WE ASKED PAST RUNNERS THEIR THOUGHTS ON THE COURSE ELEVATION:
"The Eau Claire Marathon Course helps different muscles to be used and that definitely helps prevent earlier cramping or the repetitive fatigue from overly using the same exact muscles and stride over a pancake flat course. Where that might be nice in shorter races, it's a nice "change of pace" to have some variability in the marathon distance. I noticed that in Lakefront that after running flat for so long, and then hitting a few slight grades at the end I couldn't adjust as well. At Eau Claire you take care of the harder hilly miles early in the first half when you're fresh and then boom turn back around onto the bike path around Mile 15 and are rewarded with fast negative split miles all the way to 21... a nice long gradual downhill which saves you for the last 10k feeling stronger than normal. Also... good practice for the hills in Boston ;) plus who doesn't like a little extra challenge!"
- David (Three Time EAU CLAIRE MARATHON WINNER AND RECORD COURSE HOLDER)
I did a quick map of the course and it says there are less than 800 feet of climbing. For a comparison, State Street Hill is 100 feet in 0.35 miles (versus 800 feet over 26 miles.). -Matt (UWEC Distance Running Class Professor)
The course sets up perfectly to roll fast! 💨 The hills come early on in the race and the crowd seems to know where they are needed to push you. Plan to negative split and save a strong kick for the finish! The final hill is of no concern as you can hear the announcer and crowd. There is no shortage of encouragement and pushing when you have that kind of support! Overall, great course for a PR with impeccable views along the way! - Andrew (Half Marathon Pacer)
I would consider the course a relatively flat and "fast" course. The hill near the finish is relatively short, about 3/10ths of a mile. There is one other hill mid course that can be a little bit of a challenge, but nothing compared to Summit Ave, and the hill just after St. Thomas on the TCM course, which drags on for miles at the end of the race. Grandma's is what I would consider a bit of a "faster" course with almost no hills with the exception of lemon drop. Lemon drop is much longer, and at mile 21 is a tough part of the race as well. Good BQ course for anyone who is in good enough condition to make a run for it in the spring! - Mike (Eau Claire Marathon Pacer)
It's not Chicago flat, but it's flat"ish" - Kelli (Eau Claire Marathon Pacer)
Overall I thought the Eau Claire course is less hilly than Twin Cities. The hill at the end of Eau Claire did not seem as bad as the St Thomas hill. Twin Cities has hills people don't remember around Lake Harriet. Then the hill along Summit is a low grade but last for over 2 miles. I think a short steep hill is much easier to manage. I don't really believe in negative splits as it has never worked out for me. But the hill at the end of Eau Claire would not really impact a negative splitter in my opinion. - Cary (Minnesota Runner)
And don't forget the Musical Mile the last mile of the race to help runners charge up that final hill and finish strong!
I can't speak of our full course (I've only run the hill behind the airport in training), but I think the hardest stretch is the hill leading up to the high bridge and the continued climb immediately on the other side. But, you get a nice downhill right after headed to the North Xing. Fortunately this is early on when legs are still fresh. The final hill leading into Carson isn't bad and by then you can hear the finish line. But like Mike, I think the timing of ECM hills make it a friendlier (not sure that's the right word) course than TCM. - Heather (Eau Claire Native and Local Runner/Pacer)
Perfectly honest course. Not a pancake but certainly not challenging. The few 1-2 minute stretches of incline (before high bridge, after high bridge, before airport, before the bike path) I remember are easily knocked out in the first 15 miles when it should be a joyride anyways. Hit the bike path and it's a long downhill build to the finish ... more fans, more screaming, more everything. The last hill is 1/4 mile within the last half mile, but you're already tasting your post-race brat & beer by then. Twin Cities is much more rolling throughout and a much longer (3-4 mile) uphill grind to the finish. Love em both! - Adam (Local Runner)