race report: Gulf Beaches Marathon, Fla

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by Dieshooter, Feb 23, 2004.

  1. Dieshooter

    Dieshooter Guest

    The Gulf Beaches Marathon in Clearwater, FL (www.floridamarathon.com) went off Sunday, Feb. 22, '04
    at 7:05 a.m. .. about 1,000 runners headed out from Coachman Park in Clearwater across the
    Intracoastal Waterway as the sun came up. It was about 62 and humid at the start, pretty foggy
    before the sun rose, and the metal bridge across the waterway was slick. The humidity was a factor
    throughout, and before the second mile I was pretty sweaty already.

    A nice breeze kept things bearable for the first 12 miles until the course turned east and headed
    back up a long, tall bridge across the water to the mainland again. From mile 12 to 15 or so you
    face a pretty long series of uphill (yes, in Florida!) and then the course turns north on a paved
    trail that used to be an old railroad right of way. Along the way north, the course was exposed to
    the sun and sheilded from the breeze, so it got hot in a hurry. Three overpasses along the way added
    steep, short hills ... The volunteers along the route were great, and gatorade and water, as well as
    orange slices, were available throughout. At 20, the course turns off into a park with a two-mile
    loop around a lake on a gravel trail (saw a large gator in the lake) and then back to the trail ...
    last two miles are run in the city of Clearwater as the trail crosses city streets. Cops were great
    about stopping traffic in plenty of time as runners approached.

    Pluses: Field was small enough to be manageable, but large enough to be fun; It wasn't cold at the
    start; Clearwater is very pretty; volunteers great; finish area fun and medals -- a running
    starfish, not all junked up with sponsor stuff -- are cool. Good management/organization throughout.
    They even offered pacers, people who would run an exact pace and guarantee if you stuck with them
    you'd finish at your designated time: 4:30; 4:00 or 3:40. A wonderful touch. The pacers were really
    great people and finished dead-on their promised times.

    Negatives: Waaaaayyy too few portolets (less than 10) at the start/finish area meant long lines; It
    got a bit warm at the finish, esp. for the over-five crowd; packet pickup was at an inconvenient
    hotel pretty far out of the way from the start area, and they required pickup the day before the
    race, so the combination was a pain;

    Overall: A fun way to spend a Sunday if you're a local. And if you're a northerner, the late date
    offers a much better assurance of a warm weekend getway for the family. The "vacation weather" ..
    being different from "running weather" .. was spectacular: warm, sunny, mid 70s both days. The
    Clearwater Beaches are great with a ton of mom and pop motels along the beachside, as well as an
    abundance of seafood joints. It's mostly a locals race, but I don't know why, this race should rate
    WAY ahead of a lot of other races for out of towners. Winning time was 2:50 .. I fell a little short
    of my goal, hung with the 3:40 pacer for about 17, but faltered and chugged in about five minutes
    late .. that's life :)