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@frankhwu

San Francisco, CA Raving since 2017 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/frankhwu-721 active 1 week, 4 days ago

About Me

My races

Organize, track & review your races and personal bests here.

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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon &/or Ultra) + Half

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Personal Bests (7)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Half Marathon San Jose, CA Oct 8, 2017 2:17:00
15K Sausalito, CA Sep 9, 2017 2:12:00
14K Sydney, Australia Aug 13, 2017 1:41:00
12K San Francisco, CA Oct 1, 2017 1:23:00
10K Novato, CA Oct 6, 2017 57:00
8K Boyds, MD Jul 28, 2019 1:03:00
5K Clarksburg, MD Aug 10, 2019 1:41:00

Future Races (0)

Race Distance Location Date Paid

Past Races (38)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Half Marathon Fremont, CA Nov 30, 2019 2:45:00
Half Marathon Davis, CA Nov 23, 2019 2:35:00
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Nov 17, 2019 3:09:00
Half Marathon Castro Valley, CA Nov 9, 2019 3:15:00
Half Marathon Walnut Creek, CA Nov 2, 2019 3:45:00
Half Marathon Berkeley, CA Oct 19, 2019 3:45:00
Half Marathon San Leandro, CA Oct 12, 2019 2:54:00
10K Washington, DC Oct 6, 2019 1:12:00
10K San Francisco, CA Sep 22, 2019 1:11:00
Half Marathon Alameda, CA Sep 15, 2019 2:36:00
10K Novato, CA Sep 13, 2019 1:11:00
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Sep 8, 2019 2:50:00
Half Marathon San Bruno, CA Aug 17, 2019 3:52:00
5K Clarksburg, MD Aug 10, 2019 1:41:00
8K Boyds, MD Jul 28, 2019 1:03:00
Half Marathon Richmond, CA Feb 23, 2019 2:48:00
Half Marathon Berkeley, CA Nov 19, 2017 2:30:00
Half Marathon Germantown, MD Nov 4, 2017 3:04:00
Half Marathon Brooklyn, NY Oct 28, 2017 2:31:00
Half Marathon San Jose, CA Oct 8, 2017 2:17:00
10K Novato, CA Oct 6, 2017 57:00
12K San Francisco, CA Oct 1, 2017 1:23:00
Half Marathon Alameda, CA Sep 16, 2017 2:27:00
15K Sausalito, CA Sep 9, 2017 2:12:00
15K Sausalito, CA Sep 9, 2017 2:12:00
Half Marathon Richmond, CA Sep 2, 2017 2:45:00
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Aug 27, 2017 2:34:00
14K Sydney, Australia Aug 13, 2017 1:41:00
Half Marathon Pacifica, CA Jul 29, 2017 3:27:00
Half Marathon Castro Valley, CA Jul 16, 2017 3:02:00
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Jul 8, 2017 3:04:00
Half Marathon Cleveland, OH May 21, 2017 2:31:00
Half Marathon Bellvue, CO May 7, 2017 2:20:00
Half Marathon San Leandro, CA Feb 11, 2017 2:35:00
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Feb 5, 2017 2:27:00
Half Marathon Fremont, CA Jan 21, 2017 2:43:00
Half Marathon Castro Valley, CA Jan 1, 2017 3:14:00
10K Boyds, MD Oct 17, 2015 1:028:00

My Raves

Quarry Turkey Half Marathon, 10K, 5K & Little Turkeys Race

Quarry Turkey Half Marathon, 10K, 5K & Little Turkeys Race

First, for other runners considering the race, the basics. I have run out at Quarry Lakes probably a half dozen times; I cannot recall if I have run this specific … MORE

First, for other runners considering the race, the basics. I have run out at Quarry Lakes probably a half dozen times; I cannot recall if I have run this specific race, but the route is similar. It’s flat for the Bay Area. The plus is this is a laid back, family friendly event put together by Brazen, who are my favorite outfit. I recommend it without hesitation. The minus is weather isn’t the best (this year a storm threatened but did not materialize; there were a few drops of rain) and the path is boring compared to other options (it’s next to a suburban development and along a river or canal or water feature that I’m guessing is artificial). So this is for locals; it’s not a destination. Lots of aid stations (I believe seven), with electrolytes, water, and snacks. Really, I have only praise for Brazen. They know how to do this. Enthusiastic volunteers. I love their races, especially for the crowd.
Second, a non complaint. Just a warning or observation. It actually is good for me. I also appreciate why this has to be: if you want the race to be a real 13.1, sometimes this is necessary. My mild, semi-facetious annoyance is a moral failing on my part. Here’s the thing. At the very end, when you approach the finish, there is an extra little tiny bit, about .25 miles, so you have this loop, to make the distance. I always am crushed to see that. I anticipated it. It wasn’t bad. It’s just funny: you know the feeling? You’re coming along; you see the end in sight; you hear the announcer, and, man, there is about 2 minutes more while you are practically there but not there.
Anyway, recommended. If I see a Brazen race and another that conflicts, I always pick Brazen. (No, I don’t have any conflict of interest. That’s a genuine endorsement.)
Third, if you’re wondering, I’m basically a back of the pack runner. I was 11 from the bottom, the bottom 7 percent. When I got there, the finish was still up, but they were breaking down the shelters. (It will be, however, 15 or 16 half marathons this year, plus 7 or 8 races of lesser distance, for more than 20 post chemotherapy!)

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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Davis Turkey Trot

Davis Turkey Trot

I stayed with the 2:20 pacer for three miles, then the 2:24 pacer for another mile. A police officer was killed recently, and her badge number was 224. An Asian … MORE

I stayed with the 2:20 pacer for three miles, then the 2:24 pacer for another mile. A police officer was killed recently, and her badge number was 224. An Asian American guy had his own sign to pace at 2:24. We were chatting. He gave me a fist bump. I said I had run 100 half marathons; he has run 78. Anyway, he was a friendly guy. I beat the 2:40 pacer. The 2:50 pacer was not good: she finished ahead of the 2:40 pacer, in probably 2:39. I ran a 2:35 and change. At the end, I was racing a fellow, Jim Lane, whose chip time was 1/2 second faster. We actually both sprinted the last quarter mile. The photographer perked up. I gave in six feet before the finish line. So he won. I probably don’t have enough drive at the end. I’m too willing to call it a day.

For other runners, here is what you want to know.

Right downtown. I stayed at the Hilton and walked. I left the hotel 7:30 for an 8:00 start, and I could have left 7:50. I had my bib.

Flat except for the ramp to a bridge at about 2.75 miles. That was maybe 25 feet of rise, max. So an easy course.

Family friendly. Lots of strollers.

Great vibe.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship – California

The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship – California

Let me say upfront. This is a very good race. I would run it again. So don't interpret anything I say below too negatively. Three years ago, I ran this … MORE

Let me say upfront. This is a very good race. I would run it again. So don’t interpret anything I say below too negatively.

Three years ago, I ran this with a friend who came up from San Diego. It was a huge challenge. I had run half as many races then as I have by now. I ran 36 half marathons in 2016, my big year. I was just getting started.

It was cold at the beginning, there is a huge vertical, the crowd was enthusiastic, and Marin County does not disappoint.

I invited my friend back up. We signed up. We were enthusiastic.

The whole course has changed! It still is in Marin. The start is different, the elevation is much less (it went from 3100 to 2300, plus or minus), you go over the Golden Gate Bridge, and you end in Crissy Field in the city, It is still difficult. I would not call this easy. Perhaps for someone elite, but I finished in the bottom seven percent, so I’m not about to brag about my speed headed uphill.

The aid stations are bare bones: water and electrolyte drinks, no snacks at all. The Golden Gate Bridge is open to traffic on both sides, and it is noisy — if you had headphones, it would be terrific for the view, but if you are listening to cars and trucks whizzing by it ruins the experience.

So this is still worthwhile. It just isn’t the super special race it seemed to be before.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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Lake Chabot Trail Run

Lake Chabot Trail Run

I have run out here at least a half dozen times. But the route varies. It is about 1700 feet vertical gain, give or take depending on exactly what they … MORE

I have run out here at least a half dozen times. But the route varies. It is about 1700 feet vertical gain, give or take depending on exactly what they have plotted out. It’s just challenging enough. I did multiple races in the month prior, at least two with 50% more rise. So this was a nice break. Scenery is fine. Crowd is laid back. Not too technical; ideal for novices. Cool weather.

The marathon winner beat the record by almost 30 minutes! He whizzed by about a mile from the finish. Wow. People behind me were marveling. They were skeptical he could have been the marathon distance, because we were just coming within sight of the finish in half that.

These folks and friendly and well organized. It’s a husband and wife, it seems from the website. Their races are neither the smallest nor the biggest. They are just right. I like running with them.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Diablo Summit Stomp! (fka Brazen Diablo Trail Adventure)

Diablo Summit Stomp! (fka Brazen Diablo Trail Adventure)

So I downgraded to the half marathon hiker division, which is an early start. I finished in 3:45, with a measured 14.09 miles and 2782 feet vertical gain (Garmin Fenix … MORE

So I downgraded to the half marathon hiker division, which is an early start. I finished in 3:45, with a measured 14.09 miles and 2782 feet vertical gain (Garmin Fenix 3). I was last for men my age (52). I was not last among hikers, and I would not have been last among runners either. Take what I say with the proverbial grain of salt.

This is not easy. I almost tried to upgrade to the 30k to see the summit, but I thought it was wiser not to tempt fate. I am only saying if you have done a big race in Tilden or Mt. Montara or another of the hill climbs common in the Bay Area, this is ever so slightly easier. The reason, I believe, is it is a solid 9 miles of ascent (with minor dips along the way), but that is much less steep than some rivals. Then from the 9 mile mark, it is basically downhill the whole rest of the route (I have not studied the map — it is a loop, not an out and back, but the loop doubles back onto the outbound path at some point).

Some of my sense also is my own condition: better rested and not sunburned and happy to be out there. The climate was good: the start was in the 40s, which was good. It warmed up enough to sweat pretty good, but it wasn’t sweltering all day.

Brazen is my favorite local organizer. I have run with them dozens of times. I’m not sure why the distance was longer than 13.1, but I am sure it was not just me or my watch. I am usually fine with discrepancies; I’m just noting it (so I would have had more of a 3:30 at the proper length!).

The scenery was varied. There isn’t a single vista that is worth a postcard, but that is by Bay Area norms that spoil you with natural beauty. Nobody will be disappointed. I would run this again, but I should progress to the longer option.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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Tilden Trail 10K & Half Marathon

Tilden Trail 10K & Half Marathon

I achieved another life goal. I was DFL, technically. But I was not last, actually. The cutoff was 3:45. They packed up the timing equipment after I crossed the finish … MORE

I achieved another life goal. I was DFL, technically. But I was not last, actually. The cutoff was 3:45. They packed up the timing equipment after I crossed the finish line, but there were at least two others behind me, walking. The race organizer, a nice guy, decided they would be coming through only a long time later, and they had announced the 3:45. So it was fair.

I am not sure why I was so slow. The route was changed overnight. There was some sort of utility work. I passed a tree that was down, with a note that PG&E was coming out, and there was a tree you had to crawl under at one point. The route went from 2700 feet vertical gain to in excess of 3000 feet as measured by my Garmin watch.

I had never run this specific route. I ran a race in the park, a 10k, not long ago, and I might have run nearby one other time. But I had not expected such hills. There were three big ones. I’ve run bigger in the Bay Area, but never as slowly. Angel Island, Mt. Montana, San Bruno, for example, are all more challenging. And the Dipsea is in a bunch of different races, and just one loop on it is pretty tough.

I was well rested (7 hours 19 minutes sleep). I had had only a glass of wine the night before. The weather was perfect: not too hot; not too cold.

Well, it’s fine. I would run with these organizers again, and I’d run out at Tilden Park too. The race was small; the course was marked decently, but a lady and I went off course at maybe mile 10, and we did an extra half mile. We figured it out when we came to a fork without flags. It was our fault. There were flags; we had missed them, however, coming down a hill too fast. The two older fellows ahead of us reported at the end they got lost twice.

Oh, one explanation. The trail was not only hilly but also technical. There were lots of loose rocks all over, including big ones. So footing was a challenge lots of places. I did not fall. It was dry. I am sure it would have been terrible wet.

So if you’re headed out there, pick shoes with lugs. I need to get some more suited for this type of course. Suggestions welcomed.

An addendum. The preliminary results came via email. I am indeed 48 of 48. What is interesting is the winner was more than half my time. So I am okay with the relative standing. On trail races with big hills, I usually figure I will be 2x the winner. I actually beat that every so slightly.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2

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Look Good Feel Good 5K, 10K & Half Marathon

Look Good Feel Good 5K, 10K & Half Marathon

So I'm an easy grader, an A for effort sort of guy -- I guess most races are too, since you receive a medal for finishing. This race is tiny … MORE

So I’m an easy grader, an A for effort sort of guy — I guess most races are too, since you receive a medal for finishing. This race is tiny (39 in the half) and for charity. I would run it again.

Let me mention the problem. The course markings were non-existent. I went a half mile off. I have done that before as a result of user error. This was different. I wasn’t the only one. At 4.81 miles, the guy in front of me turned around to talk to me. He wondered if he’d missed the turnaround, because he was doing the 10k, meaning he had overshot by about 1.7 miles. He was pretty funny, because of how surprised he was, and he said, “Oh, F–k.” He was probably late 60s/early 70s, so it was funny that this old guy was swearing (that’s probably some sort of age bias on my part, though it isn’t a negative comment about age, and I’m 52 anyway so not young, but positive, that usually an older fellow is more dignified; he was just shocked and ticked off, but perhaps it was a “you had to be there moment”).

Anyway, the other thing is for the Bay Area, this is on the one hand flat and on the other hand not the most scenic. It’s okay in terms of what you’re looking at.

That is all made up for, however, by the two bits of swag. One I didn’t even receive, because I didn’t need it. At the turnaround, they had Hydrapak Speedcups rather than disposable, and you got to keep it! Those are wonderful little silicon cups, coming into use to avoid waste. Then the goodie bag had a one liter Hydrapak collapsible water bottle. I’ve gotten stuff like this before, but not from a name brand.

I’d run this again. They have other races out there — back to the city is a pain, because of traffic, but that’s life. This one is different because it’s such a small crowd.

I was sixth from the bottom. Back there, at the end of the field, people are spread out. You can’t always see someone to follow. I’m still working my way back from my health issue. At least it’s 10 half marathons for the year to date (October 12) and 8 shorter races.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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Boo! Run For Life 10K

Boo! Run For Life 10K

This is a race organized by a charity trying to cure a disease; it is not anti-abortion, if you were wondering from the name. It is set up well. It’s … MORE

This is a race organized by a charity trying to cure a disease; it is not anti-abortion, if you were wondering from the name.

It is set up well. It’s a moderately sized crowd, not a giant race and not a tiny one. Parking is not that difficult considering it’s near the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool of the national mall. I was there 45 minutes before the start, and I parked about 2 long blocks away.

The route takes you along the Potomac. Unless you run regularly in DC, you probably don’t know this area. I lived there 15 years, and I never traveled this path. It’s paved the whole way, with moderately interesting scenery. It is flat. Weather was perfect. Two aid stations.

I had run a 10k the day before, through the woods in the suburbs. My performance was my usual lackluster self: top of the bottom 1/6. The way it goes, you loop around folks a couple of times. I thought, wow, I’m doing great. Those folks are fast. And I’m ahead of them. Except I was behind them.

I’d run this again. It was a no-nonsense, no-fuss, very nice event.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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SF Aloha Run

SF Aloha Run

I like this run for three reasons. First, and likely of greatest interest to others, this has the wonderful scenery of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. You run … MORE

I like this run for three reasons.

First, and likely of greatest interest to others, this has the wonderful scenery of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. You run along the water out to Fort Point twice; the turnaround is in front of the structure. If you don’t know the area, that is under the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Waves crash onto the rocks. It’s about as scenic as you could wish for. It’s also only a 10k or 5k, so you don’t have to do a marathon or half for this view. Many races come out to the same turnaround, but this is probably the shortest. The Giant Race, for example, does on the 13.1 distance.

Second, this is flat. If you’re running in the Bay Area, you’re running hills usually, whether on a road course on trails. This is one of the more rare routes with virtually no elevation gain (or loss). My smartwatch measured 141 feet, which I consider nominal.

Third, the field is superfriendly, family friendly, dog friendly, and just filled with non-runners and first-timers out there for fun. That is good both for the positive spirit and to improve your relative finish. Lots of kids, stroller pushing parents, and probably more canines than any other race I’ve entered.

And a shout out to the race director who helped with a registration problem 24 hours in advance, which was due to my own error. He was very kind and took care of it. (I’m not on the official results list, but I was there and not a bandit.)

I run lots. In 2016, I did 36 half marathons. So basically there is no race I wouldn’t run again in terms of the route, but there are organizers I prefer. This is a race that ranks at the top of my list for casual, if I were inviting someone else to join. Highly recommended.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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Bank of Marin’s Alameda Running Festival

Bank of Marin’s Alameda Running Festival

Hi, folks. I am approaching 100 half marathons despite a one year break due to a health challenge. I had a 2:17 PR in the 13.1 distance before; this is … MORE

Hi, folks. I am approaching 100 half marathons despite a one year break due to a health challenge. I had a 2:17 PR in the 13.1 distance before; this is my best finish since coming back (with about, I think 8 or 9 outings). So I am happy about that.

Let me start with the best aspect. The pacer for 2:40 was just great. She learned names and shouted them for encouragement. I am a run-walker. It was thanks to her help I did as well as I did. So I am grateful. Not easy to do that job. What a nice gal.

For those who aren’t from the Bay Area, Alameda is an island on the Oakland side. They say time forgot it, because it has a quaint 1950s vibe and half the buildings match (the other half are more modern). It’s an idealized suburb. You see a bit of that. I would say for a race through a town, it’s pretty good. You also see old shipyards. That’s interesting too — some haven’t been repurposed yet. There is the USS Hornet, a war ship that is a museum, at one of the turnarounds. I’ve run through cities and forests, but you don’t usually run through a town. Unless you are a grouch, the varied scenery should be worthwhile. (There is a weird parking lot of abandoned cars. I think it is an actual site for demolition derby type action.)

The other thing that was just great: parking. I arrived early. I did that two years ago. I parked one block from the start line, legally. That is about as close as was possible, and it made it so convenient.

They also changed the route. I don’t think it was because of me or anything. I had a minor complaint. That’s not even the right word. It was an observation about my own human failing. Maybe 2% of races have this feature, presumably to ensure the distance is correct, where you are coming toward the finish line, then it turns out you turn and you have to do another half mile, within sight of the celebration, and when you can hear it. It’s just a moment when I feel, oh, geez, I’m not done, and I’m crushed for that moment. Anyway, they didn’t have that doubling back. So I liked it better.

For some reason, they had a real nice gift: a glass carafe. I gave it to my wife.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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Marin Moonlight Run

Marin Moonlight Run

These folks are friendly. I appreciate that. Small races have the advantage of race directors who say hello as you show up and then again when you finish. The venue … MORE

These folks are friendly. I appreciate that. Small races have the advantage of race directors who say hello as you show up and then again when you finish.

The venue is a former military airport that was turned into a mixed use industrial park with a planned community of upscale apartments and houses all around, and, for some reason (it’s good!), a remaining area that is undeveloped, with what seems to be a marsh and then something growing (not corn, not sure what).

The organizers plan for the full moon of course. I was thinking, geez, how lucky is that, and then I realized, no, they must arrange everything looking at the almanac. They call everyone out to see the moonrise. Boy, was it big. That alone made it an experience. There was no need for artificial lighting though they give you glowsticks. (I’ve done other night races that require it.)

So the surface is partly paved, partly dirt, partly gravel. It is all safe. For a race after the sun has set, that has to be one of the least scary in terms of falling or there being some sort of problem with the path. On the second of the two loops, i.e., not the same loop twice but a different loop like a figure eight, there is a bit in sort of wilderness, but it would be a problem only if you are very scared of the dark or think actively about Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman (I admit it: I’m still mildly scared of the dark, as a 52 year old).

I recommend the race highly.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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San Francisco Giant Race

San Francisco Giant Race

I have run this thrice. The big draw is ending up in the outfield of a baseball stadium. That was great. I enjoyed it. But it's not the only reason … MORE

I have run this thrice.

The big draw is ending up in the outfield of a baseball stadium. That was great. I enjoyed it. But it’s not the only reason to run.

Personally I’m not into destination races. I am lucky though. I live in San Francisco. So I have been over the Golden Gate Bridge and seen lots of great sights. There is a race every weekend someplace in the Bay Area. That spoils you.

This easily qualifies as a destination race. The swag is the Giants bobblehead. This year, it was the mascot, Lou Seal. That is worth it.

For San Francisco, this race qualifies as flat. There are three gentle rises. You see the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, Crissy Field, the bridge, and of course the stadium. There are more than adequate aid stations, one serving a Clif Bars and goo blocks, with the wrapping pre-cut for convenience. The production values are top notch. They don’t advertise it, but there was as much music en route as for a Rock ‘n Roll.

The early start means an early finish. Parking is shockingly easy. I arrived 45 minutes before the gun. I was two blocks from the start line.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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Star City San Bruno Mountain Half Marathon

Star City San Bruno Mountain Half Marathon

This is a little race in the sense of a limited field. It is a big race in terms of vertical gain. I'm a little off in my assessment. I … MORE

This is a little race in the sense of a limited field. It is a big race in terms of vertical gain. I’m a little off in my assessment. I am approaching 100 half marathons, run in 5 years, but I had a serious health problem and had to take a year off, and I’m much slower as I try to make a comeback.

Anyway, this is comparable to Mt. Montara or the Dipsea. I had not realized that. It is one big, steep hill at the beginning. The views are great. The end is through a suburban development and then along a path behind some sort of warehouse, but by then I was beat and didn’t care.

They do this in conjunction with a local music festival. You get free admission and a hamburger or pulled pork sandwich from the Lions or Rotary (can’t recall). So that is a bonus.

I recommend this race. You just need to take it seriously.

I think I was the fourth from last, and the second to last male. I might have been fifth from last. But you get the idea.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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MCRRC Riley’s Rumble Half Marathon & 8K

MCRRC Riley’s Rumble Half Marathon & 8K

I like this club. I live in San Francisco. This club is in suburban Washington, D.C. I joined. My father (and brothers, but they are Foreign Service) live out there. … MORE

I like this club. I live in San Francisco. This club is in suburban Washington, D.C. I joined. My father (and brothers, but they are Foreign Service) live out there. I only run a couple of times per year with them. But they are so friendly I wanted to belong.

The prices make it worthwhile too, even if you only show up to a limited number of their events.

This goes along paved roads and paths, next to cornfields, and it’s a casual, mostly flat, reasonably fast course with many more people than I had expected. If I am around for one of their races, I will definitely enter.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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Victory Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Victory Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

I have run this at least twice; lost track. Brazen is very well organized. I have run dozens of their races. I recommend them. Fun crowd, too. This race starts … MORE

I have run this at least twice; lost track. Brazen is very well organized. I have run dozens of their races. I recommend them. Fun crowd, too.

This race starts at a historic site, where Rosie the Riveter worked in WWII. It’s in an industrial part of Richmond, in the East Bay, but it has great views of the city, from a distance. It does have a section along a highway that isn’t as much fun, but it benefits overall from the flatness of the course, which is remarkable for the region.

You get to shop at the Columbia Sporting Goods discount store. That is a good deal.

This particular race weekend was cold. That is not unusual. But if you are coming from out of town and don’t realize, Northern California can be chilly on winter mornings — think of it as halfway between SoCal and the East Coast in terms of temperature.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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Blue Crab Bolt Trail Running Series #3: Little Bennett

Blue Crab Bolt Trail Running Series #3: Little Bennett

I clicked 5k for this review, because they didn't list the 10k on the pulldown menu. I have run out here before, but with a different organizer. It is a … MORE

I clicked 5k for this review, because they didn’t list the 10k on the pulldown menu.

I have run out here before, but with a different organizer. It is a family run historic farm, which they say is in actual operation. You go through pastures and a cornfield and alongside and into woods. I really like the change of scenery. There are gentle rises, but nothing significant.

It was hot, but that’s nature for you. Other than that, no complaints, and even that is just what makes reality more interesting than watching television.

There is ample parking on site. This is a moderately crowded race.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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Berkeley Half Marathon

Berkeley Half Marathon

I ran the Berkeley Half Marathon today. I finished in a lackluster 2:30. I had hope when I found myself ahead of the pacers for 2:20 at mile 11, but … MORE

I ran the Berkeley Half Marathon today. I finished in a lackluster 2:30. I had hope when I found myself ahead of the pacers for 2:20 at mile 11, but I am certain they finished later than they were supposed to.

I saw several people I see from time to time in the Bay Area.

There was Spiderman. I was pleased to see he has friends. I have run behind him or just ahead of him multiple times. He is always dressed as Spiderman. I said hello. I told him I had seen him out there. He explained his costume makes him faster, because children cheer for him and he doesn’t want to disappoint them.

There also as Lloyd. He has been a Brazen Racing “streaker,” meaning he has done every one of their races. He has a fake mohawk and matching furry leggings. He is a walker. He has many fans who shout out, “Lloyd!” as I did.

Afterward, I saw my friend Simon Boehme. He did the 10k. It was his first, I think. He introduced me to a French bulldog, named Frank! He is dating the human to Frank, who apparently is a relation of the actor in the Men in Black movies (he’s a grand-nephew, not a son).

This course is flat for the Bay Area. It has two tiny gentle rises and then an uphill in each direction up the overpass. That overpass leads to the part some runners dislike: it’s between the highway and the bay, along a paved path for about 2.5 miles total (1.25 miles each direction). I can’t say it’s my favorite part of a course, but it’s not bad.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4
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Schaeffer Half Marathon & 10K Trail Run

Schaeffer Half Marathon & 10K Trail Run

Easy and fun. Laidback crowd. Some mountain bikers. I had lackluster performance. I wrote a little blog at Huffington Post -- I'm probably in the wrong, but I can't say … MORE

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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NYCRUNS Verrazano Festival Of Races 5K & 10K

NYCRUNS Verrazano Festival Of Races 5K & 10K

So I was looking for the start line for the Haunted Half Marathon in Brooklyn. I passed a guy who looked as if he had just been brutally attacked, with … MORE

So I was looking for the start line for the Haunted Half Marathon in Brooklyn. I passed a guy who looked as if he had just been brutally attacked, with injuries still bleeding, like the Joker played by Heath Ledger — apparently that is called a Glasgow smile. I thought, man, I am not approaching that guy to ask directions. Only later I realized it was a Halloween costume. He was another runner. He also alarmed the check in volunteer at the race.

The more eerie costume I wonder how many recognized. It was a young guy with a 1970s mustache, long flowing hair, and an University of Oregon t-shirt. I was freaked out by the uncanny resemblance. He was the late Pre, Steve Prefontaine, the greatest runner in American history, dead in an auto accident at 24. It was like seeing a ghost. This guy was a middling runner. When he passed me the second time, I told him he had a terrific costume. He got a big smile at that. So I am guessing only a few understood who he was meant to be.

The route was not hipster Brooklyn. It went along the water though, out and back twice. The weather was perfect. The course was flat.

I blame Apple for my poor time of 2:30 and change. I had headphones. But I forgot the adapter for Bluetooth connectivity. Thus the race had no pace music.

I did finish ahead of Snow White. She complained of overheating. I have no idea if costume choice correlates to athleticism. But I believe I beat most of the Imperial Stormtroopers and was beaten by all but one of the Waldos. I think I am too old for Waldo. But it must have had some influence. I saw at least five Waldos, male and female.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon

This was my PR (to date). So I have only positive things to say. It's flat, which accounts for it being fast. I also had a personal pacer, someone I … MORE

This was my PR (to date). So I have only positive things to say.
It’s flat, which accounts for it being fast. I also had a personal pacer, someone I run with often who is much faster but nice to me. We finished with the exact same time.
Mass start. Bit of a wait for your turn. Not complaining; just noting.
I am spoiled by San Francisco. I can’t say I really am dazzled by the sights of San Jose. However, it is fine.
I probably will run this again.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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Marin Moonlight Run

Marin Moonlight Run

I ran another night race. This is my second. It also was in Marin County, a town called Novato, which took quite a bit of time to travel to through … MORE

I ran another night race. This is my second. It also was in Marin County, a town called Novato, which took quite a bit of time to travel to through traffic. Unlike the earlier event, which went through woods and had hills, this was on a paved path around a marsh. The crowd was enthusiastic, with families enjoying the evening. There were many parents with kids walking the 5k.

Night races have a totally different vibe to them. I suppose that’s hardwired, the circadian rhythms that all animals have inside them. They are exciting yet mellow, somehow not what you’re body expects you to be doing at that hour.

They gave out glow sticks. I put one in my pocket, thinking, I don’t really need this. Sure enough, it fell out. Then I felt bad I hadn’t saved it securely for another occasion. I suppose that means I am, in fact, OCD.

I signed up for this to train a bit more before the half marathon 36 hours later. I need to beat my friend Tseming, who was 3-1/2 minutes faster than me on the same course a year earlier. So this was a final bit of preparation. I’m glad I did it, because it set the tone for a weekend of exertion.

The moon rose a moment before the start. The race organizer joked about how he had arranged for the sight.

I cheated. It was a mistake. When I finished, I said, “Is that it?” My phone clocked it as 5.25 miles, or almost 1 mile short.

I asked the guy cutting up the watermelon what the turnaround sign looked like. He said he wasn’t in charge. I had assumed, and I said this, that because he was holding a big knife that he was the race director. He pointed me to the right guy. A woman who overheard our conversation, with whom I was alternating the lead as between the two of us, said it was her fault — she thought she hadn’t done the full distance either, and she had turned just before me when she didn’t see anyone ahead, and she became nervous. Anyway, after consulting with the race director, I realized indeed I had turned after a fluorescent traffic cone probably not quite a half mile too early, following the woman. The always warn you: don’t assume the person in front of you knows where they are going.

It was decent time though, a sub-11 minute mile pace. I’m ready for the next half marathon.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2
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Bridge to Bridge Run

Bridge to Bridge Run

Today's race report. I ran the Oral B Glide Floss Bridge to Bridge 12k. The branding is funny. It isn't merely the manufacturer but a specific product. I was hoping … MORE

Today’s race report. I ran the Oral B Glide Floss Bridge to Bridge 12k. The branding is funny. It isn’t merely the manufacturer but a specific product. I was hoping they’d be giving it out. I didn’t see any though.

This has been rated the most beautiful race in the nation. I see why. If you live in SF, you are lucky to have a half dozen choices for this basic route along the embarcadero, through Fisherman’s Wharf, past Crissy Field, and out to Fort Point. The views are difficult to match, with a mix of the bay, tourist attractions, and the Golden Gate Bridge, with only a single gentle hill. This is a point to point course, easily accessible by public transit. (The Muni train had not started. I took the owl bus packed with runners. A couple had not received their bibs in the mail as promised.)

The weather could not have been better. It was neither hot nor cold. There was a gentle breeze.

The field was more casual. I like that. The winner was competitive at 5:23 per mile. But I finished at least in the top half when I checked results, compared to my usual top of the bottom third in a trail half marathon. My stretch goal was 83 minutes. I did it, rounding down.

I would have been faster but I had a one tenth mile detour through beach sand. There was a downed runner on the little wood bridge. EMTs had come. The area was blocked off. Can’t complain. Looked as if they got the person back up a minute later. But boy soft sand is not easy to run on. Most folks walked that bit.

I’d do this race again.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
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Bank of Marin’s Alameda Running Festival

Bank of Marin’s Alameda Running Festival

I recommend this race. It has only been staged twice, including this morning’s edition. They do a bunch of distances over two days, and I met a friend of mine … MORE

I recommend this race. It has only been staged twice, including this morning’s edition. They do a bunch of distances over two days, and I met a friend of mine from Dallas, who had a friend of his who had grown up in the area. For a race in the Bay Area, it’s about as flat as it could be. For a race in the East Bay, to a San Francisco based participant, the drive was very easy — with a 7am start time, even after the finish the traffic had not become too bad.

This is the island that time forgot, according to locals. I had been there exactly once before, despite my time in the Bay Area. People who live there love it. I can see why. It’s an actual island, accessible only via tunnel and drawbridge, and there is a boozy commuter ferry into San Francisco. There a a bunch of Victorian houses that rival, if not surpass, anything in the city, and there is a decommissioned naval base that is home to an endangered tern and a bunch of manufacturers of beer and spirits, including absinthe! In terms of views, there was a little bit of the town, a moment with the San Francisco skyline, lots of the repurposed military hangers, and a weird parking lot with a half dozen cars that looked like they had been in a demolition derby and then set on fire. Probably at least three places where someone such as me, into photographing abandoned buildings, would want to take a snapshot — though I did not; in comparison, on SF runs, there are lots of people posing for selfies showing the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

They served free food and drink at the end. I had a burrito. And a beer. There also were vendors and booths. The fair was actually decent given the crowd (they said 1500, which I think was total for all events).

A criticism that isn’t actually fair, a criticism of me, and praise.

The criticism that isn’t fair is that I went to the wrong place. The instructions said the start was at Bladium health club. That turned out to be true. But the check in was two blocks away. In the dark of 6am, you couldn’t actually see where you were going. It was a moment of confusion. Also Bladium is so big the address is only approximate. I checked what they sent. It was “my bad” as kids say, because the final pre-race note indicated the proper location for check-in as distinguished from the start line. A bonus is I parked one block away, for free, because I was super early (I anticipated, erroneously, that there would be more volume on the Bay Bridge.)

A criticism of me. I wish organizers didn’t do this, but I understand they are trying to be true to the advertised distance. I always am crushed when I am approaching the finish, only to realize you have to make another little loop around it. Let me try to describe it, so you can picture it and then see the psychological effect. This isn’t the only time it has happened. Maybe 5 percent of races have this “problem.” It shows my weakness, because I lose heart. So to be clear: it’s me, not the race organizers. What it is, is: you are heading toward the finish, which can tell by the familiar sights, and if it were straight it would be, say, a quarter mile away. In this instance, you approached three times from different directions, and once you were less than a block away, so you could glimpse the balloon pergola thingie, and you could hear announcements as people ahead of you came through — except you then saw you were coming at it from behind, not in front, so you had a turn and then do 3/4 miles more! Man, that last bit is tough when you were feeling you were done. No doubt there is a term for this emotion.

Finally, praise. The 2:30 pacer was great. I was with the 2:20 pacer for about three miles. That would have been a PR. I did my usual intervals (“fartleks” to those in the know). But I eventually slowed a bit. I told the 2:30 guy he was “my pacer,” and he said he’d shout out when he was catching up. He then did it, and thanks to the desire to beat him, which I expressed, and his encouragement, I finished ahead of him and the whole pack accompanying him. It was 2:27, which is my third-best finish in about 73 or 74 races. I have lost count, and I am have not updated my spreadsheet.

PS Race organizer a super friendly guy.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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Night Sweats Trail Marathon Fall

Night Sweats Trail Marathon Fall

BUT GREAT! This weekend’s race report. I ran the Pacific Coast Trail’s Night Sweats 15k at Rodeo Beach. It was my first nighttime event. I crushed it. I have run … MORE

BUT GREAT!

This weekend’s race report. I ran the Pacific Coast Trail’s Night Sweats 15k at Rodeo Beach. It was my first nighttime event. I crushed it.

I have run the venue several times, but at the half marathon length during the day. The last time, I was at about 3:04. It is slightly short, about 12.5 to 12.75 miles. Today, my time was 2:12, and it was about 9.75 miles. So that is a significant improvement, with elevation gain that was slightly less relative to the distance.

It was dark, foggy, and drizzling at the start. It also was dusty and rocky along the route. I was tempted to take off my top layer, but I did not, and I’m glad, because it eventually got colder. I wore a baseball cap, a brand new Deep Springs College Centennial commemorative one, and it was soaked through with sweat.

People liked the Knuckle Lights (version 2.0) I had. I bought them only recently. They worked perfectly. They have a rubber strap that attaches them to your hands. One couple said they didn’t mind me running right behind them, because I was bright.

The impressive people were running ultras at 50, 75, and 100 miles. At mile 5, some lady went by a group of us. We could tell she was doing an ultra, because she was headed in the opposite direction. We all said, “Good race” etc. as is customary to encourage someone putting in grueling effort. She said, “You’re going to die.”

It was actually funny in context.

I finished 60 of 104. That is about 20 places ahead of my expectation.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4
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Zoom Dynamite Run

Zoom Dynamite Run

I ran this in record heat. I have run at this park before. They have various routes. They said this was the 10k twice, but my devices clocked 13.5 miles. … MORE

I ran this in record heat. I have run at this park before. They have various routes. They said this was the 10k twice, but my devices clocked 13.5 miles. They used to test dynamite out here or some such thing.

Usually I don’t like to repeat a loop — who does? But if you have to, it could be much worse. This is scenic with variation: water; woods; prairie; swamp; hills. So no complaints from me.

The Coastal Zoom folks are very nice. They usually have a bit of BBQ: burgers and hot dogs.

I would recommend this venue. Also the organizers. Weather will be a problem the rest of our lives unless we wake up to climate change.

Oh, one problem not the fault of anybody. Bay Area traffic is awful now. No good way to get back to the city from this park. 90 minutes by either bridge. That would be 45 minutes in the morning when it is clear.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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San Francisco Giant Race

San Francisco Giant Race

This race has two big gimmicks. First, you get a bobblehead. It's hosted by the Giants, with other sponsors -- this year, Alaska Airlines. So you get a player bobblehead. … MORE

This race has two big gimmicks.

First, you get a bobblehead. It’s hosted by the Giants, with other sponsors — this year, Alaska Airlines. So you get a player bobblehead. People collect them.

Second, the finish line is inside the stadium, on the outfield, and they let you hang out there. Unless you are major league baseball player, I am not sure you will ever have an opportunity to lounge on the grass, looking up into the bleachers.

The course also is reasonably flat for San Francisco. There are two moderate hills, but really nothing by Bay Area standards. I think total gain is under 250 feet. (Strava reported 234 feet. That seems right.)

Well run. Enthusiastic crowd.

They did have my name wrong, but that could have been user error too. They combined middle initial and last name. So a two minute complication at bib pickup. Not a big deal.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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City2Surf

City2Surf

Today's Race Report I ran the City2Surf in Sydney, a 14k event (that is about 8.7 miles though most end up running 9 miles). They claim it is the world's … MORE

Today’s Race Report

I ran the City2Surf in Sydney, a 14k event (that is about 8.7 miles though most end up running 9 miles). They claim it is the world’s largest non-competitive run. There were 65,000 people. This was the only time I have ever run where it has been crowded, not just moderately but densely, from start to finish, with the need to wind around people and avoid crashing.

As you might expect, there were corrals rather than a single mass start. Even with corrals, however, it was slow going. There was about a three minute delay from the time the Singapore Airlines Blue gun went off until the middle of that group crossed over the start line.

The course is scenic. The event is the equivalent of Bay to Breakers. It starts at Hyde Park right downtown and ends up on Bondi Beach. There is one hill in a residential area, called Heartbreak Hill as all of these seem to be. It isn’t bad compared to San Francisco. But it is long. (Addendum: unlike Bay to Breakers, no naked people. However, a smattering of costumed folks, such as the chicken who was just ahead of me the whole way.)

The most positive aspect of today’s run is my performance relative to the field as the race progressed. I became faster and faster. My final time put me just below the middle of the pack.

If you run and you are in Sydney, this is a must. If you are with non-runners, they have a fun section, full of families with children, so they also can join.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Devil’s Slide Run

Devil’s Slide Run

I have run 69 Half Marathons in 2-1/2 years. This is the hardest yet. Actually, it's tied. I have run up Mt. Montara twice. Each run was extraordinarily difficult, more … MORE

I have run 69 Half Marathons in 2-1/2 years. This is the hardest yet. Actually, it’s tied. I have run up Mt. Montara twice. Each run was extraordinarily difficult, more than Angel Island or the Dipsea. It’s about 3000 feet of vertical gain.

On this race, there was a woman really struggling. It was her first trail run. The guy with her, a husband or father or coach, was trying to encourage her. I felt bad for her.

So I write with what is an invitation or a warning depending on your perspective. It’s a great run, but be aware it is not easy. I would not make it a first trail run unless you are a very strong athlete. The one big hill is a doozy.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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SPASM Lake Chabot Trail Run

SPASM Lake Chabot Trail Run

These folks organize the Coastal and Zoom series, plus a few other races such as this. They are friendly and well organized. Lake Chabot is used by many. There are … MORE

These folks organize the Coastal and Zoom series, plus a few other races such as this. They are friendly and well organized.

Lake Chabot is used by many. There are multiple routes. For about a year, a dam has been under construction or repair of some sort, so they have changed the usual course. They are all hilly, with 1200 to 2100 feet of vertical gain.

Mass start, a few hundred participants.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Golden Gate Trail Run (Summer)

Golden Gate Trail Run (Summer)

I have run this venue several times. I like it. I am writing to report two aspects of it. First, you might think it's easy because it's beautiful. But it's … MORE

I have run this venue several times. I like it. I am writing to report two aspects of it.

First, you might think it’s easy because it’s beautiful. But it’s deceptive. This is much harder than you think. Elevation and a bit rocky.

Second, it’s slightly short. Every race I’ve run there ends shy of 13.1. You can’t really complain. By the time you’re there you’re happy to be done.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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Cleveland Marathon & Half Marathon

Cleveland Marathon & Half Marathon

I would run this again if I were there. (I live in San Francisco.) On the plus side, I was flying in and couldn't pick up the bib at the … MORE

I would run this again if I were there. (I live in San Francisco.)

On the plus side, I was flying in and couldn’t pick up the bib at the expo. They had a person handing them out on race day. That was nice. You missed out on the t-shirt. But that’s how it goes.

On the negative side, not enough porte-potties. There were many. But not relative to the size of the crowd. So I was still in line when the gun went off. It was a mass start, surprising given how many people there were.

The course itself is not bad. It’s probably about as good as you’d get in a Midwestern industrial metropolis (that’s not knocking the Midwest or industrial metropolises — my hometown is Detroit; it’s just saying it is what it is). Not hilly. Interesting urban scenery.

Oh, also, parking was much easier than I expected. I got a cheap rate in the stadium garage. In a race at a popular destination, it would have been much more expensive or farther away.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
SWAG
4

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Colorado Marathon

Colorado Marathon

I ran the Half Marathon. It was a personal record for me at 2:20. That was about 60 Half Marathons into my running career; I'm at 72 now, and I … MORE

I ran the Half Marathon. It was a personal record for me at 2:20. That was about 60 Half Marathons into my running career; I’m at 72 now, and I have not topped this finish.

Four notes.

Altitude. I had chlorophyll drops. I asked a Ph.D biologist if that would help. He said, “If you’re a plant.” They were recommended as a regimen by a New Age-y young lady. They didn’t hurt (though they did turn my poop green). I was gasping the whole way. Be warned. That didn’t prevent a very fast race. But I would not want to run every race this way.

Start. You ride a bus 30 minutes to a canyon. It’s a cool place, literally and figuratively. It was too cold to be comfortable, but unless you discarded your sweats (as some do), you would be shivering. It also was cool in the sense of wow, the sunrise!

Downhill. It’s a slight, not great but slight, downhill the whole way. I am sure that accounts for my speed. It’s just enough to feel. But not enough to worry you re knees.

Train. Stupid train. It would have been a 2:17 or 2:18 at worst except for the freight train. I could see the finish. Made me think about that movie, Edge of Tomorrow, and trying to roll under a vehicle. Maybe 50 of us affected. Not the fault of the organizer. Just part of a funny story.

I would run this race if I were in the area. I run all over, but I usually tack on a race while traveling. I’ve never done a “destination” race. I could see this being that for some folks, and you wouldn’t be disappointed.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Bay Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Bay Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

I have run lots. 69 Half Marathons in 2.5 years. Just started at 48. Typically finish at the top of the bottom quarter. So that's me, Brazen is friendly and … MORE

I have run lots. 69 Half Marathons in 2.5 years. Just started at 48. Typically finish at the top of the bottom quarter. So that’s me,

Brazen is friendly and well organized. Their races have 250 or so in the field. They are my favorite of San Francisco Bay Area outfits. I recommend anything they do.

This course was unbelievably muddy on the day I ran, at the start/finish. It was fine once you got out there. But boy were my shoes covered before I began. Not their fault. And would vary by year.

For the area, this is one of the flatter courses. I would run it again without hesitation.

Mainly, I write to endorse Brazen. (I have no relationship to them of course.)

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon (Kaiser Half)

Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon (Kaiser Half)

Mass start. Goes out of Golden Gate Park along the panhandle; back into the park; south on the Pacific Coast Highway, which they close. Probably the flattest race you'll find … MORE

Mass start. Goes out of Golden Gate Park along the panhandle; back into the park; south on the Pacific Coast Highway, which they close. Probably the flattest race you’ll find in the city, with only a very slight rise at the finish. Start and finish are not at the same place. Otherwise, everything is great. This was my first Half Marathon, and I’ve run it thrice. I’m becoming and intend to be a regular.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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Coyote Hills Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Coyote Hills Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

I have very little to add to what has been said other than these folks are friendly, organized, and enthusiastic. I ran 36 Half Marathons in 2016, most in the … MORE

I have very little to add to what has been said other than these folks are friendly, organized, and enthusiastic. I ran 36 Half Marathons in 2016, most in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I rate Brazen as my favorite outfit. Their runners are laid back too. Lots of people know others but it’s not a clique. Pick Brazen. (I have no relationship with them; i.e., this is an endorsement with no conflict of interest in the background.)

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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Brazen New Year’s Day Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Brazen New Year’s Day Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

I am revising my older reviews. I realize other runners really care about information that will help them decide whether to run a race, not my personal story about it. … MORE

I am revising my older reviews. I realize other runners really care about information that will help them decide whether to run a race, not my personal story about it. So I’m adding as much as I can. I should add that I am easygoing and open minded, to put it positively; or indiscriminate and lacking standards, to put it less so. What I mean is I have run more than six dozen races in under three years, so an average of more than 25 per year, and I liked all of them. I have minor quibbles about a couple. But I basically just love getting out there.

I really like Brazen. They are the best Bay Area outfit. Super friendly crew, lots of regular runners, well marked courses. I would pick a Brazen race over any other race that conflicted with it on a specific day.

They do a New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, with medals that lock together. I ran with two sisters, one the first day, the other the second day.

Lake Chabot is a tough course. Not the most difficult, but not for first-timers. As the second leg of the two-day series, this had my beat. I walked about half the distance. There are multiple courses in the same park. They are all mildly deceptive. They just look as if they should be easier. But they have considerable vertical gain, in the middle by Bay Area norms.

I signed up for 2017-18.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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MCRRC Black Hill 10K

MCRRC Black Hill 10K

I really like this club. It is in suburban Washington, D.C., on the Maryland side. I live in San Francisco. But my dad lives in Montgomery County, where these folks … MORE

I really like this club. It is in suburban Washington, D.C., on the Maryland side. I live in San Francisco. But my dad lives in Montgomery County, where these folks organize events. The cost is low; the people are friendly; and the races are interesting. It was well worth joining. The only issue is you need to remember the bib and the chip, which are issued for the year.

This run is easy, though I was slow. It has by SF standards low/moderate vertical gain, but by non-SF standards moderate vertical gain. It also has some technical sections and a couple of creek crossings over rocks. So it isn’t bad if you have ever run trails and would be fine for a first-timer except someone prone to falling. (An older fellow did fall, and he was bleeding. He wasn’t seriously injured, it looked, but whenever you have an injury to the face it looks bad.)

There were ample volunteers to guide you. One fellow said, when you go over that hill, say Hi Allie to the young lady. So I did that, and Allie got a big smile as if she knew me, and said hello back. Then, as I ran by, I said, the guy back there said to say that, so she realized it was sort of a trick/joke played by I’m guessing her father. I thought I was last, which I’ve always wanted to be, but, no, I was fourth or fifth from the last.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
1

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