The OBX Marathon is an almost completely flat point-to-point course. There are two points of course elevation. The first is in Nags Head Woods Preserve around mile 12 of the marathon course. The second is crossing the 35 foot tall Washington-Baum Bridge leading to Roanoke Island at mile 23. The bridge is tall (stats: 1.05 mi long, 82' high, with a 650' climb to the top at a 4% grade).
In addition to those two changes in elevation, part of the marathon course is on a trail. The first section from about mile 10 to 12.5 is on a packed dirt road through the maritime forest of Nags Head Nature Preserve. The other section at about 12.5 miles runners leave the Preserve and get back on the road via a narrow, more difficult sandy trail.
The course can be fast, but wind, trail sections and the climb up the Washington-Baum Bridge near the end of the race (approximately mile 23) can be challenging.
The Outer Banks Marathon was the 91st largest marathon in the U.S. last year (not all results are in) and was the 87th largest in 2013.
Last year 7.7% of finishers qualified for the Boston Marathon.
It's Course Score of 99.50 ranks it as the 78th fastest marathon course in the U.S. and the 3rd fastest course in North Carolina.
The typical race time temperature and humidity levels are within the ideal range for optimal marathon performance. This, coupled with the Course Score, give the Outer Banks Marathon a PR Score of 99.50. This PR Score ranks it as the 52nd fastest marathon in the U.S. and the 3rd fastest in North Carolina.
Max Elevation: 82 feet (25m) Min Elevation: 3 feet (0m)
Ratings & Reviews:
ms's review of 2012 race.
I've done the full course 2 times and the half versions about six times. This is a beautiful race, really well organized and small enough not to feel over crowded. There are 3-4 waves and they move fast.
Be warned, the off-road portions can be really challenging. They are huge time sucks, in my experience, particularly the loose sand trail portion. The elevations aren't too major, but combined with the nature of the trail, they are enough to frustrate even strong runners. The Bridge is a good challenge, but after having it under your belt once, it isn't that big of a deal. Aside from the few miles of off-road, the course is flat and fast. Most of the first 13 miles is well-shaded and cool, the second half is more open road.
Overall, this race is well-run, the weather has been consistently beautiful the past 5-6 years and the spectators are great. I'd highly recommend. It is a good for a first timer. In April the first half of the course is run as a 13.1 and in November you can do the second half as a 13.1.
Be prepared for a decent challenge miles 10-13. Every time I've done this course I go into that stretch ahead of pace and come out a good amount behind. It can be frustrating. If possible, train some hilly trails. But also know once you break out of mile 13, the course definitely picks up pace.
Parking and shuttles for both the half and full are super easy, well organized. The only beef I might have is that the shuttles post-race tend to run a little slow. That combined with some extra heavy traffic makes getting back to your car/start/hotel a bit long. Still, it isn't bad and the organizers do a great job. Be warned that because this is a smaller venue, if spectators want to get from any point of the course to the finish point, traffic will be slow going. One lane open for the majority of the trip, with cars moving 10-15mph the entire way. The first year I did the half my family never made it to the finish line.
The expo is typical for a smaller event, about a dozen-plus vendors and a dozen or so local businesses.
This is an beautiful place to vacation. November is great because the summer crowds are gone, but the weather is still nice enough to enjoy outdoors, beach (not swimming, but exploring/hikes/ect) and most seasonal restaurants and businesses are still open. Because it is officially off-season, you can get a beach rental for a steal. We have family that lives here, but still get a beach front house and make a week of it with our kids. It is the best week of the year for our family and have even vacationed with 2-3 other "running" families in huge homes for an amazing price. If you can't manage the week, definitely swing a long weekend. You won't be disappointed!
Finish Time Equivalent
If you ran the Outer Banks Marathon in 3:21:00, what would your time in the Boston Marathon be?