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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Harrisburg Marathon: Race Review

I already posted the recap of this race, but for those of you who might be considering running it, here's the review:
The Harrisburg Marathon takes place in mid-November each year in Pennsylvania's Capital.
I ran it this year and I have to give it 5 stars!
The race: It's a small marathon, about 1000 runners, with a relay option. Next year will be its 39th year, so the organizers have pretty much worked out all the kinks.
Registration and cost: Cheap! $55 with early registration, but registration is available on day of the race for $60. You can pick up your packet the night before or the morning of the race, which is nice (and the process, which I observed, is completely hassle-free).
Swag: Long-sleeved tech T (with a zippered pocket, cool) which I discovered runs pretty small as race T's go. Basically order the size you'd order if you were buying a fitted blouse. I was so impressed with the swag bag - for a tiny marathon with no expo, I got Gu samples, fruit and yogurt bites, a magazine, a gift card, granola bars, chips, a handful of candy,and a cytomax sample. There's a finisher's medal, too, if you collect those.
Course: It's the course that makes the race. The website advertises the race as mostly flat with a 2 or 3-mile hilly section. This is pretty true, except the flat part is not completely flat. There are enough hills for a New Orleanian to notice anyway! But the happy part is that the course is varied enough that you can't get bored. It goes through a college campus, the city of Harrisburg, an industrial park, several bridges, a wooded area, a gravel trail, along the river, and in a neighborhood. It is mostly a beautiful course and it keeps you interested. I was worried about the course being confusing - there are lots of turns -  but it was very well marked and volunteers called out directions.
Harrisburg PA
Support: The volunteers were pretty great and the race went off very smoothly: started exactly on time, plenty of aid at all the stations, well-organized. Aid stations had water and most had Cytomax, too. Cytomax makes my stomach cramp, but I dealt with it. There were two Gu stations, although the website only mentioned one, plus volunteers who I don't think were associated with the race were giving out pre-opened packets at mile 15. As far as fan support goes, I was surprised by how many spectators were out on a Sunday morning. In fact the only empty sections were in the woods and in the industrial area.
Funny story: I saw a few kids trying to get high-fives on the course and all of the runners were passing them by. I decided to give them their desired slap and I knocked the kid over. He was like, twelve. I guess I was running really fast, haha!
Post race: Dunkin' Donuts coffee and donuts, chicken broth, sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, more granola bars and chips,cytomax and soda. No beer, shocker. This is the first non-alcoholic race I've ever run.
Etc - There is a pasta dinner the night before, a gear check, a walking option, and a relay option. There isn't a half option or a 5 or 10 k. There are plenty of porta-potties at the start. Runners can use their number to get into the YMCA and shower after the race. Race is chip-timed (disposable) and there is time on the course. Parking is easy and plentiful. If you're traveling, there are several sponsor hotels with great deals. There is a heated, sheltered area at the start so you don't freeze before the race. Of interest, the marathon starts at 8:30 - I thought that was late, but it would be ideal for those of us who aren't morning people!
So overall? I highly recommend this race if you're even slightly nearby. It's obvious that all the kinks have been worked out over the years and these guys know how to run a small successful race. I was so impressed that I might consider doing it again, especially since we have friends nearby.


  1. Thanks for the review. I am very close to this and for some reason I actually I thought I read this was a boring course? But, looks like I need to reconsider or check my facts again! Maybe next year!

  2. no beer? strange! I live in Harrisburg and ran the Harrisburg Mile this summer... for just a mile race, there were TONS of beers flowing. Albeit Mic Ultra...

  3. Nice review. It seems more and more that the smaller races are the way to go!

  4. I love reading race reviews!! This one sounds awesome. Way cheap, later start and donuts...that is perfect in my book.

  5. Hey! I just realized that between Harrisburg, your WV race and Stennis you should have qualified for the Marathon Maniacs! Congrats!

  6. i like the smaller races to tell you the truth.


  7. I'm with Kovas. I don't see myself ever doing a "Rock and Roll" series race again. That race looks perfect.

  8. We are twins!! I accidentally let chocolate melt on my phone too oops!

  9. Love your reviews! And love that I found your blog! Hope to read more when I get a few moments here and there. :)