This is a nice little race. So nice that I’ve done it twice and would probably do it again. Here is my recap of the Harrisburg Marathon.
Website: Aspire Harrisburg Marathon.
Location: Harrisburg, PA. Begins on City Island.
Size: About 700 full marathoners, joined by a small contingent of relayers.
Time of Year and Weather: November. Both times I ran, the weather was great for running, although a bit cold at the start. Luckily there is no waiting around necessary before the start. Towards the end of the race, running in the sun along the water, I wanted to shed all of my layers. But then once I finished, I wanted them all back.
Logistics: If you need to travel from afar, this race might be a little logistically tricky. There is an Amtrak station in Harrisburg, but Harrisburg is about 2 hrs from the Philly airport. There is a nice race hotel but not a ton going on in town. If you are looking to come to PA by air, you might be happier doing the Philadelphia Marathon (see upcoming post). However, if you can drive to Harrisburg, this race is super logistically easy. Just park in the parking lot right near the start line (also conveniently near the finish line) and hop out of the car right before the race starts. We’ve never had any traffic or parking issues. I’ve always picked up my packet the morning of the race without issue.
Swag: My favorite race shirt EVER is from this race. A large, soft, long-sleeved tech tee. Also post-race snacks are abundant, including hot chocolate!
Terrain and Landscape: Harrisburg is quaint and the portions over and along the river are nice. A portion of the course also takes you through a nature preserve, which is quiet and off the road. However, other portions are on less scenic roads and less cute (but still fine) residential areas. My least favorite part of the whole course was a steep downhill through the nature preserve during the second half of the race, which doesn’t feel good at all on tired joints and actually resulted in sore ab muscles after my first go here. Not the sort of hill where you can relax and let yourself gain speed. Quite the opposite. (Note: this section may have been changed; the course was modified for 2015.) Crowd support is limited to a few spots on the course.
Speed: This is a fast course. I highly recommend this one if you are chasing a BQ and don’t want to drive to godforsaken Scranton (admittedly, I’ve never been). I PR’d the first time I ran here (3:45:20). The second go a couple of years later was not so speedy, but that was my fault and not the course’s. There are nice pace groups at this race if you are shooting for a specific goal.
Overall: Like It.