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 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!

Review of Orange County Turkey Trot by lunasea

Fun, fast, flat course. Great swag => nice tech shirt instead of cotton. Easy parking. Sure, they've got a little work to do pre-race, but they know what's needed (point the speakers so the queued up runners can hear the announcements) and they got buried this first year with walk-ups. I'll be back next year.

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 Surf City Marathon & Half Marathon by Scott Devine

RACE: Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon 2015 DATE: February 1, 2015 LOCATION: Huntington Beach, CA DISTANCES: Half Marathon/Marathon START TIME: 6:30am (Marathon)/7:45am (Half Marathon) WEATHER AT START: 54° and sunny. FINISHERS: 14,138- Half Marathon/ 2070- Marathon (Updated from 2014 review) So, it's Super Bowl Sunday. What are you going to do before game time? Watch 10-hours of pre-game banter discussing which team has a better equipment manager? Heck no. Instead, why not run a half marathon (or a full), have fun, earn some bling and build up a major calorie deficit... so you don't feel guilty stuffing your face during the Big Game. Well, over 16,000 racers decided to just that and "kicked off" their day by pounding the pavement along Pacific Coast Highway with the annual running of the Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon. REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP Registration costs for Surf City are in keeping with most races, expect to spend in the neighborhood of $90 for the half and a little over $100 for the full (depending on when you sign-up, the earlier the cheaper). Packet pick-up for the race was at the seaside Expo held in the parking lot near the start line. The expo runs Friday and Saturday for bib/shirt pick-up. Parking for the expo was $15 at the beach lots, but if you’re comfortable with a little walking you should be able to find a meter nearby. The expo itself is a nice time, complete with a good amount of vendors present. There are also a few photo opportunities (I like the “pose on a surfboard” one myself). And an added bonus is that when you walk out of the expo you’re right on the beach, so hang out for bit and enjoy the view. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING When you've got 18,000 runners simultaneously hitting an oceanside community like Huntington Beach, parking can be a little challenging. The race organizers “highly recommend” carpooling and people who arrive on race morning should expect traffic delays, as finding a spot might be a bit tricky. There are shuttle options, which worked for me as I parked at one of the "approved" parking lots (Newland Center or Civic Center) and caught a bus to and from the start line without much hassle at all. T-SHIRT/MEDALS/SWAG Surf City does have a great piece of swag with their finisher’s medal. Continuing their “surfboard” trend that they started in ’08, the race features a “wooden” medal sporting the race’s logo... this year's model was nicknamed "Riptide." The full marathon medal is slightly larger than the half marathon version and features a blue ribbon as opposed to red for the half marathon. And an extra bonus for you runners who complete the “Beach Cities Challenge” is the latest edition of the challenge medal (this is my second one). By running three consecutive races (Surf City, OC Marathon and Long Beach) you earn this gigantic medal (it’s a heavy sucker). The twist on the latest version is the seashell medal opens and closes (thanks to magnets) like a lady's compact. And the "surf theme" shows up again with the race tech shirts, which resembles a surfer's wetsuit. This year's long-sleeve shirt featured vertical yet curvy blue, orange and white stripes (the ladies' version had more muted colors while the unisex was brighter). The race distance was printed along one sleeve while a "2015" ran down the other sleeve. I loved the shirt from the moment I saw it and I look forward to wearing it time and again. Very well done! Oh, and this year the race offered up one additional piece of swag. You received your shirt and bib in a re-usable shopping bag adorned with a "VW Beachcruiser" motif. It's a very nice touch, especially for us Cali residents who have to bring our own shopping bags (or pay $.10 each at the store). I know of a few other races that give out bags like this and it's another cool way we can show off our running addictions to everyone. I hope more races follow suit and give out bags like these. COURSE (HALF MARATHON) For all its popularity and other positive attributes, the one thing about Surf City that’s very average is the course itself. Now I’ll preface this by saying you are running along PCH near the water, which is really sweet and a great view (and smell the salty air… or maybe that’s just the sweat from the other runners). But that’s pretty much all you run. The course is basically an “out and back,” running along PCH, with one short add on. Around mile 3 you hang a right and spend the next 2-3 miles scampering around a residential neighborhood before returning to PCH a little before mile 6. From there on, it’s nothing but PCH until around mile 8 where you hang a U-turn and head back to the start (you don’t hit the residential section on the way back). One great thing about Surf City though is it’s a speedy and straight course. With just a few hills in the residential section and another hill and slight upgrade a little after mile 10, this course should allow you to push yourself and shoot for a PR. And since it’s a straight course, for the most part, you don’t have to worry about adding distance to the run (I ended up only adding .06 miles over the entire race). COURSE SERVICES Surf City does a pretty solid job with their course support, offering plenty of water stops manned by eager volunteers. The “official” drink was Vitalyte, and Cliff shots were offered at more than one stop. I noticed several medical tents set up along the course along with numerous bike volunteers carrying supply packs like beachside St. Bernards. There were also a few bands scattered along the course belting out tunes (thanks for coming out) and I turned down my headphones whenever I ran by them. The mile markers on the course featured a "road sign" motif for the half marathoners and a surfboard one for the full marathon. Be sure to bring your GPS as the only digital clock is at the start/finish line. FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY Surf City has decent post race services. Runners get water, a mylar blanket and some snacks (given out in a handy little bag). The over 21 crowd also can go to the beer tent where they can 2 free brews as a fun way to re-hydrate. The expo does remain open on Sunday after the race, although many of the vendors pack-up on Saturday night. But if you're feeling guilty about not grabbing a race souvenir on Friday or Saturday, you get one last chance to snag a memento (although popular sizes of shirts may be long gone). RECOMMENDATION I have to admit a little personal bias toward Surf City, as it was the site of my first ever half marathon (you never forget your first). But this is just a solid race presented on an enjoyable (if unremarkable) course and offering a slew of runners a chance to run along the beach before heading off to watch the big game. I look forward to running Surf City again 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 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 Arroyo Creek Half Marathon by RaceGrader

POSTED BY RL: I did the initial Camarillo Marathon a few years ago put together by Elite Racing and it was a total SNAFU - lack of Porto potties, lack of on course fluids, lack of on- course support.

Review of San Diego Half Marathon by ashleyspotts

Awesome race! Best support I have ever seen! Aid stations had water, electrolytes, salt, vaseline, & first aid; so many portas! I felt so spoiled! It was also supported with 3 high school marching bands which nearly made me tear up with sentiment & was so energizing. I'd choose band over a dj anyday. It made it feel like a true community event. Lots of folks came out of their houses with signs, cheering, & even snacks! A woman was handing out donuts on one corner, & a man with his very small son with popsicles! How great is that?! It was well organized with pacers. Well organized on the course. It was mostly beautiful, but unavoidably we went through some stinky sketchy areas. The hill at mile 8(?) was INSANE, but an awesome challenge for dedicated runners. The metal is lovely! I highly recommend! It would be great to travel to as it's a wonderful San Diego experience but a must for locals who love the area.

Review of Pacific Beachfest 5K by ashleyspotts

Pre-race was a good. Parking was what you can expect in San Diego. We parked a few blocks away, but it was free & not too difficult. I loved being able to pick up my bib at the race which so many are beginning to shy away from. There was no wait. There were a TON of booths & vendors which was so fun. It's already neat to walk around the PB beach, the vendors made it unreal fun. The race itself was AWFUL. I've done many 5ks, half marathons, obstacles, relays, & this was the worst by far. It's was a crowded race, so running the in the sand was almost a fight for survival: walkers blocked the middle as they usually do because they don't care about anyone but themselves so the actual runners had either run very close to the water or on the very slanted dry sand on the edge, which you can imagine is very challenging. It was not very well blocked off. Yes, it's a public beach, but with no staff along the path, the public had no respect for the race. We were jumping over children & sand castles, weaving around gawkers walking as slow as possible across our path to get to the surf. The worst part yet though was when we ran up to the boardwalk itself. It was lovely getting back on hard ground, but again, there was almost no support or blockage from the public. Runners were struggling to avoid beach cruisers, walkers, dogs, & the general public. The path is a two lane style bike sidewalk, and at some point a frantic volunteer came running up and down yelling at us to stick the inside lane, which had all spread out from since it was so narrow & there were so many other pedestrians. This all could have been solved with well placed volunteers with some level of enthusiasm so as to merit respect & distance from the public. Rather, the neighborhood seemed to look at us as if they had never seen a race before & didn't know what to do. It was like sitting in traffic because there's a huge wreck: everyone wants to gawk. To have a race at such a popular San Diego location, there must be logistical support to keep it SANE. The music was cool. The medal was cool. The beach itself is beautiful. I would NOT recommend this race.

Review of San Diego Holiday Half Marathon by chsfromca

First time in 2015, last time in 2015. Yes, it's a net downhill course and the medals are nice and there is lots of refreshments at the finish but the cons far outnumber the pros. 1. There is no race-day bib pickup. Why, I don't know. There are only 3,000 runners in this race. Race-day bib pickup could be accomplished for that many runners. 2. Because of #1, I paid $8 to have my bib sent to me in the mail. Evidently they didn't do it since it didn't arrive. I was told to go to Solutions tent to get a replacement. When arriving they only gave me a bib, no bag, shirt, etc. 3. Since I didn't get a bag at solutions, I had no bag for bag check. I had to go to the Chevron station to get a plastic bag for my gear. 4. The water stations are plentiful but highly disorganized and poorly staffed. The poor kids there were frantically trying to pour enough water in the cups to keep up. 5. Its not really very scenic except for the finish, Just running along a freeway for most of the way. 6. At the finish I was finally able to get my goodie bag and shirt but they were out of my size. Even though I specified Men's Medium on my entry form when i registered in April. Had to settle for a HUGE large shirt. 7. Since they gave me a replacement bib, I was not associated with my bib number in the results. I had to contact them to attach my information with the new bib number. They have since done this.

Review of Lexus LaceUp Running Series - Irvine by speedygonzales

What a great race. I did the 5k and had a blast. We started on time. split into two waves, as there were 300+ in the 5k, which was smart - i went in the second wave. There were tons of volunteers and good signage, i never felt lost. The aid station was well stocked. After the race, i got the FREE brunch at the food truck. It was nice to have options (3 or 4 trucks), the steak and cheese quesadilla was awesome. The band was fun while we ate brunch and then i got a stretch in with the Equinox people. It was cool to get some snacks and water handed to us at the finish and the medal is great. I was pretty amazed at the quality and weight of it - it is even a coaster (i already have it sitting on my desk)! They had computers and screens in the Lexus area where you could see your result right then and there. Needless to say, i did not win my age group, but those that did got these cool tiles. I got a chance to take a pic on the podium. Hoping to see it turn up on FB!! All in all, this was a great race experience. I hope they come back to Irvine next year. I will be running in my race shirt this winter to help share the word about this race, as I love to see great races like this coming to town. Thanks Lexus

Review of Santa Clarita Marathon by chsfromca

Good - Free parking, wide paths, separate the 5K from the half and full, lots of water stops, flat course. Not good - NO RACE DAY BIB PICKUP! There's less than 3,000 runners in this event, surely there could be race day packet pickup. I had to make an extra 100-mile round trip just for that and the less than exciting small expo. Course was nothing special just running around a bike path. Not much through town or around Magic Mountain. Not much for refreshments at finish line. Grab you half banana, cup of water, some other sponsored drinks and out you go. No bands or other entertainment on the course. Won't run this again unless they implement race day bib pickup.

Review of Citrus Half Marathon by mrmao1

Enjoyed the race right up until I crossed the finish line. The organizers did not have enough finisher's medals even for the pre-registrants (I registered in August), were unkind (at best) the day of the race, and have not been very responsive - they have not provided any kinds of a time frame for when the medals might be delivered, despite multiple queries, just that they will be mailed later. Their overall attitude is disingenuous at best, condescending and evasive at worst.

Review of Lexus LaceUp Running Series - Irvine by Scott Devine

RACE: Lexus LaceUp Irvine DATE: October 17, 2015 DISTANCES: 10K/5K LOCATION: Irvine, CA (Mike Ward Community Park) START TIME: 8:00am 5K/ 8:10 10K WEATHER AT START: 70 degrees FINISHERS: 10K- 229 5K-  480 Tie those running shoes for the first stop on the Lexus LaceUp 2015 race series. The series also includes races in Ventura (Oct. 24th), Palos Verdes (Nov. 14th) and Riverside (Dec. 6th). The Irvine race was a little different than the others in the series in that it offered only 10K/5K distances, whereas the other races also include the half marathon. The fact that racers were only running 10K or 5K didn't seem to dim anyone's spirits, as a festive bunch of runners gathered in the park on a Saturday morning for fun jaunt around Irvine. REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP Registration costs for the entire Lexus LaceUp series are reasonable with rates that are below the fees charged on bigger corporate race series. For Irvine, rates on the 5K started at $25 for earliest of birds on their way up to $40 the day before race day. The 10K was a similar low price ranging from $45- $60 depending on when you signed up. In addition, Lexus had plenty of discounts listed on line (check out social media) as well as discounts offered by their "ambassador corps" (including yours truly). A discount is also available for runners who sign up for the "LaceUp Challenge" (running all 4 races in the series). The race offered packet pick-up the day before at one of the local running stores, but also allowed same day pick-up (at no extra charge... just be sure you get there early). As the race was a little bit of a drive from my home, I opted for the race day pick-up and it only took me 5 minutes to get my bib and swag from the great race volunteers. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Since the race was being held at a local park (Mike Ward Community Park), they had the lot reserved for the runners, along with an overflow parking lot at a nearby church for the latest of late comers. T-SHIRT/MEDALS/SWAG While the Lexus LaceUp Irvine 10K/5K was a more intimate affair than some other races, they certainly didn't skimp on the swag. All participants received a cool black tech shirt (with the race location on the sleeve) and a stylish "honeycomb-esque" shaped finisher's medal (5K had green ribbons, 10K blue ribbons). FYI, an extra medal will be awarded everyone who completes all 4 races in the LaceUp Challenge. For the Irvine race, early arriving runners also got a little extra bit of swag as Sierra Nevada handed out bottle openers (a nice sign of things to come after the race). And Lexus was on hand giving out some sweet water bottles to anyone who stopped by their water table before or after the race. And the race swag was presented in a neat reusable shopping bag (which is great now that supermarkets in CA charge for bags), which was a nice touch. And the swag didn't end there as all runners were given "free" race photos for Facebook (and to download), courtesy of Runner Buzz. In this age of paying $30 for a single digital race photo, free pics of your sweaty self are a very welcome perk. COURSE The LaceUp Irvine 10K/5K featured "out and back" courses. While both races started and finished at the same spot in the park, the 5K and 10K each basically had their own unique courses, which kept congestion to a minimum. The courses for the race basically took runners along the bike/running paths near the park and ran us along one of the municipal waterways (of course we're in drought-ridden CA, so there really wasn't any water to speak of). While it wasn't an overly stunning course visually, I enjoyed the route. Fortunately, we never had to cross any city streets as the bike path dipped under the surface streets, which also added a few inclines and declines to an otherwise flat course. In addition, the race featured an "open" course, which meant we did share the route with non-racers (aka other runners/walkers and bikers) but it never really presented any kind of difficulty or bottleneck. COURSE SERVICES For a 10K/5K, outside of signs pointing the direction, you typically don't need too much in the way of course services. Signs and volunteers lined the course at key points to make sure runners didn't make a wrong turn. For the 10K, the race provided a water/energy drink/snack stop at mile 2, which also doubled as the stop on mile 4. On races of this length, I carry my own water bottle, so I don't need to stop. But I'm also sure to wave and thank the volunteers as I run by. And as for the important porta potty question, the race featured a good number of porta potties (actually pretty nice ones as porta potties go) at the start finish/area. The course, however, didn't sport any additional porta potties, so runners had extra motivation to finish quickly... should nature be calling. Mile markers signs were posted at each mile, but the only timer appeared at start/finish, so be sure to bring your own GPS watch if you need to track your progress during the race. Runners all had B-tags on their bibs, which provided you race results and info on-line after the race was finished. FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY As we crossed the finish line, runners were greeted by volunteers and handed their race medals. After that, runners could go visit the finish line area which featured a few tents from local vendors and a nice car display from series sponsor Lexus. I was curious to check out their great SUV, but given how sweaty I was, I opted to be kind and not take a seat inside one of the pristine vehicles. One final great race perk: each runner got free brunch food from one of three food trucks. I opted for a "stadium dog" from Dogzilla. And to wash it all down... how about a free beer from Sierra Nevada in the beer garden? Now most people wouldn't think that chowing down on a chilli dog and beer at 9am is anyway to start the day. But after running a 10K, it was a bite (and drink) of heaven. RECOMMENDATION Since I'm one of the Lexus LaceUp Series ambassadors, I naturally have a personal interest in the series. But I enjoyed the LaceUp race experience this weekend. Some races, especially bigger ones with several thousand participants, can be overly complicated and a bit stressful. I liked the low-key and intimate nature of this race. I drove to the location, easily parked my car, got my bib/swag lickity split and had a nice casual run with several hundred other enthusiastic racers. And afterward I got to chat with friends and have a beer and some grub before getting on with my day. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning. Looking forward to running the next leg in the LaceUp series (Ventura) next weekend.

Review of Los Angeles Marathon by Scott Devine

RACE: Asics 2015 Los Angeles Marathon DATE: March 15th, 2015 DISTANCES: Marathon (Sunday)/5K (Saturday) LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA START TIME: 6:55am (moved up from 7:25am) WEATHER AT START: 69° and hot. FINISHERS: 21,589 (12,569 Men/9,389 Women) (Updated from 2014 Review) Hot! Hot! Hot! Mother nature seemed to take the spotlight at the 30th running of the Los Angeles Marathon. The 2014 race was one of the warmest on record and this year’s edition seemed hellbent on breaking that mark. A week before the race, the 26,000 participants learned the awful truth. We were going to apparently be running a marathon on the surface of the sun. As a result, the focus of the race race became more about “the experience” than going for fast times. And big kudos to the race officials for taking steps to minimize the heat’s impact. For starters they sent out numerous e-mails telling runners about the impending heat and how to best prepare. In addition, they increased the course support (improved water stops) and even moved the start of the race up 30 minutes in order for runners to get a few miles in before the heat hit. I have a feeling the marathon start time will permanently shift earlier. As it turns out, some lingering cloud cover helped shave a few degrees off of the temperatures, but it was still one of the hottest races I’ve ever run. And now the rest of the info… REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP Registration costs for the LA Marathon are pretty standard for a big city race. And since the race sold out again this year (about a week before race day), it’s wise to purchase your spot early, lest you be relegated to being a spectator. Packet pick-up for the race was at the marathon expo located at the LA Convention Center. The LA Marathon has one of the better expos out there and it’s worth stopping by to check out the vendor wares and freebies. One little tip, rather than shelling out $15 for expo parking or similar costs at one of the nearby lots, just drive 3-4 blocks away and you can find ample meter parking (more cash for race souvenirs). TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Since the LA course is a point-to-point race, parking/transportation is a little complicated. Racers have the option of being dropped off or parking at Dodger Stadium (traffic can get a little crazy as the start time approaches; get there early). The other option (and better option in my opinion) is to park in Santa Monica and take one of the race shuttles/buses to the start line at Dodger Stadium. You can pay for a parking spot ahead of time (which is a good idea) and it will set you back $20, but the shuttle is free for all runners and it’s a pretty painless process. Although, be warned that the shuttles tend to run “early early” in the morning in order to guarantee you getting to the starting line with plenty of time to spare. I had a 4:30 am shuttle that got me to Dodger Stadium at 5:00am and ample time to relax (and then get anxious for the race to start). T-SHIRT/MEDALS For swag fans, the 2015 LA Marathon T-shirt featured a black shirt with light blue side panels and featured a retro “LA 30″ design on the front. It’s a more subdued look than last year’s shirt and it worked for me. As for the medal, this year’s design displayed a big “30” logo in metallic blue with the cityscape and finisher ribbon beneath it. A nice piece of bling to add to the collection. COURSE Back in 2010, the LA Marathon ditched its downtown course in favor of a point-to-point “Stadium to the Sea” path and it has transformed an average marathon into a destination race. It truly is a spectacular route that hits numerous LA Landmarks. Starting at Dodger Stadium, the course travels through Chinatown and parts of downtown before heading up into Hollywood and past the Chinese Theater. Then you head down Sunset Blvd and into West Hollywood before a jaunt along Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills and a turn toward the ocean. A quick run through the VA Hospital grounds (seemingly the toughest and least attractive part of the course) follows and then heads out onto San Vicente Blvd along residential streets before a final left at Ocean Blvd. The last mile of the course is run along the ocean and ends just a few blocks away from the Santa Monica Pier. It truly is a magnificent course that shows the heart of The City of Angels. COURSE SERVICES As mentioned before this year’s race was run in extreme heat and as a result the race’s already solid course support was improved even more. Water/Gatorade stops were at every mile (although they got a little less organized in the last few miles of the race). Cliff also was on the course, providing gels at various stops for runners. Medical personnel were even more present this year and I saw several of them tending to any downed runners along the course. The biggest shout out though has to go to the fans. Knowing that this was going to be a challenging race because of the heat, the citizens of LA turned out in force. And they all seemed to be carrying goodies. From water (in cups and squirt guns), to ice, to fruit and salty snacks, the fans and charity groups showed the runners just how much they love the marathon. One runner I passed told me he’d never seen so much ice in his entire life. I think I speak for all of the 26,000 participants when I say “Thank you LA for your love and support.” FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY The finish line for the LA Marathon was what you’d expect for a large race. After you received your medal, you were given a Mylar blanket (aluminum side out to reflect the heat as opposed to keeping it in) and access to various snacks and water. An incredible post race treat was the small hand towels soaked in cold water and available to each runner. After surviving a 26.2 mile run in a virtual sauna, being handed an ice-cold towel is an absolute slice of heaven. One little picky note is that racers could really benefit from bags to hold their post-race snacks. I know for a fact that my dexterity was totally off and holding three different bags of snacks and a bottle of water was a virtual impossibility (I again used my hat as a makeshift sack). I will say the final walk to exit the “secure area” was really long (or maybe I was just really tired). There were plenty of other amenities available such as “cooling buses” for overheated runners. And if you didn’t feel like hanging around the course once you have your medal in hand, the 3rd Street Promenade and beach were just a stone’s throw away (but please don’t throw stones, you might hit a runner or spectator). RECOMMENDATION Put simply, when I think of what a high-profile marathon should be, Los Angeles now comes to mind. With its wonderfully scenic “LA” course, fantastic fan support and other amenities, the LA Marathon deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as many of the other established A-list races. This is another race I’m more than a bit biased toward (it was my very first marathon), but it has been a near annual tradition for me since I first ran it back in 2009 and will remain on my “to run” list for every year to come. NOTE: Next year’s LA Marathon will be run a month earlier (Feb. 14th, 2016) in order to coincide with the Olympic Marathon Trials.

Review of Lexus LaceUp Running Series - Ventura by tseng14

I ran the 10K and am definitely adding this to my annual race calendar. The course was beautiful! The volunteers and water stations were ample and smartly placed. This is a premium race just like they explain it is. The medals are awesome and you can even use it as a coaster! The party at the finish line was a blast - great food and beer for all.

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 REVEL Canyon City Marathon & Half by Scott Devine

RACE: REVEL Canyon City Half Marathon DATE: November 15, 2014 LOCATION: Azusa, CA DISTANCES: Half Marathon/Full Marathon START TIME: 7:00am WEATHER AT START: 54° Partly Cloudy (Half Marathon)/ 38° Partly Cloudy (Full Marathon) FINISHERS: 888 Half/ 625 Full Time to REVEL and to run! This was the inaugural running of the REVEL Canyon City Marathon/Half Marathon, the latest race in the new REVEL race series that also included REVEL Rockies (in July) and REVEL Big Cottonwood (in September). REGISTRATION/EXPO Registration costs for the REVEL Canyon City race start at a pretty wallet-friendly $79.95 for the half marathon and $99.95 for the full marathon (costs are basically the same across all of the REVEL races). Costs do go up as race day approaches, but you can save some additional cash with on-line discounts (check out Raceshed.com), or by becoming part of a team or allowing REVEL to post a few notices to your FB page. And given what the race offers, you’re getting some real bang for your buck. The expo for this year’s first running of the REVEL Canyon City race was held at the Double Tree hotel in Monrovia the day before the race. While the expo was only held on one day, the Friday before the race, the hours ran from 12:00pm- 8:00pm giving you time to hop over during lunch or after work. There wasn’t any race day bib/tech shirt pick-up (due to the time constraints and busing the morning of the race). However, friends and family were able to pick-up your stuff (provided they show a picture of your ID). The expo itself was modestly-sized, but had some vendors on-hand for you to pick up any needed race-day supplies. I volunteered on expo day, handing out bibs/swag bags (and had a lot of fun), and even during the busiest times, participants were able to get their gear within a few minutes. Oh, and the volunteers each got a pretty cool zip up sweatshirt, which is much better than the standard volunteer cotton T-shirt. MEDALS/SHIRT/SWAG REVEL clearly has listened to runners’ wants and needs and this shows in their generous swag. The tech shirts for the race were in keeping with the style of the other races in the REVEL series, featuring an orange and light grey color scheme, emblazoned with the Canyon City emblem. There were gender specific shirts (so men and ladies both get individual designs). In addition, no dealing with the short-sleeve/long-sleeve dilemma. Runners had a choice at registration between the short sleeve design, or for an extra $5 they could opt for long sleeves. As for the medals, REVEL has done a great job with their bling. The race medal is an elegant brushed steel design (I’m a sucker for brushed steel) showing off the Canyon City emblem and also using negative space (cut out) to show the REVEL logo. The half marathon featured a blue ribbon (the half bib was also blue) while the full marathoners had an orange ribbon (same as their bib). It really was a great piece of bling. Like Big Cottonwood and Rockies, REVEL Canyon City also has some extra swag. In the swag bag, each runner received a pair of throwaway gloves and a mylar blanket to keep them warm on race morning. With temps on the mountain being rather cool in the morning, that was a welcome bit of swag. Race pictures are free (hear that other races) to all participants and REVEL will post them to your FB page as well. Given the $25- $30 cost most races charge for a single digital photo, this is one great perk. In addition, about two months after the race finishes, racers can expect to receive a short video montage of the race featuring some of their race photos (that they choose) and finisher stats included. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Since the race begins way up in the San Gabriel Mountains of Angeles National Park, all racers must be bussed to the start line. Participants parked at the campus of Citrus College or near the finish line to catch a bus to take them up the mountain to the starting area. Parking was free and there were plenty of buses available for racers to make it up to the start line in time. NOTE: Spectators were not able to travel up the mountain, given that there was no parking available. Instead, fans were encouraged to cheer on their friends/family in the town of Azusa or near the finish line. COURSE (HALF MARATHON) The course for all of the REVEL races are “Point-to-Point” and feature significant decreases in elevation. The Canyon City half marathon course drops 900 feet during its 13.1 mile route, while the marathon course decreases a solid 5000 feet during the course of the race. It’s the biggest decline of any full marathon race in North America that also is a BQ (Boston Qualifier). If you’re looking for a PR or a time to qualify for the Boston Marathon, this is a great race to try. There are a few uphill sections on this race, but they aren’t very steep and not too long in duration. You’ll spend the vast majority of the race motoring downhill. NOTE: Downhill races can impact your body (especially your quads) differently than flat courses. I ran the half marathon course, which starts at the 13.1 mile mark of the marathon course (other reviews are available to discuss the full course). The half marathon course starts 12 miles up on Highway 39 and makes its way down the mountains into the town of Azusa. If you’re looking for a nice “get back to nature” course, then you’ll like the Canyon City route. Just as the REVEL Rockies and Big Cottonwood races showed off the natural beauty of their surrounding, Canyon City gives you a glimpse at the Angeles National Park and some nice mountainous vistas. Now this doesn’t mean you’re completely out in the wild as the race does run by a few manmade dams, which are fairly impressive in their own right. The downhill nature of the course allows you the chance to go at a faster pace than normal, so enjoy the slope. The course also does wind, so runners should be wary of running tangents (hugging the turns) to make sure they don’t add unnecessary distance to their race. One other note is that runners are expected to stay on one side of the road as this is the only access to the top of the mountain. Police escorts brought a few cars/service vehicles up the course on occasion. It only happened a few times and runners had plenty of time to make certain they were on the proper side of the street. Once runners reach the bottom of the canyon, they’ll empty out into the town of Azusa for the last two miles. The race itself ends near Azusa Pacific University amidst the cheers of the gathered locals. SERVICES Services on the course are pretty solid… and actually quite good given the fact that everything (supplies, volunteers, power) needed to be brought up the mountain by truck. I continue to be impressed by the “person to porta-potty ratio” at the start of the races, knowing that each one had to traverse a windy mountain road. The course had several water/energy drink stops along the way with a decent amount of volunteers handing out cups. Runners who drink a lot, however, might want to consider bringing a small water bottle with them to tide them over between water stops. Other stops had PowerGel, fruit and candy. There were also medical tents sprinkled along the course. As for mile markers, they were present on the course (one or two did fall over) but given that there was no power available in the wilderness, no digital clocks were present. Runner who wanted to keep track of their time should bring their iPhones or GPS devices. Runner tracking was also available for runners as well as their friends and family. FINISH/POST PARTY Just like with their runner’s swag, REVEL knows how to treat runners after a race. Sure there were plenty of standard snacks after the race… chips, drinks and such. But REVEL also likes to give runners some unexpected (even unorthodox) treats. Just as Big Cottonwood offered pizza and soda (of which I partook generously), Canyon City offered its own unique snacks. Chick-Fil-A offered runners chicken nuggets (I inhaled a few of them) and Marie Calendar’s presented pieces of pie to finishers (talk about some unique carbo loading). One other cool bit of swag fairly unique to REVEL is right after the race, each runner can get a card printed out showing off their race stats (a nice little souvenir for the ride home). RECOMMENDATION NOTE: I am one of the REVEL Race Ambassadors and my registration fee for Canyon City was covered by REVEL. Inaugural races usually have some kind of problem: running out of water, unexpected delays, course problems or some other snafu (which we all typically forgive). Happily, I didn’t find any significant shortcomings at all with REVEL Canyon City. The race officials clearly did their due diligence and put on a fun race. Given that Canyon City is limited to a set number of runners (about 1000 for the half marathon and 700 for the full), it has the benefit of not being an overly-complicated affair like many of the larger races (much less stressful for runners). In addition, it also allows them the opportunity to provide perks not typically seen at larger races. I had a real fun time running REVEL Canyon City. I plan for it to be an annual addition to my race schedule. Run on!

Review of Great Donut Run by lawiii

The most fun and delicious 5k ever!! This is a perfect event for the whole family, and a guaranteed good time will he had by all.

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."

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