Overall Rating
Overall Rating (1 Review)
4
(1 Ratings)(1 Review)
DIFFICULTY
4
SCENERY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
3
2020 EVENT POSTPONED FROM OCT. *** The Fall Showdown is a mixed Trail Run. The 5K is a straight out and back on a paved course (the Old San Pablo Dam Road), while the 5 Miler and Half Marathon veer off onto dirt trail with rolling small hills and loads … MORE
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    PeteSinCA FIRST-TIMER '16

    Event & Course Description: The organizer of the Fall Showdown, with half marathon, 5 Mile, and 5K distances, is Wolf Pack Events, which organizes smallish races and duathlons near San … MORE

    Event & Course Description:
    The organizer of the Fall Showdown, with half marathon, 5 Mile, and 5K distances, is Wolf Pack Events, which organizes smallish races and duathlons near San Pablo Reservoir in the East San Francisco Bay Area (between Berkeley and Walnut Cheek). There were 93 finishers of all distances of this year’s Fall Showdown. Small does not mean poorly organized, and there is plenty of room for this race to get larger. The founder/owner of Wolf Pack is himself an athlete with much experience in athletic events. He knows what athletes doing this race will need and provides it. While done carefully as to costs, the Fall Showdown was really well done.

    The course is reasonably simple to describe. It’s an out-and-back that starts and ends at the San Pablo Reservoir Recreation Area, going to and climbing up to San Pablo Dam, with a short out-and-back loop in the hills above the dam and another short out-and-back leg that crosses the dam. The scenery varies from trees along the lake front, large groves of trees, and brown (it’s fall, remember?) tree-dotted hills surrounding the dam – and a herd of goats. I lost count of how many times the course crossed wood plank bridges. Very. Scenic. The surfaces are varied, asphalt and hard-packed access road, and dirt trails. I’d estimate the split to be 50-50 road and trail.

    The terrain I’d rate as fairly challenging. The first and last 4 miles are mostly gently rolling, not too bad, but NOT insignificant. But much of those 5 or so miles in the middle are fairly hilly, including a pretty steep ~.6 mile climb to the top of the dam. For those familiar with Brazen’s Ultra Half Series, I’d rate this race as of similar difficulty to one of the less difficult in that series. SF Bay Area weather is very changeable in the months of September and early October. For the 2016 Fall Showdown it was very warm, almost hot. The first and last 3 miles are in and out of shade; the 4 or 5 miles in the dam area are pretty exposed, and the middle of the out and back legs is pretty shaded. Runners doing this race should definitely train for steep hills, study the elevation chart and map, and watch race day weather forecasts for the week or two before the race.

    Organization & Production:
    Organization was simple, but well done. Registration was easy, and the website had complete information, including an interactive course map and elevation chart. Parking was ample and free (nice!). Check-in was race day only, well organized, with ample time. Timing was from “gun start” to crossing the finish mat using a timing ankle strap that was returned after finishing. Volunteers were knowledgeable, helpful, and encouraging (including the owner, who staffed one of the aid stations). The aid stations had water, sports drink, and Clif Shot gel packets. The course was reasonably well marked, though I went off-course twice. The first time I misunderstood the markings and went the wrong way around the loop above the dam (i.e. distance and elevation change not affected). The second time, when I was very tired and hot, I missed a marking and went a longer (1.25-1.40 miles) way, but got back on course without back-tracking. I think I’ll own that as mostly my mistake.

    Swag & Goodies:
    I saw the finish area food before the race, and it was pretty nice, fruit and muffins, as well as bottled water. By the time I finished – the last to finish the half – it was all consumed or packed away (or maybe I was too exhausted to see it), but I was given a bottled water (not cold). I was close to wondering if I was going to barf, so I wasn’t really looking for food.

    Bib: The bib was plain white, with my bib number and the name of the sponsor, RoadID.

    T-Shirt: The race T-shirt is white poly-cotton blend, with a very nice, colorful graphic on the front, the race name, and the date.

    Finisher’s Medal: The medal is also fairly simple, an outer rim with laurel leaves and space in the center for a sticker. The sticker is very nice, the same as the race T-shirt front. The ribbon is two stripes, maroon and silver. I also won my age group, being the oldest to do the half by 7 years. The award is a plaque that matches the T-shirt, adding the age group.

    My Results & Opinion of the Race:
    Small and simple does not need to mean spartan or poorly done. From registering through leaving after the race, everything was well done. And while I’ve seen races with much more elaborate snacks at aid stations and the finish area and swag, those are also five to ten times the size of the Fall Showdown. I’ve also seen much larger races with less at aid stations, finish area, and similar swag. So I’d say the Fall Showdown is bargain-priced, but a very good value. The scenery was excellent, and the people – volunteers and runners – were really nice.

    Would I do the Fall Showdown again? Very possibly. Wolf Pack does several races a year in the San Pablo Reservoir, so I might do a different Wolf Pack race to see Reservoir in a different season of the year.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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  1. Races
  2. Fall Showdown Half Marathon, 5 Miler & 5K