Ran out of food and drinks at the very end. Even the volunteers said, "Wow, that was bad." I want to recommend it because it is my home town but man, I'm embarrassed. Even the 4:30 marathon group had nothing. And it's happened a number of years in a row. People complained, then they turned the music back on for finishers.
Although it's not pancake flat, I believe the total elevation gain is around 150 ft, and the most noticeable inclines/declines were in my opinion in nice places (with the biggest incline in mile 5 and the biggest decline in 16). This is not a straight course. You'll be turning and curving a lot, so need to be cognizant of running the tangents and also watchful for the course markings. The course was well-marked on the ground and with signs, so even when I couldn't see other runners and the volunteers were playing on their phones, I always knew which way to turn.
This race has 500-700 runners, so I knew that I had the potential of running alone, and after the half marathoners split off after the 10K mark I ran alone for nearly 20 miles. I passed a handful of men during the second half of the race, and passed half runners when we overlapped back with them (around miles 13.5-17.5), but never had anyone actually running with me. The field is going to be thin out front (I finished in 2:58).
The weather factor at this one is kind of risky, as early October in Kansas can be nice or can be hot and windy. In 2016 we lucked out and it was around 52 at the start with cloud cover, and maybe 60 when I finished (not perfect but not 80!). We also had light winds, which meant a fantastic race day in Wichita.
The race changed all of the pace groups by 3 minutes on the Tuesday during race week. Although this made sense for Boston qualifying seekers, it was a sweeping change even for groups this didn't apply to (e.g., 3:00 became 2:57). I also didn't like the strategy used by the 2:57 pace group, which was a slower first 5 miles, 16 miles at 6:39, then a slower final 5 miles. They ended up running the 16 middle miles even faster than planned, with many in the 6:20s. I did not run with them much (only when they were running close to my pace plan of a conservative start with a negative split), but I passed all of the men who tried to run with the group (and I finished in 2:58). I would have liked to have seen a conservative start followed by even pacing.
Co-Occurring Half Marathon:
Having the half runners with us was nice for the first 10K, as it meant more runners around, but it may have been crowded at some paces. Picking back up with the half runners from 13.5-17.5ish was rough, as us marathon runners were over-lapping with half runners who were running a much slower pace and the course was very crowded. I also got nervous because I wasn't sure how the point where we split back off from them would be marked, and I didn't want to miss it (however, it was well-marked when we got there). We again picked up with the half course towards the end, and the half field of walkers was pretty thin at that point so wasn't as big of an issue. There were separate full and half finishing stretches separated by cones, which was helpful. This whole issue will vary based on the pace you're running in the marathon.
The shirts and medals were great. The expo was small, as expected, but nice. The race also offered free professional photos, which was nice but they didn’t take finishing clock shots which was disappointing. There was plenty of food and a wide variety of it at the finish festival, although you had to walk around to find different items. The overall and age group trophies were high quality. They also have space blankets for finishers and outdoor tent areas, but no indoor areas for the awards ceremony or waiting for it.
This is a great one to do if you're trying to check Kansas off your list! I would definitely run it again, as the positives outweigh the things to improve.
The course is conducive to a conservative start, even pacing, and picking it up in the final 10 miles. The starting area is pretty easy to navigate since it's a smaller event.