This is a great race: fast, mostly flat, shady (although a warm 82ish at race end), organized, well staffed. You can BQ here and sign up during week 2 of Boston registration. You should run this race if you are anywhere near St. Charles.
PROS: Pre-race info is detailed and available on website well ahead of time; lots of options on packet pick up; lots of hotels and restaurants in the area. Course is well marked, well supported throughout, and aid stations are well run - but maybe a bit far apart in some places. Beautiful course around the river, over a few short bridges, lovely scenery in an alpine-like town. Post-race massages! (sign up as soon as you exit food tent). Lots of volunteer support, and they are very friendly. Quick pick up of race results via QR code on your bib. EASY for your race supporters to get around and meet you at specific places - great info on parking and meeting spots. Only about 700 marathoners, but you start with 1300 additional runners (1/2 and 20 milers). Wave start, so not terribly crowded for long.
CONS: BEWARE!! The pacers may not 1) run an even race 2) run at their designated pace 3) meet their time goal (either over or under!). Plan to pace yourself, and don't let the pace groups mess with your head. It is a mostly flat course, so you can plan on even splits. Post-race food isn't that great. I wish I could have found an interactive course map ahead of time instead of having to rely on their pdf version.
This is a fun race just because everyone is so happy!
1- pace yourself; go for even splits; DON'T LET THE DOWNHILL START THROW YOU OFF PACE - you can't make it up, and there are a couple of inclines at the end where you'll need your energy - stick with your goal pace (DO NOT RELY ON THEIR PACERS)
2- course is shady for 19 miles or so - enjoy that
3- very few rolling hills; you will have some short inclines in the last 8 miles
4- easy parking for race day - got there about 45 minutes before the start - bathroom lines took about 20 minutes, so plan ahead
5- aid stations are a little far apart at times, plan ahead
6- it's easy to have people meet you along the course for course support - great info on parking for them, it's not crowded, so you can spot them, they can see you around 5-6 times if you want. Due to the locations of the aid stations, I had someone refresh my handheld water bottle, which I usually don't do. it worked perfectly.
7- It can be HOT for the last hour. in 2017, we started at 65 deg and finished at 82ish. Stay hydrated
Plenty of hotels and restaurants in the area. Parking is well marked on the race guides. I got there 45 minutes ahead of time. Traffic was not that bad. Easy to meet up after the race. HIlton Garden let me have 1pm check out, so I could shower after the race. IAgain, would use this to BQ - not the Last Chance to BQ even though they are run by the same people and use a similar course. Generally, you can still sign up for Boston on the Monday of the 2nd week of registration. You can get in if you beat your BQ time by just a few minutes.
By Rodolfo Gavina about 2017
By jf about 2013
Beautiful course up and down the river. Nice and flat, no tight spots. Very well organized. Tons of support from volunteers and local community spectators. Plenty of hydration options throughout the course. Plenty of porta-potties. Very attractive high tech T-shirt and medal.