful around the Shoreline Aquatic Park area. I hit a kiosk cart, parked on the side, not looking ahead. Not a good thing. Its better to look ahead but I have a tendency to look down, as a way of tricking my brain not to think too much about the run, but backfired on me, given the narrow route in this area, with lot of stuff on the side walk. So be careful!
- I was worried about the drive into downtown, but if you take 710, its a breeze to get into parking lot.
- Make sure to check out the Expo. Its so worth it!
- Its not a good idea to be in the first wave if you run slow, but if the start time is 7:30, I would say you cut the line and go with wave 1. The longer you wait, the hotter it will get close to the second half of the race! If you are already a slow runner, you will be running in heat wave for most of your race. If the start time is early , do respect the wave rules!