The Outer Banks Marathon Review
After experiencing the logistical fiasco of Lehigh, we made sure to get an early start to the OBX Marathon. It was a good thing too – although, nothing to do the with race logistics. The shuttle service was prompt, friendly, and perfectly executed. The real issue was we drove to the wrong start line…
Once we actually made it there, parking was a breeze. The shuttles picked us up in a Wal-Mart parking lot that had plenty of available spaces. They dropped us across the street at what I would consider a fairly typical start line. Bag check was simple and easy, bathroom lines were long but moved quickly, and the starting corrals were filled, but not overly crowded. Unfortunately, there weren’t any pacers for this race. They just placed you in a corral based on your estimated finish time.
The first half of the course was absolutely beautiful. Somewhere between miles 6-8 I remember thinking it doesn’t get much better than this. Beautiful weather, running along the water, families cheering alongside… I was in heaven. I’ve only run two marathons previous to OBX, Baltimore and Lehigh. Both have a very prominent half-way point. This was not the case in OBX. In fact, the 13 mile marker was on a trail in the middle of nowhere. The trails kind of threw me for a loop — I wasn’t expecting anything but pavement (my own fault for not researching the course prior to running). The dirt was pretty compact, which was nice, but there were a lot of ups and downs.
The second half was all flat road (pretty boring) with the exception of a horrendous bridge and what felt like 20mph headwinds. (I think they were actually about 10). The bridge started around mile 23, but it became visible around 22, so you get to experience a mile of anxiety as you approach hell. I remember thinking the views from the bridge were nice, but all I wanted to see was the finish. The locals were great through these miles – tons of people cheering and handing out food and water. At one point someone offered me a cup of grapes. That was weird.
I was convinced there was no finish line after my watch passed 26.2 and there was no sign of the end. A quarter mile later it showed up. There was a decent crowd and I remember hearing my name announced which is always fun. About 4 different people asked if I needed to go to the medical tent so I must have looked really good. A lady walked up to me with her arms spread out, so I assumed she was going in for a hug. It turns out she was just wrapping me in a space blanket. It worked out okay. They had tons of food, water, Gatorade and even a nice visor to pick up on your way out. The medal was… a medal. I am happy we got a visor since the premium t-shirt they provide is horrible. Not only is there no male/female variation, but it’s a hideous shade of maroon. Hideous.
Overall, I loved this race. Sure, I’m a little bias since this was a PR and my first BQ, but it came with several other wins. The course itself had some amazing views and scenery. The local support throughout the entire race was awesome. I don’t think I went 1 mile without seeing a volunteer offering up water or food. And the course, while it wasn’t as flat as I was hoping, was still pretty fast. I don’t think I would run it again, but it’s worth one lap. And if you do decide to run it, be sure to hit up the martini bar afterwards.
special thanks to my running coach Caleb Masland. His training got me to the starting line strong and healthy and to the finish line with a big PR and a BQ.