At first glance, the location of the Cape Cod Marathon may be a bit of a let-down to out-of-towners expecting to be running on the arm of the Cape out towards Provincetown. But technically, the Cape really starts around Plymouth, so the Cape Cod Marathon course is indeed on Cape Cod!
I ran this race in 2012. I figured I may as well get a North America marathon actually in my own name (see Marine Corps review for that story), and I may as well do a cool "local" race while living in New England!
The race is a Boston qualifier, but I have heard many people say it's a challenging course due to elevation changes. Yes, there are certainly plenty of rolling hills because it's New England, and that's how we roll (Ha ha). The most dramatic rise that sticks out in my memory was up to a lighthouse during a really cool section of the race that was right along the beach. But it was no mountain and even if you walked to the top, it would only add a couple minutes to your time. I thought the terrain kept the race fun and interesting; the scenery was beautiful through gorgeous rural neighborhoods and along the beach and through quaint Cape towns. Some sections were very wooded and therefore shady, while others were exposed to the elements. A hurricane was brewing just off the coast and hit us a couple days after the race, so I did not have to contend with sun, and I was pleasantly surprised that the wind was not an issue on the open, unprotected sections of road.
The race is chip timed, which is always good even though it's not a huge crowd. The finish location was ideal because you come right down main street in Falmouth, so the crowds are great. Otherwise, there isn't much crowd support to speak of. Sure, some dedicated fans will drive to various points along the route to cheer for their runners, and folks manning water and aid stations also vocalize their support. There were a couple random musicians, which was pretty cool, but I'm pretty sure they staged because they felt like it and not because the race organizers asked them to participate.
The check-in and start process went smoothly. Support during the race was adequate with the exception of toilet facilities. There simply were not enough toilets located along the route, which meant for a significant wait whenever you needed to stop -- bad for time and achy muscles!
My main complaint with Cape Cod Marathon was the finish. I crossed the finish line, received a medal and a foil blanket, and then had to go wandering for at least five minutes before I found water bottles stashed on a table. And that was it! There was NOTHING else at the finish line; no energy drinks, no bagels, no bananas, none of the usual immediate-post-race snacks or support. No volunteers providing guidance to the tired and delirious runners, no direction towards waiting areas to meet up with your family or friends, nothing pointing back towards the registration tents and parking. It was really bizarre. It made the race seem extremely small-time and unprofessional, which I simply was not expecting and which completely turned me off. I ran a great race, and I enjoyed the course a lot, but I don't think I'll be returning for a second experience.