Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Shipyard Maine Coast Half Marathon and Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
The opportunity to run Maine Coast Marathon as a BibRave Pro was great because it allowed me to visit my parents, see my mom on Mother’s Day (something that hasn’t happened for years), and enjoy a few days noshing on some fabulous seafood in New England. It was pretty much a no-brainer. Also, since it’s still early season, the flights to Boston were affordable. Also, Maine Coast offers a 39.3 “challenge” where you can run the half on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday. Considering my 100 mile training plan includes many back-to-back long training runs, this seemed like a great way to 1) accomplish a solid 100 mile training weekend, 2) check off another month in my marathon-a-month challenge, and 3) check off another state towards the 50 state marathon club. Awesome sauce all around.
I went into this race weekend with really high expectations because the race pictures, videos, and pre-race information just sounded great. While I accomplished all my goals for the weekend, I was left less than impressed unfortunately. You can read my BibRave race reviews of the half and full, but I’ll highlight some of the pros and cons here.
- I got to meet awesome BibRave Pros Brenda and Kim! Ok, this has nothing to do with the race, but I still think it’s important. Brenda is an incredibly experienced runner, with many ultras including a couple of Hundos under her belt so it was cool to chat with her considering my grand running plans for this year. I’m excited we’ll get to see each other again in July at Mad Marathon. Kim was super sweet and I think will provide a nice back-of-the-pack review of the half marathon. I’m looking forward to hearing her perspective.
- Pre-race info: TONS of information provided. I actually felt a little inundated because I was getting duplicate emails due to being registered for both races.
- Courses: I think both the half and full courses are beginner friendly. The half is pretty flat with some rolling hills. The full is definitely hillier but still considered a fast course I think. Running along the ocean was nice but there was still more miles in neighborhoods and busy state highways than I’d like.
- Aid stations: every 2 miles including water and sports drink in both races. The full course had various food at half of the stations including hot soup, sport beans, cookies, and peanut butter pretzels.
- Parking: since it’s such a small race, parking was very easy
- Post-race beer: I’ve never had Shipyard Brewing but it was refreshing and they offered several choices. Not bad.
- Expo: very small with poorly trained volunteers. They wouldn’t even give you a plastic bag for your bibs, swag, safety pins, etc. You had to be “VIP” to get a bag.
- Swag: this is an “al-a-carte” race where you can opt in for race shirt and other amenities. However, at $140 (early bird pricing) for the challenge, this is not a cheap race. I’ve done many other races for less money that included everything that Maine Coast nickel and dimes you for, e.g. bag check, shuttle bus, race shirt. I like the idea of al-a-carte races since I have enough race shirts and swag to fill a department store. However, the race registration should reflect the exclusion of these amenities. That’s the whole point of offering al-a-carte.
- Course: I pointed out above the aspects of the course I did like. The weather during the half was much better and offered the full course views, but it was still disappointing IMO. The worst aspect of the course was the amount of running we did on the side of busy roads (none of the roads were closed to traffic). They also had us running on the shoulder on the right hand side. This is dangerous. If you have to run in the road you should always do so facing traffic. On most parts of the course they didn’t even have it coned off, and I saw several instances of race marshals allowing cars to cut in between runners. At one point I was running more in the middle of the road because the shoulder was barely more than a ditch and it was very off-camber. A race marshal yelled at me to get off the road. Why should people pay to run on a course that forces them to run with traffic in a ditch?
- Post-race food: this was lacking. The volunteer let me take 1 mini bagel with some peanut butter and a quarter slice of a banana, and some pretzels. This is fine for covering you in the first half hour after a marathon, but for a post-race “party” they should offer something a little more substantial. Again, this race isn’t cheap so you’d think you’d get a bit more bang for the buck. Admittedly, the shitty weather on marathon day made me pretty grumpy post race anyway.
- Attitude: I think I’d be a little kinder to this race if I hadn’t encountered so many ill-trained, rude people. Every question was met with dumbfounded stares and a few people actually laughing in my face (for asking about race shirts). It was obvious that if you weren’t “VIP” people didn’t care about you (even though paying for VIP was just paying for amenities the race should have offered with regular registration anyway). Like my mother always says, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. I had a bad taste in my mouth from the moment I stepped into the expo. You’d expect a little more positive personality from a small town race and it was difficult for me to separate that from my overall race experience.
I’d be curious if anyone else out there has experience with a race being diminished due to poor customer service? Maybe it’s just the New Yorker in me, but poor customer service is death. 😛