Little Rock Marathon 3/06/11 Little Rock, Arkansas

The expo and packet pickup were easy to find and well-organized.  This was a medium-sized expo with a quite a few vendors, massage services, and info tables for other races.  No giveaways aside from bowls of candy on some vendor tables.  Nice short-sleeved race shirt – written on the back is: A Marathoner of Mythic Proportions.  This race really works that logo.  Nothing in ‘goody bag’ except for shirt, bib number, safety pins and timing chip. 

I stayed at a recommended hotel – the La Quinta on 6th and Broadway.  I can’t say enough good things about the hotel.  We arrived around midnight and were not the only ones – the lobby was busy with arrivals.  The desk staff were unwaveringly patient and cheerful.  Due to the late night, we got up late the next morning and barely made it downstairs before the breakfast was being closed down.  The staff welcomed us and gave us time to fill our plates before starting to clear.  We had a couple of concerns with parking the truck and trailer – the dually actually fit in their parking garage pulling about a 12 foot trailer – but the staff weren’t worried at all.  Late check out was not a problem – 1:30 PM.  The room was a little worn but perfectly serviceable and contained fridge and microwave.  I highly recommend the hotel to future race participants.

The start was easy to find and within walking distance of the hotel.  A shuttle was offered but we chose to walk.  The start area was busy and crowded but easy to get into the corrals and started on time.  I did not see the gear check areas or the porta potties.

The weather was quite chilly with humidity and wind factors, no sun and heavy clouds.  The high at 12:30 was 42 degrees.  The sun had finally peeked out but the wind and chill remained.

The course was a good city tour with a couple of river crossings and a view of some historic buildings.  There were many small hills and one quite big one and lots of views of the river and a few elevated views of the cities.  Traffic control was good and support staff and volunteers managed the millions of race details very well.  Aid stations were plentiful and several provided bananas, oranges, Gu or hard candy.  I didn’t see a lot of porta potties on the course. 

There were spectators scattered all along the course and they cheered us enthusiastically.  There were also some bands and musicians which I didn’t expect but enjoyed as I passed by.

Before the finish is a ‘lipstick’ station for a pre-photo touch up session.  The finish is along the River Market District and went very smoothly – volunteers cutting the timing tag off the shoe, giving out water, the medals and a space blanket (an absolute must that day!).  Post race food was plentiful and of quite a variety – fruit, pretzels, cookies, small cakes, etc.

Each race had a specific finisher’s medal and each was very nice.  It may be my imagination, but I think the medal for the half marathon is precisely half the size of the one for the full.  Funny!

This was a city marathon with a manageable sized field and every personal touch attended to.  The location, organization and staff/volunteers were all top-notch.  I don’t know if I will have a chance to get back and run this race again but I would do it if things worked out right. 

Overall, I’d give this race an A.

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