Dallas Marathon Course Preview
The MetroPCS Dallas Marathon is debuting a new name and a new course this year. Yet one thing will remain unchanged: you don’t mess with Texas! The new course incorporates more hills than the most recent two courses have, which means that smart, strategic running will be the name of the game this coming Sunday. Your Clif Bar Pace Team leaders are ready to guide you on race day, but until then, here’s a chance to study up – and get psyched up!
The brand new starting line is located on Main and Market Streets, by the JFK Memorial. The three starting corrals (A, B and C) will be marked with expected finish times but are self-seeding, which means that you determine where you start. This means that ALL runners will have access to ALL of the pace teams. Please be fair to other runners, however, and be sure to start in the appropriate area. We know that everyone wants to be as close to the starting line as they can, but the more realistic each runner is, the safer the start is for everyone. Please note that all three corrals will load FROM THE BACK OF THE CORRAL.
Your pace leaders will be in the corrals at 7:30 am, a bit more than half an hour prior to the race. If you plan to run with a pace team, you should also be in your corral by 7:30 am or so. This gives you time to meet your pacer, ask any last minute questions, and calm your nerves a bit before getting started never It’s never a fun way to start a race having to rush through bag drop and run to the start –!
Heading out from the starting line, you’ll run by Dealey Plaza and the infamous grassy knoll before crossing over the Trinity River towards West Dallas. This early three mile loop is somewhat industrial and won’t win points as the most scenic part of the route, but it’s a great time to ease into your warm-up and relax into the early miles. Even if your legs are feeling fresh and springy, keep a lid on the powder for the upcoming hills. As you leave the West Dallas loop around mile 4, you’ll be greeted with a stunning view of the downtown Dallas skyline – and a nasty little wake-up call for your hamstrings as you climb the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. You’ll come off the bridge onto a nice, flat stretch on Dragon Street; use this time to recover your breathing and get your heart rate back to neutral. You’ll be climbing again before you know it.
New to the course this year is the addition of the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children as a landmark; the hospital is the primary beneficiary of the race itself. You’ll face a steep and somewhat grueling climb up Maple Avenue to the hospital itself, but at only 5.5 miles into the race, you should still be reasonably fresh. Use the inspiration of the young patient champions to pull you along, and focus carefully on your breathing. You’re going to be climbing in some form or another all the way to mile 10 from here, so keeping your breathing and heart rate under control are going to be critical for the next five miles.
From the hospital until the half marathon split at mile 7.5, runners will climb a familiar section of the former course along Turtle Creek. The split for the half marathon will be well-marked, and full marathoners will continue straight after bidding their half marathon counterparts goodbye. (Note to readers: the Dallas Half Marathon will have separate pace team leaders for the half marathon provided by the Dallas Running Club, so you won’t be left out there alone!)
From the half marathon split, full marathoners will begin working their way toward White Rock Lake, traveling though several small, residential neighborhoods until reaching the Granada Theater just past mile 10. We’ll be approaching the theater from a different direction this year, and almost at the end of that five mile climb that started just before the Texas Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. The Granada has always been a highlight of the course, with bands, crowds and spirited spectators – soak up some of that energy to carry you to the half marathon point!
This year’s half marathon point comes just before you finally reach White Rock Lake. The final approach to the lake will take you through some shopping areas near mile 12, and drop you off for your four mile stint along the shore. We’ll be running a shorter stretch of the lake than before, with the shore to our right as we pass several landmarks along it including Winfrey Point at mile 17. You’re now down to “single digits” as you work your way toward the finish with only 9 miles to go, but the view of downtown from the lake may be just as discouraging as it is encouraging. Now is the time to dig deep; you’ve got some beautiful neighborhoods to run through up ahead, and if you’ve run the Dallas Marathon in past years, you’ll be in familiar territory for the next few miles.
As you exit the lake, you’ll run a brief stretch of flat road before encountering your final major challenge of the day: the Dolly Parton Hills. One of the most famous (or infamous) offerings of the Dallas Marathon course, the Dolly Parton hills are two short but very steep hills in quick succession just past mile 19. The good news? Dolly Parton impersonators, Hooters girls and cheerleaders are on-hand to distract your thoughts and cheer you up those hills. The not-so-good news? You actually continue on a climb (though not as severe) up Swiss Avenue until mile 21 – so dig deep, listen to your pace leader’s encouragement and instruction, and keep focused on your goal. You’ll be running through some truly beautiful areas now, rich with history and lined with beautiful homes. Take some time to breathe deeply, look around, and enjoy the scenery in spite of your fatigue. You’re getting so close – don’t let go of it now!
Starting at about mile 24, the number of spectators, bands and crowds should be picking up. You’ll be on the outskirts of downtown now, waiting to see that downtown skyline for the third and FINAL time. Your new finish line takes you onto Young Street with exactly one mile to go; now you can see the skyline and all you have to do is get to it. As you work your way to the final turn to the finish line at the Convention Center, take a moment to congratulate yourself not just on your race, but on the months of hard work and sacrifice you put into this effort. Congratulations – you did it!