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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gulf Coast Half Marathon race review

Gulf Coast Half Marathon - Mandeville.
Hosted by Joe Relaxo, whoever the heck that is.
The race: One of a series of Gulf Coast half events. Over 1000 people run, so it's mid-sized. It is still rather warm weather mid-October, but the start is at 7:00 am and that avoids some of the heat and humidity.
Registration and cost: You can get in for $40 if you register early. Prices go up to $105 for race day! Packet pickup is available in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, or Mandeville, but all on different days. Not convenient. No pickup morning of, which is strange 'cause you can register morning of.
Swag: Cotton T - but kind of nice looking - and a medal that doubles as a bottle opener.
Course: The course is really pretty. It starts in Fountainbleau state park and includes sections on the Trace (a paved bike trail in the woods), along Lake Ponchartrain, in the park, and in Old Mandeville.
The finish line, complete with an announcer who calls out names of finishers (rare in a smaller race)

Support: Plentiful aid stations - I think there are 11 - with water and some with Gatorade. Some locals come out and watch; not tons but some. Chip timed but no time on the course.
Post race: Band, beer, and taco salad (weird-o).
Lines of cars heading out of the park
Etc - Major issue with this race is that there is only one way in and out of the park, which causes a bottleneck, AND the course goes along this route as well! This is the only flaw for an otherwise enjoyable and well-run race, but it's a biggie: Just like last year it took me an extra 20 minutes to get in thanks to the backed-up line of cars trying to get into the park, and just like last year I sat in traffic waiting to get out. The drive home should have been under an hour; it took us an hour and 30 minutes.
So overall? It's a pretty little course and well-run, but don't do it unless you plan to stay for the whole after party (and there's kind of slim pickings as far as food goes, so if you think you'll be hungry, bring food).


  1. Taco salad? After a race? In warm weather? I know where Joe Relaxo is sitting...

  2. That is odd!! I hate slim picking after a race. I love the races that end with a beer.

    My 2 best friends are from Mandeville!

    Get Up & Go

  3. I want to run this one, but the food and the traffic ....bummer! I'm sure you had a super run, so it's probably worth it.

  4. I just was looking for this as I am looking at this one as a tune up half in 2012. Hmmmmm. See I've never been to Louisiana, it's on the right weekend and fairly close to Florida, not at high altitude etc. But I gotta say taco salad...not much of an after run party..and traffic....Are there trails? like as in dirt?

    1. I don't think I'd whole-heartedly recommend this one. If you want to stick around late, it's fine, but the traffic is significant if you need to leave within one or two hours of finishing.

    2. Thanks Grace. I'm "supposed" to PR (according to my "coach" who is not my coach LOL) every race this year, so I want to pick some nice ones, especially if I have to travel to get there. October is such a sketchy time for running in Florida. Sometimes the weather is nice, other times BOILING. I am sure its the same in LA.