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M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '19

BOTTOM LINE: If you’ve ever run a REVEL race, then you know exactly what awaits you on the Big Island… and if you haven’t, you may want to carry a … MORE

BOTTOM LINE: If you’ve ever run a REVEL race, then you know exactly what awaits you on the Big Island… and if you haven’t, you may want to carry a fire extinguisher just in case your legs spontaneously combust. With nearly 5,700 feet of descent according to my Garmin, Kulia wears the downhill crown as the steepest of the eight REVEL courses — which is a bit like calling the Pacific the deepest of the oceans.

Physically, my own race could be broken down into two clear segments — 18 miles of “Count me in!” followed by eight miles of “Get me OUT.” Even a tailwind in the last six miles couldn’t save me from imploding. Granted, I’d run Tokyo six days earlier or I might have expected more of a 20/6 or 22/4 split. In any case, based on my previous REVEL experience at last year’s Mt Charleston Marathon in Nevada, I knew the last few miles would be painful… I just didn’t expect that my quads and calves would call it quits in unison.

On the bright side, it’s Hawaii so the scenery is beautiful. Gazing out across the Pacific Ocean and seeing Maui in the distance certainly helped to distract from my mounting fatigue. Best of all, once you cross the finish line you are now free to move about the island and to enjoy all that Hawaii has to offer — if you can still walk, that is. It’s no accident the medical tent is only steps away from the finish line.

PRODUCTION: This year’s inaugural Kulia race definitely delivered on REVEL’s promise of “fast and beautiful,” though the evidence suggests that with 5,700 feet of elevation loss, the company may well have reached the law of diminishing returns on speed.

Not surprisingly given its venue, Kulia is the most expensive of the REVEL events — I’d paid an early-bird registration price of $130 including a $10 discount code. Still significantly cheaper than say, Honolulu, and probably not a deal-breaker if you’re traveling from the mainland to run in Hawaii. Plus, your registration comes with all the niceties you’d expect from a REVEL event, including free gloves/heat sheet to stay warm on race morning, near-immediate results via email, free race photos, and even free goodr sunglasses. Race day also featured some distinctly Hawaiian touches including a pre-race conch blowing and native prayer, plus purple orchid leis at the finish line. And who doesn’t love a lei?

The expo was small and easily navigated, with several of the same vendors I’d seen at last year’s Mt Charleston expo including doTERRA (essential oils) and Rapid Reboot (recovery). We also met the garrulous race director of the Big Island International Marathon who was none too pleased (understandably so) that REVEL had shown up in his ‘hood and scheduled a marathon/half marathon one week before his own.

On-course support was excellent, including a bottle of Maurten that Katie dropped off and which was waiting for me at the mile 15 aid station. (Mahalo, volunteers!) Be aware, though, if you’re a runner who feeds off spectator support and raucous crowds: outside of aid station volunteers, I could count the number of spectators on two hands. On the plus side, few spectators meant few vehicles, and despite the fact we shared the road with traffic for much of the race, the organizers did a nice job of allowing us a wide berth such that safety concerns were minimal.

That said, the course definitely needed more trash bins, as discarded Dixie cups or GU packets in several spots lay one gust of wind away from becoming island detritus for a grazing goat to find.

The post-race party felt more functional than festive, held as it was in a gravel clearing on the side of the highway with a spread of Domino’s Pizza, water, chocolate milk and canned beer. As the lead singer of Suicidal Tendencies once lamented, all I wanted was a Pepsi, and sadly there was none to be had. Chocolate milk or beer definitely wasn’t going to cut it for a stressed-out stomach that wasn’t yet ready for protein, fat or alcohol.

On a semi-related note, with the REVEL team now in charge things are looking up for this year’s newly resurrected Portland Marathon, which after several years of poor management and underperformance (culminating in a 2018 cancellation and change of leadership) finally promises to live up to its potential.

SWAG: REVEL takes its swag seriously. In addition to everything mentioned above (gloves, goodr sunglasses, lei), their race tees are among the best in the business, while their finisher medals are always hefty and well crafted, even if they insist on featuring their company logo (and was this year’s spiral supposed to represent a… nautilus shell?) rather than, say, a true Hawaiian-themed design. But the ultimate swag, really, is the opportunity to explore and experience the beauty of the Big Island. In the words of legendary marathoner William Shakespeare, “I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”

Want a better sense for the REVEL Kulia experience? Check out my race report at https://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2019/07/09/revel-kulia-marathon-race-report/

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

6 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

Evwatkins REPEAT RUNNER '19

First let me say that I live 90 minutes from Jackson and have run the Blues Marathon/Half 6 times: the half once, then the marathon 5 times as a pacer … MORE

First let me say that I live 90 minutes from Jackson and have run the Blues Marathon/Half 6 times: the half once, then the marathon 5 times as a pacer (I was also supposed to run in 2017, but the ice storm caused the cancellation that year.) This was my 69th marathon.
The Blues marathon has definitely gone a bit downhill from its Jon Noblin & Blue Cross Blue Shield of MS days.
COURSE: There’s nothing good to say about the road conditions in Jackson. They are horrible. That’s been the case for 10+ years. The city is very slowly trying to work on them. The course starts/finishes in downtown near the convention center/capital area. Small parts of the course have changed here and there over the years but for the most part, it hasn’t changed much in 7 years. You run through some beautiful neighborhoods (Eastover, Belhaven), then through Fondren and the hospital area, and along Frontage roads. It’s not a terrible course, but there is a healthy amount of hills. It’s not easy, but it’s not the hardest race I’ve ever run (My PR was on once on this course.)
NEW MANAGEMENT: In 2017 (after the 10th anniversary race was cancelled), the sponsor contract expired and was not renewed (Blue Cross). The Race Director searched and searched for a new sponsor and finally found one later in the year. The RD was involved in 2018 but the race was also sold to an out-of-town event management company (PEM). Attendance was down because of late starts to registration and other factors, but the 2018 race was successful. This year’s race was managed 100% by PEM. There were several communication issues (not answering emails, the pace team being set up at the last minute, volunteer coordinator changes which led to a lack of volunteers) and a lack of funds to keep the race at the level that it had been in the past.
AID STATIONS/RACE SUPPORT: There was a noticeable lack of volunteers and aid stations this year. I do want to point out that those volunteers/law enforcement that were there were AMAZING!! In years past, the roads and neighborhoods were filled with volunteers and people cheering! It was nearly impossible to get lost or even go without seeing a volunteer, band or spectator within eyesight. There were Bands everywhere. The JSU band and dance teams would be out at several places along the course! There were large stages set up along the road with full bands playing and a big crowd of spectators dancing and cheering.
This year: Race signage was sparse. Most neighborhoods were empty. The JSU section of the course was a ghost town! Several aid stations had just a few people at them (in the past, there would be 20-30 people cheering and handing out aid!) We passed intersections with 1 person responsible for stopping both lanes of busy traffic. There were some volunteers who had brought water jugs and cups and were filling bottles for runners at random places. In fact, at mile 8.5 of the marathon, we came upon an aid station that had not been set up yet (I was the 5:00 pacer, so this was 90 minutes into the race – more than half the marathon field had already passed this area). The tables were on the ground, boxes and water jugs stacked up, coolers empty. No one was around. At this point, we had only seen 2 other official aid stations. We (me, my friend and a few in our pace group) pulled the water jugs and cups to the street so others behind us could at least self-serve and fill their bottles.
FINISH LINE: In years past, there was a HUGE tent at the finish with Pizza, gumbo, and lots of other hot food choices. This year there was water, bananas, pretzels, granola bars and the beer trailer. That’s it. The medals in the past have always been notable and unique each year. This year, they were still customized, but small and unimpressive.
BOTTOM LINE: If you’ve had this race on your bucket list for a while, you may have missed the hype. It’s definitely dropped several slots on the list of best races in MS. This race is NOT living up to the reputation it built in the past. The 2020 race is already open for registration. They have moved the date to February and the site claims to have a new course, so we’ll see what that brings, but forgive me if I’m not optimistic yet. PEM has some work to do to regain the reputation that John Noblin built. John, your absence was definitely noticed this year.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
1
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

5 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

RunnerMeg REPEAT RUNNER '18

This was actually my third time running the MCM, but the first time was 2006, and the second 2013. I am not a huge fan of big-city, multi-thousand runner events, … MORE

This was actually my third time running the MCM, but the first time was 2006, and the second 2013. I am not a huge fan of big-city, multi-thousand runner events, BUT the Marine Corps Marathon is near and dear to my heart as a Marine veteran.

The expo is at National Harbor. I went on Friday afternoon and found it to be far from empty, but still very fast and efficient. There were lots of vendors and good official gear for purchase (I bought a shirt and the jacket). It’s a good thing the merch was good because the official race shirt that came with the bib was pretty repulsive. I’m a fan of the MCM “mock-neck” shirts in general and love my gray one from 2013, but this year’s is atrocious. I’ll leave that point alone now!

The logistics getting to the start need some work in my opinion. The only negatives associated with the race were before the gun went off (again, in my opinion). I came from a short distance away, just over in Rosslyn where the finish is. I got to the Metro at about 6:05 (Metro started at 6am) and the first train that came through around 6:20 was overflowing with runners. The next one was pretty empty and I managed to get on – at this point it’s about 6:30am…still plenty of time right? The start is 7:55am.

Once we unloaded at the Pentagon station, it was like a hoard of zombies. We were slow-walking/shuffling the long distance from the station to the parking lot where the runners’ village was. It seemed to take forever. Security itself wasn’t really an issue, but it was just so crowded it was impossible to make much headway. I missed the Marathon Maniac photo by a mile because by the time I got to the starting area it was about 7:30am. Luckily I found a portajohn with a short line (note to RD – more portajohns…when you think you have enough, add at least 10% more) and then hustled into the corral. Unfortunately I didn’t realize I had entered the green corral and was supposed to be in gold closer to the front. So that took some doing, to get to the front of my corral. The good part is that I made it, and all of the shuffling, jogging, and panicked movement was a good warm-up; I didn’t stand still for more than 5 minutes before the Howitzers went off! I also got to see the parachute team with the giant flag and the Osprey flyover. I crossed the start line about two minutes after the clock started.

Note about the corral system: While I appreciate that they had corrals this year, there was still a ton of walker-dodging and people lined up four abreast. I was desperately trying to PR so I was doing a lot of weaving the first few miles, but it does eventually open up.

Enough negatives – the race itself is fantastic. The Marines (YUT) along the course, the crowds, the scenery, the Blue Mile, the monuments, the American flags…it’s just unlike any other event. The course takes you back through Rosslyn/Arlington, across the river to Georgetown, down an out-and-back to Woodley Park and past GWU and the Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park and East Potomac Park where the Blue Mile is. The Blue Mile, if you haven’t experienced it, displays photos of fallen service members lining both sides of the road, along with dozens of American flags being held by members of Wear Blue to Remember and service members. It’s the most meaningful portion of a marathon I’ve ever run. I turned my music off and just soaked it all in. The course also takes you past the National Mall up to the Capitol then back across the river and up to Arlington where you finish near the Iwo Jima Memorial. Amazing. Once you finish (HUGE crowds there) you receive your Eagle, Globe, and Anchor medal from a USMC Lieutenant and proceed through the chute to photos, food, and water before the finish area festival. The EGA medal is of course my favorite medal of all time. This year’s was all red and opens to display a challenge coin.

The course itself has its challenges; there are some hills, especially in the first four miles, but it’s not bad. We had spectacular weather this year though I know past years have been very hot. Aid stations were I think every two miles or so. They did a great job having tables and volunteers stretched over quite a ways to give you ample opportunity to grab a cup.

I did score my PR and BQ and couldn’t be happier that it was at the Marine Corps Marathon. It was a tremendous day! I highly recommend the MCM as a must-do marathon.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3
My Media

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

A great race, mild temps in may (normally 50-60s high). Flat and very beautiful course through the city, hitting some amazing copenhagen landmarks and full of spectators. I have done … MORE

A great race, mild temps in may (normally 50-60s high). Flat and very beautiful course through the city, hitting some amazing copenhagen landmarks and full of spectators. I have done it twice, easy to get to start line and a start time of 930am which is nice compared to most US marathons.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '18

BOTTOM LINE: Having entered the weekend as a Kansas City newbie not knowing what to expect, I can now enthusiastically gush about the City of Fountains. Both the marathon and … MORE

BOTTOM LINE: Having entered the weekend as a Kansas City newbie not knowing what to expect, I can now enthusiastically gush about the City of Fountains. Both the marathon and the city itself exceeded my expectations for a state that outsiders cheekily pronounce MISS’-ou-ri. Kansas City (as least the Missouri side; we spent very little time on the Kansas side) strikes me as a vibrant, scenic town that’s comfortable in its own skin, with a hint of cosmopolitan panache and plenty to see and do.

With significant upgrades to the marathon course in recent years, the rolling route now leads its runners past some of the city’s most notable neighborhoods, parks and landmarks including the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain (with its water dyed blue, presumably for race weekend) and the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Even the lengthy out-and-back along Ward Pkwy in miles 14-21 passed quickly with its upscale neighborhoods and flashy fall colors, which always appeal to someone coming from SoCal where seasons are more of a fanciful concept than a climatic reality.

Sometimes, in the course of running all 50 states, you find a race that just feels right, in an unassuming city that’s eager to showcase itself to anyone receptive to its charms. Kansas City was just such a race, and it’s probably no coincidence that it was also one of my most consistent marathon performances, from its uphill start to its downhill finish. For anyone looking for a Midwestern marathon/half marathon or any 50 Stater looking to add Missouri to their map, I’d highly recommend you #RunKCM. Oh, and do train for hills.

(Note: I ran KCM as the first half of a back-to-back with the Des Moines Marathon as part of the excellent I-35 Challenge: https://www.sportkc.org/marathon/register/i-35-challenge/)

PRODUCTION: For the most part, race weekend in the City of Fountains flowed smoothly from start to finish. The energetic pre-race expo, held in historic Union Station, was one of the more enjoyable mid-size expos I’ve attended, with plenty of diverse vendors big and small as well as a number of cool races I’d love to run if I lived in the Midwest. Popular Olympian and running coach Jeff Galloway was available to offer guidance, sign books or simply chat. Kansas City was also the site of the quarterly 50 States Marathon Club reunion, which further added to the energy of the weekend for club members.

Despite a densely packed start corral that was tough to access, the marathon course did a nice job of showing off the city and its highlights, with plenty of aid stations and terrific volunteers. And though some may disagree, I appreciated the fast downhill finish since I still had control of my legs. Spectator support was sparse, which I count as a positive since big, loud, raucous crowds typically aren’t my cup of tea. That said, a diverse collection of bands filled the air along the route with musical motivation. Hats off, too, to KCM and SportPhotos.com for providing free race photos — always a bonus, and especially if you don’t have your own star spectator like Katie to expertly (wo)man the camera for you.

Taking advantage of perfect late October weather, the finish line festival in Washington Square Park was jumping. Operation BBQ Relief dished out Kansas City BBQ while Central States Beverage served up local beers. As a vegetarian planning to run another marathon in another state the next day, I bypassed both the BBQ and beer, though not the complimentary massage tent where I got a (literal) leg up on my post-race recovery. A number of photo ops awaited happy finishers, including a gong waiting to be rung by anyone who’d qualified for Boston, set a personal record or simply run Kansas City for the first time (one out of three ain’t bad!). Even KC Royals mascot Slugger was on hand trading high-fives and posing for pictures. Given that we had our sights set on Iowa for the next day’s Des Moines Marathon as part of the I-35 Challenge, we couldn’t stay long, but I soaked up the post-race ambience for as long as possible before hustling back across the street for our noon checkout at the host hotel.

Speaking of the host hotel, this was our only legit source of race weekend disappointment. Although a convenient and comfortable facility, the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center seemed to have no clue that the city’s largest running event was happening just outside its doors and that many of its patrons would therefore be runners. For example, information on road closures in the vicinity of the hotel would have been helpful for friends and family members who would be driving the course to support their runners. Much more annoying, our request for a late checkout was denied, and by the time we reached our room minutes after noon, our room key had been deactivated. Sadly we weren’t alone, as I chatted with several other disgruntled runners in our hallway while Katie went downstairs to reactivate our key. We ended up disregarding the checkout time, grabbing a quick shower and hitting the road sometime after 12:30pm. So if you expect you’ll need more than 4½ hours to finish your marathon, you may want to think twice before booking the Westin.

SWAG: KCM earns two thumbs up (and five shoes here on RaceRaves) for this year’s standout swag, which included an attractive and comfy lightweight blue hoodie, the first of its kind I’ve received in 35 marathons and one I’ve already worn on several occasions. And the hefty square finisher medal is uniquely Kansas City in the best way, as it depicts four of the city’s fountains while distinguishing the race distance visually based on ribbon color. Well done, KC!

For more on the marathon that RaceRaves voters crowned the best in Missouri, check out my blog report (c’mon, you know you want to!) at https://blisterscrampsheaves.com/2019/01/30/kansas-city-marathon-race-report/

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5
My Media

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

daverunsarec FIRST-TIMER '17

The course is typical for Irvine--seems all the races there go along the bike path that runs along the scenic drainage ditch. 10K goes out-and-back so you get to see … MORE

The course is typical for Irvine–seems all the races there go along the bike path that runs along the scenic drainage ditch. 10K goes out-and-back so you get to see the flood channel from both directions! There is a marathon relay that shares the course with the 10K so you get to see some of the runners in that event as you run out and back. Best part is the race support and the post-race food trucks that are included in the race entry. This is the least popular of the LaceUp series–the Palos Verdes and Riverside events draw three times as many.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
1
SWAG
5

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

randy-lohman FIRST-TIMER '18

Overall the race weekend was good and pretty well put together. The expo was a fair size and had great and long hours. Parking for the expo was available in … MORE

Overall the race weekend was good and pretty well put together. The expo was a fair size and had great and long hours. Parking for the expo was available in some of the M&T Bank Stadium(Baltimore Raven’s) Parking Lots which were about .75 mile away from the expo. I chose to walk but there was also the option of Light Rail to get there. There are 3 different races: a 5K at 7:30, Marathon/ Relay at 8, and Half Marathon at 9:45 with all of them starting within what’s probably a .5 mile from each other. Like the expo parking was at the stadium lots with the lots opening at 5:30am. Since I was running the half marathon my race started at 9:45. Because of this late start time and the marathon starting much earlier the roads would already be closed so Half marathoners had to either take light rail to the start line or arrive and park much earlier than the race start times otherwise you would not make it to the race. Since I was staying in northern Baltimore city my only option was to arrive way earlier than the race start time which was a little bit of a pain. The actual start of the race was supposed to be in waves but there was no stopping people from being in earlier waves. The course was fairly hilly and harder than I expected and being in the middle of the city did not have great views other than Lake Montebello about halfway through. There were a few residents out cheering but most of them were on the second half of the course. The finish was right by Inner Harbor and served as a perfect place for the Celebration Village. The medal was in the shape of the crab with Run 13.1 on the front and it opened up to a view of the Inner Harbor which is really nice. The shirt was a blue long sleeve under armour shirt. I ran this race as the final part of the King Crab Challenge (Running the Frederick Running Festival, Baltimore 10-Miler, and Baltimore Running Festival in the same year) and got 2 additional medals which make the race even more worth it.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

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Maniacmay FIRST-TIMER '18

Challenging but beautiful course. There was a lot of single track. The rain from the prior day helped pack the sandy terrain. Aid stations were not as frequent as road … MORE

Challenging but beautiful course. There was a lot of single track. The rain from the prior day helped pack the sandy terrain. Aid stations were not as frequent as road races but they had great snacks, and no potties out on course.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?