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REVEL Mt Charleston

M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '18

REVEL Mt Charleston

BOTTOM LINE: The REVEL race series exists for one (main) reason: to help runners exploit gravity and qualify for Boston. And if you’re a skilled downhill runner who appreciates panoramic … MORE

BOTTOM LINE: The REVEL race series exists for one (main) reason: to help runners exploit gravity and qualify for Boston. And if you’re a skilled downhill runner who appreciates panoramic desert views, then Mt Charleston — REVEL’s most popular race — is right in your wheelhouse. Despite its 5,100 ft elevation loss over 26.2 miles, the downhill course feels comfortably runnable and never too severe. But be warned: while the course does deliver on its promise of fast and scenic, the last 4+ miles level out significantly, with a couple of uphill jags that feel even more challenging thanks to all the downhill that came before them. And if you think you’re sore the day after a flat marathon, you ain’t felt nothin’ yet — my quads were like concrete pillars the day after Mt Charleston. Not only were they acutely sore for several days afterward, they were still heavy and sluggish over a week later. Luckily the race is held on a Saturday, which allows most folks an extra day of recovery before having to waddle back to work.

I ran Mt Charleston not to qualify for Boston but as training for the Comrades Marathon “down” run, so I wasn’t out to smash any PRs. And happily so, because along with the leveling out of the course in mile 22, the day warmed up in a hurry once we turned off the mountain onto the Hwy 95 frontage road (this IS Vegas, after all). As both the sun and temperature rose in the later miles, I saw and heard folks around me try in vain to maintain pace, their BQ hopes slipping away with every step. And Katie, who was waiting at the end, agreed that she’s never seen so many finishers crying and suffering at a finish line. Case in point, I spent ~30 minutes after the race massaging a fellow finisher’s cramping calves as she literally screamed in agony with each muscle contraction, all while Katie fetched water and Powerade to help her stay hydrated. (My patient claimed she couldn’t stand to get to the med tent.)

In summary, severe downhill course + hardcore Boston hopefuls + desert heat = a take-no-prisoners race experience unlike any other. And the formula clearly works, because the race sells out quickly and an impressive 30% of finishers qualified for Boston this year. If you’re not running Mt Charleston to chase a PR or BQ, you’re definitely in the minority. And I look forward to running with REVEL again because, well, this is my kind of craziness.

Pro tip: Mt Charleston does sell out months in advance, so if you miss out but still want to run, I recommend you add your name to their wait list. I’ve been pulled off the wait list the past two years, though I couldn’t run last year since I’d already committed to Eugene. And though it’s tough to know how much advance warning you’ll be given, odds are high that someone will drop and open up a slot for you to chase your BQ dreams.

PRODUCTION: Smooth sailing for the most part, with one exception: the bus driver who shuttled us to the start line at the top of the mountain took a wrong turn — twice. By the time we reached the start area we had six minutes to disrobe, warm up, check our drop bag, make a porta-potty stop and do anything else we needed to do. Luckily the start was delayed by a few minutes, but still I found myself in the porta-potty when the gun went off and ended up running from the back. No big deal, and especially since this isn’t a large race so I didn’t have to worry about weaving around other runners — but that’s the kind of pre-race stress I can do without.

Aside from our navigationally challenged bus driver, race production was on point. The expo, held at the Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus, was small and easily navigated, though the predominantly local vendors and expo offers seemed out of sync with the demographic of largely out-of-town runners who come to Mt Charleston with one goal in mind: to qualify for Boston. Aid stations were well distributed and well equipped by awesome volunteers, while snarky signs along the course (e.g. “Can you believe YOU paid US to do this?” and “It’s a hill — GET OVER IT”) made clear that anyone seeking sympathy was in the wrong place.

The highlight of the day may well have been the icy towels that awaited us at the finish — WOW, talk about nirvana. As usual my stomach was in no mood to eat after the race, though both food (pie and Papa John’s Pizza) and Lagunitas Beer were readily available to all finishers. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, the line at the massage tent was too long and moving too slowly, so I skipped it. Not that a few minutes of painful muscle manipulation would have changed the course of the next two days for my aching quads.

Admittedly I’d like to see the organizers better integrate this race with the community — there were very few spectators along the route, and it didn’t feel as though the locals had any idea a marathon was happening. Hopefully improving community integration is on REVEL’s roadmap, since community support (e.g. Flying Pig, Missoula, Richmond) helps a good race become a great one while creating a more welcoming, less “run and done” vibe.

SWAG: In addition to its downhill courses, REVEL is popular for its thoughtful swag which for the most part didn’t disappoint: gloves and space blanket for race morning in case it got cold at the start line (not a problem for our bus, which arrived six minutes before the start), nicely wearable short-sleeve gray technical tee with black side panels (one of the nicest in my collection), and oversized finisher medal which, despite its impressive size and cool orange stained-glass effect, strikes me as ho-hum because it’s emblazoned with the REVEL logo which is neither artistically satisfying nor symbolically meaningful. I’m just not a fan of a company advertising itself on its medals; I’d prefer a city skyline or similar. But to end on a positive note — free race photos plus a personalized highlight video! Another way in which REVEL goes the extra mile to take care of its runners.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4
My Media

8 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Louisiana Marathon

RunnerMeg FIRST-TIMER '19

Louisiana Marathon

Having already finished my fifty states quest, I was in search of a new PR. My main choices were Houston, Louisiana, and Surf City for a decent course, best chance … MORE

Having already finished my fifty states quest, I was in search of a new PR. My main choices were Houston, Louisiana, and Surf City for a decent course, best chance of good weather, and uncrowded field. I settled on Louisiana after reading many reviews and getting input from other runners, and I’m glad I listened!

The weather on Saturday (10k, 5k, and kids’ race I believe) was rain and thunderstorms and some of those events were cancelled. I arrived that afternoon to great weather thankfully, and it held through Sunday’s events. It was cold (low 30s at the start, probably low 40s by the end, and the sun came out later in the morning. The downside was it was quite windy which made it feel colder) but in my opinion, cold is great to run in so I was thrilled.

The expo was a nice size and they had some slick race specific gear. I’m a sucker for hats and did end up buying a cool trucker hat. Other than that I was in and out in ten minutes.

The start/finish was close to my hotel so I took advantage and left my room a little later, then got a solid warmup in before going into my corral at 6:45. This was key: I was able to line up almost at the front, near the 3:20 pacer (I was shooting for 3:25 or better) and when the gun went off I didn’t have to weave and dodge like at my last race (MCM). This got me on pace from the beginning and kept me from adding distance that would skew my results. I don’t know how many marathoners vs half marathoners there were, but I found the field to be a good size, and once we split at mile 11, it was even better.

The course itself was a nice mix of neighborhoods (beautiful old trees and Spanish moss abound), LSU campus, and a lake that had some very nice views and beautiful houses, though the wind was cutting in many places. The road surface was generally fine, there was only one short stretch of really rough, not-quite-fully-paved surface but that was minor. I also found the course perfectly marked. I was running great tangents for almost the first ten miles and ended up with 26.29 miles (whereas MCM I ended up closer to 26.6). Plenty of police and volunteers and lots of aid stations.

The medal is nice; I love their logo with the tree (hence the hat I bought) and the finisher shirt, while simple, is a super soft cotton or something. It’s very comfy.

The best, and most unexpected perk for me, was the BQ tent where, after getting your official results, you could claim a “I Boston Qualified at the Louisiana Marathon” shirt in blue and gold. Awesome!!

The festival appeared to have lots of food and beer options, but I don’t usually eat right after a race so I headed back to my hotel to warmup. It looked like quite a party!

Overall, this really is a great race with a small-town feeling. It’s wonderfully produced and marked, there were ample volunteers and police out to support, and it felt like a race for runners. I really enjoyed the day and was thrilled with my results. I’d recommend it for anyone seeking a PR, and if you luck out with the weather you can have a seriously great race. Geaux run Louisiana!

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3
My Media

5 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

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

Lani FIRST-TIMER '17

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

EVENT & COURSE INFO The race starts at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area and takes you along Alameda Creek. The start/finish area is at the picnic area, with lots of … MORE

EVENT & COURSE INFO

The race starts at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area and takes you along Alameda Creek. The start/finish area is at the picnic area, with lots of green space and lots of parking. This is a good race to bring your entire family out to; parts of the course are on unpaved dirt/gravel but there’s nothing difficult about this course other than fighting mental boredom.

The course runs along Western Pacific Trail, which was part of the old Transcontinental Railroad. There are no trains or even train tracks to run alongside on this race, but the course is flat as a pancake and feels straight as an arrow, making it feel like YOU’re the locomotive chugging along. Truth be told, this isn’t the most scenic or exciting race from Brazen, but its marathon is USATF-certified if you want to try to use it to put in a fast finish to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

For the full marathon, the course continues along Alameda Creek, past Coyote Hills Regional Park, and turns around right before the trail hits the water.

There are occasional “elevation changes” on the course by way of underpasses. A lot of the course is also under shade, although there is still quite a bit out in the open. There are also several miles of paved path, but enough unpaved portions that if you’re used to wearing gaiters on trail runs to keep the pebbles out, you might want to wear some for this race as well.

For the 2017 race, the weather was on the warm side. For those running the full marathon, it got awfully warm. The course started feeling pretty warm and lonely once you got out by the Coyote Hills area. By this point, you completely lose any tree cover. With all the rains this year, the grasses on the side of the path were really tall so you didn’t have much of a view at all. Plus, there were a whole lot of flying gnats buzzing around trying to land on your face.

AID STATIONS

Those of us who run Brazen races get pretty spoiled because the aid stations are so great. Most of them have pop-up tents, and folding tables laid out with a ton of options for refueling (everything from water and sports drink to cookies and candies).

They had seven aid stations, and due to the way most of them were available for both out and back, full marathoners had access to 12 aid stations.

GOODIES/BLING

Finisher’s medal: Brazen always rewards every finisher with a beautiful finisher’s medal that is specific not just to the race, but to that year’s race. No generic race medals, or an undated version with the date just printed on the lanyard. This race was no exception. 5K, 10K, and half marathoners got a medal with a train on it. Full marathoners got a separate medal that was round… and was also a coaster.

Age group medal: If you are fast enough to earn an age group medal (given to the top three finishers for both women and men, in 5-year increments), Brazen made a custom version specific to this race. If you find out you won an age group but didn’t get an AG medal, let them know so they can get it to you. For this race, age group winners got medals with an old locomotive train on it.

Race shirt: Gender-specific shirts were available in male, female, and youth sizes, and you could choose between tech fabric and cotton versions. 5K and 10K participants get a cotton shirt and half marathoners get the tech, although 5K and 10K folks can pay extra to upgrade to a tech shirt.

You can pick up your shirt before the start of the race so you can wear it for the race–or if you’re like me, change into it after the race so you have a clean shirt to wear when you go and have brunch after the race.

POST-RACE INFO

Brazen is known for generous post-race snacks. Lots of fruit, bagels, chips, cookies. They won’t replace a sit-down protein meal, but it’s perfect for a quick refueling after a race. As always, they offer It’s-It Ice Cream sandwiches (pro tip: Look for the white styrofoam coolers by the post-race food tables. There is usually a volunteer there who will hand you one; it’s free–just ask!).

CAVEATS

If you’re looking for a fast Boston qualifier, there are other faster races… but with minimal elevation changes and turns, this is faster than many others. The course can get pretty boring and hot, as well. But if you’re looking for a straightforward, low-stress course put on by a great professional organization and staffed with a lot of enthusiastic and supportive volunteers, give this one a try. If the full marathon seems a bit too daunting, consider one of the shorter races.

TIPS

If the weather is going to be sunny, make sure to wear sunscreen. I typically don’t wear earphones, but for this race it might actually work out for you. Keep the volume low enough that you can hear people–but there are no technical or single-track portions that require any tricky maneuvering.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5

5 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

REVEL Big Cottonwood

janerunswild FIRST-TIMER '15

REVEL Big Cottonwood

Big Cottonwood is known as a fast race, amenable to PRs. REVEL runs an organized race- the top/start had plenty of porta potties, and our bags at bib pickup included … MORE

Big Cottonwood is known as a fast race, amenable to PRs. REVEL runs an organized race- the top/start had plenty of porta potties, and our bags at bib pickup included mylar blankets and gloves, which were perfect for early mornings on the top of a mountain. Coming from sea-level, I could feel the effects of being almost 10k feet high, but the downhill nature of the course outweighed some of the effects.

True to the course description, the first 19 miles of the race were basically a steady downhill (with an exception of a steep hill at mile 4, which was at an elevation of roughly 8500 feet high- this was tough on the lungs to say the least). I maintained a 3:25-3:30 pace for this portion, and was determined to stay well ahead of the 3:35 pacer. A 3 hour 35 minute (or less) marathon finish was the time I needed to qualify for Boston.

After the half-way point, I desperately wished that I had trained on downhill courses more frequently to prepare for this terrain. But despite the deep fatigue my legs were feeling from all of the pounding, I felt great and ran consistent 7:30-7:45 minute miles. At mile 19, my pace slowed up as the course became hilly. Hills at 5500 feet elevation were no joke. At one point I had to stop and stretch, and also just catch my breath. It was a very interesting feeling, being out of breath at this point even in the flat sections. I knew that I was far from home.

At mile 23, I noticed the 3:35 pacer slowly creeping up to me and at that moment felt very emotional and overwhelmed. The pacer caught up to me at 24, and asked me how I was doing. I was honest and told her that I was very disappointed to see her. She said that she was running a minute or so ahead of a 3:35, that the rest of the race was downhill, and that she knew I had it in me to push myself. I know she had no idea, but her motivational lines helped me push through. At that point, I was determined to reach my goal and pushed as.hard.as.I.possibly.could. I crossed the line @3:33.06.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

California International Marathon (CIM)

Lani REPEAT RUNNER '18

California International Marathon (CIM)

The race starts in Folsom and finishes in downtown Sacramento, by the state capitol. This is a point-to-point course with a net elevation loss. There are a few uphill portions, … MORE

The race starts in Folsom and finishes in downtown Sacramento, by the state capitol. This is a point-to-point course with a net elevation loss. There are a few uphill portions, but nothing steep. The race offers free shuttle bus service from Sacramento to the start line. The USATF-certified course has minimal turns and is mostly on larger streets, making it a fast course.

PROS:

– Fast course
– Minimal number of turns on the course
– Most of the course is on wider boulevards; no bottlenecks
– Live runner tracking
– Lots of timing mats
– Mileage markers at every mile, plus at key kilometer distances
– Digital clock timer at many distance markers
– Great organization
– Very large finish area
– Free shuttles to start line
– Relay option for those wanting a shorter distance, or want a taste of the race without the full distance
– Chance to see some really fast elite runners (prize purse offered)
– Lots of race merchandise available for sale
– Very large race expo for some good shopping opportunities

CONS:

– Some bus drivers can get lost
– The 6:30 cutoff time may be too fast for slower runners/walkers
– Some aid station volunteers crowded into the course and make running through difficult
– Some areas in the last mile of the finish line have no crowd control and make running through difficult

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Surfer’s Path Marathon & Capitola Half Marathon

Lani FIRST-TIMER '17

Surfer’s Path Marathon & Capitola Half Marathon

TL;DR VERSION: Surfer's Path Marathon and the Capitola Half Marathon are held at the same time, along the same course that starts and ends by the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. … MORE

TL;DR VERSION:

Surfer’s Path Marathon and the Capitola Half Marathon are held at the same time, along the same course that starts and ends by the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The marathon has a split personality; the first half, that runs with the half marathon, is a much larger race, but it shifts gears radically at the halfway point, and turns into a lonely weekend run. If you’re trying to choose between the marathon and half, go with the half.

EVENT INFO

The names may seem confusing (“Are there two races? Why are the names so different?”), but both races are held on the same day, start at the same time, and use the same course (most race events with different distances, but which start at the same time, have the same name, differentiated only by the distance; otherwise, most of them are on sequential days but not held simultaneously).

To make matters more confusing, the Surfer’s Path Marathon and Capitol Half Marathon both start by the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, although neither race has “Santa Cruz” in its event name.

The half marathon is considerably bigger and more popular than the marathon, but marathoners get to enjoy the feel of a large race for the first half of the race. The start line is right on the main street, but the finish is on the beach on the north end, past the pier.

PRE-RACE DETAILS

Although the half marathon is pretty big, there is still a pretty small town feel to the race, and you notice it most at the bib pick-up area. Everyone, for both races, picks up their bibs at a pavilion by the beach in the town of Capitola. It would be a lot more convenient if they would offer bib pick-up in Santa Cruz, but it feels like they want to try to help the local economy by forcing participants to go there outside of the actual race. It certainly worked for us these past two years. Since it’s *SUCH* a pain to find parking right near the beach, once you find parking, you want to spend a little extra time wandering around. There isn’t a whole lot to see there, so we wind up getting lunch, or stopping for coffee. Capitola is a nice little beach town but it gets completely inundated, so be prepared to wait for parking, or park farther away at the official public parking lot a few blocks away.

THE COURSE

The course starts at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, heading south. The course navigates through Santa Cruz for a few miles until it gets out of the heart of town, and settles into a very nice path parallel to the shoreline. The route then winds into the hamlet of Capitola, where a mini loop threads around the main downtown area (near where you picked up your race bib the day before). You then head back northward again, passing slower runners as you start heading back to Santa Cruz.

If you’re doing the half, you run past the Beach Boardwalk, past the pier, then take a left turn onto a short path that leads to the finish line. If you’re doing the full version, you don’t turn. Instead, you keep going up, from Beach Street to Cliff Drive. At this point, the feeling of the race changes drastically. Where the course used to have course marshals and safety cones, the back half of the marathon lacks most of this, especially along the shoreline stretch. You stay along this road for three miles until you reach Natural Bridges State Park, at which point you move away from the shoreline and start running on narrow paths, including some unpaved portions that are relatively flat and non-technical trail.

This segment, which includes some out-and-back as well as a loop, totals about seven miles, and adds a completely different dimension to the race. There is one portion, as you and start heading back, where you can see the beach below. As I was running past, I saw a perfect wave–glassy, tubular–great surf! The view was breathtaking, and was the best scenery in the entire race (at least for me).

AID STATIONS

The aid stations are pretty plentiful, but are pretty basic. Most of them just consist of folding tables and volunteers offering cups of water or sports drink. A few of them also had energy gels.

One big issue is that there is no signage letting you know that an aid station is coming up. This means you could wind up on the wrong side of the street and either have to run across, or skip an aid station. A big standing easel with a sign that says “AID STATION AHEAD” on the side of the road that the station is at, would go a long way (especially if there was a big sign saying if they had gels at that station).

The stations were placed in locations that were convenient, but they were not easy to remember. They were located at miles 1.5, 3.8, 5.5, 7.3, 8.7, 11.6, 13.3, 14.8, 16.5, 18.8, 21.5, 22.8, 24.4, and mile 26 (yes, 0.2 miles before the finish line…why?!?). There’s really no easy way to know where these are in advance. If they are at least at the same place as some mile markers (like “mile 3, mile 5”), you could.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love aid station volunteers. They are out there because they want to help, and I have done my own share of aid station volunteering. The issue was never with the volunteers. It’s that the aid stations were hard to find, had no signage, and except for a couple of places where you kind of assumed they HAD to have an aid station, almost impossible to predict. This was particularly true once you headed to the full marathon segment of the course, after the half participants finished.

GOODIES/BLING

All participants get an event- and gender-specific tech tee. The design on the back was the race logo and the year, and it differed depending on the race you signed up for. The front of the shirt said Surfer’s Path on the left chest area, which was strange, because that was not the name of the race for the half marathon. It would have been better if it had the name of both races on the front.

Unfortunately, this year’s shirts were all white, so I won’t be wearing this anywhere. As soon as you sweat, you can see through these white shirts, and they don’t provide much SPF either (plus, white tech shirts get stained so quickly and they are generally hard to get totally clean and white again, and let’s not even start on those ugly arm pit stains).

Race finishers get a pretty nice looking medal with the race logo. The logo includes a surfboard. Unfortunately, the finisher’s medals are pretty small (maybe only about two inches in diameter?). I am not a fan of those huge pizza pan-sized monster medals, but these are definitely on the smaller side.

If you were drawn to this race because of the surfboard medals, be warned that these are not like the famous surfboard medals from the Surf City Marathon down in Southern California.

The overall winners and age group winners actually get some really nice plaques (the age group ones look like wooden VW vans). Unfortunately, here again is another sign they have a tight budget; they only recognize age groups in 10-year, rather than 5-year increments (so a 30-year-old has to compete against a 39-year-old in the same age group).

POST-RACE INFO

Before I talk about AFTER the race, I should mention the actual finish line. It’s the same for both the marathon and half. You turn off the street down a path that opens up to… the beach. As in, fine sand. Yes, you and your tired legs/feet get to run the last 20 yards or so of the course on dry, fine sand. I always think there’s something just a little bit sadistic about this.

You run through the finish line right onto the beach, and you get your (tiny) finisher’s medal. For the last two years, post-race snacks have been given to us in the form of a grocery bag with various snacks in them. I believe the bags and the snacks in them are courtesy of a local supermarket, and they were things like a banana, a granola bar, and small bag of chips.

This beach area is also where they make their award announcement for winners. Unless you’re willing to just plop down on the sand, there isn’t really a lot of space on which to sit and hang out. They did, however, have a massage tent set up.

CAVEATS

I ran the Capitola Half Marathon last year and wanted to know what the Surfer’s Path version might be like this year. The main thing you need to know is that the second half of the marathon feels like a totally different race because you are no longer running with the hordes of half marathoners.

On one hand, you might enjoy the solitude and relative quiet after you leave the half participants behind you as you head onto Cliff Drive. However, aside from the periodic aid stations, there is NO SIGN that there is a marathon going on. This stretch is extremely popular with joggers, walkers, bicyclists, and dog walkers. This is THEIR turf, and with the wide sidewalks, they’re used to the area being safe. That means people are often not paying attention, and many certainly won’t care if you’re trying to finish a race. This is mostly just an issue of inattentiveness though, so all you have to do is yell out and let them know when you need to pass. But you will still occasionally run into people who are on their phones and won’t notice. Just be patient. Be careful too, though.

One lady was completely engrossed in a phone call while she was walking her dog, and her dog was sniffing something on the other side of the sidewalk, so the leash was essentially creating a rope barrier across the width of the sidewalk. The leash was hard to see because it was a retractable wire-type, and the other pedestrians even tried to warn her that I was coming through.

So essentially, the back half of the marathon is very lonely, feels unsupported (except for the aid stations), has essentially nobody cheering. There are no course markers or signs, and you’re on your own to have faith to stay on the road. The portion near the northern section is a little better, but the stretch in the middle can get mentally tough.

TIPS

I never wear earphones during a race, but you might consider wearing one for those really long and lonely stretches. If the weather report says it’ll be sunny, make sure to wear sunscreen as well. There’s almost no shade on this course.

My biggest tip for you though, is to pass on the full marathon, and just run the half. You get all the fun of the race without the boring stretches.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

RunnerMeg FIRST-TIMER '15

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

As far as big city races and World Marathon Majors, I've done Boston, NYC, MCM, and Chicago. Chicago has the award for most crowds, hands down. It didn't hurt that … MORE

As far as big city races and World Marathon Majors, I’ve done Boston, NYC, MCM, and Chicago. Chicago has the award for most crowds, hands down. It didn’t hurt that the weather was beautiful so people came out in droves to support!

I registered on a whim since I had guaranteed entry and could skip the lottery. I figured I should run it while I could, who knows what the next year would bring and it checked Illinois off my list. I’m glad I did, it was a great trip and my birthday marathon!

Getting to Chicago is easy and I had a direct flight from Virginia. I didn’t want to mess with a car so I used my own two legs and Uber to get around. Getting to the expo was the hardest part, but I made it. Giant expos are my least favorite part of big marathons, so I make a point of running in, grabbing my stuff, and running out. It was huge but well organized and pretty efficient given the size of the crowd milling around. I got out of there and went to my hotel (Westin North River). This was a great location to stay, by the way. Walk to great restaurants, walk to start, walk back from finish. Perfect. I made a side trip to the Shedd Aquarium one day and a local friend showed me all around the awesome parks by the lake. Beautiful area!

Chicago is obviously a big city marathon, which means “scenery” is equivalent to neighborhoods, tall buildings, and big crowds, not beautiful foliage and coast lines. You run it for that electric vibe, not peaceful scenery. This is not usually my preferred type of race, but it is fun to run “the big ones.”

I was in corral C, first wave on race morning. I walked from my hotel, along with lots of other people. The race area was well organized and efficient. I didn’t carry anything other than water and a banana with me so security was easy. LOTS of portajohns and easy to get where you need to be, just make sure to give yourself time.

The course is VERY flat, with some “bumps” rather than hills. I actually found it was one of my slower times, and I think that has to do with the flat course and the fact that I knew I had a hilly marathon the next weekend, so I soaked up the sights and sounds instead of hoofing it. You run through a ton of the city and the crowds are never ending. There was one point where a couple had a sign that said “Puppy Power Here” and one of them was holding an adorable puppy. Needless to say I ran over to get my puppy fix before continuing on. That was the best part of any marathon ever. 🙂

Lots of aid stations and bathrooms if you needed them, pretty much every mile I think. The only downside to this is I could smell the bathrooms before I saw them. Gross. I appreciated the availability of water and gatorade though. One other cool thing was the blue tangent line painted on the road. I think this was the first time the elites didn’t have pacers so they painted the blue line to show the most efficient route. I tried to follow it pretty closely but still came in over 26.2. It was very cool to think that I was running in the footsteps of the elites and idols like Deena Kastor.

The finish was packed and it felt great to cross the line. Here’s where my three star SWAG rating comes in: the t-shirt is actually pretty crummy and boring and the medal was lackluster. I don’t run solely for the medal (ok maybe I do) and given how much this race cost and what a big deal it is, I was kind of let down by their choices. Still happy to have earned it but could have been much better. After I get my medal and space blanket, I picked up some water and walked the mile or so back to my hotel. Great shakeout for the legs! I love that this race starts at a “normal” time so you’re done at a reasonable hour.

Overall: Just like all of the big city marathons, I think they’re worth doing once (more, if you like the crowds!). I still prefer small and simple with nice scenery, but Chicago is pretty special. It’s masterfully organized and run, and seems to go off pretty flawlessly. I enjoyed spending time in the city itself and getting to see it on foot on a beautiful day. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend running it and seeing for yourself.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3
My Media

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Honolulu Marathon

Evwatkins FIRST-TIMER '16

Honolulu Marathon

This race is a big cluster if you ask me. I chose this race out of sheer convenience (I have family in Honolulu and we found really cheap flights. We … MORE

This race is a big cluster if you ask me. I chose this race out of sheer convenience (I have family in Honolulu and we found really cheap flights. We also spend some time attending 75th anniversary Pearl Harbor activities.)

The Pros: It’s Hawaii. Whatever that means to you. The medal was big and solid. The shirt was ok but there were opportunities to purchase others if wanted.

The Cons: 30+ thousand runners. Majority of them are Japanese. And most of them had never ran or even knew the length of a marathon. The start was at 5am (which meant that the first 8-10 miles were in the dark – which means yes you run past Wikiki beach, but you can’t see it.) Most of the runners who were right under the start line had no business being there. I lined up behind the first corral (2-3 hours) because it was clear the corrals were not serving their purpose. When the gun went off – no one moved. More than half of the people in front of me (which should have been elite runners by the corral system) stood still and videoed the fireworks. I had to weave around probably 2000 runners before I could finally run in a straight line without avoiding walkers/gawkers. The course was so-so. Some nice views but not as scenic as I expected (like I said – the first 9 miles were in the dark.) I did enjoy some of the translated aid stations signs (one said “Vaseline – Do not Eat!).

I was glad when the race was over. I would not run this race again. I’ve been to Hawaii 3 times now and likely wouldn’t return to Oahu again. Next time, I’ll visit the other islands.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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REVEL Big Cottonwood

oldguard88 FIRST-TIMER '15

REVEL Big Cottonwood

Toughest marathon I have ever run! I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I way underestimated the slope and the pounding on my quads. I thought I was … MORE

Toughest marathon I have ever run! I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I way underestimated the slope and the pounding on my quads. I thought I was in decent enough shape to handle it and in fact wanted to qualify for Boston. The truth started to reveal itself early on at 7 miles when I felt my quads begin to ache and I knew this was going to be an “ok, I’ll settle for just finishing.” By 13 miles I was considering dropping out altogether. My quads were literrally shot. I talked myself into just maintaining what little I had, slowing down as much as possible, and trying to take in the scenery. The constant pounding was torture. With a lot of walking the last 6 miles I managed to finish. Lesson learned…respect the slope! Very nice post race party. Weather is awesome. People are great! Free photos too.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4
My Media

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REVEL Big Cottonwood

MARY FIRST-TIMER '18

REVEL Big Cottonwood

What I will remember the most from this race is the painful recovery that took 4 days of limping around. My quads and calves were wrecked and I can't see … MORE

What I will remember the most from this race is the painful recovery that took 4 days of limping around. My quads and calves were wrecked and I can’t see myself ever running another Revel marathon again.

Though let me make it clear that Revel puts on an amazing marathon – Utah’s Big Cottonwood had excellent organization, communication, swag, and volunteers. It’s a point-to-point marathon and they took very good care of all the runners. I chose to stay at one of their recommended hotels and they provided a shuttle to the start of the canyon and a breakfast bag consisting of a bagel, fruit, granola bar and water. Once at the starting line, it’s cold so make sure you bring throwaway layers. The porta potties are plentiful but like at most marathons, there were still lines but not too long of a wait. Afterward, I checked my bag, threw away my layers and got into my pacing group. The race starts promptly at 645.

The first 19 miles of the race is in the canyon. It is gorgeous and I was overwhelmed by how beautiful the scenery was. However, as amazing as the view was, this is not a marathon for runners who have never trained for a downhill. I had run 3 marathons prior to Revel and I bounced back from each one pretty quickly but not this one. The downhill takes a toll on your legs. I’m not experienced so I was trying to slow myself down on several miles. For the first 20 miles, I was actually on a BQ pace but once we got to the Utah streets, the temperature rise hit me hard. It was cool in the canyon and for several miles, it was actually raining lightly. But once we got to the out-and-back on Wasatch Boulevard, it was hot and sunny. Miles 21, 22, and 23 were a disaster for me. I watched so many people stop and start to walk. There’s nobody really there to cheer you on either so you really start to struggle. After I realized that this was not going to be my BQ race, I kind of broke mentally during these few miles and walked most of it. But once I finished the out and back, I started running to finish the race. Believe it or not, I had to stop and walk most of mile 24, which was a slight downhill. I would have loved to have it at the end of a marathon but by this time, my legs were so wrecked that I couldn’t run down without so much pain that I had to limp through that mile. Thank God, most of miles 25 and 26 were flat so I was able to finish the race with the last quarter of a mile sprint to the finish line.

Post-race, I collected my medal, collapsed on the grass and waited to get a massage. My legs were in so much pain and they stayed that way for four straight days. The day after was even worse, that I actually eyed a wheelchair at the airport. I realized as great as this marathon was, I don’t think I have the leg strength to run another Revel marathon.

Sidenote: Utah was beautiful. I did some sightseeing in Park City about 35 minutes away. The expo was small but I loved the swag, which included pancake mix and leg cramp pills, a godsend for me! This was a top-notch event and for runners who love downhills, this would be a great one for a BQ.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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New York City Marathon

MARY REPEAT RUNNER '17

New York City Marathon

First the logistics: It will take a few hours and waiting in lots of lines to get to the Runners' Village in Staten Island. I'm a New Yorker so I … MORE

First the logistics: It will take a few hours and waiting in lots of lines to get to the Runners’ Village in Staten Island. I’m a New Yorker so I was going to take the subway to the ferry but the subway was delayed so two other runners – a Canadian and a Croatian – and I jumped in a cab together. Talk about the camaraderie on race day. We got to the ferry and were among the thousands of runners patiently waiting to get on the ferry. We managed to squeeze in and enjoyed the ride. Once embarking, we lined up for the buses. The lines were long but they moved pretty smoothly and we got on a bus that took us to the Village. Getting off the bus, we got our bags searched by security before finally entering the Village where we grabbed coffee, Gatorade and other freebies then we waited in line to use the porta potties. After all that, we were called to our corrals to get ready to run the race. Make sure that you wear layers that you can strip off once you get in your corrals.

The Race:
It was exhilarating from the start. The Verrazzano Bridge has an incline but you don’t notice it because of all the adrenaline and excitement of running your first mile. Once you get off the bridge, the screaming starts from the crowds and it never stops (aside from the Dead Quietness of the dreaded Queensboro Bridge). You run through the five boroughs and even though I live in NYC, it was a special feeling to run in your hometown. All the boroughs have their own unique quality. The first half flew by — most of it in a raucous Brooklyn and Queens. It was fantastic with people lined up handing out oranges and cheering you on. I was in great spirits until I realized I was heading towards the bridge. I have bad memories of this bridge from the marathon I ran 18 years earlier. This time I was determined that it wouldn’t set me back. It’s a tough bridge because it’s the longest gap without anybody cheering you on. It’s also an incline that starts to slow you down. This is when you start having to use your mental strength to get through that damn bridge. Once off it, you hear the crowds on First Avenue cheering the runners on. This was my favorite part, mostly because I live in the area and I saw my family. It was a great boost. I loved running in Manhattan. The Bronx slowed me down with another damn bridge, and I started struggling a bit. The bridges are no joke! But I felt another surge of adrenaline as we turned the corner to get back on another bridge to head back to Manhattan. Now we were in the home stretch but that damn 5th Avenue mile with its gradual incline, which wouldn’t have been noticeable on any other day really hurt after 23 miles of running but once I headed into Central Park, it was a great feeling to know I was almost done. Though this was the part that felt so crowded, especially for a 4-hour runner like myself. I felt squashed in and bumped into several people as we headed towards the finish line. That last half mile was amazing with music blaring, people screaming and the time clock so visible. Crossing the finish line was one of the enjoyable moments of my life.

Post Race: A volunteer put a medal around my neck and gave me a mylar blanket. I grabbed a recovery bag with water/Gatorade, pretzels and fruit and got in the line to get my poncho. I recommend everyone, if they can, to not check a bag and get the freebie poncho as a souvenir. It was warm and comfortable. I hobbled to the the family area, met my friends and rode the subway back home. It was amazing and I loved every second of it… even the damn bridges! Everyone must run NYC once. For me, I plan to run it every year until my legs give out.

On a side note, the expo and swag are great. Huge Expo at the Jacob Javits Center and nice shirt. So many amazing volunteers and living in NYC, I’m still in awe that every November the streets close for the marathon. If you only run one marathon, make it this one!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Lorelei FIRST-TIMER '17

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Expo: the expo was easy to get to. We drove there and parked. No problem. However, had we checked in to our hotel, it offered shuttle bus service that ran … MORE

Expo: the expo was easy to get to. We drove there and parked. No problem. However, had we checked in to our hotel, it offered shuttle bus service that ran often. It was large and filled with all kinds of runner delights. There were talks. They handed out free posters. There were lovely merch choices to drain your wallets. Come early because things do sell out. I missed out on a coffee mug that wouldn’t have fit into my overflowing mug cabinet anyway. It’s the perfect place to meet people you’ve been chatting with on social media.

Do not miss out on the Bank of America area. You can leave messages for runners there that showed up on big boards at the halfway point and at mile 25. These messages are also emailed at the end so the runner always has them.

Packet pick-up was easy. If your XS like me, you’ll be the only one in line for your shirt. If your XL like my hubby, again, you’ll be the only one in line.

Swag: I loved the blue shirt we received this year. The design was simple – my preference. And the logo was placed higher so that the bib did not obscure it, if you chose to run in it. The medal was a classic design. It matched my London medal quite nicely.

Race: 45,000 runners. An endless sea of humanity. Our wave started an hour and a half after the elites, give or take. This is another great time to meet people and learn life stories. The course was gorgeous and ever-changing. YOUR WATCHES WILL NOT WORK RIGHT! The tunnels throws it off right from the start. Afterwards, the buildings interfere. There was plenty of aid long the course. Seemingly never-ending. The crowd support was fantastic except for a long stretch after Chinatown. Maybe spectators couldn’t get there as easily. Maybe they were bored by then. I expected never ending shouts, but it was crickets here until the end where the excitement resumed.

Wear your name on the front of your shirt. They love to yell out your name and that is energizing.

It’s not as easy to see Wrigley Field. Boo!

TV/Celebrity runners: the news was all about the marathon. You really feel like you’re the visiting celebrity. And if you stay at the host hotel, you will see them and possibly meet them. We saw Paula Radcliffe, Jordan Hasay, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and many others.

Hotel: the Hilton Chicago was literally across the street from start and finish. This was especially nice at the end when you wanted a shower and a bed. Our room had two full baths! Imagine our surprise considering we chose the cheap room! Since many people gathered here before and after the race, potty breaks and shower breaks were easy and nice.

Parking: instead of paying $75/day the hotel wanted, we chose a lot around the corner for $20/day. It was a 5 minute walk max from hotel. Worth the savings.

Eating out: Ryosushi! A block away from the beaten path of Michigan Ave. Awesome sushi. No crowds.

This was well run, well organized. A must do for the serious and non-serious runners alike. Get into the lottery and save your pennies. Make all your reservations ahead of time. Well worth it.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

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REVEL Big Cottonwood

maymayjay FIRST-TIMER '18

REVEL Big Cottonwood

The expo was a little small, but had quality vendors. Everything ran really smoothly and I was in and out of packet pickup in about 5 minutes with lots of … MORE

The expo was a little small, but had quality vendors. Everything ran really smoothly and I was in and out of packet pickup in about 5 minutes with lots of time to check out everything else they had to offer. Everything from transport to the start, pre-race announcements, aid stations, and amenities at the finish line were top notch. I feel like the staff was successful in making each runner able to just enjoy the feeling of being active in a beautiful place! Also included were free pictures from along the course and the capability to create your own personalized video. A fun plus!

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4
My Media

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Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon

MARY FIRST-TIMER '18

Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon

This marathon has so much potential to be a good one but the lack of aid stations, lack of water/Gatorade/gels and volunteers at the ones they had really affected my … MORE

This marathon has so much potential to be a good one but the lack of aid stations, lack of water/Gatorade/gels and volunteers at the ones they had really affected my race and my overall view of it.

Toronto is where I grew up as a child so I was looking forward to running the Goodlife marathon. The course itself is very scenic in parts and not a tough course. I actually felt great in the first half of it. But approaching the latter part of the marathon, especially the last 15km or 9 miles, it was getting very hot and the route was going around a park near the lake and there were bicyclists and people riding and walking as you ran the race. The worst was the lack of fluid stations! Even the ones that were there were poorly managed and the cups contained a small amount of water. I also didn’t receive a single gel from any volunteer even though it was advertised as having three stations with gels. The quarter piece of banana a volunteer handed me was hard and green and inedible. This is definitely a marathon where you need to bring all of your own fuel. After getting out of the crowded park/lake area, the last 10K or so is run on the highway and it was hot. Making it worse was that there was no aid station for about 4 1/2 miles! After 33km, about mile 20.5, you won’t get another drop of water until 40km or almost til mile 25! That’s insane in the heat, especially at the home stretch. I was so dehydrated and my legs were cramping so badly. A cyclist actually stopped and rode his bike to the aid station and got me a cup of water and with that bit of fuel, I managed to get to the next aid station and make it to the finish line. Though I was so disoriented that a medic came to check up on after the race. Now I knew why so many people had hydration vests for this marathon. This is one where you need to bring your own fuel!

Post-race: I got a nice massage and there was plenty of food/beverages. I would have enjoyed the post-race festivities if I weren’t feeling so awful. Though, the recovery was fine. It was just feeling like crap for a few hours because of dehydration.
Sidenote, the medal was the biggest one ever and it will make you chuckle. The expo and swag were uneventful.

To conclude, this could be such a good race, with better organization, more fluid stations, and volunteers. Come on, Goodlife Toronto, step up!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Headlands Marathon, 50, 75 & 100

Lani FIRST-TIMER '16

Headlands Marathon, 50, 75 & 100

The Marin Headlands offers some of the best trails for running, and this race takes advantage of some of the most popular routes. The trails are generally runnable, but be … MORE

The Marin Headlands offers some of the best trails for running, and this race takes advantage of some of the most popular routes. The trails are generally runnable, but be ready for some big hills and a couple of technical single-tracks where you have two-way foot traffic. The weather along the ridgeline near the switchbacks before Golden Gate Bridge can get pretty nasty.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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Bank of America Chicago Marathon

dsbland FIRST-TIMER '17

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon is everything I love about running and should be at the top of everyone's running bucket list. The expo was amazing, the best I have ever attended. … MORE

The Chicago Marathon is everything I love about running and should be at the top of everyone’s running bucket list. The expo was amazing, the best I have ever attended. I have enjoyed every expo I have attended, I really enjoy spending time and talking to the attendees as well as the vendors. Chicago was amazing, and not just because of the number of people involved. The layout was done in such a way that there was plenty of room to move around in spite of all of the people wandering about. There were also a lot of interactive areas at the expo, from places to leave messages to other runners to a place to sit and watch the course video being played on a continuous loop. Goose Island had free beer and it seemed like every major gear maker had Chicago branded shirts for sale, definitely plenty of opportunities to be separated from your money.
I stayed at the Chicago Hilton which was right across the street from the course start and finish in Grant Park. There were plenty of restaurants around the hotel to choose from and the hotel had an excellent pasta buffet the night before the race. Getting to my corral was as simple as walking across the street and through a metal detector. I was honestly surprised the security wasn’t tighter given the shooting in Las Vegas having just taken place. My only complaint about the start area is the potties were not accessible once the corrals started to fill up, there was no way to fight back through the crowds to get to the potty area if you needed to go in the last hour before the start.
The course itself was magnificent. As reported by many before, the tunnel and surrounding buildings prevented most GPS watches from functioning correctly. My watch had me 2 miles further than I was on the course and showed me finishing with over 28 miles on the day so I guess I got an unofficial ultra! But, the course was so well marked I was never unaware of my position. Of course, the thousands and thousands of spectators that lined the entire route made for all the distractions I needed.
The course itself was virtually flat with the most impressive climb coming at mile 26 before turning to the finish line. I am still amazed at how many people lined the course, cheering all of us runners on our way. There were plenty of landmarks to see on the way and there were no boring parts of the route. I was disappointed in not being able to see much of Wrigley Field, but the city of Chicago was definitely the star of this race.
As the day turned to noon, the heat came up into the upper 70’s and many of us were hit by cramping in the last few miles. The sudden elevation change at mile 26 had me nursing both hamstrings cramping and my left calf trying to seize up. Of course, this is an indication of poor fueling on my part and not the fault of anything or anyone involved in the race. I loved the passion and dedication of the people involved in putting on this event. I watched crowds of volunteers meeting in the park the day before, getting prepared for the race and setting up tents and tables. And then all of the people who came out all along the course to cheer on the runners was an even more amazing thing to see and be a part of. The Chicago Marathon should absolutely be a part of everyone’s race wish list, I look forward to running it again one day.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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Bank of America Chicago Marathon

jmskafidas FIRST-TIMER '17

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

If this is not already on your "must do marathons" list, you best add it towards the top! From the moment you enter the expo center you are swept up … MORE

If this is not already on your “must do marathons” list, you best add it towards the top! From the moment you enter the expo center you are swept up in excitement the of the event! If you’re not able to stay at a hotel close to downtown don’t fret, you are still able to easily access the start line using public transportation. They do an amazing job with organization in terms of the corrals. Be sure to submit your best half marathon or marathon time, as you will otherwise be placed in the very last corral and have awhile to wait to kick off your race. Regardless, there’s no better way to see the ins and out of this amazing city. The crowd embraces your from the very start to the very end of the race, which is the best motivation of all!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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REVEL Mt Charleston

REVEL Mt Charleston

This was my second Revel race, but first time doing Mt. Charleston. Revel is known for their fast, downhill courses and I had heard this was one of their fastest. … MORE

This was my second Revel race, but first time doing Mt. Charleston. Revel is known for their fast, downhill courses and I had heard this was one of their fastest. After a couple years of trying to BQ closer to home I finally decided to go see if I could do it at Mt. Charleston. This race starts at over 7000′ in elevation at Mt. Charleston Lodge and runs down into town finishing in northwest Las Vegas (around 2500′ elevation). As most people will warn you though – these types of courses are very fast, but they can also really beat you up – so training on downhill is a must! As for the actual course specifics – Mile 1 was a little slow with some uphill and the crowds, but after that it is smooth sailing downhill (with a few very short/small hills) through Mile 21. After 21 is when the hard part starts as you turn off of the main road and the course really flattens out with a gradual (not too steep, but it felt long) uphill at Mile 24, as well as the temperature just really heating up. I finished around 9:30 in the morning and it was already 75 degrees without a cloud in the sky. Overall though this was a great course – and I did get my BQ with over 6 minutes to spare! Now that I’ve ran this, I would definitely agree that it’s a fast course, but I wouldn’t underestimate your training because of it – I still trained really, really hard for this race – the downhill just helped me execute it! The course scenery was excellent – I had no idea 11,000′ peaks existed outside of Vegas and they were beautiful. The course started with seriously gorgeous alpine scenery that transitioned to desert with cacti and palm trees as you neared the finish. It was really beautiful! Race management was also top notch – Revel really does a great job catering to runners with a great expo, clear, easy-to-read communication, and great finish line perks with free food and beer as well as other vendors you can purchase things from. I personally really enjoyed the Medal Engraving so I could document my first BQ and the Shaved Ice truck was an amazing way to cool-down post-race!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
My Report
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

REVEL Big Cottonwood

RickSawThat FIRST-TIMER '18

REVEL Big Cottonwood

Train for the altitude (starts at 9,700 feet) and prepare for the "out and back" at mile 18. After thinking you are about to crush your PR you get to … MORE

Train for the altitude (starts at 9,700 feet) and prepare for the “out and back” at mile 18. After thinking you are about to crush your PR you get to the “Out and Back” at mile 18 a long slow climb which in some crazy way seems like a long slow climb on your way back. Anything gained in time is quickly negated. But don’t let this dissuade you, train for it and know it’s coming. I would highly recommend this race!

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

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REVEL Mt Charleston

LHAMPT20 FIRST-TIMER '18

REVEL Mt Charleston

I collapsed less than a mile from the finish so I am not finisher of this marathon but I ran most of it so I can at least review it. … MORE

I collapsed less than a mile from the finish so I am not finisher of this marathon but I ran most of it so I can at least review it. Great downhill course! Very fast and was on my way to a PR & BQ but the heat got me and I was taken to the hospital along with 4 other runners. It needed another water stop towards the finish since it was 87 degrees around 9:30 a.m. that morning. My friend that was with me & my husband who was not there were not happy with the race officials not knowing where I was or what happened to me, it took 3 hours for them to locate me. Learned some important lessons for next time! I am registered for next year so we shall see…

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
1
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4
My Media

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Lost Dutchman Marathon

RunnerMeg FIRST-TIMER '16

Lost Dutchman Marathon

I'm trying to run all 50 states, or else you couldn't compel to me run a distance race in Arizona. I don't care for hot weather, and I really don't … MORE

I’m trying to run all 50 states, or else you couldn’t compel to me run a distance race in Arizona. I don’t care for hot weather, and I really don’t care for RUNNING in hot weather! That said, I picked what I thought would be the lesser of all the Arizona marathon evils, and I’m actually glad I did!

This is one of those races that’s been around for a while, so they know what they’re doing and it shows. My experience, from start to finish, was positive. I arrived in Phoenix, rented a car, and stayed at a hotel in Mesa. It was an easy stop along the way to pick up my bib and shirt at a local running store and get that errand done (I never linger at expos long so this was great). There are many restaurants in the area and I had a nice relaxing Friday afternoon and Saturday in town. I drove out to the start Saturday morning to get a feel for where I’d need to park and check out the finish area, which was helpful.

Sunday morning I drove in the very early hours before even eating breakfast (I saved it for the bus ride so I didn’t eat TOO far ahead of the start). Parking at the rodeo grounds was simple and there were volunteers directing cars to spots so it wasn’t chaotic, even in the pitch black. After parking, I strolled right onto a marathon bus which drove us out to the start. It was chilly but nice, and the ride is long enough that I was able to enjoy my bagel, PB, and banana.

The starting area, in my opinion, is really the coolest part of this race. There are lot of volunteers around with breakfast foods, hot coffee, water, etc. There are lots of portajohns (amazingly, I never had to wait in line), and the absolute best thing is the array of campfires set up neatly by all of this. It’s a great place to warm up, talk with friends, and make new friends. Definitely enjoyed this part the most.

The start was organized well with a few last minute announcements. We went on the gun, and the first several miles were quite pleasant on grated dirt roads in the hills. The sun was rising behind us and it was very pleasant. I carried my hydration pack since I knew I’d get hot, and was able to take pictures with my phone periodically as well.

The course itself is nice. Pretty flat but with a few hills that you definitely feel. You run through some neighborhoods, there are nice mountain views in the background, etc. but there are some flat, dull highway portions as well. Of course, it’s hard to find a race without some boring bit somewhere in the 26.2 miles, so it was fine. The only downside to this race, in my opinion, is the temperature, which if I’m being totally honest, wasn’t so bad. I just don’t like heat so it makes me grumpy! But it was a beautiful day and the volunteers and folks cheering helped take my mind off of it.

The aid stations were good and had plenty of water and gatorade, and a few of them had Gu’s and cold towels too, which was awesome. Towards the end they also had a “wall” that you ran through which was a nice symbolic gesture!

I usually don’t walk during marathons, but I did end up walking towards the end of this one, finishing in 4:12, about 20-30 min slower than average. I blame the sun and temperature, nothing the race officials could control! The finish was good and I lingered in Prospector Park for a while listening to awards. The medal was GREAT, very solid with a unique image and coloring.

Overall, definitely recommend this race if for no other reason than its outstanding organization and unique race start area.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5
My Media

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