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 Silverman 70.3 Ironman by RaceGrader

I can't give anything but straight "A"'s for this event. Ironman did a great job. PRE RACE: We made the decision to arrive on Friday to help avoid any stress. It was a great decision. We were able to check in around 6pm with no lines. That gave us the ability to be ahead of the crowds on Saturday. With this race, you are required to drop your run gear at T2 and bike at T1 the day before the race (although, you were able to access both transitions early on race day). Because we checked in Friday, we had our transitions set up my mid afternoon on Saturday and were able to relax the rest of the day. Ironman Village was a bit small but took place at the Henderson Pavillion. A great location for the finish line. RACE DAY: Ironman provided shuttles from T2 up to Lake Mead. We arrived around 5AM and did not have to wait in line. Because of the recent heat, there was a serious chance that wetsuits would not be allowed. But after measuring the temperature on race day at 75 degrees, wetsuits were declared legal for the event. A big relief for those that rely on the wetsuit for buoyancy! THE SWIM course was a basic triangle. Out, over, and back into the beach. There were numerous buoys for sighting and the water was clear. The most difficult part of the swim was the "convergence" of waves. It seemed like many people thought it was a bit crowded out there. Maybe they could move the waves to 4 minutes apart instead of 3? Also, it was tough to get a feel for the distance remaining on the swim back to the beach. I was sighting off a building on the beach that was at a much higher elevation than the water level. This gave the impression the beach was miles away. Not an event problem, but just something to consider for future athletes. Ironman did number the buoys. If I had known this, I would've been able to use them to determine how far was still remaining. Good reason to go to the pre-race meeting (I didn't attend). BIKE: Hills. I could pretty much stop right there. This bike course is brutally tough. There is very little relief from the climbs. I believe you climb over 4,200 feet with a net increase of nearly 2,700. Way more UP than DOWN. The bike course reminded me of the movie Ground Hog Day. Climb...climb...climb...down...climb...climb...climb...down...etc.. A good strategy is very important on this course. You can NOT just go out an hammer away at these hills. You'll have nothing left for the run (or the huge climb that awaits you at mile 54). It's very important to stay within your own pace and have a very good nutrition plan. Take a look at the number of people with DNF's for this event. I'm sure many of them were the people passing me as they powered up every hill. I would say this to summarize the bike course. First 10 miles are rolling hills (mostly climbing). The next 12 miles are very difficult. Basically all climbing with not much downhill relief. The next 12 miles are the reverse (these 12 miles are out and back). Although, the headwind made it difficult to really take full advantage of the net "downhill". At mile 42 there is a 2-3 mile climb. It's a serious grind from inside Lake Mead to the top of the hill by Lake Las Vegas entrance. From mile 42 to 52ish you are mostly down and flat. It seems like this is the time you'd make up some ground. But the race gods turned ugly and ruined those plans with a fairly decent headwind that taxed your legs even further. At mile 52 you encounter yet another big climb. I didn't hear much "chatter" on the course to that point. But when my fellow participants turned the corner to see this hill, many were cursing and calling for the course designers head! After climbing pretty much all day, you have to grind it out one last time from mile 52 pretty much all the way to the transition area. I finished the bike 45 minutes slower than my Half Ironman distance P.R. And I worked way harder! My bike time of 3:25 put me just above the 50 percentile in my age division. THE RUN: Did I mention it was hot? You don't really feel the heat until you put on those running shoes and started to go. Someone mentioned it may have reached 96 degrees in the afternoon. So again, nutrition is key! Fortunately Ironman did a great job with their aid stations. The course was a total of 3 loops and there were 4 aid stations. So 12 total chances to get "refreshed" on the 13.1 mile run. In most cases, loops tend to get a bit boring. But it's great for spectators. They can set up in the shade and see you run by the same point 6 times. The aid stations were fully stocked with ice (savior), water, propel, cola, chips, pretzels, oranges, banana's, gu's, etc.... it was basically a "much needed" buffet with enthusiastic volunteers. There were also a few "run through" mist systems on the course. And one was stationed with a guy hosing people down. That felt awesome!! Besides fighting the heat, this run course was HILLY. You think you had enough with the hills on the bike, but there really isn't any FLAT in Silverman. During the 4+mile loop, you go down 2 miles than up 2 miles. Repeat. Repeat. It's similar to running long intervals. If you grind out the "up" you can take advantage of the "down". Although with the demanding bike course and heat, I saw a ton of athletes walking or being sidelined with cramps/hamstring issues. POST RACE: Anyone that has done a long distance event knows you really feel brain dead after you cross the finish line. It's often times difficult to even function. Ironman had some great volunteers. As I crossed the line, someone became my personal escort. They took me to get my medal, remove my timing chip, grab my finishers hat, handed me an ice cold water, took me to get a finisher picture, then directed me to the athlete tent. It was a great service. Thank you to whoever you were helping me out! The athlete tent had a great setup with a full buffet of food and drinks. After cooling down, you pick up all your gear that was driven down by Ironman from Lake Mead. It was very organized and (again) staffed with great volunteers. Someone even had bagged my bike gear left on the ground at T2. First class all the way. OVERALL: I heard a few people saying this is the toughest course in America. Other's said they put out more effort on this course than they needed for a full Ironman. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but the course was more than just a challenge. It was VERY TOUGH. Proof were the number of people suffering on a course. But the with the great challenge, comes a great feeling of accomplishment. Knowing you can survive and finish an event like this gives you great confidence for any future challenges. Silverman was a great event and Ironman did a great job.

Review of Lexus LaceUp Running Series - Riverside by tlujan

Thank you for a great event. It was close and convenient to where I live. Nice and easy 5k course. I felt that the check in was nice and easy. The staff was very friendly and was able to socialize with you. The only down fall was not enough photographers out on the course but I guess we can take our own pictures with our phones. The post race event was fun. I never have went to a beer garden in all the other races that I have done but I thought I would give a cheers to a great race on 12~13~14. I made history running with my husband on such a memorable day!!! I give all the thanks to you for making this event happen and I am more than willing to offer my time on next years series. Great job Team Lexus LaceUp!!!

Review of Rock N Roll Marathon/Half Marathon - Las Vegas by Scott Devine

RACE: Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon DATE: November 16, 2014 LOCATION: Las Vegas, NV DISTANCES: Marathon/Half Marathon/Half of Half Marathon/5K START TIME: 4:30pm WEATHER AT START: 51° and sunny... colder when the sun went down. FINISHERS: 25,172 (Half Marathon)/ 3208 (Full Marathon) "Viva Las Vegas" everyone! It was a busy night in "Sin City" as almost 30,000 runners shut down the famed Las Vegas strip, gambling that they could finish the latest running of the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon/Half Marathon. REGISTRATION/EXPO Registration fees for Rock 'n' Roll races are definitely on the high side and Las Vegas is one of their most expensive ones (guess it costs a lot to shut down the strip). Waiting until the last minute you can expect to spend over $150 for the half marathon. Fortunately, Rock 'n' Roll offers numerous discounts online (including $13 off of races each 13th of the month). And there is another option as you can sign up for the North American "TourPass" (unlimited Rock 'n' Roll races in the US for $449 in 2015). I registered for the Las Vegas race courtesy of the "TourPass 3-Pack" for $199. My 3-Pack also included the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon (in July) and Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon (in October). It's a pretty good deal, basically giving you 3 races for the price of 2. Unfortunately I can't comment on the race expo as I didn't arrive in Las Vegas until 2 hours before the race. From what I heard from other runners, the expo was fairly sizable and presented a good variety of vendors offering up their goods. I chose to pay for same day bib/shirt pick-up, which was available for an additional $40. That's a bit pricey for a basic service; clearly the high cost was designed to discourage everyone except for seriously "time crunched" runners. Since I had races on both Saturday and Sunday morning in CA, I had no option but to agree to pay the extra fee because runners had to pick up their own bibs (no sending friends/family in your stead). MEDALS/SHIRT/SWAG The Rock 'n' Roll series typically has decent bling and shirts (the 2014 Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon tech shirt was a miss) and they kept that "more good than bad" trend going in Vegas. Given that there is a "lil bit" of gambling going on in Las Vegas, it makes sense that the bling would celebrate our love of giving our hard earned money to the casinos. This year's medal featured an overlapping trio of playing cards: the 11 of clubs, 16 of hearts and 14 of spades, showing the date of the race (I'm waiting for some blackjack dealer to pull out the 14 of spades). The medal also featured a red ribbon and the various playing card suits (the full marathon had a black ribbon). And bonus, the medal also glows in the dark! The Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas race typically has black colored tech shirts and this year is no different. The shirt features the well-known "Welcome to Vegas" sign mashed-up with the race's "We Run The Night" slogan. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING For those traveling to Vegas you're visiting the land of taxis, so getting around shouldn't be a problem. If you drove to Vegas, odds are you parked at one of the casinos/hotels where you're staying. Parking should be free (don't worry, they'll get that back from you at the tables). Another option is to use the Vegas monorail (get yourself a day pass and you'll be fine). Or of course you could just hoof it along the strip (think of it as a warm-up). Be warned that the start line (Mandalay Bay) and the finish line (Mirage) are a bit of a ways apart, so be prepared to trek either before or after the race. I stayed at the Luxor, so I had quite the walk in the cold after the race. COURSE (HALF MARATHON) The Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon features a basically flat "modified out & back" course as runners make their way down the main strip. FYI, this is one of only two nights a year that the strip is closed to traffic (the other is New Year's Eve). Runners are gathered into 42 different corrals (a big field of racers) and start near the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Initially, runners head south to the outskirts of the city, hanging a U-turn shortly after the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign (great photo op set up there). After that, runners basically head back up the strip past all of the popular casinos (MGM, Bellagio, Caesar's Palace, Treasure Island... just to name a few) as they make their way toward the older part of the town. I have to say that running down the main strip of Vegas is a pretty sweet experience (talk about sensory overload). And the throngs of cheering fans/"gamblers taking a break" make it even better. Around mile 7, runners leave the strip and weave through a bunch of nondescript Las Vegas side streets. This is definitely not the highlight of the race as the bright lights of the strip are temporarily gone and your only illumination comes from street lights and some temporary generators. The meandering backstreets eventually lead runners to Freemont Street, but unfortunately only the full marathon runners get to run down the famed boulevard. The half marathoners turn just shy of the street and instead make their way back to the strip. The final 3 miles retrace your route on the main Las Vegas strip, passing multiple casinos and hitting the finish line around the Mirage. SERVICES The Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon had solid services before and during the race. They had a nice pre-race area, complete with live music to help runners get in the mood to pound the pavement (and an elevated VIP area for those who wanted to pay extra). Multiple water/Gatorade stops were situated along the route as well as plenty of medical tents/areas. And MarathonFoto was out in force snapping photos all along the way (and thank you for placing multiple photographers at the "Welcome to Vegas" sign). Mile markers were present on the course, although the only digital clocks were at the start and finish line (bring your GPS watch). And runner tracking was available for friends/family so they could leave the warm casinos (and slot machines) in time to cheer you on at the finish line. FINISH/POST PARTY The finish line area for the race was basically a cordoned-off chute along the Vegas strip. On the upside, runners were given a plethora of things upon completing the race... water, chocolate milk, Gatorade, Powerbar wafers, chips, fruit and the much needed mylar blankets given the dropping temperatures (I took two). Some plastic bags to carry the snacks might have helped, especially with runners sporting chilled fingers at this point. On the downside, given the huge number of runners, the chute felt increasingly cramped. Rather than dawdle, I grabbed my snacks and quickly made my way out of the finish area. There was a post party with live music, but to be honest I was simply too tired and cold to hang around and party. Instead, I made a beeline for my hotel and a much needed warm shower. RECOMMENDATION I've run the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon twice before, in 2010 when it was still a morning race and again in 2011, the first year it was run at night (and an unorganized disaster). It seems that Rock 'n' Roll has fixed many of the shortcoming of that original nighttime race. The current incarnation of the half marathon/marathon is rather enjoyable. This is definitely one of the larger (and pricier) races you'll run with over 25,000 finishers in the half marathon alone. Nighttime races are not the norm and that novelty alone is enough reason to give the race a try. And if you're a fan of Vegas, this gives you another reason to check it out. Also, if you're one of those hardcore racers who want to to run two races in a single weekend... or even attempt two races in a single day (which I did)... this is a great destination. Viva Las Vegas... and Run on!

Review of Shoreline Half Marathon, 5K, 10K by

As most distance runners know, July is not the prime month for races. Summer vacations and summer heat limit the number of races available around the country. And since the San Francisco Marathon conflicts with ComicCon this year (yup, the geek side of me wins out there) I was desperately looking for a local SoCal race. And with that I chose the Shoreline Half Marathon/10K/5K, a 2nd year race located in Ventura. Definitely a race on the small side (big contrast to the Peachtree Road Race I ran last week with 60,000 runners) all three races combined feature less than 1,000 runners. This year's installment had about 570 people running the half marathon distance and I decided to give it a look see. REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP Registration for the Shoreline Half Marathon was definitely on the inexpensive side with rates only getting to $75 right before the start of the race (no race day registration). What really made the cost reasonable was a 30% discount courtesy of raceshed.com (check 'em out) for a limited number of early registrants. In the end, the race only cost me in the neighborhood of $45 a real bargain in these days of ever-increasing registration costs. In regards to packet pick-up, participants could grab their bibs and shirts the day before the race at the Sport Authority store in Ventura. But like many participants, I opted to save the drive and pick-up my packet on race day (no additional cost). And since I arrived early on race day, I only waited about 5 minutes in order to get my stuff. The lines got longer as the start time approached, but they moved quickly. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING It was about an hour drive from the valley along the 101 to get to Ventura and the start location. As for parking, you did have several options. You can either park at the Crown Plaza parking structure for $8 (some businesses do validate). I also heard you could park at the nearby fairgrounds for $5. I did arrive early on race day and was able to snag one of the cool beachside parking spots (along with the surfers) for a minuscule $2. T-SHIRT/MEDALS The Shoreline Half Marathon provided its participants with a tech running shirt (manufactured by A4) dark blue in color, featuring the Shoreline logo on the front and race sponsors on the back. The shirt was the same for runners of the half marathon, 10K and 5K and is a decent if unremarkable looking shirt. It should be noted that the race also gave all of the race participants a water bottle sporting the race logo, a nice gesutre. The finisher's medal for the race was on the small side (guess we're getting spoiled with our bling) featuring the race's logo and connected by a plain yellow ribbon. One disappointing fact is that finishers received the exact same medal regardless of whether they ran the 5K, 10K or half marathon. I understand it's a cost-saving measure, but it'd be nice in the future to see them differentiate between the races, even if it just means different ribbon designs or different colors on the medal. One additional nice touch from the race is the inclusion of free digital race photos (taken by Santa Barbara Pix). While there were only a few photographers on the course, I did manage to find a start and finish picture along with one more of myself on the course. COURSE The Shoreline Half Marathon features a rather circuitous course (especially for the half marathon runners) that travels along the beach and up through a nearby neighborhood. The course itself is only about 6 miles long, meaning the half marathon runners needed to complete two loops (with an additional spoke added on the first lap). A huge map near the start line displayed the course layout and the race officials explained each race distance route in detail. Given the windy course, I was a little nervous that we might make a wrong turn, but volunteers were situated to make sure we didn't go awry. The course did cut across a few streets with traffic, but police were stationed at each intersection and the runners always had the right of way. One bit of a headache was the beach portion of the race had us running along on the bike path, which wasn't closed to the public. While most people steered clear of the path that day, you did have to meander through some non-participants, especially near the start and finish line. The course itself was basically flat with the exception of two hills leading near the 101 freeway. The course was most enjoyable as we ran along the beach (dodging people notwithstanding) and fairly scenic around mile 6 as you ran fairly near the water and could see the surfers en masse trying to catch waves. The section of the race through the nearby neighborhood (and featuring one turnaround) was rather unremarkable. A note about weather conditions, as the July sun was rather brutal at times and the course afforded little shade... be prepared to cook out there. COURSE SERVICES Course services for the race were in keeping with its size. Water and Gatorade tables were present about every 1.5 miles and Gu's were available at two of the stops. While there were only a limited number of volunteers on the course, they were working hard and seemed to be able manage things fairly well. Basic mile markers were visible on the course, but the only digital clock was at the start/finish, so be sure to bring a GPS. One thing worth noting is the race was timed, although there were only sensors at the start/finish so runners were on their honor not to cut things short. EMTs were located at various points on the course and I did notice a few support people riding around on bicycles making sure runners were okay. Fan support for the race was minimal save for a group of people cheering at the start/finish line, although I did see this one lone spectator at various points during the race (he was traveling to different places on a bike) and I applaud his enthusiasm and support. FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY Pretty basic at the end, as you were handed your medal once you crossed the finish line and were directed into the gathering area. The race booth featured some water cups and orange slices, but not much else. A few goodbyes to fellow racers and then I made my way back to my car. RECOMMENDATION It's a little hard to compare this race to other races, given that it was by far the "smallest" race I've completed in 2014 and felt like a Mom & Pop store trying to compete against Target for your business. Given the big production connected to other races (expo trips, parking headaches, huge throngs of people) I did appreciate the easy access and intimate feel. And while it was far less polished than other races, the people involved with the race definitely gave it their all. Given that I only paid $45 for the half marathon, it felt like my money was fairly well spent, especially if I consider it more as an organized and glorified training run than a full-fledged race. One detriment to the race is it's located in Ventura, the same area as the Ventura Marathon (which runs on September 7th). Running two races so close geographically in less than two months might be overkill and I think people will lean more toward the larger race if they need to choose between the two.

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 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 Hollywood Half Marathon by Scott Devine

RACE: Hollywood Half Marathon DATE: April 11,12015 DISTANCES: Half Marathon/10K/5K LOCATION: Hollywood, CA START TIME: 6:00am WEATHER AT START: 55 degrees FINISHERS: Half Marathon- 3261 10K- 1686 5K- 1491 (Updated from 2014 Review) Lace up your running shoes and join the H'wood crowd for a fun run up & back along the city's legendary "Walk of Fame" for the 4th running of the Hollywood Half Marathon. This past Saturday over 6,000 runners gathered outside of the Chinese Theater for the pre-dawn start to the Half Marathon/10K and 5K races. REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP Registration costs for the Hollywood Half Marathon are quite reasonable when compared to other similar races as I only paid about $70. And while prices do climb as race day approaches, the Hollywood Half offers plenty of discounts on social media, various websites and through its many ambassadors. If you can’t find a discount code, it’s just because you didn’t look. Packet pick-up for the race was at another city landmark, the Hollywood Paladium Theater on Sunset Blvd. Their expo ran on Thursday and Friday and was quite easy to navigate. The Paladium features a limited parking lot, but metered street parking is available if you don't mind circling a block or two (just make sure you don't park on Sunset during rush hour). One note, the race doesn't offer race day packet pick-up (although you'll still be able to get your medal if you show your race confirmation at the finish line). For future races I suggest they offer a raceday "solutions" table for those who can't make it to the expo or have a travel snafu (a simple $10-$20 fee would probably make everyone happy). TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Since the race starts at the Chinese Theater, there are several solutions to your transportation/parking needs. You can either park at the Hollywood Highland complex or one of the many nearby lots (expect to pay anywhere from $10- $25, depending on the lot). Just be sure to get down there before the streets close. Another very viable option is to use the Metro Rail since there is a station that lets off right at the Hollywood Highland complex. I parked at the Universal City Lot and purchased a Metro Rail day pass ($6, plus $1 extra if you don’t already have a TAP card) and it was a short 5 minute ride to the start line. T-SHIRT/MEDALS In its inaugural running in 2012, the Hollywood Half Marathon introduced the “Walk of Fame” inspired star-shaped medal, red in color, which I really enjoyed. In 2013 it was white and last year the medal was blue. 2015 is the last year of this theme (curious to see what's on tap for next year) and this final medal in the series was yellow in color and a nice addition to the prior three. A slight change up in the race T-shirts for 2015 as prior years were white with colored side panels. This year's shirt was a standard black shirt and featured the H'wood Half Marathon race logo on the front. It's a fine shirt, but just felt a little less inspired than previous shirts. Here's hoping next year's shirt starts up a new theme as well. For Legacy Runners (yours truly included), this year featured a sweet Hollywood Half Marathon running hat which complimented the legacy shirt from last year. I enjoyed seeing dozens of fellow legacy runners clad in their shirts trekking up and down the boulevard. Next year's legacy prize I believe is a duffle bag (I think we get a gulfstream jet around year 10, but don't quote me). COURSE Over it's four year history, the race course for the Hollywood Half Marathon has undergone numerous facelifts (hey, LA knows its facelifts). Last year the race had to juggle things around at the last second and the course featured numerous turnoffs of the main street for a few blocks in order to add some distance to reach the 13.1 mile length. This year's course continued its "wonky" ways (the race directors promise things to get better for next year's race). As mentioned before, the race starts in front of the Chinese theater and more or less does an "out and back" configuration utilizing Hollywood Blvd. as its main route. All of the runners (half marathon/10K/5K) start at the same place (and time). Signs tell the runners of the 5K/10K distances when to turn around. For the half marathon runners there's one little additional hiccup near the end, as we need to run past the finish line (which is off of Vine) for an extra half mile or so before doubling back. It does play a little bit with your head and that last mile just feels extra long as a result. Here's hoping the 2016 course irons out all of the remaining bugs and loses the turnoffs. COURSE SERVICES Course services for the Hollywood Half Marathon are pretty standard fare, with water and energy drinks being provided approximately every mile and a half to two miles. The volunteers were a little on the light side in numbers (but still appreciated), so at times you were left grabbing your own cup off of the table. It would be wise to bring your own water bottle, just in case. The course featured markers for most miles (no digital clocks, so bring your GPS along), but I did notice that a few of the signs were looking a little beat up (and Mile 10 was just a banner draped over a barricade). It might be time to invest in some new mile markers. And while they're at it, the shoe chip timers could be upgraded from the old hard plastic tags that need to be cut off after the race and replaced with the disposable shoe tags or bib tags. FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY The race featured a decent finish line area where runners received some good snacks and water along with a chance to take a finisher's photo. RECOMMENDATION Being a founding/legacy runner, I have a real soft spot for this race. I consider it to be the “little race that could" and continue to support it even with its shortcomings (we all love underdog stories). As the race prepares to hit its fifth year in 2016, I'd like to see the Hollywood Half Marathon resolve any ongoing issues and take it to "the next level" (sorry for using the entertainment industry cliche). Hollywood is known for movie sequels that fail to live up to the original. I hope that Hollywood Half Marathon can channel its inner "Fast and Furious 7" and show that the latest installment can be the flashiest of the franchise.

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 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 Disneyland Half Marathon by Scott Devine

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

Review of MK5K & 10K Run/Walk by lipservice

This is a fun race for the entire family and the proceeds go to a GREAT cause!!!! It's a MUST Attend!

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 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 Long Beach International Marathon/Half/5K by Scott Devine

In 1984, Long Beach hosted its first marathon. In the three decades since, the race has become a popular annual event in southern California featuring almost 20,000 participants enjoying one of the many races they offer, including: the full marathon, half marathon, bike tour and 5K. This past Sunday the race celebrated its 30th anniversary and Long Beach was once again packed with energetic runners and cyclists ready to pound (and ride) the pavement of this seaside city. I ran the half marathon (my fourth time running the route) and will focus my review on that distance. REGISTRATION/PACKET PICK-UP Registration costs for the Long Beach Half Marathon are in keeping with standard half marathons. The key as always is to sign up sooner rather than later to avoid the higher fees. I registered for the race back about 6 months ago and paid around $80 for the half marathon. You can find occasional discounts online or at race expos. Packet pick-up for the race is on the Friday and Saturday before the marathon, located at the Long Beach Convention Center. Expo parking is $10, but street parking is available if you don't mind parking a few blocks away. I ended up about a half mile from the convention center and meter parked for the cost of a few quarters. The pick-up process is pretty quick, but be sure to bring a copy of your signed release form (they e-mail you it ahead of time) as you need to have it in order to get your bib. And just to be safe, bring a blank one along with you as you'll invariably find someone looking for a blank form (they don't print 'em out for you). Fortunately, you can pick up the bib for a friend or family member, but again be sure to have their signed release form and a picture of their ID. The expo itself is good sized and featured plenty of vendors showing off their latest wares and advertising upcoming races. I myself picked up a few new items to try out and a few bits of swag (can you ever have enough bottle openers and water bottles). TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Those people traveling to Long Beach for the race should be aware of potential traffic problems. With about 20,000 people trying to reach LB in a short span of time, traffic back-up is inevitable. And since a huge number of people funnel onto the 710 freeway, it can become quite the quagmire as race time approaches. The race advises you to arrive 90 minutes prior to your race start time and that is some advice worth following. Better to get to the race early and relax near the start line, than to get a few extra minutes of sleep only to end up sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic wondering if you'll make it to the start in time (I almost missed the start of the race in 2011 and it was no fun whatsoever). As for parking, there are a good number of spots at the convention center, the Pike Shopping Center and various lots around town. You can pre-purchase parking passes and expect to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 whether you purchase ahead of time or at the lot itself. This year I managed to find a parking bargain ($5) at a public lot about a half mile from the start line. And again, it's worth getting there early to save yourself some stress and making sure you don't come across lots at capacity. T-SHIRT/MEDALS/SWAG The Long Beach Marathon consistently utilizes a nautical theme when it comes to their shirts and medals (as well as signage). Past years have focused on the Queen Mary, palm trees on the beach and the Rainbow Harbor lighthouse. For the 30th edition of the Long Beach race, the scallop shell gets its moment in the spotlight. The familiar casing for that oh so yummy bivalve mollusk is front and center on just about everything race-related this year. The finisher's medal for the race features a silver scallop shell highlighted by sparkly blue text reading "30th anniversary" and a blue ring listing the distance of the particular race. All of the various medals (marathon, half marathon, bike tour, 5k) are basically the same design, just varying in size. The ribbon is white, blue and silver and lists the race distance run. They're nice and elegant medals and will look good on your medal rack (or wherever you hang your bling). And for those of you who like challenge medals, the Long Beach Marathon is one of the three races comprising the Beach Cities Challenge. Finish this race along with Surf City and Orange County and you can earn the impressive 2014 challenge medal (a new "clasp shell" design will be offered stating at Surf City in 2015). As much as I liked the finisher's medal, I did not like the tech shirt at all. Last year's shirt design introduced a more "minimalist" look where the majority of the shirt is a solid color (blue in the case of 2013) with the design/logo wrapping around one side of the bottom of the shirt. It kinda worked with last year's shirt. This year... not at all. The 3oth anniversary shirt started off committing what many consider to be the cardinal sin of race shirts: it's white... really white. And given the small logo and muted scallop shell wrapping around the side (so muted at first glance you wonder if it's inside out) this shirt looks like a big white mistake. Here's hoping they get enough negative feedback to revamp their shirts (and add some color) for the 31st anniversary shirt. The swag bag featured some fliers and a few freebies (there's also a virtual swag bag online), but one bit of swag worth noting is that each racer gets a free entry to the Aquarium of the Pacific during the month of October. It's a great aquarium, by the way, and worth another trip to Long Beach. COURSE The Long Beach Half Marathon basically features a looping course that begins and ends near the water by the convention center. If you like waterfront views, then this a course for you. Starting near the Pike Shopping Center, the course meanders down the main drag before heading up and over the Queensway Bridge that then winds around near the water and takes you in and around Rainbow Harbor, including a nice view of the Queen Mary. Continuing on through Pierpoint Landing and Shoreline Village you make your way onto the running path on the beach (which stretches from about mile 6.5- 10). The beach path is a scenic (and sometimes windy) path, but it also is a bit narrow and can cause a little bit of congestion. Around mile 10 you climb the bluffs and head back along Ocean Blvd. making your way to the finish back near the convention center. The full marathoners share the half marathon course, until splitting off around the 10.5 mile mark and then rejoining it around the 24 mile mark. The course itself is mostly flat with only a few inclines, most notably the Queensway Bridge. While I haven't run the full marathon, the half marathon course is rather scenic, giving you the flavor of Long Beach and a nice view of the Pacific. COURSE SERVICES The Long Beach Marathon has been around for thirty years now and has had plenty of time to iron out any kinks. The course services for the race are basic but solid, featuring plenty of well-manned water/Powerade stops. Cliff was also present, giving out gels around the 10-mile mark. The course also featured plenty of porta-potties at the start, aid stations and support staff to handle any problems that may arise. Mile markers were present at each mile, although the only digital clocks were at the start/finish. Long Beach did offer runner tracking, however my friends/family only received text updates for the 5k and 10K splits (might want to look into that). Race results were posted shortly after the race and one additional nice touch is RunPix graphics that give you detailed info about how you fared in the race. FINISH LINE SERVICES/POST PARTY One aspect of the Long Beach race that kind of irks me is the finish line/post party. The services themselves are fine... water, snacks (handed out in bags, thank you very much) and a free beer (for those of us runners over 21). What gets me is that the post party feels very claustrophobic, as if the crowds are too large in relation to the space they set aside for the party. After being funneled through the finish area, which is a little too tight to begin with, you're dropped into a sea of family members and other runners to fend for yourself. While there are food trucks, vendors and other services, they don't seem to be organized with any real logic, nor is there sufficient signage to point out where things are. I typically enjoy hanging out for a little bit at post race parties, but every time at Long Beach I find myself feeling like a salmon swimming upstream. So I typically grab my snacks, drink my complimentary brew (yay carbs) and then make a beeline for the exit. Given the overall good organization for the rest of the race, it's an aspect I wish the race officials would give a long hard look at improving. RECOMMENDATION As I said earlier, I've run the Long Beach Half Marathon four times now. I like this race; I really do like it. But I don't love it. It's a solid and fairly well organized affair, but it does have a few shortcomings and lacks the extra touches that could elevate it to the next level. The race is reasonably priced, local and part of the Beach City Challenge (a series I like). I'll continue to run it each year when it fits my schedule, but I wouldn't be overly heartbroken if I missed it from time to time.

Review of Lake Forest Chamber 5K Elf Yourself by drecio01

Super fun and festive, family friendly! A great community event with great after race expo. Lots of good giveaways and food!

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 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 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 Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon by Scott Devine

RACE: Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon DATE: November 16, 2014 LOCATION: Anaheim, CA DISTANCES: Half Marathon/5K/Kids Race START TIME: 5:30am WEATHER AT START: 55° Partly cloudy… and windy as hell. FINISHERS: 10,449 for the Half Marathon (4042 Men/6407 Women) Disney has added a new race to its fall California schedule, as runners dressed up as their favorite Marvel super heroes for the inaugural running of this half marathon. The villain at this race, however, were the blustery Santa Ana winds that battered runners throughout the race. REGISTRATION/EXPO Disney races have the distinction of basically being the costliest in the land and also just about the fastest to sell out. The first running of the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon sold out in just 110 minutes and those fortunate enough to make the roster paid $195 (plus convenience fees) for a whopping $208 price tag. That’s enough to make even Tony Stark say “Ouch.” Oh, and for the record did anyone else notice the absence of Tony Stark and his alter ego Iron Man from the race (probably some contactual or legal issue that keep this hero at home)? As for the expo, like its Disneyland Half Marathon counterpart, the Avengers race held its expo on Friday and Saturday at the Disneyland Hotel. I can’t speak too much about the expo because I basically missed it. Thanks to traffic I arrived just as the doors were about to close on Saturday at 4:00pm (a little early to close the day before a race if you ask me). I barely got my bib and tech shirt before I was informed that the expo was now closed. From what I heard, the expo was decent sized with a good number of vendors on hand to show you their latest wares. Parking at the Disneyland Hotel is usually $17, but the cost was waived for a half hour (according to the parking attendants). I have a feeling you could take as long as you want without being charged. NOTE: Runners had to pick up their own bibs; no exceptions. One note about the expo has to do specifically with the Disney merchandise available for purchase. Like many of the Disney races, people stampede the expo early on Friday to buy as much as they can and turn around and sell it on eBay for a profit. The downside is many runners reach the expo only to find the shelves empty of the souvenirs they so desperately covet (even with inflated price tags). C’mon Disney, surely you can come up with a method that allows all of the runners to be able to purchase your goods (say perhaps online) or maybe you can stock a bunch more (it’s most likely going to sell). MEDALS/SHIRT/SWAG Disney prides itself on its race bling and they did a solid job on the inaugural Avengers race. The medal features a revolving Avengers (“A”) logo and a black ribbon emblazoned with the crests of the various Marvel heroes. And while the medal could have used a little more color (maybe make the “A” black or red), it is pretty sweet. The tech shirt (voted upon by participants) ended up being a straightforward black design complete with the race’s “tech style” logo on the front and race sponsors on the back. Not overly original, but crisp, clean and still pretty neat. Oh, and an added twist was the shirt was a long sleeve. I think most runners were expecting a short sleeved shirt, but again no complaints. TRANSPORTATION/PARKING Like other Disney races, you have a myriad of choices when it comes to parking. If you stay overnight at a hotel (like I did) expect to spend $20 on parking (one of those annoying added costs that hotels tack on to your bill… you hear me “occupancy fee”). For those of you who choose to park at the Disneyland theme park, prepare to shell out $17 (no breaks on price here). Fortunately, the city provides shuttles from many of the major hotels to the start area. COURSE This flat “loop” course turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me. Courses around Disneyland tend to be a combination of good and bad. Good: running through California Adventure, Disneyland and Angels’ Stadium. Bad: pretty much the rest of the course. When I signed up for the race, I expected this course to be a carbon copy of the Disneyland Half Marathon route. Happily, the middle portion was a bit different. The best part of the race was still the beginning of the race when you run through California Adventure and Disneyland (done by mile 3). Inside the parks you can stop to have your picture taken with a number of costumed Avengers (and a few other Disney characters too). Once outside the park, you did again run around the streets and neighborhoods of Anaheim, but this time it seemed to be a better part (or at least slightly more scenic part) of Anaheim. At mile 8 you make your way into Angels’ Stadium where you get to run around the playing field (and can see yourself on the Jumbotron). Once outside of the stadium, you make your way back to the Disneyland Hotel and the finish line. SERVICES Just as Disney is known for high prices, they’re also known for being very organized. The pre-race areas were laid out well, complete with video screens, video montages and a pair of “overly-caffeinated” hosts to get us all ready to pound the pavement. On the course, the race had a similar organized feel. Aid stations were numerous and well-manned with volunteers. Plenty of photographers from MarathonFoto were on the course and participants and their families were able to track their progress with free runner tracking. Disney did have a problem this race with its mile markers. While the signs themselves were cool (and each had a digital clock showing the elapsed time), several were blown over by the high winds (not Disney’s fault). I did notice however, that two of the markers were not at their proper spots (the mile 8 marker was almost at 8 1/2 miles… I verified this with several other runners). It’s unlike Disney to make this kind of mistake, perhaps it just got blown almost a half mile by the winds. FINISH/POST PARTY The finish line was just as organized as the start area. Runners were greeted by volunteers hanging finisher’s medals around their necks and others handing out pre-packaged boxes of post-race snacks. RECOMMENDATION On the upside, the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon is a well organized race showing off the standard Disney treatment. Running through Disneyland is fun and the swag is good. However, the race does fail to separate itself from other Disney races. It feels pretty much like every other Disney race, just with a different skin (The Avengers instead of Mickey Mouse). For the $195 price tag I was expecting something a bit more… heroic? Unless you are a diehard Disney-phile who must do every race the mouse puts out, I think you’ll suffer from a “been there, done that” vibe. I’m worried that the Star Wars Half Marathon in January (which I’m also signed up for) will suffer from the “same-ness” that the Avengers Super-Heroes Half Marathon did. I have a feeling that if I do continue running Disney races ($195 is a big chunk of change for a single race after all), one per year (probably Star Wars) will be more than enough.

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