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 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 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 Great Donut Run by danaryanmd

This is my favorite race! The donuts were delicious! The event was well organized and family friendly and was appropriate for everyone from competitive runners to families just out for a stroll. There were great donut costumes as well. It was a fun morning.

Review of Newport Mesa Spirit Run by cheyneinman

This race has a lot of moving parts, and I thought it was executed perfectly. It offers more excitement than your traditional local 5k and for a great price. I really liked the course and the prizes were amazing. I will definitely be back next year.

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 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 Orange County Turkey Trot by dawndiva

This has such potential to pull from Dana Point Turkey Trot crowd who want options closer to home with better parking BUT...starting 20 min late ruined most of the event. And then there was no announcement of the start that anyone could actually hear. Lots of pushing and shoving "I think the race just started". Suggest shutting down the "day of registration" at least 1 hour before the race. I know that the race needs to make money but causing hundreds of folks (who managed to figure out how to get registered before 5 min until event start) to wait while the late stragglers registered is not fair to all of us. We all have places to be also on the holiday. More porta johns will be needed. LIne was 30 deep by 7:30am. and got steadily worse- Suggest at least 4 more. I brought 20 runners this year to the OC Turkey Trot- we will all go back to Dana Point next year and I will discourage others from joining in the local race until the OC Turkey Trot can find a better and more organized flow. Too Bad! The race has such potential all wasted.

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 Lexus LaceUp Running Series - Palos Verdes Half Marathon by Runner3D

The Pre race was easy-pasy. We got to the parking smoothly and with no wait even though we had to take the shuttle since the other two parking lots were over capacity. It didn't take long to get to the venue from where we got on the shuttle. I picked up my packet (only the bib) that morning and did not have to deal with any lines for the half marathon. I was told that I would only be able to pick up my shirt and bag after the race. There were no lines at the porta potties so I was able to take care of business and jump into where the race started. The 13.1 course was a scenic route along Palos Verdes Drive South and Paseo Del Mar. Anyone familiar with PV knows to expect hills and the PV half did not disappoint. Rolling hills throughout the course made the run a fun challenge. There were plenty of volunteers with water/electrolyte gels, mile markers, porta potties, & split mats. Got to the end and received some trail mix, a bottle of fiji water and medal. Post race I picked up my bag and T shirt. By that time one of the volunteers said that there were no more women's small. However they let me choose a men's small in lieu of them running out. Although the t shirt is a really cool tech T shirt, the men's small is still too big for me. There were a wide selection of vendors and sponsors at the event sharing samples and informational literature. This half provided a bunch and there were two options: crossiant, apple, cheese and boiled egg box, and a quiche with tangerine.I really wanted some protein so I picked the latter of the two but wished that between the two that we'd get more of the quiche since it was small in size. If I had to be picky I wish there was more balance between the two. There was an option to get your free after the race beer, but I don't drink. Overall it was a great race and I'd definitely do it again.

Review of Santa To The Sea Half Marathon by Scott Devine

RACE: Santa To the Sea Half Marathon DATE: December 14, 2014 LOCATION: Oxnard, CA DISTANCES: Half Marathon/5K/1K Kids Run/Diaper Dash START TIME: 8:00am (Half Marathon) WEATHER AT START: 51° and sunny FINISHERS: 1,878 (Half Marathon)/ 736 (5K) 'Tis the season to be sweaty, Fa la la la la... la la la la. This past Sunday the north pole came to Oxnard as a gaggle of runners showed off their holiday spirit (and a whole bunch of wacky holiday costumes too) as they trekked from the 101 highway down to the ocean in the 7th running of the Santa to The Sea Half Marathon. REGISTRATION/EXPO Costs for this Santa-centric race are quite reasonable as they start at $55 for early comers, climbing throughout the year, maxing out at $95 just before race weekend. And the race does run specials/discounts throughout the year, so your inner Scrooge can smile as you'll be sure to save a few dollars off registration fees. As for the expo/bib/shirt pick-up, the race offered several options. You could do the traditional "day before race" expo in Oxnard. Another option was to do VIP pick-up on race morning for an extra $20. For those of us in LA who didn't feel like driving all the way to Oxnard two days in a row, the race organizers also had an early pick-up the week before in Santa Monica (a tradition I hope they continue). I, however, chose the final option which was to pay $6 to have my bib/timing chip mailed to me. I would get my race tech shirt at the finish line. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a bit of a problem as after the race I was told they were out of men's shirts (grrr). But like Santa coming to the rescue, I met with the race director who took my info and said he would get a shirt mailed to me asap. MEDALS/SHIRT/SWAG The swag for the race was pretty standard fare, meaning a finisher's medal and race tech shirt. One nice twist is that the organizers let the runners vote (via Facebook) on various aspects of the bling. We got to decide on the color scheme of the medal as well as the ribbon design. As for the shirt, runners got to pick the color and short sleeved vs. long sleeved. The votes were tallied and the winning designs chosen. This year's medal featured Santa chugging along, lugging the number "7" on his shoulder along with a green border surrounding him. The ribbon was a holiday themed green and red sash, complete with images of presents, ornaments and the race's name. Not the most subtle or elegant medal you'll ever receive, but it definitely radiated the holiday spirit. The 2014 race shirt was a deep green color with white stripes on the side and featured the race's logo on the chest. The shirts were long-sleeved and they had crew neck versions for the "lords a' leaping" and V-necks for the "maids a' milking." As race shirts go, it was a pretty decent design and again kept with the holiday theme. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Transportation to the half marathon was pretty straightforward. Drive on the 101 highway until you get to "The Collection" shopping center in Oxnard where you park and catch a quick bus ride to the starting area. People running the 2nd leg of the half marathon relay took another shuttle from the start line to the midway point of the race. After the race, runners caught another bus back to the parking area. Parking is free at "The Collection" and the whole operation went pretty smoothly. COURSE (HALF MARATHON) The Santa To The Sea Half Marathon features a "point to point" course... hence the "to the sea" part. You start at the big "Santa" located at Nyeland Acres (right by the 101) and meander your way down through the city of Oxnard until you get to the ocean (find yourself standing in waves and you've gone too far). The route is flat (with the exception of a freeway overpass or two) with twists and turns along industrial parks and neighborhoods making your way to the coast. Once you hit mile 11, you run along a seaside bike path for a mile or so before finishing near the harbor. Two things of note on the course: first off, at times you're sharing the road with cars (runners have one side of the road). The course does intersect several sizable intersections with cars waiting to cross. Police and volunteers were on hand directing traffic and holding cars. But on more than one occasion I felt a little uneasy that an impatient motorist was going to try and "thread the needle" and jump the gun. Secondly, on some stretches of road the pavement was a bit beat up (lots of cracks/potholes). Runners need to be extra alert to make certain they don't step on a crack and potentially twist an ankle (or break their mother's back). SERVICES Kudos to the over 500 volunteers who helped out with the Santa to the Sea Half Marathon (many of whom I saw handing out water). The services for the race were in keeping with its size and fairly basic. The course was dotted with water stops (and some energy drink) and Gu's were given out at one stop near the end. Since it's impractical to think a race of this size would be packed start to finish with fans, the race opted to create "cheer zones" along the course where locals gathered to give runners a nice motivation boost. I enjoyed running through each of the zones, high-fiving kids along the way. Given the meandering nature of the course, I was wondering early on if there would be enough signage out there to give runners sufficient heads up on which way to go. I definitely went with a lemming-inspired "follow the person in front of you" strategy. And while mile markers were present on the course, be sure to bring a GPS watch if you want to know your time. FINISH/POST PARTY The Santa To The Sea Half Marathon did have a pretty good finish line area. After receiving their medals, runners were treated to a few drinks, fruit and snacks (I appreciated the homemade cookies). Runners could also visit the tented area to check out the race expo one last time. Spectators were also able to see many of the presents donated by the runners. NOTE: One really great aspect of the race was that each runner was asked to bring an unwrapped toy to give to local charities. As I approached the start line amidst the sea of Santas, almost every runner I saw was bringing toys or goods to donate. Well done runners! One other nice addition at the finish line was the race basically emptied out into the area for the local farmer's market. So be sure to tuck an extra $20 in your running belt if you want to pick up some good home grown produce and local prepared food. Oh, and since the shuttle after the race dropped you right back at The Collection, you have the chance to do some quick shopping or grab a bite to eat (provided you're not too sweaty or too tired to walk). RECOMMENDATION I enjoy "holiday themed" races and the chance to break out goofy headgear (I opted with Santas on springs this year). Last year I ran the Holiday Half Marathon in Pomona, so it's hard not to think of Santa To The Sea without comparing the two. In their defense, I'll say each race has its strengths as well as areas where they could improve. But both are small town races, so you tend to be more forgiving with shortcomings as well as wanting to support the local running community. I'm glad I ran the Santa To the Sea Half Marathon. From the runners donating gifts, to the people decked out in costumes and the locals supporters cheering on friends and family (and strangers), I think the race succeeded in capturing the spirit of the season.

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 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 Star Wars Half Marathon by Scott Devine

RACE: Star Wars Half Marathon DATE: January 18, 2015 LOCATION: Anaheim, CA DISTANCES: Half Marathon/10K/5K/Kids Run START TIME: 5:30am WEATHER AT START: 52° and mostly sunny. FINISHERS: 10374 Half Marathon (Sunday)/ 9195 10K (Saturday) A long time ago (okay, it was early Sunday morning) in a galaxy far far away (aka Anaheim)... Half marathon runners were out in full "force" (sorry, been stuck on Star Wars puns all week) for the inaugural running of the Star Wars Half Marathon. When you combine my childhood obsession with Star Wars (I had every Star Wars toy, including Star Wars bed sheets) and my adult obsession of distance running into one event you get something that excites both the big kid and the eternal 8-year-old inside me. REGISTRATION/EXPO Over the years I've spent countless amounts of disposable (and non-disposable) income on Star Wars toys/collectables/memorabilia. Heck my mom once joked that if they sold tauntaun poop I'd want some (I would have). So, this was one race I was willing to spend whatever was necessary. And a good thing too because Disney race costs are really "out of this world" (sorry). Granted it wasn't quite as much as the 17,000 that Luke and Ben Kenobi paid for a one-way trip on the Millenium Falcon to Alderaan, but $195 ($208 once you pay the additional "whatever" fees) is a steep amount of republic credits to part with for a half marathon. Now in addition to the Half Marathon, runners could sign up for the 10K or spend extra and do both the 10K on Saturday and Half Marathon on Sunday (dubbed "The Rebel Challenge"). As for the expo, like the Disneyland Half Marathon and Avengers race before it, the Star Wars Half Marathon expo was held at the Disneyland Hotel (Thu- Sat). Parking at the Disneyland Hotel is typically $17, but costs were waived for 30 whole minutes (not enough time to get your stuff to be honest). Now, I have a feeling that they weren't enforcing that policy but if you want to play it safe, my advice would be to park at Downtown Disney where you get a 3-hour grace period. And that can be stretched to 5 hours of free parking with purchase/validation at one of the sit down restaurants. They do enough races at Disney that the expo runs like a fairly well oiled machine (or should I say like C-3PO getting an oil bath that feels so good). You get your bib in a dressed-up subterranean portion of the parking structure and then head up to the hotel for your shirt and gear bag. The expo had a decent amount of vendors showing off their latest wares, and if you stopped by the PRO Compression booth on Saturday you could have said "hi" to yours truly. NOTE: Runners had to pick up their own bibs; no exceptions. Disney races do have one additional component unlike other marathons/half marathons. People go nuts for the Disney gear. In fact people line up for hours for the chance to pay premium prices (okay, over premium prices) for the jackets/shirts/hats/pins/toys/whatever Disney is selling. In the past hoarders have bought up all of the merchandise on the first day (to turnaround and sell for profit on e-bay) leaving us latecomers souvenir-less. Things were a little better this year as they restocked the shelves somewhat each day. Unfortunately, the one item I wanted, a "Star Wars Half Marathon" pint glass, was long gone when I showed up on Saturday at noon. MEDALS/SHIRT/SWAG If you've run a Disney race before, you know that they love their bling big and shiny. When I first saw the Star Wars Half Marathon medal I have to say I was a bit bummed. It seemed very muted. But then it hit me and I realized its utter genius. The medal was basically a replica of the one given to Luke and Han by Princess Leia after they destroyed the first Death Star. Okay, that's pretty friggin' awesome (my inner geek was smiling). Oh, and the ribbon on the medal was brown with text and featured a pattern that kind of looked like Chewie's fur (did you ever notice that in Star Wars he didn't get a medal... no wonder he roared at the end). The medals for the other races, including the Rebel Challenge were fun bits of bling and lived up to Disney's usual standard. As for the shirt, I have to say I was a little disappointed with it... not because it's a bad shirt (a long sleeve grey Champion shirt with Chewbacca on it). Not at all. But it's more like one of those "other" shirts you tend to buy at races in addition to the free race tech shirt. And given the home run done with the medal, Disney missed an opportunity here. Hoping they improve on it for next year. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Disney offers you several choices when it comes to transportation/parking for their races. If you stay overnight at most local hotels, be prepared to see an additional parking fee on your bill. And most will provide some sort of shuttle service to get you to the starting area. But if you were like me and made the hyperspace trek down to Disney in the very very a.m., be prepared to part with $17 to park in one of the Disneyland structures. COURSE This was the third Disney half marathon I've run in the last 5 months and I was curious to see if the course was going to be something new or a rehash of Disneyland (in Aug) or Avengers Superheroes (in Nov). And happily it did feature some new twists and turns. On the upside, it was a better course than the Disneyland half. On the downside, it wasn't as good as the course for the Avengers race. The course for Star Wars had elements of both a looping and an out-and-back route. As with all of the Disneyland-related half marathons, the race started (and ended) near the Disneyland Hotel. Runners quickly made their way toward Disneyland park, including running through multiple "behind-the-scenes" areas. At 1.75 miles you made your way into the actual park for a run around various popular areas including Fantasyland, Main Street U.S.A., Frontierland and Tomorrowland (of course) before exiting the park and then running all through California Adventure. Star Wars characters were present should you want to catch a snapshot with Boba Fett or some stormtroopers. By 3.75 miles, however, your jaunt through the "happiest places on earth" was done. The rest of the race took you away from Disney, down a few main city streets and around various residential Anaheim neighborhoods before heading back toward Disney in the last few miles and concluding at the Disneyland Hotel. Those expecting another run through Angel Stadium (as in several other Disney races) were in for a bit of a shock as it was absent from this course. I'm not familiar with the neighborhoods around Disneyland, so this was quite a bit of new (if unremarkable) territory for me. As is the story with all of the Disneyland halfs, the course is very anti-climactic. Once you leave the parks by mile 4 (which are a lot of fun to run through), the rest of the course is really like any other city race and honestly quite average. SERVICES Disney does channel its inner Trade Federation with its high prices, but for that amount you do get some good course services. The pre-race area is well laid out, complete with water, porta potties, video screens and host. And once you make your way to the starting area/corrals you get a whole new batch of video screens and two hosts who are way too chipper for 5:00am. NOTE: Oh and a plea to the RunDisney pre-race organizers. Please skip the incredibly cheesy pre-race skits that included your hosts... they were quite painful for everyone to watch. There's so many cool Star Wars-related things you can do (showing movies clips was a good idea) that are way better than this. And while we're at it, claiming your Disneyland ambassadors were "special guests" was a horrific bait & switch. Instead of bringing out some coolStar Wars characters (or perhaps one of the films' actors) just before the start of the race, we were subjected to "punny" banter from two of the most annoying women you've ever met (and remember it was 5am and most of us runners hadn't had caffeine yet). Yup, that pair should have definitely been tossed into the Sarlaac pit to be digested over 1000 years. Disney's solid organization continued onto the course itself. Water stations were well-staffed with volunteers and there were plenty of aid stations. Photographers from MarathonFoto were afoot capturing images of everyone decked out in their Jedi and Sith costumes. And for those unable to make the race, they were able to follow participants with free runner tracking. Disney usually does a good job with their mile markers (some races just have a simple banner) and this was no exception, as they had large "lightsaber inspired" markers complete with digital read-outs. The crowd turn out was decent and a special shout out for the Cos-players who gathered en masse to grace the course later in the race. It was a lot of fun to suddenly witness a a huge cheering line overflowing with stormtroopers, Sith lords, X-Wing pilots, rebel supporters and Mandalorian warriors. FINISH/POST PARTY The finish area (which also doubled as the pre-race area) was designed quite well, which is in keeping with Disney's well-proven ability to manage crowds. Runners were greeted by volunteers with medals and then led off to areas for water, finisher's photos and pre-packaged boxes of snacks. I would have hung around longer but, unfortunately I had plans back in LA (a good friend's wedding later that day) so I was "forced" to make a hasty exit. RECOMMENDATION This was my third high-priced half marathon at Disneyland in the last five months and while they were all fun; they were also very similar. The courses changed a little over the three races, but all basically had the same major elements: Run through the two Disney parks. See the characters specific to that race. Wait in line and take pictures if you want. Then run a very pedestrian stretch of Anaheim. Finally, head back to Disneyland. It really felt like the same race three times over, just with different "themes." In August it was all pure Disney; November was Marvel super-heroes; January it's all things Star Wars. Again, a fun time but I can't see doing all three again in the same year (especially without some serious kind of price break that almost assuredly won't happen). Now if you don't have problem with repetition and have the extra disposable income (or if you just absolutely love anything RunDisney has to offer), then by all means do the trifecta (and don't forget Tinkerbell too... doest that make it a "quadfecta"). As for me, I'm going to pick the "theme" I like best, run that race and skip the rest. And while I love Disney and Marvel superheroes (although at heart I'm a DC boy), nothing trumps Luke Skywalker & Company. I'll expect to be part of this Podrace again come 2016. May The Force be with you.

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 Orange County Turkey Trot by chspensley

I have run a Thanksgiving Day race every year for as long as I can remember with varying experiences. This race was once of the best. I ran Dana Point the last three years and enjoyed the event but the race almost becomes an all day affair with all of the events and the number of participants. I was looking for an alternative race and I found one in this gem of a race. Parking was plentiful ($5) but at least you knew you could park relatively near the start line. Pre race was solid until the very willing and helpful staff was overwhelmed by the vast number of last minute registrations. Because it was the first year of the event I am certain they were surprised as the number of participants doubled and hour before it started. All that considered and with a keen eye on the charity the race supports I think the fact that they didn't turn anyone away was amazing. I am certain there will be cut offs next year but I think the desire for a good alternative to the mass crowds at Dana Point will sell this one out quickly. Easily the best shirt I have received this year, also the friendliest staff. The pumpkin pie was also a very nice touch. I have read the previous reviews and found a few pans to be a little unfair to this event as it was only it's first year - This event was only hindered by minor logistics. The race was fast and fun and the swag was wayyy superior to Dana Point for a lot less $$.

Review of Great Donut Run by hubba79

Where else can you run and eat donuts!! Great run for the whole family!! Definitely a good time.

Review of Great Donut Run by miketherunner12

Ran this last year with my wife and infant -- the little guy's first race! It was a blast! The course was more entertaining than your average themed-race, which was nice because our friends who we invited hadn't run anything like this before. Everyone loved it, and there were plenty of extra donuts, if that's your thing. I was surprised how many people showed up with costumes and props! People really love their donuts. The shirts and medals were very cool, and most importantly, it was well organized. The start was like a little party, good tunes. What else... plenty of water and porta-potties, and the staggered start was great because it gave us more room for our stroller.

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 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 Lexus LaceUp Running Series - Palos Verdes Half Marathon by happyrunnerstanley

It was a great race! The Parking was easy and well communicated. I jumped right on the shuttle and made it to the course. I wish i could have done packet pick up at Road Runner, but did it onsite. They had bib only pickup in the morning, which i guess was because they had a short time to get everyone through and start on time. i ran the 10k, so we started with the 1/2. they had a drone flying around shooting video, so that got everyone to cheer before starting. The course was well marked and there seemed to be plenty of volunteers, they were all cheering us on as we came by. the aid stations were well stocked. i only drank water, but they had Clif blocks and drinks. After the race we all got a cool medal. It is really heavy, i imagine they spent alot on them. also got some trail mix and a Fiji water. There were tons of sponsors in the expo and we got a free brunch (i got the quiche, which was really tasty - good to get some protein). Typically i take off right after a race, but it was so beautiful and lots of people were hanging out, so i stayed and had a beer - Sierra Nevada (it too came for free with the race). I got my shirt and re-usable bag and got a picture at the photobooth. I left around 11am and the shuttle took me right back to the lot where i had parked. Overall, i was really impressed with this race and would definitely do it again. I am not a big reviewer of things, but just thought this experience merited it.

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