My Profile

@nthome

Garden Grove, CA Raving since 2015 Marathon Maniacs, Half Fanatics #7043 active 2 years, 1 month ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):

    AREC

  • Rave race:

    Mammoth Half Marathon

  • Race that's calling my name:

    Big Sur, NYC Marathon

  • I run because:

    I can!

My races

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

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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon &/or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Personal Bests (2)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Half Marathon Azusa, CA Nov 12, 2016 2:08:03
5K Long Beach, CA May 6, 2017 27:22

Future Races (0)

Race Distance Location Date Paid

Past Races (38)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Marathon Azusa, CA Nov 4, 2017
Half Marathon Ventura, CA Oct 22, 2017
Half Marathon Napa, CA Jul 16, 2017 2:44:23
5K Long Beach, CA May 6, 2017 27:22
Half Marathon Encinitas, CA Mar 26, 2017
Half Marathon San Diego, CA Mar 25, 2017
Half Marathon San Diego, CA Mar 12, 2017
Half Marathon Riverside, CA Jan 7, 2017
Half Marathon Camarillo, CA Dec 18, 2016
Half Marathon Rancho Palos Verdes, CA Nov 19, 2016
Half Marathon Azusa, CA Nov 12, 2016 2:08:03
Half Marathon Anaheim, CA Nov 11, 2016
Half Marathon Murrieta, CA Oct 30, 2016
Half Marathon Long Beach, CA Oct 9, 2016
Half Marathon Camarillo, CA Sep 18, 2016 2:29:15
Half Marathon Ventura, CA Sep 11, 2016 2:29:10
Half Marathon San Diego, CA Aug 21, 2016
Half Marathon Ojai, CA May 29, 2016 2:29:00
5K Newport Beach, CA May 1, 2016 27:47
5K Long Beach, CA Apr 30, 2016 28:19
Half Marathon Del Mar, CA Apr 24, 2016 2:32:00
5K Seal Beach, CA Apr 9, 2016 29:02
Half Marathon Azusa, CA Nov 7, 2015 2:11:45
5.3 Miler San Pedro, CA Sep 7, 2015 56:25
Half Marathon Estes Park, CO Aug 1, 2015 2:29:00
1st Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Jul 26, 2015 2:23:00
Half Marathon Mammoth Lakes, CA Jun 21, 2015 2:26:00
Half Marathon Laguna Hills, CA May 25, 2015 2:16:00
5K Carlsbad, CA Mar 29, 2015 29:25
Half Marathon Ventura, CA Nov 2, 2014
10 Miler Huntington Beach, CA Oct 26, 2014
Half Marathon Long Beach, CA Oct 12, 2014
Half Marathon Seattle, WA Jun 21, 2014
Half Marathon San Diego, CA Mar 9, 2014 2:25:00
Marathon Huntington Beach, CA 2014
Half Marathon Carlsbad, CA 2014
Half Marathon San Diego, CA 2013
Half Marathon Newport Beach, CA 2013

My Raves

Lexus LaceUp Running Series Ventura Marathon

Lexus LaceUp Running Series Ventura Marathon

Ventura Marathon and Lexus LaceUp series combined for this newly improved course! It takes elements of the old LaceUp course and the finish party area of the Ventura event. Overall, … MORE

Ventura Marathon and Lexus LaceUp series combined for this newly improved course! It takes elements of the old LaceUp course and the finish party area of the Ventura event. Overall, very nicely done! I really enjoyed this course. It is significantly downhill and I guess everyone’s opinions of what qualifies as “downhill” is different but even for the half marathon, the beginning portion of this race is mostly downhill. It is gentle but it’s there. If you want a screaming downhill course, choose one of the Revel races.

Unfortunately, the race started almost 30 min late (said due to road closures not being set which IMO, is the race’s fault). 🙁 AND, it was VERY COLD! Uncomfortably cold. With a 4:30 shuttle (up there before 5 am), that is almost TWO HOURS of waiting. I hope this race adds additional shuttle options (not just 4:30 and 5:30) AND provides space blankets and/or hot cocoa or coffee (if that works for your race plan) but … something to help runners stay warm. I’m not a wuss but it was super uncomfortable and despite how much I liked the course, it would borderline make me not want to do this one again if they don’t improve the start area.

The finish area makes up for it, mostly. Great spread of food plus Sierra Nevada beer and nice beer garden with a good band right by the pier. Nice!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

Add this race to your "Bucket List" of races and you will not be disappointed! The course itself is absolutely beautiful and fairly gentle. Of course, it is mid-July so … MORE

Add this race to your “Bucket List” of races and you will not be disappointed!

The course itself is absolutely beautiful and fairly gentle. Of course, it is mid-July so prepare accordingly for high temps. It was disappointing to hear that water stations were not well-stocked particularly since the heat was not an unknown factor. I think it would be wise for DR to hire Race Medics, too. I saw at least four ambulances. 🙁 Heat stroke is no joke!

Anyhoo, HIGHLY recommend this race if you want to do a girl’s weekend or an extended romantic getaway, stay a few extra days. There is so much to do and see in Napa, Sonoma and just the Bay area in general.

Full disclosure: I was the 2:45 pacer and had access to the VIP area; however, everything about the post-race part was party, party, party! Very festive.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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Tacos & Beer 5K – Long Beach

Tacos & Beer 5K – Long Beach

This is a fun run. Period! Lots of Cinco de Mayo costumes, lots of families, lots of walkers. Beer, tacos, mariachi band. You get it. 🙂 Sure, you can 'race' … MORE

This is a fun run. Period! Lots of Cinco de Mayo costumes, lots of families, lots of walkers. Beer, tacos, mariachi band. You get it. 🙂

Sure, you can ‘race’ this but don’t get mad at all the people walking on the “wrong side” after you turn around and you have to dodge them. It’s a fun run. I mean, read the name of the race, lol!

I think this race should have higher ratings than it does. I’ve done it three years and always have a great time!

Granted, last year it started about a half hour late (maybe issues with the timing system??) which was a bummer cause everyone was ready to go. But otherwise, no complaints. I always have a blast at Tacos & Beer 5k!

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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Encinitas Half Marathon & 5K

Encinitas Half Marathon & 5K

Pros: scenic course, nice shirt and medal, good crowd support and aid stations Cons: parking! parking! parking! Lack of food at end. 🙁 Ok, as others have mentioned, race was … MORE

Pros: scenic course, nice shirt and medal, good crowd support and aid stations

Cons: parking! parking! parking! Lack of food at end. 🙁

Ok, as others have mentioned, race was advertised as “mostly flat” with a couple of short steep hills. True on the short steep hills but I wouldn’t describe this as a mostly flat course. Surf City is a ‘mostly flat’ course. This one is rolling hills. No question.

Being toward the back of pack, runners often get little to no food at the end. There was water and a banana. Super sad. I asked one of the volunteers where the food was, he didn’t know. I found this so odd that I emailed the race afterward; I received a very prompt and polite email that there was oatmeal and hot cocoa and four volunteers with big signs pointing to the food. Hmmm. Ok. Didn’t see any signs. Again, typical for back of pack. Volunteers … love ’em for what they do but often don’t keep things up for the entire race. And for a spring day at 10:30 am, hot cocoa doesn’t sound that great. Where’s the beer garden!?! 🙂

Last but not least, parking is all on street. They should consider leasing lots and/or shuttling from across the freeway. I felt really bad for the residents. Though the location and Moonlight beach is great!

Overall, I think they did a great job for an inaugural event and will certainly improve on a few things next year!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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T9 Mermaid Half Marathon San Diego

T9 Mermaid Half Marathon San Diego

This is a small, women's oriented run with a nice shirt and medal and super cute mermaid necklace! I think I saw maybe a half dozen men running (though they … MORE

This is a small, women’s oriented run with a nice shirt and medal and super cute mermaid necklace! I think I saw maybe a half dozen men running (though they are more than welcome!)

The course is fairly simple. Easy and flat. First part is Fiesta Island (not very ‘party’, ha!) … it’s actually pretty desolate though it is all along the water. Then it runs thru the park, past the finish area and thru some neighborhoods. I did notice toward the end the mile markers were quite off and the course was 0.3 short on my watch (typically courses are a bit over since no one runs perfect tangent; very rare for a course to be short).

Overall, this is a nice race. Not frills as far as swag or food though the necklace is a nice touch.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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San Diego Half Marathon

San Diego Half Marathon

This is my second review and third (and final) time running SD Half ... though not cause I don't like it. This is my FAVORITE race in San Diego! There … MORE

This is my second review and third (and final) time running SD Half … though not cause I don’t like it. This is my FAVORITE race in San Diego! There is so much attention to detail, other races need to take note.

No need to discuss the hill. It’s in every review. There’s a big one. But you are nicely rewarded with a long downhill finish (basically the last two miles).

Post-race party atmosphere. I’d highly recommend this race especially for out-of-towners who want to experience San Diego.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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Citrus Heritage Run

Citrus Heritage Run

First, I'll address the elephant in the room of why I gave this race ONE STAR overall -- the FAQ for this race clearly says no bikes on course. Unfortunately, … MORE

First, I’ll address the elephant in the room of why I gave this race ONE STAR overall — the FAQ for this race clearly says no bikes on course. Unfortunately, there were several bikes on the course pacing marathoners and more unfortunately, they were not following standard etiquette. At all. But that is rather beside the point since bikes were not supposed to be on the course. The bike pacer for the lead female marathoner was yelling at people to get out of the way, acting like her runner owned it and the rest of us were mere peons with no right to be there. News flash lady! I paid my $90 to run on this road and NO, you will not tell me to move over and to keep moving over until I’m on the other side of the cones. Get real.

In a field of 121 runners, do they really need a bike pacer ? Again, let’s not forget the fact that bikes were against the rules.

My disappointment is that the I emailed the race that day and have yet to receive a response.

Overall, the course is really nice. Very scenic. Moderately challenging. Nice variety. There are several sections that run thru orange groves on loose gravel and some wide trail sections. I wouldn’t go so far as to say wear trail shoes, as it is a road race for most of it, but the gravel sections accounted for a couple miles. Wearing a more stable shoe would be helpful.

Small field of runners so if you are looking to place, it’s a good opportunity.

Long sleeve shirt and medal was nice.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Holly Jolly Half Marathon

Holly Jolly Half Marathon

I'll keep this short and simple: arrived at 6:30 for morning of bib pick up (which I do appreciate but with a field this small, is a no-brainer). No one … MORE

I’ll keep this short and simple: arrived at 6:30 for morning of bib pick up (which I do appreciate but with a field this small, is a no-brainer). No one was there. Gates were still closed.

Pick up bib. No chip. Bill later announced that they weren’t going to “do a big production” and they’d be taking down times manually.

The course, for a bike path, is actually very pretty! It is two loops though so … pretty boring as well.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
1
SCENERY
2
SWAG
2

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Lexus LaceUp Running Series Palos Verdes Half Marathon

Lexus LaceUp Running Series Palos Verdes Half Marathon

What a beautiful course! Rolling hills pretty much the whole way (punctuated by a few short steeps) ... the ocean views and pretty homes make this course very enjoyable. Not … MORE

What a beautiful course! Rolling hills pretty much the whole way (punctuated by a few short steeps) … the ocean views and pretty homes make this course very enjoyable.

Not an ideal race for a beginning runner but for those looking for a challenge, this is a nice race. Plus, it’s a small field. Only a 1000 runners or so.

I didn’t go to Expo; picked up bib that morning (at no additional cost, which I appreciate, especially for a Saturday race. Friday pick ups can be tough for people with … ya know, JOBS! ) 🙂

Nice beer garden and food truck (free breakfast) were a nice perk! Shirt and medal are nicely done though not super special (5k and 10k medals are the same as half though; would be nice if they rewarded half marathoners with a bigger medal — kind of a pet peeve of mine).

Only other con is … my two friends who ran 5k picked up a REALLY NICE Lexus LaceUp water bottle at what they were calling the “Hydration Station” (post race). Guess those went pretty quick cause there were none left for half marathoners. Kind of a bummer that those who PAY MORE for a race don’t get the same swag opportunities. Either have enough for everyone or don’t do it at all, right ??

Overall though, this course is beautiful and definitely worth doing. Lexus LaceUp series does a nice job with the things that are most important.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

REVEL Canyon City

REVEL Canyon City

Repeated the Revel Canyon City Half and had another great experience! I continue to be really impressed with this race series. Swag bag included not just a shirt but a … MORE

Repeated the Revel Canyon City Half and had another great experience! I continue to be really impressed with this race series. Swag bag included not just a shirt but a beanie, gloves and space blanket (for the chilly wait up the hill at the start). Tons of yummy stuff at the end — beer, pizza, pie, oh my !

This course is not *entirely* downhill … there are 3 uphill spots but they immediately come back down so … the middle section of this course is a bit rolling. Very PR-able race.

I love the Revel series and they seem to do so much right except … the things they do wrong are big things. Last year, our shuttle driver was lost. Literally, we drove around for 20 mins before he found Azusa Cyn (it takes about 40 mins to get to start line, even for the half). And this year, gear check pick up was a nightmare. I normally don’t check a bag but considering that it is cold at the start, I had a hoodie and gloves. I understand the volunteers at the bag pick are mostly high school kids but they were letting participants run amok … moving bags out of assigned rows all over the place, people walking all over other people’s stuff. Just rude. No one was there to monitor it. It took me 20 mins to find my bag. They need to have volunteers PULLING the bags for runners rather than letting runners find their own.

Other than that, this is one of my fav races in all of SoCal !!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

From the perspective of someone who isn't necessarily into Disney and said I probably would never do a RunDisney event, I have to say ... I LOVED this experience! Caveat: … MORE

From the perspective of someone who isn’t necessarily into Disney and said I probably would never do a RunDisney event, I have to say … I LOVED this experience!

Caveat: I ran this as a pacer (otherwise, I would never pay what they charge for a half marathon). But I’m so glad I was able to participate since running thru the parks and especially around home plate at Angel Stadium was a fantastic experience.

The corrals were super organized, timely and entertaining. The entire course was exceptionally support and there was cheering and support pretty much the whole way. And lots of costumes. Lots!

Overall, a totally SUPER experience! I would consider doing the 10k on my own dime just to run thru the parks again. 🙂

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Temecula Half Marathon & 5K

Temecula Half Marathon & 5K

A couple of things: 1) this is not a 'trail race' -- though there are dirt roads, anyone signing up for this thinking it's a trail run, it's not. 2) … MORE

A couple of things: 1) this is not a ‘trail race’ — though there are dirt roads, anyone signing up for this thinking it’s a trail run, it’s not.
2) Yes, it is hilly. Don’t be surprised by that. 😉
3) I noticed a couple of reviews talking about shuttles/busses. There are NO shuttles at this race. It starts/ends in same spot. And from what I understand, it was at some location last year so perhaps confusing with another Temecula race?

Overall, race was nicely done. Post-race festivities were top notch! Plenty of tasting tickets and I *loved* the wine glass instead of (yet another) shirt.

Course was really nice … scenic and challenging but a nice downhill coming back into town. My only complaint is, I think it’s downright cruel to make runners run past the finish line and loop around the park to back to it. Mean, just mean!

Also, it would be nice if the medal for the half was bigger/better than the 5k. The only difference was the ribbon color. But, it was nice to get a non-traditional medal — sparkly bottle opener.

Nice job, Temecula Half. I will recommend to friends!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Long Beach Marathon & Half Marathon

Long Beach Marathon & Half Marathon

Long Beach has been around a long time. This race knows what it's doing. Granted, I kinda don't like all the "combo challenges" they've added in the last couple of … MORE

Long Beach has been around a long time. This race knows what it’s doing. Granted, I kinda don’t like all the “combo challenges” they’ve added in the last couple of years cause it’s made it too crowded. But … as a legacy runner (6 years), this is one of the better big race events in Socal.

Note: first of all, I don’t understand why people review the weather. What does the race have to do with that!? Can the race director help it if it’s hot?? Sorry, but I don’t get all the reviews about the weather.

What they CAN do something about is make sure there is adequate hydration along the course –which I think for the most part they do EXCEPT they need one more along the beach path. That stretch is only 3 miles but it’s directly into the sun in the middle section of the race and it ‘feels’ so darn hot that yes … they should provide more another water station or even a MISTER station at the end of the beach path would be AWESOME!!

I love this course. I think it’s got a nice variety of things to see, not flat but not super challenging. Crowd support is good. Post race beer garden is GREAT! Yes, it’s a big race and yes parking is hectic and traffic can be too but … I have done this for SIX YEARS and every year I pretty much drive right in. Just go early. It’s not that hard. 🙂

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Harvest Half Marathon

Harvest Half Marathon

This is a small race. Very small. Like, four porta potties TOTAL small! Upside of that, of course, is that you won't have any traffic on the course. So, three … MORE

This is a small race. Very small. Like, four porta potties TOTAL small! Upside of that, of course, is that you won’t have any traffic on the course.

So, three days before the race, an email is sent out with a course change update! The course is now three 4.36 mile loops. HELP ME NOW!

I’m not a fan of loops but I mustered it up and surprisingly, despite all the confusing at the beginning, the course volunteers were very helpful in directing runners — especially with slightly different turns for half marathon and 5/10k runners. It could have been a disaster. I kind of just had to laugh.

This is no frills. The medal is nothing special. The race advertised a shirt, bag and water bottle. I got the shirt. The bag was from a simi valley turkey trot and no water bottle. No biggie but still … not what was advertised.

If you are looking for inexpensive, no frills chip-timed races, the “California Half Marathon” series is fine for that. Just don’t expect too much. 🙂

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
1
SCENERY
1
SWAG
1

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Lexus LaceUp Running Series Ventura Marathon

Lexus LaceUp Running Series Ventura Marathon

I reviewed this race in 2014 as a first timer. I still think this is one of the 'funner' races around as far as the beach party day before and … MORE

I reviewed this race in 2014 as a first timer. I still think this is one of the ‘funner’ races around as far as the beach party day before and overall atmosphere at the end. They have added a lot of fun swag, too — you get a high quality bag, shirt AND hat — all of that is awesome plus they always have a fun medal! Post-race food here is always excellent too … lots of fresh fruit.

My only complaint with this race is the course itself. Yes, it’s flat and fast but after the first few miles (thru neighborhood), it’s nothing but and out (for maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaany miles) and back. It used to go out to the harbor which made for a nice diversion. Even though it starts at the pier, that is the only water view you’ll get.

Overall, really nicely done race that has a lot going for it except a very boring course.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5

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America’s Finest City Half Marathon

America’s Finest City Half Marathon

This was my 2nd time at AFC, I ran it as my 5th half marathon a few years ago and again as my 29th half for the Triple Crown Series! … MORE

This was my 2nd time at AFC, I ran it as my 5th half marathon a few years ago and again as my 29th half for the Triple Crown Series! Not much I can add from my review in ’13; this organization has been around awhile and they know how to put on a good race.

The start at Cabrillo State Park is really nice (watch the sunrise and a sweeping view of the city) and the first 5 miles or so of this race are a breeze! Lots of gentle rollers and downhills. The middle section is still pretty blah (esp the airport parking lot) but downtown is nice. Since it’s middle of Aug, be prepared for it to start getting toasty mid-race and do go crazy those first five miles cause the last few miles of this race are challenging and the sun and humidity are usually out in full force by then. Conserve that energy! Overall, AFC is a very well organized race that I would recommend for experienced runners.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Mountains 2 Beach Marathon & Half Marathon

Mountains 2 Beach Marathon & Half Marathon

This was my first time running Mountains 2 Beach (but my 28th half marathon).  If I had to sum up my experience in one word I'd say:  underwhelmed.   Don't … MORE

This was my first time running Mountains 2 Beach (but my 28th half marathon).  If I had to sum up my experience in one word I’d say:  underwhelmed.  

Don’t get me wrong, the race is very well done. Nicely organized.  No real complaints.  But, as far as the half goes, it isn’t scenic. Not really. There are about 2 miles of bike trail that are nice.  There’s also a lot of industrial views, chain link fence and pothole-ridden Ventura Ave (out and back) — that street is awful, I mean downright dangerous how torn up it is.  I know that isn’t the race’s fault but they do choose the streets it runs on.  

Apparently, they changed the start area of the Half this year so it doesn’t go up as high as it used to.   It never went all the way to Ojai like the marathon course but sounds like they took a lot of the downhill fun out of it.  

Overall, I’d call this “High School to Beach” cause there’s nothing Mountains about it.  Boo.  Again, no real complaints about the race.  It was just kinda ‘meh.’

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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OC Marathon & Half Marathon

OC Marathon & Half Marathon

I've run the OC Half Marathon twice but decided to run the 5k instead this year since I was planning on being there anyway to cheer on friends. Glad I … MORE

I’ve run the OC Half Marathon twice but decided to run the 5k instead this year since I was planning on being there anyway to cheer on friends. Glad I did since it was a PR! Unlike the marathon and half, this starts and finishes at the OC Fairgrounds. The course is flat and easy, fairly uneventful, not much too see. It’s nice and wide except for a few areas that go thru Orange Coast College. Nice shirt and medal. All the perks of the OC marathon swag and post-race party. Overall, a fun race !

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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Tacos & Beer 5K – Long Beach

Tacos & Beer 5K – Long Beach

Fiesta!!!! That's what this race is ... it's a big party. The post-race stuff is actually really well organized -- each runner/walker gets two tacos and a beer. Mariachi band, … MORE

Fiesta!!!! That’s what this race is … it’s a big party. The post-race stuff is actually really well organized — each runner/walker gets two tacos and a beer. Mariachi band, fun times!

They changed the course last year so it’s out and back now instead of two loops so while that was an improvement … slower runners/walkers were creeping WAY over into the lane of faster runners coming back which (and by no means I am a super fast, haha) was pretty annoying. Can’t say this is the races fault but they did set up the cones to give the out WAY more room than the back and yet participants still took up more than their lane. Annoying.

My main complaint with this race is that packet pick up isn’t convenient, parking is HORRIBLE (do yourself a HUGE favor and park in one of the neighborhoods and walk in, that’s what I did this year) but biggest complaint is that …. if you use one of their Groupon/Living Social/whatever it is deals, they will not assign you a bib number in advance.

Both years I’ve done that deal and neither year was my bib number assigned to my name on the results; this year it was like pulling teeth to get it corrected. Consider that fair warning.

But as far as the race and atmosphere goes, it’s a ton of fun! And a really nice medal too!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
2
SWAG
2

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

La Jolla Half Marathon

La Jolla Half Marathon

La Jolla was my 27th half marathon ... it's been on my "to do" list for awhile now and needed to do it to complete the Triple Crown series.  Truth … MORE

La Jolla was my 27th half marathon … it’s been on my “to do” list for awhile now and needed to do it to complete the Triple Crown series.  Truth be told, I’ve wanted to run this one regardless of the Triple Crown so … 2016 was the year!

By now, you’ve probably hear that this race has some hills.   Yep.  It sure does!  

Miles 1 -4 are fairly uneventful — you run out of the Del Mar racetrack and thru some neighborhoods (nice support) and around mile 5, you’ll emerge on Torrey Pines Rd with a beautiful sweeping view of the shore with a nice flat-to-downhill stretch for a mile or so.

Use it to your advantage and enjoy the coast cause once you round the bend up into Torrey Pines Park Rd … it’s all up hill from there.  Really.  About 2 miles of nothing but up.  It’s not so much the elevation (0 – 400′ in less than a mile), it’s the grade.  There is also no water /fuel support in the Park so … bring your own!  (luckily, I did)

I put my head down, pumped my arms and dug deep!  At one point, I looked around about 80% of people were walking.  Personally, I didn’t come to La Jolla to walk these hills so … I didn’t care how slow I was running … I was running up this damn hill!  

Right when you think the steep is finished, it flattens out a bit … then mile 7 takes you up some more.    Usually what goes up must come down?   Oh, it does.  But you have to wait until MILE 10 to get to experience the relief of this course.

Mile 10 – 11.5 are blazing fast.   Then, some sadistic turd decides to put another hill at mile 12.5 and while that hill itself isn’t all that tough, at this point in the race, it’s really the last thing you want to see.   The final stretch to the final line is a quick jaunt down Prospect to the finish line!  

If you want a challenge, run this beast of a half.  I’ve run San Francisco, Rocky Mountain, Mammoth at 9,000′  and they have nothing on La Jolla if you want a challenging course.   I wouldn’t recommend it for a first half, though.  Not if you ever want to run another one!  Or, on second though … if you do this as your first one, they will all seem easier after this. Guarantee it.  

Very beautiful course, though for sure!

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Run Seal Beach

Run Seal Beach

Seal Beach does an awesome job putting on a community run that is welcoming to runners, walkers, families, dogs, you name it! I've run this one, I think 4 times … MORE

Seal Beach does an awesome job putting on a community run that is welcoming to runners, walkers, families, dogs, you name it!

I’ve run this one, I think 4 times now but finally did the 5k instead of 10k which I have to admit, is the better course. The 10k goes way out to Westminster Bl and runs along the non-scenic riverbed. The 5k is entirely in the neighborhood so it’s a lot more about the community/crowd support.

Though the course can be crowded if you queue up right, you can run this one pretty quickly (unlike many community races that are so full of walkers, strollers, etc that you can’t really run your pace).

One of my favorite community runs by far!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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REVEL Canyon City

REVEL Canyon City

This was the 2nd annual Revel Canyon City race and ... I have to say, Revel does it right!  Lots of attention to detail (ie, gloves and space blankets in … MORE

This was the 2nd annual Revel Canyon City race and … I have to say, Revel does it right!  Lots of attention to detail (ie, gloves and space blankets in your race packet for the cold start) and perks like FREE race photos and a video.   It’s the little things sometimes and Revel does it right!

Course is fast and beautiful (I ran the half) … already signed up next year!  

Only “bobble” is that our shuttle bus driver did not know where he was going!  We drove around town for 15 mins before he found another bus to follow up the canyon road.  BIG FAIL in that regard and only reason I’m not giving it 5 stars.  That’s pretty basic. Drivers should have CLEAR directions.  

Oh, and did I mention PIE at the finish line??   Yup!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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Conquer the Bridge

Conquer the Bridge

It's not everyday you get to run across the 4th longest suspension bridge in CA so ... this is a "must do" if you are in SoCal! It's definitely a … MORE

It’s not everyday you get to run across the 4th longest suspension bridge in CA so … this is a “must do” if you are in SoCal! It’s definitely a fun experience running out and back across the Vincent Thomas Bridge (which is 100% closed to runners!)

Overall, there’s nothing too spectacular to report about this race other than the experience of doing it. The Bridge is pretty steep and you are running it out/back so it’s definitely a good challenge. The used to not give medals, now they do. Not a lot of frills (I don’t even think there’s anything other than water at the end??) but it’s definitely a worthwhile experience to say you’ve “conquered the bridge!”

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2
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Rocky Mountain Half Marathon

Rocky Mountain Half Marathon

I actually won an entry to this race on FB contest from Vacation Races so I did just that: made a vacation out of it! This is not a race … MORE

I actually won an entry to this race on FB contest from Vacation Races so I did just that: made a vacation out of it!

This is not a race you come to PR, you enjoy it. Take in the sights and the beauty of Rocky Mountain Natl Park. Like all of the Vacation Races events, this does not run thru the Park but it doesn’t matter. The scenery is majestic. The course starts gently around Lake Estes and continues up and up some more … which makes the middle miles of this course pretty challenging. Once you reach the top, take it all in. It’s worth the view. The last few miles are gentle and somewhat downhill until you get back to into town.

I appreciate the well-staged start and finish area, no shuttles (always a bonus!) and overall just the small, friendly atmosphere.

Oh, also … sadly, I got a stain on my race shirt and ruined it. When I inquired about ordering a new one (fully prepared to pay), Vacation Races kindly sent me a new one at no charge. Really solid customer service!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3
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San Francisco Marathon

San Francisco Marathon

This review is for the 1st half. This race is run like a well-oiled machine.  I have zero complaints as far as organization goes.  Everything was well-marked; emails leading up … MORE

This review is for the 1st half. This race is run like a well-oiled machine.  I have zero complaints as far as organization goes.  Everything was well-marked; emails leading up to the race were ‘just right’ (not too many but just enough to give all the pertinent details).  I stayed the night before near Embarcadero Center.  Super easy walk to the start line the next morning.  

Complaints about the start time?  Eh, if anyone has issue starting at 5:30 – 6 am, they shouldn’t be running races.  This is ideal running weather.  No, there wasn’t a ton of crowd support at 6 am but I’ll sacrifice crowd support for cool weather.  

The first half is the more challenging of the two — the Golden Gate Bridge itself isn’t a challenge, the grade is gradual. There are quite a few challenging hills (one leading up to it and several after the 10 mile mark) so be prepared and train for the hills. This is San Francisco after all!  

The Expo was HUGE and vendors were plentiful.  It wasn’t all that different from any other Expo I’ve been to except the sheer size of it.   I don’t really shop at these things; all I really care about is getting my race packet so … for me, the Expo was fine.  

Loved the long sleeve tech with course map on the back!

The finish area is yes, very huge and crowded.  I didn’t stay long so I don’t have much to say other than I wish they would have given a baggie for our post-run food.  I was carrying 5 different things as I was waiting in line for a shuttle and it was awkward.   Shuttle/bus took about 40 mins to get back to starting area — this isn’t anything the race can do anything about but — just putting it out there for those who want to know for planning purposes.  I had to rush back to check out of my hotel.  

Overall, I LOVED this race … the challenge of the hills and scenery were fantastic!   I’d highly recommend it.

Edited to say: Complaints about the Bridge being crowded, sure … yes, it is.  I get it.   But, does any really expect the Golden Gate Bridge to be closed to traffic? I mean, c’mon!  It’s the only way for people in Marin County to get to SF without adding an hour to their drive and go all the way around across the Bay Bridge.  Just not realistic.  So, yes …it’s a few miles of crowded runners.  There are races I run for time and there are races I run for the experience of it.   This one is for the experience of it.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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Mammoth Half Marathon

Mammoth Half Marathon

Well-organized professional race but comes with the Eastern Sierras as your playground too!  Add this to your list of destination races!   If you are a sea-level runner like I … MORE

Well-organized professional race but comes with the Eastern Sierras as your playground too!  Add this to your list of destination races!  

If you are a sea-level runner like I am but concerned about the elevation (races begins at 9,000 ft), don’t worry about it!    The first 6 miles is mostly downhill so even though it’s a lot of altitude, gravity helps.   Just slow yourself down, converse some energy, and all is good.  

Every mile of this race is a different view and the course is simply breathtaking.  

Shuttles run from Sierra Nevada hotel promptly.   Beware, even though it’s June, it’s VERY chilly up at Horseshoe Lake where it starts.   Last year, they provided space blankets which was nice.   Things warm up quickly though once you get moving.  

Lots of snacks at the end and a nice post-race atmosphere.    Highly recommend the Mammoth Half!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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City of Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon, 5K and 10K

City of Laguna Hills Memorial Day Half Marathon, 5K and 10K

This was my 17th half marathon but my first time running this one ...I must say, I was pleasantly surprised!  This was a bit of a last minute decision  -- … MORE

This was my 17th half marathon but my first time running this one …I must say, I was pleasantly surprised!  This was a bit of a last minute decision  — I decided on Sunday — went to Roadrunner Sports in Laguna Hills and registered for the race (they offer same day registration too but … I didn’t want to deal with it that morning).   Totally easy, painless registration and packet pick up.  Tech shirt AND a hat as a bonus.  

Lately, I’ve been avoiding community or holiday “fun run” races — simply because I’m not a fan of dodging kids, strollers, dogs (and I love dogs!) on the course.  Knowing that the 5k, 10k and half marathon all started together, I braced myself for what was going to be a crowded start.   Yes, you have walkers 4-wide starting in the 9 min mile (( sigh )) …. it’s unavoidable at any race it seems.  But, the course was actually wide enough and I didn’t find the dodging and weaving to be all that bad!  

So yes, it’s definitely a family-friendly community ‘fun run’ 5k … be prepared for that if you’re running the half or 10k and want to be ‘competitive.’   It would be kinda nice if the race organizers staggered the race starts but … this isn’t a review of what we wish/want for … it’s a review for what the race IS so ……. moving on.

If considering this as your first half marathon, it’s not what I’d call an easy course.  I mean, given that the word HILLS is in the city name … you can expect a few.  That being said, there are also some really nice groovy downhills you can cruise. What goes up must come down, right?  As for the “hill” at mile 13 … yes, a little cruel to have any sort of hill the last mile but honestly, it’s a BLIP right at the end … and you’ve got people lining both sides cheering you on while you’re pretty much running on adrenaline.  It’s a short incline right before the last turn, not a big deal.  

Overall, love the community spirit and patrioticism of this event!   I didn’t participate in the Beer Garden (cost $10); would be nice if FREE like most but … oh well.    Busses back to parking lot were plentiful and so was parking at Laguna Hills mall.   Very nicely done event!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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Carlsbad 5000

Carlsbad 5000

If 5k races are your thing, this is the race to do! Carlsbad really supports the runners and the atmosphere can't be beat. The race has a series of 5ks, … MORE

If 5k races are your thing, this is the race to do! Carlsbad really supports the runners and the atmosphere can’t be beat. The race has a series of 5ks, just “pick your poison” (so to speak) based on age group.

Stay into late afternoon and watch the elite runners which is really mindblowing!

Only downside to this race is the horrible parking situation. Get there early and I mean EARLY and even then, be prepared to go up and down residential streets to find a spot. Otherwise, this is THE 5k to do in Southern California!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Surf City 10 Sundown

Surf City 10 Sundown

This review is for the Surf City 10 (miles, that is!) There's also a 5k and 10k. If you've wanted to run (or have run) the Surf City Half Marathon … MORE

This review is for the Surf City 10 (miles, that is!) There’s also a 5k and 10k. If you’ve wanted to run (or have run) the Surf City Half Marathon in Feb, the 10 miler is basically the same course without the detour up/back Seapoint thru the neighborhood. This course is 100% on PCH. It’s a nice run, flat and enjoyable. Not as crowded as the half marathon, either. I love that it starts at 7 am, too.

Packet pick up was easy as can be; I was out in 5 mins. It’s at the community center across from Edison HS. Bottle opener, surfboard medal is as good/better than many of the medals I’ve earned from bigger races. Support was good throughout the course, there were a few bands and plenty of snacks and water at the end.

Nothing extraordinary about this race but really nothing to complain about either!

Oh, and don’t pay to park. Just go a few blocks up Main St and consider it a warm up/recovery walk. There’s a ton of parking on the street. No meters. Very easy. Just a tip!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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Long Beach Marathon & Half Marathon

Long Beach Marathon & Half Marathon

This was my 4th time running Long Beach (Beach Bum Legacy Club!) but my first review .... after many races, Long Beach is still one of my favorite half marathons! … MORE

This was my 4th time running Long Beach (Beach Bum Legacy Club!) but my first review …. after many races, Long Beach is still one of my favorite half marathons! It was my first and is one of the only races I will do every year.

What’s to like about Long Beach half: well, as courses go, it’s not terribly challenging and it’s pretty scenic. No real hills and the course is well-supported. I used to think because this course is so flat it would be a great race to PR but … unless you start in the first wave, the course gets very crowded in some of the narrower areas. Especially on the beach path (miles 7-9). But, once you turn into mile 10 on Ocean Ave, it’s wide open again for the rest and the crowd support is the best of any race I’ve done!

Ok, still talking about what’s to like …. the Expo is one of the larger ones I’ve been to but nothing too unusual about it. You’ve seen one Expo, you’ve seen them all. I have to disagree with others that this race isn’t organized. After 30 years of doing this, I think this is by far one of the more organized races. Everything at the Expo is pretty clear … packet pick-up, shirts, parking. All very easy.

Since it was 30th anniversary, they changed up the medal a bit and it’s BEAUTIFUL!

The not-so-good: they need to do something about timing the wave starts. I started in Wave 2 and didn’t start until 7:58 am. Almost 30 mins after official start. Not ok. The announcer must have said 60 seconds and did the countdown so many times that it became a joke to all of us standing there waiting.

Could the race do a better job of managing traffic in the morning? YES! But, I guess since I’m local and have done this one a few times, I know the easiest ways to get in. I don’t get when reviewers blame the race when they’re late. Be prepared, leave early! I mean, there are 20,000 people doing the various events … ya think there might be some traffic. Give yourself some time and don’t’ stress.

Post-race, beer garden is great, band was good, lots of food trucks. Crowded as hell with friends and family but … overall a good time! Long Beach is a fun race for novice and serious runners alike.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Lexus LaceUp Running Series Ventura Marathon

Lexus LaceUp Running Series Ventura Marathon

This review is for the half marathon (long overdue but better late than never). For a 2nd year race, this event is VERY good! Seriously, many race organizers could take … MORE

This review is for the half marathon (long overdue but better late than never). For a 2nd year race, this event is VERY good! Seriously, many race organizers could take a lesson from Ventura. Super job!

Since this is a fairly small race (less than 2,000 people), everything is pretty scaled down. Well, almost everything.

Expo …. outside by the pier. Beautiful area. Not much of an Expo but a really fun vibe … a couple of beer vendors and a band with a lot of people dancing and having a great time.

Parking …. both at Expo and race morning was pretty easy. Event advertised a lot of parking at the nearby Fairground. For the Expo, I was able to park pretty easily on the street by the pier. Race morning, my strategy is always the same — I park a few blocks away. I consider it race warm-up / recovery walk. No issues with traffic that way. In this case, I parked at the Courthouse. It was practically empty and free.

Course …. first of all, I’m ALWAYS a fan of races that start/finish in the same spot. Shuttles suck. This is a very simple out/back course that runs mostly along the coastline … some neighborhood areas at the beginning and end …. and a really pretty section along the Harbor. Only drawback was the few miles around the turnaround point mid-way … that section was pretty non-scenic and boring … especially since there was little crowd support at that end.

The course map says this race has a elevation of 49.64 ft. I don’t know where that 50 ft was cause this course is as flat as a pancake (and frankly, 50′ is a blip). Considering the field of runners is small, this is a GOOD RACE to PR! (which was my hope but I was running on a bit of a bum knee so … that wasn’t in the cards for me)

Post race …. as other reviews have stated, WOW! The food was great. TONS of fresh fruit, bagels, etc. I’ve never seen a food spread quite like this one. Very well done.

Those are the “pros” … now to the “cons”:
Though the food was great … there was ZERO monitoring of who was taking the food. And the finish chute was non-existent. The finish line dumped right into the crowd of waiting friends and family. And those folks had no qualms about taking food, either. And with how crowded it was at the end, it also made getting to the food a bit of a chore. I emailed the Race Director after this race and he said that is something the are going to fix this year. They need a finish chute that gives the runners some space.

Other than that, if you like race photos … again because this race is still very young … they didn’t have MarathonFoto or anything like that. And though the photos were “free” … good luck searching thru thousands of them to find YOUR photos. They said it was sorted by finish time but …. to this day, I was never able to find a single photo of mine (and my bib was clearly in the right spot).

Overall, major thumb’s up to Ventura Marathon! With a few minor tweaks, I could give this 5-stars. I’m definitely a fan, though.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & 1/2 Marathon

Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & 1/2 Marathon

This was my 10th half marathon but first one out of state. I'm typically not a "fan" of the Rock 'n Roll series of races simply because they're so crowded … MORE

This was my 10th half marathon but first one out of state. I’m typically not a “fan” of the Rock ‘n Roll series of races simply because they’re so crowded and expensive. But this one was well-worth it!

The course is awesome and gives you all the best sights and sounds of Seattle ~ Space Needle, downtown, through some neighborhoods, along Lake Washington, I-90 tunnel, freeway with view of stadiums, along the Alaskan Way Viaduct with views of Elliott Bay. I mean, seriously … the 13.1 course packs in a lot to see along the way. It does all this without being super-challenging. Though Seattle has a reputation for being hilly, this course isn’t. There is ONE steep path around mile 9 but it’s so short … it’s done in a minute.

I didn’t attend the Expo so I can’t comment on that. Since this race was on a Saturday and I was coming from out of state, I wasn’t able to get to the Expo but was able to pick up bib at solutions tent that morning so … that was really nice! The race started on time and in typical wave fashion. Obviously, crowded but nothing extraordinary or unusual. My only complaint with the finish is wow, where were the snacks!? No bag of anything. No banana even. There was a ‘pretzel mix’ pack from Alaska Airlines and some kids handing out slices of bread. Slices of bread? For the cost of admission to this race, entrants deserve better than that. The PowerBar folks were also handing out stuff but that’s not my brand of bars and I don’t eat what I’m not used to so … guess my point is, where were the food baggie options?? It was very cheap-of RnR organizers to have such limited options.

Otherwise, this race was fantastic!! The course and crowd support were among the best I’ve seen. Water stations were plentiful. The bands were ok. Weather was spot-on perfect but …. I guess with Seattle, it’s a crapshoot. We lucked out for sure!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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San Diego Half Marathon

San Diego Half Marathon

This was my 9th half but first time doing SD Half Marathon.  Overall, I enjoyed this race! Pros: * No shuttles to start line, etc.  I'm always a fan of … MORE

This was my 9th half but first time doing SD Half Marathon.  Overall, I enjoyed this race!

Pros:
* No shuttles to start line, etc.  I’m always a fan of races that start/end in the same place.  
* Parking was easy — parked a couple blocks from start.  Paid $7 when I left.  No complaints there.
*  WAVE start — as in, they actually DO start in timed waves.  It was very organized. I started in Wave 5 (about 9 mins after gun time) — though I heard that later waves had to wait much longer than anticipated, I honestly thought it was super organized and went quickly.
* Variety on the course — this race give you downtown, water view and parks along the course.  It’s most flat until “the hill” — yep, the mile 9 Washington St hill.  It’s at least 3/4-mile and it’s a doozy of an incline.  
* Very well-marked water/ fuel stations and mile markers — each station also had an indication of how far until the next one.  I carry my own fuel but I do like to supplement my own with additional water (it was hot on this particular race day).  I didn’t have any of the water station issues that have been mentioned in other reviews.  
* Plenty of crowd support and lots of HS bands along the way, too.
* Big, blingy medal — me likey!
* Post race – big party downtown after the race! Fun atmosphere.  

Cons:
*  Post-race food was pretty sad.  A Zico, banana and a mini-Clif. I appreciate seeing a little something salty there … but no luck.   The stuff does come in a re-usable commemorative bag so … that was a ‘pro’ despite this being in the ‘con’ column.
* Yet another PINK shirt!  Why are races so intent on giving us ladies pink shirts?  It’s my third bright pink shirt in the last year.  Sigh ……
* I had my bib/packet mailed for $30.  Kinda steep!  
* My only complaint about the course is the section thru the rental car parking lot (AFC does this too!)   C’mon, not one but TWO races in San Diego have to put runners thru the same gross parking lot with rental car shuttles spouting fumes at you as you’re running along side.   Please race organizers, figure this out!  The construction area following it wasn’t much better.  Luckily, these two drawbacks were *maybe* 1.5 miles but still ….. it sucked.
* Lastly, though I didn’t get stopped at any trolley crossings … I did get stopped at both vehicle crossings on Harbor Island Dr.  This is the only race I’ve done that requires racers to stop … hello?  It’s a timed race!  Kind of a bummer.

Overall, SD Half is a really nicely done race with a good course offering nice variety! And the post-race atmosphere downtown is great!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Carlsbad Marathon & Half Marathon

Carlsbad Marathon & Half Marathon

This was my 7th half but first time doing Carlsbad. I'm a fan! I'm adding this race to my "do it every year" list. Here's what I liked about it: … MORE

This was my 7th half but first time doing Carlsbad. I’m a fan! I’m adding this race to my “do it every year” list.

Here’s what I liked about it:
* First and foremost, it’s an out-and-back course — no shuttles to start line, blah blah blah. I’m always a fan of races that start/end in the same place.
* PLENTY of parking at the mall. Traffic getting in/out wasn’t bad at all.
* WAVE start — as in, they actually DO start in timed waves. It was very organized.
* FANTASTIC crowd support! Usually during these races, there are stretches with no one to cheer you on. The people of Carlsbad really show up and line the course pretty much the whole way (only place I can think of that didn’t have much support was near the turnaround — miles 7/8-ish). Several bands along the way, too.
* Water and fuel stations at pretty much every mile! I dont think I’ve ever seen a race that starts water stations at mile 1. This one does.
* Course is relatively flat and fast. There are a couple of minor grades but for the most part, this is a net downhill course. If you’re looking to PR, THIS IS A GOOD ONE!

(edited to say: this is NOT a hilly course. Not even close. This is just about as flat as a course can be. Minor grades which immediately go back down. I guess if it’s your first half marathon, those minor grades may seem like “hills” but no … they aren’t. This course is NOT … let me repeat is NOT rolling hills). The steepest elevation change is 34 ft with a gradient of 0.5%. Seriously. Ok, moving on ……

What I didn’t like:
* Nothing major. Post-race baggie was a little lacking. Just a banana, cookie and a mini-Clif.
* Another review said there was no water just chocolate mile (TruMoo!) but … there was water. It just wasn’t as obvious. I know cause I don’t drink milk and sought out the water. So yah, they could have made sure the water at the end was a little more obvious.
* The tech shirt and medal for this one are nice — nothing special but nothing to complain about (I heard last year’s medal was pretty ugly??)

As for traffic, well … almost all of these races have some traffic getting in/out. Getting out of this place isn’t difficult if you think AHEAD and park near an exit. Duh, right?? After all, you’re about to run 13.1 miles … what’s the big deal if you park a little further out. I considered it a warm up and was out of the parking lot in 15 mins.

I did the AFC San Diego Half last year (third in the Triple Crown series) and will plan on doing this one again to start the Triple Crown in 2015! I wish the Triple Crown series was like Beach Cities Challenge and was consecutive and not calendar year … if so, I’d be on my way to earning it. Oh well. Loved this race. Will be back!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Surf City Marathon & Half Marathon

Surf City Marathon & Half Marathon

This was my 8th half and final race for the "Beach Cities Challenge" (woo hoo!) I have to say, I'm kind of ambivalent about Surf City. Having done several smaller … MORE

This was my 8th half and final race for the “Beach Cities Challenge” (woo hoo!)

I have to say, I’m kind of ambivalent about Surf City. Having done several smaller but equally scenic half marathons, I’m now partial to the less crowded races (except Long Beach, my personal fav!)

Pros:
* It’s an out-and-back course — I’m always a fan of races that start/end in the same place.

* Scenic course — with exception of miles 3 – 5, this whole course is run along PCH. Even saw some dolphins around mile 11. =)

* Course is relatively flat — a couple of minor grades but nothing major. This course felt more downhill than any half I’ve done. Highest point is less than 100′ above sea level. If you’re looking to PR, this is a good race to do!

* The MEDAL — Surf City medal is a wooden surfboard … very unique!
* Finish line chute — this chute has plenty of room and doesn’t allow spectators over the rails. Plenty of good stuff in the finishing bag, too!

What I didn’t like (some of the pros are also cons):
* This is a crowded race — prepare to contend with about 17,000 people. They do not enforce corrals. I highly recommend starting in a corral ahead of your intended pace. I’m a mid-pack runner and there were still a LOT of walkers who should have been several corrals back.

* Even though it’s an out-and-back course, there are still shuttles to contend with since parking is all over the place. Unless you have someone dropping off/picking up. But then you have to deal with traffic.

* Because SO MUCH of the course is out/back on PCH, the long straights tend to get a little monotonous. Especially the last few miles — which are always tough in any half — but the last 5 miles are literally one long straight. Ugh. It’s almost demoralizing.

* Crowd support — those who say the crowd support is great at Surf City, sorry … it’s not. Guess those runners haven’t done races with really GOOD crowd support cause for this size of this race, this is the WORST I’ve seen. The first few miles were great and after that …. it was really sad.

Since the majority of this course is on PCH in areas that are closed to traffic and no residential, there’s at least 5 miles of this race with little to no crowd support. While the people of HB cannot help that, where there was support … you could tell they are there to support THEIR person. Majority had little to no interest in cheering on the ‘random runner.’

Case in point, in the last mile where crowds are lining the rails, I seriously felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. I saw was a bunch of stoic faces looking on — hardly anyone was clapping or cheering. There was one young woman clapping and cheering for us random runners … and I literally called out at her as I went by “thanks for cheering, it’s only mile 13!” Hahaha! Seriously, you can do better, HB! Take a crowd support lesson from Long Beach! =)

Now that I have my Beach Cities medal, I probably won’t do Surf City again. Good race just not on my ‘favorites’ list. Carlsbad (just a couple weeks before Surf City) has the same type of coastal views (if not better!), fantastic crowd support, tons of parking, about 10,000 fewer people and it’s also fast and flat. I’d choose that race over this one in a heartbeat!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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OC Marathon & Half Marathon

OC Marathon & Half Marathon

I've done a quite a half-marathons and wanted to start by saying, since most of the uber-positive reviews are from first-timers who have no other base of reference, let's just … MORE

I’ve done a quite a half-marathons and wanted to start by saying, since most of the uber-positive reviews are from first-timers who have no other base of reference, let’s just be clear … this race is NOT organized.  First time half’ers who think this race is organized need to experience a marathon/half marathon that is TRULY organized.   Just wanted to make that clear.  Ok, moving on …….

PROS:
* Scenic course, check!  If the organizers could just get the details together, this race would be stellar.  The course itself deserves better …… it’s a nice course; some slight hills, nice neighbors and houses, ocean and back bay views.

* Volunteers – I always have to give a shout-out to the volunteers who get up so early and do it for charity and out of the goodness of their hearts. Thanks, volunteers, for keeping us hydrated and fueled!

* Tech shirt – I love this shirt!   Cute, tasteful, short sleeve, nice design, nice fabric. Thumb’s up.  

* Post-race atmosphere, though crowded YES, was spirited and fun.  Enjoyed the big stage, 80s band, Wahoo’s tacos and beer.

* Last but not least, security — in the wake of Boston, I appreciated the extra effort that was made with police highly visible but not intrusive.

CONS:
* Expo – was SO MUCH bigger/better last year (I didn’t run it last year but I was there).  I loved all the freebie samples but left this one empty-handed.  =(   I hate all the “sign up for a free trip”-timeshare pushing-type of vendors.  Just seemed like there were way too many of these and not enough of what we really want — stuff related to running.

* Corrals — what corrals? These need to be timed out better.  

* Chute — so, you thought the start corrals were a mess?  They got nothin’ on the finish line chute.   I’m a middle of the pack’er finishing with the masses.  They really need to do a better job with the bottleneck. This area is too small!

* Water — after 13.1 miles I do NOT want to be searching for water. Seriously?? I want a bottle of water and a baggie of ……

*  FOOD!!! — yes, water and food.  Let’s make sure runners don’t have to go looking for them. This would be a huge improvement.  Disappointing to only get an orange, a fig newton and a granola bar.  Again, really?

* Gear check – OMG, I didn’t check my gear (my friend did) but WOW!  This was a nightmare.  There was no organization, people were literally standing there with their bib in the air and people in the trucks were just calling out numbers randomly.  If it wasn’t true, it would be funny.

* LINES — lines, lines, everywhere …. lines!  Example, great, you get a free beer post-race.  Once you FIND out where the supposed ‘beer garden’ is … you have to get a ticket for your beer and then walk ALL THE WAY back about 100 yards away to where you actually redeem the ticket.  Same goes for the Wahoo’s taco.  How does this make sense?   Suggestion:  if you’re wearing a medal and a race bib, give them people their beer and taco!  I don’t get needing to get a ticket to redeem the freebie.  Other races don’t do this.

* Parking — making your participants pay for parking TWICE — Expo and race day — is just wrong.  

* Shuttles — I didn’t do the shuttle but from what I understand, it’s also a huge wait as well as getting out of the parking lot.  I was given the following advice and glad I took it.

ADVICE for anyone wanting to do this race:  buddy up with a friend, park one car at the Fairgrounds and take another car to the start line. We did this and it worked out perfectly.  We didn’t wait at all.  

For those wanting to do their first half marathon, I wouldn’t suggest OC.  Go for Long Beach … it’s fast/flat, out ‘n back course that is just as scenic as OC but much more organized (Long Beach, I love you!!)   If you’re going for the Beach Cities medal, you gotta do this one at least once but otherwise …….

If OC Marathon can get itself organized, I’d give it 4 stars but have to settle for 3 overall. Again, the course deserves better!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

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America’s Finest City Half Marathon

America’s Finest City Half Marathon

This was my 5th half marathon and first in San Diego. Overall, I'm glad I ran this race! It was smaller than some of the bigger races (6,800 people vs … MORE

This was my 5th half marathon and first in San Diego. Overall, I’m glad I ran this race! It was smaller than some of the bigger races (6,800 people vs 15,000+) so if you’re looking for a ‘smaller’ well-organized race, this is a good one. It’s also a bit more challenging with the ‘killer hill’ up 6th St at the very end (sick bastard who designed this course,ha!) but the first 5 miles are mostly downhill, really fast and very enjoyable as you run thru the neighborhood of Point Loma (great crowd support, thanks Point Loma!)

The buses from Balboa Park to Cabrillo were on time and plentiful — the only way you could miss a bus is if you forgot to show up. Moderate traffic getting in (took shuttle from hotel) and out at the end of the race but — hey, show me a race that doesn’t have some traffic, right?

The start area is large and there were plenty of stinky Port-o-Potties but … the start was downright weird. No indication whatsoever that the race actually started. I was just chilling, enjoying the pano view from the top of the point and was like “oh, guess it started???” I actually started 15 mins after gun time. No biggie, I rather liked being out of the traffic.

As mentioned, first 5 miles are awesome! The middle of the race, miles 7 – 9, are kind of bleh. Running along Harbor Dr with the airport to the left and cars zooming by isn’t exactly fun or scenic. And yes, that awful detour thru the rental car parking lot. I’m sure they’ll have that figured out by next year so … I won’t hold that against this course (as an aside, I do wish their Website had better course maps). The last 4 miles thru downtown were filled with great support which especially helped on that last dreadful hill. 😉

Seemed to be plenty of water stations; I really appreciated the ‘water mist’ areas along the way too (there were at least two — one at mile 8 and another around mile 10, I believe) and crowd support with water hoses. Apparently there was a lack of ultima drink stations but … I didn’t notice since I don’t drink stuff I don’t train with, anyway.

The finish chute was longer/bigger than any I’ve seen — it’s huge. Definitely not an easy area to find people if you don’t have a plan so … if you plan on meeting friends at the end, designate a place ahead of time.

Overall, this is a good race. I think the complaints people have about crowds or traffic are pretty much true for almost any race so … I’ve seen a LOT worse than AFC Half in that regard. I will do this one again.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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