Being a Kansas girl I have definitely run the Kansas City Marathon! (Also called the Waddle and Reed Marathon) Not just once but actually 4 times! Yes I love the marathon but my desire to run it 4 times was also spurred on by ulterior motives.
Kansas City is about 2 hours from my hometown. I ran the marathon race in my 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade years of high school. The marathon is always scheduled on a Saturday and so my mom and my sisters would make a weekend of it. We booked rooms for Friday and Saturday night at either the Westin or the Sheraton (formerly the Hyatt) which are right next to each other and literally right where the race begins and ends.
Friday night was always usually a little bit hard for me as my mom and sisters would indulge in chocolate, cookies, and other unhealthy delicacies along with staying up until all hours of the night while I nibbled on cold pasta and energy bars and tried (usually in vain) to get to sleep at a decent time.
But come Kansas City Marathon race day morning I was ready for one of the best parts of the weekend. Yes, actually running! Many runners stay at the Hyatt or Westin and so upon descending from my room the lobby was always swarming with healthy, fit, excited looking runners.
Since the KC marathon is in October it can be a little bit nippy at the beginning of the race so many people stay inside the lobby until a couple of minutes before the race begins. Yes, it's really that close to the starting line!
I would usually head outside with my mom about 5-7 minutes before the race actually began. The pace groups are always very easy to find so no problem there. Of course the euphoria of the crowd is quite catching and those few moments before the beginning are some of the best.
The Sheraton and the Westin are also connected by a covered walkway so you really don't even have to leave your hotel if you are staying at one of the two!
The race begins and ends at the Crown Center area of Kansas City. Remember that this Kansas City marathon is in Missouri so don't think that it is going to be one flat stretch of heaven. There are definitely some rolling hills. That adds to the race experience though, right? Overall however the race directors have done an excellent job with keeping this a very fast marathon course.
The first couple of miles are run in the downtown area of KC. There are usually a couple of bands playing a long the way adding to those exciting and anxious first miles as the rest of the city is just waking up.
After coming out of downtown KC the course takes you through some lovely residential areas and then mixes it up between commercial and residential scenery until finally it takes you back to Crown Center and the frenzy of the finish line.
The bands along the way really add to the festive vibe of this marathon. I have never ran in a marathon where the volunteers and spectators weren't friendly and supportive and this was no exception. If you like a moderate amount of spectators than the KC marathon supplies this. Several times especially in the residential areas we were offered bananas and gummy bears and other fuel sources from people who would sit outside their homes and watch the runners run by.
There are several port-a-potties located at various points. Gu gels are offered and fruit along with the standard Gatorade and water option.
I love how the finish of this marathon is spectacular in its own way. About 0.2 miles from the end of the finish line you turn a corner and begin to run a slight downhill to the finish.
What is great about it is that you have a clear shot of the finish line. There is a long chute with people on either side cheering you on and the sense of accomplishment on seeing and then crossing the finish line only impacts you all the more.
After your chip is taken off your shoe and you are given your beautiful medal you are wrapped up in a heat blanket and free to proceed to the "Finish Line Festival". Here they serve food, free massages, another free finishers t-shirt and lots of high-fives!
The KC Marathon officially called the "Waddle and Reed Kansas City Marathon" has a wheelchair marathon, marathon, half marathon, relay marathon and a 5K. Having all of these distance options is a great way to get everyone in your family involved and makes for a really fun running weekend with runners of all different levels.
It is USAT&F certified and is a Boston Qualifier!
The event brings in about 12,000 runners and about 2,000 of those are marathoners.
Walkers are also welcome!
As I have been saying, booking rooms in the Crown Center area is by far the best and most convenient option since you will have parking taken care of and will be situated literally right on the Kansas City Marathon start line!Your two Crown Center options are: Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center or The Westin Crown Center
There are many other wonderful hotels in the KC area but for the extra money, the convince of not having to drive to the start/finish line and the ease of the expo location staying at either the Sheraton or The Westin are way more than worth it.
Crown Center - the heart of the marathon action, start and finish line - offers a variety of shopping and fine dining options. There are also several museums one being the largest WWI museum with the liberty monument.
Flying in? The Kansas City International Airport is on the edge of the city. Rent a taxi or hop on a shuttle to get to your hotel.
Count the Kansas City Marathon in on your list of marathons to run!