Heartland Series, Day 3
Potato Creek State Park (Plymouth, IN)
I just ran my ninth full marathon+ overall. This was also my first event with Mainly Marathons. In a word: amazing!
First, the staff is top notch. They know the drill and have every base covered. From the beginning, I was impressed by the speed with which they respond to email. You get nice pre-event communication as well. Once you show up for race day, everything functions smoothly. The aid station staff are friendly and very encouraging. They joyfully stay alert for each person and celebrate all the way to the last finisher. I particularly enjoyed being addressed by my name throughout the event. The staff alone is reason enough to run a Mainly Marathons event.
The quality of the aid station fare is unusually high. I've ran a few ultra/trail events, and this aid station is more like what you'd see in that setting. You've got a wide variety of fresh options: pretzels, gummies, M&Ms, soup, pickles, etc. Be careful though ... you're likely to find a lot of foods that you never even thought to try in your training, and it's a risky proposition to try something new on a race day. I'd encourage you to stick with what you know you can handle.
The medals are some of the best you'll ever find. They're unique and high quality. Very cool.
The routes tend to be short loops or down-and-back affairs. I know some runners who hate loops, and if that's you, then this will be tough. A typical Mainly Marathon course is roughly a mile long and you run it multiple times. For my marathon, I had to complete twelve circuits of 1.1 mile "down-and-back" track. I understand the logistics of using such a short course (it makes it possible to have the above mentioned amazing aid station). On the plus side, these courses typically have lots of shade and are fairly flat.
Mainly Marathons seems to attract a certain type of crowd ... and it's a good crowd. All of the runners were encouraging and supportive. Some of these folks are attempting to run 7 marathons in a single week, and yet they're out there helping others along the way. You'll be hard pressed to find a cooler running community anywhere.
On the negative side, they've got me thinking of doing something crazy... I ran only one race (part of the Heartland series). I enjoyed the experience so much that I'm now seriously contemplating a "seven for seven" next year. I'd like that "183.4" sticker for my bumper. Just be real careful around these guys or their enthusiasm is going to rub off on you.
Overall, I give this outfit a score of 6 stars ... on a scale of 1-5 :) ... top notch all the way around!