Overall: 68 / 1,621
Gender (M): 64 / 809
Division (M 40-44): 10 /148
Wow, this was a really fast course! If you are looking to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I would highly recommend this race. I set a PR by 8 minutes and I attribute it mostly to the gradual downhill course. There was only one mild incline (mile 6 to 7), which comes early in the race, then it is mostly downhill until mile 18 before it flattens out to the finish line. It almost seemed like the course was pulling me to the finish. However, I would caution a person of not being overly aggressive on the downhills. I think I got too aggressive during the downhill portions and was almost out of gas by mile 23. I really had to dig deep as I started to slow the last three miles to hang on to my sub-3:05 – as you notice on my Garmin.
I really enjoyed this marathon. It is a smaller marathon located in Ventura, CA and had less than 2,000 marathoners. I like smaller marathons a lot more than the big city races, they just seem more laid back, less stressful and less crowded allowing you to get into comfortable pace early in the run. The organization was good, really no issues to speak of. Port-a-potties were a bit scarce along the course and the water stops were adequate, although many of the stations didn’t seem to have any sports drinks, mostly just water.
The marathon starts in the small town of Ojai (elevation about 800 ft above sea level). There is a shuttle bus that picks you up in downtown Ventura and takes about 20 minutes to the start line. I caught the 5 am shuttle and arrived around 5:20 am. This was great, not a lot of waiting around before the 6 am start. There were some lines at the port-a-potties, but I think I waited less than 15 minutes.
The start takes you through the town of Ojai for about 8 miles before you begin your descent, primarily on a paved bike path, from miles 8 to 19. Around mile 19 it flattens out and eventually you arrive in downtown Ventura where you finish the race along the bayfront. The bayfront was nice, but you’ll be sharing some of the path with the general population since it is not exclusive to the runners. This wasn’t a big deal, but I did have to work my way around a few folks. But for the majority of the race, the scenery is really serene and the bike path is shaded by plenty of trees. The weather was good, but humid (83%) – low to mid-60s with nice cloud cover. There were some people cheering along the course – mostly family members, but for the most part you’ll be running in silence. The finish area was pretty typical, some water and snacks for runners and an area for a band and few dozen vendors.
Overall, this is a really nice race and a lightening fast course – this may be the fastest course in the country – no kidding. Not sure when my next marathon will be, but if I’m looking to run a PR or qualify for Boston, this race would be at the top of my list.