I completed the Quad Cities Marathon today, and I will give my race report in my next post. Just to prevent delaying the results, I did not do as well as I would have hoped, but I did get PR by over 14 minutes minutes. I already know where my race went awry and where to improve for next time. My chip time was 4:20:34. (Garmin time for the marathon distance was 4:18 with change).
Here’s my race report:
- The best thing about this race is the organization and the race director. It is obvious Joe Moreno cares about his race and the runners. I loved the fact he high-fived every single runner as they cross the finish. More race directors should do this. I listened to him in the QA session during the Expo, and he was very accessible. I love the story about him and the train.
- The course was very flat and don’t believe the Mapmyrun elevation stats for the hill in mile 2-3. It is a very gradual hill and maybe increases only 40-60′ in elevation. The Garmin data should be interesting download tomorrow. Much is said about the on ramps being steep, but they aren’t bad. Much is said about the out and back at the end, but my only real negative is Arsenal Island loop. It reminds me a lot of the Water Works loops at the Des Moines Marathon, i.e. a spot with little fan support, and you run away from the finish line.
- Scenic – you get to see 4 different cities and a variety of sceneries. Running by the river is grand, and there was no shortage of activities on the water between sail boats, fishing boats, kayaks, and water fowl. We got to run by all the major league stadiums in town and near most of the casino’s. It really showcases a lot of great areas of the Quad Cities. I loved running by the cemeteries on Rock Island and the amount of history that place has. Of course, there was large construction zone in mile 21/25 as they were tearing down a number of blocks of buildings.
- Pace groups and pacers – These were some of the best pacers I have seen, and Sam (4:00 pacer) was super supportive. More on this tomorrow, but one of the reason I missed 4:00 is that I lost my connection with my Sam. He noticed problems with my form at mile 13 and offered those tips. I only hope I am as good a pacer as he was.
- Course Support / Entertainment – with 40 entertainment zones, there was hardly a section that you were far from music. Some zones were definitely better than others with live bands, cheer leaders, and drum corps vs. boom-boxes. Unfortunately, most of the less good zones were in Arsenal Island just when you needed them most. It is understandable post 9/11, but running through a golf course gets a little too “serene” for mile 17. The course support was simply phenomenal with almost any need accounted for (sponges, Vaseline, water, Gatorade, Gu (lots of Gu), ice, fruit, Port-a-Potties). There were probably more support stations and port-a-potties across the whole course than any other race. (Rock Island might have been the only sparse area.) The volunteer ratio to runners was 1:3, which is great.
- Pasta Dinner – $10 for dinner with Heidi Klein as a speaker is really cheap. I of course needed something other pasta to eat, but you had a great option if you liked carbs.
- Cost – No ever-increasing fee schedule. You could schedule to run 2 weeks before the marathon for the same low cost as 4 months early. I have to believe that places a greater stress on race planning, but it made selecting this race just that much easier.
- Post-race – very good. I missed out on the hot dogs, but the pizza and other goodies was great. The Diet Pepsi booth was a God-send.
Con’s (there has to be a few)
- Arsenal Island – awesome to be able to run on that historical base, but the 4 mile run around the golf course — not so much. The half marathoners have a much better course through the Island than the full marathoners had. I am not sure how to improve the course to not include that section, but for me, that was rough.
- Fan Support – while the course support was great, the fan support was more sparse in areas. It is a stark difference with Bix, which is understandably due to the length difference, but the great community support was evident in the Lincoln Road area. I appreciate every single person who came out, but it was sparse in some sections like Rock Island. The race directors did what they can to encourage great spots, but some miles were pretty lonely.
- Early race congestion – running on one-lane of I74 and the migrating to ~10 foot trail width at mile 5 made for early congestion especially in the water stops area.
- Start time – 7:30 am – It seems a bit late for end of September with potential heat of summer. This is albeit really minor — considering more marathons (like Twin Cities and Des Moines) are starting at 8am than 7am.
Overall, this is an EXCELLENT race. The pro’s far outweigh the con’s. I would definitely do this race again. Any race ran by a RD that cares as much Joe apparently does.