Shamrock Marathon-26.2 miles of fun in the sun

The Shamrock Marathon was such a blast!!! I finished in 4 hours 25 min, which definitely isn’t my best time, but I’ll take it. The course was actually a bit more difficult than they claim it is. It is all slightly uphill from miles 6 to 22 (!!) and they didn’t have water stations every mile so I could see how a lot of people would struggle with that. I run with a water bottle almost the whole race so I was ok, but I could tell it had an impact on others’ performance up around miles 18-23.

Picture of the finish line before the race starts

Map of the Shamrock Marathon

Here’s a map of the marathon (click to make it larger). You can see that we start right off the boardwalk, where all of the hotels are, and run south. The only major hill is at a bridge,which you run over at miles 2 and 10 (you do a loop around a military base south of the beach and then head north again). However, you can see that the elevation profile shows the course goes slightly uphill all the way to mile 20 (which actually turned out to be mile 22 then it was slightly downhill). I could definitely feel it in my hamstrings and glutes. Also, there weren’t nearly as many water stations as listed on this map…a major problem for the course organizers if you ask me! The second half of the course runs a loop around a park and a second military base north of the beach with absolutely no trees/shade and I could tell the lack of water/hydration was getting to a lot of people. All humans run out of glycogen stores at around mile 20 as it is and without water I could tell some runners were losing it mentally. Two people were walking against the runners in the middle of the course and others were lying on the side of the street. It was like a battlefield. I just tucked my head and trucked right through.  Not that I didn’t have my own problems, I did. If you do any sort of distance running, you know that you always run a chance of having GI problems. Well, I guess I was just unlucky in that area yesterday because I spent about 10-12 minutes between my 2 porta potty stops. Before I get down on myself, I have to remember that 4hr 25 min is almost exactly a 10 min pace, so I must have been running faster than that to have spent the time on the potty and finish in that time.  My half marathon split was 2:02 so I was on track to finish faster. Ah c’est la vie…

I do have to admit that this was my first marathon where I actually enjoyed the final 6 miles. Don’t get me wrong, I was in some pain, but overall I was smiling and talking to people on the way back down to the finish on the boardwalk. Now that I have run several marathons I can try to give the Shamrock Marathon an honest assessment. Here are some pros and cons of the race.

Con: Much more emphasis is placed on the half-marathon, which had about 15,000 runners. As a result, there was no marathon-specific gear at the expo.

Pro: Small # of runners (only about 4,000 compared to 45,000 in the Chicago and 30,000 in the Boston Marathon). This is good if you want to be spaced out from other runners and not worry about running around tons of people. It’s sort of a con because there is something to be said for the atmosphere when you are running with so many people.

Con: It started out extremely windy. Also, you run the chance of running this race when it’s much hotter and there are parts of the course where it would be very difficult.


Battling the wind walking to the race start

Pro: The weather turned out to be perfect: low 50’s and sunny (no clouds in the sky)

Con: Lack of water/aid stations, especially around miles 18-23. Also, lack of any spectators from miles 16-23.

Pro: Camaraderie of the runners; when things got really tough from miles 18-23 (no shade, lots of sun, no water stops) I had some good conversations with runners around me.

Con: No mylar blankets at the finish line!!! Although you are hot and sweating while running, when you stop you get cold very quickly (wet, sweaty shirt in cold 50 degree weather = chance of hypothermia). I was really shivering so when I asked one woman where the blankets were, she was like, “uh, I don’t think we have them. Maybe I can try to track one down for you from somewhere?” In my opinion this is a major oversight. Another con is the lack of food at the finish line. I got a banana and a bag of pretzels, that’s it! Yea, so I got a finisher’s hat and shirt, but in the moment you want FOOD!

Overall, I’d do the race again but be prepared for some of the things I encountered. Also, I’d recommend for first-time marathoners to spend their money wisely–on a big name marathon like the Chicago, New York, or Marine Corps–where you get so much more VIP treatment.

With My Finisher Medal (and hat)!

I did it

Next big race? The White Lake Half Ironman in White Lake, NC on May 14.  1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles biking, and 13.1 miles running? Bring it…


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15 Responses to Shamrock Marathon-26.2 miles of fun in the sun

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  2. Brian says:

    Nice run! I enjoyed your recap and thanks for the comment. I was surprised too at how much the focus was on the half. This was my first marathon, but I’ve run the Philly half several times and I’m always disappointed that all the merchandise says “Marathon” It’s like it’s the PHILADELPHIA MARATHON (and oh yeah, also the half marathon). So I was surprised at Shamrock that I couldn’t get anything that didn’t say “Marathon, Half Marathon, and 8K” on it.

    I bought the same green t-shirt you did, a neon green half-zip brooks pullover that I’m not sure in hindsight that I like (but the windbreaker I’d planned on getting was the exact same model as the one I already own and not in my size), and a pilsner glass.

    Overall, I’m glad I picked it as my first one. Fun location, good pre-and post-race stuff, and not so hilly as to wreck my IT Band Syndrome, though I never thought the incline would end from mile 17ish on. (It really seemed to me like it didn’t end until we turned back on the boardwalk).

    I’ll probably run it again next year, since I think I can run it better.

  3. I agree! I think it would be a great first marathon!! I’m just overly picky, haha. Despite my few complaints I actually had so much fun (my first marathon where I was laughing and smiling the final 6 miles!). I’ve heard good things about Philly. I should really run more half marathons, it’s such a perfect distance. Any recommendations on races?

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