Thursday, May 29, 2014

Med City Marathon Rating

Race: Med City Marathon
Date: May 25, 2014
Location: Rochester, MN
Year Running: 19th
Registration: $70 

Race Information
Size: 320 full, 865 half, 106 relay
Course Limit: 6.5 hours
Min. - Max. Elevation: 1180 - 1260 ft
Min. - Max Temperature: 47 - 69
Charity Supported: 501(c)3

Airports: There is an airport in Rochester (but flights are insanely expensive). MSP is 1.5 hours away, and I believe there is also a shuttle that runs between the cities.
Rental car: Might not be needed. Everything race-related is downtown, and there were a few hotels within walking distance. Doing any sight-seeing would be hard, but it seemed possible to go without in order to stay on budget. (Keep in mind hotels a few miles from downtown were significantly cheaper, so getting a car might actually be better in the long run.)
Host hotel: None. 

Communications: Good, there were a few emails sent out the week prior the race. All the relevant information was in a well-organized PDF, and the RD clearly communicated ongoing changes in the parking situation. (Apparently the city thought this would be a perfect weekend to close the largest parking garage for cleaning.)
Expo: At the Mayo Civic Center Exhibit Hall downtown. We weren't able to go because we were traveling.
Other Activities: Pre-race 5K with free beer following. Again, we missed this because of travel.

Race Day
Parking: Several large parking garages, as well as some street parking. We arrived as the first shuttle was leaving and got the second spot in the biggest garage.
Shuttles: Shuttles took us from downtown Rochester to the starting line. The finish was a block from the pre-race parking. All the shuttles (school buses) were assembled promptly and left as they filled. We walked onto the second shuttle and left within about ten minutes. People seemed to arrive steadily and stress-free throughout the morning.

Though, once again, this happened.
Bathrooms: Plenty. There was a line close to the start of the race, but it seemed to be moving quickly.
On Time: A few minutes late.
Corrals: There were pacers lined up throughout the start, and people seemed to seed themselves appropriately. The starting area and the first several miles of the race were very wide, so there was no crowding.

Type: Point-to-point, with some out-and-backs
Terrain: Asphalt and concrete, mix of roads and bike paths
Bathrooms: Couple at each aid station. We did have to wait at mile eight for a minute, although later bathrooms had no line.
Crowding: None
Highlights: farmland, various bike paths

Course Support: Aid stations about every two miles, with water and lemon-lime Gatorade, which was mixed surprisingly well. Starting at mile 10, they provided ice. Aid stations in the second half had at least one, usually more, EMTs encouraging us to take as much as we needed. They did an awesome job evaluating runners and making sure no one was in danger out in the heat. There were also a few EMTs on bikes and driving a cart. On a hot day, all these precautions were definitely appreciated.
Spectators: Not overwhelming, but the city seemed pretty quiet overall because of the holiday weekend. The enthusiastic volunteers helped make up the difference.
Local knowledge of race: Fair. No one seemed bothered by it, but it wasn't widely known.

Food: Too many to list, a huge variety because Costco sponsored the food. I was able to get some pretty unique things, like apples with caramel dip. One gutsy guy took an empty box and crammed it full of food.
Atmosphere: Upbeat, though they packed up the party shortly after we finished, with about 30 minutes left on the clock. It was also a little chaotic, as volunteers were trying to condense the chute but weren't communicating very clearly.
Party: We caught the tail end of the feature band. There was also an inflatable and a free beer area, as well as a nice tent to relax under.

Shirt: Short-sleeve technical T-shirt. Even though we were one of the last to finish, they still had women's smalls left. My head nearly exploded. They did run a little on the short side, so my stunted torso finally came in handy.

It is more purple than pink, despite what this picture looks like.
Medal: Lightweight with a thin band, but I found it charming. The logo and colors work well together, and I certainly didn't feel gypped. I always love when medals are race specific.

Final Thoughts
  • The course was very pretty, with a great mix of scenery. The farmland was nice in the morning light, but not so long as to be mind-numbing. The bike paths showed off quite a bit of the city besides downtown, which I appreciated. I'm jealous of all the places Rochester residents have to run!
  • The race was much hotter than normal (I guess last year's version was only 45 degrees), but the organizers did a great job adapting. The ice was excellent, and the huge presence of EMTs made me feel more comfortable. If something had gone wrong in the heat, I feel I could've received aid very quickly.
  • Despite the sometimes crazy twists and turns in the course, we only got confused once, and that's because the volunteer had wandered away from their post. Otherwise, I never felt confused or uncertain. 
  • Most people kept asking me why I wasn't doing Grandma's for Minnesota (including people at Med City), but I loved it. There were none of the hassles present at big races, but I still saw lots of awesome things.
  • 50 Staters: Yes. The race is probably one of the most stress free I've ever done (at any distance), and it is so well-organized by organizers who clearly care. I felt like I saw things uniquely Minnesota, even they weren't the stereotypical sights.
  • Non 50 Staters: Yes. Again, so well-run and so scenic. If it's at all feasible, I would highly recommend it.

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