Time and Place
The Amica Seattle Marathon is held each year in late November on the weekend of American Thanksgiving. The course takes participants on a scenic tour of the city, beginning and ending by the base of the city’s iconic Space Needle.
Half and full marathon: 21 km and 42 km (both distances include walking and running options).
21 km, November 2015
The course is scenic and well thought out. The city of Seattle, however, is hilly by nature and definitely poses a challenge to those who race it. There were a couple of steep inclines in there (even by trail standards!).
The course runs through the streets of downtown, along the waterfront alongside Lake Washington, and through the lush Japanese Gardens. The course does a great job of featuring distinct parts of the city, and as a result the scenery is fresh for participants the entire way.
The hydration stations were plentiful, standing approximately every 3 km (in 2017, there are 10 over the 21 kilometers – luxury!). Like most road races, an emphasis is placed on liquids over calories: you’ll find lots of water and Gatorade, sometimes with a side of gels and mini-Clif bars.
The plentiful hydration stations are often accompanied by plentiful Porta Potties – score!
Things to Consider
- November in Seattle can range from cold and rainy… to chilly and dry. Their average temperature this time of the year is below 10 degrees Celsius, so it’s safe to assume you’ll hit lower temperatures. On the plus side, aren’t those ideal running temps!?
- Founded in 1970, the course has grown to one of the oldest and biggest in the United States and, in particular, the Pacific Northwest. With its strong reputation brings big crowds and lots of positive energy.
- Accommodations for us made a big difference: we were able to use a points system to grab a shared room at the Hyatt House, which turned out to be meters from the start and only a few more from the finish. Proximity made logistics planning a whole lot simpler (and allowed us to set the alarm clock for that much later – worth it).
- The expo is worth checking out. Having never been to one, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. There were free samples, slightly-used runners for sale, and race directors promoting events all over the West. I became aware of what the running world had to offer, and I left the expo super inspired to explore as much of it as I could.
- Seattle is such a great city with lots to offer! Make sure to make the most of your time there and check out Capitol Hill for their trendy restaurants, meander the quaint downtown and Pike Place Market, or extend your stay and visit one of Washington’s beautiful National Parks (Olympic, North Cascades and Mount Ranier are all just a short jaunt away).
- Once you’ve signed up for your first half-marathon, be ready to accept it won’t be your last. The bug hits, that feeling of adrenaline stays with you, and you’ll leave the race wanting more.
I had signed up for the Seattle Half with a friend who had been doing long distance racing for a couple of years, but this was my first over 10 kilometers.
Like anyone undertaking their first half marathon, I was nervous I was running out of the start gate undertrained and underprepared.
Strong for the first 17 kilometers, upon reaching the 18th my hips started to ache and my feet were quite vocal about how they felt hitting more pavement.
At kilometer 19, I turned each corner with the expectation I would see the finish line. Looking back, it feels as though I was disappointed about 25 times… it just wouldn’t present itself to me.
And then the crowds grew.
And then I turned another corner.
And then the cheers were so loud I forgot all about my hips, and all about my feet, and all about the fact those last two kilometers would never end.
And then I saw the clock, which was 20 whole minutes before I anticipated being done.
I crossed the finish line with a full body of emotions at 2 hrs and 10 mins.
First half marathon: complete.
A huge thanks to all of the spectators that cheered us on in the cold, and to my race partner for convincing me to race it with her.
Three Lasting Impressions
- Scenic (cityscapes and waterfronts and old growth parks),
- Energetic (I owe a lot of my finish to all of those cheering spectators); and
- Big (SO MANY PEOPLE. SO MUCH POSITIVITY).
Seattle is known for its contribution to the grunge music scene of the 1990’s. If you do your research and keep your eyes open, you may just see Kurt Cobain’s house while on the course.
‘Where is the finish??’ – me, at kilometer 19 (or everyone, during their last two kilometers, during every race, ever).
Would Run Again?
But only because I’ve made the conversion to trail, and Ontario to Seattle is a bit of a commute.
Having said that, I enjoyed every minute of the experience and it was the perfect event for my first long distance race. Seattle is definitely worth the visit, and the Seattle Marathon is more than enough reason to get yourself there!
Check out their website for complete race information.
Questions? Happy to answer them. Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear about your experience!
GOOD LUCK to all those undertaking it next weekend!