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Best Marathons of 2016

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Rocket City Marathon Reviews


4.7 Stars from 7 Runners





  

By about 2016


Review

In 2016 it was exceptionally cold (I think 24 degrees at the start). This was not typical for this race, but running a marathon in mid-December in Northern Alabama, you should be aware of this possibility. The race organizers did the best they could because the start is in front of a large convention center (I never lined up to start, I just ran out of the convention center when the gun went off) and the finish is inside the convention center. Water stations were spaced in a strange way (although in freezing temperatures it didn't matter that much) but there were 13 on the course and there were large cups of water and Gatorade and there was GU available. My favorite part of the race was that there were no half marathoners. Everyone around me was paced pretty well and it wasn't over-crowded. The course had hills but it wasn't bad at all. Great support from the city.


Race Tips

There was no packet pick up on race day in 2016 although the expo closed at 9 so plan accordingly.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Don't pay for parking, ask where you should park when you go to the expo.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

This was my third marathon and I did really enjoy the smaller size. That being said, the crowds were extremely sparce, the aid stations were too far apart, and the finish was a bit of a let down. Finishing inside was great (it was 22 degrees outside), but the lack of hearing a crowd at the finish line really hurts your motivation on the final kick. One of the better finish line dining selections that I have seen. Tons of selection (sandwiches, drinks, fruit, soup, ice cream, etc) and tons of people willing to serve. The metal is pretty nice as well.


Race Tips

The biggest issue with this race was that this certified course actually ran 26.5 miles (reported from multiple runners the next morning in the hotel and my garmin). So BQers beware, plan for an extra couple of minutes of padding or you will not make the cut. The normal 2.5 minute cushion is 4.5 minutes here.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Stayed at the Springhill Suites (very nice) and walking distance.


3 / 5 Stars


  Great race for first time marathoners!

By about 2016


Review

Great race for first time marathoners! It was exceptionally cold (wind chill of 18) but 24 degrees. There were plenty of hydration/medical stations but I agree, they were spaced weirdly. GU gels were available also. It was mostly flat, but those small hills around mile 15/16 felt like big hills lol. They were rolling hills though. Loved the fact that we could stand inside the convention center before the race so that we didn't freeze. Finishing inside the convention center was awesome! Besides the medal we got a finishers hat and a nice certificate. Race photos were plentiful and FREE. Post race refreshments included bananas, grapes, ice cream, bagles, an assortment of breads, peanut butter, chocolate milk, and hot soup. They even gave you a bag for your goodies. Plenty of port-a potties at the race and good crowd support. 5 starts for this race!


Race Tips

My pace group was a little faster than they should have been, but overall the race course was decent except for those small hills on the back end.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Do your research on hotels that allow late check out. Unless this has recently changed, the host hotel (Embassy) didn't allow late check out in 2015. I stayed at Holiday Inn Express


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2016


Review

Great start and finish setup. A somewhat boring course but very flat, as advertised.


Race Tips

Try to run tangents (shortest straight line distance) at much as possible. There are many turns on the course which can cause you to run a good bit longer than the race length. My GPS showed 26.45 miles at the finish. This threw off my time expectations as I mentally calculated during the race.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

SpringHill Suites is a great value hotel for this race, just a short walk to the start / finish. I used my Marriott Rewards number when making the reservation and was offered early check-in on Friday and a late (2:00 pm) checkout on race day.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2015


Review

Very well organized. Very convenient start if you stay in Embassy Suites. You do not have to walk outside until the start. The new course is very fair.


Race Tips

Be prepared for any type of weather.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Stay in Embassy Suites for convenience to the start and finish.


5 / 5 Stars


  

By about 2012


Review

This is a fantastic race for first-time marathoners! Aid stations at almost every mile, plenty of bathrooms, inexpensive registration fee and hotel cost. Nice swag: colorful tech shirt, nice medal and finisher's hat, good food after finish line and nice finish line pics.


Race Tips

Sign up early, as this race is small and fills up very quickly. Be sure to save energy between miles 14-15 for the incline at mile 16. Mostly flat w/ a small incline at miles 7 and 16; very fast finish.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Holiday Inn and downtown hotels are all on top of the start/finish line. I highly recommend Pane E Vino at the art museum for excellent, reasonably priced Italian food w/ pretty views of Big Spring Park (across from Holiday Inn).


5 / 5 Stars


  Put om by runners for runners

By about 2010


Review

If I could give more stars I would. From top to bottom this is the best marathon I have run in the 15 years since I started. Organization is great. You can tell it is put on by runners for runners.


Race Tips

It's really a flat course. There are some minor elevation changes, but nothing of note. I had a pretty big negative split. The last mile+ is all downhill and really fast. Not the most scenic course though.


Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

The race starts in front of two hotels. Holiday Inn and Embassy Suites. The Holiday Inn is the race headquarters. You step out the door of each and you are literally at the start line. I stayed at a Holiday Inn 4-5 miles away and had to drive to the start. There was parking close by along the park on the street.


5 / 5 Stars





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