Last weekend I ran the OC Marathon. I had heard lots of good things about the race but never participated in the event myself. The following review is for the half marathon distance.
Held at the Orange County fair grounds, the expo provided plenty of parking and space. Bib pick up was clearly marked and easy to get in and out of. Because there was so much space, the vendors’ area did not feel crowded as there was plenty of room to walk and shop at the same time. My only two knocks on the expo were having to pay $8 for parking and the limited hours it was open on Friday. I doubt the race has any control of parking costs and the website did warn attendees in advance about the cost and that it was cash only. I also would have liked the expo to open at noon on Friday because, due to Southern California traffic, 4 pm is not a fun time to be driving. It also forced most people to attend on Saturday which caused lots of parking traffic.
Runners received an email informing them of which shuttle time slot they were scheduled for. Mine was 4:25 am. That made for a very early wake up call on race day. I encountered absolutely no traffic getting to the fairgrounds and boarded the school bus without a wait. There were plenty of buses to take runners to the start line. Again, I had to pay $8, cash only, for parking. Finishers had the option of water, chocolate milk, and Gatorade but the free food options were limited. The post race party was very large and spread out so while there were a lot of people hanging out, it did not feel overly crowded.
The Course: A
Runners were treated to some nice downhills at the beginning of the course. This allowed for quick miles without exerting much energy. Views of the ocean and coves were followed by lengthy runs through very affluent neighborhoods. If attempting to set a personal best at this race, beware there is a small section run on a sidewalk which makes passing people all but impossible and there is a formidable hill at mile 11. After reaching said hill, runners have great views of planes taking off from John Wayne Airport.
The Medal: A-
The medal looks similar, but not exactly the same, every year. I like that. It is a nice medal with the half marathon appearing to be slightly smaller than the marathon finisher’s medal. The medal is of good size and weight and is on par with other races.
Overall Grade: A
I really enjoyed the race and the course and can see myself running it again. I would recommend it to runners of all skill levels. If not for the really narrow sidewalk, I would have no problems saying this race was one to use to go after a new PR.
For a limited time, you can sign up for the 2017 race for $65.