New course for 2017 as start and finish were at revitalized Gateway Arch grounds on the riverfront. Runners go over Martin Luther King Bridge into East St. Louis then over the Eads Bridge back into downtown St. Louis for the first couple of miles. Pass Busch Stadium at mile 5, Anheuser-Busch Brewery at mile 7, Tower Grove Park miles 13-14, Missouri Botanical Gardens at mile 15, Forest Park miles 17-20 and then through downtown back to the riverfront for the finish. Crowd support was pretty thin throughout the entire race but those who came out cheered loud.
Pros: Race started at 7am which was nice because St. Louis weather can be very unpredictable this time of year. Full marathoners only had to run 3 miles in Forest Park compared to 6 miles in year's past. Volunteer support was second to none as they had plenty of people handing out water, gels, etc at the aid stations and were very encouraging along the way. Very nice finisher medal and long sleeve quarter zip shirts for marathon and half marathon. Post-race race food was good with Ted Drewes ice cream sandwiches, Pasta House toasted ravioli and Crown Candy chocolate. Parking is limited around Laclede's Landing and Arch grounds so the GO! race organizers offered a shuttle service from Union Station close to the start for $5 which was very convenient.
Cons: Still a pretty hilly course overall. Only had about 20 porta potty's for 16,000 runners so this needs major improvement for 2018. This race is still very much catered toward half marathoners as 4,500+ finished compared to 1,100+ in the full marathon. In my opinion there were not enough pace groups for the full. They had advertised a 3:15 pace group a week before the race but later removed. This meant that the fastest pace group was 3:30 which for a marathon is on the slower end. Most bigger city marathons have a 3:00 or 3:05 pace group because of Boston Marathon qualifying standards. Race organizers must not think there are enough serious marathoners who sign up based on the course profile.
I signed up for this race since I am from St. Louis and wanted to cross Missouri off my marathon state list. Overall a good experience for my first GO! St. Louis Marathon but improvements definitely need to be made to draw more marathoners to this race in the future.
By KS about 2017
Great Wave Start. Awesome starting and finishing location by the arch. Enjoyed running across the MLK and Eads bridge. Forest Park was also quite nice. All of the aid stations were well stocked. I did not like the gels they provided and wish they would have considered offering pieces of banana or some other fruit as an alternative. Still a great race. I have run 8 eight marathons between Sept. 2016 and mid-April 2017. This one ranks 3/8 with Big Cottonwood and the RnR New Orleans ranking higher.
The marathon relay, half marathon and 7k all start at the same time. The beginning of the race is a little crowded at first as a result but, thins out as you progress.
They indicated that parking would be limited near the start line and pushed shuttling or the lightrail. In a pinch it is no problem to park near the start line. I parked at 6th and Washington in a garage that was $5. the same amount that I would have paid for the shuttle service to Union Station.
By AB about 2017
Well staffed and friendly volunteers but some of the largest hills I've ever experienced on a marathon course. (Over 700ft change in elevation)
Very large hills.
First 5 mile markers where in the wrong spot (but they said they will fix it for next year).
Take the 5 dollar bus they offer to take you to the start line, it was great and there was a bus at the stop every 5 minutes
There was a Hard Rock Cafe that allowed to order food to go which was nice.
Take the train (Amtrack) if you can, the station was so close to hotels and downtown, then just uber
By Dena D. about 2017
St. Louis turns out to be a nice city with lots of touristy things to do. The race has a few hills, over bridges and such. The start corrals were fine--helped to start out at an easy pace. It was cold at the start but warmed up and turned out to be a nice day. My marathon time was a bit slower than I hoped but it was warm and a bit hilly. I'm sure you could still BQ on this course if you're close and focus on that. Finish line was nice--loved the frozen custard pies!!! Nice things to eat at the finish and very nice volunteers. The city seems to embrace the race, which is nice. The beautiful park was great for the finish!
Drury was nice but they had one closer to the start--by the arch--that would have been better.
By JCW about 2016
Rolling hills makes it a challenging race. There are a lot of flat races out there and this is not one of them, but the hill grades are not terrible either. Several long moderate incline hills (~3% grade). The support is pretty good, trip through forest park gives you lots to look at. There are several turn around points, which I didn't care for.
There are not many flat spots, you are either going up or down between 1-3% most of the course. Most of the race is on roads, plenty of width. There are four different races going on at the same time - a 7k, half, relay and full. Helps the spectator base but also makes pacing a little more challenging because people are moving at different paces throughout the race.
Stay downtown if possible. The parking is not terrible, but there are several hotels close by and they are very accommodating to the runners. Drury Inn offered early breakfast and late check outs for example.
By Chris M about 2016
The race is well supported. The half-marathon is much larger than the full-probably 4x as many runners. The first half is completely with the half marathon, so it really thins out for the marathon. The support on the course is excellent, there are plenty of well staffed aid stations and 3 gel tables.
The course is not flat. It is almost always rolling, and there are some significant hills that were quite tough in the second half. Mile 24 to 25.5 are basically a long moderate climb which at that point in the race can slow your pace significantly and is psychologically difficult. After that it is down hill to right before the finish.