Runner: Vivian V
Race Date: 07/27/2019
Location: North Bend, WA
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2568448622
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- Beautiful course
- Fast course – no hills!
- Great time of year.
Bonus: it’s nice that there is both a Saturday and a Sunday option.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
- This is probably the only marathon I’ve run that officially does not provide nutrition. They do warn you in advance, but I found it disappointing, as the registration fee is comparable to (if not higher than) a big race like the Seattle Marathon. In the latter part of the race, Honey Stinger gels showed up at an aid station, but that may have been a last-minute donation.
- Bib pickup was a nightmare. I ran the Saturday race, so bib pickup was Friday afternoon until 6:30pm at the Nike Outlet in North Bend. North Bend has terrible gridlock traffic (there were no accidents or special events going on). I would allow an hour more than whatever the GPS predicts. I sat in traffic for about 30 minutes about 0.5 miles from the mall. I didn’t make in time but was fortunate to have a friend who did.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
The first 2-miles of the race go through a pitch-dark tunnel. If you’ve never run any races on this course before, it’s very weird!
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
The course is beautiful and fast. I had great coaching and it went as planned:)
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- Sign up early and opt to receive your bib via mail.
- Bring your own nutrition.
- I ran the Cascade Super Fast Half Marathon 1 month before, which is the first 13.1 mile of this course. It provided a nice preview.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
- Parking is 2 miles from the finish. There are shuttle buses to take you (1) to the start line before the race, and (2) to the parking lot from the finish line. There are no shuttles that go back to the start from the finish at the end.
- When you register, you are assigned a pre-start shuttle time. One of my friends was assigned a shuttle time of 4:05am (gun time was 6:30am)!
- I recommend either parking a car at the start AND the finish (if you run with a friend and both have cars), or having a friend pick you up at the finish line.
- The Hyak (XC ski area) parking lot is free, and an easy ~0.2 mile walk to the start-line parking lot. The start-line parking lot requires a Discover Pass or payment of about $12 (credit card machine). If you forget to pay (oops), the parking ticket is $99, or $59 + proof of purchase of a Discover Pass ($35) within 2 weeks.
- We stayed at the Summit Inn (~2-3 miles from the start line) due to the logistics above + bib pickup.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Bring a headlamp and lots of GU.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Yes; the most beautiful course I’ve ever run. It’s nice to be able to do a “road run” on a trail, completely surrounded by nature. There are a few bridges that provide breathtaking views.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
I couldn’t find the race director at the start of the race. There also didn’t seem to be any sort of “solutions” table. There was a DJ, but he didn’t know who was in charge.
The pacers were good though (Beast Pacing); I think there was one for every 5 minutes.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Out of 693 runners, 33 finished under 3 hours (5 female and 28 male).
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
I got my bib (legally) transferred to me from a friend some months in advance. Two friends registered a few weeks before the race. I believe the race may have sold out early, but later re-opened (or, alternatively, the website said “sold out” but didn’t stop people from registering).
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Water and/or Water and Gatorade (no Nuun) every 2 miles. No nutrition.
Weather and typical race conditions
Most of this course is shaded by foliage, so if it’s hot, there’s very little (if any) direct exposure to the sun. It happened to be raining (Seattle mist) for the entire duration of my race. It didn’t affect me at all (probably because I grew up in Seattle). You stay dry in the tunnel. There were a few mud puddles to dodge toward the end. I didn’t see anyone in rain gear though.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?
Trail shoes or regular running shoes are fine on this course. Lace your shoes up tightly to avoid little pebbles getting into your shoes. You must bring a headlamp or a flashlight, which is collected at the end of the tunnel (at the start of the race, you get a headlamp baggie which you can label with your bib #). I kept my headlamp on the entire time (I was wearing a cap), as Coach Julie’s showed up missing in the past.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
No. I think there is one spot off of Garcia Road where spectating may (?) be allowed, but I wouldn’t count on it. Have your friends and family meet you at the finish line.
How’s the Swag?
A technical tank, a Buff, and maybe 1 or 2 other tschotkes.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
4 stars. No complaints other than the nutrition and bib-pickup, which are very important.