March 9, 2014 was the 29th running of the 2014 ASICS LA Marathon (www.LAMarathon.com). Your favorite EMT contributor was invited by ASICS to run the race and experience all that ASICS, LA and the LA Marathon had to offer. Buckle up, this review is going to be fast and furious, unlike my finish time.
If you registered early, is was a whopping $150 per person. That's also at a savings of $10. I looked around and wasn't sure what the final entry price was. Here in Kansas that's a regular price entry for an Olympic distance triathlon and the Kansas City Marathon would be $130 at packet pickup. Now, Kansas events may have 200 to 10,000 people. The LA Marathon topped out at 26,000. That's a lot of people and a lot of logistics to cover. Not to mention, it probably costs a little more to shut down LA than Kansas City. Just saying. LA is a destination race, so you get what you pay for.
The expo was pretty huge and almost overwhelming. We strolled around and checked out many booths after the streamlined bib, shirt and gear pickup. I even found affordable sunglasses to replace the ones I left in my car in airport parking in Kansas City.
If you forgot it, they had it. If you wanted any race clothes or goodies, they had it. you could touch, feel and buy everything LA Marathon related. We ventured in Friday, so it might have picked up Saturday and been more crowded. My only wish was to have the bathrooms more accessible no matter where you were in the expo. Minor details. Web Site / Instructions / Course Info When you sign up, you are on the email list. They peppered you with info and instructions, so if you were unprepared, you had no one to blame but yourself. Plus, if you were subscribed to me over at Examiner.com, I also wrote up articles on vital race info and tips.
I followed on twitter and liked on facebook. The problem is I follow and like too many pages. Their posts got lost in the shuffle unless I went directly to their site. But, as I mentioned, the email list from signing up was just right in keeping runners up-to-date.
Location / Parking / Access
With being a part of the blogger challenge, they bused us to the start and had a spot for us to chill before the race. I won't bore you with the glorious details, but there were several emails and posts regarding parking and logistics.
It makes it tough when the race is point to point. It was a great venue, but you had options to park at the finish and ride to the start or spectators could drop you and park at the finish. With 26,000 runners, good luck finding parking close to the finish line. But hey, the race was a big deal so you have to deal with it.
If you got going early, you were safe. If you like to cut it close, well, you'll be burning anxious energy.
26,000 runners with spectators... you do the math. There were hundreds of port-a-potties, but early and often was the theme for the race. If you were in the seeded corrals, you might have to make a choice since you needed to be placed at 7 A.M time limit and a 7:25 A.M. race start.
They had a lot of potties on the course as well, so if you could make it to mile 4 or 5, you could pretty much just walk up and get a potty. The Actual Course
Running through LA, what can you say? Yes, you did see some homeless, but you also say a lot of what LA had to offer. Beverly Hills, Chinese theater just to name a few. You start at Dodger Stadium and end in Santa Monica at the beach front road. Glorious. You had so much to look at, it almost made the pain manageable.
The actual course was well maintained and well marked. You had to be totally oblivious to miss a turn and get off course.
One issue was fluids. The sun broke maybe 2:15 into the race and the back of the pack runners were suffering. Word on the street was that they ran out of Gatorade, so runners had to live with water and other options if they were dependent on the course aid stations.
It's California, it might get hot. Plan ahead. Personally I depended on the course and did ok. I should have drank more Gatorade to make up for salt loss, but that was my bad. I had plenty of opportunities.
Race Day Instructions
The speakers were loud and someone was always talking. You could not help but hear instructions at the race start. Maybe if you were in the port-a-potties, but from arriving and getting off the bus to running through the start arch, you had plenty of chances to get informed about what's going on.
After the death march, I mean 26.2 miles you got your medal, water and if you looked questionable, someone walked with you to make sure you were OK.
Now, I got to hang at the ASICS VIP area, so I didn't get too much of a taste of finish line amenities, but I'm sure there were plenty of fluids, food and medical assistance if needed. It was a celebration with a HUGE arch, finisher chute and hundreds if not thousands of spectators lining the last half mile cheering you in. The cheering was the only thing that kept me limping to the finish and not walking.
Running in the sunshine with the ocean to your right, you don't get that in many places.
ASICS and the LA Marathon put on a show. There's a reason why this is year 29 and they have 26,000 runners. Sure, the famous course landmarks attracts a percentage, but if it sucked, word would get out and it would be over.
As a triathlete and longer distance endurance athlete, it gets harder and harder to justify traveling to a destination event. Not to mention money is not just growing on trees in my back yard, I know, I just checked. Would I pick the LA Marathon to travel and race? Maybe. If they had good deals on flights and hotels. It's definitely a destination event. Cal in March, oh ya.
But, my wife has family near LA and running a marathon is a lot less of a hassle and stressor on the family than triathlons. No bike, no swim gear. bring your running gear and you're good to go. As time goes on, it's more realistic to incorporate an event like the LA marathon into travel. It's located in an awesome weather location and it's a bucket list type of race.
If you have the means, do it. If they invite you to run and write about it, do it. It was worth it even with a little suffering.
Ryan Falkenrath is devoted family man balancing faith, family, Triathlon Coaching and racing. He is a certified USAT Level 1 Triathlon coach (www.SetThePaceTriathlon.com) and has formally raced endurance events since 2001 from 5k’s to Ironman distance races.
Ryan is racing Ironman Chattanooga in 2014 to raise funds for Ride to Give and Mended Little Hearts. You can follow his adventure on Facebook at Tri for a Hand Up, give to his Fundrazr campaign (), read more of his writing at Endurance Sports Examiner follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan or email him at Ryan.Falkenrath@SetThePaceMedia.com.