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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon race review

Since this race is considered one of the top ten marathons in the country, I hardly need to add my opinion, but here goes! 

Pre-race information, logistics, organization:
The event website includes info on registration, packet pickup, course, location, events, etc. I found the logistics were excellent for this race. There are detailed maps on the website of the courses and zoomed maps of the start and finish areas (also in the emailed participant's guide). Even though I was traveling for this race and have never been to the area before, everything was well-explained and the entire process was a breeze. The race was also impeccably organized. I have never, in all my life, seen such a smooth starting area. The ten mile race started an hour prior to the marathon, and once it got moving, the marathoners started to fill up the space. It was never too crowded, and there were SO MANY PORT-A-POTTIES. I didn't have to wait in line at all. No one. Nobody in front of me. The expo, race, and finish were all well-organized, too - like, Boston levels of organization. 
Expo: Easy as pie: you go grab your number, check your timing chip, grab your "free gift", and go. It wasn't a very crowded expo, so it moved fast. My brother dropped me off and circled while I got my packet, but otherwise he would have had to pay to park. That's a downside, but pretty typical for large race expos.
Cost: Kind of high. I paid $140. 
Lodging and transportation: Plenty of hotel options, many with discounts for the race, and free light rail to the start the day of the race. Also special bus rates offered. We drove, and it was easy to get close enough to the start. 
Swag: You get a finisher's shirt at the end, and the surprise gift at packet pick up was a hat - which I ended up wearing. Lucky me, I also got socks! In the finisher's chute, a young woman with a clip board approached me and asked if I could complete a survey for her. She asked questions about my opinion of the post-race food options (which was basically BARF at that point), and then when we were done she gave me a pair of socks for my trouble! Cool! 
Finishers also get a medal.
Course:The course is billed as the most beautiful urban marathon in the country, and they may be right. It's a really beautiful course, a point-to-point winding around gorgeous lakes and along the Mississippi River (may miles away, my daily runs touch the same river!). The course is really pretty, but I wouldn't say it's fast. There are a lot of small turns and curves, especially in the area around the lakes, that add to your distance / time. And it isn't the easiest course in respect to elevation.

There are minor hills throughout, with a significant hill straight up from mile 20-23. The course gains a net 850ish feet, mostly due to the ~1000 feet gained during the hill at mile 20. This is a challenging place to put a hill, obviously. 

The most amazing thing about the course was the spectators. This city really, really supports the race, and the crowds lined every inch of the course. It was impressive, second only to Boston in my experience. 
Aid stations:
Plentiful and well-manned, but the only fuel was at mile 17 (Cliff gels and shot bloks - plenty of them, which is good, because I always get nervous about missing a gel on the course). I definitely wish the gels were earlier on the course, though. The aid stations start out as every other mile, but at mile 20, there is fluid every mile. I think that's a great idea and I took full advantage to stay hydrated for those tough final miles. 
Finish line / post-race: It was a beautiful day to sit out by the capitol building and listen to music and drink a beer, but a. that beer was about 98% hops and not my favorite, and b. I was totally zoned out post race. I got some chicken broth down, and attempted (and failed) to eat chips. They also had some fruit cups, but no utensils, which looked hard to eat. I had dropped a bag, and bag pick up was easy and smooth. In fact, the volunteers had my bag retrieved and ready before I even got up to the pick up area! It was also easy and fast to get my shirt, which I promptly put on (I was cold, despite the sun).
 The race offered athlete tracking, but apparently it didn't really work. David got just one update, and then my reported finish time was wrong. The app told him 3:18:xx, and David assumed I'd be upset since that was my time for my last race. But the math also didn't add up from the text he got, so he doubled checked the website, where my time was correct. There were race photos available for purchase, and two free videos at the finish line. I really liked the stats provided post-race: detailed splits and passing data. 
Suggestions: It's a pricey race, but as it was so well-run and so beautiful, it's absolutely worth it. 


  1. I love that race so much, it's in my top 5.

  2. I live in Twin Cities so...maybe someday!

  3. Thanks for the write up That is on my wish list some day!

  4. It sucks that the tracking wasn't working that day. That has never happened in all the years I've lived in Minneapolis! So disappointing! I am glad that you had such a great race experience. I really really love our marathon but I'm biased since I'm a local so it's nice to hear from an outsider that it's a well-run and beautiful course. But yah - not a fast course AT ALL. I think people assume it will be a fast one since it's Minnesota and we are pretty flat, but those rolling hills and the huge hill at mile 21 are BRUTAL.