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@mjsutton

Mabank, TX Raving since 2020 50 States hopeful/finisher Active 2 weeks, 1 day ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):

    Dallas Running Club

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  • Race that's calling my name:
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My Races

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

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Half Marathon

Marathon

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(Marathon or Ultra) + Half

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Future Races

Personal Bests (2)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Half Marathon Memphis, TN Dec 3, 2016 2:32:16
10K Canton, TX Jan 15, 2022 1:14:11

Future Races (11)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
Half Marathon Cascade Locks, OR Aug 4, 2024
Half Marathon St. George, UT Oct 5, 2024
Half Marathon Des Moines, IA Oct 20, 2024
Half Marathon Hot Springs, AR Nov 16, 2024
Half Marathon Kiawah Island, SC Dec 14, 2024
Half Marathon Gulf Shores, AL Jan 25, 2025
Half Marathon Fargo, ND May 30, 2025
Half Marathon Crazy Horse, SD 2025
Half Marathon Bird In Hand, PA 2025
Half Marathon Newmarket, NH 2026
Half Marathon Allen, TX TBD

Past Races (39)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Half Marathon Anchorage, AK Jun 22, 2024
Half Marathon Portland, ME Jun 8, 2024
Half Marathon Louisville, KY Apr 27, 2024
Half Marathon Washington, DC Mar 16, 2024
Half Marathon Newport, RI Oct 8, 2023
Half Marathon Falmouth, MA Oct 7, 2023
Half Marathon Snoqualmie Pass, WA Jul 30, 2023 2:48:21
Half Marathon Madison, WI May 28, 2023 2:50:28
Half Marathon Cary, NC Mar 19, 2023 2:54:17
Half Marathon Lake Buena Vista, FL Feb 26, 2023
10K Lake Buena Vista, FL Feb 25, 2023
Half Marathon Lake Buena Vista, FL Jan 7, 2023
5K Lake Buena Vista, FL Jan 5, 2023
Half Marathon Rehoboth Beach, DE Dec 3, 2022 2:57:47
Half Marathon Teton Village, WY Jul 2, 2022 2:56:51
Half Marathon Indianapolis, IN May 7, 2022 2:52:53
Half Marathon Fort Worth, TX Feb 27, 2022 2:52:48
10K Canton, TX Jan 15, 2022 1:14:11
Half Marathon Lake Buena Vista, FL Jan 8, 2022 3:47:08
10K Lake Buena Vista, FL Jan 7, 2022 1:57:25
5K Lake Buena Vista, FL Jan 6, 2022
Half Marathon Dallas, TX Dec 12, 2021 2:48:02
Half Marathon Tulsa, OK Nov 21, 2021 2:43:40
Half Marathon Muenster, TX Oct 2, 2021 2:46:25
Half Marathon Dallas, TX Sep 18, 2021 2:51:41
Half Marathon Lake Buena Vista, FL Feb 23, 2020 3:46:26
10K Lake Buena Vista, FL Feb 22, 2020 1:55:39
Half Marathon Tulsa, OK Nov 24, 2019 2:39:18
Half Marathon Savannah, GA Nov 3, 2019 2:44:23
Half Marathon Oxford, MS Oct 27, 2019 2:46:57
Half Marathon Muenster, TX Oct 5, 2019 2:47:42
Half Marathon Chicago, IL Sep 29, 2019 2:38:48
Half Marathon Dallas, TX Sep 21, 2019 2:45:44
10K Canton, TX Aug 4, 2019 1:17:39
Half Marathon Fort Collins, CO May 5, 2019 2:42:58
Half Marathon Lake Buena Vista, FL Jan 12, 2019 2:52:35
Half Marathon Kissimmee, FL Nov 5, 2017 2:52:35
Half Marathon Memphis, TN Dec 3, 2016 2:32:16
Half Marathon Las Vegas, NV Nov 15, 2015 2:40:21

My Raves

When I signed up for the Jack and Jill Downhill Half Marathon, I had heard about the ease of the course and the beauty of the scenery, and I will … MORE

When I signed up for the Jack and Jill Downhill Half Marathon, I had heard about the ease of the course and the beauty of the scenery, and I will say that this race under-promises and over-performs…a great combination! 🙂 I had been to Seattle and the State of Washington a few times prior to this trip but really had not ventured too far off the beaten path until this trip. It really is a beautiful state, and escaping the heat for a few days was a welcome reprieve.

The Jack and Jill Downhill races (half marathon and marathon) take place on both Saturday and Sunday of the last weekend in July (typically). By the time I signed up for the race in late-spring, the half marathon on Saturday was already sold out, so – not really having another option – I signed up for the Sunday race. These races are quite popular and sell out often, so it’s best to sign up as soon as possible in order to secure a spot.

Being a significant distance from Washington, travel took some effort and coordination. I took a late flight to Seattle on Friday night after work, and given the time difference, I went straight to an airport hotel to spend the night before picking up my rental car the next day and making the 30-mile drive to North Bend and Snoqualmie, which is where the race and my accommodations were located. Both towns have charming downtown areas with great restaurants and lovely gift shops. I chose to have lunch in North Bend on Saturday while I waited for packet pick-up to open and for my hotel room to become available. North Bend has some premium outlets as well, so I was able to occupy my time before packet pick-up started at 3:00 pm. Packet pick-up was located just outside the Nike Premium Outlet Store and does not include an expo. They had some race merchandise for sale, but it was very minimal. The line became quite long as 3:00 pm approached, but it moved quickly. I do wish they had opened packet pick-up a little earlier (because I think a lot of people were waiting for it to open, which is why the line was so long when it opened), but given the race organizers were running another race that morning, I understand it may not have been logistically possible for them to open it earlier. The race swag was fairly minimal as well…mainly a tank top, a bag, and some sort of bandana/handkerchief.

I chose to stay at the Snoqualmie Inn on Saturday night before the race because it was one of the closer hotels to the race. Most of the hotels that are recommended by the race organizers are 15 or more miles away, whereas the Snoqualmie Inn was only about six miles from the race parking. I would highly recommend this hotel; it is nice, clean, and convenient to the race parking and where the shuttles pick up the runners to take them to the start.

The race itself was amazing! After parking at Meadowbrook Farm (a field kind of between North Bend and Snoqualmie), I was bussed to the bottom of the mountain where the race start took place (at the top of the mountain). The race participants were very friendly, and I made conversation with several folks on the bus and as I hiked to the race start. It is a pretty significant distance between the parking and the start of the race, and once I was dropped off, it is another mile hike to the top of the mountain to reach the start line…and the hike is steep! I am not joking when I say I was really out of breath hiking to the top of the mountain, but hopefully if you can run a half marathon, you can hike a mile uphill. This is also why it’s important to arrive at the parking location early as the last bus leaves 40 minutes before the race starts, and by the time you hike up that hill, you’re out of breath. It’s nice to have a little time to reset before you start running!

The rest of the race was (literally) downhill. I have so many pictures of trees, streams, mountains in the distance, and beautiful scenery that is all along the course path. And, the weather was perfect. I believe the high was in the 70s the day of the race, and it was even cooler when the race started at 6:00 am. There really wasn’t a lot of on-course support or spectators simply because we were running on a trail on the side of a mountain (rather than city streets), but there were aid stations that were well staffed every couple of miles. Really, the only complaint I have about the course is the terrain itself. The course is a gravel path, which was clearly described on the race website, but I underestimated how technical the course is. Although I wore my tried-and-true road running shoes without any problem, my feet and ankles were really tired several miles into the race from running on rocks and uneven surfaces. It is easy to step wrong, so you do have to look down quite a bit to make sure you don’t twist an ankle. That being said, it isn’t necessary to wear trail running shoes as the descent is very gradual, but you don’t want to wear minimal running shoes (or run barefoot), either.

As part of my race “preparations,” I also binge watched the Twin Peaks television series as North Bend and Snoqualmie are featured significantly in the show that aired in the early 1990s. So, after the race, I geeked out on all the sites from the show, including the Double R Diner (now Tweed’s Café) located in North Bend, the police station in Snoqualmie that still has the sheriff’s Bronco sitting outside, and bridges and train tracks where parts of the show were filmed as well. Perhaps most notably, though, I chose to stay Sunday and Monday nights (following the race) at the Salish Lodge & Spa, which was known as The Great Northern Hotel in the show and is visible in the opening credits along with twin waterfalls. The Salish Lodge & Spa was definitely a splurge, but I enjoyed every bit of that experience. The rooms are nicely appointed, the dining is wonderful, and the spa services were perfect following a race. I also could hear the rush of the waterfall from the balcony of my room, and I was able to take in views of the waterfalls and hike around the area a bit as well. It was really the perfect way to cap off a race weekend!

On Tuesday morning, I drove back to Seattle to catch my flight, and I would recommend allowing plenty of time to get to the airport and return a rental car given Seattle traffic can be a little intense, especially on a weekday morning. Despite taking some wrong turns, I was still able to arrive in plenty of time for my flight.

I would highly recommend the Jack and Jill Downhill Half Marathon for anyone who is looking for a summer half marathon that isn’t blazing hot and for anyone who wants to enjoy their surroundings as much as the run itself. It’s really a great and well-organized race, and I enjoyed the communities and laid-back nature of the area. This is a race I would consider repeating just because it was such a relaxing and lovely time!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

As part of my 50 State quest, I was looking for a race in Wisconsin that would help me check this state off my list, and the Run Madtown Half … MORE

As part of my 50 State quest, I was looking for a race in Wisconsin that would help me check this state off my list, and the Run Madtown Half Marathon was a great choice. I had read some generally positive things online about this race, but I didn’t have major expectations going into the weekend and just hoped to soak up the experience, eat some cheese curds and custard, and maybe have a beer. I am happy to report that I was able to do all of these things and added a few “extras,” too!

Given this race is run over Memorial Day weekend, I decided to take an extra day off work and left late on Thursday evening and returned Sunday night after the race. The timing of this turned out pretty well as I think I was able to avoid some of the more expensive flights by traveling during the “off” travel days of the weekend.

I flew into Milwaukee and stayed there on Thursday night. Being a Happy Days and LaVerne & Shirley fan, I spent most of Friday taking in some of the sites of the city that were connected to the shows, including the Polish Flats neighborhood (where LaVerne and Shirley lived) and seeing the Bronze Fonze on the river. The Milwaukee City Hall is also a site to behold, and other fans of LaVerne & Shirley may remember it being featured in the opening credits of the show with the words, “Welcome Milwaukee Visitors” on it. I also scheduled a brewery tour at Lakefront Brewery and also enjoyed lunch there (with fantastic cheese curds, by the way). I left mid-afternoon to make my way to Madison, which is a little over an hour from Milwaukee. There is more to do in Milwaukee, but I wanted to get to Madison at a decent time and was also making a slight detour to see some friends along the way.

I arrived in Madison on Friday evening. The packet pick-up took place at a shoe store in a local shopping center (which is actually quite nice) from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm on Friday and from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday. Packet pick-up is timed a little odd, in my opinion, but once I realized that the race is really geared toward locals (at least local to Wisconsin) and given there is a Twilight 5k Run on Saturday evening before the Half-Marathon on Sunday morning, I guess it makes sense. They also offer same-day packet pick-up, but I think you have to make special arrangements for that. (This is another reason I didn’t want to chance flying in on Saturday given how early the packet pick-up closes that day.) There is not an expo at packet pick-up and it’s a bit “bare bones,” but honestly, it’s fine because I really don’t need more running stuff! 

Although I researched where to stay based on the start/finish line of the race, I was really pleased with the location of the hotel I selected, which was the Hampton Inn – Madison/Downtown. It is right in the middle of so much – the capitol building, the University of Wisconsin campus, and several restaurants and shops. I spent most of Saturday just walking around Madison – shopping along State Street, enjoying the beautiful weather on the Wisconsin Memorial Union’s Terrace (which overlooks Lake Mendota), and sampling some cheese.

The race itself was also great, and I couldn’t have asked for better weather. The course starts and ends on the University of Wisconsin campus, winds along the banks of Lake Mendota for a bit, skirts through the University Arboretum (which is lovely), cuts through several neighborhoods and city streets, and ends by going around the capitol and back up State Street to where the race began. It is *quite* hilly at times, and the hills around miles 9 and 12 are no joke. There are plenty of Gatorade and water stations – about every 1.5 miles – although there isn’t a lot of on-course support beyond these awesome volunteers at the aid stations. There is a nice post-race party that offers a free beer, food, and merchandise, although I didn’t hang around too long afterwards. And, the medals were huge! I really liked the design of the medal (which was like a suncatcher with images of Madison) as well as the tech shirt.

After the race, I was able to make it back to my hotel to get cleaned up, ate some lunch, and then headed back to Milwaukee to catch my flight home with plenty of time to spare.

I read that Madison’s nickname is “Madtown” because it is anything but conventional, and I can see that. But I have to admit the race is really what you might expect in “Madtown” (sans the hills…oof!). So, if you’re looking for a straightforward but good quality Wisconsin race, Run MadTown is a great choice.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

The Tobacco Road Half Marathon was a race I originally signed up for in 2020...and we all know what happened in March of that year! So, I actually deferred this … MORE

The Tobacco Road Half Marathon was a race I originally signed up for in 2020…and we all know what happened in March of that year! So, I actually deferred this race a couple of times and finally got it to work with my schedule in 2023. Although I normally don’t like to defer this many times, I do think it helped me in planning and being prepared for the race by 2023.

First, I will say that the logistics of this race are not especially easy if you don’t live in the area. I flew into the Raleigh-Durham Airport and ended up staying in a hotel near the airport for a couple of reasons: (1) my flight following the race was pretty early Monday morning and (2) there simply weren’t a lot of hotels near the race site. There was a designated race hotel, but it wasn’t particularly close to the race site or the airport, so I opted for staying near the airport.

If you fly into Raleigh-Durham, you will likely need to rent a car in order to get to the race (and get around in general). As I mentioned – while there is a designated “race hotel,” there is not a shuttle from the hotel to the race site. The race hotel is just where the expo takes place and they may also give a special rate, but otherwise, it didn’t seem as though there were any special perks for staying at the race hotel. That being said, parking at the race site is VERY limited. In fact, you have to pre-purchase a parking pass in order to park at the race site, which is why I ended up deferring in 2022…I didn’t realize I needed to purchase a parking pass ahead of the race and they sold out before I could buy one and then I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get to the race site without stressing out on the morning of the race. The race director discourages using Uber or Lyft on the morning of the race as well, and while there is a shuttle from an off-site parking lot to the starting line, it didn’t sound as dependable as I wanted it to and I really didn’t want to stand out in the cold for over an hour waiting for the race to start! So, it just seemed easier to pre-purchase the parking pass. (I believe I bought the pass in the fall before the race and bought it within 24 hours of the passes going on sale. The passes do sell out very quickly – like within days – so you’ll want to act quickly if this is the route you want to go.) Then, on the morning of the race, I drove to the race site parking lot (they suggested getting there no later than 5:30 am) and slept in my car for about an hour before heading to the start line.

The race itself was great! The first few miles were through some city streets before ending up on the Tobacco Trail, which is a hiking/biking trail that has been converted from an old railroad track. In fact, the finisher’s medal has a train on it each year as a nod to the “rails-to-trails” origins of the race route. The scenery is also lovely – lots of tall trees and the light is beautiful at that time of the morning. It was a little chilly at the start – I’m sure in part to the sun not being out quite yet – but the weather warmed up nicely right before the race started (and the sun came out!) but remained a nice cool temperature all morning. The course is out-and-back and fairly flat, and the marathoners have almost the exact same course. So, you’re passing a lot of folks going back-and-forth on the trail, but the half-marathoners have the same time limit that the marathoners do (seven hours, I believe), so for anyone who walks or run/walks, there is plenty of time to finish before being swept. There are a sufficient number of aid stations (approximately one every couple of miles), and there are also photographers scattered throughout the course taking pictures (which are free!).

Overall, I really had a great experience, but there are a lot of logistics to be aware of and plan for if you’re considering this race and aren’t from the area. I also found plenty to do in the Raleigh/Durham area before and after the race took place – side trips to Chapel Hill to see the University of North Carolina as well as Durham to see Duke University. I was actually able to tour the Duke Gardens on Saturday before the race, which is a beautiful arboretum on the Duke campus as well. I also enjoyed some Carolina Barbecue (post-race) and a spa treatment at the nearby Umstead Hotel and Spa (an amazing splurge if you’re so inclined).

Overall, I would definitely recommend this race for anyone in North Carolina or for the person who needs to check North Carolina off their 50 state list. I had a wonderful visit, enjoyed a new area, and had a great race!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

Since Delaware is a state I needed to complete and the weekend of the Rehoboth Beach Seashore Half Marathon worked well for my schedule, I signed up for this race … MORE

Since Delaware is a state I needed to complete and the weekend of the Rehoboth Beach Seashore Half Marathon worked well for my schedule, I signed up for this race in early-September. I had never been to Delaware before and was very unfamiliar with this part of the country, and I wasn’t sure how easy hotel reservations would be to come by, either (at least for those at a convenient distance from the start and end). So – in addition to registering for the race, I also made a reservation in September at the Bellmoor Inn and Spa. This turned out to be a great decision on my part…it is in a great location and such a charming inn! I planned to fly into Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) as well and rented a car to drive the 2.5 hours to Rehoboth Beach.

Even though I believe I made some good choices and planned well for this trip, we all know that you cannot predict the weather, and unfortunately, the weather played a pretty considerable role on the morning of the race. The forecast had been a little all over the place in the week leading up to the race, but rain was predicted on race day…and it went from light misting to a considerable downpour by the time I finished. As you’ll see, this led to some less-than-ideal conditions and resulted in me ruining my iPhone (which is a whole other story), but there is no sales tax in Delaware and I needed a new phone anyway, so that kind of worked out! 🙂

As far as the race itself – I must say that this is a well-organized and well-executed race. I feel like I received plenty of communication in advance of race day and knew what to expect. The Rehoboth Beach Running Company also hosted a very nice after-race party, although I have to admit I did not take advantage of this. (At least, the buffet line looked pretty expansive!) I was soaking wet at that point and just wanted to get out of my wet clothes. And, there were plenty of volunteers and helpful on-course support…there was a water and gatorade stop approximately every two miles. I do wish there had been more photographers on the course; I got the impression from the communication around the race that there would be a number of photographers but I only saw a couple along the entire half marathon course.

The course itself is fairly flat. It winds through the town a bit before ending up on the boardwalk. To me, this was definitely the highlight of the race. It’s really beautiful to run along the beach at sunrise! You also run through some neighborhoods with amazing beach homes and end up on the Junction & Breakwater Trailhead, which is most of the second half of the half marathon. The trailhead is not paved and mostly gravel, so it got a little messy at times given the rainy weather. But, it was really lovely scenery otherwise.

Because I arrived in Delaware on Friday and left on Sunday morning, I didn’t have a lot of time to explore and I really wish I could have spent another day checking out the beaches and shopping. Rehoboth Beach is a really cute, beachy town with lots of dining and shopping options, including outlets. (Don’t forget – no sales tax in Delaware!) I guess this just means I’ll have to come back!

One final word – I found all the people I met to be so friendly and nice! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but everyone (shopkeepers, race volunteers, fellow runners, etc.) was so pleasant and helpful. If it weren’t so far away from my home (and not exactly the easiest to get to), I would definitely want to do this race again. An overall delightful experience!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

When I signed up for the Jackson Hole Half Marathon, I fully intended to make a vacation out of the trip and took my parents along for the adventure. None … MORE

When I signed up for the Jackson Hole Half Marathon, I fully intended to make a vacation out of the trip and took my parents along for the adventure. None of us had ever been to Wyoming before – much less Jackson Hole – and I was excited to see the town and the surrounding area. I have to admit – neither disappointed!

The Jackson Hole trip was centered around the half marathon, but we did a lot of driving and sight-seeing before and after the race. We flew into Salt Lake City and stayed there a couple of nights before driving up to Jackson Hole. In retrospect, this was actually a pretty good strategy because it allowed us to adjust to the elevation before driving further into the mountains and up to Jackson Hole.

Jackson Hole is a lovely town with lots of cute shops and places to eat. However, it is EXPENSIVE. We only stayed there one night (the night before the race), and I used points to stay at the Hampton Inn (which would have been around $700/night otherwise). There is nothing special about this Hampton Inn other than it is in Jackson Hole, but by the time I made reservations, there weren’t many options left. Again – in retrospect, I think it would have been more affordable to stay in an AirBnB, but by the time I got around to reserving anything, there wasn’t much available. Of course, this could also be because the race was near the Fourth of July holiday in 2022. But, you’ve been fairly warned about securing accommodations! 

When we arrived in town, we went straight to the packet pick-up, which took place at a local elementary school. It’s not really anything special; there is not an expo nor are there any vendors. I picked up my bib and t-shirt (not a tech shirt), and then we went to the hotel to check in. We walked around the downtown square (and got our picture taken with the famous antlers archway) and had dinner at Miazga’s for some good carb loading.

The start of the half marathon is several miles outside of Jackson Hole at Teton Village (a ski resort, I believe), and one has to catch the school bus (literally) from the finish line area, which is at the same elementary school where packet pick-up is, to be transported to the start line. When I say it is bare bones, I mean it is really bare bones. There weren’t too many people in the race itself – it seemed like less than 100 – and the race organizers let folks who thought they would need a little extra time or wanted to walk start early. It was very laid back. Again – in retrospect, given my slow pace, I should have started with the walkers, but it was fine. I just was one of the last few folks on the course.

The course itself is lovely, although not as scenic as I would have thought the Jackson Hole Half Marathon would be. The race doesn’t go through Jackson Hole itself at all. Rather, it’s outside of town, and the course mostly follows a highway into town. There are some streams along the way and nice views of the mountains. At one point, the course goes through a park (with no shade), and it’s pretty much out-and-back at that point. As I mentioned, I was one of the last few people to finish (since I didn’t start early), and I could see the rain clouds beginning to form as I approached Mile 8 or 9. I also kept checking my watch because I was worried that if it started lightning, they would call off the race (and there didn’t seem to be any place to easily seek shelter, if needed, on the course). Just as I was passing Mile Marker 13, the rain started, and I literally finished right before a big gust of wind (and rain) wreaked havoc on the finish line. I was glad (and fortunate!) to get this in before the storm hit!

After the race, we drove on to Yellowstone National Park and had an amazing time there seeing Old Faithful and wildlife. That was definitely the highlight of the trip.

Overall, I had a good experience with the Jackson Hole Half, but I would certainly plan things a bit differently if I had it to do over. And, I would also adjust my expectations. There really isn’t anything too special about this race other than it’s near Yellowstone, which is more than enough to make up for any lackluster race performance.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
1

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

The OneAmerica 500 Festival Indianapolis Mini Marathon did not disappoint! I actually signed up for this race in 2020 and then deferred from 2020 to 2021 and then 2022. The … MORE

The OneAmerica 500 Festival Indianapolis Mini Marathon did not disappoint! I actually signed up for this race in 2020 and then deferred from 2020 to 2021 and then 2022. The primary reason I signed up for the race was to “check Indiana off my list,” And, I really enjoyed my experience!

Unfortunately, my flight to Indianapolis was canceled on the Thursday before the race, so I didn’t arrive until mid-afternoon on Friday (and the race was on Saturday). It was very easy to get from the airport to my hotel in downtown Indianapolis via Uber (about a 30-minute drive), and then the Expo and Packet Pick-Up was within several blocks’ walking distance of my hotel as well. I walked there after I arrived in plenty of time to get my packet and check out many of the vendors at the Expo. I do wish I had arrived at the Expo a little earlier simply because a lot of the merchandise I wanted to purchase was already sold out in my size by the time I got there…they had great vendors and great selections! I hadn’t anticipated wanting to purchase anything!

The hotel I selected (Home2Suites) was not part of the block advertised through the race website, but it was still within a couple of blocks of the starting line and other shops and restaurants. I was disappointed that they would not allow me to have a late check-out and insisted on the check-out time of 11:00 am on the morning of the race. (I was flying out Saturday evening.) I’m a slow runner and knew that I would not be able to get back to the hotel in time to get cleaned up before check-out, so I ended up extending my stay by one night just so I could take a shower after I returned from finishing the race. I also have to admit that I did not always feel especially safe walking around downtown Indianapolis by myself, so I made sure I did not wander around after dark. Just something to be aware of for folks who may be traveling alone.

On Saturday morning, I was able to easily walk to the starting line from my hotel in plenty of time. I appreciated that the race organizers set up the start so that runners began in waves, depending upon one’s estimated completion time. They also provided the exact time that those waves would start. So, while the race technically started at 7:30 am, I knew my wave wasn’t slated to start until 8:10 am, which was helpful for planning purposes.

The course overall was great! I can’t say that it was especially scenic, other than the lap (approximately two miles) around the Indianapolis Speedway, but there were plenty of aid stations and tons of community support and entertainment. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. The Speedway is cool, and its timing in the race (miles 6-8) was nice and made the rest of the race (which can often be the most brutal for me) go pretty quickly. The weather was absolutely perfect…a bit chilly but sunny, which I think is one of the reasons I felt so good throughout the race. It was also relatively flat, which can also be helpful! 🙂

Although I’m not one who usually hangs out at the Post-Race Party, I did take advantage of the opportunity to get my medal engraved, which was kind of cool (although it cost $20). They also had good food following the race. Better signage about how to get out of the Post-Race Party would have been helpful!

Although I flew out of Indianapolis later that evening, I had plenty of time to get back to the hotel to get cleaned up (after having to purchase an additional night in order to be able to shower and finish packing after the race), eat some lunch, and even do a little shopping around Indy. I took an Uber back to the airport and made it back home late that evening without incident.

I would definitely recommend this race. I’m sure there is more to do in Indianapolis than what I took advantage of as well, but I did not have a lot of sight-seeing time (and also have visited Indianapolis a number of times previously). I’m also not a big NASCAR fan but found the Indianapolis Speedway really fun and a unique race experience. Overall, I had a great time and am glad I did this race!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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The Cowtown has been on my list of races to run for several years now, and I was able to sign up at the Dallas Half Marathon Expo in December … MORE

The Cowtown has been on my list of races to run for several years now, and I was able to sign up at the Dallas Half Marathon Expo in December at a reduced rate ($100). I had heard a lot of great things about The Cowtown, so I had fairly high expectations going into race weekend.

While I generally enjoyed the race experience overall, it definitely came with its share of challenges. I’m not particularly familiar with Fort Worth, and I think this contributed to some of my frustrations and confusion throughout the weekend as well.

To start, I had a lot of difficulty finding the Expo. I was able to identify the general area where it was and navigated my way there fairly easily, but I could not figure out where I was supposed to park and then had a lot of trouble finding the correct building where the Expo was taking place. (It is located in a complex of buildings, and I walked through multiple buildings, parking lots, and loading docks before figuring out where I was supposed to go! Signs would have been helpful!) Again, I’m sure if I was more familiar with the area, it would have been easier to find (and if it’s in the same location in the future, I know I will be able to find the Expo more easily). But, this was a little stressful as an introduction to the race.

I stayed at a nearby hotel (Residence Inn), which happened to be in the middle of a renovation during my stay. Again, I know the hotel will be great once it’s complete, but it was not a good experience staying there this time. I literally had to visit the front desk no less than five times to re-program my key (three different times on the morning of the race alone after I had already run 13.1 miles and walked a fairly significant distance!). Additionally, I was woken about 3:00 am the morning of the race to my neighbor yelling profanities for no less than 30 minutes; finally, I heard someone from the front desk knock on his door and he quieted down after that. Needless to say, I was quite frustrated by the time I checked out. I recognize that all of these issues are not necessarily a reflection on the production of The Cowtown other than this was on their list of preferred hotels with reduced rates, but I think it contributed to my overall experience and may be helpful for someone else planning their trip for The Cowtown in the future. I usually try to stay at a hotel where I can walk to the race start, but I only saw one or two hotels that would have been within walking distance of the start and finish of this race. And, I still had to drive a short distance to park on the morning of the race (which wasn’t a problem to find free parking if you arrive at least 45 minutes or more before the race begins).

The morning of the race was pretty cold, and the race started early (7:00 am) for a winter race, in my opinion. The first third of the race was fairly nondescript and uneventful…a few hills through business districts and neighborhoods. I was a little surprised there wasn’t more community support given all the positive things I had heard about the race, but this improved quite a bit once we hit the historic Fort Worth Stockyards around Mile 6. Running through the Stockyards was fun, and the race became a bit more interesting as far as scenery goes after this point. From the Stockyards, the course headed south toward downtown Fort Worth, which required climbing a pretty steep hill at Mile 9. This was brutal and seemed to really slow down a number of folks. After this point, the race went through downtown and turned west toward the start/finish, which also seemed to be uphill a significant portion of the way. While I had wanted a better time, I was satisfied given how hilly this course was.

The swag definitely was the best part of the race to me. I received two shirts (technical tee at the Expo and finisher t-shirt at the finish) and a little paper-thin jacket at the finish as well. The medal also was nice, but I am confused as to why it is in the shape of a puzzle piece. I may have missed the reason for this somewhere, but I have looked and can’t seem to find any explanation. There was also quite a bit of food and hydration at the end of the race, which was great. Given the cold weather, I was surprised there were no mylar blankets at the end, but this wasn’t a make-or-break thing for me. The finish was also a little chaotic without a lot of direction about where to go for the exit, but I finally figured it out!

Overall, I think the race was okay. I will likely run it again at some point in the future, but I don’t know that this will be an annual race for me. I am also hoping that some of the construction that was present at the Expo, hotel, and neighboring areas will be over in a few years, which will make parts of the race experience a little better. A generally good event for which I will be much better prepared in the future!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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Although I'm not sure how long this race has been taking place, this is my second time to run the 10k, and I have to admit that I enjoyed this … MORE

Although I’m not sure how long this race has been taking place, this is my second time to run the 10k, and I have to admit that I enjoyed this experience even more than the first.

The Canton 10k takes place near the First Monday Trades Days grounds and throughout neighborhoods in the small town of Canton, Texas. I only live about 20 miles from Canton, so this race is very convenient for me, and I appreciate all the effort that goes into this event. The event organizers seem to be very organized and professional, and I really like the shirts and after-race food and offerings.

I do think the race experience could have been improved in two ways this year. First, the race organizers advertised an option for early packet pick-up on Friday night before the race this year, ending at 7:00 pm. I hit horrible traffic leaving work on Friday and was not able to get to the packet pick-up until 7:02 pm. At that point, all of the materials were already packed up, and I could not be helped (which was a little frustrating…they obviously started packing up well before 7:00 pm). I had also originally signed up for the half marathon and was interested in dropping down to the 10k; I also wanted to know what the time limit for the course(s) was. I could not find any information or answers to either of these questions online. To be fair, I also did not send an e-mail or attempt to reach someone to get these questions answered, but that kind of information would have been helpful in a FAQ or in the e-mail information that is sent prior to the race.

Beyond these minor frustrations, I really enjoyed my experience. There appeared to be about 100 runners participating in the 10k and half marathon (combined). The course is a bit hilly, but nothing horrible. There isn’t a ton of on-course support, but the folks who were present to hand out water or point the way were very encouraging and helpful. It was also very cold and windy the morning of the race, which may have impacted the turnout as well. Literally, there was a wind advisory in place, so the conditions were a bit brutal at times (but that’s certainly out of everyone’s control!).

Overall, I would certainly continue to sign up for and participate in this race, and I expect it to improve each year. If you’re from out-of-town, it’s unfortunate it doesn’t take place during a First Monday weekend, but I don’t believe the logistics make it possible for this to happen. Regardless, Canton is a charming small town with cute shops to explore and good restaurants to try pre- or post-race!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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The 2022 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Half Marathon was the third half-marathon I have run at WDW. (I ran the 2017 Wine and Dine and 2019 Half Marathon as … MORE

The 2022 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Half Marathon was the third half-marathon I have run at WDW. (I ran the 2017 Wine and Dine and 2019 Half Marathon as part of Marathon Weekend previously.) During the 2022 weekend, I also ran the 5K and 10K races (everything short of the full marathon…just not ready for the full Dopey yet!). And, in all honesty, I think I have finally figured out how to run (and enjoy!) a runDisney event!

Given I was up at 2:45 am three days in a row for the three races I ran, this has the potential to be a tiring weekend. There is also the temptation to go to and spend time in the parks each day, which could add to the physical exhaustion. As I approached and planned for my trip, I made the conscious decision to build in time each day to take at least a two-hour nap either in the morning after each race or later in the day before dinner. This was critical to me not collapsing at any point during the trip!

When I participate in a runDisney race, I also make the decision that I will not be running for time. Instead, I’m trying to soak up every possible experience that I can on the race route. Disney races are known for the character stops along the way, and this race was no exception. I was able to get pictures during the Half Marathon with Mary Poppins and Burt, Clarabelle the Cow, Tinkerbell, Buzz Lightyear, and Thumper from Bambi. I also was able to get my picture made in front of the castle in the Magic Kingdom. Standing in line for each of these characters takes time, which is why I simply throw any time goal out the window for runDisney races.

As I mentioned, I do feel like I have figured out the “right way” to do runDisney races (at least for me) now that I have run a few. It’s important to know that runDisney is very strict about being able to finish the race at a 16-minute pace. About three “balloon ladies” walk at this pace after the last corral crosses the starting line, and if you get behind them at any point, you will be swept from the course. Everyone tries to avoid the “balloon ladies,” although I have heard they are actually very nice and supportive (albeit scary!).

In the past, runDisney has labeled their corrals with letters, but they numbered the corrals this year. I was in Corral 2 (of 6) for the Half Marathon, which made me feel less stressed about being swept if I stopped for multiple character pictures. It is important to be aware of your corral placement, and how that might help or be limiting to your experience. Keep in mind that there are also literally thousands of people in the corral with you…that are a number of “mini-waves” within each corral. By the time I crossed the starting line in Corral 2, there were probably 10 or so mini-waves that had already crossed the starting line (with the requisite fanfare ahead of me).

As far as the course itself goes, it is fairly flat with a couple of “hills” you have to climb in order to run across an overpass. There are also some significant stretches where it seems like there is “nothing”. Although it can be (and is!) fun to run through the parks and on Disney property, there are also some long stretches of highway between parks and these more scenic places. Disney does try to strategically place characters, but there is maybe one character/mile, which can make the rest of that mile a little boring at times. I still rated the scenery high, though, simply because Disney really does a great job of keeping things interesting. There are also some points on the course that are quite narrow, and given the volume of runners, I had to slow down, walk, or even stop in order not to trip or step on someone. And, because there are so many folks who participate in this race who are new to running, not everyone knows the proper “race etiquette” in these situations, which can be a little frustrating and dangerous, to be honest. There are ample water stops, medical tents, and port-a-potties and bathrooms, though.

Overall, I love the Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World and am sure that I will sign up again for future races, Registration does fill up quickly (often within hours of it opening), so it’s important to be “fully in” before registration opens so that you are ready to go. And, I might also suggest making your hotel reservations before or immediately after securing your race registration and staying in one of the Disney resort hotels since it makes transportation the morning of the race SO much easier. Disney provides busses from the resort hotels to the race starting area for each race.

I have also joined a number of runDisney Facebook groups that have helped me prepare for and stay motivated with my training for this race as well. I encourage folks to find these to get more inside scoop and tips about these races if you’re interested in participating as well. Overall, a truly “magical” experience!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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Although I have participated in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend several years, this is the first time I have completed the 10k during the Marathon Weekend. And, this was … MORE

Although I have participated in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend several years, this is the first time I have completed the 10k during the Marathon Weekend. And, this was the second of three races I ran this particular weekend in 2022. After having run the 5k the day before, I really enjoyed the 10k and felt like it was an even better race.

If you read my review of the 5k, you’ll see that there were a couple of drawbacks I noticed – people walking the race and it still being pretty dark at that hour along with limited character stops given the short distance of the race. I felt like the 10k was much better in both of these regards. The course could still be crowded at times, but it seemed as if the “flow” of participants was better, and there were significantly more character stops. I was able to get some cute pictures with Alice in Wonderland; Peter Pan and Wendy; and Winnie the Pooh. And, given the race went through Hollywood Studios as well as a small part of EPCOT, a number of the Toy Story characters were out as well – Woody, Bo Peep, and Forky!

As with every Disney race, this starts especially early (5:00 am) and it’s important to be on the shuttle at the hotel between 3:00 and 4:00 am (at the very latest). This can become a bit tiring after several days of getting up at 2:45 am!

In the future, I will likely try to wear a costume for this race, as it’s a short enough distance to not have to worry about too much chafing. And, a lot of participants are wearing fun and cute costumes during the 10k as well.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was the character for the 10k race this year, and the shirt and medal were very cute. Overall, another great experience at a Disney race! Sign me up for next year!!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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Does a 5K get any better or magical than one at Walt Disney World?? For a short race, this is a really fun (albeit expensive!) option. This was my second … MORE

Does a 5K get any better or magical than one at Walt Disney World?? For a short race, this is a really fun (albeit expensive!) option. This was my second time to run/walk a 5k during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, and I enjoyed this one even more than the first, probably because I had a better sense of what to expect and how to prepare.

As with all the Disney races, the 5k starts at 5:00 am, but shuttles begin departing resort hotels at 3:00 am. So, I was up at 2:45 am to get ready and catch the bus to the resort. (Plus, if you’re spending all that money on the race, you definitely don’t want to miss it!) My assumption is also that the most people participate in the 5k of the four races presented that weekend, so it can be a bit crowded getting to the start line and then throughout the race.

Overall, I had another great experience at the 5k. Given the short distance of the race, there aren’t a lot of character stops (as there are during the 10k, half marathon, and marathon), but I managed to get a picture with Lumiere and Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast. There were a few other options this year (Pinocchio and Abu from Aladdin, to name a couple), but I didn’t bother to stop for those just because they didn’t interest me as much and there is still a 16-minute/mile time limit as there is with other races (although the race is not officially timed) and I didn’t want to get swept.

A lot of participants choose to wear costumes for the race, which are really fun. In the future, this is something I would like to do also…just ran out of planning time this year! It’s also important to note that the race course can be quite crowded and most people seem to be walking the race. Given it’s also dark when the race starts (and ends for some folks!), the conditions can be a little dangerous. It’s important to be aware of this.

As I mentioned, I really enjoy this race and hope to sign up in future years as well. Being prepared to sign up the day the registration goes “live” is critical…it sells out quickly! And, like all other Disney races, there is a great shirt, and the medals this year were especially cool! Overall, another magical experience!!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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Although I signed up for this race in 2019, I was not able to participate due to an illness. Then, I signed up for the race in 2020...which got postponed … MORE

Although I signed up for this race in 2019, I was not able to participate due to an illness. Then, I signed up for the race in 2020…which got postponed to May 2021…which then got postponed to December 2021! Needless to say, there was a lot of built-up anticipation for this race!

Since I only live about an hour away, I drove to Dallas the morning of the race rather than staying at a downtown hotel (which I would actually recommend staying at a downtown hotel in the future over driving just to reduce that potential stressor on the morning of the race). Fortunately, I did not have any difficulty finding a surface lot in downtown Dallas that was just a couple of blocks from the starting line. When I arrived at 7:00 am (1.5 hours prior to the race), there were plenty of spots, but by 7:30 am, they were all pretty much gone and I’m not sure how quickly other lots that were farther away filled up. All this to say – allow plenty of time for parking, paying for parking, and walking to the race starting line. It will likely cost $10-15 for parking on the day of the race if you’re not staying at a downtown hotel.

Overall, I really enjoyed running through the various neighborhoods and areas of Dallas, and I thought the race organizers did a nice job of showcasing various parts of the city. There was also really great support by the community on the course, including plenty of hydration stations. The weather was absolutely perfect, too…sunny but crisply cool! And, even though I’m very familiar with Dallas, I didn’t remember it being as hilly as the course was! I would have welcomed something a little flatter, but it really wasn’t too bad.

The only slight frustration I had was prior to the race beginning when those of us in later corrals (D and E, namely) were not allowed to line up until well after Corral A had started the race. Instead, we were all bunched together in a chaotic group until they let each of the corrals line up. I’m not exactly sure why they wouldn’t let us go ahead and get in our corrals, but that part was a little frustrating (and cramped!).

The race swag was not particularly exciting or unique, either. Participants received both a short-sleeved shirt and a long-sleeved finisher shirt after the race. Given it was the 50th anniversary of the race, I had hoped for something a bit more unique and cool. (The medal was more 50th anniversary-focused.) That being said, I thought the expo was really good prior to the race…very organized and a considerable number of vendors.

I would certainly do this race again, especially since this is essentially where I live and work! It can be a really busy time of year with the holidays quickly approaching, but overall, a great race experience that is worth it! And, even better – lots of great places to celebrate with food and beverages after the race is over! 🙂

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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This was my second time to run the Route 66 Half Marathon, and I am planning to make it an annual event. From communication to race organization to on-course support, … MORE

This was my second time to run the Route 66 Half Marathon, and I am planning to make it an annual event. From communication to race organization to on-course support, this is an overall great race. The past two times I’ve run the race, I’ve also stayed at a downtown hotel that is literally at the start line, which has been especially convenient, and the finish line isn’t too far away.

Unfortunately, the medals had not arrived when the race occurred, and not having a medal to hang around your neck at the finish line was a little bit of a downer. (I obviously run for the medals! Ha!) But, I know the organizers will make good on getting the medals to us at some point in the near future.

Truly, the on-course support is also one of the best I have experienced. The city really turns out to support the race and runners. The race weaves through many lovely neighborhoods, and this is really where neighbors are present to cheer folks on, which is much appreciated!

Overall, this is a great event and one I plan to participate in for the foreseeable future!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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The Wurst Race Half Marathon benefits a private school in the small town of Muenster, Texas, which means the the entire community gets behind the race and Oktoberfest (of which … MORE

The Wurst Race Half Marathon benefits a private school in the small town of Muenster, Texas, which means the the entire community gets behind the race and Oktoberfest (of which the race is one activity). To me, this makes the race fun, charming, and rewarding since it’s for a good cause!

The Half Marathon course is challenging and hilly and meanders through Muenster and the surrounding countryside in North Texas. If you enjoy windmills and wide open spaces, you’ll enjoy the scenery. I found it lovely and peaceful. It is important to note that this is not a closed course, so there are some times when you are literally running on the side of a highway with cars zipping by! But, given the small town, it seems most drivers are aware of the race taking place and slow down to help keep everyone safe. (It’s not an especially busy highway and there are plenty of signs…just can be a little surprising if you’re used to closed courses.)

The town and participants are very friendly and welcoming, and I found the folks working the aid stations (often with their small children and extended families in front of their homes along the route) really sweet and so appreciative of the participants supporting the race and their community! This was one of the best parts of the race!

Although the race is well-organized, it is not a large race…I think there were fewer than 50 participants in the Half Marathon. With this in mind, be aware that the swag is fairly simple, but they offered a really cute t-shirt this year and free beer at the end of the race.

If you are looking for a race that will challenge you with hills, is low-key, and supports a good cause, I highly recommend the Wurst Race Half Marathon!

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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