From its humble beginnings in 1970 when a group of friends from the University of Washington decided to hold their own marathon, the Seattle Marathon Family of Events has grown into the largest combination marathon/half marathon in the Northwest and one of the top ten largest in the U.S. That first marathon 45 years ago sported 38 runners. This year, 15,000 participants are expected for the marathon and half marathon walking and running events. Join us November 26th for Seattle’s Original Hometown Marathon.
I’ve run the Seattle half a few times, and it’s always been a great experience. Packet pickup is held downtown over two days and is painless enough. The shirt is long-sleeved and technical and is accurately sized. The race itself is always held the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which is either awesome (it’s a great fitness goal in a pretty gluttonous time of year, having 13 miles in your near future helps you say no to that third slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving) or not so awesome (it’s an early Sunday wakeup after a long and relaxing weekend, having 13 miles in your near future makes you say no to that third slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving), depending on your perspective. Also, have you been to Seattle in late November? The weather is extremely iffy. I’ve run this race with clear skies and in sideways sleet both. Luckily, this year was great – dry and cold.
Race morning this year was very well organized. The run started almost exactly on time, and the beginning of the race, through the downtown streets, is a great way to start – a huge sea of people filling up 5th Ave all the way through downtown. From there, the course goes over the freeway, through a gorgeous waterfront neighborhood, through the leafy arboretum, and then back through another neighborhood to re-cross the freeway and end in Memorial Stadium. There were plenty of well-stocked and not-too-busy aid stations, and lots of places for supporters to stand and cheer us on. The course is fairly hilly, but none of the inclines are both steep and long. The finish was well thought out, too, with quick access to water and space blankets. Overall, a great race, and one I’ll do again.
I run the half marathon every year, and it’s become one of my very favorites. The expo is great — good selection of vendors, guest speakers, and booths for races that will give you great discounts if you sign up at the expo. The participant shirt is a nice, long-sleeved tech shirt. Packet pickup is organized and painless. You start down by the EMP and the Space Needle and go out by some of Seattle’s most beautiful buildings — architecture buffs will enjoy this race. The course has some climbs, but nothing that will ruin your life if you’ve trained for them. There are plenty of port-o-potties and aid stations along the course, with great traffic control and volunteer support. Last year it was freezing so the spaces around the aid stations were icy — if the weather is cold be prepared. After you leave the city, you’ll go through some beautiful neighborhoods, so you get a nice mix of urban and residential, with some lovely views of the lake. There’s a peaceful climb through the arboretum, and a super cool run through a tunnel. You’ll finish on the turf at the Memorial Stadium, which is always fun. The medal is quality, and in previous years they were being handed out by some most excellent military folks. This race has one of the best post-race situations out there — you’ll go inside and thaw out, get some tasty soup, plenty of hydration, another chance to pick up more swag from vendors, and relax with all the other happy finishers.