My Profile

@PeteSinCA

San Jose, CA Raving since 2015 active 1 day, 3 hours ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):
  • Rave race:

    Brazen Almost New Year's Eve, 2014

  • Race that's calling my name:

    Rocky Ridge, 20??, sighhhhhhh ….

  • I run because:

    To show me I (still) can!

My races

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

50 States Map
image/svg+xml FL TX NM AZ AK CA NV UT CO OR WA ID HI OK MT WY ND SD NE KS MN IA MO AR LA MS AL GA SC IL WI MI IN OH TN KY NC WV VA PA NY ME VT NH RI CT NJ DE MD MA DC

Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon &/or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Personal Bests (9)

Race Distance Location Date Result
12 hr San Pablo, CA Jul 8, 2017 7 mi
6 hr San Pablo, CA Jul 6, 2019 10 mi
Half Marathon Fremont, CA Mar 15, 2014 3:09:26
10 Miler Capitola, CA Oct 22, 2017 3:11:00
15K Aptos, CA Jun 19, 2016 2:25:45
10K San Jose, CA Nov 28, 2013 1:25:38
5 Miler Woodland, CA Jul 4, 2016 1:05:09
8K San Jose, CA Mar 2, 2014 1:02:38
5K Cupertino, CA Mar 26, 2016 40:56

Future Races (2)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
5K San Jose, CA Nov 28, 2019
5K Santa Clara, CA Dec 1, 2019

Past Races (114)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
5K San Jose, CA Nov 2, 2019
10K Campbell, CA Oct 19, 2019 1:58:00
10K Mountain View, CA Sep 29, 2019 2:01:44
10K San Jose, CA Sep 22, 2019 1:51:10
5K Richmond, CA Aug 31, 2019 1:07:49
10K Martinez, CA Aug 10, 2019
6 hr San Pablo, CA Jul 6, 2019 10 mi
10K Fremont, CA Jun 29, 2019 2:12:02
10K San Carlos, CA Apr 14, 2019 1:51:36
5K San Jose, CA Mar 24, 2019 54:21
10K Palo Alto, CA Mar 10, 2019 2:10:00
10K Richmond, CA Feb 23, 2019 1:49:44
10K San Leandro, CA Feb 9, 2019 1:53:51
10K Fremont, CA Jan 26, 2019 2:00:15
5K Mountain View, CA Jan 1, 2019 53:41
10K Santa Clara, CA Dec 2, 2018 1:49:16
10K San Jose, CA Nov 22, 2018 1:54:26
5K Sunnyvale, CA Nov 4, 2018 59:43
10K San Jose, CA Oct 28, 2018 2:19:04
10K Brentwood, CA Oct 13, 2018 2:34:38
10K San Jose, CA Sep 30, 2018 1:42:13
10K Los Gatos, CA Sep 22, 2018 1:49:41
10K Felton, CA Aug 19, 2018 2:12:59
5K San Jose, CA Aug 11, 2018 51:13
5 Miler Castro Valley, CA Jul 15, 2018 1:52:34
6 hr San Pablo, CA Jul 7, 2018
10K Sunnyvale, CA Jun 17, 2018 1:54:23
10K San Jose, CA Jun 3, 2018 1:59:10
10K San Pablo, CA May 19, 2018 2:12:11
5K San Jose, CA May 12, 2018 54:38
10K Danville, CA May 6, 2018 1:52:48
10K Fresno, CA Apr 14, 2018 1:45:00
5K Cupertino, CA Mar 31, 2018 50:48
10K San Jose, CA Mar 18, 2018 1:56:58
10K Richmond, CA Feb 24, 2018 1:49:37
Half Marathon San Leandro, CA Feb 10, 2018
5 Miler Woodside, CA Jan 21, 2018 1:57:19
Half Marathon Fremont, CA Dec 31, 2017 4:33:42
Half Marathon Fremont, CA Dec 17, 2017 4:23:49
10K Fremont, CA Nov 25, 2017 1:51:52
10K San Pablo, CA Nov 23, 2017 1:56:33
5K Sunnyvale, CA Nov 12, 2017 49:53
5K San Jose, CA Nov 5, 2017 51:03
10K San Jose, CA Oct 28, 2017 1:48:26
10 Miler Capitola, CA Oct 22, 2017 3:11:00
10K San Jose, CA Sep 30, 2017 1:47:53
5K San Jose, CA Sep 2, 2017 1:14:07
12 hr San Pablo, CA Jul 8, 2017 7 mi
10K Santa Cruz, CA Jun 24, 2017 2:31:56
Half Marathon San Jose, CA Jun 4, 2017 4:13:24
Half Marathon San Pablo, CA May 27, 2017 4:22:14
5 Miler Oakland, CA May 13, 2017 1:58:14
10K Berkeley, CA Apr 15, 2017 3:17:45
Half Marathon Livermore, CA Mar 18, 2017
10K Pacifica, CA Feb 18, 2017 2:21:05
5 Miler Woodside, CA Jan 21, 2017 1:48:17
Half Marathon Castro Valley, CA Jan 1, 2017
Half Marathon Walnut Creek, CA Dec 10, 2016 3:41:48
10K Fremont, CA Nov 26, 2016 1:38:34
10K San Pablo, CA Nov 24, 2016 1:45:30
10K Davis, CA Nov 19, 2016 1:34:26
10K Vacaville, CA Oct 22, 2016 2:04:30
10K San Ramon, CA Oct 1, 2016 2:32:57
Half Marathon El Sobrante, CA Sep 24, 2016 4:02:37
10K Felton, CA Aug 21, 2016 1:52:53
6 hr San Pablo, CA Jul 9, 2016 17 mi
5 Miler Woodland, CA Jul 4, 2016 1:05:09
15K Aptos, CA Jun 19, 2016 2:25:45
Half Marathon San Pablo, CA May 28, 2016 3:20:00
Half Marathon Oakland, CA Apr 17, 2016 3:39:56
5K Cupertino, CA Mar 26, 2016 40:56
5K San Jose, CA Mar 20, 2016 59:25
8K San Jose, CA Mar 6, 2016 1:09:03
10K Richmond, CA Feb 27, 2016 1:32:56
10K San Leandro, CA Feb 13, 2016 1:29:11
Half Marathon San Rafael, CA Feb 7, 2016 4:01:05
10K Pacifica, CA Jan 16, 2016 2:06:03
Half Marathon Walnut Creek, CA Dec 12, 2015 3:32:16
10K Fremont, CA Nov 28, 2015 1:33:50
10K San Pablo, CA Nov 26, 2015 1:37:50
Half Marathon Livermore, CA Nov 14, 2015
5K Sunnyvale, CA Nov 1, 2015 42:31
Half Marathon Redwood City, CA Oct 24, 2015 3:23:48.5
10K Campbell, CA Oct 17, 2015 1:28:34
Half Marathon San Jose, CA Sep 6, 2015 3:40:18.933
10K San Jose, CA Aug 15, 2015
Half Marathon San Leandro, CA Aug 1, 2015 3:33:05
6 hr San Pablo, CA Jul 11, 2015 16.85 mi
Half Marathon Saratoga, CA Jun 6, 2015 5:44:21
Half Marathon El Sobrante, CA May 9, 2015 4:46:56
Half Marathon Santa Cruz, CA Apr 12, 2015 3:26:05
Half Marathon Livermore, CA Mar 14, 2015 4:57:24
Half Marathon San Leandro, CA Feb 14, 2015 3:50:26
Half Marathon Fremont, CA Jan 24, 2015 3:23:34
Half Marathon Castro Valley, CA Dec 27, 2014 4:27:42
Half Marathon Fremont, CA Nov 29, 2014 3:31:42
10K San Jose, CA Nov 27, 2014 1:30:47
Half Marathon Morgan Hill, CA Nov 2, 2014 3:39:27
Half Marathon Redwood City, CA Oct 4, 2014
Half Marathon San Jose, CA Sep 6, 2014 4:17:06
Half Marathon San Leandro, CA Aug 2, 2014 3:24:21
Half Marathon Los Gatos, CA Jul 13, 2014 3:21:49
Half Marathon San Jose, CA Jun 1, 2014 3:17:09
Half Marathon Fremont, CA Mar 15, 2014 3:09:26
8K San Jose, CA Mar 2, 2014 1:02:38
Half Marathon Fremont, CA Jan 25, 2014 3:22:34
10K San Jose, CA Nov 28, 2013 1:25:38
Half Marathon San Jose, CA Oct 6, 2013 3:11:38
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Apr 7, 2013 3:28:39
8K San Jose, CA Mar 10, 2013 1:08:52
10K San Jose, CA Nov 22, 2012 1:31:52
Half Marathon San Jose, CA Oct 7, 2012 3:31:29
8K San Jose, CA Mar 11, 2012 1:15:14
5K San Jose, CA Nov 24, 2011 49:30

My Raves

Trailblazer Race

Trailblazer Race

Event & Course Description:The Trailblazer Race was run in Shoreline Park in Mountain View, CA and benefits Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail. Two distances were run, 10K (which I … MORE

Event & Course Description:The Trailblazer Race was run in Shoreline Park in Mountain View, CA and benefits Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail. Two distances were run, 10K (which I did) and 5K, with 530 finishers between the two distances.

Looking at the course map for the 10K, it looks like two loops with a connector between and a short out-and-back tail on the second loop. In the event, 10K runners did ~3/4 of the first loop, ran the connector, did the second loop with tail, ran the connector again, and completed the first loop. The 5K course was the first loop plus the loop connector as an out-and-back tail.

The start/finish area was a large open field designated for flying kites (being by the bay, it often is a breezy area). The course is flattish, mostly along and through the marshes along the shore, with the last mile or so alongside a golf course access path. When it comes to ocean scenery, I like rocks, cliffs, and breakers, but this course was very pleasant and serene. The surface was a mixture of crushed rock and sand and pavement (I didn’t pay attention to proportions) and was 90%-95% exposed (Hello? Jug of sunscreen?). Being early fall, weather can vary considerably, from very warm to somewhat chilly. This year was chilly (by SF Bay Area standards), in the low 50s F at start time.

Organization & Production: While there is room for some improvement, basically this was a register-and-run race. Information was complete and the course was well marked with arrows and plenty of course marshals. Access was easy, parking ample. Pre-start announcements were done by bullhorn, and being toward the back of a 200+ person pack, they were basically inaudible to me. The course markings and marshaling were such that going off course would require trying, so not hearing the instructions didn’t matter in that respect. And then at the end the announcing of age group awards was kind of disorganized, but I doubt many who won awards had the energy to be impatient. There were two water-only aid stations, well placed, with plenty of water and encouraging volunteers.

Bib: The 10K bib has a white background, with the organization and race names at the top, with the year and distance. In the middle is the bib number, and at the bottom are the logo of the organization and a sponsor. Bibs were mailed, so when I received mine I assumed all bibs were white. But when I checked in and hung out I found that 5K bibs were yellow background.

T-Shirt: Since this was a charity race, my expectations as a whole were quite moderate (I don’t say that disrespectfully). The race T-shirt is a light tan cotton Hanes Beefy-T. The front has a very large abstract drawing of a rabbit running between hills and along a creek. My words don’t do it justice, but it’s an instant favorite for me.

Finisher’s Medal: There were no finisher’s medals, which I’m fine with for a charity race (use the $$ for the important stuff!). However I caught a glimpse of an age group medal, and it looked like a VERY nice woodallion. Just to give an idea of the “crowd”, when they gave out age group medals for the 5K men over age 80, all three medals were given! Geezers rock!

Finish & Recovery Area: By the time I finished, chatted some, and waddled over to the food table, “all” there was was plenty of water (which I needed!) and a goodly quantity of cereal and granola bars, also quite welcome. I saw boxes from bananas and heard rumors of trays of coffee cake. I’m not a banana person, but having some of the latter would have been nice. But as a whole I was not disappointed. Managing supplies of goodies for a group of uncertain size and appetite is no small task. I think they did rather well.

The finish area is an open field, i.e. no picnic tables or places to sit down to rest. But that is balanced by the plenteous room for exhibitors (they had several) and tables for goodies, and plenteous parking.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I was hoping for a bit better finish time, but was hindered some by some physical stuff. But I still had a decent, for me, finish time. I would not call this event spectacular, but it was very well done in just about every respect, and the trail scenery was very nice. I will definitely keep it in mind next year!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

OneMile4OneChild – SJVRC Charity 5K and 10K Run

OneMile4OneChild – SJVRC Charity 5K and 10K Run

The course description I gave for last year's running is a good one. I'll just add that of the several suburban trails I've seen doing events like this, the Los … MORE

The course description I gave for last year’s running is a good one. I’ll just add that of the several suburban trails I’ve seen doing events like this, the Los Alamitos Creek Trail could be the nicest. My one, fairly minor in the context of the whole race, criticism from last year was fixed. How it came to be, I don’t know, but this year the little loop to the finish was clearly marked. Woo hoo!

The race T-shirt is very nice, similar to last year’s except being red instead blue, still with a white inset at the sides. The finisher’s medal is a good sized disc, custom designed. It has the race logo and information in pink, light green and dark blue characters on a sky blue background – pleasantly colorful. Neither will be favorites, but that’s a reflection on the context in the SF Bay Area, not anything like a criticism or “faint praise”. The T-shirt and medal are definitely nicer than what might be expected at a charity event organized by a local running club.

OneMile4OneChild is a great family-community event. Lots of outgoing people, lots of family participation, and volunteers were EVERYWHERE (recognizable by their distinctive T-shirts). The aid stations were well-staffed and beyond. The volunteers’ T-shirts were nicer than at least one race T-shirt I’ve seen this year. The recovery area food was plentiful and varied. I REALLY appreciated the recognition given to volunteers while I was recovering.

I wasn’t going for a particularly ambitious finish time, but did better than I hoped for. All in all this was a great race experience, as good or better than some professionally organized events in which I’ve participated. My 5-Shoe rating is well-earned!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

Zoom Dynamite Run

Zoom Dynamite Run

Event & Course Description: Coastal Trail Runs' Zoom Dynamite event was held at the park at Point Pinole. This is a really beautiful setting – once the site of an … MORE

Event & Course Description: Coastal Trail Runs’ Zoom Dynamite event was held at the park at Point Pinole. This is a really beautiful setting – once the site of an explosives manufacturer, hence the name of the race – with coast and bay views and fragrant eucalyptus groves. I’ve done events in this park on pretty much the same course 12 times now, and am not tired of the venue. The courses are mostly dirt fire roads with some double- and a little single-track trail.

Zoom Dynamite featured 3 distances, 5K, 10K, and half marathon. The 5K course was a loop, also used by the other distances. It traveled the southern coast of the point along open trail, in and out of small eucalyptus groves, crossed the tip of the point, and then went through another eucalyptus grove and down the center ridge of the point back to the start/finish area. The 5K course is has a few brief, not at all steep, hills. Just before reaching the finish area, the 10K course turned to start a loop around the other part of the Peninsula. It crossed the base of the point, out to a marsh area. It then looped through and along the marsh, and then finished using the last mile and a half of the 5K course. Half marathon runners did the 10K course twice (you won’t get bored!). All runners go along at least some coast, through eucalyptus groves, and along an open elevated spine with panoramic views of San Pablo Bay. The courses aren’t flat, but the 2 longest uphill climbs (one of which 10K runners did twice) are about a quarter or half mile each, with about 50-70 feet of climb.

There was 1 aid station. 5K runners came to it near their mile 2 and then finished. 10K runners came to it twice, the second time near their mile 4.7. Half marathon runners came to the aid station 4 times.

Organization & Production: Coastal is one of the SF Bay Areas best race organizers. The course was well marked. Coastal’s aid stations always have plenty of water and electrolyte drink, and a selection of sweet and salty snacks (usually including fruit, though I didn’t notice at this event). There were only around 200 participants in this event, so unlike Coastal’s usual practice, all runners of all distances were started at the same time.

Bib: Coastal’s bibs are fairly plain, except that the background color varies with distances. Yellow was 5K, Blue was 10K, and Orange was for the half marathon. Beyond that, the bibs have Coastal’s logo and motto, and the bib number.

T-Shirt: Coastal’s race T-shirts are always tech type, regardless of distance. My T-shirt is sort of a fluorescent chartreuse, though I also saw some that were sky blue. The front has the race name as a logo, with a cluster of dynamite at the upper left of the words, and a runner at the lower right. Below that was the race information, including the date, and on the back were the logos of the race sponsors.

Finisher’s Medal: The finisher’s medallion is of a nice size and weight disc. It has a bundle of dynamite and the race information (except the date) on a black background as the bottom half, and alternating royal blue and silver rays for the top half. The ribbon is a light salmon pink with the race logo and information and the year. I also won third place in the old goats age group. It is a disc with a banner across the bottom, and is not race-specific.Around the top rim is Coastal’s slogan, “Have fun out there”. In the center is “3rd”, with a runner above it. The banner across the bottom has Coastal’s logo, and at the bottom of the disc the logo for Coastal’s Zoom Running Events, which are not hilly and are family-oriented.

Finish & Recovery Area: I didn’t look around a lot, but Coastal’s recovery area normally has 5 gallon jugs of water and electrolyte drink, lots of salty and sweet snacks, and ice chests with bottled water, sodas, and beer. I didn’t notice or look for the latter. As I was leaving the RD was firing up the grill, though I didn’t see what he was going to cook (usually some sort of sausage). The recovery area was a good sized picnic area, with plenty of tables and shade.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: For me this was a best laid plans kind of deal. The original plan was that my wife would do the event with me, sort of capping off her recovery from foot surgery in the latter half of last year. Well, she had a problem with her other foot and was unable to do the event. One of the reasons we had chosen this event was the beautiful and varied scenery in this park. So at several points along the course we Facetimed. It was as close as we could come to her being with me and seeing what I was seeing. For that reason – going slower so my phone didn’t shake too much and stopping at several scenic points – I really wasn’t going for a great (for me) finish time. It was very enjoyable for both of us. Part of a great race experience is what you bring with you and how you “use” what you do and see.

Summing up, Coastal Trail Runs is an excellent organizer, Point Pinole is a really beautiful venue, there was a special brief run for the really young kids, and the weather is usually very pleasant and occasionally warm near the half marathon cut-off time (12:30), getting there is easy and parking is plentiful. I really don’t understand why the turn-out was so small. Anyway, great organizer, great race, I’d do Zoom Dynamite again.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

Bear Creek Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Bear Creek Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Though my performance wasn't spectacular, I was encouraged by what I was able to do at Dirty Dozen to try the 10K at Bear Creek. The elevation profile – viewable … MORE

Though my performance wasn’t spectacular, I was encouraged by what I was able to do at Dirty Dozen to try the 10K at Bear Creek. The elevation profile – viewable on Brazen’s webpages for the race – is quite challenging, but the major climb is early in the race, so I thought I could take it on. Yeah, no. Like all Brazen events, Bear Creek is well organized, but I’m not up to Bear Creek 10K right now. Ah, well. My daughter was with me, and we dropped out at the first aid station, a bit more than two miles in. The aid station was well equipped with liquids, goodies, and encouraging volunteers. In other words, Brazen Racing Normal. I don’t know if I’d do Bear Creek again, but it’s not due to deficient organizing or lack of beauty along the course. I’d just have to work up to the challenge.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Brazen Summer Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

No sarcasm, it really was fun. I've done Brazen's “Breeze” races – Bay Breeze in February and Summer Breeze in August – a number of times, but this was my … MORE

No sarcasm, it really was fun. I’ve done Brazen’s “Breeze” races – Bay Breeze in February and Summer Breeze in August – a number of times, but this was my first time volunteering for one. Brazen’s aid stations are always pretty varied. Water, electrolyte drink, and Coke. Several flavors of GU gel in packets. Potato chips, pretzels, Rice Krispy Treats, Payday bars, Oreos, Jelly Bellys, gummy bears, plan and peanut M & Ms, Skittles. Bananas, oranges, and watermelon.

We had a large crew, 7 I think, but it took quite a while to set it up. Our station was about a quarter of a mile before the 10K turn-around. We didn’t see 5K runners, but Summer Breeze is among Brazen’s more popular races (flattish course along the shore of the bay, usually decent weather in August … what’s not to like?!). So we were BUSY! Brazen staggers starts, so just as the less fast half marathon runners were thinning out the faster 10K runners started coming, and being somewhat close to the turn-around, we soon had 10K runners coming and going. Then the well spread out half marathon runners came … all in all, I think we went through about 9 gallons of electrolyte drink, and over 10 gallons of water.

The weather was pleasantly cool well into the morning, and even toward the end of the half marathon didn’t get super warm. One thing that was very cool was that we knew the last half marathoner who would be coming through our station on her return leg was doing her first half marathon, so we gave her a really great reception when she arrived. Later I learned that she did complete her first half!

Volunteering at aid stations can be very busy and serious (one of our tasks was to look out for runners in trouble), but it’s also lots of fun!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

Dirty Dozen & Half Dozen Endurance Runs

Dirty Dozen & Half Dozen Endurance Runs

Event & Course Description: Most Brazen Racing events feature specific distances (usually half marathon, 10K, and 5K). Dirty Dozen mixes 12-hour and 6-hour endurance events with 10Ks and 5Ks in … MORE

Event & Course Description: Most Brazen Racing events feature specific distances (usually half marathon, 10K, and 5K). Dirty Dozen mixes 12-hour and 6-hour endurance events with 10Ks and 5Ks in the morning and afternoon. It is pretty much a dawn-to-dusk running and picnic party for runners and their families & friends. A catered barbecue lunch is included in registration for all times and distances, and can be purchased for their families and friends.

Dirty Dozen is run in Point Pinole Regional Shoreline park. It uses a 5K (actually 3.37 miles) course that loops around half of the point. 6-hour and 12-hour runners do as many laps as they can during their time (insert “loopy” joke here). 5K runners do the loop once and 10K runners do it twice. In the final hour of each endurance events a .4 mile loop is opened for those who cannot do one more full lap in their remaining time, but who want to do another mile or two.

The course is, I think, among Brazen’s more beautiful courses. It runs along the shore for a while, goes through a eucalyptus grove for a bit, runs along a cliff above the shore, then climbs (not too steep) through another eucalyptus grove to an exposed ridge with panoramic views of San Pablo Bay, and then back to the start/finish area. The weather in 2019 was mild, with a pleasant cool breeze while running along the exposed shoreline and ridge. The course is probably 30%-50% shade.

Organization & Production: Dirty Dozen is register-and-run. Participants just need to worry about getting there and back. Brazen has used this park’s trails since its very first trail run. So the course is well marked. There was one very amazing aid station – volunteers and goodies – at about the two mile point, and another equally amazing aid station in the start/finish area. Brazen’s aid stations usually have a wide range of snacks, but Dirty Dozen is over the top of at least two hills, so to speak.

Bib: Brazen doesn’t do plain race bibs. Bibs usually have some sort of distance color-coding. There is artwork in the background (often shared with the race T-shirt) with, running from top to bottom, the race name and date, bib number and runner’s name, and Brazen Racing’s logo. My 6 Hour bib is orange, except for the center stripe with my name and bib number. The artwork depicts race mascot “Clocky” stepping out of UK style police box, and to the left of that ancient Egyptian people.

T-Shirt: Brazen’s registration fee includes a poly-cotton T-shirt for 10K and 5K runners. They can upgrade to a tech type Tee for a moderate fee (currently $7). Instead of a race T-shirt, 6 and 12 hour runners receive a hooded sweatshirt, and may purchase a race T-shirt, also $7. This year I did not buy a Tee. The hoodie is zip-up and light green. The front has “DD X 2019” in white, in the middle, 2019 being the 10th running. The back, also in white, has the same artwork as the finishers medal.

Finisher’s Medal: Dirty Dozen had two different finishers medals, one for the endurance runners and another for the 10K and 5K runners. I did not see the artwork for the 10K/5K medal, but it was good sized and substantial (viewed from the back). The endurance medal is a coaster, brass colored and in a steampunk style. Around the edge of the main disc are gears and wheels. The main disk is made to look like the date setting dial of a Wellsian time machine, with 2019 selected. Around the edge of the disk is the rest of the event information. The ribbon is yellow-orange with gears in the background and the event information in black along the ribbon. It’s one of my two favorite medals since, well, Dirty Dozen 2018.

Finish & Recovery Area: The catered lunch was from a barbecue restaurant, yum! Brazen normally has a wide array of cakes, cookies, pie, and chips in its finish area, plus several varieties of It It ice cream sandwiches. I was pretty full from lunch, and didn’t look carefully (or partake), but I think what I saw was easily more than Brazen’s “ordinary”.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: This was my fifth year doing Dirty Dozen. Does that say enough about what I think of the event? The endurance events tell you what you can do. I was less than happy with what I learned, but it has helped me realize what I can do to improve on that. This year was special, because my daughter did the event with me which I think spurred me on a bit. Seeing Mike and Katie was really cool, too!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Zoom Firecracker Run

Zoom Firecracker Run

Event & Course Description: Coastal Trail Runs' Zoom Firecracker Run is based in Fremont's Quarry Lakes Park, and three distances are run, half marathon, 10k (which I did), and 5K. … MORE

Event & Course Description: Coastal Trail Runs’ Zoom Firecracker Run is based in Fremont’s Quarry Lakes Park, and three distances are run, half marathon, 10k (which I did), and 5K. The 5K did a circuit around the park. The 10K and half marathon did a partial circuit, exited to the Alameda Creek Trail and headed upstream (left) to a turn-around. The 10K reentered the park and completed their circuit of the park. The half marathon kept going downstream to where they crossed the creek and headed back upstream. They crossed another bridge, went to the park entry, and completed their circuit of the park.

The surface for the 10K course was mostly or entirely packed dirt and fine gravel, and basically flat. I’d estimate the course is 80%-90% exposed. Late June weather can be warm and sunny, and it was sunny but not too warm. Inside Quarry Lakes Park one can hardly tell one is in the middle of a city. The Alameda Creek Trail, on the other hand almost always has houses or a mobile home park on one side, and the creek on the other (with a channel that has been modified to prevent flooding and bank erosion, more practical than pretty). It’s not my favorite trail course, but it’s still more pleasant than central San Jose or a tract home residential neighborhood.

Organization & Production: Coastal does well organized races, as a whole. There were four aid stations on the overall course. 5K runners came to just one, at the point where 10K and half marathon runners reenter the park. 10K and half marathon runners came to their first aid station at the upstream turn-around. Both next came to the park reentry aid station. 10K runners turned into the park, did a short loop back to that aid station, and then on to the finish. Half marathon runners had two aid stations along their second out-and-back, one on each side of the creek. Then they went past the park reentry aid station and on to the finish.

Coastal generally marks their courses well, and I had no problem. At least a couple of runners went off course and another almost did at a point where a chalk arrow had gotten trampled a bit. I did see it, but tired people can make mistakes.. The aid stations had a couple of snacks (that I can sort of remember), water, and electrolyte chews.

Bib: Coastal’s bibs are color-coded by distance, but otherwise just have the bib number and Coastal’s slogan, “Have fun out there”.

T-Shirt: Coastal’s race T-shirts are always tech type, regardless of distance. My T-short was white, with a fireworks burst and the race information on the front, and sponsors’ logos on the back. It’s a very nice race T-shirt.

Finisher’s Medal: The finisher’s medal was the fireworks burst with the race information but no date. The ribbon is lavender colored, with “2019 Finisher” along it. It’s not quite a favorite, but it is very nice.

Finish & Recovery Area: The recovery area had bottled water and sodas, that I saw. Coastal usually has beer, but I didn’t see it. There was a good variety of snacks like chips, pretzels, and candies. After resting for a while at one of the picnic benches – it was a covered group picnic area – I had a very tasty grilled sausage in a suitable roll.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: It’s important for summer pretty much anywhere to be careful about hydration and wearing sunscreen, and I was. But I got a frustrating reminder that I don’t do well with more or less constant full sun exposure. Ah, well, I’ll learn and hopefully do better.

Looking over my medals from this year, Zoom Firecracker was my first Coastal event for 2019. That is a schedule thingy, not a reflection on Coastal Trail Runs. Coastal does excellent events and respects budgets without skimping. I know I’ll do more Coastal events this year, and already have one planned.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Western Pacific Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Western Pacific Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

I've done several Raves about Brazen's Western Pacific, so this Rave is going to be about a few things new to me. I was an aid station volunteer (4th time … MORE

I’ve done several Raves about Brazen’s Western Pacific, so this Rave is going to be about a few things new to me. I was an aid station volunteer (4th time at WP, I think), and was posted to an aid station that only saw Marathon runners.

A quick description of the marathon course would be that it circles half way around Quarry Lakes Park, heads toward San Francisco Bay along the Alameda Creek Trail for the first out-and-back leg, passes the park, follows the trail upstream for the second out-and-back leg, and then returns to the park to complete the circuit around the park. While some of the marathon course is common to the half marathon, 10K, and 5K, about half the first out-and-back leg and the second out-and-back leg are run by the marathoners only.

I was posted at the aid station at the turn-around for the first leg. Our station was about four miles distant from the previous aid station, and at the very end of a levee that juts into the bay. Two or three yards past our station was water! Thus, we – and more importantly, the runners – had a panoramic view of that part of the bay, from the Dumbarton Bridge to the San Mateo Bridge. Across the water from us we could see Redwood City and a city or two north and south of RWC. I’m not a BIG fan of marsh land, but the trail from the previous aid station to us had marshes on both sides of the trail, with Alameda creek on one side. After a certain point we started seeing driftwood washed inland from the creek by storm and tide. Along with the various bushes along the way, it really was quite pretty.

Our aid station was near the half way point in the marathon, so we had lots of water and Ultima electrolyte drink. We also had Coca Cola for those who wanted it. For fruit we had bananas, watermelon, and oranges (the “Holy Trinity” of running events), cut of for easy handling and consumption. We had chips and pretzels, cut up Payday bars and Rice Krispie Treats, trail mix, several varieties of candies – lots of salt and sugar for sweating runners expending calories. As we told one lady who was doing her first Brazen race, that was typical for a Brazen aid station. We also had ice for a bucket of cold water with a sponge to cool off runners, and to add to our water and electrolyte drink containers and to add to runners’ water bottles.

As mentioned above, this was my 4th time volunteering at Western Pacific, and I don’t know how many times I’ve volunteered for Brazen Races. So all in all I’d do Western Pacific again, maybe even some day as a runner.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

Hiller Aviation Museum Airport Runway Run

Hiller Aviation Museum Airport Runway Run

Event & Course Description: The Airport Runway Run is held at and benefits the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, CA. Three distances were run, 10K (which I did), 5K, … MORE

Event & Course Description: The Airport Runway Run is held at and benefits the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, CA. Three distances were run, 10K (which I did), 5K, and 2K. The 2K was basically an elongated loop that ran the length of the airport runway and came back to the finish through the taxi area for the hangars. The 5K and 10K were out-and-back. Both courses ran the length of the airport runway and then along a frontage road to a trail that has marshland on the bay side, and US 101 on the other (but with more than 10 yards between the trail and freeway). At about the 2 mile point, the 10K turned toward and into the marshes. The 5K turn-around was at about the 2/3 point of the 10K course’s part of the trail along US101. The 10K followed a trail along a levee, basically doubling back the way runners had come, and after about a half mile turned toward the bay for a quarter of a mile to the turn-around point. On the return leg both 5K and 10K runners returned to the start by the frontage road, past the front of the museum rather than back onto the runway.

It wasn’t the most scenic of course, but there was some “cool” to doing the length of the runway, and one could always look toward the marsh rather than US101 traffic (traffic noise wasn’t too bad).The 5K course was entirely paved. The 10K course was about 2/3 paved, with the trail along the marsh levees being packed dirt and fine gravel.

Organization & Production: The race is register-and-run, with complete information in the race webpages. There were two water-only aid stations, one at about the 1 1/4 mile point, and the second (10K only) just after the 2 mile point. The 5K turn-around was well marked with a nice big sign, and there were high-fiving course monitors at the 10K turn-around. The aid station near the 2 mile point was still handing out water when the last 10K runner (me) went through on the return leg (more friendly volunteers!), but the first aid station was not (with just ~3/4 mile left to the finish). The race was professionally timed.

Bib: The bib has a white background, with a blue stripe near the top and the bib number in black numerals below that. At the center of the blue stripe is the race logo, a runner running on a lighter blue stripe with the race name along the stripe. In an arc above the runner is the museum name, There’s a very light blue cloud behind the runner, and along the bottom of the logo are the distances and a biplane silhouette in maroon. To the left of the race logo is the museum logo, and to the right was the distance.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is navy blue tech-type. In the front, like a pocket, is the race logo in white, and on the back are the race sponsors’ logos, also in white. There were no finisher’s medals.

Finish & Recovery Area: When I finished, the finish area was already being packed up. For recovery food I saw lots of bananas and a taco truck (not “free”). Nor was there water or anywhere to sit down. All in all, a bit of a let down.

I should add that both before and after the race, participants had free entry into the the museum, which was interesting and very nice, especially cool for younger folk.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I was pretty happy with my finish time, and it was 2 or 3 minutes longer than it might have been. I had noticed a possibly injured runner about 100-200 yards from the first aid station during the outbound leg, and I spoke to a volunteer and the person in charge.

The finish area was a bit of a let down, and my over-all rating reflects this. The Airport Runway Run is a fairly well organized race, and benefits the museum. The race Tee was tech-type, which surprised me a little, and while not spectacularly awesome, is easily nice enough that I’ll be using it for work-outs. All in all, this is not a must-do-this-again race for me, but I will definitely keep it mind for 2020.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Cambrian Schools 5K Run

Cambrian Schools 5K Run

Event & Course Description: Cambrian Schools 5K Fun Run is done sort of school year annually. The previous running was in November, 2017, and in 2019 it was in March. … MORE

Event & Course Description: Cambrian Schools 5K Fun Run is done sort of school year annually. The previous running was in November, 2017, and in 2019 it was in March. The race benefits Cambrian School District (San Jose) schools. As best I can remember, the 2019 course was the reverse of the 2017 course. In 2019 the start and finish was at Ida Price Middle school, and the turn-around was a loop around Steindorf STEAM School.

The course is entirely on streets in the Cambrian area of San Jose. Cambrian is a Baby Boom era neighborhood, with a hill at the corner of Huh? Street and Not Here! Avenue. It’s flat. It has a good number of mature trees – decent shade – but isn’t exactly scenic. March weather is pretty variable. Race day 2019 was clear but chilly, but two days earlier there was rain, and rain is forecast for the next day.

Organization & Production: Instead of their own webpage, Cambrian gave relevant information to RaceRoster, the registration service company. It was fairly complete, though it did not include a course map, nor mention that there would be pre-race-day pick-up. The information for the latter was in the pre-race email, however, and a course map was in the bag received at packet pick-up.

The course was copiously marked with Route Arrows, orange traffic cones, and volunteers. And street intersections were blocked by San Jose PD. One would have to work really hard to go off course! There were 3 water stations. In a 5K! That seems kind of odd, but families are a BIG THING in this run! And they saw to it that staying hydrated would be easy. And then there was a fourth, unofficial, water station set up by a local Realtor at the curb in front of their personal home.

Race timing was done by South Valley Endurance. I didn’t time it, but they had my finish time posted online within an hour of my finish.

Bib: The top ~40% of the bib is a red stripe with logos of the district at the corners and the T-shirt artwork in a white diamond in the middle. The middle 50% has the bib number. In a narrow black stripe across the bottom is the url for the district’s website.

T-Shirt: The T-shirt is red cotton. The front features a turtle running ahead of a rabbit. In an arc above the turtle is “Cambrian Schools”, and in an arc below the turtle is “5K Fun Run”, with the year below it. The back has the logos for the sponsors. All the graphics are in white. It’s not a spectacular race T-shirt, but it is really nice.

Finisher’s Medal: The previous running, 2017, did not have finisher’s medals. I was fine with that, because this race benefits the district’s schools. And that is what I expected for 2019. But medals were given to finishers, a golden disc with “5K” on a red, white, and blue striped ribbon. My guess is that it was decided that because this event is an important, somewhat unique, family experience a tangible memento of the event would be nice.

Finish & Recovery Area: The finish area had tables with pavilions for several sponsors, and tables with bottled water, apples, pears, and Kellogg protein bars (that I can remember). The finish area was an athletic field, so there were no tables or chairs.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: This was a very well done basic 5K. The biggest impression I came away with was that the emphasis was on family, and LOTS of students ran the race (the first four finishers were students), many in family groups. There were also a lot of preschoolers and toddlers (the latter mostly in strollers) with their Moms and Dads. So while the neighborhood scenery was pretty bland, the family “scenery” was a lot of fun.

The race is really well done, the start/finish areas about 10 minutes’ (or less) drive, and the pre-race packet pick-up is at the district office in my neighborhood. So I’ll be watching for this 5K again next “year” (whether fall 2019 or spring 2020).

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

Was this review helpful?

 

Baylands 8K Double + UjENA 5K & 10K (Double Road Race – Palo Alto)

Baylands 8K Double + UjENA 5K & 10K (Double Road Race – Palo Alto)

Event & Course Description: I suppose the Palo Alto Double 8K // Ujena 5K/10K needs a bit of explaining. A Double Road Race is a race in two parts, or … MORE

Event & Course Description: I suppose the Palo Alto Double 8K // Ujena 5K/10K needs a bit of explaining. A Double Road Race is a race in two parts, or as the creator says, a race with a halftime. This race had a Double 8K – a 5K segment, a break, and then a 3K segment – plus regular 5K and 10K distances. I did the10K. With that prefatory explanation …

The start and finish area was the Baylands Athletic Center, at the dead-end of a small street at the southwest corner of the Palo Alto Golf Course. The all courses took streets for about 2/3 of a mile to the Renzel Trail. This parallels US101 freeway for most of the 1 1/3 miles to the Bay Trail. After passing the 3K and 5K turn-arounds, the 10K course then turned onto the Adobe Creek Loop Trail, following that for about 1.1 miles, and then turning around to retrace the same route to the finish. The one, water-only, aid station was just before the 5K turn-around.

The course is entirely paved and pretty much entirely exposed. The 10K and Double 8K started in moderate-light rain, clearing up to just cloudy after 15 or 20 minutes. For most of the course there was marsh or creek on at least one side of the course. There was a not very busy frontage road between the trail and US101, so freeway noise wasn’t too distracting.

Organization & Production: In my opinion, this was a mix of things done well and less than well. The website information was easily sufficient for a person to check out the race, understand it, register, and get to the venue. Parking was reasonably easy, the lots of a nearby business park.

I arrived very early, so check-in (race day only) was easy for me. But later in the morning the check-in line was long. This was probably due to the rain, the need to keep the check-in stuff dry, and the limited cover available. There was not room to “throw” extra people at the problem. The race started ~11 minutes late, possibly because of this issue.

The race was not chip timed. Timing was from the “gun start” (air horn) to when runners are observed crossing the finish. In exchanging emails with the timing person, I also realized there was no video/camera back-up. There were pacers for the 8K Double, very nice, but their signs were not well made and I saw at least two of the signs on the ground.

The course markings were with chalk or flour, which didn’t do great with rain and being trampled. The markings could be missed (I didn’t see the “1 Mile” marking until I was on my return leg). More than a few 8K Double runners passed their turn-around at the 5K point; they probably realized they had gone too far at the “2 Mile” marking near a bridge on the trail.

The water-only aid station at the 1.5 mile point was adequate for a cool day. The volunteers seemed not to be looking for runners having trouble, as I was limping and was not asked if I was OK (which I was, “just” a calf muscle spasm). The same was true of several course monitors at about mile 2.5. They directed 10K runners, but also did not ask about my limp.

I was the last to finish (unsurprisingly). When I went through the finish chute there was no one at the timing table. I was through the chute and heading for the water table when a lady gave me my finisher’s medal. Because no one was at the timing table, my finish time was not recorded, and was not on the race “preliminary” results page. That no one was at the table also means the RD and staff did not know they had a “runner” still out on the course. They were not in contact with their volunteers, and apparently had not crossed off bib numbers as people finished. Had someone had a serious problem, this would have been unsafe.

Bib: Bibs were color-coded by distance, black background for the 10K, green for the 8K Double, and white for the 5K. The name of the race was at the top, the bib number in the middle, and a sponsor’s website url at the bottom.

T-Shirt: Oy! Description first, then commentary. The T-shirt is short-sleeved tech type, fading from dark purple at the bottom to medium purple at the top, with a subtle vine and leaf pattern in it. A really beautiful shirt! On the front, in large plain white block letters is the name of the race across the chest and the date and location near the bottom hem. On the back at the bottom and on the right sleeve are sponsors’ logos.

I’ve received my share of “Meh!” race T-shirts, but this is the first I’m seriously thinking of not wearing it outside of my house. I usually use race Tees for work-outs at the gym or on the trail, but not this one.

Finisher’s Medal: The medallion is oval, on the small side compared to what is currently common with other races and organizers. The size aside, it is VERY nice. There is an oval in the center with a nature scene. Around this is a yellow ring captioned “Palo Alto Open Space Nature Preserves”. Then there is a purple outer ring giving the race name, “5th Annual”, and the location. The back and outer rim are black. The ribbon is purple, with the race name on it. Were it 50%-100% larger it would have gone from very striking to pretty amazing.

Finish & Recovery Area: This organizer bills its races as road races rather than trail runs. And the long distance for this race was 10K. With that context, the recovery area food and snacks were at least average, and probably above average for this race type. As late as I was in finishing, there were plenty of bottles of water, bananas, at least a couple of varieties of bagged chips, and a couple of varieties of bagged cookies.

As noted above, the timing table was unmanned, and it took a minute or two for the person giving out finisher’s medals to come to me. There was no one handing out water, but it was at a table adjacent to the end of the finishing chute, which is common.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: As anyone who has scanned a few of my Raves will know, I tend to be on the positive side of realistic. I seldom give a negative review!

Double Road Racing (or Double Running) represents itself as a significant or major race organizer. This naturally creates certain expectations. This was my first event with them, and I was disappointed. Some things were done well. A runner will have no problems getting to and starting the race, and the course maps are fine. The finisher’s medal is really nice, and the recovery area food was better than I expected.

As I’ve noted, the course marking and marshaling, in my opinion, needed improving. Especially stationing a course marshal at the 5K turn-around. Given the potential for wet weather, signs marking miles and turn-arounds would also have been better.

The biggest problem had to do with timing. Nothing is perfect, not RFID, not human observer-timers, not video/cameras. Going manual-only has at least two vulnerabilities. Larger bunches of finishers can overwhelm the observers. And the timing people need to know, toward the end of a race, how many participants are still out on the course.

DRR failed to use finisher check-off to know there was someone (me) still out on the course. Nor did they have their volunteers report on this. This resulted in the last timekeeper leaving the table before I was finished. And with no video/camera back-up, I know the finish time for me in their results was derived from my own, +/- 1 minute, tired guess. My email exchange with the person in charge of timing was less than satisfactory (I’ll just say that I was not stupid or obtuse enough to demand an accurate finish time I knew they could not have, and not elaborate further). And as noted above, not knowing someone was still on the course is a potential safety issue.

I said enough above about the race Tee.

This race is close to my home, perhaps a half hour drive. Despite that convenience, I probably will not do this or any other DRR races.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Victory Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Victory Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Event & Course Description: Brazen Racing's Victory starts and finishes at the Craneway Pavilion, where World War 2 Victory Ships were built. All distances go onto the SF Bay Trail … MORE

Event & Course Description: Brazen Racing’s Victory starts and finishes at the Craneway Pavilion, where World War 2 Victory Ships were built. All distances go onto the SF Bay Trail , heading generally south and running along the marina at Richmond Marina Bay. 5K runners run about half way around the Bay, do a loop around Marina Park, and return to the finish. 10K (which I’ll be doing) and half marathon runners complete the circuit around Richmond Marina Bay and follow the trail south along San Francisco Bay, turning around at different points. The return is mostly the same route, except a different trail is taken into Marina Park to do a 3/4 circuit of the park before heading to the finish.

The scenery is varied and pleasant. The circuit around Marina Bay has views of the many boats berthed in the bay, and occasionally one that is maneuvering to head out into San Francisco Bay. After Marina Bay runners have San Francisco Bay on one side and views of the nearby hills on the other.

The weather can vary, year to year, so runners need to check forecast and be prepared. Victory 2019 was chilly (someone was prepared and wore a long-sleeved shirt, unlike two weeks ago), with lots of hazy sunshine. The course is pretty much entirely exposed, so depending on apparel sunscreen can be necessary.

Organization & Production: Except for three key junctions, the course is easily followed. Brazen always marks courses well, and the three aid stations are positioned at the junctions, so runners can get directions from the aid station volunteers. 5K runners come to the first aid station twice. 10K runners go through two aid station twice each. For half marathon runners there is some distance between the second and third aid stations, and they go though the third aid station twice. Brazen aid stations are always well stocked with liquids, snacks and cheery encouraging volunteers.

Bib: Brazen doesn’t do plain race bibs. Bibs usually have some sort of distance color-coding (having done the 10K, my bib’s background color was blue). There is artwork in the background (often shared with the race T-shirt) with, running from top to bottom, the race name and date, bib number and runner’s name, and Brazen Racing’s logo. The background of the bib for Victory had a hand making the “V for Victory” sign, with sun rays behind it.

T-Shirt: Brazen’s registration fee includes a tech type T-shirt for half marathon runners and a poly-cotton T-shirt for 10K and 5K runners. 10K and 5K runners can upgrade to a tech type Tee for a moderate fee (currently $7). The tech Tee for Victory 2019 is dark blue. The front has the hand making the “V for Victory” sign, with sun rays behind it in light gray, red, and white. The race name, distances and location are below the hand. The back has a Victory Ship with the race information along the side, and the logos of sponsors and Brazen Racing below it.

Finisher’s Medal: The medallion shows the fantail of a Victory Ship with the race information on the hull, and the propeller is a spinner. The ribbon has multiple dark blue and white stripes along its length, the name of the race and date in red outlined white letters, and the distances in red letters.

For those who did both the Bay Breeze race and Victory, there is a special connector medal. The medallion interlocks with the two finisher’s medals to form a “mega-medal. The medallion has a white and red lighthouse with “B2V Double” on its side, and a white banner with “Finisher”. At the bottom are a compass rose and anchor.

Finish & Recovery Area: I was too tired to hit the recovery goodies very hard. Brazen typically has a wide variety of fruit, chips, cakes, cookies, and candies to replenish calories and electrolytes burned. I grabbed a Chips It ice cream sandwich, chatted for a bit and headed home.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: The weather was near-perfect, and I worked for it, so I’m pretty happy with my finish time, not as THE goal but as progress and improvement.

Brazen Racing is a well-oiled machine when it come to organizing races, with lots of great people (runners, volunteers, and employees) and interesting venues. I’ll be back for more Brazen races and will consider doing Victory in 2020.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Bay Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Bay Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Event & Course Description: Brazen Racing's Bay Breeze starts and finishes in Marina Park in San Leandro, with half marathon, 10K, and 5K distances. I did the 10KI, but have … MORE

Event & Course Description: Brazen Racing’s Bay Breeze starts and finishes in Marina Park in San Leandro, with half marathon, 10K, and 5K distances. I did the 10KI, but have also done the half marathon in the past. For 10K and half runners the course is easily described: head south on the Bay Trail and turn around at the designated point to head back to the finish. The 5K course adds a ~1mile loop around a small peninsula which the other distances do not do. The half marathon course is about half paved, half packed dirt and crushed gravel. The 10K course is about 2/3 paved. Much of the paved trail has shoulders of packed dirt and gravel. The course is basically flat.

One side of the course is almost always the bay. The inland side is mostly marshes, with about a quarter of a mile going past a housing complex. There are a couple of bridges along the course. Personally I’m more inclined to rocks, cliffs and breakers for sea views, but the views along the Bay Breeze course are very peaceful, and may include views of the bridges crossing to the San Francisco Peninsula (weather allowing).

Over several years, the weather for Bay Breeze has varied from sunny and relatively warm to very light rain and somewhat windy. There is basically no shade on the course. 2019’s running saw light rain for the half marathon starts, and very chilly wind. The rain had stopped when 10K and 5K runners started (guess who checked the weather forecast for rain, but not the temperature forecast … and wore a short-sleeve Tee!). Outbound, the wind was almost directly in runners’ faces. I noticed it less inbound but can’t say whether it had lessened or was less annoying coming at my back.

Organization & Production: Bay Breeze is one of Brazen’s most popular races, with over 1300 finishers of the three distances in 2019. The three distances have separate starts, with a “Hikers” start an hour before the regular half marathon start. This is for slower runners who want the extra time, and is also used by runners who want an earlier finish. Hikers are not eligible for age group or overall awards. The course for Bay Breeze is very simple, out and back. But Brazen marks its courses well, has course marshals at key points (not many for Bay Breeze), and has “Mile #” signs for each distance along the course.

Brazen’s aid stations offer a wide variety of liquids and snacks. Water and electrolyte drink are always provided, and Coke and ginger ale are also usually available. Snacks include a wide variety of candies, Payday and Rice Krispie Treat candy bars, cut up bananas and oranges, Oreo cookies, chips, and pretzels. That I can remember. If this sounds pretty much identical to my past Raves’ descriptions of aid stations, that’s because Brazen is VERY consistent. The goodies are great, but for me the best part of Brazen aid stations is the very cheery and encouraging volunteers. There is always one or two experienced aid station workers at each station, so things are generally well organized, allowing the volunteers to encourage and cheer on runners while keeping the goodies flowing.

Bib: Brazen doesn’t do plain race bibs. Bibs usually have some sort of distance color-coding. There is artwork in the background (often shared with the race T-shirt) with, running from top to bottom, the race name and date, bib number and runner’s name, and Brazen Racing’s logo. The background artwork for Bay Breeze 2019 was an octopus playing guitar to serenade his love (Valentine’s Day meets sea creature!).

T-Shirt: Brazen’s registration fee includes a tech type T-shirt for half marathon runners and a poly-cotton T-shirt for 10K and 5K runners. 10K and 5K runners can upgrade to a tech type Tee for a moderate fee (currently $7), which I did.

The tech type race T-shirt for Bay Breeze 2019 was RED (as it has been for several years) and long-sleeved. The front has the serenading octopus-of-love and guitar. The back features the artwork of a previous year, the octopus holding a bouquet of red roses for his love. The back also has sponsors’ and Brazen’s logos.

Finisher’s Medal: The medallion is a large red heart with the guitar-playing octopus-of-love in front of it, and the race information at its bottom left. The ribbon has multiple red an white stripes, with the race information in blue outlined white and blue hearts running along the length of the ribbon.

Finish & Recovery Area: Not only did it rain lightly and briefly on race day morning, it also had rained on several days the previous week. The start/finish area is all grass, except the ground was saturated, which resulted in the lanes into and from the arch being churned into mud. I saw a couple of people on Facebook who mentioned slipping and falling just after finishing, which I came close to doing. Not dangerous, just part of “rain or shine”.

Brazen does not skimp on recovery area food – candies, cookies, cakes, chips, and cut up fruit, probably 3X the variety offered at aid stations. Brazen’s “signature” finish area snack is several flavors of It’s It ice cream sandwiches. I usually go for the mint ice cream, and occasionally strawberry. It’s It recently introduced a “Chips It” sandwich, which uses chocolate chip cookies instead of oatmeal cookies. The Chips It is also not coated with chocolate. I tried and liked the Chips It.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: Brazen is one of the best race organizers in the SF Bay Area, always an excellent race experience (I’ve done 38 Brazen races in the past 5 years, so I’ll make that generalization!). Bay Breeze 2019 was all that. Bay Breeze is the first of a two-race series, and those who do the second race two weeks later, Victory, receive a connector medal that combines the two finisher’s medals into one really large “mega-medal”. I’ll be doing Victory, and doing Summer Breeze (same courses as Bay Breeze) is a possibility.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

Coyote Hills Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Coyote Hills Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Event & Course Description: Coyote Hills (CH) is organized by Brazen Racing and three distances are run, half marathon, 10K (which I did), and 5K. The race is creatively named … MORE

Event & Course Description: Coyote Hills (CH) is organized by Brazen Racing and three distances are run, half marathon, 10K (which I did), and 5K. The race is creatively named for its venue, Coyote Hills Park. All three distances do a loop around the hills. The 10K adds an out-and-back leg, branching off at about the 7/8 point in the loop. The half marathon does the 10K course twice, except for a .1-.2 mile segment through the hills behind the start/finish area that is unique to the half marathon course.

On starting, all runners go through the dirt parking area that is the start/finish area and onto paved access road for about a tenth of a mile. Runners then turn onto a trail that uses a boardwalk through a marsh and leave the marsh on paved trail. The course goes through some low hills and onto a trail that goes along the edge of the bay. After about a mile and a quarter, 5K runners split off to the left and go through a gap in the hills to the finish. 10K and half marathon runners, however, continue along the bay on packed dirt trail for another mile and a half or so, turn around, and head back to the split. At that point 10K runners use the same gap in the hills 5K runners used to go to the finish. Half marathon runners climb up into the hills, going behind the start/finish area, to start their second time around the course. When half marathoners are near the finish, they again climb into the hills, but turn onto a foot path to get to the start/finish area. The 10K and half marathon course is about half boardwalk and paved, half dirt trail. The 5K course is entirely boardwalk and paved.

Organization & Production: Brazen races are register-and-run. Information on the race webpage is very complete, course markings and marshals make it difficult to go off course, and aid stations are well stocked with water, electrolyte drink and a good variety of snacks, for even the slowest runner. Brazen is very consistent, race to race to … . One thing that sets CH apart from other Brazen races is that parking is so limited that Brazen has arranged for offsite parking and shuttle buses to and from the start/finish area.

Bib: Brazen doesn’t do plain race bibs. The CH bib has distance color-coded race name, runner’s name, distance, and bib number. The race date is under the race name. Brazen Racing’s logo is in the bottom left corner. The background looks like a starry night sky with a steampunk robot coyote constellation.

T-Shirt: Brazen’s registration fee includes a tech type T-shirt for half marathon runners and a poly-cotton T-shirt for 10K and 5K runners. 10K and 5K runners can upgrade to a tech type Tee for a moderate fee (currently $7). The 2019 CH tech type Tee is dark blue and long-sleeved. Brazen usually has really nice T-shirt artwork, usually so good that picking a favorite comes down to personal taste rather than good vs. so-so.

For quite a few years Coyote Hills Tees have been outstanding among excellent for my tastes, and 2019 was up to that standard. The front looks like a string art coyote head, face-on. The coloring of the string art fades from yellow to aqua blue. The back features a winged robotic coyote leg in white, with the name of the race and year on a light blue banner zig-zagged behind it. Just below the paw is the date in white, and below that the distances in light blue. Below the distances, in white, are the sponsors’ logos and Brazen’s logo.

Finisher’s Medal: The medallion is the same artwork as the back of the T-shirt, a winged robotic coyote leg in silver, with white background and a yellow banner with the race name and information. The Ribbon is black, with dark gray machinery wheels (Hello, steampunk!). Along the ribbon are the race name and date in orange, and the distances in white.

Finish & Recovery Area: As runners finished, they received their finisher’s medal and a little farther along someone was handing out bottled water. There was a sort of chute that funneled runners into an area with vendors’ pavilions, a massage pavilion, and several tables with goodies. Brazen’s “signature” recovery snack is It’s It ice cream sandwiches in several flavors of ice cream. I seldom pass up on having one, but I wasn’t sure it would be OK with my stomach. Anyway, Brazen recovery areas offer a wide variety of cakes, cookies, fruit, and more.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: Coyote Hills was my first Brazen race, five years ago. Other than incremental improvements in things like race Tees and finisher’s medals, Brazen has remained consistent in the many things that make for a register-and-run race and an excellent race experience. A Brazen race is like a ginormous (more than 1100 finishers in the three distances at CH, one of Brazen’s larger events) family reunion picnic. Whether Brazen employees, volunteers, or the runners, everyone makes for a great atmosphere! My next two races are also Brazen races, so I’ll probably run or volunteer at Coyote Hills again.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Kiwanis Resolution Run (CA)

Kiwanis Resolution Run (CA)

Event & Course Description: As the name suggests, the Kiwanis Resolution Run benefits a Kiwanis service club and through it, the charities it supports. The run has 10K and 5K … MORE

Event & Course Description: As the name suggests, the Kiwanis Resolution Run benefits a Kiwanis service club and through it, the charities it supports. The run has 10K and 5K distances, is run on January 1st, and is run in Mountain View’s Shoreline park. I ran the 5K.

The 5K course looks like a battered frying pan. From the start, 5K runners ran about 2/3 of the perimeter of an open grassy area designated as a kite flying area. Runners then did a curved out-and-back leg along a golf course and beside a lake. After completing the out-and-and back leg runners completed the perimeter of the kite flying area, finishing where they started. Except for perhaps a half mile at the start and finish which is packed dirt and crushed recycled street pavement, the course is paved (though there are parallel packed dirt paths along some of the trail).

January in the SF Bay Area is not cold like in most of the US, but it is the coldest part of the year. In 2019, skies were clear, temperatures during the run were in the 40s F, and it was very breezy.

Organization & Production: This was a basic well done charity run – register-and-run, as I like to call it. The information on the website was complete and registration easy. There are maps for both distances on the site. Pre-race and race day packet pick-up were done (also race day registration). Probably the one unusual point was that the start times were 10:00 for the 10K and 10:15 for the 5K – allowing for people who had been festive the previous night.

The course was well marked with cones and with course marshals at key points, and there were mile markers. 5K runners passed an aid station at about the 1.7 or 1.8 mile point, though it was on the other side of the trail, and then came back to it, at about the 2.2 or 2.3 mile point. It was water only and well stocked.

Bib: The bib is plain white, with the bib number in red in the middle, and the race timer’s website at the bottom in blue.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is dark sky blue cotton-polyester blend. The front has the race logo (yellow is the main color), basically a large circle. Around the outside of the circle are the race name, location, and distances. Below the logo are the year and the name of the specific Kiwanis Club. As usual race sponsors’ logos are on the back of the shirt.

Finisher’s Medal: There was no finisher’s medal. Instead finishers received a blue ribbon with the race logo, name, and date. There were medals for the top over-all finishers and for age group top three.

Finish & Recovery Area: I guess the finish area could be called “no frills”. There were no places to sit, but that’s due to the area of the park used for the race. There were tables where finishers could grab bottles of water. At several more tables there were cut up apples and bananas, sliced blueberry coffee cake, and cut up brownies. As “no frills” goes, it was pretty nice.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: My results were about what I had hoped for, though I probably was held back by 10 or 20 seconds by the bottleneck at the starting arch. In an odd way, nothing exactly stood out to me about the race. The organization was tight, the volunteers helpful the course well managed, the marsh and slough scenery pleasant. The race is definitely family-friendly. I saw one 4YO young lady doing her first 5K, and I saw family groups that had 3 or 4 generations represented (Can you say “Octogenarian”? I knew you could.). The Kiwanis Resolution Run is a really nice community run. Being well done and close to me, I will definitely considerate doing it in 2020 and beyond.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

Was this review helpful?

 

Oktoberfest 10K & 5K (CA)

Oktoberfest 10K & 5K (CA)

Event & Course Description: Campbell’s Oktoberfest 10K & 5K Fun Run/Walk starts and finishes in Campbell Park near downtown Campbell, with the Los Gatos Creek Trail as a course. The … MORE

Event & Course Description: Campbell’s Oktoberfest 10K & 5K Fun Run/Walk starts and finishes in Campbell Park near downtown Campbell, with the Los Gatos Creek Trail as a course. The race is, as the name suggests, part of downtown Campbell’s Oktoberfest celebration as well as benefiting Campbell’s Parks & Rec Department. The 10K course, which I did, is an out-and-back with a ~1 1/4 mile loop added to the return leg. The 5K is an out-and-back.

Both distances started from the same point, 10 minutes apart. Just before going under San Tomas Expressway (STE), 5K runners crossed Los Gatos Creek on a bridge, returned toward the start (but on the other side of the creek), and crossed the creek again to run into Campbell Park. 10K runners kept going, under STE, past Los Gatos Creek Park, turning around just before reaching the Highway 85 freeway. About a third of the way back runners crossed the creek on a bridge, did a loop around a couple of ponds, and then crossed back to the trail back to the finish.

This part of the Los Gatos Creek Trail is almost all paved, wide enough and marked for two-way traffic, and close to flat. The weather in 2019 was near perfect, cool without being cold and mostly overcast. The 10K course is about 40%-50% shade.

Organization & Production: This event is what I call register-and-run. The website information is basically complete, registration is easy, and parking is readily available. A runner just needs to “worry” about getting there and doing their race. The course was well marked with orange arrows plus course marshals at a couple of key turns. There were two water-only aid stations, one about midway in the 5K course and another at the 10K turn-around. 10K runners would go through the first aid station twice. I was the last 10K finisher, and that aid station had no volunteers present when I passed it, though there was plenty of water.

Bib: The top of the bib is white, with the race logo in the left corner and the distance to the right. The middle has the bib number on a color-coded stripe, green for 10K and orange for 5K. Across the bottom is a narrow white stripe with the Campbell Parks & Rec Department url.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is olive green poly-cotton blend, very comfortable. The front has what looks like a running shoe footprint in white, though it has runners, a tree, and a wheat stalk worked into it. Toward the top of the shoe is the year in white and the name of the race in orange. Toward the bottom is a water tower, a symbol of the City of Campbell. On the back in white are sponsors’ logos.

Finisher’s Medal: Because of the Oktoberfest theme and festival nearby, adult finishers over age 21 received off-white ceramic beer steins. One side of the stein has the race logo, which includes the race name, runners, a tree (“The Orchard City” is the city’s nickname), and a water tower. On the other side is a guy with a head like the water tower wearing lederhosen with a stein of beer in one hand, and on the other arm carrying all sorts of edibles (including wurst!).

Children and adults under age 21 received a medal. The medallion is off-the-shelf, fairly simple, and black. In the center is a custom-printed sticker with the race logo on a brown background and surrounded by leaves in fall colors. I’m spoiled and tend to dislike this kind of finisher’s medal, but the black medallion makes the very colorful sticker the “star”, and the overall effect is very nice. The ribbon has a black and an orange stripe along its length.

Finish & Recovery Area: By the time I finished, just under two hours, the finish area was mostly packed up and some exhibitors were gone already. There was plenty of water available and helpful volunteers (I received two steins and a finisher’s medal, which was a bit of consolation as well as a convenience to the race people – less stuff to pack up). The finish area was a set of basketball courts, but there were places people could sit down to rest if they wanted.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I was OK with my finish time, possibly a bit better than I deserved. I was a bit concerned that the volunteers were no longer at the last aid station when I passed through. It suggested that no one was keeping track of whether any runners were still on the course, a possible safety issue. However it was located at a park, where the volunteers and other people might have been nearby (I did go by a family who were there to use the dog park). Other than that concern, this was a very well organized family oriented event. Would I do this even again? I did it before in 2015 and the parking area I used was 5-10 minutes from my home. I certainly would consider it in the future, and the City of Campbell has a Valentines Day themed event in February that I also consider when I plan out what races I do.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

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

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

Brazen Racing’s Almost New Year’s Eve starts and finishes in Fremont’s Quarry Lakes Park. I did the half marathon in 2017, and my description in my Rave of the course … MORE

Brazen Racing’s Almost New Year’s Eve starts and finishes in Fremont’s Quarry Lakes Park. I did the half marathon in 2017, and my description in my Rave of the course was pretty thorough, plus or minus some punctuation oopses. In 2018 I volunteered, working at an aid station.

Our aid station was between miles 4 and 5 for runners of the half marathon, a turn-around point in an out-and-back leg. We only saw runners of that distance. We packed all our stuff at the start/finish area – tables, water, fruit, goodies. We were able to park our vehicles 20 or 30 yards from where we set up. While Brazen advises those who do the early, “Hikers” start that aid stations may or may not be fully set up, we were fully set up long before the first “Hiker” showed up.

We had the usual fluids: water (30 gallons!); electrolyte drink mix with the necessary 5 gallon jug; cans of Coke; pitchers and paper cups. For snacks we had regular and peanut M & Ms, trail mix, gummy bears, Skittles, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Rice Krispy Treats, Payday bars (the Treats and Paydays were cut up, potato chips, and peanut butter filled pretzel bites. For fruit we had cut up bananas and orange wedges. That I can remember. This is typical of a Brazen aid station.

We had a pavilion in case shade or shelter from rain was needed. It was a beautiful very cool day, so we didn’t use it.

In my opinion, “working” at an aid station hardly deserves to be called working. Several hundred pounds of water, goodies, and tables have to be brought from vehicles to the trail and set up (there were three of us sharing that work), but that takes perhaps 20 or 30 minutes. Once the runners start coming, though it becomes fun. The “Hikers” come one or two or three at a time, with the fastest of the regular-start runners mixed in with the slowest “Hikers”. We chat with them, offering liquids and goodies. This also is a safety check for whether any are having trouble. For all the serious purposes, it was a fun few seconds or couple of minutes with each runner.

Then the main pack of runners came in waves of 3s and 6s and #s, where one is continually offering water or electrolyte drink or snacks and still keeping an eye out for a runner who might be struggling. Since we were at the ~1/3 point in the half marathon course, many – especially the fastest – just did the turn-around and kept running. Others snagged a cup of water and a snack item and headed back out. Others spent a minute or two grazing and chatting. It was a slightly crazy time, handing out water (me), pouring more glasses of water and electrolyte drink, replenishing water bottles, and cutting up more fruit and candy bars, but it was FUN!

As the runners thinned out again and we knew there were only a few more, we consolidated our goodies onto one table and started packing things we knew we wouldn’t need. The course uses a public trail, so all along we offered water and such to others running or biking or walking on the trail. A few stopped and took up our offer, chatting about the race, and such. One family stopped with us for quite a while as their two pre-school-aged daughters grazed and we chatted with the parents.

Finally the “sweeper” came, assuring us that there were no more runners coming. We finished packing (we left the trail a little cleaner than it was before the race) and headed back to Quarry Lakes Park. All in all it was a very pleasant and fun 3 or 4 hours. For volunteering Brazen gives those who do a race T-shirt and credit for a “free” race.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

ZombieRunner Quarry Lakes (Winter)

ZombieRunner Quarry Lakes (Winter)

My original plan was to do this race as I did last, walk the half marathon distance. A nagging calf injury changed that plan for me. My Rave from last … MORE

My original plan was to do this race as I did last, walk the half marathon distance. A nagging calf injury changed that plan for me. My Rave from last year describes the courses for the several distances.

Around the beginning of November I realized I should just do what races for which I was registered, conservatively, and otherwise let my calf recuperate. I also realized that I didn’t volunteer at a race in all of 2017 or 2018 up to that point, so I registered as a volunteer, my first time with Coastal Trail Runs.

I frequently describe CTR as an excellent no-frills organizer. That’s an over-simplification, particularly in reference to aid station snacks and finish-recovery area snacks and food. I was at Aid Station 1, the first station 10K, half marathon, 30K, and marathon runners would encounter. We were located at the turn-around for the first out-and-back leg on the crossbar of the “T” course. The second aid station the longer distance runners would encounter was the one aid station through which 5K runners ran.

My partner Gary and I were dispatched to the station with a tub with the various snacks and an ice chest loaded in our vehicle. When we arrived the station was partly staged, with 2 or 3 multi-gallon jugs of water, a 5-gallon jug filled with water, and tables. So setting up was pretty quick – set out the tables and position two jugs for runners.

The tub of supplies had what we needed: pitchers, plates, bowls, and utensils; electrolyte drink mix; pretzels and potato chips; Oreo cookies; bananas and oranges; Coke and Sprite in the ice chest; Clif Bar gel packets. CTR’s aid stations commonly have trail mix and another snack item or two, but this was still much more than would be found at a large street/road race or some charity runs.

So Gary set out the snacks and cut up the fruit. I set up the water jug and the 5-gallon jug for the electrolyte drink and mixed the drink. The race was supposed to be cupless, but was had some paper cups for those who didn’t understand that. We asked them to preserve their paper cups to use again at subsequent aid stations (several marathon runners had and used the paper cups they had gotten from us the first time they came to our station).

We were well ready when the first runners showed up. From there we just served the runners what they needed (pitchers are faster than the spigots on water jugs), made sure the plates or bowls of snacks, fruit, and gel packets were replenished. And we chatted up the 30K and marathon runners the second time they came to our station to be sure they were “there”. We had, but did not need, a first aid kit, and we had the RD’s cell phone number in case we needed assistance.

The guy who was to relieve us showed up more or less on time (I wasn’t watching my watch). He handled the slower marathoners and taking the aid station stuff back to the start/finish area. The finish-recovery area snacks and food were typical of a Coastal race, a larger variety of snacks than were at aid stations, water, electrolyte drink, and sodas and craft beers in an ice chest. The RD usually grills hot food for the longer distance runners, and this time it was hot link sausages.

I did seven CTR races last year, and the finisher’s medals were all discs or rectangles – simple but elegant. I saw the finisher’s medal, and like the two medals I have from 2018, it was more complex. The medallion was fan-shaped, and the ribbon was a Christmassy green. The bibs were also distance color-coded rather than plain white.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

The Firehouse Run

The Firehouse Run

Event & Course Description: The Firehouse Run (TFR) is put on by Santa Clara Firefighters Foundation, Santa Clara Schools Foundation, Santa Clara Rotary Foundation, Santa Clara Unified School District, University … MORE

Event & Course Description: The Firehouse Run (TFR) is put on by Santa Clara Firefighters Foundation, Santa Clara Schools Foundation, Santa Clara Rotary Foundation, Santa Clara Unified School District, University of Santa Clara, and the City of Santa Clara to benefit Santa Clara Schools Foundation and two veterans charities. It started near and finished in the stadium at the University of Santa Clara. The 5K course was a loop, mostly through the neighborhood just to the west of the university. Those doing the 10K (including me) did the loop a second time. The course was through a neighborhood of homes that are probably 80-100 years old, on paved streets. It has mature trees, so it’s fairly shaded for much of the course, though it was a pretty chilly morning and I didn’t try to guesstimate a percentage. Race day was chilly (below 40F at the start) and sunny, but the previous day was showery, so weather can vary.

Organization & Production: The TFR is pretty much Register-and-Run. The website information is ample, and pre-race emails were informative. Packet pick-up could be done at a local Sports Basement the day before the race or at the race venue on race day. There is plenty of parking on the campus. The course was well “marked” by volunteers and orange cones at some intersections or police directing traffic at more significant intersections. There were water-only aid stations at the ~1.5/4.5 mile point and a little past the start of the second loop for those doing the 10K.

Bib: The bib has a black background, with the race logo in red and white in the top left. The top right has “4th Annual” and the distance. Across the bottom is the bib number. For 5K bibs, the letters and numbers were white, and for 10K runners, red. The bib is pretty simple, but attractive, especially the red on black 10K bib.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is light burgundy, 50-50 cotton-polyester, soft to the touch. On the front in white block letters is the name of the race. On the back is the race logo and names of sponsors.

Finisher’s Medal: The race did not have finisher’s medals, but did have age group medals, with 5-year groups. I had the “honor” of being the DLF (not a surprise to me, see below) and winning first in my age group. The medallion is sort of square, 2+ inches on each side. It looks like the front of a firetruck, including tires, mirrors, and light bar. It has the name of the race just below the center. The ribbon color transitions from dark reddish-brown to bright red-orange. Along the ribbon are the race name and the year. It’s really very nice.

Finish & Recovery Area: The finish area was a sort of entry-exit plaza just inside the stadium. There was no place for finishing runners to sit down, because of the nature of the place. For recovery food there were Cliff Bars, pizza, and lots of bottled water poured out into cups. Because of how late I finished there was no pizza or Cliff Bars left, which was a bit disappointing.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: Before going any farther I should add an explanatory note. In the description of the race distances on the website it says that the 10K is not for walkers. Well, I emailed the organizer to see whether they had a particular concern that a brisk walker like me would be able to satisfy. The reply was that what was not wanted was slower walkers with strollers. It’s a safety issue more than a time issue. So, with the encouragement of the organizer, I signed up for the 10K. I think walkers who want to do the 10K distance in future runnings of TFR should first make sure it’s OK (which I also will do).

Anyway, because of this circumstance, I was not only the last finisher, but there was 11 minutes between me and the finisher just ahead of me, because I was probably the only one to inquire about the reason for the no walkers “rule”. That may have been why there were no goodies left by the time I finished. Disappointing, but my unusual/unexpected choice was kind of the underlying cause. Had I been DLF by only a couple of minutes the goodies situation probably would have been different. So I’ll “own it”.

I’ve been trying to recover from a strained calf muscle, and had re-strained it at my previous race. So I was not at all pushing myself. My comfortable “safe” pace actually resulted in a better finish time than I expected. So I’m happy on that point. A default age group medal is usually kind of amusing to me, but at least I had a (for me) decent finish time.

As a whole, the race was fun. The volunteer course marshals were very cheerful and encouraging, as were the police officers along the way. I’m more of a trail scenery type, but the neighborhood we coursed is very pleasant. All in all, depending on circumstances and timing I would definitely consider doing The Firehouse Run again.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

Zoom Turkey Trot

Zoom Turkey Trot

Event & Course Description: The Zoom Turkey Trot (ZTT) has three distances, half marathon, 10K, and 5K. ZTT is the only Thanksgiving day race in the SF Bay Area I … MORE

Event & Course Description: The Zoom Turkey Trot (ZTT) has three distances, half marathon, 10K, and 5K. ZTT is the only Thanksgiving day race in the SF Bay Area I know of that offers the half marathon distance. I did the 10K. The start/finish area is in Hellyer Park. All distances circle the park and then head south on the Coyote Creek Trail. There are different turn-around points for each distance. The course is almost all paved, and about 60% shaded (depending on distance and time of day; for more details, see my 2017 ZombieRunner Halloween Run Rave). Two weeks before the 2018 race there was a major fire whose smoke significantly affected SF Bay Area air quality. Fortunately the weather changed, and rain showers the day before the race blew and washed the crud out of the air. Race day was pleasantly cool – upper 50s to lower 60s, with blue skies and a few fluffies. ZTT is intended to be a fun family-friendly event – there is a 50 yard run for young children (with the same finisher’s medal as the adults received!) – and an easy-going introduction to trail running.

Organization & Production: Coastal Trail Runs is a very consistent register-and-run organizer. All a runner need worry about is getting to the venue and running their race. Aid stations have a variety of snacks (fuel and electrolytes), and the recovery goodies are even more varied. The aid station used by all but 5K runners is at a trail entry point staging area that has restrooms. The ZTT course is so simple that it scarcely needs markings other than turn-around points, so I didn’t notice whether there were markings.

Bib: Coastal Trail Runs bibs are usually plain white, with organizer logos across the top, their, “Have Fun Out There,” slogan across the bottom, and the bib number in the middle.This race was different. Not only were the numbers distance-coded, but the bibs were color coded for distance. 5K bibs were white, 10K bibs were yellow, and half marathon bibs were purple. I don’t know whether this was the first time with color-coded bibs, a new norm, or whether Coastal have done this at their Turkey Trot before (they didn’t in 2014).

T-Shirt: Coastal’s race T-shirts are always tech type, regardless of distance. I saw multiple colors, but mine is lime green (I also saw sky blue and white). The front has the race logo, a spaced-out looking turkey and the race distance on a blue background, along with the race date. The back has the race sponsors’ logos in orange. Coastal has been using this race logo since at least 2014, but I’ve always liked Space Turkey.

Finisher’s Medal: The finisher’s medal is a spinner type. The center medallion is a disc, pretty much the same as the 2014 medal, with the race logo and distances. The outer rim is yellow, with the race name across the top and stars around the rest of the circle. The ribbon is orange, with the race logo and “2018 Finisher” running along it.

Finish & Recovery Area: The finish area is a covered group picnic pavilion, with lots of tables and benches at which one can rest. Coastal’s recovery goodies are pretty consistent, a good variety of sweet and salty snacks, bottled water, and a cooler stocked with sodas and beer. They also have some grilled food, though I didn’t check that out. Coastal also does a drawing for 10-20 (I didn’t count or win) turkeys.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I had very moderate expectations, since I’m trying to recover from a calf muscle strain. I was able to sustain a pretty good pace and my time was better than I anticipated. Coastal is an excellent race organizer. The Zoom Turkey Trot is a nice small-medium event – much to my liking – and close to my home. So I will consider doing it again next year.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

Down by the Bay 5K & Tot Trot

Down by the Bay 5K & Tot Trot

Event & Course Description: Down By The Bay 5K benefits the Mountain View Parent Nursery School. The start and finish is in Baylands Park, in Sunnyvale. From the start, participants … MORE

Event & Course Description: Down By The Bay 5K benefits the Mountain View Parent Nursery School. The start and finish is in Baylands Park, in Sunnyvale. From the start, participants ran on a dirt trail along the south side of the park for about a third of a mile, and then another almost two thirds of a mile on paved trail next to the State Highway 237 freeway. Runners then turned toward the bay and ran along levees between marshes for a little over a mile and turned around, retracing their steps until the point the paved trail meets the park. At that point runners turned toward the bay and ran on dirt trail along the east side of the park until meeting the trail back to the start. Turning there, runners could go straight, up and over four mounds, and then to the finish. Or runners could go around the mounds to the finish.

There were divisions for runners/walkers and for parents with strollers. In addition, before the race there was a Tot Trot that went over the four mounds and then back along the trail around the mounds, perhaps 100 yards. Because DBTB5K benefits a preschool, there were a LOT of kids doing the Tot Trot. There were also quite a few participants in the Stroller Division, and quite a few children under age 10 running/walking the 5K.

Baylands Park is really nice, with a large grassy area, picnic areas shaded by trees, a good sized play area with slides and swings and such, and restrooms near the play area. The course is about 80%-85% dirt trail and about 90% exposed. In 2018 the weather was sunny and pleasant (still under 70F when I finished.

Organization & Production: DBTB5K is organized by volunteers and preschool staff, and is register-and-run. The website information is complete. There was pre-race and race day check-in available. Parking was free (very nice!) and plentiful. The “feel” was very low key, but very smooth. The course wasn’t complicated, but there were friendly and encouraging course marshals at turns. The one aid station was at the 1/3//2 2/3 mile point. It was well and encouragingly staffed and still had water available near the end of the race when I went through.

There were a couple of noteworthy changes from last year and when I did DBTB5K in 2015. The race has always been timed, but in 2018 the timing was done by SVETiming, who does LOTS of races all over the greater SF Bay Area. Results were available online race day afternoon, and possibly before noon (I didn’t check). In past years the race T-shirt was cotton, which is fine in my opinion for a charity 5K run. In 2018 the race Tee was tech type, a pleasant upgrade in my opinion.

Bib: The DBTB5K bib has three horizontal stripes. Across the top is a white stripe with the Whale Tail logo for the race, the name, and the date. The middle is a broad orange stripe with the bib number. Across the bottom is a thin white stripe with the url for the race website.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is navy blue tech type. In the front in orange block letters is the name of the race. Above that in light blue is the Whale Tail, and below, also in light blue is the race date. On the back in light blue are the sponsors’ logos and the logo of the Mountain View Parent Nursery School. All in all it’s a really nice race T-shirt!

Finisher’s Medal: Other than prizes for the male and female top three runners, DBTB5K is a no finishers medal race. It’s a charity race, so I’m entirely fine with that. On the other hand, children who ran the Tot Trot each received their own finishers medal, which I think is really cool!

Finish & Recovery Area: The finish area had activities for children and sponsors’ tables. For recovery food there were bagels, cream cheese, bananas, and oranges. Pretty average/normal I guess. The bagel I had was fresh and the cream cheese shmeared on by a very cheerful food handler wearing gloves. There are picnic tales near the expo and play areas where one could eat, drink and recover.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: If it isn’t already obvious, I really enjoyed 2018 Down By The Bay 5K. Low key, beautiful day, kids having fun, very pleasant course … what’s not to like?! 2018 was my second year in a row and my third time doing the race. There’s a really good chance I’ll do it again in 2019.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

ZombieRunner Halloween Run

ZombieRunner Halloween Run

The ZombieRunner Halloween Run has four distances, marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K. Like last year, I did the 10K. The start/finish area is in Hellyer Park – evidently last … MORE

The ZombieRunner Halloween Run has four distances, marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K. Like last year, I did the 10K. The start/finish area is in Hellyer Park – evidently last year’s change from Los Gatos Creek Park and Trail is “permanent”. All distances circle the park and then head south on the Coyote Creek Trail. There are different turn-around points for each distance, with full marathon runners doing the half marathon course twice. The course is almost all paved, and about 60% shaded (depending on distance and time of day; for more details, see my 2017 Rave). ZRHR is intended to be a fun family-friendly event – it includes a costume contest – and an easy-going introduction to trail running.

Coastal Trail Runs is a very consistent register-and-run organizer. All a runner need worry about is getting to the venue and running their race. Aid stations have a variety of snacks (fuel and electrolytes), and the recovery goodies are even more varied. The aid station used by all but 5K runners is at a trail entry point staging area that has restrooms.

The race T-shirt for 2018 was similar to that of 2017 (see my Rave below), in a different color and shirt vendor. Coastal Trail Runs bibs are plain white, with organizer logos across the top, their, “Have Fun Out There,” slogan across the bottom, and the bib number in the middle. The numbers are distance-coded. For example, the 1000 series numbers were for runners doing the 5K distance.

Coastal’s finisher’s medal have traditionally been discs or rectangles, but 2018’s ZRHR medallion is unique. It’s shaped like a fanged vampire bat, with the race name and distances. The ribbon is black, with the year in white and race logo (pumpkin-headed runner surrounded by bats). The medals I have from 2017 races are very nicely done, but ZRHR 2018’s medal is really cool, insta-favorite.

My finish time … sigh … I told one person while recovering that it was the worst 10K finishing time I’d ever been glad to get. I’d strained a muscle the previous day (who knew one could do that while walking across one’s kitchen?!), and both DNS and bailing out mid race for a DNF were considerations. I was DLF for the 10K by half an hour and won AG second. I was happy to finish and earn my bat (medal).

Anyway, would I do the ZombieRunner Halloween Run again? I’m already registered for Coastal’s Turkey Trot, in the same park and trail. And 2018 was my second time doing ZRHR, so doing it next year is reasonably possible.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Los Vaqueros Tarantula Run Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Los Vaqueros Tarantula Run Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Event & Course Description: Tarantula Run! is done in the Vaqueros Watershed, near Lake Vaqueros and the City of Brentwood, CA. It has three distances, half marathon, 10K (which I … MORE

Event & Course Description: Tarantula Run! is done in the Vaqueros Watershed, near Lake Vaqueros and the City of Brentwood, CA. It has three distances, half marathon, 10K (which I did), and 5K. The setting is the hills around Lake Vaqueros. Being run in October, the grasses are all brown, dotted here and there with trees. The half marathon course looks like a figure-8, with a tail of the larger loop that is the start and finish legs. The 10K course looks like two loops, with a connector that is used twice. Parts of each loop plus the connector are used by the half marathon course as well. The 5K course is the second loop of the 10K course. Lots o’ hills, including some overgrown rollers in the last two miles that barely show up in the elevation profiles.

Other than a couple of road crossings, the courses are entirely dirt trail or graveled access road. Except for a few clusters of trees late in the course, the course is entirely exposed to sun. 10K runners encountered two aid stations, reasonably well spaced. The 10K’s second aid station was also encountered by runners of the other distances. Runners of the half marathon went 4 or 5 miles between their first and second aid stations, something that should be kept in mind, especially in warm weather.

Organization & Production: Tarantula Run! is a Brazen Race, which means well marked course, well stocked aid stations and recovery area, and really nice swag. A Brazen race is register-and-run, and will spoil you.

Bib: Brazen doesn’t do plain race bibs. The usual pattern has distance color-coded stripes for the bib number and runner’s name, the race name and date, artwork shared with the race T-shirt, and Brazen Racing’s logo. The background is like a sun, hidden behind the colored stripe, with rays above and below. In the top right corner is a large, scary-looking spider.

T-Shirt: Brazen’s registration fee includes a tech type T-shirt for half marathon runners and a poly-cotton T-shirt for 10K and 5K runners. 10K and 5K runners can upgrade to a tech type Tee for a moderate fee (currently $7, which I did). The race Tee is black, with a big brown spider and the race name on the front. Shades of Shelob! Very Halloween-ready. The back has a brown spider silhouette, the race name, date and distances, and sponsors’ logos. It’s going to be a favorite.

Finisher’s Medal:The finisher’s medal has a giant spider with the “sun” behind it and the sun’s rays filling a square. Above the spider is “Tarantula”, and just below one of its legs, “Run!”. Across the bottom are the location, date, and distances. The ribbon is orange, and has a spider, the race name, location, date, and distances along it.

Finish & Recovery Area: Tarantula Run! is a Brazen race. That means lots of goodies – candies, cakes, fruit – in the recovery area, including It’s It ice cream sandwiches. I was exhausted and just sat and chatted for a while (the big-family-like atmosphere is one of the things I found attractive in my first Brazen race nearly 5 years ago, and it’s still true). I’ll just say that Brazen doesn’t disappoint and leave it there.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: When I registered I knew from the elevation profile and near total exposure (via Google Satellite View) that Tarantula Run! 10K was about the limit of what I can do, presently. With the warm day (sun exposure and heat are not my friends!) it was a very close call. I thought about dropping out as a “5K”, but with some encouragement managed to finish, vertical, and under my own power. Mission accomplished!

Brazen never disappoints. I will definitely consider doing Tarantula Run! again next year.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

OneMile4OneChild – SJVRC Charity 5K and 10K Run

OneMile4OneChild – SJVRC Charity 5K and 10K Run

Event & Course Description: OneMile4OneChild (OM4OC) is a charity race organized by the San Jose Vietnamese Running Club to support an orphanage in Vietnam. It starts and finishes at Almaden … MORE

Event & Course Description: OneMile4OneChild (OM4OC) is a charity race organized by the San Jose Vietnamese Running Club to support an orphanage in Vietnam. It starts and finishes at Almaden Lake Park in San Jose. There were two distances, 5K and 10K. The course for both distances is the same, out-and-back along the Los Alamitos Creek Trail, with different turn-around points. The 5K turn-around is a few 10s of yards before a steel frame wood plank bridge. The 10K turn-around is just before where the trail crosses Camden Avenue.

As the trail name suggests, it follows Los Alamitos Creek. The trail is entirely paved and is marked and wide enough for two-way bicycle use as well as runners and walkers. It’s relatively flat, but because the outbound leg is upstream, it is steadily but gently uphill, and, of course, gently downhill for the return leg. One side of the trail often has suburban neighborhoods, but much of the other side is a line of semi-rural hills, with a few homes dotted here and there. The trail is about 60-70% shaded – lots of trees. All in all it’s very pleasant.

Organization & Production: OM4OC is close to register-and-run. Pretty much everything a runner would need to get onto the trail and back is there. They even did wave starts (self-seeded) to separate the faster from the slower runners – nice! There were two water-only aid stations and course marshals and police where the 10K course crossed a significant street. I think the one point needing improvement is at the end where the course ran past the finish arch, passed a bridge, and did a loop around a lawn. Course marshals were definitely needed to direct runners past the arch and past the bridge, and also to steer people out of the last part of the course when runners were coming. I didn’t much mind the 10 or 20 seconds the confusion cost me but competitive runners might find it frustrating.

As a whole, though, OM4OC was really done well. Particularly noticeable – partly due to their fluorescent yellow T-shirts – were the really large number of helpful and encouraging volunteers. OM4OC was a really well-supported race!

Bib: The bib had three, alternating, blue and white stripes. The blue stripe at the top had the race logo. In the middle was the bib number, and at the bottom is the website of the running club.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is tech type, medium-dark blue. There are white insets at the sides, with three blue stripes. On the front are the race logo in yellow, orange, and white, the distances in white, and the date in yellow. On the back in white are the race and sponsors’ logos.

Finisher’s Medal: The medallion is round, with concentric circles of pink (center, large), yellow and dark blue (a thin border). Across the middle in blue silhouette are 5 running children. Above them are the distances, date, and location. Around the top in the yellow outer ring is the race name, and in the yellow ring below the children are the initials “SJVRC” (San Jose Vietnamese Running Club).

The ribbon is bright yellow, with the logo for the race, “2018”, and the logo of one of the sponsors.

Finish & Recovery Area: The only food I saw in the finish area was bananas (which, unfortunately, I do not like). But I was too exhausted to explore much. Soon after I sat down the volunteers were called for a “Thank you!” and to take their pictures – very cool!

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I was very happy with my finishing time, better than I’ve done on similar terrain in nearly two years. And I was spent at the end!

I have different expectations for races, depending on who is organizing it and for what. My expectations for a smallish, club/volunteer-organized charity race are pretty moderate, and OneMile4OneChild easily met and exceeded my expectations. My four-shoe rating is very strong, and with the few improvement I noted could easily be a five-shoe race. I will definitely consider OneMile4OneChild, and it was mentioned that adding a half marathon distance next year is being considered!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

Los Gatos Creek Trail Run

Los Gatos Creek Trail Run

Organization & Production: LGCTR was my first time doing a Pacific Coast Trail Runs (PCTR) event. Most PCTR events are on-dirt hilly trail runs. The LGCTR is intended, in part, … MORE

Organization & Production: LGCTR was my first time doing a Pacific Coast Trail Runs (PCTR) event. Most PCTR events are on-dirt hilly trail runs. The LGCTR is intended, in part, to be an intro to trail running for runners who do mostly street and road events.

The LGCTR was “Register-and-Run”, with necessary info on the website and easy registration. All a runner had to worry about was getting there and back and running the race. Pre-race pick-up was at the nearby Sports Basement the evening before, and there was race day pick-up as well. I picked up pre-race, but arrived early enough to see that race day pick-up was ready before the promised time.

Starts for the several distances were half an hour apart, with a briefing for each group 15 minutes before their start. The Los Gatos Creek Trail is sort of my home trail and going off-course would be difficult, so I didn’t pay much attention to the markings. But the course markings would have been fine for a first-time user of the trail.

Bib: The bib has a wide orange stripe across the top, with the race logo and distances. In the middle is a wider stripe with the bib number and PCTR’s logo, and at the bottom another, more narrow, orange stripe. I noticed that marathon runners’ bib numbers were in the 200s, half marathon runners in the 100s, and 10K runners under 100.

T-Shirt: I do not know if my words can do the race T-shirt justice. It is tech-type for runners of all distances. The color is orange and brown pixellated camo, orange being the dominant color. In front is the race logo. It features the ears and top of a cat’s head, with “Los Gatos” just under. Instead of “o” in each word are the cat’s green eyes. Below that are “Creek Trail”, and below that the distances. On a solid color shirt the logo would be merely OK, but on this shirt it under-statedly lets the shirt speak for itself … which it does … loudly. Insta-Favorite!

Finisher’s Medal: The medallion is wood and chevron-shaped. It has the race logo, large, and PCTR’s logo at the bottom. There is an orange border around the chevron. In addition there is a rectangular wooden tag with the year. Instead of a ribbon the finisher’s medal hangs from an orange-yellow cord.

LGCTR was a smallish “boutique” race, with 138 finishers of the three main distances. I ended up winning first place in my age group. Only one 10K participant, a younger guy, finished after me, so the Math is obvious. The age group medal is a shiny silver finish bottle opener. In the center are PCTR’s logo and “1st”, with “Age Group Winner” around the top and “2018 at the bottom. The ribbon is wide, with sky and navy blue stripes. It isn’t race-specific, but it is very nice.

Finish & Recovery Area: The whole set-up was kind of squeezed into a picnic area with a covered pavilion. It worked fine for a race of this size, but somewhere between 150 and 200 finishers it would have to be spread out more. A finishing runner was handed their medal right after passing under the arch. While there was no water by the arch, a table with water, sodas, and beer was just 4 or 5 yards straight ahead. There were plenty of picnic tables under the pavilion at which one could sit and rest.

Instead of a spread of cookies, cakes, and candies, finishers had a choice of “teriyaku” chicken or portobello mushroom-garlic “sliders” (they were pretty much full-hamburger-sized) with coleslaw prepared by Chef Yaku and served by his team. Yeah! Delicious!

While I was eating the RD was announcing finishers and also called up race and age-group winners. I kind of knew I would place by just finishing, but it was still pretty cool being called out. The RD was also very outgoing.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I had been lazy all week, hadn’t “run” my smartest race ever, and miscalculated the distance to the finish when I was in the final mile, so I was expecting a finish time 10 or 15 minutes later than my actual, so I’m actually pretty happy with it. I’ve got another 10K next weekend, so I’m going to try to be a bit smarter.

If it isn’t already obvious, this was a greaty race experience for me. It was a really well organized race, the first I had done anywhere on the LGCT in 2 years, and the first on that part of the trail in over 4 years.

A lot of things go into a race experience as I think of it, but people are probably the biggest part. The RD and staff were friendly and helpful, as were the aid station volunteers. I didn’t know anybody there (though I learned by looking over the results pages that a fellow Race-Raver did the half marathon), so I sat at a random table to rest, recover, and eat. It happened to be a table with several young ladies who had served as guides for the runners from the California School for the Blind, and we had a really pleasant chat. All in all, the people part of this race experience was great!

The registration fee for the Los Gatos Creek Trail Run is $5 or $10 higher than (somewhat) similar 10Ks, though it uses two parks in two different cities (and the longer distances go into a third city), which may increase the organizer’s costs. On the other hand, the finish area food, the people (organizers, volunteers, and runners), and there being the special 5K made this one of my best race experiences ever. So I will consider doing LGCTR again, and Pacific Coast Trail Runs events will be on my “radar screen” for future planning.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Race Thru The Redwoods

Race Thru The Redwoods

Event & Course Description: The Race Thru the Redwoods 10K is a locally organized race to benefit community charities in the Felton, CA area. In 2018 the start and finish … MORE

Event & Course Description: The Race Thru the Redwoods 10K is a locally organized race to benefit community charities in the Felton, CA area. In 2018 the start and finish were in Roaring Camp Railroad park. The course was basically out-and-back. The first mile was a paved loop around the maintenance area, nicer in appearance than in words. The facilities are sprinkled around what looks like a meadow with redwood trees around it. This loop was not repeated at the end. After that runners went up and into the redwoods on a paved access road. About midway in the course outbound runners turned onto about a mile of dirt trail through the trees, and then back to the road for another ~1/2 of a mile to the turn-around. With a few breaks, about 1 1/2-2 miles of the outbound course was fairly to somewhat steep uphill, including the mile on dirt trail. The return part of the course was entirely on the paved access road, with the downhill section that was not part of the outbound course being fairly steep. Most of the last ~2 1/2 miles was downhill.

The course, even the loop around the maintenance area, was really beautiful, with lots of neck-achingly tall redwoods. There is an overlook about a tenth of a mile from the turn-around point that is amazing. I had anticipated a fairly warm day, but it was foggy and chilly when I arrived, and cool for much of my (slow) “run”. The course was about 75% shaded; I didn’t use sunscreen or a cap, and was OK. Compared to trail races organized by Brazen Racing or Coastal Trail Runs, 2018 RTTR was similarly challenging.

Organization & Production: This was pretty frustrating for me, but first the good stuff. There were coffee and muffins in the check-in area before the race. I heard the coffee was not that great, though that may have been a matter of taste. The muffins were good – I enjoyed a half.

The course was reasonably well marked, and there were course marshals at each turn. The aid station was water only, and positioned where the outbound course rejoined the road. Thus, runners went past the aid station twice, with about a mile between passings or pauses. The aid station was well staffed, and still had plenty of water for walkers like me (much appreciated!).

Onward and downward …

Check-in was backed up, with long lines for most of checkers in, and delaying the start of over 20 minutes. According to an email I received from the RD they had nearly double the number of runners as last year, many doing race day registration. They were overwhelmed, and the limited space in their check-in and registration area probably precluded throwing in more people. My shirt size was not available and would need to be mailed later. I’ll take blame for that, as I registered fairly late. But when I arrived, soon after check-in started, the volunteers took a while to realize I had no shirt and have me write my address on a check-in list.

There were too few portacans – they had seven, but probably needed double that. The result was a really long line for those doing their pre-race ritual. This and the slow check-in delayed the start of the race. This also was affected by the much greater turn-out.

Prior to the 10K there was a 1 mile race for young children, using the loop through the maintenance area. Very cool! But, 10K runners were allowed into the 10K start area when at least three children were still on-course. They passed through safely (and were cheered), but someone lost track of who was still on the 1 mile course.

To me, in this Internet age of road and trail runs, a course map and (if not fairly flat) an elevation profile should be part of every race’s website. There was a map on RTTR’s website that looked like the same course as the 2016 course. But no elevation profile; something I confirmed in an email exchange. Having done RTTR in 2016, I decided to register for 2018, the 50th running. It was a different course than in 2016, and I’m pretty sure not the course on the website and on-site map. The actual course was more challenging than that of 2016, to the degree that had I seen an elevation profile of the actual course I probably would not have registered to do RTTR. I also paced myself too aggressively early on for my abilities and the actual course. My limitations are my responsibility, but a correct elevation profile is essential for planning.

This is a minor thing, but the aid station volunteers were inexperienced. That is not unusual, but they had not been told how to set up their trash bag holders. I described it for them, and when I came through on my return leg they had done it.

Near the finish, when I went through, there was a place with runner-vehicle cross traffic. Maybe it was different for the faster runners but late in the race vehicles going to and from a parking area crossed the course. One runner mentioned having to wait for several vehicles to cross in front of her. I doubt any of the slower runners cared about being slowed by several seconds (see below), but this was a safety faux pas.

When I finished I could see the timing mats had been removed, and I know there were 5 or more runners on the course behind me. When I looked at the race results webpage, it listed people who finished later than I did, but I wasn’t the list . I emailed the organizer, hoping for elucidation. He was very helpful, and learned from the timing people that there had been a problem toward the end of the race with their automated finish time logging. They had recorded people’s finish times manually, and in transcribing people and times from ther manual log to their results page I had been missed. So what I originally thought was an issue with the race was a glitch transcribing results from the timer’s back-up timing system. And a good RD handling issues well!

Soon after I received my finisher’s medal I heard the volunteers discussing that they had just two more medals, and that the box with extra medals had already been taken to be packed. Several of the participants coming after me would have to wait for their finisher’s medals to be mailed to them. Even the best organizer occasionally has an unexpectedly large number of late registrants or part of a shipment of medals gets delayed, but packing away the medals when people are (or should be) known to be out on the course?

When I finished the expo/recovery area was already partly packed up, with trucks in the area. I can sort of understand this if I’m the VERY last finisher, with significant time between me and the previous finisher (been there, done that, got a couple of those T-shirts), but when there are 5-10 people still out on the course?

Hopefully these growing pains and new course issues will be ironed out for 2019.

Bib: The bib is REALLY nice. Across the top on a sky blue stripe is “50th Race Thru the Redwoods” in Orange, black, and green block letters. The bottom 2.3 is a picture of a meadow surrounded by redwood trees, with the bib number in white.

T-Shirt: I registered late and my size is not one of the more popular, so my shirt was sent to me by mail. It’s light gray, cotton-polyester (90%-10%). The printing is entirely in black. The picture in front is of tall redwood trees with mountains in the background and ferns in the foreground. The redwood trees are wearing running shoes. Written in front of the trees is “50th Annual Race Thru the Redwoods”, and below the trees the location and date. At the to of the back is “50th Annual Race Thru …” again and below that sponsors’ logos. Light gray isn’t a favorite color, but it works well for the all black printing. It probably won’t be a favorite, but that’s a matter of taste rather than quality. I definitely like the humor of trees with running shoes.

Finisher’s Medal: 2018 was the first year RTTR had a finisher’s medal. I don’t know if this was just for 2018, the 50th running, or if this is something they will continue (they are considering it, per the RD). The medallion is a roughly triangular woodalion. It has cut-outs to resemble mountain peaks, and peaks and evergreen trees are pressed into the wood. In the center is a ~1 1/2 inch diameter metal disc showing several runners in motion, with the name of the race and “50th” around the outer rim. The ribbon is green, with “Race Thru the Redwoods 50th Anniversary” on one side, and “Finisher” on the other. Very nice!

Finish & Recovery Area: I did not look around, for the reason mentioned above.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I was and am frustrated by the 2018 RTTR. It’s a very beautiful course. The bib and finisher’s medal are excellent. I know from 2016 that RTTR can be and has been well organized, but 2018 showed improvement was needed (and in my communication with the RD, they are working on it). What I listed above are significant to one’s over-all race experience.

Despite the course being more challenging than expected I’m pretty happy with my finish time (and that I finished at all!). It showed me my capabilities are better than I thought, not at all bad news.

As I mentioned a couple of times, the RD was responsive to my emails. He mentioned that they had ~75% more runners in 2018 than in 2017, many of them registering on race day. They were overwhelmed. They are looking at ways to improve over 2018. While the significant areas needing improvement are concerning, I will consider Race Thru the Redwoods in the future. The RD and my 2016 experience encourages hope that needed improvements are forthcoming.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Radical 80s 5K & 10K

Radical 80s 5K & 10K

Event & Course Description: The Radical 80s Run takes place on the Coyote Creek Trail in South San Jose, starting and finishing in Hellyer Park. Two distances are run, 10K … MORE

Event & Course Description: The Radical 80s Run takes place on the Coyote Creek Trail in South San Jose, starting and finishing in Hellyer Park. Two distances are run, 10K and 5K; I did the latter. As the name of the trail suggests, it follows Coyote Creek. Both distances are out-and-back, take the trail southward, with different turn-around points. The Coyote Creek Trail, despite being in San Jose and near a freeway, feels fairly rural, with pleasant views of the creek and nearby hills (brown, not green, in August). I’ve done a good number of races along this trail and it is very pleasant.

The weather in 2018 was sunny, but not too warm. The trail is paved, with about 40% shade. It’s fairly flat, with some short rolling hills. Between the two distances there were 241 race finishers. There were a good number of children who did the race, so it is family friendly

Organization & Production: As a whole, the production was satisfactory, with some shortcomings that would not affect getting to, running, and finishing the race. The website has the information needed to register and get there, but there are some useful details commonly included in other races’ websites that are not present.

The first is that there is no course map or elevation profile. Other than wishing I knew which way the course ran, this didn’t affect me, since I’m familiar with that trail. But for someone not familiar this omission could be significant. The other omission was the time the park opened. The website does link to the park website, for those wanting further information, but since I already knew how to get to the start area, I didn’t go to that website. Well … my “secret” to getting a good parking spot is showing up early. Because the park opening time I didn’t know about was just an hour before the race start time, I showed up 45 minutes too early, and sat with my hazard lights blinking on a somewhat narrow section of road (with a dozen or more other early birds). Also, the park entry fee given on the website is incorrect (probably what it was when the race was first run 2 years ago).

The start/finish area was an open space of lawn, not near any picnic area. The trail markings were adequate. The 5K turn-around was a few feet past the first aid station and marked with a sign. The aid station was water-only and had 3 or 4 friendly volunteers. On the return leg there were course marshals to make sure runners took the turn back into the park. This was probably the one place course marshals would have been valuable, and they were there.

Bib & T-Shirt: The bib and T-shirt vary in some minor details, but share a common design. The cotton T-shirt and background color of the bib are black. At the center of the design is a brick wall. Above it in an 80ish font I can’t describe is “SJ”. Across the center, in letters intended to look like graffiti, is “Rad 80s”, and below that in simple block letters, the two distances. At the bottom of the wall is a black and white running shoe. On the T-shirt, below the wall, is the race website url. This is all on the front of the T-shirt; the back is blank. The Radical 80s Run organizer has different custom-designed race swag every year, but there is no date on the 2018 T-shirt, bib, or finisher’s medal.

Finisher’s Medal: The finisher’s medal is a bottle opener, with the same design described above. The ribbon is plain black (if you use the medallion as a bottle opener, you’d have to cut off the ribbon, so a plain solid color makes sense).

Finish & Recovery Area: The finish area had two people handing out medals when I finished, and bottles of water in a tub of ice nearby. The recovery food was pretty good for a race this size – cut up bananas, croissants, several varieties of muffins (cut in half), several varieties of cookies, and packets of fruit puree or yogurt and fruit.

There were no age group awards (I was first – and last – in my age group, boo-hoo!). But there was a raffle with prizes supplied by sponsors, ranging from a blue tooth turntable to bottles of beer (minors had to have a parent receive the beer).

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I was hoping for a little better, but I worked to get my finish time and am happy with it. I did better at 5Ks in March and November, but those were in cool weather and flat, which this race was not (it was cool for August, but was 5-10 degrees warmer than those races).

I gave this race a 3-Shoe rating. It’s at the high end of that range in my mind, and were it in a different part of the country I might have given it 4. There are several really good race organizers in the SF Bay area, and this race was not really in their league. With more complete and corrected information on their website and race dates on their swag this would be a 4-shoe race for me. I do not think these improvements would be difficult to do.

So … would I do this race again? It would not be on my must-do list, but it’s close to my home and good enough that I will definitely consider it next year.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

Was this review helpful?

 

SPASM Lake Chabot Trail Run

SPASM Lake Chabot Trail Run

Event & Course Description: SPASM Lake Chabot Trail Run (LCTR) is pretty much eponymous. It's a trail run at and around Lake Chabot, and the principal sponsor is South Bay … MORE

Event & Course Description: SPASM Lake Chabot Trail Run (LCTR) is pretty much eponymous. It’s a trail run at and around Lake Chabot, and the principal sponsor is South Bay Pain And Sports Medicine (SPASM … a wryly humorous and accurate acronym), an acupuncture and chiropractic clinic. The race is run in five distances: 5 miles, half marathon, 30Km, marathon, and 50Km. I did the 5 mile distance.

The 5 mile course looks like a balloon with a wavy string (or lollipop … pick your metaphor), and its entirety or almost all of the course is part of all the other distances’ courses. The “string” is paved trail, out (then do loop) and back, about 70% of the course. It’s lots of short rolling hills and mostly shaded, lots of trees with some lake views. The dirt trail “balloon” starts with a moderately steep, half mile uphill climb, followed by a shorter and steeper downhill, and then a rolling return to the “string”. It’s also mostly shaded with lots of trees. There’s a degree of beauty beyond which appreciation lies in the viewer’s preferences. This is a great course for folks who love lots of trees!

Summer weather in the SF Bay Area can vary considerably. It can get pretty hot on occasion. More often it’s moderately warm or even somewhat cool. Thankfully, LCTR 2018 was fairly cool, and for the time I was on the course, overcast. I brought two water bottles, anticipating warm weather, but seeing the degree of overcast, I left one in my car.

Organization & Production: Coastal Trail Runs marks its courses very thoroughly with color-coded flags every couple hundred yards. This was no exception. There was also a course marshal at a key junction to help runners of the various distances go the correct way. Aid stations – water, electrolyte drink, and salty & sweet snacks – were 4-5 miles apart. Because it is an out-and-back with a loop, there were no aid stations on the 5 mile course (this was the other reason I considered carrying two water bottles). Coastal does gun-time starts and timing mat finishes.

Like other Coastal Trail Runs races LCTR is register-and-run. The website information is very complete, registration is easy, and race day organization is a smooth-running machine. Runner just need to “worry” about getting there and running their race.

Bib: Coastal Trail Runs bibs are plain white, with organizer logos across the top, their, “Have Fun Out There,” slogan across the bottom, and the bib number in the middle. The numbers are distance-coded. For example, 1000 series numbers are for runners doing the 5 mile or 10K distance.

T-Shirt: Coastal includes tech-type T-shirts in registration for all distances. My race T-shirt for the SPASM Lake Chabot Trail Run is fluorescent lime green (I also saw some that were red). The front features an abstract representation of the lake water, with the race name, distances, and date across the top, and the logo of the principal sponsor, South Bay Pain And Sports Medicine (SPASM), at the bottom. The back has the logos of the race sponsors.

Finisher’s Medal: The medallion is rectangular, with the same abstract of the lake water used on the T-shirt. The dominant colors of the water ripples are black, purple, and silver, with some light yellow and white. Across the top with a purple background are the race name and distances. And across the bottom are the name and logo of the principal race sponsor. Molded into the back across the top in small raised characters is “Coastal Trail Runs”. The medallion is not dated. The ribbon is bright green, with “2018” on white in several places along it.

Finish & Recovery Area: The finish “arch” was formed by two curved poles with Coastal logo banners. This may have been due to park sound level restrictions. Volunteers handed people their medals as they finished. The recovery area was right next to the finish, an area with picnic tables, about half of it shaded. There were large jugs with water and electrolyte drink, an ice chest with bottled water, sodas, and beer. For recovery snacks there were several varieties of fruit, chips, pretzels, cookies and candies. I didn’t hang around long enough, but there were charcoal grills in the picnic area, and Coastal did have a couple of bags of charcoal ready for use. Later in the day they were going to have grilled recovery food (Hamburgers? Hot dogs? Bratwursts?) for finishers of the longer distances.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: This was another, “Can I even do this?” race for me. That one mid-course hill had me pretty intimidated. That’s a reflection of where I am, not the crazy-steepness of the hill (which it isn’t). I had three target goals in mind, the first being to finish upright and under my own power; the other two were time targets. I took much of the race pretty conservatively, especially the part before the hill and the hill itself. After that, I kept the same “easy” pace of the group of ladies I was with until we arrived at the return leg of pavement. At that point, about 3.5-3.75 miles in, I realized I felt I had much too energy “in the tank” for that stage of the course. So I picked up my pace and finished with a time close to my my second, more “aggressive”, time goal. I probably could have achieved that goal, but I enjoyed the company and the park scenery. And I answered my big question with, “Yes! I can!”

It feels too brief and simple, saying this, but Coastal is a consistently excellent race organizer. They literally pull into the park with a large cargo van at 5 or 6 AM on race day and unpack and set up their whole race (except for the trail marking flags and signs which are already in place). Race-in-a-Van! Coastal’s volunteers are usually experienced runners who know from the runner’s side of the aid station table what helps and encourages. My two wish list things with Coastal are that I wish they did mat-timed starts, and I wish they had race dates on their medallions. But Coastal’s races are some of the least expensive in the Bay Area – a great race experience-value – so these don’t bother me.

While this was my first Coastal Trail Runs race of 2018, I did a half dozen last year. I plan to do several more this year, and would consider this race or their November Lake Chabot race in the future.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Race for Literacy

Race for Literacy

Event & Course Description: The Race for Literacy benefits the educational charity, India Literacy Project. 2018 was its 20th annual running. The race starts and finishes in Baylands Park in … MORE

Event & Course Description: The Race for Literacy benefits the educational charity, India Literacy Project. 2018 was its 20th annual running. The race starts and finishes in Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, and there are three distances, 5K, 10K, and half marathon. In the 2017 running there were ~700 finishers among the three distances. I ran the 10K.

The 5K and 10K courses are out-and-back. All distances started at different times, near the corner of a parking lot where the Baylands Park Trail begins. All followed it more or less eastward for about a mile and turned more or less southward onto the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail. After about a third of a mile, at Old Mountain View-Alviso Road, 5K runners turned around and headed back. 10K runners continued about a mile and a half farther and turned around near Agnew Road. In this section of the course 10K runners passed by Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, and California’s Great America theme park. When 5K and 10K runners reached the Baylands Park Trail, they followed it back toward the park, but when they reached the park they turn northward along a bike trail toward the bay and circled the park, finishing at the Baylands Park plaza. Half marathon runners did the 10K course, but an extra out-and-back leg along the bay, almost to Moffett Airfield, was added during their return along the Baylands Park Trail.

The course is almost entirely exposed, so sunscreen and a bottle of water are a must. 2018 weather was ideal! Temperatures were in the low-mid 60s, and the sky varied from overcast to filtered sunshine. I still wore sunscreen! Other than about 3/4 of a mile, cumulative, at the start and end inside the park, the course is entirely paved trail.

Organization & Production: The number of volunteers was almost amazing – numerous, friendly, and helpful. Pre-race check-in was as smooth and quick as any I’ve experienced. The pre-race email said parking was $6, but when I got there it was free (a mistake I don’t at all mind). Between the website and the email the information was pretty much all that was needed – register-and-run. There were two water-only aid stations on the course, with plenty of friendly volunteers. One was just before the 5K turn-around, and the other just before the 10K turn-around. There were volunteers on bicycles who patrolled the course, looking for runners in trouble. About 2/3 through my 10K one of these volunteers chatted with me briefly to be sure I was doing OK.

One moderate concern was at the turn for those doing the half marathon onto their second out-and-back leg. Even though it was well marked before the turn with two signs I think I saw two runners miss it, and when I passed the turn-off outbound I redirected one who would have missed it. After that I let inbound half marathon runners know of the upcoming turn, for the next 50-100 yards. When I passed the turn-off on my inbound leg there was a course marshal at the turn-off. I think the fastest half marathon runners were a little faster than anticipated. The turn was well marked with signs, but tired runners get tunnel vision. I spoke to the course marshal in passing and I think they’ll fix this minor glitch next year.

Bib: The bibs were color coded, medium dark blue for the half marathon, medium dark green for the 10K, medium dark red for the 5K, with black numbers and characters. Across the top was the name of the race, and the logo of a sponsor. In the middle was the bib number, and then along the bottom is the website for the timing company.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is tech type, bright lime green. Across the chest, in black and white, is the race logo, plus “20th Annual”. On the back, along the bottom, are sponsors’ logos. It’s not particularly special, but it is nice.

Finisher’s Medal: The 5K and 10K finisher’s medal is a catalog type medallion (winged running shoe and stopwatch with a star in the background) hung from a white ribbon. On the back is a stick-on disk engraved with “ILP Race for Literacy 5K/10K Race Finisher 2018”. I did not see the medal given to half marathon finishers. See my comments below about expectations and different types of races.

Finish & Recovery Area: This was a large grassy area, used before the race for race day registration and check-in. It was about 20-40 yards from the start arch and 50-100 yards from the finish arch. I didn’t check out every table in the spread out area, but I did notice an announcer’s table, from which race and age group winners were announced to receive their medalsand tables explaining India Literacy Project’s work. There was also a large race logo banner for people to take pictures, and a serving area for the post-race meal. Indian food! Very! Tasty! One of the dishes served, possibly dal, was hot as well as spicy (which was fine with me, but worth knowing for some one considering the race), and another with chick peas that was spicy but not hot. It was, unsurprisingly, vegetarian. Did I mention that it was tasty?

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I have different expectations for a 20,000 runner Rock ‘n’ Roll race than I do for a 700 runner trail race. And I have different expectations for a race put on by a for-profit business that does 20 or 30 races a year than I do for an annual volunteer-run race that benefits a charity. I expect a charity to be very careful about how much money it expends to put on the race so as to actually benefit from the proceeds of the race (just as I expect a for-profit organizer to make enough profit to stay in business and support the owners).

This was the first time I’ve run the Race for Literacy, so my expectations were based on prior experiences with charity races. I knew it was timed, so I expected the bib to have a timing “chip” and a start/finish arch. It is common for charity races to have cotton or cotton-polyester race Tees, and no finisher’s medal. And it is common for charity races to have just water at aid stations and cut up bagels and fruit in the recovery area. The bibs were slightly nicer than I expected, there were start and finish arches, and the aid stations were water only. The tech type race tees (Greenlayer, a good brand) were a bit of a surprise. I did not know there would be finisher’s medals until I saw them when I was about 30 yards from the finish arch. They aren’t fancy, but when one expects nothing they were pleasant (the engraved plate identifies the race and year, so if I look at it 5 years from now I’ll know what it was for). I knew, from the race website, that there would be catered food, so it wasn’t more than I expected when I got to the recovery area. But it was more than I expect of a charity race.

India Literacy Project had LOTS of volunteers. The check-in stations were well organized and staffed, The distances each had a unique start time, and the 10K (and probably the 5K) was started in 2 waves, 2 minutes apart. The aid stations had four volunteers at each station, easily adequate for the busiest times so that the volunteers were not too busy to be encouraging and watchful. Bicycle-mounted course monitors, while not unique, were good for runners’ safety and a good use of volunteers. Race for Literacy is a really well organized race!

There were also a lot of families doing the race as well as teams of friends (the names of the teams were printed on the backs of their race Tees (not by the teams), something I’ve not seen done before). This made for a warm family-like atmosphere over all. I would definitely do the Race for Literacy again.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

Was this review helpful?

 

Vibha Dream Mile Bay Area

Vibha Dream Mile Bay Area

Event & Course Description: Vibha is an Indian charity based both in India and the US that supports education in India. The Dream Mile is a fund raising race held … MORE

Event & Course Description: Vibha is an Indian charity based both in India and the US that supports education in India. The Dream Mile is a fund raising race held in cities in the US, plus Bangalore, India. I did the Dream Mile half marathon in 2014 and 2017.
The San Francisco Bay Area Dream Mile is run in South San Jose, along the Coyote Creek Trail. The course description in my 2017 Rave is what was done in 2018. I did the 10K, which went north and turned around near the southern end of Hellyer Park (just under US 101 freeway).

Organization & Production: The Dream Mile is Register ‘n’ Run: complete info, easy check-in (two 4-hour days of pre-race day check-in), well managed course, nice finish area. Runners of the marathon and the half marathon started an hour before those running the 5K and 10K. TriValley Running Club provided pacers for the half and full marathon distances. Friendly volunteers were everywhere, especially at the aid stations (water and Gatorade).

The one thing I wish had been better was that parking was about half a mile from the start-finish area, with access by walking along the course. Because of the lay-out of the course and timing, this put people who would be doing the 10K and 5K on the course when marathon and half marathon runners would be passing through that part of the course. The trail is fairly wide, so interference could be avoided by alertness on the part of those walking from their cars to the start-finish area. Avoiding the possible interference would have been better if other nearby parking was available (like in 2017).

Swag & Goodies:

Bib: The bibs are color coded, yellow for marathon, gray for half marathon, and green for 5K. The 10K bib has a broad blue strip at the top with the logos for Vibha and the race in yellow and white. The middle is a broad white stripe with the bib number. At the bottom is a narrow blue stripe with the distance. It’s simple and pleasant.

T-Shirt: The men’s race T-shirt is tech type Tee with an orange body, front and back, and yellow insets at the side. The inset for the women’s Tee was wider, with three sections, yellow-orange-yellow. The front has the logos for Vibha and the race in yellow, black, and white. The left sleeve has a sun in yellow, with “20 Years Strong” in the sun in black. 2018 was the 20th year in which Dream Mile races have been run. The back has the logos of the sponsors. I don’t know if it’ll be a favorite, but it’s very striking and nice.

Finisher’s Medal: The medallion is square, in a brushed pewter color. At the top is the Vibha logo. Under that is the number “20”, for the 20 years Dream Mile races have been run. Below the “20” is the Dream mile logo, and across the bottom, “2018”. Medal ribbons were also color-coded, blue for the 10K, with the Vibha logo, race name, and year along the ribbon.

Since the bibs, race T-shirt, and finisher’s medal did not identify a race location it is likely that the same bibs, shirts, and medals were used in all Dream Mile races in the US.

Finish & Recovery Area: The finish area is a cul de sac street, which provided plenty of room for a chiropractor tent, sponsors’ tents, and food. I wasn’t feeling great, so I just grabbed a chilled water bottle from near the finish line and flopped down on nearby grass. There was Indian food from a caterer/restaurant sponsor, so it was a bit frustrating being sore and unsure whether I could keep down spicy food. But for people who could, wow!

My Results & Opinion of the Race: On the whole this was a well run race. All the cheery volunteers at the aid stations made for a great race experience. This was my third time doing the Dream Mile and all three times was a great race experience. I’ll definitely consider doing it again.

One of the great experiences for me was meeting RaceRaves’ “own” Jen_L. She’s a really nice lady and was doing pacing for the marathon.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

Nitro Trail Half Marathon/10K/5K

Nitro Trail Half Marathon/10K/5K

I'm going to try to be brief (Katie and Mike are laughing at that sentence). My description of the courses in my 2017 Rave is pretty thorough. I did the … MORE

I’m going to try to be brief (Katie and Mike are laughing at that sentence). My description of the courses in my 2017 Rave is pretty thorough. I did the 10K distance this year (2018). The weather was sunny but pleasantly cool.

Like I said below, if Brazen can be said to have a “home course”, it’s Point Pinole. Nitro Trail was Brazen’s first race, 2018 being the 10th running. A family-like atmosphere characterizes Brazen’s races – I noticed this at my first Brazen race, 2014 Coyote Hills. But Point Pinole is HOME, and races there, especially Dirty Dozen and Nitro Trail, are like a ginormous family picnic. The impeccable organization, great aid station and recovery snacks, great bling, and beautiful venue are all great, but the people make it over-the-top special (and this year we were joined by Mike and Katie!).

The question is pretty much superfluous, but yes, I’d do Nitro Trail again, again.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Willow Glen 5K

Willow Glen 5K

Event & Course Description: The course for the Willow Glen 5K is sort of sort of a crescent-shaped loop. It runs through the streets of the Willow Glen neighborhood of … MORE

Event & Course Description: The course for the Willow Glen 5K is sort of sort of a crescent-shaped loop. It runs through the streets of the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose. The 70-100+ year-old homes aren’t exactly upscale, but they are very nice and well maintained. The neighborhood being as old as it is, most of the trees are very mature and tall. I still prefer trails, but it is a very pretty neighborhood.

The start was at the intersection of Lincoln and Minnesota Avenues, near Willow Glen Elementary School, and the finish was in the elementary school grounds. The race was a benefit for the schools in that district. The course was paved streets, except for the last 80 or 100 yards. I’d estimate the course was 40%-50% shade, and the temperature while I was on the course went from about 65F to 70F.

Organization & Production: This was a pretty basic “Register-N-Run” race. Necessary information was on the website, including several available parking lots. Registration was easy. The course was well marked and marshaled (lots of encouraging cheerful volunteers!) and there were water stations (lots of volunteers!) at about 1 1/4 and 2 1/4 miles. There were markers for each mile. There were some residents who came out to cheer people on (one had strawberries for children!). There were people cheering at the finish and volunteers who handed out chilled bottles of water.

Swag & Goodies: Bagels, bananas, apples and coffee were available at pavilions in the check-in and recovery area. There was also a pancake breakfast for finishers put on by Kiwanis, free (I assume they had a jar or can for donations).

Bib: The bib is a dark teal green, with the bib number in yellow. Across the top is the race logo (see below), and across the bottom are “5K Run/Walk” and the website.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is navy blue cotton. The front has the race logo in front: “WG” in white letters and “5K” in green, with a red apple with a green leaf in between; under that is a thin light blue line; blow the line, in white letters, is “WILLOW GLEN”; below that are a small red, a medium-sized green, and a large light blue running triangles, with “2018” in the green one and “RUN/WALK” in the light blue one. On the right sleeve is the logo for a sponsor in yellow and white, and there are sponsors’ logos on the back. I don’t get the running triangles, but it’s a pretty nice race T-shirt.

Finisher’s Medal: This race didn’t have finishers medals. There were medals for age group places (I was 20th in the 60-90 group, so no medal for me) and for male and female over-all winners.

Finish & Recovery Area: Besides the food mentioned above there was a pavilion for post-run massages and places one could sit to rest sore feet. There was also a games area for younger children, during and after the race. This was a very family friendly event, with lots of children running and “running” (= in strollers and being carried) the race.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: It needs to be understood – as I discovered in the first 1/4-1/2 mile – that the Willow Glen 5K is a community fun run. In more “serious” races (does that sound stuffy?) most people self-seed, faster runners to the front, walkers and parents with strollers toward the back. It isn’t done rigidly and unerringly, but it’s a commonly done courtesy and safety measure. I’m sure some did this, especially the faster runners. I took my usual place among the walkers, just ahead of those with strollers. At the starting horn or signal what usually happens is that the whole mass walks forward, and as people reach the timing mats they start running. The large crowd in front of me just kept walking, to the point that it was a quarter mile or more before they were spread out enough for me to walk at full speed. At many races I would have been annoyed and frustrated by this, but the Willow Glen 5K just isn’t that kind of race. It had some fast runners – quite a few of the fastest people had finish times under 20 minutes. But it’s a primarily families and groups of friends doing a fun run/walk to tour the neighborhood, have fun, and support Willow Glen schools.

IOW, unless you’re fast enough to belong toward the front of the starting pack, this probably isn’t a PR race. I’m not anywhere near the front of the pack class. So while I had hoped to have a finish time under 50 minutes, my time was 42 seconds under 55 minutes and I’m happy with it. The initial pack slowed me down, it was getting warmish in the last mile or so (9 AM start), which affects my performance, and I decided not to be more aggressive. I just felt running/walking more aggressively just wasn’t in the spirit of the event.

Would I do the Willow Glen 5K again? Probably, since it’s close to me and supports local schools. It’s not quite a, “I want to do that race,” kind of event, but it’s pretty close.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

Was this review helpful?

 

Devil Mountain Run

Devil Mountain Run

Event & Course Description: Devil Mountain Run is a local charity benefit event in the City of Danville. There are other activities, but the main race distances are 5K and … MORE

Event & Course Description: Devil Mountain Run is a local charity benefit event in the City of Danville. There are other activities, but the main race distances are 5K and 10K. I did the latter. The 5K and 10K courses are entirely different, other than a 50-100 yard section at the start. The start was in downtown Danville on Railroad Avenue. 10K runners made their way on streets to the Iron Horse Trail. After a half mile or so on the trail runners went onto Camino Ramon and followed that for a couple of miles into San Ramon. Then runners turned and briefly followed a street that took them to the Iron Horse Trail, following that back to the finish and then another 1/2-3/4 mile back to the start and recovery area.

Camino Ramon parallels I-680 to some degree, but there are usually mature trees on both sides of the street, and the Iron Horse Trail makes its way through residential neighborhoods, with trees on both sides of the trail. It’s not forest-like, but the views, other that at the start, are mostly trees. The surfaces are all paved,about 50% street and 50% paved trail. I’d guess the course is on the order of 30% shade. Early May weather can be warm, though it was quite pleasant in 2018. All in all, sunscreen is a must!

Organization & Production: The information for the race – getting there, parking, course map, and schedule – was fairly complete, though the presentation could be improved. Due to street closures, getting to parking was less than straight forward, and the website information could have been more helpful. There were no signs directing to parking, but I was able to find a lot using Google Maps on my phone. There were plenty of porta-cans between the check-in/recovery area and the start arch.

Bib: The top ~60% of the bib is blue. The border at the bottom of this section is a curvy thin white line, with a section of red at the bottom. In the blue section is the race logo. The bib number is black with a white border and spans both color sections. At the bottom is the logo of the major sponsor, Hoka One One, and the race date.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is charcoal gray poly-cotton. At the chest is the race logo in red and white. The left sleeve has the logo of the City of Danville in white, and the right sleeve has the race name in white. The back has sponsors’ logos. It’s pleasant (and soft to the touch) but kind of bland.

Medals: This race, despite its size (nearly 1100 5K and 10K finishers) and having been run since 1978, only gives medals to event winners and those who place in their age group. Age group and event winners receive gift certificates for a free pair of Hoka One One shoes.

Finish & Recovery Area: The recovery area was a municipal parking lot, great for sponsors’ pavilions, but less so for tired sore feet. The food was bagels and bananas, which I passed on (I don’t like bananas – which makes me a runners’ heretic, I guess – and starchy bread didn’t appeal to me).

My Results & Opinion of the Race: It may be that it’s due to my expectations, but I was a bit disappointed. There was nothing about the organization that would hinder someone from getting to the race, and the course was well marked and marshaled. I was NOT thrilled with the finish arch being 1/2-3/4 mile from the recovery area! At that point runners and walkers are tired and footsore. Having the recovery area near the finish arch is not just an organizational convenience! The race Tee is kind of meh, and even charity races of that or larger size usually have custom finishers medals (not catalog medallions with custom printed stickers). Similarly, bagels and bananas are OK, but kind of meh (one charity race I’ve done a couple of times has food from an Indian restaurant/caterer!). I realize SF Bay Area runners are spoiled, but that’s kind of my point. In the context of what is normal in this area, the Devil Mountain Run is kind of lower end or stuck in an earlier era.

So all in all, I’d consider doing the Devil Mountain Run again. It is a register-n-run race, without organizational issues. But I’d consider it on an, “I want to do A race that weekend,” basis rather than, “I WANT to do THAT race again.”

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

KAMB Family Fun Run

KAMB Family Fun Run

Event & Course Description: The KAMB Family Fun Run (FFR) is a charity race to support a radio station that plays Contemporary Christian Music. In 2018 it was run in … MORE

Event & Course Description: The KAMB Family Fun Run (FFR) is a charity race to support a radio station that plays Contemporary Christian Music. In 2018 it was run in Woodward Park in Fresno, CA. There were 5K and 10K distances, plus a 1 mile walk. The 5K course was sort of a rectangular loop around the perimeter of the park, with a short tail at the start and finish. 10K runners did the loop twice.

For about half the course runners had major streets on their left, for about a quarter there was a freeway or four lane highway on the left, and then for the remaining quarter – the northern side of the park – runners had a view of what looked like a flood bypass (very green in April), with the treeline of the San Joaquin River and the river itself a bit farther away. The view on runners’ right side was always of the park, variously, lots of trees, a large pond, lots of grassy areas (I noticed a Frisbee Golf area at one point), and an area for BMX-style biking.

Streets are streets (profound, huh!). The highway was hidden by an earthen berm, so runners only heard the cars as they went by. The park was really pretty, of course. Scenically, the highlight for me was the overlook along the north side of the park toward the San Joaquin River, which was really nice!

I would estimate that the course was about 55% paved, with the rest being a mix of packed dirt park access road, and double and single track trail. There was one 20-30 yard section of loose fine sand. I would guess that the course had about 30%-40% shade. The course was definitely not flat or even flat-ish. It had some gentle rolling, but there were two or three 20-40 foot hills, one of which was a bit steep (just after miles 2 and 5). Nothing super challenging, but folks accustomed to flat courses should be prepared for a few hills.

Organization & Production: The 2018 KAMB Family Fun Run was fairly small (under 50 5K and 10K finishers), its second running. Race information was mostly a webpage provided by the online registration site, and could have been improved. The times given for each race were the time for which the event had reserved the picnic area in the park. When I registered, there wasn’t a course map on the webpage (it did get added later). HOWEVER, neither of these issues would have affected a runner’s ability to register and get to the race on time for bib pick-up. Picking up the bib and T-shirt was easy and quick. The course was well marked, with course marshals at two points where runners crossed access roads. There was a water-only aid station at about mile 2. Volunteers were all friendly and encouraging.

Race timing was done by an electronic stopwatch or suitable app on the timer’s cell phone rather than by chip and sensor. Without asking the organizer people, I would guess that’s what was economically appropriate for the size and purpose of this race. Unfortunately for a few slow people (like me) the timing was stopped at the 1:30 mark; my time would have been around 1:45 (more on this below).

Swag & Goodies: The swag bag given out at check-in was nice, more that I anticipated. It had a KAMB logo water bottle, which I am using, because it has greater capacity and looks nicer than the employer’s logo water bottle I’ve been using for a couple of years. It also had a set of earbuds with a little carrying pouch and a KAMB pencil (I don’t know if we have a pencil sharpener). Not earth-shattering, but definitely nice.

The recovery area was a partly shaded picnic area about 20 yards from the start/finish. In addition to tables at which runners could sit there were bananas, protein bars, and ice-chilled or ambient temperature water. This was more than I anticipated from such a small race.

Bib: The bib was plain white, with the red bib number in the middle.

T-Shirt: The cotton race T-shirt is red, with the race logo in front, and sponsors’ logos on the back. The race logo is the race name in black block letters, with a runner silhouette cut out of the letter “A” of “KAMB”. Between the station call letters and the rest of the race name is a light blue flourish. It’s a pretty nice race Tee, even compared to those of races several times larger. There were no finisher’s medals, unsurprising for a race this size.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: My finish time of ~1:45 is not remotely close to fast, but it was the best I’ve done since a turkey trot in 2016. So I was pretty happy with that and disappointed not to have a more precise “official” time.

I had a couple of email exchanges with the organizing people at KAMB, one before, and one after the race. They were always courteous (as I also tried to be). In the latter exchange I gave my impressions of the race (mostly good) and expressed my disappointment that timing was discontinued before I finished. I’ve heard a few stories about race directors from somewhere close to infernal regions, but KAMB’s were the opposite of that. They were apologetic and appreciative of the several suggestions I included in my email.

Would I do the KAMB Family Fun Run again? I probably won’t, but NOT because of my race experience. Fresno is about 150 miles from my home. I did the race because I was in Fresno for other reasons, and while planning I looked for races that weekend. KAMB’s race was on the right day for my family’s schedule. Unless there were to be a similar coincidence of schedules, I probably won’t do KAMB’s race again.

Making the question above hypothetical, “If I lived a lot closer, would I …?” I probably would. Overall my race experience was very good. The park scenery was pleasant. The people – volunteers and runners – were very pleasant. The organizing people intend to improve what they do. Frankly, at $30 for the 10K and $25 for the 5K, I think the KAMB Family Fun Run may be $5-$10 under-priced, though I’m familiar with SF Bay Area registration fees, not what may be common in the Fresno area.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Big Bunny 5K

Big Bunny 5K

Event & Course Description: The 2018 Big Bunny 5K course was much the same as in 2016. My 2016 Rave describes it well. It's a ”lollipop” with an eccentric loop … MORE

Event & Course Description: The 2018 Big Bunny 5K course was much the same as in 2016. My 2016 Rave describes it well. It’s a ”lollipop” with an eccentric loop and a bent start and finish stick. The neighborhood is reasonably pleasant, but the most interesting/unusual thing I saw was a faux-woody Ford Pinto station wagon. 2018’s race was a fundraiser for a charity that digs wells for towns and villages in nations outside of the US that do not have a safe source of water.

Organization & Production: As I stated in my headline, this was a no frills race, but done well. There were police and volunteers all along the course. Going off course was almost not an option. As in 2016 there was a single water-only aid station at about mile 2. First aid was also available at the aid station. There were signs marking miles 1, 2, and 3.

Swag & Goodies: Immediately on finishing one went past a first aid table, where bottles of cool water were available. Rather than giving out finisher’s medals in the finish chute they are given out at an easily spotted table in the recovery area. One of the sponsors was handing out snacks before the race, and presumably after. I didn’t see – but did not look for – other recovery goodies. The recovery area was a spacious lawn between the Cupertino Community Center building and the street where the start/finish arch was located. There was some seating.

Bib: The bib is similar to 2016. The background is white. Across the top is a hot pink stripe with the race name, except the “U” is a smiling pink bunny’s face. Across the bottom are several sponsors’ logos. In the middle are the bib number, in blue, and the runner’s name, in pink … well … . A funny thing happened at the printer. Many, but not all, bibs got the wrong person’s name printed on it. The timing stuff on the back had the correct number and name, but the bib front got the wrong name. I assume that by the time the race organizer people realized what had happened bibs could not be redone. Best laid plans of mice and bunnies …

T-Shirt: As in 2016 the race T-shirt is cotton, bright sky blue. At the front, where a pocket might be is printed a pink square filled with rows of little white bunny faces. An interesting idea, but the effect might have been better were the square and bunnies 10%-20% larger. But it’s a nice T-shirt.

Finisher’s Medal: I do not know what the 2017 finisher’s medal looked like, but the 2018 medal is a very nice step up from 2016. 2016’s medal was a standard medallion with a nice race-specific sticker in the middle. The 2018 medal is larger and looks custom made. It’s a sky blue Easter egg with pink stripes and small white polka dots. On the egg is the race name in white, with the bunny face “U”. At the top of the Easter egg are pink and white bunny ears. In contrast to 2016’s plain royal blue ribbon, the 2018 ribbon is hot pink, with the race name twice (with the bunny face “U”) and several white bunny faces in between. It’s going to be among my favorites!

My Results & Opinion of the Race: People with a very wide range of abilities ran the Big Bunny 5K. The first 12 finishers had times under 20 minutes, and the first 4 were under 18. On the other hand, as slow as I am (just under 51 minutes) 120 people finished after I did. The race has a very family oriented feel, in the start and finish area, as well as parent-child pairs and entire families running the race together.

The Big Bunny 5K is a race for a charity. So if it’s a little Spartan that means a bit more money goes to the charity. That aside, everything is well organized from the website to registering to doing the race. It’s a get there, run, and go home race with zero complications or unpleasant surprises. I’d hop on by the Big Bunny 5K again.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Go Green St. Patrick’s Day Run

Go Green St. Patrick’s Day Run

Event & Course Description: The Go Green St. Patrick's Day Run used the Coyote Creek Trail, with the start and finish in San Jose's Hellyer Park. That sounds like any … MORE

Event & Course Description: The Go Green St. Patrick’s Day Run used the Coyote Creek Trail, with the start and finish in San Jose’s Hellyer Park. That sounds like any of several other races (of which I’ve done several) on that trail, except that the start/finish area was in the Sylvandale Picnic Area in the northern end of Hellyer Park. So for the first (and last) mile and a quarter I was in a part of the park I had not seen before. The start/finish picnic area was in a sort of three-sided bowl, with beautiful mature trees and grasses on the embankments. It was very easy to ignore the fact that we were in the heart of San Jose!

The courses were all out-and-back, with different “turn-around points”. Rather than a strict turn-around point the 5K course circled the lake at the southern end of Hellyer Park. 10K (including me) and half marathon runners used the same trail past the lake, coming and going. The 10K turn-around was shortly before going under Silver Creek Parkway. The half marathon turn-around was at Metcalf Park, midway between Bernal Road and Metcalf Road.

The Coyote Creek Trail is paved and reasonably wide. It parallels the creek, which makes for some pleasant views. It has a few very short rolling hills. The weather for the 2018 race started out chilly (under 40F when I arrived just before 7 AM), but was reasonable by start time (9 AM for the half marathon). There were thin clouds in the sky, but it was more like a filter than cloud cover. I’d estimate the shade for the 10K course to have been 60%-70%. I wore a long-sleeve shirt, but had it been a bit warmer short sleeves and sunscreen would have been appropriate.

Organization & Production: This was my first race with Finish Line Productions. Historically, this race has been run on the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Due to work being done near the usual start/finish area in Vasona Lake Park, Go Green was moved to the Coyote Creek Trail. Information on the website was complete (see below regarding swag), registration was easy, and there was a helpful pre-race email. There was some minor confusion about where to park, partly due to my arriving before the volunteers handling parking and partly due to a delay in the new parking information being posted to the website. I did race day check-in, which was easy. The number of portacans in the start/finish area was marginal, though I think the nearby permanent restrooms were a little under-used. There were park-owned portacans along the course. I don’t know exactly when the result were posted online, but it was done less than 24 hours after the race.

The course was marked with tape arrows on the pavement in a few places. There were also tape mile markers along the course, specific to the various distances. I’ve seen course arrows in the past that were rendered unremovable due to runners beating them into the ground, wearing holes in them, and took a year to weather away. These seemed to be made of a material that made them easy to remove after the race. I encountered 2 aid stations on the 10K course, the second one located about a third of a mile from the 10K turn-around, so that I came to aid stations 4 times during the 10K. The aid stations offered just water, which was fine for a cool day. The stations were well staffed, and the volunteers were friendly and encouraging. Overhearing some chatter among the volunteers, it sounds like the instructions email they received could have been more detailed and complete about where to check in and when.

Swag & Goodies: There were bottles of water available near the finish arch. I didn’t wander around the recovery area much, so all I SAW was some packaged cookies (which were good) and a craft beer poured from cans (which I did not try). I sat down for a bit and did not see other things at other tables.

Bib: Bibs were fairly simple. Across the top was the race name, with a shamrock to its left and the organizer’s logo to the right. At the bottom was the distance. In the middle was the bib number in large characters, with a broad color-coded stripe for runners of the half marathon (green) and 10K (orange).

T-Shirt: All runners received a long-sleeved tech T-shirt, gray for men and white for women. The front is the race logo from the race webpage: “Go Green” at the top; “St. Patrick’s Day” in the middle; “Run” at the bottom; the race distances were below that; a 4-leaf clover and swirls below “Go Green”; leafy vines on either side of “St. Patrick’s Day” and “Run”. The back has the race sponsors’ and organizer’s logos. Added: I finally wore the shirt a week later. I got a 2XL, but the fit lengthwise and in the sleeves is more like an XL. It isn’t one of my favorites, maybe, but it’s definitely a very nice shirt.

Finisher’s Medal: The main race webpage is not exactly accurate. In the left margin it says there would be finisher medals for all distances. In the central main body it says there would be pint glasses for all finishers and bottle opener age group place medals. The main body is what was given out to finishers – pint glasses for all and gold, silver, and bronze colored bottle openers for those who placed in their age group. The pint glass is clear, with the website race logo with one word changed: “Go Green St. Patrick’s Day Finisher”. The age group medal (I was 3rd in Old Goats age group) is about 2” long, with a sticker with the race logo, but with “Age Group Third” instead of “Run”. I display my bibs and finisher’s medals, so the glass messes with that, but it’s different from what is typical, kind of nice and useful.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I’d been sick for the previous week and a half, and was probably at about 90% between not being fully over it and not being able to hit the trail much. So I was happy to finish vertical and under my own power; I was over half an hour “faster” than my most pessimistic anticipation.

I was a bit torn on my Overall Rating, between a weak “4” and a very strong “3”. It was a very good race experience, but not quite fully comparable to many other well done races in the SF Bay Area. There were things that could have been done better, more along the lines of needing to be tightened up than significant deficiencies. More extensive recovery area snacks would be nice. The website has some legacy information and needs a clean-up.

Would I do Go Green again? I will definitely consider doing the race next year, whether it’s run on the Coyote Creek Trail or the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Both are beautiful suburban greenway courses and both are close to my home. More importantly, it’s a register-and-run race, with no unpleasant missing information surprises.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Victory Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Victory Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Event & Course Description: Except for a few over-simplifications my course description in my 2017 Rave for Victory is pretty good. I did the 10K again this year (as in … MORE

Event & Course Description: Except for a few over-simplifications my course description in my 2017 Rave for Victory is pretty good. I did the 10K again this year (as in 2016). The race start and finish is next to a building where Victory Ships were built during World War 2. A considerable part of the first ~1.25 miles was timber board walk and runners circled a couple of boat harbors, kind of cool. The rest was concrete. The loop around Marina Park done by 5K runners (and partly done by 10K and Half Marathon runners) was entirely concrete. For another mile and a quarter after 10K and Half Marathon runners turned right at the first aid station the surface was concrete, and then became asphalt. Along much of the asphalt section there was a packed dirt and gravel “shoulder” for those who prefer that surface. 10K runners cross bridges over a couple of creeks before their turn-around, while the Half Marathon turn-around was fairly close to Golden Gate Fields horse race track.

It was pretty chilly and breezy during check-in and while waiting for the start (it was ~40F when I arrived at 6:15!). The breeze calmed down some before the start, so all in all we had perfect weather for a run. It was cool and sunny with some very thin clouds. The 10K and Half Marathon courses were 90%-95% exposed, the shade being mostly in Marina Park, late in the race (when it might be needed and refreshing!). Definitely a sunscreen or a long-sleeve and long pants course (and a hat if you have a hairstyle like mine).

Organization & Production: Victory is a Brazen race. That means runners just need to worry about getting there and running/walking their race. Registration and check-in were easy (I did race-day check-in and had my bib and Tee by 6:30). The course for Victory was fairly simple, but Brazen always marks courses well, with “Mile #” signs every mile. Brazen aid stations are always well stocked with a variety of liquids, snacks, fruit, and multiple flavors of GU packets. Finishing runners are announced as they finish and are handed their finisher’s medals. Brazen races are consistently a great race experience.

Swag & Goodies:

Bib: Brazen doesn’t do plain race bibs. The usual pattern has distance color-coded stripes, the race name and date, artwork shared with the race T-shirt, the runner’s name, Brazen Racing’s logo, and the bib number. The bib for Victory featured a hand giving the famous “V for Victory” sign.

T-Shirt: Brazen’s registration fee includes a tech type T-shirt for Half Marathon runners and a poly-cotton T-shirt for 10K and 5K runners. 10K and 5K runners can upgrade to a tech type Tee for a moderate fee (currently $7). I didn’t upgrade this time. The tech type Tees were of a medium gray color. The poly-cotton Tees are medium-dark gray with the “V for Victory” hand in a US flag pattern and the race name below it on the front. On the back is a bow-on Victory Ship at full speed with the race name, distances, location, and date below the bow wave. Below that race logo are the logos of the race sponsors and Brazen Racing.

Finisher’s Medal: The Victory finisher’s medal features the full-speed Victory Ship and bow wave with the race name and distances below it. The date is on the bow of the ship. The ribbon is blue, with a bow-on Victory Ship, the race name, distances and date.

Finish & Recovery Area: Finishers went through the chute, received their medal, got a bottle of water if they wanted it, and went straight toward the recovery area. Awaiting them there were a variety of sweet and salty snacks, bagels, and fruit, a considerable spread (as always!).

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I’ve “run” Victory twice, in 2016 and 2018, and volunteered in 2017. Brazen Racing is an excellent and consistent race organizer. I’ll probably do Victory again – as a “runner” or as a volunteer – and I plan to do more Brazen races in 2018.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Bay Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Bay Breeze Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

My descriptions of the Bay Breeze course in previous Raves are good, so I'll just say that the 10K and half marathon courses are out-and-back along the Bay Trail, mostly … MORE

My descriptions of the Bay Breeze course in previous Raves are good, so I’ll just say that the 10K and half marathon courses are out-and-back along the Bay Trail, mostly exposed (sunscreen time, even with overcast!). This is one of Brazen’s more popular races – not hilly, easily accessible, good parking availability, usual great aid station snacks and recovery area food. Size does not strain what Brazen produces, from a participant’s point of view. The 2018 running was above average warm, in the mid-upper 60s and somewhat humid. Heat and I are not amicable running partners.

So, why do a Rave when I’ve Raved Bay Breeze before? We-e-e-e-ellllll this wasn’t my best day on the trail. I signed up to do the half marathon distance, but when I was approaching the mid-point turn-around I realized that I probably had the “gas” to do only 9 or 10 miles, but not the full 13.1. At the turn-around was an aid station. Brazen cares about its runners (and walkers) and aid station volunteers are told to keep an eye on runners’ condition. Usually that means the usual encouraging chatter, which lets volunteers see how “with it” the runners are. It’s fun for all with a purpose (BTDTGTTS, literally).

So, after resting for a bit to see whether that helped, I decided I’d best drop out at that point. After a bit of chat with the volunteers, they made sure I really was basically OK and contacted the RD to let them know what was happening. What would ordinarily have happened next for me would probably have been that I would help them at the aid station (that would have been my choice) until the Sweeper came, and then I would have gotten a ride back to the finish area with a volunteer. As things happened, a couple of volunteers (a Dad and Daughter) were going to be leaving early (to join the Mom who was doing the 10K), so I walked with them the half mile or so to their car and had a pleasant ride with them, getting to know them some.

The normal protocol in situations like that is that the runner dropping out checks in with the RD to let them know (s)he is OK and not out on the course. Brazen keeps track of and cares about who is still out on the course. With Brazen, if a runner drops out of, for example, the half marathon but has completed 5K or 10K, they get a finisher’s medal for having done that. The half marathon turn-around being at ~6.5 miles, I did an “ultra” 10K. Brazen finisher’s medals are always great. Bay Breeze combines sea creature and Valentine’s Day themes, so the 2018 medal had an octopus (The Octopus of Love!) with a bouquet of red roses. As for doing Bay Breeze again? I will be Bach, errrrrrr back.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

Crystal Springs Trail Run (Winter)

Crystal Springs Trail Run (Winter)

Event & Course Description: This was my second year in a row doing Coastal Trail Runs' Crystal Springs Trail Run (CSTR). Looking over my Rave from last year, it's a … MORE

Event & Course Description: This was my second year in a row doing Coastal Trail Runs’ Crystal Springs Trail Run (CSTR). Looking over my Rave from last year, it’s a pretty overview of CSTR. So I’ll just add more details, plus a few things that were different in 2018.

One way or another, all runners do the 5-Mile loop. Just after the end of the 2 3/4 miles of uphill 5 Milers turn right, downhill toward the finish. The other distances turn right, uphill, to do their loop(s), and then return to the finish by the remaining mile or so of the 5-Mile course.

To date, 2018 has been much less wet than 2017. So the course was wet, but with only a few, very avoidable, mud patches. The first mile or so was through scrubby deciduous trees. Right around mile 1 the trees transition to redwoods. Then the last mile is mixed redwoods and deciduous. The 2 3/4 miles of uphill is not, on average, very steep (~260 feet per mile), but some parts are steeper than others, and it’s a longish steady mile climb. There were no aid stations in the 5-Mile course, so runners should be prepared (this is REALLY important if one does the August running of CSTR!). All in all, the 5-Mile course is probably 90% shade and 100% beautiful.

Organization & Production: Coastal Trail Runs is an excellent organizer. A runner merely needs to “worry” about getting there, running their race, and getting home. It should be noted that Coastal does not do chip timed starts – finish times are referenced to the “gun” start time. Those who are fast and competitive should self-corral to the front of the starting pack.

Swag & Goodies:

Bib: Coastal Trail Runs bibs are plain white, with organizer logos across the top, their, “Have Fun Out There,” slogan across the bottom, and the bib number in the middle.

T-Shirt & Finisher’s Medal: Coastal Trail Runs gives tech type race T-shirt to runners of all distances. Coastal uses the same artwork for their T-shirts and finishers medals from year to year. The ribbon of the 2018 CSTR finisher’s medal has “2018” instead of “2017”. Similarly the race Tee is the same except for the race date. This year I placed third in my age group. Coatal’s age group medals feature Coastal’s logo: their name in orange letters, with two green hills that have trails in white. The ribbons give the ordinal number, and the medallions are bright metal finish gold, silver, and copper colored.

Finish & Recovery Area: After runners pass through the finish arch a volunteer hands them their medal, and the recovery area is a few step to their right. The recovery area for CSTR is a covered picnic area, with plenty of seating. The fluids and snacks available in Coastal’s recovery area are pretty consistent from race to race: electrolyte drink, bottled water, 2 or 3 types of soda, and craft beers; the snacks were chips, pretzels, Chex mix, candies, and Oreo cookies. I noticed bagels and cream cheese, and as I was leaving I noticed a camp stove was being fired up to warm some soup.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: Due to some health events and a bit of laziness on my part, CSTR was a return to hilly trail runs for me, and my main goal was to finish vertically and under my own power. I did that and wasn’t much slower than last year, so I’m happy.

Coastal Trail Runs does trail runs, really well. I did seven Coastal races last year. This year’s CSTR was no exception, so chances are I will do several Coastal races in 2018, and will consider CSTR come 2019.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

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

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

Event & Course Description: Brazen Racing runs out the old and runs in the new year with a pair of races on New Year's Eve Day (NYE) and New Year's … MORE

Event & Course Description: Brazen Racing runs out the old and runs in the new year with a pair of races on New Year’s Eve Day (NYE) and New Year’s Day (NYD). In 2016 and now 2017 NYE was run in Quarry Lakes Park in Fremont and the Alameda Creek Trail, while NYD was run at Lake Chabot near Castro Valley. Quarry Lakes Park is the former site of a sand and gravel quarry, with lakes formed by ground water and water from the nearby Alameda Creek. The park is a mix of public use areas and preserves for local plants, animals, and birds, with trails around the lakes in the park. There is plenty of parking inside the park, and the parking fee for NYE is pre-paid.

I did the half marathon and will note where the other distances leave the half marathon course. Most of the 10K and half marathon courses were new for Brazen. All runners started with a clockwise circle 2/3 of the way around Horseshoe Lake. 5K runners then turned right to finish their loop course with a 2/3 circle around Rainbow Lake back to the finish. 10K and half runners turned left, zig-zagged up to the Alameda Creek Trail, crossing a pedestrian bridge to the other side of the creek. Once there, all runners turned right for the first of two out-and-back legs for runners of the half. About 2/3 of the way on this leg 10K runners turned around, headed back into the park, and followed the course taken by the 5K runners back to the finish. Half marathon runner went a bit farther, turned around, and when they reached the pedestrian bridge continued out for their second out-and-back leg in the other direction on the Alameda Creek Trail. This leg was about as long as the first leg. Half runners turned around, crossed the pedestrian bridge into the park and then completed their circle around Horseshoe Lake back to the finish (a different and shorter route than that taken by other runners).

The 5K course is almost entirely packed dirt with some fine gravel, and that course is half of the 10K course. The part of the 10K and half marathon course on the Alameda Creek Trail is entirely paved. So the 10K course is about 50-50 dirt-paved, and the half marathon course about 80% paved. The trail on the side of Alameda Creek across from Quarry Lakes Park has a fair amount of shade, so the 10K course had about 20-30% shade, while the half marathon course had 30%-40% shade. SF Bay Area December weather can vary, so runners need to check weather forecasts for race day several days ahead. If rain is forecast for race day or the previous or following day come prepared for wet weather. NYE 2017 had near perfect running weather – a bit chilly (Bay Area chilly, not Illinois chilly), with some clouds.

Organization & Production: Brazen is one of those organizations where runners’ only worries are getting there, running their race, getting home, and stiffly hobbling into their dwelling. All necessary information is on the website, online registration is easy, the pre-race instructions email is sent several days before the race and gives very complete information and instructions, and everything from start/finish area set-up through aid stations and back for recovery flow smoothly. For those who could, there was packet pick-up at Road Runner Sports in Berkeley for several hours each on the two days before the race. Or one may pick up one’s bib and race T-shirt on race day morning. Either option always runs smoothly and quickly.

Brazen marks its courses well, though once one was on the Alameda Creek Trail the choices were to stay on course, wander into people’s back yards, or tumble down the bank into the creek. The markings on trails in the park were clear. Brazen also places numbered mile markers along its course, making keeping track of one’s progress easy. Brazen had four aid stations at this race. The first was inside the park, about 1.4 miles from the start. The second was at the end of the pedestrian bridge, where 10K runners would pass it twice, and half runners three times. This station area got a bit congested as outbound mid-pack 10K runners and mid-pack and slower half marathon runners inbound from their first out-and-back leg arrive around the same time-frame from two different directions. The volunteers did their best to spread runners out by how they positioned the tables and the volunteers handing out water and electrolyte drink. The other two aid stations were at the ends of the two out-and-back legs, encountered only by half marathon runners. Brazen aid stations always feature a wide range of sweet and salty snacks, fruit, water, electrolyte drink, and sodas, and GU gel packets.

Swag & Goodies: Brazen’s recovery area food is pretty amazing for variety. Finishing runners were greeted by having their names called out on the PA system, given their finisher’s medal, and handed a bottle of water (if wanted). A few yards away in a covered picnic area was an even wider variety of cookies, chips, cakes, pretzels, fruit, and candies. Brazen’s “signature” recovery snack is multiple flavors of It’s It ice cream sandwiches (my favorite is mint ice cream!). Evidently there is a Costco near Quarry Lakes Park, as there were boxes and boxes of extra large pizzas – I saw “deluxe”, pepperoni, no-meat veggie, and cheese. The deluxe was very tasty.

Bib: Brazen doesn’t do plain race bibs. The usual pattern has distance color-coded stripes, the distance, the race name and date, artwork shared with the race T-shirt, the runner’s name, Brazen Racing’s logo, and the bib number. NYE 2017 bib artwork featured a black hotrod that looked like a hybrid of the Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coupe” and ZZ Top’s panel wagon. Running from the front of the hotrod, along the front fenders, and onto the doors were blue flames. At the back of the hotrod was a sign, “Now Leaving 2017”.

T-Shirt: The NYE 2017 race T-shirt for half marathon runners is a light blue tech type with the Brazen Racing logo across the chest in front and race artwork and sponsors’ logos on the back. The race artwork has the hotrod described above with a large full moon behind it. It’s definitely going to be a favorite!

Finisher’s Medal: The finisher’s medal is large and substantial. It features the hotrod, full moon, the “Now Leaving …” sign, and fireworks bursts. As mentioned above, Brazen does a pair of New Year themed races. I didn’t do NYD, but its medal replaced the moon with the Sun and the sign with a “Now Entering 2018”. The NYD hotrod is purple with yellow flames. For those who participated in both races there was a connector medal with an arched bridge and the words “Pedal to the Metal”. All. Extremely. COOL!

My Results & Opinion of the Race: Having done seven Coastal Trail Runs races and eight Brazen Racing races in 2017, comparing the two is almost inevitable. Using Rock ‘N’ Roll events as a sort of standard for high-end price, Coastal would be low price, and Brazen medium. Coastal’s Tees, and medals are simpler and use the same artwork year to year; Coastal’s bibs are plain white with bib number. Brazen’s Tees, medals, and almost all bibs have artwork that changes from year to year. Both have a fairly wide variety of aid station snacks, Brazen a bit more. Brazen’s recovery area food is more varied, but Coastal grills burgers or brats for finishers of their longer distances, and their finish area cooler has bottles of beer. What the two have in common is that both provide their runners good value and excellent race experiences in a wide variety of venues and trails. Personally, the differences between the two aren’t much of a factor when I choose between the two. The dates, venues, terrains, and distances are my main considerations. I have some preference for Brazen, but on balance Coastal is not a step-down.

2017 was a frustrating year for me, a couple of steps backward (at the least) in my capabilities. Brazen New Year’s Eve was just my fourth completed half marathon in 2017. But I finished NYE under my own power and vertical, and it was my second half in the month of December. So I’ll take it as a restart point. As a whole I like Quarry Lakes Park. It’s really pretty. OTOH, Alameda Creek Trail to me is just OK. However, the new course went farther toward the foothills above Fremont, and that part was prettier as well as not familiar. It looks like Brazen’s Western Pacific half and full Marathons will use the course Brazen usually uses. This may be because that Marathon course is certified for qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I haven’t planned out much of 2018, but the chances that I will “run” or volunteer at Western Pacific and/or New Year’s Eve in 2018 are pretty high.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

ZombieRunner Quarry Lakes (Winter)

ZombieRunner Quarry Lakes (Winter)

Event & Course Description: Coastal Trail Runs' Zombie Runner Quarry Lakes (ZRQL) is one of three races Coastal does at Quarry Lakes Park and the nearby Alameda Creek Trail. In … MORE

Event & Course Description: Coastal Trail Runs’ Zombie Runner Quarry Lakes (ZRQL) is one of three races Coastal does at Quarry Lakes Park and the nearby Alameda Creek Trail. In 2018 the events will be in mid March, the end of June, and mid December. The first two feature 5K, 10K, and half Marathon distances. In the past the December race included a full Marathon distance; a 30K distance was added in 2017.

Quarry Lakes Park has, as the name suggests, lakes that fill what were once quarry pits. The park and the trails in it are really beautiful. The Alameda Creek Trail follows the creek, usually with suburban houses and occasional parks on both sides. The creek is fairly wide, with lots of tules. It’s not my favorite trail run course, but it is much preferable in my mind to a race in central San Jose. Perhaps because of my moderate expectations I was a bit surprised by how much I enjoyed the course this time.

The half Marathon (which I did) course can be described as a “T” with a short vertical stroke and a much longer horizontal stroke. Both strokes in this description have curves and the vertical stroke has a loop in it, so it doesn’t exactly look like the letter T. All runners did the mile and a half outbound side of the vertical stroke. When runners reached the Alameda Creek trail 5K runners turned right, ran along the trail for a little over 3/4 of a mile, and then back into the park for another 3/4 of a mile or so to the finish. Back where the 5K runners turned right the 10K and longer distance runners turned left onto the trail for the left side of the horizontal stroke. After about 2 miles runners reached an aid station where they also turned around. Runners then retraced their steps, and when they reached the point where 5K runners went back into the park – also the location of an aid station – 10K runners took a slightly longer route to the finish. Longer distance runners went out on the second side of the horizontal stroke, about 3.6 miles out and 3;6 back . The turn-around for this leg went up onto a sidewalk to cross to the paved bike path on other side of the creek for the return. There were two aid stations, one on each side of the creek and in sight of each other, for this leg. Runners went slightly past the park reentry, crossed a pedestrian bridge, and then returned to the park reentry and to the finish by the route 10K runners took. On reaching the finish, 30K runners turned around and did the 10K course again, while Marathon runners did the half Marathon course again.

For 5K and 10K runners the course was entirely hard packed dirt and fine gravel. For longer distance runners it was 65%-75% dirt and gravel. The 5K course was mostly exposed, and the 10K course may have had 10%-20% shade. Because of trees on the creek path opposite the park side and the angle of the sun, half and full Marathon runners experienced 30%-40% shade. Except for a few street underpasses and some very gentle inclines, the courses for ZRQL are basically flat.

Organization & Production: Coastal’s races usually flow from checking it out online to registering to finding necessary information on the website to getting to leaving after the race. The “only” hard work is running your race. Quarry Lakes Park is easily accessible and has plenty of parking. ZRQL had almost 430 finishers, and races with 2 or 3 times as many finishers have been accommodated by the park and trails. Runners do have to pay a $5 vehicle entry fee, but Coastal’s registration fees are pretty low.

There were 3 separate start times – the long distances, the 10K, and the 5K. Coastal does gun start timing, so faster runners should position themselves toward the front of their starting pack for the most accurate finish time. The locations of aid stations, as with pretty much all trail races, are dictated by access to the trail. Aid stations for ZRQL were 2.1-2.7 miles apart. Coastal typically has a variety of sugary and salty snacks at aid stations, plus water, electrolyte drink, Coke, and Sprite, and ZRQL was no exception.

Coastal doesn’t do mile markers, so knowing the aid station locations and distances helps one track one’s progress. The website has a chart with the aid station locations and distances between. Coastal DOES mark courses well, though the course for ZRQL is a bit simpler than some of Coastal’s races.

The finish area (a covered group picnic area) food is mostly a super-set of what is at aid stations. However, just as the fastest 30K and Marathon runners the RD fired up a picnic area grill. I did not see what was about to be grilled, but in previous races I’ve seen hamburgers and bratwursts. For liquid recovery/refreshments there were bottled water, sodas, electrolyte drink, and beer (Anchor brand; I also have seen Sierra Nevada at another Coastal race).

Swag & Goodies:

Bib: Coastal Trail Runs bibs are plain white, with organizer logos across the top, their, “Have Fun Out There,” slogan across the bottom, and the bib number in the middle.

T-Shirt: Coastal’s registration fee includes tech type race T-shirts for all distances. Some Tees were “Royal Blue”, some were “Chili Pepper Red” (I saw the boxes). I got red. The race logo on the front is an abstract view of Alameda Creek, looking through tules and across the water course. Across the top of the logo is the race name in green, with the race information (including date) and the Zombie Runner store logo in yellow-orange. The back has the sponsors’ and organizer’s logos. It may not become a favorite, but it’s pleasant and may grow on me. I do like the color,

Finisher’s Medal: The finisher’s medal is a disc with the logo and information from the T-shirt on it (except the date). The ribbon is green and (to my disappointment), unlike other Coastal medals I have from 2017, does not have the year.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: This has been a year of health problems that have affected my endurance and the distances I’ve done in races. There was also a month and a half I hiatus. Prior to Zombie Runner Quarry Lakes I had not done a half Marathon since the Dream Mile in June, then the second half I’d completed in 2017. So my “big” goal in doing Quarry Lakes was to finish a half Marathon. Enjoying the course and day and enjoying Coastal’s race experience were secondary. Maybe having my expectations “looking” elsewhere set me up for it, but I enjoyed all that too, as well as finishing with a time faster than the 7 1/2 hours allowed for the race. Quarry Lakes Park is beautiful, the Alameda Creek Trail is pleasant and occasionally beautiful, the day was cool and sunny, and Coastal consistently gives a great race experience (ZRQL was my seventh Coastal event in 2017). This isn’t my favorite course, but Coastal is a great organizer and those longer distances are calling me. December weather and the flattish courses mean that with training, who knows come December, 2018. My first 30K? My first Marathon?

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

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

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

My previous years' Raves describe this race pretty well. The bib, T-shirt, and medal features Quarry Turkey dancing, holding a large spoon. It's sort of mirror image to the Nitro … MORE

My previous years’ Raves describe this race pretty well. The bib, T-shirt, and medal features Quarry Turkey dancing, holding a large spoon. It’s sort of mirror image to the Nitro Turkey medal, where Nitro has a similarly sized fork. For those who do both races there is a connector medal which has a grinning ear of corn high-fiving Nitro and Quarry.

Quarry Turkey is a second great family time, with another Little Turkeys race (yes, they do get medals!), lots of kids running with their parents, and quite a few in strollers as well. Being less pressed for time and including a half marathon along with the 10K and 5K, each distance has its own start time.

Because Quarry Turkey is the Saturday after Thanksgiving families don’t have to rush home for their Thanksgiving dinner. This makes Quarry Turkey a little more relaxed in pace, with more hanging-out and talk pre-race and during recovery time. Turkey Trots with 20,000 runners have their place and unique vibe, but for me “smaller” races like Nitro and Quarry Turkey (~1000 and ~1200, respectively) are much more enjoyable. 2017 was my fourth Quarry Turkey. It probably won’t be my last.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

Nitro Turkey Thanksgiving Run 10K, 5K & Little Turkeys Race

Nitro Turkey Thanksgiving Run 10K, 5K & Little Turkeys Race

My Raves tend to be rather Dragnetesque – “Just the facts”, lots of them. 2017 was the third year running that I did Nitro Turkey, and my 2016 Rave covers … MORE

My Raves tend to be rather Dragnetesque – “Just the facts”, lots of them. 2017 was the third year running that I did Nitro Turkey, and my 2016 Rave covers the relevant facts pretty well, Brazen is very consistent, and this beautiful location is pretty much their home turf. I’ll give the bling a quick once over. The key feature the Nitro Turkey dancing with a large fork. Brazen does a two-turkey race series and award a special connector medal for people who do both races.

Brazen races are always family friendly, but Nitro Turkey and Quarry Turkey are especially so. Before each race’s main events there are special races for the little ones, a 100-150 yard out-and-back. The 5K and 10K courses are also very stroller friendly, and I saw many runners and walkers pushing strollers, often husband and wife together. I also saw many parent(s)-child(ren) groups as well.

Brazen races usually have somewhat of a family picnic atmosphere, since so many runners are regulars and have become good friends. Nitro Turkey (as well as Quarry Turkey and July’s Dirty Dozen) take it up a notch, as friends are in a celebratory mood, welcoming visitors and first-timers, preparing for family gatherings later in the day. 2017 was my third Nitro Turkey, and it probably won’t be my last.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Down by the Bay 5K & Tot Trot

Down by the Bay 5K & Tot Trot

Event & Course Description: The Down by the Bay 5K & Tot Trot is put on by and benefits the Mountain View Parent Nursery School. Being a charity race, my … MORE

Event & Course Description: The Down by the Bay 5K & Tot Trot is put on by and benefits the Mountain View Parent Nursery School. Being a charity race, my expectations are different from a race put on by professional organizers. One further comment, comparing my course description in my 2015 Rave and the event’s course map (the course hasn’t changed), I don’t know what I was saying. Doh!

The race is set in Sunnyvale Baylands Park. The start/finish arch is on a dirt single track trail, between the Baylands Grove and the Discovery Play Area. The recovery and activities area is in an open grassy area adjacent to the play area. The course is an out-and-back, with the first 1/2 of a mile being different.

Runners went about 30 or 40 yards down the dirt trail to the asphalt parking access road. After 100 yards or so, the course turned onto a trail that paralleled the access road, with the park’s picnic areas and eucalyptus grove along the other side of the trail. After a couple hundred yards the trail rejoined the access road. Because the distance isn’t any different and the surface is smoother, most parents with strollers chose to stay on the access road. Where the trail rejoined the road was the location of the race’s only water station. Runners would pass the station twice on the run. The access road (the Baylands Park Trail) continued for another half mile or so, with a wall on one side (with the Highway 237 freeway on the other side of the wall) and marshes on the other. At the end of the access road and just before Calabasas Creek, runners turned onto the Bay Trail, which is on a levee, and proceeded about a half a mile between marshes to the turn-around. On the return leg, when runners reached the water station they turned onto a trail that circles along the bay side of the park and turned onto the single track trail that led toward the finish. At this point runners could choose to go straight, over four short mounds, or go a little farther, around the mounds. The finish was then 40 or 50 yards ahead.

The race mixes beautiful shady eucalyptus groves in the park with the bleak beauty of the marshes and wetlands along most of the course. I didn’t notice much freeway noise or smell during the half mile section along Highway 237. For those who used the trail instead of the access road, the course would have been about 2/3 packed dirt and gravel trail. Other than the 300 or 400 yards along the picnic areas the course was entirely exposed. In November that usually doesn’t matter, but it is worth remembering and checking weather.

Organization & Production: Down by the Bay is so well organized, with information on the website and emails, that it’s a no worries Register-and-Run race. Except for the race timing people, the race is entirely organized and staffed by a few school staff and lots of volunteers. The water station is encountered a bit early and late in the race, maybe, but its location is dictated by the trails rather than by chosen poorly. On a reasonable day it works fine. The volunteers at the aid station were friendly, helpful, and encouraging. They were also at a key turn, directing runners on their return leg. There were course marshals along the course, with several stationed at the turn-around point. I think I saw some volunteers from a high school or junior high, and some from a Girl Scout Troop.

The finish arch was on a single track trail, so they did not hand out water there. Runners walked 60 or 80 yards to the recovery area where there was bottled water, bananas, oranges, apples,bagels and cream cheese, and blueberry coffee cake (the food handlers wore gloves). The recovery area also had games and activities for kids.

The “Tot Trot” mentioned in the name of the race was run before the 5K race started. The course went from the arch, over the mounds used by the 5K, and back along the trail around the mounds (no 2-way traffic!). I’d guess it was 150-200 yards, not trivial. It was very preschooler and toddler friendly, with many parents accompanying or carrying their children. All Tot Trotters received a finisher’s medal on a beaded chain.

Bib: The bib has a plain white background. The name of the race is across the top in orange letters. Below that is the logo of the race, a blue whale’s tail, and the bib number. In between the name of the race and the bib number, in small letters, is the date. At the bottom are logos of a sponsor and the school. I believe the 2016 bibs were the same, except for the date (smart!). Not spectacular, but easily a cut above a plain white bib with number and sponsor name.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is dark charcoal gray, of a 50-25-25 cotton-rayon-polyester blend, not tech type, but soft to the touch (nicer in that respect than the 2015 Tee). The front has a circular design, with the name of the school around the top, the whale tail logo and race name in the center, and the date around the bottom. The back has the logos of the various sponsors. It’s a pretty nice race Tee, but the fit is almost a size smaller than most I have, which means it doesn’t fit me. Since I use my race Tees for workouts and for general casual wear, this is “advertising” that the Down by the Bay 5K may not get (unless I become smaller in circumference, which would be a good thing).

Finisher’s Medal: There was no finisher’s medal for the 5K runners. It’s a charity race with a strong family emphasis, so I have no problem with there being medals for the Tot Trotters but not 5K runners. It really is about the kids, at the school and at the race event.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: Despite the four mounds that are almost like small hills, my finish time was 70 seconds faster than last week’s completely flat 5K. It was also under a certain time goal I had set, so I’m pretty happy that I’m making progress.

All in all, Down by the Bay 5K was a very well done race. The shirt fit is a disappointment, but it is what it is. Maybe next year they’ll choose a different shirt with a different fit. The race was really well done from checking it out through leaving the parking lot (FREE!) to go home. Down by the Bay 5K was a very pleasant race experience.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

Cambrian Schools 5K Run

Cambrian Schools 5K Run

Event & Course Description: As the race name suggests, this 5K benefits Cambrian School District schools in San Jose. I live in the district and the race was run just … MORE

Event & Course Description: As the race name suggests, this 5K benefits Cambrian School District schools in San Jose. I live in the district and the race was run just a couple of miles from my home. “Cambrian” is the name of an area of San Jose that was developed not long after World War 2 (Hello, Baby-Boomers!).

The race started and finished at Steindorff STEAM school. The course was an out-and-back that used neighborhood streets and a trail through Doerr Park, with a turn-around at Ida Price Middle School. The course was paved (AKA “Streets”), and being a mature neighborhood, had a fair amount of shade. The weather was clear with temperatures in the upper 40s to low 50s, so shade wasn’t exactly critical, though appreciated.

Organization & Production: Small- and medium-scale races (this race had 538 finishers) benefiting a local cause are not like large-scale commercial races or medium-sized trail races organized by for-profit companies. And I adjust my expectations accordingly.

With that preface … the website information and pre-race email for this race were quite complete, everything a runner would need to know to get there, know where to park, and what to expect. A no worries race experience is pretty much a fundamental requirement in my view, and this race delivered it. Packet pick-up was in my neighborhood (how cool is that?!).

While the start/finish arch was on Foxworthy Avenue, the adjacent school play area had pavilions for the various district schools, a local charity, a sponsor, and for race day registration and packet pick-up. The registration and pick-up table could have been located better, or signs could have been posted to direct people there (several people asked me where it was). The race was started about 20 minutes late. I didn’t hear any explanation, but I saw quite a few people arriving late. Some might not yet have picked up their bib and Tee. So I’m guessing the delay was to accommodate them.

Self-corraling was kind of marginal, so faster runners should make sure they get toward the front. There were lots of parents with small children and strollers, enough that I finished mid-pack (an unusual experience for me), and I found myself threading through families and strollers. I consider this to be inherent to the nature of this race. A large number of the runners were families with children in the district’s schools. No doubt some have had experience with races (and I did see some Tees from other races), but for many it was probably their first race of any distance. So the idea of self-corraling would be unfamiliar to them. Getting families out there running together was the purpose of the race (besides being a fundraiser), so I was fine with that.

The course was through nice suburban streets, pleasant but not unlike the street I live on. The neighborhood is in the district. San Jose Police had closed down the streets all along the course, so there was no traffic to worry about. There were student volunteer course marshals positioned along the route, though there was one turn that probably should have had one but did not (I saw a dad and son go off-course there). There were water stations (on both sides of the street) about a half mile from the turn-around point. There was a first aid and information table right near the turn-around.

Bib: This was a small pleasant (visually) surprise. “Normal”, in my experience is a plain white bib with a number and maybe the charity’s name or logo in a color different from that of the bib number. The top of this bib has a sky blue background stripe, with the Cambrian School District logo and the race logo, which includes the name and original date (see below for more about that). About half the bib is a white stripe in the middle with the bib number. Across the bottom is a thin yellow stripe with the url for the district. All in all, a much nicer bib than I would expect. I wonder if a district parent does graphic design and a sponsor did the printing (i.e. smart organizing!).

T-Shirt: I’m a T-shirt snob. I like the feel of tech-type T-shirts. Reality is that cotton Tees are the norm for 5K and 10K races, and this race is no exception. It benefits schools, so being careful with their money is a good thing! That said, it is a custom design, a running shoe with the mascot logos of the various district schools around the shoe. The artwork was done by a district student, very cool! Above the shoe is the name of the race, and below it the original date. The Tee itself is fluorescent green, a very practical color for runners who run on streets in the evening (good thinking!).

Finisher’s Medal: There was no finisher’s medal, a budgetary choice with which I am entirely fine. The race benefits the district schools. ‘Nuff said.

My Results & Opinion of the Race: I’m fine with my finish time. I worked for it, and it was what I could do. I finished vertical,which is a good thing.

All in all, this was a pleasant race experience; in job performance review terms, it “Exceeded Expectations”. This race was originally scheduled to run October 15, 2017, but that was the week of the big fires in the North Bay. There was enough smoke in San Jose air, even though the fires were a hundred miles away, that the school district decided to postpone the race due to poor air quality. That took a lot of flexibility on the part of the district, organizing committee, and volunteers. The only visible artifacts of the change were the original date being on the race T-shirt and the bib. These had probably been printed before the fires had even started.

Basically I did this race because the weekend was open, and the novelty of the packet pick-up being at the district office in my neighborhood. I can’t speak for next year at this point, but I would definitely consider doing it again.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

Was this review helpful?

 

ZombieRunner Halloween Run

ZombieRunner Halloween Run

Event & Course Description: Normally the Zombie Runner Halloween Run uses the Los Gatos Creek, Flume, and Jones trails, with the start/finish area in Los Gatos Creek Park. And normally … MORE

Event & Course Description:
Normally the Zombie Runner Halloween Run uses the Los Gatos Creek, Flume, and Jones trails, with the start/finish area in Los Gatos Creek Park. And normally the distances are 5 miles, half marathon, and marathon. Courtesy of extensive sprinkler system work near and across the trail in Vasona Lake Park all that was changed in 2017.

Coastal Trail Runs moved the race to Hellyer Park and the Coyote Creek Trail, where they do their Turkey Trot. And the distances were 5K, 10K (which I did), half marathon, and marathon. Starting and finishing Hellyer Park, the course is an out-and-back along the Coyote Creek Trail. Runners start off by circling the park (which has a very nice lake in it) and then following Coyote Creek along the trail to their several turn-around points. Marathon runners do the half marathon course twice, including circling the park. The Coyote Creek Trail is almost flat, mostly ruralish, well shaded, and very pleasant. Except for about 50 yards of single track dirt the course is entirely paved. Degree of shade depends some on the time of day, but the 10K course is about 60%-70% shade, with much of the exposed area being the circuit around the park, when the sun is very low and it’s likely to be overcast. In the first part of October SF Bay Area weather can vary from cool to hot to cool to … . In the latter part of October the weather starts to settle into fall, and in 2017 the weather was reasonably cool.

Organization & Production:
This was my 6th Coastal Trail Runs event in 2017. Coastal is the kind of organizer where runners only need to worry about getting to the venue and running their race. Coastal consistently delivers an excellent race experience.

Coastal marks its courses very thoroughly with color-coded flags and with signs. Coastal’s aid stations (very consistent from race to race) normally have both water and electrolyte drink, plus salty and sugary snacks. I also saw electrolyte gel packets. Their aid station volunteers are always helpful and encouraging.

Swag & Goodies: Coastal finish areas always have plenty of salty and sugary snacks, in even greater variety than the aid stations. Cut up fruit is available, and there is an ice chest with sodas, beer, and bottled water. As I was recovering the grill in the picnic area was being fired up, and as I was leaving I noticed sausages were being grilled.

Bib: Coastal has plain white background bibs with the organizers’ logos, the bib number, and the slogan, “Have Fun Out There”. Plain, but it works.

T-Shirt: Coastal only does tech type race T-shirts. At the Halloween Run I saw shirts that were white, fluorescent yellow, fluorescent green, and black. Mine is green. It features a large fanged jack o’lantern and bats, with the race name, (correct) distances, date, and the logo of the main sponsor, Zombie Runner. On the back are the logos of the organizer and other sponsors. For my taste it’s just OK. I’ll use it for work outs as I normally would, but it won’t be a favorite.

Finisher’s Medal: The finisher’s medal is a disc, a bit larger than Coastal’s usual medals. Except for a dull silver outer rim, the background of the medal is black. At the top is a jack o’lantern headed runner and the Zombie Runner logo. Below them are the race name and the distances of the usual race (but incorrect in 2017). The ribbon is (What else?!) black with the year on several places along it. One way Coastal reduces expenses (and registration costs) is by using the same artwork on its medals over the years, and the same medals for several years’ races. So this medallion was probably also used for the 2016 race (with an appropriately dated ribbon). Personally, I’m totally fine with that, and if I run the Halloween Run again next year that medal will be 3 or 4 feet away from this year’s. Coastal’s medals are usually very good but not amazing. This one will be among my favorites.

Being one of two in the Old-Goats-Who-Finish-the-Race-Vertical age group, I placed second. The medallion is silver, with the Zombie Runner logo. The ribbon is sky blue, with “SECOND PLACE” along it.

My Results & Opinion of the Race:
I’m not in love with my finish time, but it’s what I can do presently when I work at it. So I’m happy with the effort.

Because Coastal had to change venues, this running of the Halloween Run isn’t typical of that particular race. The usual course is quite different, especially challenging for runners doing the half and full marathons. But it does show Coastal’s flexibility, adaptability and consistency. Would I do this race again? Very probably. Coastal is an excellent organizer, and the usual course is very close to my home (under 10 minutes’ drive). I’m also planning to do one more Coastal race in 2017.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?

 

Surfer’s Path Hang 10/5

Surfer’s Path Hang 10/5

Event & Course Description: Surfer's Path Hang 10/5 is one of a three race series: Surfer's Path 10K & 5K in late February; Surfer's Path Marathon & Capitola Half Marathon … MORE

Event & Course Description:
Surfer’s Path Hang 10/5 is one of a three race series: Surfer’s Path 10K & 5K in late February; Surfer’s Path Marathon & Capitola Half Marathon in May; Surfer’s Path Hang 10/5 in October. All share much of the same course, except the marathon and half marathon start in Santa Cruz instead of Capitola, and the marathon is a double out and back, with the second leg being unique among the races.

10 and 5 mile runners start together, heading westward along Cliff, Opal Cliff, and E. Cliff Drive, near the shore and between the shore and Corcoran and Schwann Lagoons. At 7th Avenue in Santa Cruz runners turn inland near the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor and cross Arana Gulch, which feeds Woods Lagoon and the Harbor. Just before the gulch runners go onto the Arana Gulch Trail, cross it, do a half mile loop and begin the return leg to Capitola.

The course has some sea and beach views, but some of it is among vacation homes, bungalows, and a mildly funky business district. There were several beaches along the way, so runners did see surfers in wet-suits with their boards. The course features several short rolling hills, and except for a dirt section of the Arana Gulch Trail loop, is paved streets. The temperature during the race was in the 60s.

Organization & Production:
The race website information is very complete, with maps and elevation profiles, schedule, and parking information. As I often say, runners simply need to worry about getting there and running their race. The organizer, Lifestyle Escapes, didn’t send out a pre-race email, but it really would not have been necessary.

There were 3 aid stations, with water and friendly volunteers. While the course map was entirely adequate, the course was marked with lots of chalk or flour arrows, and there were lots of encouraging volunteers along the course, as well as course marshals at key points.

The course is maintained for a minimum 15 minute mile pace. Slower people, like me, would have to follow traffic laws, beginning some time after the half-way point. Being slow (DLF), I had to do that. It did not impact what I did much, other than staying in bike lanes or on the sidewalk the last 4 or 4 1/2 miles. I was able to top off my water bottle at the mile 6 aid station. After that the other aid stations had already packed and left, as had whatever good stuff was happening in the finish area, including the finish arch.

BUT! I had my wife let the organizers know I was still coming. That everything was dismantled was due to time limits in the organizer’s contract with the City of Capitola. The start/finish area was in a touristy commercial area, so stores would be upset if their normal business traffic were disrupted. The race directors hung out until I finished, as did the photographer. The RDs were super nice people and had a goodie bag for me. Tipping off my conclusion somewhat, it’s to a fair degree because of them that I am considering doing their 10K next February.

Swag & Goodies:

Bib: The bib is really nice. The background is a close-up picture of a large wave. At the top is the name of the race. In the middle left is the bib number, with the race logo to the right of it Across the bottom, in dark blue script is the locations and year.

T-Shirt: The race T-shirt was handed out to people as they finished. This generally makes me a bit nervous, since I’ve had a poor experience with that kind of arrangement. However they managed it, I did receive a Tee in my size even though I finished last. The shirt is fairly simple, but likely to be a favorite. The shirt is tech type and maroon, a color I like. The front simply has the name of the race series, “Surfer’s Path” in script. The back has a surf board with three S-curved stripes: light blue changing to dark blue; white; orange changing to yellow. Across the board is the race name, and below is the year

Finisher’s Medal: I’m going to “cheat” a little with my description, courtesy of a Facebook friend who posted a picture of the medal (he’s fast). One of the things that didn’t go well for the organizer is that 2 of the 3 boxes of medals went astray. So most who did the 10 mile distance didn’t receive a medal, as probably did a few who did the 5 mile distance. This is something outside of the organizer’s control, and occasionally happens to the very best. The medal is in the shape of a surf board, with the name of the race and year like a banner across the top. The board is very similar to the one on the race T-shirt, with blue, white, and orange S-curved stripes. The medallion is not huge, but it is a very decent size. The ribbon features curved stripes in the same colors as the medallion, with “Surfer’s Path” and “2017” along the ribbon. I received my medal by mail 11 days after the race. I was expecting 13 or 15 days, so that went well.

My Results & Opinion of the Race:
I didn’t pay attention to a lot of the shore area I could see in the first couple of miles. As strange as it sounds, I didn’t realize how much I could have seen until the last couple of miles. Being strange, I’m a little disappointed, but know I should not be.. I did notice lots of nice, shaggy, and fragrant eucalyptus trees along much of the course. There was some really gorgeous scenery along the course! None of the hills was especially long or steep, but they were definitely enough to slow one down and burn up energy.

For slow people like me, one has to be aware of the time limit and the adjustments that need to be made for the latter part of the race. Mostly, it’s following normal pedestrian traffic laws and being sure to top off one’s water bottle at mile 4 or 6. Letting the RDs know beforehand that you are slower and giving an estimated finish time would be a good idea.

Have I mentioned yet that I’m slow? More importantly, would I do this event again? It’s a year away, so I’ll just say I would consider it. All in all, Surfer’s Path Hang 10/5 was well organized, and the people organizing it are really nice. All told, it was a very good race experience. I’m definitely interested in the 10K and 5K race next February. While I hope my endurance then will be better than it is now, the race is managed at a 20 minute mile pace, which is slower than I did in this 10-miler.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

Was this review helpful?