Empire State Marathon-Half Marathon & Marathon Relay- October 2015

I have participated in this event twice: once for the half marathon and this year in the marathon relay.  I think I can safely say this is the only marathon relay I will ever do.  That is no reflection on this particular race.  The logistics of getting 4 runners to 4 different places, on a closed course, while other people are running straight through is just a nightmare.

Runner 1- Nothing too tricky here.  You start at with everyone else doing the race.  When you are done running a bus will take you to the finish line where you will wait for 2-3 hours for the rest of your teammates.

Tip for the race- Have entertainment/activities at the finish for spectators and runners that are waiting for the rest of their teammates to finish. A lot of people left before the rest of their team finished because they were cold and bored.

Runner 2- A bus will take you to the exchange point.  You will stay on the bus to stay warm for as long as you can (it is October in upstate NY after all) but not too long or you will risk missing your runner.  After 45-75 minutes sitting on the bus you will be pretty tight and not necessarily in the best running condition.

Tip for the race- Provide live tracking of runners so teammates know where their runner is along the course.  This will prevent people from getting too cold from standing outside too early (most common problem at this race) or missing their runner completely.

Runner 3- Same as runner 2 but twice as long.  You will likely catch some z’s on the bus and need to eat something before you run.  This was my leg.  It was pretty miserable.  My legs were stiff and I was not really excited about running by the time I was up.

Runner 4- The biggest complaints from runner 4: starving and bored.  Not sure how to fix this.  You team is running for 3-5+ hours and you are sitting in a school bus for most of that time wondering why you aren’t sitting on your couch with some cocoa.

General observations:

The buses did not run continuously.  The buses didn’t leave the exchange points until all of the relay runners for that leg were on the bus.  This meant that the 6-minute milers had to wait until the 13 minute milers finished to be bused to the finish line.  A lot of people missed finishing with the rest of their team as a result of this.  There has a to be a way to fix this.  Either multiple buses or multiple trips. If neither is possible, inform the runners of this ahead of time and let them coordinate having someone pick them up from the exchange point and taking them to the finish when they are ready.

The race is well-organized.  The course is pretty flat and wide open.  The post race and swag are not as good as they were in 2011 when I ran the half marathon but I have definitely had worse.  There are some sections of the course that run through secluded areas of Onondaga Lake Park.  There isn’t much crowd support along these stretches.  It would have been nice to have a few more volunteers on the course and/or better markouts in sections where you could go in more than one direction.

Compared to other half marathons/marathons, this race is about average.  A little pricey for what you get unless you register early but I might not think that if I wasn’t a local.  I might do it again in another 4 years but for now it’s off the table.

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