The first 7 miles there was only one mile marker. This was at the "mile 1" mark and everyone agreed it was long. I was in the 1:30 half group and all of our GPS watches went off roughly the same spot...25 seconds before the marker. Kind of a big gap. Great course, traffic control, cheer sections, aid stations, etc... Just feel like the timing was off. My watch, and the finish line photo, show my finish time 18 seconds faster than the"official time" on the results page. Otherwise lots of fun! Good race!
The hill at mile 25 is BRUTAL but not too long. One last surge and it's downhill from there.
By RA about 2017
This is my hometown marathon, and was my second marathon. The course has a reputation for being hilly because the surrounding area (SW MI) is generally very flat, so local runners often don't train on hills unless they seek them out. I thought the rolling hills in the first half were manageable, although I admittedly started too fast and bonked by mile 19. There are a few cruel uphills near the end, including a long one at mile 22 lovingly referred to as popsicle hill, with - you guessed it - freeze pops handed out at the top. Another hill or two just before the finish, then a flat last half mile or so back to the start/ finish line.
Lots of course support for the small size of the race, although there are admittedly a few dead spots through the WMU campus (especially the research park) and the paved trail in Spring Valley park at the end. Many community members (especially through the Winchell neighborhood) provide their own aid stops, like the Bacon Station at the halfway point.
Overall, a hometown marathon to be proud of. :)
Course starts with a mild downhill, then ramps up for rolling hills through about mile 2 or 3 - 11 or 12. The WMU campus has a few steeper inclines, then theres a brief break of flat running along stadium drive before you enter the Winchell neighborhood for a few mild, rolling hills. Runners then go out Parkview avenue toward the WMU engineering campus/ research park. Parkview is a big uphill, but the WMU research park is FLAT FLAT FLAT, and once you loop around you come back down the big hill on parkview (although don't be fooled, you shoot right back up and equally big hill on the other side). After this, there's a flat portion along Oakland, and a steady 1-2 miles of downhill along Bronson Ave (which is notorious for helping runners PR in the Kalamazoo Klassic 5k and 10k). After this it's mostly flat until the hills at miles 22 and ~24. Wind in 2017 was gusting 10-20 mph, and worst in the downtown portion of the course (early on) and heading back out to parchment after coming down Bronson Blvd.
Lots of parking around the start, and you're welcome to keep warm in the fitness center beforehand. I'd recommend arriving earlier rather than later: I had ample time to bum around and nervously use the restroom 2-3 times when i arrived at 6:50 am for an 8 am start.
By Anonymous about 2016
The weather was perfect. For a field of 500, the race support was pretty good. At certain miles, they gave out bacon, sponges, and popsicles. Pre-race, we got to wait inside the fitness center building, which was great! A good amount of water stops.
Be ready for the hills - all kinds: steady incline, rolling, and steep - they are all over the place!
We stayed at the Radisson - there was a shuttle from there - it was perfect! After food was minimal - water, chocolate milk, bananas, and oranges.
By EK about 2014
For a small marathon it has a lot of course support. It may not be the prettiest course, but the rolling hills and changing neighborhoods keep it interesting. 2014 course change to skip Stadium drive and get up into the Winchell neighborhood was a big improvement but adds more hills.
First half is harder than the second half. Course's reputation as a slow course are overblown. Sure the hills add a minute or two onto your overall time, but not having to weave through a crowd of runners like Chicago evens it out.
The marathon is held in conjunction with a half, 10k, and 5k (each with more participants than the marathon). Marathon starts separately and first. Arrive early and park in the grass right next to start/finish line.