Where, oh where, shall I start? I’ve done several races now over the past 3 years, and none of them have come close to being as bad as this one. I will explain according to my ratings for each part of the race.
Pre-race: A. The NYRLA organization did very well to spread the word about this race. There was a lot of hype and communication was excellent through emails as well as Facebook and Twitter postings. Their website had sufficient information for me to sign up for the race. Packet pickup had two options – the Friday before race day and on race day. The packet pickup location was held at the Millennium Biltmore hotel, which is very gorgeous inside! Picking up my race bib, tech shirt, and swag bag was a breeze. They provided safety pins and a few sample products in the swag bag. The tech shirt was the quality you’d expect from any other tech shirt. The expo had a resolutions table where they could help correct any mistakes made during registration. Parking was easy since parking was available across the street at Pershing Square. In addition, parking was discounted for race participants. The start line was divided into corrals based on your pace approximation. Corrals were sectioned from 1 to 16. The race was slotted to start at 9 pm, but there was about a 15 minute delay. It was a little annoying at first since most runners were already warmed up and stretched out. However, things happen and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Once the anthem was sung and the first corral was released, there wasn’t a long wait time between corrals.
Course: F. An F!!??, some of you may wonder. One thing that’s very important with setting up a course is to measure a 5k course as close to a 5k as possible. It’s not always perfect, but this course was well over 5k. A 5k is equivalent to 3.11 miles. According to my Nike+ GPS, I ran 3.31 miles. I heard from other people who ran even up to 5 miles. How is this even possible? Because the course was not marked properly. It really isn’t hard to put up a sign at every mile. They don’t have to be fancy, they just have to be put up and visible. Others stated there were some signs. Maybe it was because it was dark, but I honestly did not see any mile markers. I believe the NYRLA organization should have seen this to be common sense, that not everyone is going to see your mile markers at night if it’s not located in a well lit area, or if it doesn’t stand out in the dark. Maybe next year they can attach it to a portable lamp, or be creative and use glow sticks, so it’s actually visible in the dark. The only visible marker was the water station at mile 2, which by the way, was the only water station along the 5k route. In the email sent, as well as the information on their website, they stated there would be water stations at every mile. Totally incorrect!
Another big issue about the course are the volunteers/security who where sporadically stationed along the 5k route and were guiding the runners incorrectly. I heard several runners told the volunteers/security that they were being misguided, but the volunteers/security insisted they run a certain direction. The correct route wasn’t fixed until after many runners was misdirected. The misdirection caused many runners to run extra mileage, therefore screwing their chance of a PR. Unfortunately, I was one of the runners affected by this. More so, I witnessed some runners skipping a section where they were supposed to turn on, and instead went with the flow of the other runners already running back from a turnaround. Next time, volunteers/security who actually know the route of the 5k and placed at the turns would be nice. Some sections of the route was a bit sketchy and this being held in DTLA, there were several homeless people around. That’s fine and all since that is their home, but some places were not well lit by street lamps/lacked street lamps and no signs of security around. Being a woman, I was concerned for my safety since some of the runners ahead of me and behind me were pretty spaced out. I’ll make it a point if I ever run this race again, to bring mace with me.
Post-race: B. There were plenty of volunteers handing out medals. There were also several photographers who took pictures of runners at the finish line. There’s room for improvement though such as providing a bag to hold post-race goodies in. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but after running I tend to be shaky and having something to carry the goodies in would have been convenient. On the bright side, there were plenty of water bottles, coconut water, bagels, chips, and bananas (though not ripe enough to eat) available at the finish line. The after party location wasn’t too far of a walk from the finish line. They had several food trucks, vendors, and a Red Bull DJ playing music on a huge stage. I recall reading on the NYRLA website that they would have some “star-studded” performance lineup. I don’t know if that ever happened, as my fellow runners and I only stayed for about 10-15 minutes.
Overall: D. This being the inaugural race, there were bound to be mistakes. I understand no race event is perfect, and this one is still a baby. But what heavily weighs on my rating of this race is the course. I mean, you can take away the goodies, the numerous photographers at the start line, throughout the route, and finish line, and the packet pickup location didn’t have to be in a fancy hotel. Take away the por-a-potties available near the start and finish areas. Take away the pizzaz of having a night run in DTLA. Even the 15-minute delay of the race is excusable. But the remaining important part of a race event is the race’s course! I didn’t pay $55 to run an unorganized course! Even my pace time has been screwed by Gemini Timing. At the present that I am writing this review, Gemini Timing only has the unofficial results up on their website. However, my result stats on their website does not match up with my stats on my Nike+ GPS. In fact, it’s a long stretch. There is a HUGE difference between a 9:59 and 9:11 pace. My Nike+ GPS has never been inaccurate as I have always ran with it in past running events. My resulting stats have always been similar to those of the official race results. I am still in the middle of trying to resolve this with Gemini Timing company, but I suppose this has nothing to do with the NYRLA organization. It’s a shame that a race that had so much hype and attention was a fail when it came to the 5k. 3.11 miles shouldn’t be that hard to manage as it requires less personnel along the route, compared to the half marathon. And measuring a 5k route shouldn’t be that hard, considering the plethora of technology we have available nowadays. I’d strongly suggest to wait to participate in this race at least after several years to let them work the kinks out. For $55, running at night and the medal were the coolest parts.