I ran the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon on Sept. 31 for the second year in a row. Over the past week, I’ve mulled over my experiences at the race and decided to write a review of the race. I’ll break this down into the good and the bad.
I love the course, for several reasons. First, it’s beautiful. It’s in early fall, which means the leaves are just starting to turn and the temperatures aren’t too hot or too cold. It runs along the Atlantic Ocean, winds through beautiful seacoast communities and with less than 400 feet of elevation gain, it’s a great course to qualify for the Boston Marathon on.
And that’s my second favorite part about the race. After five years of shooting for my BQ time, I finally hit the mark at Smuttynose.
The third thing I like is the route. It is a double loop course, but the way the race organizers have laid it out, you don’t actually run on too many of the same roads over and over again. The only road I really noticed running on more than once was the coastal highway, and that didn’t bother me.
Another highlight of this year’s race was the jacket they gave out to runners doing the full 26.2. It was a nice white jacket with the race’s logo embroidered on the chest. The jacket is identical in cut and design to my Brooks LSD jacket. The 2012 jacket is a big improvement over the 2011 jacket, which my friend commonly refer to as my “ugly jacket” (it looks like it’s straight out of the 80s).
One final plus to this race is the two free Smuttynose brews you get at the post-race shindig. Red Hook is a sponsor of the race and they make some killer beer.
And now the bad:
The organization of this race is abysmal. I spent 25 minutes looking for the bag drop, only to find I’d walked right by it three times. That’s because it consisted of two unguarded, unmarked tents where I was supposed to leave my bag. That wasn’t happening.
The next item of poor planning was the shortage of emergency blankets at the finish line. Normally, marathons in the Spring and Fall I’ve been to hand out emergency blankets to all finishers, since it is typically chilly. At this race (and last year’s Smutty), I was soaked, shivering and nauseous. I had to hunt down the unmarked medical tent and practically beg before I got one. I heard later they ran out. Other runners were asking where I had gotten mine and I pointed them in the direction of the medical tent. I’m doubtful they got blankets.
Also, after leaving the race, my friend texted me I had finished 2nd in my age division and that I was supposed to have gotten an award. The problem was they were pick-up only and there was nothing on the website and no announcements on the day of the race, at the finish line or otherwise, about awards for anyone. I e-mailed the race organizers after and as of this writing have not heard either way about picking up the award, what it was or an explanation as to why there weren’t announcements about this.
The final thing I’ll say about this race is in reference to the massive quantity of rain involved in the last two years of this race. It would be nice to do this race in the sunshine of an early fall day. Maybe next year.
To sum it up:
Overall, I’d give this race 3 out of 5 stars. The course, route layout and scenery redeem this race experience. Those are really the only things that do matter to me when it comes to this sport, but when you’re paying a premium to run, you’d like the other stuff to be nice too. If the folks at Club Loco who put this race on could put a little polish on the pre- and post-race happenings, this would be an absolutely amazing event.