Overall Rating
Overall Rating (33 Reviews)
4.1
(33 Ratings)(33 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.8
SCENERY
2.9
PRODUCTION
4.4
SWAG
4.1
The Oakland Running Festival is on the map to stay, featuring the flattest and fastest course in the Bay Area. It has been nationally recognized as the Bay Area race to run by Competitor Magazine. Corrigan Sports makes the process easy from registration to race day, and the people of … MORE
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Recent reviews

    K2ayers REPEAT RUNNER '17

    On Sunday April 2, 2017 I ran the half marathon in The Oakland Running Festival. What an amazing experience. This was my second year participating in this event and hands … MORE

    On Sunday April 2, 2017 I ran the half marathon in The Oakland Running Festival. What an amazing experience. This was my second year participating in this event and hands down, I have to say that it’s one of the best organized events I’ve been a part of. This year I had the honor of being a volunteer mentor for Running for a Better Oakland (RBO). RBO is a non-profit organization that teaches youth to run long distances. Their training was tested on Sunday as they ran in the 5k and half marathon races of The Oakland Running Festival. I ran with a great group of young half marathon runners who swept the podium for their age group by securing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place spots. In the early part of the race, we ran as a group trying to keep the kids from burning off too much energy too early and trying to keep them hydrated on a sunny race morning. We told jokes, we laughed and we discussed their race goals. One of the kids was a first time half marathoner. He was reluctant to stop at water stations fearing it would affect his race time. He slowly came around as the temperature escalated and the miles added up. Another talented young man who had run this race before developed some side stitches when the double digit miles began, but after we slowed the pace down by about 15 seconds/mi he was able to finish strong and establish a new PR of 1:35:52 at 13 years old!!! Needless to say, it was an amazing experience and I feel extremely blessed to have been a part of it. My two sons also participated in the RBO program. They each ran in the 5k race and both surprised themselves at what they were capable of accomplishing. They woke up extremely early with me and arrived in Oakland by 6am. One was able to run without walking for entire 5k for the first time. The other ran one of his fastest times. Both sprinted across the finish line in a victorious fashion. As usual, my loving and supportive wife came out to watch all the madness take place. She said our 2 year old son almost jumped out the stroller when the Kids Fun Run began. We’ll have to make sure that he’s participating as well next year.

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    Angela REPEAT RUNNER '18

    ***LOCATION*** Oakland, CA ***DATE*** Late March (March 25, 2018 this year) ***PRICE*** The Oakland Running Festival includes several different events. Depending on when you signed up this year, the price … MORE

    ***LOCATION***
    Oakland, CA

    ***DATE***
    Late March (March 25, 2018 this year)

    ***PRICE***
    The Oakland Running Festival includes several different events. Depending on when you signed up this year, the price range was….
    – Marathon: $100-160
    – Marathon Relay: $180-280
    – Half Marathon: $70-125
    – 5K: $30-60
    – We Run The Town Challenge (5K & Half): $95-175
    – Kid’s Race: $15-20

    (For what it’s worth, another slight increase since I ran the half in 2016.)

    ***DEADLINES/SELL-OUT FACTOR***
    This year, there were still spaces in the half and full as of the expo on Saturday. Not sure about the 5K or relay. No race day registration.

    ***FIELD SIZE***
    Again, not sure about the caps, but the results page lists the following numbers of finishers:

    Marathon – 611 finishers (slightly down from 2016)
    Half Marathon – 2483 (slightly down from 2016)
    5K – 3494 (significantly up from 2016)

    ***THE EXPO***
    As in past years that I ran, the expo was at the Marriott City Center right off 12th Street BART in Oakland. I don’t love having to BART to Oakland the day before the race (it’s a solid 2 hours once you walk to BART, take the BART, hit the expo, & get back home) but at least it’s close to BART. As in past years it comprised pretty much what you’d expect–a few running clothes / gear purveyors, a few health / fitness booths, sign-up booths for other races, & a few community groups.

    In past years you had to print out an email and show your ID, but this year, all you had to do was tell the volunteers at the bib table your number (emailed about seven times during the previous week). It wasn’t too crowded & I was in & out in 10-15 minutes.

    ***THE COURSE***
    I signed up for this race because of the reputation of the course as a pretty, hilly, cool meandering tour of Oakland, so I was dismayed when the race organizers announced a month before the race that they would be changing the course into a flat, boring route that pretty much just loops downtown and the industrial Oakland port area. They were not straightforward about the reasons for this and in my opinion dealt very unprofessionally with runners who had been training for a very different course and were understandably pissed. (Word is there were permit issues with the usual course.)

    To make matters worse, at least one turnaround was misplaced by about three blocks, so most runners were clocking 26.6-27.2 via GPS which is way beyond what can be accounted for by GPS and tangent errors. The race organizers then claimed that this change was necessary ahead of time (so they knew about it) but the online map did not get updated (and the change was not announced in any other way). Again, super unprofessional, and the way they dealt with (again) rightfully disappointed runners was also unprofessional.

    Yes, this year’s course was flatter as promised, but it was also really boring with virtually no crowd support until you get back to downtown around maybe mile 14-15. Even then it was sparse, with many areas of downtown sort of empty-feeling (though there were a few standouts, like the Taiko drummers in Ogawa Plaza). It was also definitely NOT fast, including many hairpin turns (and a lot of turns in general) and a stretch of dirt through Shoreline Park with really sketchy footing. However, the volunteers and Oakland Police Officers controlling traffic were all great and I think nearly all of them said something encouraging to me as I ran by. There were also plenty of aid stations for my needs (and again, great volunteers).

    One last thing I would say if you run the full is that with only ~600 people, you get really spread out fairly early in the race, so even mid-packers can find themselves running with very few people around them a lot of the time (though the relay runners help with this some).

    ***STAGING***
    The usual Snow Park staging area is super-convenient to the 19th Street BART (although the trains don’t run early enough on Sunday to get you to the marathon start) but because of the new course the start/finish & staging area were at Eastshore Park more or less at 580 and Grand, which made it not at all convenient to BART. On the other hand, if you get there early enough, there is plenty of super close street parking on Grand, quickly accessible off the freeway and free on Sundays. There are also plenty of reasonably priced garages in Oakland.

    Gear check was basically right by the start & BYO bag which I think is great. It was cold so I opted to drop my stuff as late as possible and pretty much walked right up. (Now…trying to get my bag back after; THAT took nearly half an hour. A lot of races seem to struggle with having a great system for quickly finding bags by bib number.) Also a billion port-a-potties (YAY)!!

    The start area vibe was a bit weird compared to past years. When I’ve run before, there’s always been upbeat music, someone on a loud speaker keeping you updated, the National Anthem, an exciting countdown to the start, etc. But this year it was just the start gate. I didn’t hear any announcements, and the race went off at 7:00am with basically no fanfare. (In fact, I didn’t even realize when the race started!) Not really sure what was up with that.

    ***SWAG***
    This year the marathoners got a pretty nice cotton quarter zip light monogrammed sweatshirt, which was pretty nice, and a hefty medal as usual. I think as usual the half marathoners got a long sleeve tech t and the 5K runners got a regular tech t-shirt. Instead of a giant bag full of samples & coupons you won’t use and fliers for races you won’t run, you can log into your “virtual goody bag” online & see if there are any fliers or coupons you’re interested in, which I appreciated because it didn’t mean a bunch of unnecessary trash & recycling.

    ***OVERALL ASSESSMENT***
    I have really enjoyed the half marathon in the past, but MAN, I was not impressed with a) this year’s new last-minute course, b) how CSE handled the course change, c) the haphazard placement of mile markers, or d) how they handled the very reasonable inquiries about the certification and accuracy of the new course. Things happen with courses, especially last-minute ones in a busy city. But be honest and straightforward with people, in as timely a manner as you can. And frankly there’s no excuse for responding to questions from your customers in such a curt & dismissive way. I’m not totally crossing it off my list of good local races, but I will think very carefully about signing up again and about which distance I run.

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    M_Sohaskey Mar 30, 2018 at 1:51pm

    Oakland is such a cool city to run in (I ran my half PR there), which makes their dropping the ball on this one even more frustrating. Like you I'd been looking forward to running the old (hilly, scenic) course one of these years, and if this course change is permanent then I won't be rushing to run anytime soon. And I'd agree on the GPS reading... after 31 marathons, experience tells me a Garmin reading of 26.3 +/– 0.1 miles is standard for a well-measured course. Bottom line though, 26.2 miles is a long freaking way to run on any course, so congrats! Now take care, recover well and stay healthy for Boston — I'll be rooting hard for you on Patriots' Day!

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    andreak REPEAT RUNNER '18

    I participated in the Oakland Running Festival in 2012 for my first half marathon and then as my second marathon the following year. I was looking forward to running it … MORE

    I participated in the Oakland Running Festival in 2012 for my first half marathon and then as my second marathon the following year. I was looking forward to running it again because it had been so long.

    About a month prior to the race, they changed the course and it was a huge disappointment. I’m not sure why they did, but supposedly they couldn’t get permits because of other events happening later in the day.

    We started and finished at Eastshore Park by Lake Merritt which was nice because the festival area was huge. The course used to showcase different parts of Oakland, but the new marathon repeated sections of the industrial areas and it was nothing like before. Very boring course and hard to get into a good pace. The roads were also not in the best conditions and had lots of potholes.

    The course was also over half a mile long; I spoke to many different paces runners who all finished with a recorded distance of at least 26.8. My Garmin showed 26.86 when I finished. The mile markers were off and inconsistent and it made for a tougher race.

    The different races were given different medals which was nice. And the finish line festival had a lot of great booths in addition to Fenton’s Ice Cream giving out free samples. We got a quarter zip shirt as the race shirt, but I haven’t tried it on yet.

    Unfortunately, there wasn’t too many positives about this race. I hope next year they can fix the issues from this year and hopefully change the course back. I don’t think I’ll be running it again though.

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    M_Sohaskey Mar 26, 2018 at 5:19pm

    Bummer the new course was such a disappointment, but glad to hear Fenton’s saved the day! And I’m doubly disappointed since I’ve been looking forward to running the OAK full one of these days... now it sounds like I should wait until they change the course again (and measure it correctly) ☹️. All that said, a marathon is still hella far to run, and especially on asphalt. Congrats on conquering the inaugural ORF Ultra 😁, and thanks for another awesome review!

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    marcok FIRST-TIMER '16

    My first Half Marathon ever. Run with my daughter and had a great time. Very well organized. Love the training runs especially the preview one. Wonderful volunteers the day of … MORE

    My first Half Marathon ever. Run with my daughter and had a great time. Very well organized. Love the training runs especially the preview one. Wonderful volunteers the day of the race and lots of goodies at the end including very nice massage. Thanks

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    marcok REPEAT RUNNER '17

    Love this race. Very well organized. great course not easy but not difficult either. This year I run on my B-day and made a PR. great after race party. MORE

    Love this race. Very well organized. great course not easy but not difficult either. This year I run on my B-day and made a PR. great after race party.

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    jonoringading REPEAT RUNNER '17

    I actually did the "run the Town Challenge, of both the 5k and then the half marathon. I came in 2nd in Age group for the combined time! (Hope the … MORE

    I actually did the “run the Town Challenge, of both the 5k and then the half marathon. I came in 2nd in Age group for the combined time! (Hope the combined race can be added as a distance option?)
    I ran the Half right after setting a PR in the 5k, and was running a Marathon in a week, so I wanted to not injure myself. I ended up about 6 minutes behind my goal pace, but very happy overall. This is a very friendly half for first timers, because it is so flat. I love the Taiko Drummers, and other crowd support on the course. It is also cool to join the Marathon Runners on the last part of the course.

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    M_Sohaskey May 16, 2017 at 6:19pm

    Your wish is our command, John – happy to add the "We Run the Town Challenge" as a distance option. And congrats on the age group runner-up! I'm guessing that wasn't a small field of competitors. Sounds like Oakland provided a nice tune-up for... which marathon the next week? We'd love to hear about it! :)

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    jonoringading REPEAT RUNNER '17

    I actually did the "run the Town Challenge, of both the 5k and then the half marathon. I came in 2nd in Age group for the combined time! (Hope the … MORE

    I actually did the “run the Town Challenge, of both the 5k and then the half marathon. I came in 2nd in Age group for the combined time! (Hope the combined race can be added as a distance option?)
    This 5k was a little long, so according to Garmin it was my PR on an Official 5k Race. Due to construction, the start and finish was moved to the Eastshore Park side of Lake Merritt. This had a fast, very slightly downhill start which allowed for an easier warm up. There was free Erdinger N/A Beer at the end, which I really enjoy as a recovery beverage. (They also had 2 types with alcohol as well.)

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    amandasava REPEAT RUNNER '17

    I admit, I am biased when it comes to this race. I've run a race in the Oakland Running Festival every year since the inaugural race in 2010 - this … MORE

    I admit, I am biased when it comes to this race. I’ve run a race in the Oakland Running Festival every year since the inaugural race in 2010 – this is the third time I’ve done the 5k. I live close by so not only is this my hometown race, but I can walk to and from the finish (that’s a great perk).

    Due to the construction around the usual start/finish area there was a course change and I think it really made for a great change. We started at the Pergola at Lake Merritt and ran a 5k loop around the lake. It’s a flat, easy and beautiful course.

    The shirt and medal were nice (the medal has a bottle opener on it), the volunteers were friendly and enthusiastic and the finishers village was great (TONS of food from Whole Foods and free beer).

    New this year, a combo/challenge medal in partnership with the Rock n Roll San Francisco half. All you had to do was both races and you got an extra medal – yay!

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    kyrah REPEAT RUNNER '17

    Last year I did the marathon relay. This year I did the half. The half course is beautiful and relatively flat, but does have a merry-go-round feel to it at … MORE

    Last year I did the marathon relay. This year I did the half.
    The half course is beautiful and relatively flat, but does have a merry-go-round feel to it at times. Definitely one of the most organized races that I’ve participated in. I look forward to coming back again next year.

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    jrmitch85 FIRST-TIMER '17

    Overly concentrated Gatorade at the aid stations, and in the last five miles there were not enough aid stations. Disorganized running festival at the finish, as we never knew where … MORE

    Overly concentrated Gatorade at the aid stations, and in the last five miles there were not enough aid stations. Disorganized running festival at the finish, as we never knew where we were going to get medals from. The expo had vendor booths that closed before the end of the expo, which made the expo one of the lower quality expos I have ever experienced. Host hotel also didn’t allow late check out, therefore runners couldn’t return to take a shower. The course was a mix of beauty and run down areas with boarded up windows. You don’t go anywhere near the nice parts of Jack London Square, and so it is a bit deceptive to say you run through JLS. The race has 4 of the last 6 miles on unshaded road. Overall, I had good expectations, but the race and organizers and partners did not live up to their reputations.

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    pasq77 FIRST-TIMER '17

    This is my first "big" race I think the most runners at any one even I have ever attended before this was probably around 1200 or so. To hear that … MORE

    This is my first “big” race I think the most runners at any one even I have ever attended before this was probably around 1200 or so. To hear that there are 10,000 attendees and share a race with 2500+ people was pretty exciting. I was a bit disappointed with my time but did not let that color the experience.

    Pre Race – I decided 2 days before the race that I wanted to do it and actually had no issues registering or picking up my bib. The pick up and festivities were at the Oakland Marriott.

    Race Day – They held the Marathon and 5K early around 7:30 the 1/2 was at 9:30. This was to allow those who wanted to participate in both the 5K and 1/2 to receive a special “Run this Town” Oakland medal. Overall the setup and the vibe were great. There was plenty of port-a-potties room to sit down and enjoy the great weather. The 1/2 actually started earlier the advertised so I am glad I was already there. The race wound through downtown Oakland which was fine there are some better sites to be seen in Oakland and I was surprised that it did not go through some of the residential or waterfront areas.

    There were plenty of people on the sidelines cheering us on they were awesome and helped me through some tough miles at the end. Aid stations were spread throughout the course but I still can’t get used to throwing my water cup on the ground and ended up with one in my pocket most of the last 10 miles of the race.

    The late start time made for a hot last 4 miles. The finish was pretty cool I was ready to walk and all the cheering kept me going! The medal was pretty cool, the after party was great, its so nice to see people from all race, creed and color enjoying hanging out, listening to music and stretching sore muscles together. They ran out of beer early if that’s your thing you may have been frustrated.

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    clairejustine FIRST-TIMER '16

    The relay was awesome! I did it with 3 other friends, and we each ran 1 leg and all ran the last leg together (totaling about 13 miles each). Certainly, … MORE

    The relay was awesome! I did it with 3 other friends, and we each ran 1 leg and all ran the last leg together (totaling about 13 miles each). Certainly, parts of the course were much tougher than others, like the hills up by the Mormon Temple, but that’s to be expected. Overall, everyone had a lot of fun.

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    amandasava REPEAT RUNNER '16

    I've participated in the Oakland Running Festival in some race every year since it's inaugural year - I've done every race except the actual marathon (which I will tackle one … MORE

    I’ve participated in the Oakland Running Festival in some race every year since it’s inaugural year – I’ve done every race except the actual marathon (which I will tackle one day!). What I love most is that it’s in my home town and that I can walk to the start!

    The spectators and course entertainment are lots of fun, though the aide stations could be a bit better staffed (I may be expecting too much from teen
    volunteers). The race production, course marking and course monitors are good as well. An the bling and finish line goodies are pretty awesome!

    The half marathon course is nice and flat and easy, with a nice finish around Lake Merritt.

    I am biased and I love this race mostly because it’s in Oakland and they do a great job of showing off what the city in a great way.

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    stischh2 FIRST-TIMER '16

    This race suggests runners not wear headphones. I was initially worried about this, as previous races have lacked spectators/motivation. This race was incredibly motivating - people of all ages coming … MORE

    This race suggests runners not wear headphones. I was initially worried about this, as previous races have lacked spectators/motivation. This race was incredibly motivating – people of all ages coming out to cheer, music groups, friendly aid stations. I wish there had been an energy shot station or Gu option (previous races have offered this at later aid stations). Overall, this is a great race. I’ll be participating again next time.

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    kyrah FIRST-TIMER '16

    I ran the anchor leg of the Oakland Running Festival's Marathon Relay. I begin by stating that so you understand the perspective you're reading. This was my first time ever … MORE

    I ran the anchor leg of the Oakland Running Festival’s Marathon Relay. I begin by stating that so you understand the perspective you’re reading. This was my first time ever running a marathon relay which granted me quite a few “first time” experiences. I was able to see 2nd and 3rd leg load up to be bussed to their starting locations. I saw the first leg take off from the starting line. I meandered around the starting line festivities with my family for about 3 hours. This was certainly the first time I saw how boring it was to wait for a race to be over from their perspective. I applaud them and their patience. My team and I communicated via group text. When the first leg handed off the baton he let all of us know. When I received word from the 2nd leg that he had passed the baton I took BART over to the location where the hand off would take place. The BART ticket was included in the packet provided at the expo. As the marathon and half marathon runners passed by, we all cheered. The location for the hand off was in a unique location. We were stationed on MLK blvd in between a liquor store and an apartment complex. The residents looked confused.

    The hand off location was well organized and the people running were very friendly. As I received the baton I began my journey through the streets of Oakland. The course was for the most part through residential neighborhoods. Although Oakland has several sights in this surrounding area, the first few miles of the anchor leg provided very little scenery.

    For the first time in a race, I was told by a police officer to stop to allow the flow of traffic by. It felt more like I was on a group run with stop lights. Once we reached Lake Merritt, we were greeted by a roaring crowd of supporters as well as some who had no idea that a race was happening. While I do understand that Lake Merritt is an iconic site for the city of Oakland, my opinion is that having competitive races run along the same path as thousands of people walking their dogs or out for a morning stroll is hazardous. I weaved through crowds of people and finally made it across the finish line with the baton in hand.

    A fun experience to say the least that I would definitely relive.

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    Jen_L FIRST-TIMER '16

    This was the first time I ran the 5K out of the 5 years I've participated in the Oakland Running Festival. I ran it as part of the "We Run … MORE

    This was the first time I ran the 5K out of the 5 years I’ve participated in the Oakland Running Festival. I ran it as part of the “We Run The Town” Challenge (5K + Half). The 5K was my goal race. I was nervous about running long, as the GPS signal isn’t very accurate downtown, so I studied all of the tangents. There are a lot of turns in the first mile and then a tight U-turn in the second mile. Otherwise, the course is very flat and PR-able. Save some energy for the last little hill up 19th Street to the finish, but start kicking once you pass the intersection of Oak and 14th St.
    This year, the 5K sold out with over 3000 participants. Most are fun/casual runners – my friend Cathryn and I lined up at the 8:00/mile marker and only had about 100-200 people ahead of us. So, even though the field was large, I didn’t get stuck behind slower runners after the first quarter mile or so.

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    Jen_L REPEAT RUNNER '16

    This is the 3rd time I've run the Oakland Half Marathon over the past 5 years. I ran it this year as part of the "We Run The Town" challenge … MORE

    This is the 3rd time I’ve run the Oakland Half Marathon over the past 5 years. I ran it this year as part of the “We Run The Town” challenge (5K + half marathon), so I did not have a goal time. My legs were pretty fried from the 5K, so I just took it easy and enjoyed the crowds. I don’t know if there have been some course changes, but it seemed like this year’s course had more desolate stretches than in the past. It’s a very flat course (only 127 feet of gain/loss on my Garmin), but it’s tough to PR because of the turns and also because it usually gets pretty warm about an hour into the race. Please see my previous reviews and race report for more details about logistics.

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    K2ayers FIRST-TIMER '16

    I ran the anchor leg of a marathon relay. Great race production outside of one snafu where a police officer stopped all of the runners to clear traffic. Definitely affected … MORE

    I ran the anchor leg of a marathon relay. Great race production outside of one snafu where a police officer stopped all of the runners to clear traffic. Definitely affected race times of about 50 runners but I do feel for the frustrated drivers.

    As far as what I saw, the views didn’t show off Oakland’s best features especially when great murals and large statue art was a few blocks away.

    As a whole my team and I enjoyed ourselves and wouldn’t hesitate to sign up again.

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    UKCathryn REPEAT RUNNER '16

    I've run nearly every race in the Oakland Running Festival (only the marathon remains/will remain un-run). This was my first time running the 5k and I had a goal of … MORE

    I’ve run nearly every race in the Oakland Running Festival (only the marathon remains/will remain un-run). This was my first time running the 5k and I had a goal of sub-25 mins. The course isn’t ideal for PR – it’s fairly flat but there are several turns in the first mile including a U-turn and then a brutal little hill in the finishing stretch. It’s not a very pretty course, running through downtown Oakland – Lake Merritt would be much prettier. However it’s a faultlessly organized event and it’s fun to be part of such a big running festival. Somehow I pulled a sub-25 out the bag (just) and was rewarded with a great medal and shirt. There’s a fun ‘festival’ in the park afterwards which is always fun to hang out at. A great morning’s work. Please note you need to pick your number up the day before at the (admittedly excellent) expo which is kind of a pain. Also, if you use the free bag check, use a bag that’s very different from the (good) free bags they give at the expo – it would make it much easier for the volunteers finding bags after the race.

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    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    5

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    jkentris REPEAT RUNNER '16

    The 5k race in the running festival is a flat, easy course. There are a few turns during the first mile, but after that there are long stretches of straight … MORE

    The 5k race in the running festival is a flat, easy course. There are a few turns during the first mile, but after that there are long stretches of straight away followed by a slight incline just before the finish. The over race production is smooth. Be aware that there is little to no entertainment or spectators on the majority of the couse, and there are quite a few children running who are unaware of the dangers of darting in front of others or not paying attention to curbs(resulting in road rash for them). Post race activities are well organized and quite enjoyable.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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  1. Races
  2. Oakland Running Festival