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M7: Casablanca Marathon

Date: October 29, 2017, 7:30am
Time: 3:33:57 (Pace: 8’09)
Shoes: Nike Flyknit Streak 6, Boston Yellow
Overall Review: 2/5

Registration 4/5
Online registration through the official website WeCasablanca, and it’s pretty cheap ($35). The only thing that bothered me was that the registration and the payment are two separate steps. Also, I didn’t get any follow up after the initial payment confirmation.

Expo 2/5
The Expo is non-existant. It was literally a big tent with bib packet pick-up and last-minute registration booths. It was quite chaotic, with tons of people trying to sign up the day before the race. And even though I pre-registered online, my entry eventually showed up as “late entry” without my name in the official results. It is, however, conveniently located at the start line of the race next day.

The runner’s t-shirt was given out with the bib. The fabric doesn’t feel good for running, I won’t wear it for running, and it’s too tight for me as well. No size choice was given at the time I picked it up. There weren’t any other swags.

Race Day Organization 1/5

It was a mess.

1. There was no bag drop! I am lucky that I booked my airbnb really close to the start line and have been warned by a local that there might be no bag drop at the race. So after I went out and confirmed it on the race day, I went back to my airbnb and left eveything at home. At the finishline I saw an Ukrainian guy ran the whole race with his backpack, what a poor guy!
2. To my disfortune, I often drink too much before the race and need to use a toilette, but apparently that’s not in the consideration of the organizer. I found a restaurant that opens early around mile 8 and had myself relieved.
3. While streets were initially blocked, it only lasted a couple hours or so, “slower” runners (like me!) will run with live traffic in the 2nd half of the race and even run in the wrong direction on a one-way street. To counter that, in the last few miles as I was running against live traffic on a one-way street, a volunteer on a motocycle led my way and cleared the road for me. I totally felt like an elite runner, and it was really cool. To catch up with the motocycle and not slow down in front of the people on the street was a key reason I kept my pace in the toughest miles of the race.
4. While the course is supposed to close at 5 hours, the organizer have removed finish line equipments well before the deadline.
5. On the plus side, the volunteers are nice. When water stations became scarce in the later part of the race, they were giving out water bottles to runner.

Course : Difficulty 2/5

The course is relatively flat, except for a few tunnels in the mid/late part. But the real difficulty of this course is that:
1. The course direction isn’t very clear. Runners are supposed to follow arrows, but a couple of times in the race one will ran pass the same intersection twice and depending on how far into the race runners will follow different arrows / take different turns. The volunteers are quite good in keeping runners on the right track.
2. As I pointed out above, street block is lifted early enough to affect many runners in the second half of the race. It was absolutely disruptive and dangerous.

Course : View 3/5
There are a few segments that I enjoyed: running towards the majestic Hassin II mosque was very rewarding (although you ran into the tunnel in front of it before reaching the mosque); ran along the beautiful beach (twice!) at the east side of the city; runners also get to pass the United Nation square, although the course does not allow you to go through its full length. Otherwise, the course is a combination of residential areas and business districts.

Spectators 1/5

No, they didn’t exist. Well, I mean, there were occasionally people cheering for runners, but I highly doubt they were there on purpose, more than just hanging out in the street as they always do. But they are nice. Approaching the end of the race, going through Blvd. de la Corniche, pedestrians enjoying their stroll and brunch were more often than not confused why there are random people running against the traffic.

Medal and Swags 0/5

Let me just put a big zero here. Absolute disappointment. I finished the race in a respectful 3:34 and I DIDN’T get a medal. Well I got a 10K medal because the organizer didn’t have marathon medals (anymore). Many runners, especially international runners, lingered with indignation at the finishing line trying to argue with the organizers but to little avail. I don’t know if the race ran out of medals (but there were only 120 marathon finishers!), or they didn’t even make any. In any case, it was really disappointing given this is the already the 10th year of this race.

Every finisher gets a bag of two bottles of water and some snacks. The distribution is rather strict to one bag per finisher.

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