Dallas, April 12, 2015
Anyone in Texas knows that it’s risky to enter a marathon in the middle of April. The temperatures can range anywhere from 30 to 105. There can be ice, or there can be thunderstorms.
The weather for Sunday’s Big D Marathon could have been worse, but was far from ideal. Temperatures were in the 70’s with high humidity. By the 5K mark, I was already soaked with sweat. Had the sun come out at any point, I probably wouldn’t be here today to type this.
The course was great. Runners started in Fair Park and ran a mostly flat route to White Rock Lake. The majority of the course after that was around the lake itself, with the turnaround being on the far side. There were a few small hills, but nothing to fret over. The scenery was beautiful for most of the course, there were police officers at every intersection, and the water stations along the way were plentiful. They never ran out of water or Gatorade along the course itself.
For those who care about the souvenirs, runners received a cotton blend T-shirt and a nice finisher’s medal.
I do have two complaints, one small and one major. First, the small one:
The maps and instructions for arrival said that runners would enter Fair Park through gates 5 and 6. When I arrived, gates 5 and 6 were closed and barricaded by the Dallas PD. I had to stop on 2nd Street to ask one of the officers where we were supposed to enter. She had to radio someone else to find out that we could only get in through gates 9 and 10. That’s a small detail since I was early, but would have caused some anxiety had I arrived a little later.
And for the big complaint:
The Big D website says, “The Texas Marathon will host a post-race party … with plenty of post-race food, liquids & activities.” When I crossed the finish line, instead of being handed a bottle of water, I was given a Dixie cup sized drink of water, so I headed straight for the “party” to find a real drink. The Grand Palace Building was about 70% empty. I walked to the far side, where they were serving some burritos, but still couldn’t find the drinks. When I asked, they pointed me back to the door that I had entered where there were more medicine cups and an empty water jug to fill them with.
Without something to drink, I wouldn’t have cared if they were serving lobster and steak; I didn’t want any food. As for the party, it consisted of some people providing sports massages and a vendor handing out free coffee samples.
As soon as I could manage to walk the ¾ of a mile back to my car, I left for the nearest gas station where I could buy a bottle of water.
While there are advantages to small races—same day packet pick up, less stress, smaller crowds—I’m not sure they are worth it. The entry fees are nearly as high, but the return is never as good. For about the same price, it’s better to stick with Cowtown. You may have to run up a few hills and navigate through a few more runners, but at least you’ll have plenty to eat and drink when you’re finished.