OAKLAND -- After complaints following the inaugural Oakland Marathon in March, race organizers said they have revised the course to make it more scenic and to allow traffic to flow more smoothly.
Oakland had been without a marathon for 25 years when Corrigan Sports Enterprises of Baltimore organized the marathon, half-marathon, 5K run and marathon relay last March. It was successful, bringing in about 6,200 runners and pumping about $1.95 million into the city.
In 2011, the event will take place March 27 and again will start and finish at City Hall. There will be a 5K on March 26 that will, for a change, head out from downtown and finish at Jack London Square.
This year's races sold out and were well-supported by spectators -- from the Raider Nation to people dressed as giant M&Ms, to Mark Curry from "Hanging with Mr. Cooper," to the thousands who lined the course to cheer, sing and clap for runners.
But the races were not without their problems. Motorists in West and East Oakland and drivers exiting the Posey Tube from Alameda complained about traffic snarls, wait time to get past runners and a lack of a public awareness campaign about the event.
In 2011, the first eight miles of the marathon will remain the same, but instead of running down Mountain Boulevard, participants will veer onto La Salle Street before heading onto Trafalgar Place, which turns into Monterey Boulevard. They will make a right on Lincoln Avenue, and take in a sweeping view of Oakland.
"That was done strictly as a traffic flow issue because, apparently, that area got jammed up, which was brought to our attention by police,'' said Corrigan Sports founder Lee Corrigan.
Near mile 12, runners will go left onto Nicol Avenue before making a right at Coolidge Avenue and left to get to Foothill Boulevard. Runners will also go down 42nd Street instead of High Street. The last change occurs near Lake Merritt, where barriers will run down Harrison Street, cross West Grand Avenue and take the path around the lake before getting back on Grand. From there, runners will make a right on MacArthur Boulevard and a right on Lakeshore Avenue and head to the finish at City Hall.
Corrigan said there will also be a much bigger community outreach and education program in 2011.
"The simple solution is an education program as opposed to redoing the entire course," he said. "There is also going to be more education for people coming out of Alameda tunnels. They came out and it was very close to where the merge of the (marathon and half marathon), and people didn't know where to turn."
There will be printed signs and flashing lighted signs to alert motorists about how to proceed with the fewest delays, he said.
Race organizers said the changes will also make the course more scenic.
"We want everyone, including the Oakland citizens who won't be running in the event, to know we listened to their feedback from 2010. The new course is even more scenic than last year's version as we run through more neighborhoods and closer to Lake Merritt. And going down Monterey rather than Mountain should lessen the impact of the 'dreaded' hills in Montclair," said race director Gene Brtalik.
For more details, go to www.oaklandmarathon.com.