Applied Behavior Science for Health and Happiness
Race Recap: Michelob ULTRA Boston 13.1 Marathon
Race Recap: Michelob ULTRA Boston 13.1 Marathon

Race Recap: Michelob ULTRA Boston 13.1 Marathon

Race Recap- Michelob ULTRA Boston 13.1, September 14, 2014Yesterday I ran the Michelob ULTRA Boston 13.1 Marathon. This was my first time running the mostly flat, oceanside course, which wends through East Boston and Revere. 

After overcoming my initial aversion to a race completely sponsored by Michelob ULTRA and heavily branded as such (I’m sorry! I feel bad! I feel snobby! But Michelob ULTRA is never making my Friday Funday recommended beer list!), I went ahead and registered, figuring it would be a good segue to the fall racing season.

Race day weather was awesome for running, if a touch cooler than I like. I was chilly outdoors before the race, but mostly comfortable temperature-wise during.

Me being dubious about the Michelob ULTRA main stage.
Me being dubious about the Michelob ULTRA main stage.

The start and finish lines for this race are at Suffolk Downs, which is a horse-racing track. Getting there is not hard, but I have two complaints for the race organizers. First, the website does not specify which MBTA stop to use (and yes, it’s pretty obvious that the correct T stop is Suffolk Downs, but it never hurts to state the obvious for out-of-towners or people like me who sometimes miss the obvious). Second, the website said to follow the signs from the T stop to the start line. Uh, signs? There were none. Zero. I followed a crowd of people only to learn the leader was as lost as I was, so we had to backtrack. I ended up arriving much closer to the starting gun than I had planned thanks to our detour.

The race bling is an impressively solid medal that is, naturally, branded Michelob ULTRA and doubles as a bottle opener for your favorite brew. One guy who appeared to be drunk already even though they hadn’t started serving the potent ULTRA beers stopped me to make sure I realized the medal is also a bottle opener. He declared its powers “awesome.” Party on, drunk little runner dude.

The race itself was fine, neither the best nor the worst I’ve ever run.

The Good

I saw a proposal at the finish line. She said yes.
I saw a proposal at the finish line. She said yes.
  • Mostly flat course. There were some small ups-and-downs, particularly at the beginning, but never very steep or very long.
  • You spend several miles running alongside the beach, with a great view of the ocean.
  • Although I will complain about the many turnarounds below, I did appreciate that the people who created the route took advantage of Massachusetts’ love of rotaries in designing many of the turnarounds. We never had to do any 180s, but rather would run around the traffic circle to reverse direction. Much easier on the knees.
  • Lots of water stops, each with both water and Gatorade.
  • One Gu stop positioned so you can hit it twice, at roughly miles 6 and 8.
  • Mile markers with digital clocks at every mile.
  • A handful of live bands along the course. The Psychedelic Relics played 60’s and 70’s rock, while a brass band offered New Orleans-style jazz.
  • Very nice ladies’ fit technical shirts (albeit with a prominent Michelob ULTRA logo).
  • Real working bathrooms at Suffolk Downs for pre-race needs, versus gross porta-potties.

The Bad

    This is some assertive branding.
    This is some assertive branding.

  • Some of the pavement we ran over was ROUGH. I saw someone take a spill in the first quarter mile after catching her foot on the asphalt.
  • Around mile 3.5-4, we took a loop through the Belle Isle Marsh Reservation.  While it was lovely, it was also paved with gravel, some of which ended up in my left shoe, where it provided lots of irritation for the rest of the race. I overheard another runner with the same complaint.
  • The aforementioned issue with the signage and directions from the subway to the race.
  • Lots of twists and turns in the first few miles, which is never my favorite on a course. I understand why it has to be that way to achieve the mileage in an urban area, but it is nonetheless a negative of the race.
  • My favorite beers were not available.

Best Signs I Saw

  • This seems like an awful lot of work for a free banana.
  • RACE RESULTS (1)I can’t believe you’re doing this for a free Michelob ULTRA.

I’m also a sucker for the classic “Worst Parade Ever,” which one woman brought.

The Verdict

I’d run this one again. The positives clearly outweigh the negatives, and it’s an area of Boston I don’t visit very often. As much crap as I’m giving Michelob here, they put on a nice race with great runner support and did a good job making their branding visible.

This is what happens when you ask a preoccupied stranger to get a pic of you with the finish line in the background. Note lack of finish line. She did take three versions, so I guess that was nice.
This is what happens when you ask a preoccupied stranger to get a pic of you with the finish line in the background. Note lack of finish line. She did take three versions, so I guess that was nice.