Busy week, but I wanted to still share my thoughts about Birmingham.Part one I focused on my experience, but this time I figured I would review the race as a whole for anyone who might be interested in running it. Its the smallest marathon I've run and it was the first time I've run a double loop course.
Pros: Its inexpensive for a full ($65 for the full through New Years) and they don't skimp on much. It was one of the best aided courses I have run. I am sure the double loop format made it easier, but there were tons of water/powerade stops, other aid items (oranges, gummy bears, cookies, beer, mints), and 3-4 gu stops. Even on my second loop, there was still plenty of stuff. The fans were great. I am sure the double loop helped this too. Lots of posters, bells, several bands and DJs, and there seemed to be more fans the second loop around (maybe there were just fewer runners for them to cheer for). Super post race party! Within a few hundred feet of the finish line (which had the typical finish line food, drinks), was a huge indoor civic center with everything you could want (bbq, free beer, massages, live band, Jumbotron with live finish line footage--all free to runners). They really put a lot of effort into this part of the experience and it was a really nice touch.
Cons: There were no pace signs in the starting corral. It wasn't a huge race (6500 runners total), but its such an easy fix! I feel like its silly not to have them. Everyone seemed a little confused about where to stand at the start. Elevation map on the website only showed one hill around 10/23, but it was a series of hills for about 3-4 miles each loop. It wasn't a huge deal for me because I was coming from hilly ATL, but it would have been if I came from a flat city. The roads were a little rough in parts, but I had no trouble dodging pot-holes since the race is small (and I am a HUGE klutz).
Overall: Well aided and thought out event without the hassles of a big marathon. Next year is their 10th anniversary, so I am sure the party will be even bigger. An enjoyable course that is uncrowded and PR'able as long as you have a few hills in your training. I definitely recommend it if its on your list.
Hope you are having a good week! I am swamped, but isn't that they way it always works?!