>Racing>Two Cities Marathon and Half - best swag award
Queen of 3rd Place
This weekend, I ran the (half) here in the Fresno area - this event has really grown up from the days when it was a half only, with maybe a couple hundred runners, now it's up to 5,000 and so far they've done it right!
Expo and goodie bag - I'm not one for expos, seems like they're all the same, and indeed this one was pretty much the usual, only smaller. I was able to pick up some free, small bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar that will be perfect for picnicking or camping. The goodie bag was better than most, lots of little snack and energy drinks and such. Yes, it's all about the food for me! There were attractive, long-sleeved tech tees in mens and womens shapes and they didn't run out of smalls as far as I know! Yay! Early registrants also got a very nice running cap.
Pasta feed - I never go to these things but wanted to be able to report. The food was ok, several choices of pasta, salad, rolls, cookies, various soft drink choices. The olive oil and balsalmic on the tables with bowls - help yourself, go ahead and pour it on - was a nice touch. It was fun to meet people from all over. Dick Beardsley was the guest speaker, probably many of you have seen him before, he's a great storyteller, very energetic and inspiring.Price was right for this at $15.
Course - mostly flat, mostly on paved roads, short out-n-back then a loop for the HM, a double loop for the full. Scenery is a mixture of residential, rural, and small-town (Clovis) running. The date pretty much coincides with the peak fall color here, and the pistacio, sweet gum and gingko trees cooperated nicely! There's a gentle, 1 mi long hill around mi 9 for the HM and the same hill is hit by the marathoners at around mi 22. It didn't bother me on the half at all, but I heard a lot of marathoners say it was evil. Weather this time of year here is almost always cool and dry, this year was no exception.
There was prize money for the marathon winners this year, I think $1500 each for first man and woman, who came in at 2:28-something and 3:10-ish, respectively. I know there are a lot of you here that could easily snag that.
Course support - more than enough water, gatorade, and gu, a beer stop at mile 12/25!! When I saw the sign, "Beer stand ahead", I thought "oh yeah, in another mile", but then there it was!! So, what the hell, I took a small cup, it had only a couple ounces - fun touch. There were way more people along the course than in years past (when I ran this in 2006 I saw the same 5 people about 4 times). There were a couple bands and some cheerleaders - pretty much the usual stuff but darn good for our small sad city!
On to the best part - the finish!! Here, we were quickly and efficiently given our medals, hooded/zippered sweatshirts in sizes (nice touch, it was cold) and funneled into food heaven! Waiting for us was a hot breakfast (eggs, potatoes, sausages, bagels, cream cheese, bananas, and fruit cups), and after breakfast there were ice cream sundaes! Sweet! Free massages were also available. There was plenty of seating in the park, including picnic tables by the lake. Well after all the eating it was definitely beer time, so we left the runner's village and headed over to the beer garden (you get 2 per bib, it was the usual Michelob Ultra - meh); the beer stand was adjacent to an amphitheater where there were bands playing.
Nits: the HM started 30 min before the full, and had to do about a 2 mi out (east) and back, then the marathoners came east ON THE SAME OUT portion before continuing east on their first loop. I did not get this, I am pretty sure the fast marathoners were going to run into walkers on the out portion. I also wonder what the hot breakfast situation was like for the marathoners, considering the HM headstart and the fact that there were about 4000 HM runners and only about 1000 running the full course. I will be sure to ask around about this.
Stuff to do in the area: the organizers push Yosemite, but be aware that it's a solid 3 hour drive to Yosemite Valley (a good hour past the gate!). A better bet is Sequoia-Kings, only an hour away and so much less crowded, and if you like big trees the groves are very accessible here. I also recommend a stroll through the Shinzen Japanese garden at Woodward Park and the Forestiere Underground "Gardens" (hard to explain, I'll just say that it's unique). If you contact me I'll take you to the local brewpub - seriously!
Lodging: I can't comment but let's just say Fresno isn't an expensive town. All your usual chains are here, same goes for restaurants.
The future: the organizers plan to grow this to more than double its current size. IMO, they will need to make changes to accomodate folks (course width, space for runner's village) and I hope that they do so, lest it become another cluster**** like some big events I've been to. So, get it while it's good!
Mitch & Pete's Mom
Thank you for the report. I love hearing about potential new 1/2s to add to my to-do list. I may put this one down on the list.
Hot breakfast and a hoodie is a very nice touch. Not to mention the offer of a field trip to the brew pub. Sweet!
Hope that you are basking in the glow of your accomplishment and are recovering nicely.
The Two Cities left me spoiled, but I enjoyed it. I didn't mind the gradual hill at mile 9 because it was fairly gradual, not a huge hill like you might find in San Francisco. And I'd much rather run in the 50-60 degree temp than Fresno's summer heat!
I'm really looking forward to next year.
Hot breakfast and a hoody?? Talk about grandeur - very nice!! And you know, we expect a pic of you in that hoody, too.
This sounds like a fun race. Hopefully, as it grows, it stays fun.
Congrats on a job well done.
Leslie Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain -------------
Trail Runner Nation
You heard it from me first a few years ago...and now it's "official". Runner's World has given our local Fresno marathon a "Best Swag" award, at least according to our local paper:
For me the swag highlights are still the hooded sweatshirt at the finish followed by the hot breakfast (egg, sausage, potato etc.), although many people also seem to really swoon over the absolutely ridiculously huge number of porta-pots. Whatever floats yer boat.
This event has grown up a lot, from a half marathon with maybe a couple hundred folks, to a half, full and 50K with about 6,000 participants total, yet they still take good care of everyone. There's always plenty of hot breakfast waiting for all official finishers (and I've seen them go quite bit past the official finishing time), very classy.