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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Clarence Demar 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 Clarence Demar marathon is in tiny Keene, NH, and runs at the end of September/beginning of October.

The race: This is a really small race, only a few hundred runners. It's kind of a "runner's race' - no frills, no big medal, lots of local history.
Registration and cost: $60; you can register all the way up to the night before the event, which is cool. But frankly that's a lot for a very basic race.
Swag: None, pretty much. There is a tech-T, but it's cheap material ( I do like the no-sponsor plain back, but actually this race NEEDS sponsors in a big way, so I guess that's a bad thing). There are medals at the finish...and that's it. Age group and overall plaques are given; I was accidentally given the wrong one. In their defense I didn't notice either.

Course:The course is advertised as "fairly flat and fast" and I do think it would be fast for runners who are used to hills. It's actually a rather hilly downhill course, and several runners commented that the course mirrored Boston's course. The first half is a rolling downhill; the second half is more flat, with some rolling hills and a few tough climbs. There's a net elevation drop of about 300 feet. The first half, in the mountains, is beautiful; it gets a little boring as you go but overall a pretty and enjoyable course. A major disadvantage is that the roads are not closed for this race and the runners aren't even coned off; it's a little nerve-wracking in twisty mountain roads. There are police directing traffic at major intersections, thank goodness.
Then there is this hilarity. Yes, the official course map actually informs you that the finish is not marked....but it's near a storm drain and a manhole cover. 

And it's in Comic Sans. I hate Comic Sans.
Support: The volunteers were fantastic for this race; great attitude and very up-beat. However, there is no Gu or gels on the course and only half the stations have Gatorade. The miles are marked; time is not.
Post race: Pretty sparse - bagels, soup, soda, fruit, cookies, and massages.
Heck yeah I got a massage! Poor girl. I was SO sweaty.

Photos: I don't normally comment on race photos, but I thought this quote from the website kind of summed up the whole marathon:
"2011 Clarence DeMar Marathon, Keene, NH Sept. 25th  We had car issues and didn't make it to the finish line in time to photograph all the runners, sorry! Those of you whom we did get will have photos in three of the galleries. Everyone will have a photo with the race name. Thanks for looking!"

Etc - This isn't chip timed and for a 34 year old marathon, it still needs some work. For example, the course was long, almost certainly because we started well behind a spray painted "start" on the road. I commented on this, but I lined up with everyone else. My Garmin read 26.67 - that's more than poor tangent running. Oddly, the times were recorded incorrectly. If my watch time didn't match course time, I'd shrug it off. But I noticed that the time intially posted for me - 3:35:19 - was WAY off. Then I noticed that the time recorded on the website was different: 3:35:09. But my watch read 3:34:58, and I didn't hit the stop button on it until after I had finished and received my medal! As soon as I finished, David commented that the time on the clock had been "jumping around" (I, of course, was not looking, as I was too busy posing for the camera). Lo and behold, he caught it on film: look at the times in these two consecutive photos!
I approach the manhole cover...
Dude, what? I took one step and lost 9 seconds!
So that definitely needs work. Also of note, the course closes at FIVE hours, FYI for leisurely marathon runners. So overall? I loved the volunteers and the serious runners who participated. I had fun, and you couldn't ask for kinder people, but I really think this race needs to adopt some sponsors who can make this more of an event for the $60 fee. It needs Gu, more Gatorade, and a little course TLC. And next time the course and time need to be just a little more exact.


  1. Ouch. Changing clock time is a BIG problem in a race... and that extra distance? Not cool AT ALL. I heard that last year's San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon course (or maybe the 2009 course) was about 0.1 mile too long (due to an unexpected construction re-routing), and messed with BQ attempts. But an extra nearly-half-mile?!? Not cool at ALL.

  2. That's VERY long for a long race. I've run a couple of races with spray painted starts :D

  3. The diagram of the finish is hilarious. Mapping the manhole was necessary? Lol.

    I can't believe the clock wasn't working right! Good thing you got pictures of it so you could make sense of what happened.

  4. That time clock is hilarious. By hilarious I mean annoying, of course. I can't believe that. The spray painted start, okay. The manhole finish line, fine. But the time and distance being off is no good!

  5. Hello Gracie. I hope you give this race another chance. A new group took it over for the 2012 race and many of the issues you brought up were addressed and it got glowing reviews on The course is also USATF certified. Marking it with a permanent marker like a manhole is common. Go to the USATF maps sections and check out maps around the country. In any case, hope you give it a shot in 2013. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a part of the directing crew, but the reviews were all unsolicited and ALL positive. I am also the course certifier. So I KNOW for 2012 and 2013 it is EXACTLY 26.2 miles. In any case, hope to see you there and give it another chance! Thanks. cb

  6. Hello Gracie,
    I hope you give this race another chance in 2013. For the 2012 race, it was taken over by another group and many of the issues you mentioned were addressed. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a part of the directing crew and the new course certifier. So I can tell you that using manhole covers as markers on any USATF certified course is not uncommon. You need a marker that is near impossible to move. I can tell you that the 2012 course (& the 2013 course) is EXACTLY 26.2 miles. Check out the comments left on about the 2012 race. You will see that it was very different than previous years.

    In any case, hope to see you in 2013!