Staying at the host hotel (Marriott in Napa), we hit the Expo on Saturday to get our bibs, etc. While we were at the Expo, Dean Karnazes came by to sign his book. He ran from his house in San Francisco to the Expo in Napa to give a presentation. Afterwards, he was going to run to the start of the marathon. He was then supposed to run the actual marathon and then run back to his house. I'm guessing his mileage was about 100 miles each way. Looks like he beat my time:
529 Dean Karnazes San Francisco, CA 3:51:26.0 Men 40 to 44
Up at 4:30am, we caught the bus to the start. Unfortunately, our bus driver got lost on the way. Fearing we would be late and miss the start, everyone's stress level was quite high. Eventually, the bus driver was able to find her way to Highway 29 and then to Calistoga. We arrived about 6:30 and barely had enough time to stretch, check in our sweat bags and head to the start. At the 7am start, the weather was in the mid 30's, strong winds at about 20 mph and clear skies.
With 2300 participants (no half, full marathon only) it took a minute or so to cross the starting line (no chips for this race) and a mile or two for the crowds to thin out. Following the Silverado Trail, we had great shade and a tailwind for much of the race. The canter of the road changed quite a bit as we followed the twists and turns of the asphalt which kept us constantly looking for the flat part of the road.
We hit the first half at 2:06, which was pretty much on pace. The first 5 miles of the race has some decent hills, but nothing like Mile 17 at the Portland Marathon. As the sun rose, the temperature got pretty warm, hitting ~70 degrees (F) at the finish. Unlike CIM, I never did hit the wall, which I attribute to being aggressive on fluid intake and Gu every 4 miles. The race is remote in many spots so the crowds are fairly sparse. That said, there were many people cheering at the end, which really helped push us across the line.
Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:
Organization - Accurate mile markers, aid stations where they were supposed to be and plenty of support. Grade: A
Course - Beautiful course, extremely scenic. Grade: A
Aid-stations - Well staffed and stocked. Grade: A
Swag - Long sleeve, dri-fit shirt, nice medal.. Grade: A
Post-race food (new category) - Hot soup (not so good on a hot day), yogurt (?), rolls, bananas and oranges. Grade: C-