This post is a little over due, but when I’m signing up for a race, I always appreciate reading reviews from the year before, one can hope that they improve where there were faults, and there by making it an even better race.
So here we go!
Race: The Woodlands Marathon
Length: Marathon, half Marathon, 5K, Marathon relay, Kid fun run, etc.
Weather: By Texan standards: cold and drizzly. By the Rest of the country, absolutely perfect running weather! I wore running capris and a long sleeve light weight top and it was perfect. This race can be quite variable weather wise depending on the year. Just the week before they had 86 degree weather, so it’s really a mixed bag.
Location: You run through the neighborhoods of the The Woodlands, a suburb of Texas. While the Woodlands is pretty by suburbia standards, there is no real “views” or Scenery. Just trees, trees, cars, roads, and houses.
Organization: The course is pretty organized and well mapped out. There are a million volunteers, yet they aren’t that helpful. At bag drop, I couldn’t find anyone who knew which direction corral A was…. This was soooooo frustrating! Why have volunteers stationed to help with questions if they.don’t.know.anything. Other than that, it was great.
Course: This is a flat, fast course. But, by Houston standards, it is not flat. It has a slow steady uphill for the majority of the course and the first half has gentle rolling hills. No sweat, the elevation changes aren’t really a factor in pace, but just FYI.
Parking: As a runner, we found pretty close parking at the near by woodlands mall. However, spectators should plan on parking quite a ways away and be there before the race starts. After it starts, many roads are closed and it will be near impossible to get to your runners to cheer them on for the first half of the race.
Course Entertainment: This race hosts a “cheering” competition where volunteers take various parts of the course as their “cheer zone”. Some are better than others, but don’t expect much more beyond balloons, signs, and people hootin and hollerin. The best ones were the trucks with their music blasting and the blessed blessed people at mile 20 with the bite size chocolates.
Water/Fuel Stops: There are plenty of these throughout the course, about every 1.5-2 miles. They have water and gateraid at every stop and gel at about 3-6 stops. This was different than what they stated. They had said the first gel stop would be at mile 20, which we all know is WAAAYYY too late in a race to be consuming your first calories. Also, gel is all they offer. I don’t know about you, but this runner does not run well on a belly of gateraid and gel so I had to truck in my on fuel. Definite negative.
Fitness Expo: The expo is actually quite small, and having to drive 40 + (depending on traffic, but 40 min is the minimum) from Houston the day or two before to just pick up a packet…… seemed silly and wasteful. They should have a packet pickup in downtown Houston as well.
After Race Goodies: Food from Chic Fil A and Raising Canes, a few breakfast burritos, fruit, drinks, massages, bounce houses for kids, music, it was a pretty good festival. But ZERO vegetarian options beyond fruit. Not so wonderful…
Bag Drop: Seamless, quick on both the drop off and pick up.
Overall rating: 4 stars
This is a little race trying to be a big city race. They would do better to concentrate on a small race feel and add in extras like bananas and granola along the race.
It’s a flat, fast course at a great time of year, and would be a great Boston Qualifier.