An Investigation Into Yelp Reviews of Major Marathons
Being the man of the people that I am, the website Yelp is my favorite website on the internet. For too long, faceless mom and pop shops across this country have been able to pollute the airways with only their side of the story, making outlandish and unchecked claims along the lines of:
“Best cup of coffee in town”
“Spiciest hot sauce this side of the Mississippi”
“Biggest pancakes in the universe”
“Best tacos served in a former Pizza Hut”
“Quit asking us to write a joke on your pizza box, those people on Reddit are liars”
What a load of garbage. Mom and Pop shops are hardly run by moms and/or pops anymore. More often than not, they’re run by opportunistic liars who only appeal to your nostalgia as a trick to lure you into their establishment. This has gone on for too long.
Yelp solves that problem. It is the working man’s check on the tyranny of small businesses across America and like most check and balance systems, it is grossly unequal. Didn’t like the way your waiter looked at you? Yelp it. Running store didn’t sell tennis shoes? Yelp it. Kiosk at the mall wouldn’t give you a discount? Yelp it. Don’t understand the concept of wholesale vs. retail pricing? Say it with me now: YELP. IT. BABY.
But Yelp isn’t just for restaurants and shops. Apparently, it’s for major marathons as well. Using a significant amount of internet sleuthing, I was able to find my favorite 1 and 2-star reviews of major American marathons. Join me, if you will, as we celebrate the unwashed masses of this great country and the things they thought were important enough to complain about on the internet.
(Editor’s note: thinking something is important enough to complain about on the internet is not setting a very high bar)
“Reasons I will never run the LA Marathon again:
1. The race starts around 8 a.m. So unless you plan on finishing the race by 10 a.m., prepare to be scorching hot.
2. Weird religious men with megaphones, preaching sermon to the crowd at the starting line. Oh so crowded, no where to escape from weird religious preaching men
3. It is NOT a scenic race. I recall a very long stretch of pinatas and taco trucks.
4. Super big hill around mile 22. Now, that was just mean.
5. Two people died during this race. A man on my shuttle bus passed out and had to be taken away by paramedics.
I don’t recommend this race unless you enjoy the heat, hills, lack of scenery, 20,000 people most of which are high schoolers and weird religious preacher men.”
If you aren’t Kipchoge trying to break two hours, you’re going to melt. Not worth it. Ignoring his issue with the “weird religious men,” why is he hating on taco trucks?
“Volunteered (or attempted to) for this event. Worst I’ve attended. Horrible organization, hard to find entrance and volunteer booth. I gave up and chilled in the stadium looking at the diamond for a couple of hours. Looks fun to run though.”
He couldn’t do any volunteer work so he just stared at a baseball field for a couple hours? I can’t believe that MLB is worried that they’re losing the millennial audience.
“Sad to spend all the money on marketing,manpower,hype on a light show and have it be on for 1 hour only 3/13 Friday not on Sat too ….only thing I can say another fucked up thing that’s shows we are behind being world class anything. Billions of Dollars on tourism come into this city and we can’ t even light up the Hollywood Sign ..? Now lights coming back on get it together city of Los Angeles…don’t you have a watchs..Lasers more affective than cheap spotlights. What kind of special is two hours of lights in the sky..3,4,5,6 hours one day would have been something. Two day of this would really be better and special.”
I’ll have what he’s having.
“Not a well organized event, unless you count the lack of deaths by heart attack. Allowing walkers and 4:30 finishers to run in the second wave was ridiculous. I made the mistake of providing an honest estimate of my finishing time and spent the first hour and a half passing people who should have been starting behind me. The first 6 miles in the dark was also no fun, not being able to read many of the milage markers was even less of a thrill. 85 bucks is a lot of money to me and the drink and a bit of fruit at the end was not compensation. Very unimpressive event. I won’t be coming back.”
I think that the lack of people dying due to heart attacks should be something we applaud. I appreciate her giving the race a chance until the drink and fruit underwhelmed her. I really wonder how much fruit they could have given for her to have been impressed.
“If San Francisco regularly gets listed as one of the best cities in America for runners, why is this marathon so bad? Here are the five reasons why I actively discourage everyone I know from running the San Francisco marathon:
1. Stupid start time
The race starts at 5:30 a.m. What? Yes, that’s right: 5:30. (Boston starts at 9:30.) Is the early start time to avoid the heat? Of course not! This isn’t Honolulu–San Francisco has almost the exact same weather (62 and partly cloudy) almost year-round. There is almost ZERO chance runners will have to deal with extreme weather, so the stupid start time contributes to factor #2…
2. Crappy crowd support
Starting at 5:30 ensures that most runners will be done by the time locals are stumbling out in search of brunch. Unlike the great marathons (Boston, NY, Chicago, etc.), SF treats this one like a dirty little secret it doesn’t really want locals to support, so best get it over with as early as possible. So instead of the masses of cheering fans that you get at good marathons, here you have paltry, sporadic knots of people with big silent voids in between.
3. The blind leading the blind
Oh, and do people come to see the scenery? Not if it’s foggy (as is often is mornings time of year), when you’ll be starting and likely doing a lot of the race in the dark, with nothing but the sounds of hundreds of other shoes hitting the pavement coming through the mist.
4. Run for the hills
And of course nobody should come here thinking they’re going to run a PR, because the course–despite taking about the flattest route around the city they could find–still has 1,000 feet of elevation change. There’s a reason why none of the top elites run this race; you’ll notice that winning times here are ~25 minutes slower than at any respectable marathon.
5. Sissy support from the city
Unlike a legit marathon where they simply block off the course from traffic for a set period of time, San Francisco can’t bear to overly inconvenience tourists, early-morning churchgoers, or whomever else needs to be driving around early on a Sunday morning. So they reroute runners at several points to parallel streets, which in addition to being annoying (you want to have to think about as few things as possible), also means you could get separated from someone you’re running with, as happened to me when I got a little ahead of my friend and then he got diverted onto the other street.
One star for the decent t-shirt, well-organized bag drop, and decent finish line food.
P.s. you want a California marathon Boston qualifier? Do Santa Rosa–flat, scenic, and almost as many spectators in a town 1/20 the size of SF.”
Is it possible to hold an event with over 25k participants in a major American city and keep it a dirty little secret?
“Having been to a number of the Chicago Marathons previously and enjoying them immensly, I was super disappointed in the recent layout changes at this year’s 2011 event. One of my biggest enjoyments is watching the runners see the finish line and just the joy in knowing they will see their loved ones soon, being able to cheer them on at the last leg of their grueling journey….none of that was achievable this year – I couldn’t enjoy the runners-couldn’t get close to the finish line-i think this marathon is exclusively for the runners – not the spectators. Very disappointed.”
A marathon for the runners? Why won’t anyone think of the spectators?!
“Call me a colossal jerk, but this marathon frustrates me. I always forget about it until I come across the barricades and traffic that accompanies this wonderful event. I really do admire the athletic people that run though, 5 stars to them.”
Fine, I’ll say you’re a colossal jerk and add in that you suck at planning.
“The city of new York didn’t make any plans for how drivers were to get around. They just shut roads off with no warning no signs before the closures causing massive delays and jam packed highways. all this city does is find new and different ways to fuck over the taxpayers”
This is a one-star review of a marathon but also reads as a 5-star Glassdoor review of working as a city planner in New York.
“I really hate this marathon. It prevents me from doing simple things like going to the market, taking my dogs to doggy day care, and getting food delivered to my home. I live off first avenue in the 60s and it’s horrendous. What’s the point??”
I don’t know New York City very well so I don’t know where it is she’s talking about, but I really want to know why she’s going to the market if she’s getting food delivered. Also god forbid she spends a day with her dogs.
“I have nothing against the Boston Marathon, except for the fact that it should be held on a Sunday, and not a Monday. Sure, the city has concocted this phony “Patriots Day” holiday, but unless you are a government employee, there’s a better than average chance that you have to work on Marathon Monday.
The ever-cantankerous Howie Carr of the Boston Herald writes a rip-job of the marathon every year, bemoaning the fact that the city is shut down on a weekday for the sake of a bunch of narcissistic runners. Always a classic. Anyway, this would be a 5 star review if they switched it to Marathon Sunday.”
I’m going to make a prediction here and don’t tell me I’m wrong because I know I’m right. This guy works in retail. Also, narcissistic runners? Your city shuts down every few years so a borderline psychopath with a model for a wife and his friends can have a parade.
“1st 2012 Boston Marathon Review.
Thanks for shutting down my street, I had to wait in front of someone’s oversized driveway in Newton for an hour until I could drive into Brighton where I live to park my car.
I got to watch the last hour of the marathon perched atop of my car. The stragglers were all walking, c’mon people actually live here and need to get home to tend to their dogs, eat dinner, and rest after a long day.
Run or get off my street.
I gave it two stars because the weather was nice and the people that were still out in Newton at 4pm were cheering on every runner that passed by.
Respect to the runners-85 degrees and still chugging.”
“Run or get off my street” sounds like a mix between Clint Eastwood’s character in Gran Torino and Donald Sutherland as Bill Bowerman.
“Taking over public streets in the name of charity and supporting the community is disingenuous and genius at the same time. It’s genius because how can you be against it? It’s disingenuous because it is a thorn in the side of the majority of Austinites for the sake of two companies 3M and Austin Marathon. 3M doesn’t get the money but they get the publicity, and Austin Marathon makes a nice chunk of change for the “company” founded to run it. But still I don’t care that they have these races. I just care where they have them. There are literally hundreds of miles of roads around Austin for them to run, but they have to block the driveways of some of us, the businesses of many of us, and the roads that belong to all of us.”
I started to buy into the anti-corporate populist message but then I realized this is someone pissed off that it affects them and not other people. I’m surprised this Yelp review didn’t ask to speak with the Austin Marathon’s manager.
“Blocking traffic halfway across the busiest parts of Austin LATE SUNDAY MORNING and early afternoon?
You’ve got to be kidding me.”
People just really like to complain about start times.
“I’m glad Veronica enjoyed the Marathon. However, I have a completely different viewpoint as a resident of Las Vegas.
On Sundays, I leave home early to place football bets at various casinos including the Hilton. You have to beat the kickoffs because your full game bets cannot be placed afterwards although you still be on the second half.
I was heading down Sahara and came to a screeching halt because Las Vegas Boulevard was closed. I eventually was able to turn around but could not make it to the Hilton.
When I tried to get home I found that I was cut off again. I am in the Summerlin area and Sahara, Charleston, Alta, Washington and Lake Mead were all blocked off to the West.
There were no signs posted ahead of time and my girlfriend couldn’t find anything in the Sunday paper for an alternate route. I was just blocked off.
I now hate the Marathon and the public works idiots that kept me from making my bets and kept me from getting home. If you were at last year’s Nascar event you will remember that they closed off a lane while everybody was trying to get out in their overheating RVs.
I propose that we have a separate Marathon event for those responsible for planning this one. It would be run in the sewers beneath the streets of Las Vegas and afterwards we will seal them off with a small dynamite charge.”
Now, this is how you drive home a populist message that connects with the masses.
“I’m sorry to deviate here from these reviews, but this was the worst race I’ve ever run for several reasons. I had my personal best in this race, but I still have to be honest about the race itself.
First, the corporate sponsorship resulted in a cluster*&^% at the end.
You end up at Sea World (sponsor), NOWHERE NEAR the start of the race. Sure, you can take a shuttle to a trolley, but that is how each of the 27,000 participants is getting home as well. Which resulted in thousands of people avoiding the 50 swtitchbacked-lines in the parking lot for the shuttles to WALK to the trolley station (30 min in the hot sun). Once you get the trolley station, those same thousands of people are there waiting with you too. UNBELIEVABLE. There was no other way to get out, other than to be picked up by a friend/family member, who would have had to wait in absurd traffic to even get to the Sea World gate.
Least scenic route I’ve ever run. Angled roads, running on a freeway, then down Friars Road????
Someone needs to reevaluate what these races are about: raising money for a good cause, and having a fun, easy to get to/from race. I paid $105 to run 13.1 miles, and then spend 2.5 grueling hours trying to get home. Not what races should be like.
I would never run this race again.”
How dare a 26.2-mile race finish somewhere else?
“The whole thing was very disorganized. They didn’t have many porta potty’s. And I saw a Marathon participant defecating right on the sidewalk. Not worth it.”
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