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Looking for the Best Boston Marathon Qualifying Races?

View our list of marathons that give you the best chance to BQ.

Race Dates

2018: Sunday, March 18, 2018
2017: Sunday, March 19, 2017

Course Information

Profile: Pancake Flat
Type: Mostly Out and Back
Surface: Road/Pavement
Certified?: Yes

Race Day Weather

Mean Temp.: 48°F (8°C)
Average High: 57°F (13°C)
Average Low: 39° F (3°C)

Historical Weather

PR Score & Course Score

PR Score: 99.68
Course Score: 99.68

Race Size

2017: 1,354 Finishers
2016: 1,847 Finishers
2015: 2,112 Finishers

BQ Percentages

2018: N/A
2017: 11.2%
2016: 9.5%

Miscellaneous Information

Pace Groups?: Yes

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Course Description

The Shamrock Marathon course is flat and fast and a good choice for a PR (personal record) or BQ. Since some of the course is along the ocean, it can be windy.

The course takes runners south from the Virginia Beach resort area across Rudee Inlet--the gateway to the Atlantic Ocean--and through residential neighborhoods and the Camp Pendleton military base before returning north along the oceanfront and past more residential areas.

It then traverses tree-lined Shore Drive adjacent to First Landing State Park on its way to Joint Expeditionary Base, Ft. Story. The course then heads south again for a finish on the Virginia Beach boardwalk, just past the King Neptune sculpture.

Marathon Rankings

The Shamrock Marathon was the 60th largest marathon in the U.S. last year and was the 51st largest in 2016.

Last year 11.2% of finishers qualified for the Boston Marathon and 9.5% of runners qualified for Boston in 2016.

This gives the Shamrock Marathon the 177th highest percentage of Boston Marathon qualifiers in the U.S. last year and the 217th highest percentage in 2016.

Its Course Score of 99.68 ranks it as the 63rd fastest marathon course in the U.S. and the 1st fastest course in Virginia.

The typical race time temperature and humidity levels are within the ideal range for optimal marathon performance. This, coupled with the Course Score, gives the Shamrock Marathon a PR Score of 99.68. This PR Score ranks it as the 46th fastest marathon in the U.S. and the 1st fastest in Virginia.

Learn more about PR Scores and Course Scores on the FAQ page.

Elevation Chart

Max Elevation: 26 feet (7m)
Min Elevation: 3 feet (0m)


Recent Shamrock Marathon Reviews

4.2 Stars from 6 Reviews
View all Reviews

review of 2017 Shamrock Marathon.   

5 / 5 Stars


I loved the course in Virginia Beach, nice and flat, passing through 2 military installations, the crowd support was great for most of the race. And my favorite part is running up Shore Drive. The race was well organized and the swag is sweet. You get a medal, towel, drawstring bag with quite a few recovery goodies, a hat and the finish festival is really nice, with Murphy's Irish Stew and Yuengling beer. Now if only the weather would cooperate, it would be the almost perfect race.

Race Tips

The course is flat, so no guesswork there. Just be prepared for stormy weather since it is the middle of March on the East coast.

Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Book your hotel well in advance just for availability. The Host hotel is a little far from the action, I always stay right on the beach, you can cheer other runners coming in from your balcony.

review of 2016 Shamrock Marathon.   

5 / 5 Stars


Well run marathon with a great party afterwards. A couple areas can be very windy depending on the weather.

Race Tips

Very flat with just a couple of bridges. In the windy areas of the boardwalk and fort story run behind someone to block the wind.

Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

review of 2014 Shamrock Marathon.   

5 / 5 Stars


Overall a nice race. Very well run. The organizers do a great job. The expo was good (not the best I have been to but good). The after party is the best I have been to - warm tent, plenty of beer, food, bands, and runners trying to build beer cup towers in the sand! (been running for years and it still amazes me how much runners like to party after a race!...including me :). Plenty of accommodations in the area. Stayed on a no-name place right on the boardwalk and it was great....walked to the start.

The course is flat except the slow incline between 16 and 19. I wasn't really prepared for that (my fault for not reading the elevation chart more carefully). And like others have said - the head winds. Two days before the winds were below 10 mph and I thought we were good. But a storm was coming in and by race day they were gusting over 20. Running through Camp Pendelton was cool - nice to see the solders out cheering you on and to say thanks to them. But there are some "lonely" spots on the course. Very nice metal and plenty of post race food.

Race Tips

Expect wind...then if there isn't you should do even better. Its flat but be prepared for the late incline. Some lonely spots, particularly late in the race when runners are spread out.

Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Plenty of accommodations in the area. Some of the no-name places are pretty good and not as expensive (do your research but dont wait - particularly if you want to get into one of the big name hotels). You can get on the boardwalk with a ocean view and then walk right to the start. If you are there the day before and stay south of the race hotel and start you can see the Saturday races run by. There\'s no pasta dinner and since it is off season not all of the restaurants are open. Plan ahead and research where you want to eat.

review of 2013 Shamrock Marathon.   

2 / 5 Stars


This was my fourth marathon, and I wasn't a huge fan. Whereas it was a nice flat course, it was incredibly boring and had little to no crowd support except at the end. Running into the wind most of the marathon was draining and that paired with nothing to see or experience, made this a terrible choice. I still did a sub 4, but definitely would not do this one ever again. On a positive note... you do get free beer and a pretty decent stew at the end... and they do a good job with the medal.

Race Tips

You will be running into the wind, so run all the windy days you can. Also, this course requires a lot of mental strength! There is nothing to see and very little crowd support.

Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

You can get pretty good discounts on ocean front hotels since it is outside the tourist season. The expo wasn\'t great, but there are a lot of neat little restaurants all walking distance from the hotels.

review of 2011 Shamrock Marathon.   

4 / 5 Stars


It is a pretty good race. Really flat, but boring course. The management of the race seemed a bit chaotic to say the least. It really surprised me for a race that size and that has been held for many years.

Race Tips

From about mile 16 to about mile 23 it is a lonely stretch with little fans. You really need to stay mentally focused in this area. Other than that it is a really flat and fast course. It was pretty windy especially along stretches close to the beach.

Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

We stayed at the Hilton right on the beach which was nice. Very convenient also. They even asked us if we were with the marathon and gave us a discount at check in.

Finish Time Equivalent

If you ran the Shamrock Marathon in 2:45:00, what would your time in the Boston Marathon be?

See how your race times would compare on other marathon courses using the Marathon Time Converter Tool.