The Go! St. Louis Marathon Weekend includes a Health and Fitness Expo, a 5K Run/walk, children’s fun runs, and a “mature mile” on Saturday and then the half-marathon, marathon, and marathon relay on Sunday. There are over 23,000 participants.
Expo: I received my bib number by email a few days before the Expo along with a “virtual goody bag” which essentially was just a website listing the sponsors. The Expo itself was on Friday evening and Saturday during the day. We went on Friday about an hour before it closed and had no wait to pick up our bibs. The vendor area wasn’t huge and was mostly filled with running clothing to purchase and booths promoting other races. We got a few Lara Bar and Cascadia Farms samples, but there wasn’t much else to get. It was fun to walk around, but nothing to get excited about.
The Start – Since we were dropped off I cannot speak to the parking situation at the start of the race. I know that many streets were closed, but we were able to stop about two blocks away and walk to the starting area. The line for the port-a-potties took about 45 minutes which makes me think they could use a few more. At least they were relatively clean and still had toilet paper when we got there!
The corrals were pretty organized due to volunteers making sure people weren’t jumping in closer than they should be. However once we started there were a few irritating walkers causing back up in the middle of the pack. The race started almost exactly on time and it took us about 8 minutes to cross the start.
Course: The course gives a beautiful tour of St. Louis and visits multiple famous neighbors. We began by running through Soulard and even through the Anheuser-Busch brewery, then headed west through St. Louis University’s campus before entering Forest Park. We ran through the park and then exited towards Clayton (where I work!) and heading north towards the quirky Delmar Loop area. Finally we ran back through the edge of Forest Park before heading back down town and finishing with a view of the Arch.
As you can see this course is HILLY! I had been warned of that and tried to get in a few hills during training runs, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for these. If I run another marathon I’d love to do a flat fast course like Chicago or Columbus.
The course was actually a bit long according to my Garmin which had me running 26.38 miles. LB and a few other runners said their GPS told them the same. It’s hard to get courses 100% exact because runners take wide or narrow corners, etc, but it’s so frustrating when your watch tells you you’re finished but you still have to keep running!
Support – All of the volunteers for the race were fantastic! There was a water and Gatorade stop about every two miles until mile 18 when it became every mile. The cups were always ready and full which was so nice. There were also GUs in both Tri-Berry and Vanilla given out at three points along the course. I saw port-a-potties at about 5 or 6 different places throughout the course as well. Every helper was encouraging and cheering us on. Absolutely no complaints there.
Spectators – There was almost a constant stream of spectators, save a few remote areas of the course. The best were the organized neighborhood groups that had music, costumes, and noise makers. There were also a few bands throughout the course and some people who got out their sprinklers to cool us off! In the business areas, lots of people were enjoying breakfast outside and were able to cheer us on from there. Having my name on my shirt was great and everyone yelled extremely supportive and encouraging things.
I was told by my parents that it was somewhat difficult to find parking and actually get to certain areas on the course, but then again LB’s parents didn’t have much of a problem. It just takes some careful planning.
The Finish – Our names were announced as we crossed the finish line and then we were immediately given our medals. Water bottles were provided a few feet away where there also would have been mylar blankets had it not been 85 degrees. On the next block there were photo opportunities, goody bags, and bananas. Thank goody bags contained a bag of Baked Lays, a granola bar, and a fig bar.
The finish area had a large stage with a local band playing as well as a tent where participants could get a free Michelob Light. There were a few local food vendors and a place to get stretched out as well. I didn’t have any trouble finding my parents, but there were designated spots for meeting family had it been a problem.
OVER ALL: The marathon weekend was very well-organized and a very fun event. My only complaint would be the hills and the heat, but that is unavoidable when you live in the Midwest. I would definitely participate in the weekend again, just don’t sign me up for the full marathon just yet. 😉