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@runnerbee

San Francisco, CA Raving since 2017 Active 6 days ago

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My Races

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

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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Future Races

Personal Bests (2)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Marathon Nagoya, Japan Mar 11, 2018 4:55:13
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Sep 9, 2018 2:01:17

Future Races (30)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
Marathon Las Vegas, NV 2025
Marathon Anchorage, AK TBD
55K Page, AZ TBD
Marathon Auckland, New Zealand TBD
Marathon Banff, Canada TBD
Marathon Chicago, IL TBD
Marathon Barcelona, Spain TBD
Marathon Bilbao, Spain TBD
60K Bryce Canyon, UT TBD
Marathon Falmouth, MA TBD
Marathon Houston, TX TBD
Half Marathon Paris, France TBD
Marathon Two Harbors, MN TBD
Marathon Lorne, Australia TBD
Marathon Jerusalem, Israel TBD
Marathon London, United Kingdom TBD
Marathon Tromso, Norway TBD
Marathon Frenchtown, MT TBD
Marathon Staten Island, NY TBD
Marathon Uewerstad, Luxembourg TBD
Marathon Copenhagen, Denmark TBD
Marathon Las Vegas, NV TBD
Marathon Idaho Springs, CO TBD
Marathon Reykjavik, Iceland TBD
Marathon Jongno-gu, South Korea TBD
Marathon Fort Worth, TX TBD
Marathon Tokyo, Japan TBD
Marathon Valencia, Spain TBD
Marathon Ventura, CA TBD
Goofy Challenge (39.3 Miles) Lake Buena Vista, FL TBD

Past Races (16)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Marathon Aomori, Japan Apr 21, 2024 5:21:56
Marathon Berlin, Germany Sep 24, 2023 5:27:00
Marathon Ogden, UT May 20, 2023 5:23:58
Marathon Vancouver, Canada May 7, 2023 5:10:42
Marathon Portland, OR Oct 2, 2022 5:18:07
Half Marathon Oakhurst, CA May 7, 2022 2:15:06
Marathon Dallas, TX Dec 12, 2021 5:09:02
Marathon Oslo, Norway Sep 21, 2019 5:27:43
Marathon Big Sur, CA Apr 28, 2019 5:07:30
Marathon Honolulu, HI Dec 9, 2018 5:06:35
Half Marathon San Francisco, CA Sep 9, 2018 2:01:17
Half Marathon Fremont, CA May 5, 2018 2:14:05
Marathon Nagoya, Japan Mar 11, 2018 4:55:13
Half Marathon Milsons Point, Australia Sep 17, 2017 2:01:32
Marathon San Francisco, CA Jul 23, 2017 5:01:16
Marathon Lake Buena Vista, FL Jan 8, 2017 4:57:03

My Raves

Back in Japan for yet another marathon - this time in Aomori just in time to see cherry blossoms in full bloom. I've always wanted to come back to Japan … MORE

Back in Japan for yet another marathon – this time in Aomori just in time to see cherry blossoms in full bloom. I’ve always wanted to come back to Japan for another race since my last one (Nagoya in 2018) was so memorable. This race, while pale in comparison to the aforementioned race since production was much smaller, was a decent local alternative and very affordable (only 7,000 JPY).

Expo: Non-existent since only a tent was set up for packet pickup specifically dedicated to oversea runners (locals had their bibs mailed to their Japanese addresses), however the location was easily accessible since it was located just behind the downtown Aomori Prefecture Tourism Center (pyramid building). Packet included shuttle instructions, a gear check bag, bib (front and back – apparently we were supposed to wear a bib on our backs also), and a Mizuno tech shirt with cherry blossom design.

Weather: Started at high 40s and slowly warmed up to high 50s, although during the first hour of the race it was extremely windy (mostly headwind) as the first half of the course was an open field.

Race Start: Coach buses picked up runners from the Aomori and Shin-Aomori JR stations to get to the starting point (Nogiwa Park). I got on at the former station and the whole ride lasted about 10-15 min. Nogiwa Park had some cherry blossom trees but not as many as I thought. 10 min before race start I went to the gear check area and apparently my designated gear truck already left (!?) so I had to deposit my bag in another truck. Slight hiccup but I was able to locate my bag at race finish fairly quickly. Ponchos were also handed out at the start in case runners checked in their gear already to keep them warm since it was still quite chilly in Aomori during April.

Course: Flat except the slight uphill/downhill at the bridges. The course was subpar because it was basically two out-and-back loops making it somewhat tedious and demoralizing when you see others running on the other side while you still have a long way to go to finish the loop.

Scenery: First half was an open field with an occasion view of snow capped mountains. Second half of the race ran through Gappo Park, where you could see tons of cherry blossoms (that was nice). Other than that the scenery was basically suburban streets with nothing particularly notable.

Aid Stations: After the disastrous porta-potties situation in Berlin (see my Berlin review), I am happy to report that I’ve found the cleanest porta-potty ever in all the races I’ve ran so far. Not only was it NOT used (probably because of small race, but I must have been lucky to have picked that stall heh), but there were three rolls of toilet paper (er hem Berlin). Got to hand it to Japan in this area. All aid stations had water, and occasionally my favorite sports drink (Aquarius, I still remembered it from my Nagoya race, it was THAT good), salt tablets, apple flavored chocolate (as apples are Aomori’s specialty), apple flavored candies, dried apple slices, bite-sized cakes, etc. Whenever I ran in Japan I felt like I was in for a treat, especially given the low race fees. Some of the races I ran in the US only offered water and gatorade and charged closed to $200 USD, it’s a shame really.

Crowd Support: Tons of locals and volunteers cheered us on (in fact when a couple of runners and I were speed walking on an uphill towards the center of the bridge, a local senior citizen even shouted in Japanese (and I’m paraphrasing) “don’t push yourself too hard, run at your own pace, do your best!” It was heartwarming – loved the vibe.

Post-Race Refreshment: small packaged bread, a can of apple juice, and a bottle of sports drink (Aquarius).

Swag: As mentioned above, packet pickup included a race t-shirt. However this race was unique in that finishers didn’t get a medal, but a towel instead (I believe they handed the same towel to half marathoners and 10k finishers as well). I signed up knowing they didn’t have the bling so that wasn’t much of a surprise, but I still wish they had one.

Final Thoughts: The course limit was 5 hours and 30 minutes, I saw the shame bus picking up folks as I was running the second half of the out-and-back loop so that gave me the extra push I needed at the end. I didn’t realize this race had pacers but towards the end I was running with the 5:30 pacers and that group also sped up to finish around the time I did. It was funny because everybody was trying to avoid the shame bus (myself included). All in all this was a good local race if you are in the area for cherry blossoms, but don’t expect grand productions like Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and the like.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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First world marathon major for me so I had high hopes for this race, but as always never go in with high expectations because it was a bit of a … MORE

First world marathon major for me so I had high hopes for this race, but as always never go in with high expectations because it was a bit of a letdown as a “major” (I’ve seen better productions from non-majors). Entered the lottery around November 2022 and results were announced in early December. This was my first time applying for the Berlin lottery so it seemed like it was fairly easy to get in (unlike London, which is Mission Impossible).

Expo: Held at the old airport on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before the race. I went on Friday afternoon and the process was fairly smooth. Upon entry I was given a blue wristband (not to be taken off until after the race) as the volunteers would check the wristband and bib to prevent unauthorized runners on race day. It was a bit annoying to have the wristband around on Saturday so if you don’t want to be stuck with a wristband I suggest going on the last day of the expo (unless you want to get the merchandise as they may be sold out by then). In addition to the bib, I rented a ChampionChip for timing to tie to our shoes to record time (why we are still using these timing chips is beyond me, I thought most chips are attached to the back of the bib these days, not to mention we were supposed to return these ChampionChips after the race, extra hassle). The good thing is registration comes with free public transportation from Thursday through race day so it was nice not having to worry about how to get to and fro. I also picked up a finisher shirt (a bit awkward to get the finisher shirt before the race) but race entry (163 EUR) didn’t include any shirt. I believe next year (50th anniversary) the race entry will be 205 EUR (26% increase, yikes), not sure if a shirt will included at that price tag.

Race Start: Entrance was right across from the Reichstag building where the volunteers checked your bib and wristband upon entry. I was placed in the last corral (if your expected finish time is at or over 5 hours you’d be placed last). This is my main issue with this race. The last two corrals (J and K) started the race around 10:40am, yes you read that right, 10:40am. Within the first hour the sun is already directly above your head which significantly slowed me down with all the heat (within the first six miles no less). If you expect to run for more than five hours, essentially you won’t be done until around 4pm. By the time I started around 10:40am the temperature was in the 60s and ramped up to the 70s in a flash with little to no wind (yet humid). Those in the earlier corrals likely had better weather conditions (and probably amenities, more on that later).

Course: Relatively flat with a few inclines but nothing major. Scenery was just so-so until near the finish line upon running through the Brandenburg Gate (that was nice). Some drumming for entertainment but not a whole lot (I prefer more upbeat music over drumming though).

Aid Stations: On-course refreshment included apples, bananas, water, warm sweet tea, and a mystery sugary drink (they called this “drink mix”, I had a sip and thought it had an odd taste). I had to devour apples and bananas as my lunch because essentially I didn’t finish until around 4pm. Not sure why they didn’t offer electrolytes or gels on course, those would be way more beneficial than offering tea which dehydrates. I also saw a bunch of gel packaging on the ground near all aid-stations which led me to believe that gels were offered at one point but obviously ran out for those starting in the latter corrals, but that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part of the race was the porta-potties. I’ve only used it once on course during the first half of the race, but all the stalls went out of toilet paper. Now, this being a ~48K runner race that it’s understandable for stalls to run out of toilet paper, especially for those starting in the last corral, but as a world major you’d think they have more supplies in stock or improve from prior years, but nope.

Crowd Support: Plenty of spectators throughout the course (crowd cheering on your name printed on the bib). Sidebar: the hotel I stayed at offered pasta party the night before the race, despite it not being within vicinity by any means (~30 min train ride to the race), so the city seemed committed to this event.

Race Finish: I thought the Brandenburg Gate was the finish line but apparently it was about 400 meters further out (I actually started walking after crossing the Brandenburg Gate, making a fool of myself before realizing it wasn’t the finish line hah).

Post-Race Refreshment: Bottled water, a few bite sized snacks, and a banana. Water and tea were offered at the finish area as well.

Swag: None. I opted for a poncho instead of a drop bag so if that’s considered as a swag then sure. Other than that nada. Any other items you’d need to order upon registration or buy at the expo (I bought the finisher shirt upon signup and picked up at the expo).

Final Thoughts: My performance was pretty bad considering this was a flat course, which I believe partly stemmed from the lack of fuel (i.e. electrolytes and gels) and the heat/humidity due to late start. Overall the production was disappointing considering this race being a world major per the points mentioned above (if it was any other regular race, I would have thought it was fine). On the other hand, it was an amazing feeling to run at a race where a world record was broken (Tigst Assefa broke the women’s marathon world record at 2:11:53, though she probably already started drinking her beer before I finished my 10k with the late start). It’s certainly a “must-run” race for marathoners based on its world major status, but other than that I probably wouldn’t run it again.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
3
SWAG
1

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Planned this race around my trip to Yellowstone/Grand Teton which fitted perfectly in the itinerary with the race being held on a Saturday. The timing was a little ambitious for … MORE

Planned this race around my trip to Yellowstone/Grand Teton which fitted perfectly in the itinerary with the race being held on a Saturday. The timing was a little ambitious for me as I just ran the Vancouver marathon two weeks prior to this race (I’ve never had marathons this back to back in the past) but I thought this was a downhill race so why not? Good opportunity to check off Utah as well on my way home from visiting the national parks. Two weeks before the race a portion of the road near Miles 3-4 was eroded by the gushing river from the record snowfall this past year but luckily the county was able to make mends promptly so the race was still able to occur without changes this year.

Expo: Held at the Weber County Sports Complex the day before the race (Friday). The organizers were passing out carbonated water/energy drinks/yakult towards the exit and people were hauling cases of the drinks out of the expo. Kind of odd but very generous on their part to keep people hydrated even at the expo.

Weather: Low 40s at the start and gradually heated up as you race downhill to the 80s at finish. There were fire pits at the start to keep warm so that was nice.

Race Start: Since I was staying in Salt Lake City I had to drive to Ogden before dawn to board the shuttle bus (schoolbus) by 5:15am to get to the start line uphill (race started at 7am). If you purchased the VIP package instead of the yellow schoolbus you get to ride the coach bus. The organizers provided a map of where to park so that was convenient (I parked at the Ogden Park & Ride area which was about a 15 min walk to the shuttle bus area/finish area).

Course: Gentle (and I mean very gentle) downhill along the Ogden Canyon passing by a waterfall towards the tail end of the course. There were some rolling hills in the middle of the race but not too bad. Overall descent was ~1,100 ft which I agree with a poster below that it wasn’t steep enough to accelerate the run. My performance was also impacted by the altitude as the race started at ~5,400 ft (not to mention my feet was full of blisters by the end of the race) so despite the gentle decline my performance was subpar.

Scenery: Views of snow capped mountains for the first half of the race with a robust waterfall towards the bottom of the Ogden Canyon.

Aid Stations: Water at every station and Gatorade at most stations. Some stations offered oranges and bananas but only one station offered gels. The web site mentioned gels were supposed to be available at Miles 5, 8.5, 13, 17, and 23 but I only saw them at one station so I wasn’t sure if they ran out or if they were replaced by fruits?

Crowd Support: Sparse as there weren’t a lot of people along the Ogden Canyon course (which was closed for traffic during the race).

Post-Race Refreshment: Water, pepsi, and cookies. I didn’t see anything else but maybe I was too tired to look for them or maybe they ran out by the time I finished?

Finish Area: The kids volunteered at the gear pickup were great. They had my drop bag ready for me as I walked up to the area without me uttering a word by looking at my bib. Extremely smooth and efficient. There were lots of tents with food for purchase so the whole area was very festive.

Swag: Long sleeve tech shirt (same shirt for half, relay, 12k, and 5k, a bit disappointing but the design itself was not bad) and a square-shaped medal with snow capped mountains as the backdrop of the design.

Final Thoughts: This race was advertised as a downhill/fast course but for me it wasn’t so due to the altitude and the downhill being barely noticeable at ~1,100 ft overall descent over 26.2 miles. Don’t get me wrong this was still a good/scenic race but it wasn’t as fast as expected.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

This race has been a long time coming because I originally signed up to run it in 2020 (which of course was cancelled due to the pandemic), so instead runners … MORE

This race has been a long time coming because I originally signed up to run it in 2020 (which of course was cancelled due to the pandemic), so instead runners were offered a 75% credit towards a future race up through 2025. Decided to use the credit this year because who knows when the country will be in lockdown mode again.

Expo: Held at the convention center in downtown Vancouver next to the harbor Friday and Saturday before the race. I went Friday afternoon and parked at a nearby lot for $9 CAD (hourly rate); it would probably have been easier to use public transit instead as the expo was only a few blocks from a skytrain station. Gear check was only available at the expo meaning runners couldn’t check in their gear at race start which was a bit cumbersome. Luckily the temperature didn’t fluctuate much between race start and finish but if it did it’d have been a hassle to shed clothing (saw some runners carrying the gear check bags while racing).

Weather: Low 50s (Fahrenheit); sprinkled a little bit before the start of the race but quickly subsided. Perfect running weather (cloudy with little to no wind and not too hot).

Race Start: Signed up for the race shuttle at Patterson Station for about $7 CAD a few weeks before the race so I didn’t need to try to figure out the bus system early in the morning to get to Queen Elizabeth Park where the race began. Bus left at 7:15am sharp and got to the park around 7:30am (race started at 8:30am). Runners were given a Compass card for unlimited ride within 90 minutes to get to the race start, however since I signed up for the shuttle I used the Compass card after race finish instead to get back to my Airbnb.

Course: Not sure where I got the impression that this was supposed to be relatively flat, but boy was I wrong. My Garmin showed a total elevation gain of 2,258 ft which was even more than Big Sur and that was completely insane. However the course was scenic and provided a great snapshot of the city from a tourist perspective, passing by UBC, Stanley Park along the notorious Seawall, and finishing in downtown Vancouver.

Aid Stations: Water at every station although for the first 10 miles or so I didn’t see much electrolytes offered (Nuun; or maybe they ran out? No clue). Gummy gels were offered at Miles 8 (13km), 13 (21km), and 19 (31km).

Crowd Support: Spectators were consistent throughout the race (crowd cheering on your name printed on the bib). Great vibe.

Post-Race Refreshment: Bottled water, energy bars, a banana, two small bags of chips, and a turkey sandwich.

Swag: Short sleeve tech shirt, a pair of gloves featuring the race sponsor (BMO), and a reusable gear check tote bag. The medal design was pretty random with a tiger looking animal on the back. Not sure if it represented Vancouver’s mascot of some sort?

Final Thoughts: Ran nonstop up ’til around Mile 23 when the pain around my lower back and thighs became excruciating. Pacing groups included a run/walk option which was rare. Overall this was a good race (advertised to be the biggest marathon in Canada) but it was much hillier than expected at a total elevation gain of 2k+ ft.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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2022 was the 50th anniversary of the Portland marathon (somehow I managed to participate in two 50th anniversary races two years in a row, last year I ran Dallas' 50th … MORE

2022 was the 50th anniversary of the Portland marathon (somehow I managed to participate in two 50th anniversary races two years in a row, last year I ran Dallas’ 50th race). I believe the same company that puts together RunRevel is responsible for this race; I heard great things about RunRevel so this race production surely did not disappoint.

Expo: Held at the Oregon Convention Center on Saturday before the race. Found street parking relatively easily. Expo had a decent number of vendors and merchandise for purchase.

Weather: Started the race in the high 50s but it gradually heated up to high 80s with little to no breeze. The sun was no joke; after the race I got quite a tan as I forgot to put on sunscreen.

Race Start: Drove to downtown Portland and found street parking within a 10-minute walking distance to the staging area which was convenient. Portland has free parking on Sundays until 1pm so there’s plenty of time for most of the runners if the expected finish time is under five and a half hours (race started at 7:10am).

Course: Initially expected it to be flatter but there were a lot of rolling hills. Most of the course was point to point except for the last half mile up and down Davis Street between the 25th and 26th mile which seemed neverending especially with tired legs when the finish line was already in sight.

Scenery: Mediocre except when you run on the bridge, where you get a good view of the Portland skyline (Broadway and Burnside bridge). There are some neighborhoods where you are surrounded by trees but you also run pass homeless camps in a few occasions which was not eye pleasing.

Aid Stations: Nuun and water every two miles in the first half of the race and every mile of the race in the second half. Some stations had oranges and powergels (I had the cola flavor) which was nice.

Crowd Support: There were spectators and cheerleaders from start to finish which was much appreciated. Some even setup their own booths providing orange juice, beer and fireball to runners (though I did not partake).

Post-Race Refreshment: Chocolate milk, bottled water, energy bars, and bananas. You can also get a donut, beer, and slice of pizza with the tear-off from the bib. I couldn’t find the pizza tent but perhaps that was because I was in a hurry to leave right after the race.

Swag: Heard many good things about RunRevel’s swags and this race was definitely a testament to that. You get a short sleeve tech shirt (I paid $5 extra for a tri-blend shirt instead as I have too many tech shirts), a cap, and a reusable gear check bag with zippers. Like Dallas, the bling is 50th anniversary themed as well.

Final Thoughts: My pace started going off the rails around mile 15 as the weather started to heat up so my finished time was slower than expected. However I appreciated the plentiful aid stations, swags, and production in general. Overall a great race to check off Oregon for the 50-state challenge.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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Signed up for this race last year since I was planning a trip to the Yosemite National Park but it was sold out by early this year. This was my … MORE

Signed up for this race last year since I was planning a trip to the Yosemite National Park but it was sold out by early this year. This was my first race with VR but the race always seemed to fall on mother’s day weekend annually.

Bib Pickup: Held at the Recreation Point Campground in Bass Lake which was not easy to find; thought I got lost for a while due to the lack of cell reception in the area but turned out I wasn’t (ended up arriving at around 6:30pm before bib pickup closed at 7pm; the expo supposedly closed at 6pm, but there were still race merchandise available for purchase when I got there). Race fee included a technical t-shirt, an eco-friendly collapsible cup, and free photos (although I only saw two photographers on the course), overall a bit expensive considering it’s a half but understand they also have to cover costs for shuttle buses etc.

Shuttle: This year they offered shuttle pickup/dropoff at the new Oakhurst hotels which I heard were built in the last year or so. I wish the organizers provided more information as to how often the shuttle buses were being dispatched (every 20 minutes or every hour)? I asked during bib pickup but the race crew weren’t sure. This would have saved us from waiting in the cold before race start, although this year it wasn’t that bad (around low 40s) but they did provide gear check to drop off your jackets before the race start so that helped. Hot chocolate and coffee were provided prior to race start as well.

Course: First 5-6 miles were on rough dirt road as advertised. I got injured the week prior to race so I was extra careful in navigating through the uneven surface but saw a few runners almost tripped. Most of the more scenic views of the Sierra National Forest were during this section of the course which was unfortunate because I felt like I spent too much time watching my steps versus enjoying the scenery. The next 4-5 miles or so were on the notorious downhill paved road where in some cases we were running next to some abandoned logs of dead trees. The final 3 miles made up of small rolling hills which was tough especially after running downhill immediately prior. My watch recorded 0.7 miles more than the official marker but it could be due to me weaving through all the trail obstacles.

Crowd Support: Some around Bass Lake in the last few miles but virtually none in the first ten miles or so which was understandable due to the remoteness of the earlier sections.

Post-race goodies: Chocolate milk, banana, and some vegan snacks. For water you’d have to use that reusable cup you got from the start so the zero waste policy was taken very seriously. Got an email saying they were short on medals due to supply chain delay but luckily I was able to get one upon race finish.

Final Thoughts: After race finish I had to ask around to find gear check as the whole setup was hidden behind the trees which I found odd, wouldn’t it be better to make it more visible for runners? While the production seemed solid overall, I wouldn’t do this race again considering it seemed to have been touted by most as a PR race yet almost half of the race was on a rough dirt trail, essentially negating the time saved from running downhill. Also, throughout the whole race the only timing maps were at the start and finish; I understand why they wouldn’t put one at the 5k mark due to the rough trail but felt they could have at least added a 10k one during the paved downhill section for official timing.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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Honored to be able to participate in the 50th anniversary of the race. This race was cancelled last year due to the pandemic; glad to see it went according to … MORE

Honored to be able to participate in the 50th anniversary of the race. This race was cancelled last year due to the pandemic; glad to see it went according to plan this year. Having been on hiatus for two years in terms of racing in an effort to limit travel I am finally back in the game (well sort of).

Expo: Held at the convention center in downtown Dallas. Parked at a nearby lot for $5 (technically good for 12 hours).

Weather: Started the race in the high 30s (Fahrenheit) and by the afternoon it climbed to the high 50s with mild breeze. Couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather in Texas (in fact two days prior it was just in the 80s)!

Race Start: Took DART to the start line which was right in front of the Dallas city hall since I didn’t want to drive on sore legs after the race. Gear check was seamless. When I was lining up in my corral I saw a runner wearing a hoodie with a quote “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” How inspiring!

Course: More hilly than I had expected based on the elevation profile provided on the web site. The course went through some nice neighborhoods with lots of trees and the White Rock Lake which made up almost 10 miles of the race. The loop around the lake seemed neverending but it was beautiful nonetheless.

Aid Stations: Gatorade and water in all stations and energy liquid pouches in miles 8 and 16.5.

Crowd Support: It was truly phenomenal. There were spectators and cheerleaders covering most parts of the race from start to finish. The whole experience was very personalized (crowd cheered me on with my name printed on the bib). A small segment of the race had American flags situated on both sides with spectators shouting “USA! USA!” – possibly the most patriotic marathon I’ve ever run.

Post-race refreshment: Water, chocolate milk, bananas, energy bars, slices of pizza, and Beyond Meat tacos. The food was supposedly upgraded due to the 50th anniversary celebration.

Swag: Short sleeve cotton participant t-shirt and a long sleeve moisture wicking shirt given to all finishers. The bling is 50th anniversary themed as well which makes the race ever so more memorable.

Final Thoughts: Twisted my right ankle at mile 1 and thought it was game over but luckily the pain subsided after a short while. My pace was actually decent until about mile 20 when I began to suffer from lower back pain (again)…seems like a recurring problem I need to remedy quick. Anyhow overall this was a very positive experience and I wouldn’t mind running it again.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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Expo: Centrally located across the street from the Oslo City Hall and the Nobel Peace Center. Packet pickup was seamless. Race entry included bib with timing chip and drawstring bag; … MORE

Expo: Centrally located across the street from the Oslo City Hall and the Nobel Peace Center. Packet pickup was seamless. Race entry included bib with timing chip and drawstring bag; I paid an additional 100 NOK for the race shirt as memorabilia.

Race start: held just outside the Expo; I couldn’t find the signs for bag check and had to ask one of the volunteers for directions. The bags were not held by the volunteers but instead they served as security guards to the area. In my opinion I prefer them checking in the bags instead of us organizing our own and walk in/out by ourselves for security purposes. There were only two waves for marathons (9:25am for elites and 9:30am for everyone else). Additional corrals would be helpful as it was a bit difficult to pace in the beginning of the congested race.

Weather: 20 degree Celsius with little breeze. A lot warmer than I expected in Scandinavia for the fall.

Course: A lot more challenging than expected. The course essentially repeated the half marathon course which made it a bit more predictable and lackluster. The race passed by Vigeland Park and downtown Oslo with never-ending rolling hills in 200 ft+ elevation. As a road runner, the worst part about this was running in a combination of asphalt/cobblestones/gravel which mirrors that of a trail race. I constantly found myself slowing down to keep my balance to avoid any injury. Saw someone running barefoot, kudos to him but ouch!

Aid Stations: Water/electrolyte at every station and bananas/pepsi at later stations. Red bull and coffee mixed with pepsi (weird combo) was provided at one point as well.

Crowd Support: Perhaps the best part about this race. Spectators shouted my name many times (printed on bib) with words of encouragement in Norwegian to cheer me on. Amazing people and great vibe!

Race Finish: Pretty standard with medal upon crossing the finish line as well as snacks/bottled water/bananas/bread.

Final Thoughts: My performance was disappointing due to cramps and lack of preparation for the course (combination of rolling hills and uneven running surface as described above), but the crowd support was definitely first class. This course is not PR friendly and due to the repetitiveness (running the half marathon course twice) I don’t recommend this race overall.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
SWAG
2

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This course is notorious for the hills so I knew what I was getting into but boy was it brutal. Won the lottery as a first timer on first try … MORE

This course is notorious for the hills so I knew what I was getting into but boy was it brutal. Won the lottery as a first timer on first try (my friend as well) so it seems like this race is not too hard to get into.

Packet pickup: Expo was held at the Monterey Conference Center (nice venue). Race shirt was nice and merchandises were plentiful. Everything seemed to run like a well oiled machine, but given that this was the 34th time of organizing the event, I could not believe the organization screwed up on the emergency contact information on the back of the bibs. The contact person on the back of my bib was a COMPLETE STRANGER with the same last name as mine. The information probably got misprinted a few bibs down as there were others with the same last name as mine on the race. Same thing happened on my friend’s bib. Not sure how many people noticed, but such mistakes should not have happened at a major race like this.

Race Start: Took the race shuttle from hotel to the start line for about an hour in the dark. Lines for port-a-potties were horrendous, but bagels/coffee/water/gatorade were provided so that was nice. Apparently there was hot chocolate too but I didn’t find out until it was too late.

Weather: Blessed with great weather this year. Heard others said it was the third time since inception to have no headwind (only tailwind). This might explain the increase in the number of sub 3s this year compared to last year (40 vs 27).

Course: Started downhill with rolling hills after. The elevation chart downplayed the number of hills after hurricane point. Course marshals were constantly present to ensure runners stay within the running boundary (turned from double lane to single lane after the first few miles). Kudos to them and the volunteers for making this a great experience despite the monster hills. Some volunteers personalized my experience by calling out my name (printed on the bib) and a course marshal expressed concern for my apparent fatigue. Can’t say enough thanks to these amazing people! Oh, and there was a strict cutoff time so if you didn’t make it to mile 21.2 by around 11:50am or so you’d get picked up by the shame bus, yikes!

Scenery: Bixby bridge was iconic as expected with a pianist playing “What a Wonderful World” – however, after that the scenery was mediocre. I admit that I might be a bit biased coming from the San Francisco bay area so the coastline was not new to me, but the scenery was overhyped in my opinion.

Aid stations: Water and gatorade at all stations. Gels provided at miles 12.2 and 18.9. Bananas were provided after mile 10 and strawberries were provided at one of the last few stations. At one point I got a handful of skittles as well which was a nice energy booster.

Race finish: There was a fly zone at mile 25 which was misleading as some thought that was the finish line (false hope). After battling the last hill, I did one last sprint to the finish and got the infamous ceramic medal (if you read the magazine they gave you at the expo you’d see a similar archaic design for the 2012 race; in fact the 2012 design looked slightly better). Talk about creativity. With the hefty race entry I think we deserve nicer medals than ones with a recycled design. After the medal I got a food box and stood 30 minutes in line for a weak massage (give your fragile legs a break and don’t bother). Soup tent is a must-go though as the minestrone soup provided was quite tasty. There were return shuttles bringing you back to your pickup point which was convenient (ride back was only 10-15 minutes compared to almost an hour going to the start line).

Final thoughts: Despite the brutal inclines my performance was better than initially expected (no prior hill training whatsoever) so I can’t complain too much, but this race is overhyped in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, overall it is still a positive race experience for me, but I don’t think it’s worth repeating after factoring in everything. If you haven’t run it before and you want a weekend getaway or take part in the Boston 2 Big Sur challenge then perhaps it’s worth a try.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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What could possibly go wrong with a race in paradise? Had high hopes for this race considering it's one of the largest marathons in the world, but in hindsight I … MORE

What could possibly go wrong with a race in paradise? Had high hopes for this race considering it’s one of the largest marathons in the world, but in hindsight I should have gone in with little to zero expectation.

Expo: Held at the Hawaii Convention Center, free trolley transportation was provided to/from Waikiki but my best advice is don’t count on it. The stops were not labeled at all so unless you spotted one of the trolleys with a huge sign that said “Honolulu Marathon Expo” on the road there was no way you could have figured out where the stop was. I asked a cop and some local ambassadors about it but they didn’t seem to have a clue. You’d think a race this big would be organized better.

Race Start: Utter chaos. Heard about the disorganized race start but was told by the production that corral placement would be better enforced this year – didn’t happen. The announcers said many times in English and Japanese that runners were supposed to line up according to their bib colors, but a race with no time limit meant you had walkers who were not trained on proper race etiquette lining up in the front such that they walked right off the bat, creating a huge backlog of runners. I ran the first five miles or so trying to weave through the sea of walkers. The only positive aspect of the race start was the fireworks and the bus that transported runners from Honolulu Zoo to the start line at Ala Moana (highly recommend staying in Waikiki for the race as the walk from my hotel to the zoo was about 10 minutes).

Course: Not too hilly at ~100 ft elevation. Start at Ala Moana, run through Waikiki in the dark and some multi-million dollar homes near Kahala Beach to finally finish at Kapiolani Park. Scenery was just mediocre, so it’s best not to get your hopes up.

Aid Stations: Water and gatorade at every station and three energy gel stations. The pre-race instruction noted that there was energy gel provided at Mile 24 but in actuality that was provided at Mile 22.

Crowd Support: Some but not to the magnitude you’d expect at a large marathon. Some goodies were handed out but they seemed to be catered to Japanese runners only (perhaps sponsored by the tour groups).

Race Finish: After crossing the finish line I was immediately given a shell lei as well as the medal. However, the finisher village was another chaos. There were no signs directing you to the proper area for prize pickup so after running 26.2 miles you had to drag your tired self to every tent looking for the finisher shirt and the infamous malasadas.

Final Thoughts: This isn’t a PR race. In addition to dodging people for the first five miles of the race, running in the heat and humidity is not something I am used to, so that put a damper on my time. In any case, if you want to check Hawaii off on the 50-state challenge then go for it, otherwise don’t bother.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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This was the most spontaneous race for me ever with less than 24 hr notice, but here are my thoughts nonetheless: Expo: bib pickup was conveniently located at AT&T Park. … MORE

This was the most spontaneous race for me ever with less than 24 hr notice, but here are my thoughts nonetheless:

Expo: bib pickup was conveniently located at AT&T Park. However the bibs were not pre-assigned, which made them prone to human error. I saw on social media that somebody was given the wrong bib (10K runners got a 5K bib or something along those lines), so beware.

Course: Relatively flat for San Francisco with 234 ft in elevation per Strava but there were some smaller hills (it’s SF after all). Mostly ran on concrete with a short section along the Marina in gravel. The heat from San Francisco’s Indian summer hit around Mile 7 so I slowed down quite a bit after that.

Aid Stations: Water and electrolyte at all stations. Didn’t see any gel or food options offered.

Crowd Support: Okay this is where this race far exceeded the other local races I participated in the bay area. There were volunteers stationed at almost every hill (no matter how tiny) to cheer you on in case you needed the extra “push” to conquer your worst enemy. Thank you volunteers!

Swag: The shirt is very nice, in fact I think it went up a notch compared to prior year’s (saw a few runners wearing last year’s on race day). You also get a bobblehead which is unique compared to other local races, but this event is pretty expensive so you get what you pay for. The medal is mediocre and looks like something that can be recycled into next year’s race (just swap out the band that says 2018 and voila you are done).

Post-race refreshment: Virtually non-existent. Got a bottle of water, a sample of Odwalla smoothie in tiny cups, and that was it. Saw someone with a Dole fruit cup and some pretzel snacks but I had no idea where they got those. I was expecting better refreshments right after the race for the hefty race price tag, but sorry those stadium vendors need to stay in business.

Final Thoughts: Made a 15 second PR on a half (woot?) at this race according to the official record but my watch indicated I ran about 0.2 mi more which meant my time would have been 2-3 min faster (would have been my first sub 2!) had the marker been on point. Anyway I am not super obsessed with distance discrepancy so it is what it is. Really enjoyed this race overall and I liked it better than the race organized by the San Francisco Marathon. You don’t get to run on the bridge at this event but you do get a beautiful panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge at the Marina.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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My second women themed race this year (not intentional; race calendar worked out this way coincidentally). Men can participate but they are not eligible for category awards. Signed up for … MORE

My second women themed race this year (not intentional; race calendar worked out this way coincidentally). Men can participate but they are not eligible for category awards. Signed up for a half hoping to PR but failed miserably (to be discussed later):

Bib pickup: locations to pick up the packet prior to the race are not convenient for me personally. They only had three options (pickup at Title Nine in Berkeley, Palo Alto, and Los Gatos) for pickup prior to race day. Luckily they offered race morning pickup which was what I opted for. I have to admit it was a little bit stressful in the morning because I wasn’t sure if there was going to be a line going into Quarry Lake so I arrived an hour before race start, but luckily the process was seamless. Parking was free for participants and $5 for spectators.

Course: Mix of dirt and paved trails. Personally I am not a fan of dirt roads as it felt like I could slip any minute during my run. Slowed me down quite a bit at this race as I tried to be vigilant. There were also some inclines on this course which wasn’t expected as I was under the impression that it was supposed to be pancake flat (note to self: expect the worst and you will never be disappointed).

Aid Stations: Water and electrolyte at all stations. At the latter stations there were granola bars, gels, cookies, and chocolate. The offerings were pretty good considering the reasonably priced entry fee.

Crowd Support: Virtually none. This is a small local race with less than 200 people running for the half. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to run faster when you are running alone 90% of the time.

Goodies: Nice heather purple shirt, but wasn’t too impressed with the necklace and the generic medal. Would be nice if they print the distance ran on the swags. Oh and you also get a tote bag and a T9 magazine. As for post race food you get strawberries, cuties, bananas, and a bagel. I heard you can get a post-race massage too but I didn’t stick around too long after the race to look into that.

Final Thoughts: There was a tent with race merchandise for sale. Upon closer look you realized that they were selling prior year race shirts. Maybe this is the reason why distances and race years are not printed on the shirts so they can milk this as long as possible?

Overall I like the mermaid running community as the fellow runners and organizers were extremely supportive. My performance was terrible though because of the partial dirt course and lack of motivation during the run, but given the other positive aspects of this race as outlined above I might run it again (probably not the half but other distances).

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

Wow where to begin...this was my first oversea full marathon race and it definitely met and exceeded my expectations in many ways. The coveted Tiffany necklace (instead of a medal) … MORE

Wow where to begin…this was my first oversea full marathon race and it definitely met and exceeded my expectations in many ways. The coveted Tiffany necklace (instead of a medal) was certainly a big draw for most ladies, including myself. The main sponsor changed this year from Nike to New Balance. This race is lottery based so you have to enter the draw around the last week of September and get notified two weeks later whether you make it in or not. If not, there’s a second chance draw for the people who forfeit their entry in the first round so in general I don’t think it’s too hard to get in unlike the Tokyo Marathon.

Expo: Occurred for two full days before the race. I went in the morning of the second day and by the time I got there most race shirts in my size (Japanese large, aka small/medium in the states) were already sold out; I was fortunate to grab one of the last few in the style I like, so I suggest you to get to the expo on the first day if you want to purchase any race apparel. There was a booth where they showcased the Tiffany necklaces from prior years which was nice. Japanese runners got their bibs at Nagoya Dome whereas oversea runners got theirs at the building next door (Higashi Sports Center). The timing chip attached to the bib was bulkier than I thought but nothing too outrageous. Apparently you have to return it at the baggage pickup area after finishing the race.

Race Start: Process was rather seamless as there were signs everywhere at the train station to direct runners to the baggage drop area and starting line. They even had dressing rooms for people who want to change on the spot. The queue for portable toilets was horrendous but moved pretty quickly. The race invited Mai Kuraki (a famous Japanese female singer-songwriter) to sing the national anthem at the opening ceremony which was a pleasant surprise. She also co-wrote the main theme for this race called “Do It” which was played at the race start.

Course: Less than 50 ft in elevation which made this course extremely flat. Scenery was lackluster as you run through the city of Nagoya. At the 27th-28th km you can see the Nagoya Castle from afar. Personally I thought we would be running next to it for a more scenic route so this was a disappointment. There were little to zero litter on the course as runners were extremely civil and the volunteers encouraged you to use the trash cans at the aid stations. There were barely any runners stopping for walk breaks so there was motivation to keep on running the entire time. The best part about this course was concluding the race at the Dome while they played “Dancing Queen” as you raced through the finish line. Atmosphere was terrific and the best race finish I have ever experienced thus far.

Aid Stations: Water at every station and sports drink at most. Their sports drink (brand name is Aquarius if I recall correctly) was quite tasty, much better than Gatorade in my opinion. After the half way mark there was food at every other station, including but not limited to: bananas, bread, rice crackers, dried lotus roots, mochi, and other local Nagoya sweets/snacks. There were also red bull and coke at one point but I didn’t opt for those. Holding back on all those food was the tricky part as I certainly overate a little bit which probably had a slight negative impact on my performance. However, trying different types of local snacks was a fun experience, so time wasn’t a major concern for me at this race.

Crowd Support: Never underestimate the power of the local crowd support. Throughout the entire course you see tons of spectators on the street cheering you on nonstop, something that doesn’t happen very often in the states. There was even a female senior citizen screaming from the window to cheer runners on.

Race Finish: After the finish line I was immediately greeted by guys in tux handing out the Tiffany necklace, followed by another person for the finisher t-shirt, and then another for the skincare and race branded towel, and lastly a Tiffany paper shopping bag to put all your stuff inside. Thumbs up for the efficiency and personable experience.

Final Thoughts: While I did achieve PR at this race, I didn’t perform as well as I anticipated due to cramping of my lower back at approximately the 27th km (around mile 17). Despite the lack of scenery, I highly recommend this race for any ladies looking for a lifetime race experience.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

The Sydney half marathon was the first half and oversea race for me. Having done a few full marathons, I thought this would be a walk in the park and … MORE

The Sydney half marathon was the first half and oversea race for me. Having done a few full marathons, I thought this would be a walk in the park and boy was I wrong. Did not expect so many inclines for this race because I was previously under the assumption that this course was relatively flat. Weather was perfect with little to no wind and lots of sunshine. There wasn’t much entertainment on course, but the scenery more than made up for it. The city made a very good effort to turn this into a good experience for runners by ceasing all traffic on the Sydney Harbor Bridge during the run (unlike another race I’ve done where they’ve only allocated a few lanes for the runners on the bridge while cars were zooming by you on the other side) and free transportation for the entire day with show of bib during race day. Finishing at the Opera House was absolutely stunning and made this a very memorable experience for me. I hope to be back for the full next time when I visit again!

On a side note, there wasn’t much swag as half marathoners didn’t get a finisher shirt, but I can’t complain much since we still got a leg massage post race in the recovery village (long wait though)!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

As a bay area native, it felt like a sin not to run the SF marathon at least once. I knew it would be a tough course due to the … MORE

As a bay area native, it felt like a sin not to run the SF marathon at least once. I knew it would be a tough course due to the hills in SF, but it was actually more disappointing than I’ve imagined. Tough course with lots of rolling hills and confusing too as full marathoners and half marathoners ran together. There was one point where a first half marathoner missed her exit and she ended up running with full marathoners for another mile before realizing she missed her finish line.

Pros
– Nice shirt

Cons
– Tough course with rolling hills
– Summer fog which blocked the entire scenery earlier in the morning from the ferry building to the bridge
– Beware of the slippery steel plates on the bridge caused by the fog
– Combining full marathoners with half marathoners which screwed up pacing and took full marathoners’ mental state to a beating
– Volunteers at both the expo and finish line seemed inexperienced and overran by high school kids
– Sanitary issues as volunteers at the water stations dipped their fingers inside the drinks while handing them out

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
2
SWAG
2

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Didn't know what to expect going into this marathon as I never ran an official race before this one, but I figured since it was Disney couldn't be that bad … MORE

Didn’t know what to expect going into this marathon as I never ran an official race before this one, but I figured since it was Disney couldn’t be that bad right? Turned out I had a blast! Officially transformed me from a non-competitive runner to a marathon believer. Course was relatively flat but too much time was spent running in between the parks/ESPN area where the views weren’t anything special. Luckily the live entertainment and characters on course more than made up for the lack of scenery.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?