RaceGrader - Authentic Race Reviews - Swim, Bike, Run

RACE REVIEWS

Posted by: on December, 27 2011

Here is a sampling of some recent reviews published on RaceGrader.  We encourage past participants to share their race experiences to help other athletes prepare for upcoming events.  Tips on the course, where to park, the registration process, etc...can all be very helpful.  To write or read a review of a particular race, just type the name of the race into “Find A Race” on the right side of this page.  Keep Racing!

Review of Great Donut Run by shauna

We had so much fun last year and are looking forward to running for donuts again this year. This was a great course and friendly for any level of runner/walker. The bling was pretty cool with a fun t-shirt and well made finisher medal and let's not forget about the donut hole you get during the race and donut you get to chow down on after the race, yum. This event was very well organized. I recommend this event for everyone.

Review of Veterans Day Run - San Diego by mariemadeline

This race was by far the most unorganized race I have ever done. I participated in the race on November 8, 2014, but this listing if for last year's run. They did not give clear driving directions, and there was not enough parking for the runners. The post race was very lacking and the race crew was not very helpful when asked any questions. They advertised that the race was chip timed, and I had asked if there was a time limit, but they told me there wasn't. They did, however, stop recording race times at 45 minutes, even though there were still some participants that had not completed the race, and I was one of those participants. I e-mailed and messaged for 4 days, but received no response of any kind. I will never participate in a race organized by Race Operations, Inc., also known as Heavenly Racing. This company has an F rating at the BBB for not responding to any complaints. Stay away!

Review of LA Chinatown Firecracker 5K, 10K, Kiddie Run by coishi

I love this race. I did the 5k in 2013 and the 10k in 2014. They made a few changes from 2013 to 2014 that really improved the value of your race fee. In 2013 I would've given the race a B-/C+, but in 2014 it's gotten bumped up to an A. Since it's a nonprofit race run by volunteers, the race fee is much lower than other 5k or 10ks in Los Angeles, which I like. A big complaint in 2013 was the medals, and the race organizers heard the feedback loud and clear. While I'm not the type of runner who really runs for a medal, I will say they substantially upgraded this year. They went from medals that were the size of a silver dollar to medals that were the size of your palm. And the designs were much better too. If you're someone who goes for the "bling" this medal will definitely be one you'll like. It's one of the nicer medals I have. Another big complaint in 2013 were the shirts. They went to tech shirts in 2013, but the fit was rather weird and was small on a lot of people. This year they went back to cotton shirts, but rather than the generic Hanes beefy T's a lot of races give out, this was a premium cotton bamboo blend on par with an American Apparel shirt. And the design was really nice, so much so that I actually wear the shirt regularly. Onto the race itself. The 5k course is basically a run from Chinatown up to Dodger Stadium and back. While there's definitely an incline to get up to Dodger Stadium, it's manageable. The 10k course. Man. It's a beast, but worth it. It takes you from Chinatown up to Elysian Park and takes you up to the top of Elysian Park. It's not easy, but man is that view worth it. Breathtaking views of Los Angeles at the top, a nice overview of Dodger Stadium, Downtown LA, and since it's early in the morning and pretty clear it's quite nice. The first mile is fairly flat, but miles 2 & 3 are basically entirely uphill so you'll really feel the burn. I did some incline training to prepare but still got by butt kicked. Miles 4 & 5 are basically entirely downhill, and mile six is flat with a rolling hill or two. Pre course- I always just pick up my packed the morning of. Well organized and easy. Parking is the standard parking in downtown LA routine. You will have to pay to park in a lot, but if you've ever been to downtown LA you know there is no such thing as free parking in downtown and roll with it. I love the race opening festivities. Before the start of the races they light of a few thousand firecrackers and have dragon dancers. Race itself- I like that the 5k and 10k have staggered start times. Often when doing an event that offers both a 5k and 10k they have them start at the same time and you'll get clogged up with 5k walkers slowing you down. 5k starts half an hour before the 10k so it helps immensely. Still a bit of a logjam for the first quarter mile due to sheer volume of people, but it spreads out pretty quickly. There are taiko drummers playing along the course as you head out of Chinatown towards either Dodger Stadium or Elysian Park on both the 5k and 10k courses, so that's fun as they are drumming right when you start to climb hills. The taiko drummers are also there right as you are coming down the final hill for both courses too to bring you home. Nice touch to get you pumped. Overall It's very well organized, good course support, and good support from the local community. A lot of people cheering along the course and well stocked water stations. Post race festival is less health/fitness expo you get at most runs and more cultural celebration, which I like. Stage has different dancers and singers to enjoy. And since you're in Chinatown, awesome food options too. I like going for dim sum afterwards, it's actually what motivates me as I run. I just thing to myself... 4 more miles to dim sum, 3 more miles to dim sum, etc. After trying out the 5k and 10k course, I'll definitely be making this an annual thing... although only doing the 10k course if I have time to do incline training to take on that beast.

Review of Father Joe's Thanksgiving Day 5K by

For a race that is really a family friendly "do-good feel good" race -- they do a GREAT job of making sure all the expected race day quality is still there for safety, timing, organizing. Great blues band to listen to afterwards and YES order a pie from the Academy kitchens for your holiday meal. Agree that the start is chaotic. Keep working on separating the walkers and strollers from the runners -- but hey -- be Thankful you are healthy and out there on such a beautiful course.

Review of Lexus LaceUp Running Series - Riverside by kcass

Nice location, but parking lot was 3/4 mile away, so better to park on streets in neighborhood surrounding park. Published start time info was not accurate. Poor course markings for 10K, 5K seemed well marked. Nice shirt and participant medal, brunch trucks and beer garden were great. Packet pickup was too far away from race venue and very inconvenient for those in the areas south/west of Riverside.

Review of Surfing Madonna 5K/10K and 10 Mile Beach Run by Lawlass485

This is going on my list of must do races. I did the 10K. It's a beautiful location, fun course, well organized event, plenty of food, water and parking (free). The medal is BEAUTIFUL! The 12:30 pm start time was perfect for driving there on the day of, parking, picking up my bib and shirt, visiting vendors. grabbing a snack and then having time to go back to my car, put everything away and get ready to run. It's an A+ Event

Review of Orange County Turkey Trot by jeffcar1

Used to run the Dana Point race up until a few years ago, as it just got way too large. Parking, and logistics make for a long day for Thanksgiving. When I heard about this one, so close to home, smaller field, and less expensive, I decided to give it a try. For an inaugural race, it was put on very well, sure it started late, mainly due to a lot of people who just showed up because they couldn't get into the larger race down south. Even with the late start though, I was still able to get home far earlier than if I had done Dana Point. The course was flat and fast, great tee-shirts, medals, pie and other freebies after the race. I will definitely be back next year and I am sure they will be more than ready for an even larger field next year.

Review of Long Beach International Marathon/Half/5K by kjensen16

I ran the Long Beach half last year and loved the course so I thought I would run my 1st full marathon this year here. Expo: The expo is great! Very well organized. They are ready to take on any problem that you might have as well. They were very quick getting our bibs and shirts to us. The shirts were not the best shirts that Long Beach has had. Really really really did not like that they were white, but the sea shell design on the side was nice. They were also shaped a bit odd. The official merchandise store had quite a large selection of stuff. Loved the hats this year. The expo itself was huge. It really does make OC's expo look funny. It is very spacious and has pretty much all the vendors that you could possibly want. Pre Race: The marathon does not have half as many people as the half marathon so everything is pretty easy for the pre race. It was quick to drop off our stuff at the UPS vans and there were plenty of port o johns with no lines at all. The runners village was pretty great too. It gave our group a great spot to set up camp. It was a great place for our group to meet up before and after the race. Course: The marathon starts off at 6am with the Voice of America's Marathons, Rudy Novotny! The course goes through parts of downtown Long Beach then goes up and over the bridge to the other side of the bay. Then you come back and run on the bike path on the beach. The marathon was not as packed as the half was last year on this part, but the bike path does get very crowded. I would not suggest running on the sand either. From the beach you head north through the neighborhoods as you make your way up to CSULB. There are some pretty interesting houses to look at. The crowd support was awesome! People were setting up aid stations right out of their own house. There were also people all over the place handing out bananas, oranges and candy. These were not people that were associated with the race themselves, just some amazing people cheering on the runners. The aid stations were great too. I believe there were 24 stations all together with one being about every mile or so. You leave the neighborhood streets for a bit when you get onto Atherton. From there you go through Cal Stat Long Beach. Lots of students out cheering you on! Then you start your way back. Running down Ocean was one of my favorite parts of this race (even though I drive it every day to work). It is a beautiful way to finish up a great race. Nice big houses on your right and the ocean on your left. The finish line is great with Rudy calling all the runners in. Post race: We were given the best medal I've ever gotten. Since this was the 30th anniversary it was a special seashell medal. I really love it. We were given a water and a bag full of snacks. We did not finish this race very quickly at all so there were no foil blankets by the time we got there, which I was bummed about. Not a big thing. The beer garden was alright. Just make sure you get over there before 1pm when it closes. Spectators: I had my family and friends that wanted to be out on the course for me. The best place that I found for spectators that want to view their runners more than once and not have to move around is right by the start/ finish line. They can send off their runner at the start line, walk across the grass and see their runner at about mile 6.5 (half and full). Then if they walk up shoreline drive a little bit they can see their runner cross the finish line. Other great spectator spots that would be reasonably easy to get to is up by Cal State Long Beach and over on 7th street by Blair field at recreation park. Overall a great race! I'll run at least the half next year for sure!

Review of Great Donut Run by belindakcarter

Such a fun race! Loved the donut holes and whip cream shooters on the course! I'll be at the next one!

Review of Lexus LaceUp Running Series - Palos Verdes Half Marathon by seanrunsit

Starting out, getting registered looked like a nightmare as we walked over to the tents. However, once we got there, it became apparent that the volunteers were ready to get us in and out as efficiently as possible. Since there were also groups for the 5k and 10k, we were organized accordingly and made plans to pick up my shirt and bag after the race. At first this seemed annoying, but as my friend and I walked over to the course, we realized we really didn't want to deal with either of those things anyway, until after the race. The course itself was nice. Beautiful views and hills, which we knew going in from a few years prior. Glad to see that it kept most of the pleasantries of the old half in PV, while adding a few new twists and turns. After, the food was good and the expo hub was nice. Some of the exhibitors seemed a little questionable, but overall there were lots of people hanging out, drinking free Sierra Nevada beer, and eating the brunch (surprisingly pretty tasty!). Overall, I would definitely run this race again. Lots of amenities and it was easy. When things are easy I'm on board 100%.

Review of Skyborne Half Marathon by ashleyspotts

My favorite race to date. It was my second half marathon, & a wonderful experience. It was logistically difficult because all the average price hotels in the area are total dives & there are not many places to eat after. Coming from San Diego county, the drive is nice & not too long. The shirt we got is my go to long sleeve shirt:). All the swag was great! It was such a tiny race! Which I love. It felt intimate. The course is breathtaking. If you're looking for a unique landscape or love the desert, this is a MUST. We ran through the windmills, up to San Gregornio & all the surrounding hills. The sunrise was beautiful. The light broke through the hills like poetry as we ran. It started off cool enough then got VERY hot towards the middle-end. Train in the heat for this! It was well supported with GOOD tasting electrolytes & water. The volunteers were some of the nicest! It was nice T shaped course that was a little more interesting than a typical out & back because of the weird shape. All the miles were marked! Love that! It was mostly flat with some small sloping hills. I would definitely recommend this race. I hope to do it again myself!

Review of Lexus LaceUp Running Series - Ventura by Scott Devine

RACE: Lexus LaceUp Ventura DATE: October 24, 2015 DISTANCES: Half Marathon/10K/5K LOCATION: Ventura, CA  (Shoreline Park) START TIME: • 7:00 am Half/10K • 7:45 am 5K WEATHER AT START: 61 degrees Welcome to the second stop on the Lexus LaceUp 2015 race series. After an enjoyable jaunt last week in Irvine, the LaceUp crew found themselves gathering pre-dawn (daylight savings ends next week) at Promenade Park overlooking the ocean in scenic Ventura. REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP The entire Lexus LaceUp series offers very reasonable registration rates. For Ventura, the “earilest bird” rates started low ($25 for 5K, $45 for 10K, $70 for the half marathon) and increased as race day approached. But even for the latest of comers, the rates never got too high ($40 for 5K, $60 for 10K and $85 for the half marathon). On top of that, Lexus LaceUp offered plenty of online discounts (and some really nice ones too) so in the end the rates were quite light on the bank account. LaceUp Ventura offered packet pick-up the two days before the race at a local Roadrunner store (yours truly was there on Friday lending a hand to the crew), but also allowed same day pick-up (at no additional charge). TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Racers driving to Promenade Park had plenty of easy parking available at the Ventura Fairgrounds. The cost for parking was $5, which is rather reasonable given what some other races charge for parking at their races (talking to you Disney). T-SHIRT/MEDALS/SWAG For people running other races in the LaceUp series, the swag was familiar. The tech shirt was similar to the one given at Irvine, but the race location “Ventura” was printed on the sleeve. Racers also got another reusable shopping bag to carry their swag (I look forward to hitting Trader Joe’s with mine). Racers also received the cool “honeycomb” shaped finisher’s medal. The ribbon (green for 5K, blue for 10K and white for the half marathon) also listed the Ventura location on it. The race also served as another notch for those trying to achieve special challenge medals. Those people who run all 4 Lexus LaceUp races (Irvine, Ventura, Palos Verdes & Riverside) will earn a special “LaceUp Challenge” medal. And those people who ran the Ventura Marathon (back on Sep. 13th), LaceUp Ventura this past weekend and the upcoming Santa Barbara Half (Nov. 7th) will earn the special “805 Challenge” medal. Bring on the bling. And Runner Buzz was once again on hand, providing runners with free digital photos of the race. COURSE For LaceUp Ventura, each of the races shared common start and finish locations, as well as sharing parts of their courses. The 5K and 10K races utilized a loop course that began at Promenade Park and headed down the coast on surface streets before looping around and heading back up along the water. I ran the half marathon, which utilized a good chunk of the 10K course before continuing up (running parallel to the beach) along the oceanside bike path. The course then turned inland, utilizing a lengthy “out and back” route that followed the bike path, turning around at mile 8. We did cross a few streets during the course of the race, but police were present to ensure that traffic stopped to give the right-of-way to runners. According to the elevation charts, the half marathon course featured a slight upgrade as we headed inland (gaining about 120′ over three miles) and then back down after the turnaround. To be honest, I hardly noticed any incline, but after the turnaround I convinced myself mentally that I was indeed running downhill (a little bit of a “placebo” effect). Those people who have run other races in Ventura will definitely remember parts of the course, but who is going to complain about running near the ocean (a nice view). COURSE SERVICES The course services for the LaceUp Ventura were in keeping with those at the Irvine race. “Arrow” signs and volunteers were present at key points along the course to make sure that runners stayed on course. Water/electrolyte stops were present about every 2 miles (they served double duty on the out and back portions) with volunteers to make sure we stayed hydrated and to give some encouragement. Mile markers were present along the course but not digital timers except for at the finish line. Once again runners had B-tags on their bibs, which provided race results and info. People could also utilize the mobile “LaceUp app” for information about the race. FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY The finish line services and post party were reminiscent of the Irvine race, as runners got their medals, snacks and then could check out a few vendors (including the Lexus display) or get a complimentary massage. As for me, I made my way right to the food trucks and their free grub for runners. This time around I chose a spicy chicken quesadilla and washed it down at the beer garden with another brew provided by Sierra Nevada. RECOMMENDATION This was another enjoyable race in the Lexus LaceUp series (for the record, I am one of the Lexus LaceUp ambassadors). While these races don’t feature some of the polish or flash of the bigger (and more costly) races, these are intimate and informal affairs and worth the effort of waking up early and pounding some pavement.

Review of Rock N Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon by Scott Devine

RACE: Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon DATE: October 26, 2014 LOCATION: Downtown Los Angeles DISTANCES: Half Marathon/5K START TIME: 7:00am WEATHER AT START: 61°/ Partly Cloudy FINISHERS: 7762 (Half Marathon)/ 1264 (5K) This year marked the 5th running of the LA Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon as thousands of costume-clad Angelenos lined the streets near the Staples Center for a pre-Halloween romp through the city streets. REGISTRATION/EXPO As part of the Rock 'n' Roll series, registration costs for the LA Rock 'n' Roll Half tend to be on the higher side, but there are plenty of ways around paying out through the nose. Of course, first of all you can always pay as early as possible before rates go up. In addition, you could choose one of the group deals that Rock 'n' Roll offers, either the season pass or the 3-pack of races for $199 (the route I went this year). In addition, Rock 'n' Roll likes to give discounts through social media (check your FB page) and they typically run a $13 off special for all of their races on the 13th of each month. The expo for the race was held at the LA Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles. Convention Center parking was $10 and there are also plenty of nearby lots for you to choose from. I decided to stretch my legs a bit and parked a few blocks away, saving myself the parking cost and instead fed a meter for far less. The expo itself is a decent size, with plenty of vendors on hand for you to check out the latest racing gear, sample some of the running grub available or sign up for upcoming races. And once again, the main sponsor for this year's race was the ASPCA, so their paw prints were all over the expo as racers stepped up to show their support for our four-legged friends. NOTE: Runners had to pick up their own bibs; no exceptions. MEDALS/SHIRT/SWAG The LA Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon seems to have planted itself firmly on the weekend closest to Halloween, so "things that go bump in the night" have become an ongoing presence, blended with the series' Rock 'n' Roll theme. Racers voted for the medal this year (from three options), which features a guitar-riding witch sailing over the LA skyline complete with a giant spider web in the background. The design is a bit busy, but still a decent bit of bling complete with a Halloween-orange ribbon (yellow for the 5K). And the Rock 'n' Roll series does have additional bling for those people running multiple races this year, including the "Cali Combo" and their signature "heavy medals." Racers didn't get to vote on the tech shirt, which is a shame because this year's edition felt like a step backward from last year's cool design. The 2014 shirt is white in color (sorry, I'm just not a fan of white shirts... I feel it's lazy) and featured a gray muted mash-up design of musical notes, speakers, palm trees and a witch (remember, it's Halloween) overlaid by an orange-colored outline of the letters "LA." In my opinion, not one of their better shirts (give the racers a say next year, perhaps). Racers were also given a black drawstring backpack, which doubled as a gear check bag. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Since the race begins near the Staples Center, parking is not much of an issue (as long as you avoid the street closures) and racers can park at the convention center or one of the nearby lots. But be prepared to spend anywhere from $10-$20. I chose to take the Metrorail downtown, parking at the Universal City lot and grabbing the Red Line train to 7th Street (about 1/3 mile from the start area). Round trip only cost $3.50 ($1.75 each way, plus $1 if you need a TAP card) or you can purchase a day pass for $7. The trip for me only took about 30 minutes on the train, about the same as driving downtown and finding parking, plus it's pretty stress-free. COURSE The course was the same as last year, featuring a modified "Out & Back" route. Starting at the Staples Center you head south on city streets, looping around the LA Coliseum and making your way back past the Staples Center around mile 6. After that, you head north through the 2nd Street tunnel, along Figueroa and Flower before a back & forth across the popular 6th Street bridge and then back toward downtown and the finish. The course itself is mostly flat with the only true incline being on the 6th St. bridge (and you do get to run back down it). I once again had an issue with the length of the course, as it seemed to be longer than 13.1 miles (my GPS came in at almost 13.4). Be sure to cut corners as tight as etiquette allows and don't weave too much, if you want to make sure you don't add too much length. NOTE: Be aware that your GPS will almost certainly lose its connection during your two trips through the 2nd St. tunnel. Fortunately, my Garmin recalculated shortly after emerging both times. SERVICES LA Rock 'n' Roll typically has decent course services at their races. Plenty of porta-potties were on hand at the start line and there were adequate water/energy drink stops (Gatorade Endurance was the drink of choice for 2014) manned by energetic volunteers. Gu gels were given out around mile 9 on the course. I also saw plenty of medical tents along with support personnel cruising the course on bicycles. I did have an issue with one of the services, as I signed up for runner tracking (along with a friend or two) and no one received any text updates. Not sure if there was a ghost in the machine (remember, it's Halloween) system wide or just a glitch with mine. FINISH/POST PARTY Rock 'n' Roll races also tend to have good finish line/post race activities. After receiving my finisher's medal from a volunteer I made my way along the chute and received a decent array of snacks, including: water, chocolate milk, gatorade, tiny bags of snack mix and bananas. Once again, no bags on hand to carry our post-race bounty, but maybe they'll get it right next year. The post party was located near the exterior of the Nokia Theater and featured a stage with music and a Michelob Ultra beer tent (each 21+ racer got a ticket for a free post-race brew along with their bib). There were also a few other vendors around giving out some swag as well as Rock 'n' Roll tent where runners could grab some last minute race merchandise. RECOMMENDATION This was my second time running the LA Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon and it felt very similar (not in a bad way) to last year's race. I enjoy the runners in costumes as well as the downtown course. And while there is room for improvement... better job on the shirts next year please, it's a fun local race, well-organized and one that I plan to continue on an annual basis.

Review of Santa Monica RunFest by Scott Devine

In the City of Angels, people are known for changing their name (aka "rebranding") all of the time. Archibald Leach became Cary Grant. Sean Combs went from Puff Daddy to P. Diddy. And Prince became "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" (yup, for a while his name was symbol) and then thankfully finally went back to Prince. Well, having undergone an identity shift, the 8-year-old Santa Monica 5000 re-emerged this past Sunday as the newly christened Santa Monica RunFEST. I'm happy to say that even with the name change, the race retained its charm. With a myriad of distances to choose from: a 10K, 5K, untimed 5K "retro themed run," and a family friendly 3K, around 2000 people laced up their running shoes for some seaside scampering. This year I ran the 10K for the third time and joined 545 other finishers for a fun 6.2 mile jaunt through Santa Monica. REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP Registration fees for the race were rather reasonable, with the 10K costing between $40-$50 (depending on when you sign up) and numerous discounts were available online. And with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, I felt fine with opening up my wallet to support the cause. Packet pick-up was on Saturday afternoon, located near the Civic Center in Santa Monica and the expo doubled as the "Wellbeing Festival" sponsored by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. In addition to getting my shirt, bib and swag bag, I also got to peruse some non-running related vendors and picked up some nice free "first aid" supplies from the Red Cross (thanks). Parking was reasonable for the expo as the parking lot gave you the first half hour free. It seems I was there for exactly 31 minutes and ended up paying a whole dollar. Runners could also pick up their bibs/shirts on race day, but the swag bag was only for people showing up at the Wellbeing Festival. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Plenty of parking is available around Santa Monica for the racers. You had the choice of parking near the start of the race with beachside parking (expect to spend $10) or you could choose to park at one of the many structures near the finish line. I myself chose a structure right by the 3rd St. Promenade and ended up getting it for free. Not too shabby. T-SHIRT/MEDALS/SWAG The Santa Monica 5000 typically gave runners a cotton participation shirt and that trend continues with RunFEST. This year's shirt was green in color, featured a simple yet effective logo and was identical for both the 10K and 5K runners. Retro race runners did get an appropriate retro shirt. RunFEST did start a new tradition by giving all of the finishers a medal to celebrate their achievement. While runners got the same medal regardless of the distance run, it was a decent medal and a nice bit of bling to add to the collection. The race did give out another bit of swag in their bags (the Sketchers cinch sack also doubles as a basic backpack) as each runner received a running visor courtesy of race sponsor 2XU. Very nice. COURSE RunFEST features a point-to-point/out & back combo course. The 10K race starts near the intersection of Barnard Way and Ocean Park Blvd. and then loops north, heading up Ocean Avenue before turning onto San Vicente Blvd. At the mile 4 mark, runners turn around again and head back along San Vicente and finish on Ocean Blvd. near the Santa Monica Pier. One little bit of info worth noting is that even though the course feels flat, it actually has a gradual incline and decline. While the elevation change only ends up to be around 200' (spread over two miles), runners will probably notice that the final third of the race seems to be easier than the section that precedes it. This little tidbit might help racers adjust their pacing and help them finish a few seconds quicker. And for those of you who ran the Los Angeles Marathon, the Santa Monica RunFEST gives a chance to relive the final two miles of the marathon and perhaps enjoy the nice ocean view a bit more (let's face it, at mile 24 of a marathon I'm not overly aware of my surroundings). COURSE SERVICES Course services for the Santa Monica RunFEST are pretty basic, but sufficient. There aren't a ton of porta potties around, so you might want to find a place to stop at before your arrive in Santa Monica (I myself made a quick pit stop at a nearby McD's). The course itself featured a few water stops, but they were a little undermanned. Since the race is only a 10K, you might be better served to bring your own water. I carried two 8oz. bottles on my hydration belt and was able to bypass every water stop. The race did have safety personnel traversing the course on bikes and police officers monitoring the intersections to keep the traffic at bay. Basic mile markers were situated on the course, but be sure to wear your GPS as the only digital read-out is at the finish line. The race did provide runner timing (although not for friends/family members to monitor) featuring a shoe tag (which for some reason we were able to keep). I would suspect that next year the timing chips might be imbedded on the bibs. FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY The finish line services for the race were pretty basic, only some water available (no snacks) and I couldn't find any "finish photographers." The race did feature a post-race party located on the Santa Monica Pier where you could get some water, energy drinks and a few snacks from vendors (I scored a bottle of chocolate milk, which did hit the spot). They had a band playing in the background and race results were available (there was also an "extra cost" VIP party located further up on the pier), but you really didn't miss anything if you decided to skip the festivities. RECOMMENDATION I do enjoy the Santa Monica 5000/RunFEST or whatever it ends up being called next year. It's a nice no-stress race with a laid back feel and decent view of the ocean. The race doesn't feature many bells and whistles, but that's okay with me. This race doubled as my taper run for next week's LA Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon and I had a lot of fun. I plan to be back in 2015.

Review of Mammoth Half Marathon by

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AS A DESTINATION RACE. Well-organized professional race but comes with the Eastern Sierras as your playground too. This year we came up earlier from San Francisco and stayed longer after . Definitely a photographers vacation spot. We Did some trail hiking (Ansel Adams Wilderness, Devil's Postpile and the Pacific Crest Trail) and a photo excursion day to Bodie a CA historical Park about 10 miles from Lee Vining and Mono Lake -- just north of Mammoth on 395. In Yosemite on the Tioga Pass road, stopped at Saddlebag Lake and Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite for a photo hikes as well. The 2014 Half course was even better IMHO -- by adding a Lake Mary Loop at about mile 2 ; instead of 6 miles straight down hill, you run around the edge of a clear mountain lake. Gave my quads a breather. I still had to walk -- I chose the 7 mile marker to actually walk backwards for about 100 steps. I walked some of that slightly uphill mile 12 that seems like to should be so easy but is NOT somehow ....walked but took in the vistas of the mountains. The support was fabulous all along the course, even for the back of the pack. The start included foil insulating wraps --- excellent idea because the elevation combined with early morning hour was cool, but the temps were climbing this year. Well- done Mammoth folks!

Review of Orange County Turkey Trot by belindakcarter

Had a great run that day! The course was perfect, and easy to follow. It was super fun, and the swag was awesome. Pumpkin pie, and goodies to pick up afterwards 🙂

Review of Great Donut Run by mikeerlanson

This race was fantastic! It was well put together and extremely well supported by volunteers, traffic management, parking, vendor support and volunteers. I was even more surprised that this race was so fun and well done being an inaugural event! The course was flat, fast and fun and the donut challenge was great! I ssssoooo can't wait for the next one, it was an absolute blast! The best part of all is that they are dog friendly too. And I can't forget the costumes! There were a ton of spectacular costumes that were absolutely hilarious!

Review of Disneyland Half Marathon by Scott Devine

"Hi Ho Hi Ho, it's off to run we go!" Disney, the uber-company which owns Marvel, Lucasfilm (aka Star Wars), Pixar and is responsible for some great family films and wonderful theme parks, has also become quite the upcoming player in the marathon game. With numerous races each year at Walt Disney World in Orlando and at Disneyland in Anaheim, Mickey and Minnie Mouse seem to lace up their running shoes almost every other weekend. This past Sunday (of Labor Day Weekend), Disney staged the 9th annual Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (which also included a 10K, 5K and other family events). Amidst the heat and humidity of summer's final "unofficial" weekend, over 15,000 runners donned their respective Disney costumes or mouse ears and lined up to "Let It Go" (yes, they played the song again and again) at the "Sweatiest place on earth." REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP Registering for Disney events is a race in its own right, as the runs sell out in a matter of hours (and sometime minutes for the combo races). If you want to sign up for a Disney race you best be parked at your keyboard with credit card in hand anxiously counting off the seconds before registration officially opens. And if you're fast enough on the draw to successfully register, be prepared to risk having your bank account "Frozen" due to disappearing funds. Disney races are expensive. Really expensive. As in the most expensive you'll probably find for a race... by far. Registration for the half marathon starts at an astronomical $195 (I guess one of the upsides of it selling out so fast is the price never has a chance to go higher). For those who want to run the "Dumbo Double Dare" (which is a 10K on Saturday followed by the half marathon on Sunday) be prepared to drop a budget crushing $320. Disney is known for high prices, but I know of more than one runner wondering if the a race is worth paying double what you would at most other half marathons simply to have the race "Disneyfied" (more on that in bit). As for packet pick-up, Disney has their expo scheduled at the Disneyland Hotel the days before the race. And be forewarned, runners must pick up their own bib/tech shirt as you are not allowed to send a friend/family member in your stead and there is no race day pick-up. The expo itself is very well set up; Disney is a master when it comes to organization and crowd control. I've heard stories of the expo being incredibly crowded, but I found it pretty easy and quick to navigate thanks to the great organization. Fortunately, they didn't charge for expo parking at the Disneyland Hotel (I was given a paper waiver by the attendant for 30 minutes... I stayed over an hour). Parking is a bit limited there so you might find it better to park at Downtown Disney, pay the parking costs (rather high) and make an afternoon of it. Oh, and the expo is decent with a respectable number of various vendors present, a few photo ops set-up (Disney loves the pics) and numerous speakers for those who want some race info. Have I seen bigger and better expos... yes. But, the expo had all of the necessities and a few cool accessories I hadn't seen before. And yes, there is a separate section for Disney race merchandise. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Since Disneyland is a tourist destination, there are plenty of hotels available for those who want to stay down in Anaheim the night before their respective races. And given the pre-dawn (5:30am) start times, it's not a bad idea to grab a hotel to save yourself some a.m. driving. As for me, I did motor down from LA the day of the race (yup, I left at 3:30am) and it was a pretty easy drive (one of the few times you won't find traffic on the I-5). Like the rest of the commuting masses, I had to pay $17 to park in the Disney lots, which is rather pricey and in keeping with Disney charging a pretty penny for everything (given the high cost of the race, you think they'd give a break or discount for parking). FYI, another plus for going the hotel route is that many had shuttles to take you to and from the start line (although some hotels charge for parking in their lot anyway, which makes it a wash) or you can just hoof if there, using the walk as a warm-up. T-SHIRT/MEDALS Disney prides itself on having great bling and cool shirts. For those running the Dumbo Double Dare, you'll not only get a medal for each race, but a bonus medal, not to mention additional medals should you be participating in Disney's Coast-to-Coast Challenge Program. Careful, getting all of that Disney bling can cause neck injuries if you try to wear it all at once and channel your inner "Flavor Flav" (but most consider the risk worth it). This year's half marathon medal featured a large script "D" amidst the Disneyland castle and hung from a pretty multi-colored ribbon (kind of a throwback to Disneyland's early days). It really is a nice medal. As for the tech shirts, each race featured a different design and color scheme. For the half marathon, the 2014 shirt was "pea green" in color and featured a very low-key image of the Disneyland castle (again, a retro-design celebrating Disneyland's origin). At first I was disappointed with the shirt (especially give Disney's typical gift for great design), but I have a feeling it will grow on me in time. And if you're willing to spend some more bucks (try several more) you can always purchase one of the "I did it" shirts which feature a running Mickey. COURSE It's a race through Disneyland, so what more do you need to know? Quite a bit actually. One of the big selling points of the various Disney races is getting to run through and around the parks, but it's one of those things that looks a bit better on paper than when it comes to execution. The Disneyland Half Marathon features a fairly flat pseudo-loop course. You start out near the Disneyland Hotel and make your way off toward the parks. After navigating the streets and parking lots near Disneyland for a little bit, you hit the parks themselves starting around mile 2. First off, it's the California Adventure Park, where you wind your way through the various streets. And I've got to admit that is was pretty surreal to run down the main drag of Radiator Springs (and I'm certainly no Lightning McQueen). After you do your trek through California Adventure, you make your way into Disneyland itself, heading down Main Street and meandering through Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Toon Town before heading back out of the park. All throughout the park there are numerous opportunities for runners to stop and take pictures, be it of Disney sights or with the costumed characters who are out in force. If you are selfie addict or love snapping race photos, then this is your slice of heaven. It's one of the main reasons why the median race times at Disney races are so slow (people stop for umpteen photos with Maleficient, Mickey, the soldiers from Toy Story, etc). It can cause a bit of a chaos as the runners who don't feel the need to take photos must dodge the runners who toss race etiquette out the window and make a beeline across the course the second they see Mike Wazowski and Sully waving. Of course, Disney races have their own flavor and most people forgive those caught up in the moment. In addition, many of runners are dressed in Disney-themed costumes (some of them are really spectacular); I myself ran the course sporting a pair of Mickey Mouse ears strapped to my cabeza. And then there is the rest of the race... People who think that the entire half marathon is run around in and around Disneyland might be in for a bit of a surprise. After mile 4, you leave Disneyland and the characters behind; from this point on, the race transforms into much more of a standard half marathon. You actually spend the majority of the race running along the city streets of Anaheim. Sure there are bands and spectators, but the Disney "magical" touch is mostly absent from mile 4 until around mile 12 (when you make your way back toward the Disneyland Hotel). This is not to say the race is boring, just different. Miles 7-8 featured a parade of parked classic cars lining the street (and given my race performance that day, I would have gladly accepted a ride). And right around mile 9 you get to run near the Honda Center and straight into Angels' Stadium for a lap around the field (complete with cheering fans in the stadium and images projected up on the jumbotron). From that point on, you continue your trek through Anaheim, eventually arriving back to the Disneyland area and finishing right by the Disneyland Hotel. COURSE SERVICES As you would expect, Disney's course services are solid. From the organization of the start corrals (you must submit prior race times for corral placement) to the pre-race instructions (featuring energetic spokespeople projected on a big screen and a visit from Mickey and Minnie) this is where Disney shows off its expertise. The course itself featured numerous water/Powerade stops, all very well manned by volunteers, as well as a Clif stop at mile 9 where they handed out energy gels. Safety personnel and medical tents were present (and hopefully not utilized too much). MarathonFoto was out there snapping pictures, although they seemed to be mostly positioned in Disneyland and at Angels' Stadium (there were quite a few large gaps where no photographers were in my field of view). Mile markers were present for each mile (and quite large) and each had a digital clock to show the current "gun time," which is nice. FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY Disney continues with their ability to make the masses comfortable and happy with a very well-organized finish area. After receiving your medal from the happy volunteers and being handed a bottle of water, you're directed to the finisher's photo area. You also receive your post-race snacks in a pre-packed box that doubles as a carry case. Oh, and they also gave each runner wet cooling towels, a very nice and refreshing touch. You're then directed through gear check and into the main staging area where you can meet up with family members, line-up for a massage or listen to the post race awards. Other races should send representatives for pointers on how to stage their post-race celebration. RECOMMENDATION So, the big question: "Is the Disneyland Half Marathon worth the extremely high $195 registration cost"? It's a tough question to answer and best left for the individual to decide. If you love all things Disney, you'll happily hand over your hard-earned dollars without batting an eye. There are some great aspects to the race (well organized, photo/costume opportunities, cool bling) and a smattering of disappointing aspects (feels very corporate, course is not the greatest once you leave Disneyland, congested course). I've run the Disneyland Half Marathon twice (2009 & 2014) and I am glad I did it. I'm also signed up for the Avengers Superhero Half Marathon in November and the Star Wars Half Marathon in January... and that is a lot of money spent (almost $600 for just the three races without hotel, parking and souvenirs factored in), especially for running what is essentially the same course. It'd be nice to see Disney offer a "tour pass" like the Rock 'n' Roll series to save runners some cash. If not, I see limiting my Disney races in the future (probably just doing the Star Wars Half Marathon) and spending my money on other races that are a little more "cost effective."

Review of Citrus Half Marathon by kmgrimes526

This race was a beautiful location with just enough rolling hills to keep it interesting. Course support was fabulous and the race medal and shirt were both very high quality. The race is coordinated by the Riverside RoadRunners chapter so it really does a great job of being runner-friendly. I ran the half marathon in 2014 which was the first time they offered that particular distance. I will be running the half again in 2015. The race starts and ends at the Arlington Sports Park which includes restrooms, lots of shade and open spaces, along with a great playground for the family to keep busy while waiting for a runner to complete the race. My top favorites of the race were running through the orange groves, the time spent in the historical Citrus Heritage State Park, and the fresh oranges at the finish. My only real con was that there wasn't much in the way, outside of the fresh oranges, at the finish to provide post-run fuel. I think there might have been some food truck vendors; however, I wasn't interested in anything other than a bagel or something similar. But the oranges were so great it almost made up for it. That and a stop at In-n-Out on the way home. 😉 All in all, I had a GREAT experience at this race and look forward to doing it again every year.

Review of Lexus LaceUp Running Series - Riverside by amberlouise

This was my 2nd half marathon and it was a great experience! Everything ran smoothly and the course was fairly easy (and flat). They offered all sorts of energy boosters along the way, and bananas before and after the race. Parking was easy at the park, and I got there about 30 min. before the race. I would definitely run this again!

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