My Profile

@seagroves87

Rochester, NY Raving since 2020 50 States hopeful/finisher, Seven Continents Club, Marathon Maniacs #15648, Half Fanatics #18410 Active 1 hour, 34 minutes ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):

    NYRR, Greater Rochester Track Club, Greater Derry Track Club, 50 States Half Marathon Club

  • Rave race:

    Los Angeles Marathon 2020

  • Race that's calling my name:

    New York City Marathon

  • I run because:

    Running changed my life! I started running again after a many year hiatus to curb some bad habits and get a more positive outlook on life. As a result I am a much happier, healthier person since I started running again in Fall 2018 and I have no plans to stop any time soon! My ultimate goal is to run a half marathon or longer in every state, province and continent and to run 50 marathons before I turn 50.

My Races

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

50 States Map
image/svg+xml FL TX NM AZ AK CA NV UT CO OR WA ID HI OK MT WY ND SD NE KS MN IA MO AR LA MS AL GA SC IL WI MI IN OH TN KY NC WV VA PA NY ME VT NH RI CT NJ DE MD MA DC

Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Future Races

Personal Bests (18)

Race Distance Location Date Result
50K Virgin, UT Apr 10, 2021 9:44:46
Marathon Los Angeles, CA Mar 8, 2020 5:20:34
30K Pacoima, CA Feb 9, 2020 3:45:00
25K Bath TWP, OH Nov 22, 2020 3:16:29
Half Marathon Pasadena, CA Jan 19, 2020 2:21:41
10 Miler Huntington Beach, CA Sep 21, 2019 1:48:52
9.3 Challenge (5K + 10K) Los Angeles, CA Jan 5, 2020 1:39:01
8 Miler Ellicottville, NY Aug 16, 2020 1:56:45
10K Los Angeles, CA Nov 28, 2019 59:39
5 Miler Clyde, NY Nov 21, 2020 51:54
8K Virginia Beach, VA Mar 20, 2021 57:05
4.5 Miler Honeoye Falls, NY Oct 18, 2020 1:06:04
4 Miler New York City, NY Dec 13, 2020 45:07
3.3 Miler Brooklyn, NY Dec 12, 2020 36:28
3.14 Miler Baldwinsville, NY Mar 14, 2021 32:44
5K Los Angeles, CA Dec 14, 2019 28:40
3 Miler Bedford, NH Jan 17, 2021 31:03
1 Miler Londonderry, NH Jan 1, 2021 7:55

Future Races (80)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
5K Buffalo, NY Jun 26, 2021
5K Savannah, NY Jun 27, 2021
5K Fairport, NY Jul 3, 2021
10K Rochester, NY Jul 4, 2021
5 Miler Webster, NY Jul 7, 2021
10K Palmerton, PA Jul 11, 2021
5K Auburn, NY Jul 14, 2021
12 hr Honeoye Falls, NY Jul 17, 2021
5K Mendon, NY Jul 17, 2021
8K Rochester, NY Jul 21, 2021
5K Mt Jewett, PA Jul 24, 2021
5K Liverpool, NY Jul 24, 2021
Half Marathon Mt Jewett, PA Jul 25, 2021
5K Wilkes-Barre, PA Jul 31, 2021
5K Kennedyville, MD Jul 31, 2021
Half Marathon Washington, DC Aug 1, 2021
5K Honeoye Falls, NY Aug 4, 2021
5K Emporium, PA Aug 7, 2021
10K Emporium, PA Aug 7, 2021
Half Marathon Emporium, PA Aug 8, 2021
5 Miler Churchville, NY Aug 11, 2021
5K Chicago, IL Aug 14, 2021
5K Honeoye Falls, NY Aug 18, 2021
5 Miler Henrietta, NY Aug 21, 2021
5K Rochester, NY Aug 25, 2021
5K Weedsport, NY Aug 28, 2021
Half Marathon Mendon, NY Aug 29, 2021
5K Geneseo, NY Sep 5, 2021
Half Marathon Manchester Center, VT Sep 11, 2021
Half Marathon Westerly, RI Sep 12, 2021
Half Marathon Randolph, NY Sep 25, 2021
Sprint Silver Lake, NY Sep 26, 2021
5K Nashua, NH Oct 2, 2021
Half Marathon Hampton, NH Oct 3, 2021
Marathon Forest City, PA Oct 10, 2021
5K Akron, OH Oct 23, 2021
Half Marathon Ann Arbor, MI Oct 24, 2021
Half Marathon West Haven, CT Oct 30, 2021
Half Marathon Voorheesville, NY Oct 31, 2021
5K Manchester, NH Nov 6, 2021
Half Marathon Relay Manchester, NH Nov 7, 2021
Half Marathon Richmond, VA Nov 13, 2021
6 hr Shortsville, NY Nov 20, 2021
3 Miler Manchester, NH Dec 4, 2021
Half Marathon Haverhill, MA Dec 5, 2021
Half Marathon New York, NY Dec 11, 2021
Half Marathon Hamlin, NY 2021
5K Henrietta, NY 2021
5 Miler Clyde, NY 2021
Marathon Baton Rouge, LA Jan 16, 2022
Half Marathon Gulf Shores, AL Jan 30, 2022
Marathon Miami, FL Feb 6, 2022
5K Hampton, GA Feb 26, 2022
Half Marathon Hampton, GA Feb 27, 2022
Half Marathon St Charles, ID Jun 9, 2022
Half Marathon Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada Jun 18, 2022
15K Mt Morris, NY 2022
Half Marathon New York City, NY 2022
Half Marathon Seattle, WA 2022
Half Marathon Des Moines, IA 2022
Half Marathon West Yellowstone, MT 2022
Half Marathon Kansas City, MO 2022
Half Marathon Oakhurst, CA 2022
Marathon Folsom, CA 2022
Half Marathon Little Rock, AR 2022
Marathon Bath, NY 2022
15K Utica, NY 2022
15K Philadelphia, PA 2022
Half Marathon Newport Beach, CA 2022
Half Marathon Wilson, WY 2022
Half Marathon Salisbury, MA 2022
Half Marathon Allen, TX 2022
Marathon Anchorage, AK 2023
Marathon Inverness, United Kingdom 2023
Half Marathon Indianapolis, IN 2023
Marathon Staten Island, NY 2024
Marathon Two Harbors, MN 2024
Dopey Challenge (48.6 Miles) Lake Buena Vista, FL 2024
Half Marathon King George Island, Antarctica 2025
Marathon Deadwood, SD 2025

Past Races (83)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
5K Hampton, NH Jun 20, 2021
Half Marathon Rochester, NY Jun 19, 2021
5K Rochester, NY Jun 16, 2021 32:31
Half Marathon Wilmington, DE Jun 13, 2021 2:46:00
Half Marathon Philadelphia, PA Jun 12, 2021 2:46:31
5K Dundee, NY Jun 6, 2021 42:37
5K Henrietta, NY Jun 5, 2021 33:55
4 Miler Mendon, NY Jun 4, 2021 1:17:00
Half Marathon Potomac, MD May 31, 2021 2:39:24
5K Lorton, VA May 30, 2021 36:56
Half Marathon Purcellville, VA May 29, 2021 2:44:02
10K Rochester, NY May 23, 2021 1:10:59
Marathon Cary, NC May 15, 2021 5:49:31
Half Marathon Shelburne, VT May 8, 2021 2:44:57
5 Miler Rochester, NY May 5, 2021 54:45
Half Marathon Canton, OH May 2, 2021 2:44:45
5K Canton, OH May 1, 2021 32:30
Half Marathon Gettysburg, PA Apr 25, 2021 2:37:11
5K Bronx, NY Apr 24, 2021 56:54
5K Baldwinsville, NY Apr 18, 2021 32:25
50K Virgin, UT Apr 10, 2021 9:44:46
10 Miler Salt Lake City, UT Apr 3, 2021 2:10:00
5K Albion, NY Mar 27, 2021 30:42
Half Marathon Virginia Beach, VA Mar 21, 2021 2:34:15
8K Virginia Beach, VA Mar 20, 2021 57:05
3.14 Miler Baldwinsville, NY Mar 14, 2021 32:44
10K Washington, DC Mar 7, 2021 1:10:26
10K Lorton, VA Mar 6, 2021 1:14:18
Marathon Las Vegas, NV Feb 27, 2021 5:57:07
5 Miler Webster, NY Feb 20, 2021 1:51:20
3 Miler Rochester, NY Feb 14, 2021 41:37
Half Marathon Melbourne, FL Feb 7, 2021 2:42:08
3 Miler Bedford, NH Jan 17, 2021 31:03
5K Johnson City, NY Jan 10, 2021 35:27
Half Marathon Fairmont, WV Jan 9, 2021 2:29:49
1 Miler Londonderry, NH Jan 1, 2021 7:55
Half Marathon Brooklyn, NY Dec 20, 2020 2:41:51
5 Miler New York City, NY Dec 19, 2020 52:28
4 Miler New York City, NY Dec 13, 2020 45:07
3.3 Miler Brooklyn, NY Dec 12, 2020 36:28
5K New York Mills, NY Dec 6, 2020 32:53
Half Marathon Mahwah, NJ Dec 5, 2020 4:24:42
5K Henrietta, NY Nov 28, 2020 34:43
25K Bath TWP, OH Nov 22, 2020 3:16:29
5 Miler Clyde, NY Nov 21, 2020 51:54
3 Miler Honeoye Falls, NY Nov 13, 2020 55:05
5K Honeoye Falls, NY Nov 11, 2020 34:47
Marathon Manchester, NH Nov 8, 2020 5:48:56
5K Manchester, NH Nov 7, 2020 34:54
5 Miler Rochester, NY Oct 31, 2020 59:26
Half Marathon Ellicottville, NY Oct 24, 2020 2:29:16
4.5 Miler Honeoye Falls, NY Oct 18, 2020 1:06:04
5 Miler Erie, PA Oct 17, 2020 56:43
Half Marathon Concord, NH Oct 11, 2020 2:24:36
5K Rochester, NY Oct 10, 2020 32:22
Half Marathon Victor, NY Sep 27, 2020 3:28:33
Half Marathon Randolph, NY Sep 26, 2020 2:54:30
5 Miler Victor, NY Sep 25, 2020 1:26:12
5 Miler South Hero, VT Sep 20, 2020 52:46
Marathon Wellsboro, PA Sep 12, 2020 5:33:25
4.5 Miler Henrietta, NY Sep 9, 2020 1:09:08
10 Miler Auburn, NH Aug 29, 2020 1:55:30
3 Miler Henrietta, NY Aug 22, 2020 36:03
8 Miler Ellicottville, NY Aug 16, 2020 1:56:45
Half Marathon Hamlin, NY Aug 8, 2020 2:28:55
Half Marathon Canandaigua, NY Jul 24, 2020
Half Marathon Virgin, UT Jun 6, 2020 3:02:56
Marathon Los Angeles, CA Mar 8, 2020 5:20:34
10K Lake View Terrace, CA Feb 23, 2020 1:03:29
10K Los Angeles, CA Feb 16, 2020 1:06:04
30K Pacoima, CA Feb 9, 2020 3:45:00
Half Marathon Huntington Beach, CA Feb 2, 2020 2:26:29
Half Marathon Pasadena, CA Jan 19, 2020 2:21:41
9.3 Challenge (5K + 10K) Los Angeles, CA Jan 5, 2020 1:39:01
5K Los Angeles, CA Dec 14, 2019 28:40
10K Los Angeles, CA Nov 28, 2019 59:39
Marathon Long Beach, CA Oct 13, 2019 5:33:45
10 Miler Huntington Beach, CA Sep 21, 2019 1:48:52
10K Santa Monica, CA Sep 8, 2019 1:06:11
10K Los Angeles, CA Aug 10, 2019 1:05:57
10K Coto de Caza, CA Jun 28, 2019 1:23:38
Half Marathon San Diego, CA Jun 2, 2019 2:26:59
Half Marathon Irvine, CA Mar 17, 2019 2:30:24

My Raves

The Run585 series is a series of 3 races in Genesee Valley Park in Rochester by Yellow Jacket Racing. The 585 refers to Rochester's zip code and the series includes … MORE

The Run585 series is a series of 3 races in Genesee Valley Park in Rochester by Yellow Jacket Racing. The 585 refers to Rochester’s zip code and the series includes a June 5K, a July 8K and an August 5K so 585. This is the first race in the series. Last year I participated in the series in a “virtu-real” format where the courses were marked for a week period and you could track yourself on racejoy but this was my first time doing the live series. Packet pick-up is recommended the day before at the store but is also available race day. Every year there is a different swag item for each race and a big swag item if you do the whole series and an additional shirt you can purchase to show your 585 pride. Last year the small item for each race was cups and this year a beer coozie. The big swag item for the series was a tote bag last year and this year a cooler. Packet also included bib and a race sticker. This year there is a rolling start from 4:30 to 6pm. This is super, easy and stress-free as the park is about a 1/2 mile from work so I can just walk over and start. The rolling start isn’t super exciting but this is a popular race series with over 300 runners so there were enough people to add some excitement and I was hardly ever alone on the course. This race was chipped time. The weather tonight was perfect and this is a really nice and fast course along the Erie canal in Genesee Valley Park. The only hills are two bridges but I think these are the easiest bridges to run up in the park. This course goes through some of the prettiest areas of the park. The finish line was set up very nice and really exciting. This is a fast course and I had a very fast 5K for having run two half marathons in a row a few days ago. Last year when I did the course “virtu-really” and my legs were a little fresher from the lack of racing I had a sub-30 finishing time to give you an idea of how fast it is. The RD cheered on the runners personally at the finish line and you are handed a bag with medal and goodies. There was also water bottles and non-alcoholic beer from athletic brewing company. The medal is nice and is a big 5 with the race name. The snacks include chips, mini chocolate chip cookies, peanuts and fruit snacks but sadly no granola bar this time. The end of the race was in a field and there were space for runners to hang out afterwards. Normally there is a barbeque but not this year due to covid. I am curious now that NY has lifted covid restrictions if the format will change for the next 2 races in the series. While the rolling start was nice and stress-free, an exciting mass start would be great. I also wouldn’t mind some savory food since they always have vegetarian options at their races. This is a very nice, well done 5K and is super convenient for me. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

This is a really hard race for me to rate. This was an excellent half marathon, easily in the top 25% of races I have done but there was so … MORE

This is a really hard race for me to rate. This was an excellent half marathon, easily in the top 25% of races I have done but there was so much drama between Corrigan Sports (the race company) and the city of Wilimington preceding the race that is really left a sour taste in my mouth and made it hard to fully recommend this race. This race was initially scheduled for the end of April. Early to mid-March we received an email that the race didn’t have the permits. They said they were still working with the city and would have a decision by April 1 but would likely delay the race to late May/early June. They are a reasonable race company and offered everyone the option to defer or go virtual at this point given the uncertainty. One thing I didn’t like is they still kept registration open and the website said the race date was in April. This information about not receiving the permits was on the race page but if you quickly signed up for the race you may not have seen it. They should have paused registration at this point. I assumed the race would be postponed and my schedule was full except the weekend of June 12 to 13 so my fingers were crossed that that would be the date they would choose. On March 31, we received notification the race was indeed going to be postponed to the date I wanted June 13! Along with being my only open weekend, one of the races I was considering that weekend 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut was the day before and only 45 mins away so it would be a perfect double and my favorite baseball team the Yankees happened to be in Philadelphia this weekend. The universe was really on my side here. At some point in April or May they announced a few changes including switching the 5K to a twilight 5K saturday evening and an earlier race start at the request of the city of Wilmington. Awesome! Since I am a crazy human being I realized I could do 3 races in a weekend 3 weekends in a row if I did the Saturday 5K. The earlier start would also give me more time to get to the Phillies game after the race. A little under a month before the new date, they announced they got the permits. Yes! At that point I pulled the trigger and signed up for the twilight 5K on Saturday. However about 2 weeks before the race they tell us the city of Wilmington decided the 5K should actually be on Sunday and that they should go back to the later 7am start. Ugh so I wasted money on a expensive 5K I then had to run virtually (the swag is excellent for the 5K though would be worth the expensive price tag for a live race). This already seemed a mess with Wilmington flip flopping their decisions about the 5K and start time and should have been a sign things would get worse. Then 4 days before the race, they announced that they had to cancel the marathon because they city of Wilmington couldn’t provide enough police support and the half course was changing from the usual course throughout Wilmington to an out and back on the Markel trail. What?! 4 days notice. Not cool! Especially since this is a race 50 staters travel all over the country for. They also forgot to close registration for the marathon for 24 hours. Thankfully I was signed up for the half marathon. I absolutely cannot see this kind of drama happening with some of the more organized race companies I have run with such as Millennium and Yellow Jacket Racing. To be fair to this race company, they realized what a terrible thing this was and did offer full refunds to marathoners even though their initial policy was no refunds. There were also a ton of very negative comments on facebook and the race company didn’t delete them and instead gave very professional responses. Still I was very not impressed. I can’t imagine this actually came out of nowhere. They had to have some clue the city might do this. Even if you want to give the race organizers the benefit of the doubt (which as I said before I usually do), this race company clearly doesn’t have the most foresight and is definitely not as organized as others. For instance, the city of Rochester is absolutely capable of pulling this kind of thing, so Yellow Jacket Racing pre-emptively moved their April race to June in a park to a course that didn’t require police or street closures and canceled their full marathon in the fall to ensure the half can happen. This race should have just canceled the marathon in April and switched the half to the Markel trail then. It would have been disappointing but better than announcing it 4 days before. Anyways I did not have high expectations leading into this race but was just keeping my fingers crossed the race would actually happen so I could get a new state and finish the mid-Atlantic region. I stayed at the host hotel the Double Tree in Downtown Wilmington the entire weekend. Good choice especially for half marathoners as it is about 1/2 mile away so you can walk and has noon checkout so plenty of time to shower after the race. Packet pick-up is the day before or you can have it mailed. I thought about having it mailed so I could spend the day in Philadelphia Saturday but after having to switch the 5K virtual I did not want to give this company more money. Packet pick-up was easy. It was not really an expo but the bib pickup was efficient and you could buy race gear. The people at packet pickup were very friendly and helpful which put me in a better mood for the race. The shirt is also a nice quality long sleeved under armour shirt in a nice dark red color. The design is a little simple but it says Delaware pretty big so good for a 50 stater. Since this is one of the biggest races in Delaware there was a lot of members from my 50 state half marathon club which made it extra fun. I walked to the race start with some of them who were also staying in my hotel. Race start was excellent and smooth and made me completely change my negative attitude. The race area had plenty of porta potties and was easy to navigate. The start had runners assigned a different color corral by pace and then had a pretty normal start. Start was smooth, quick and also well spaced. The course along the Markel trail was actually quite nice especially the first 2 to 3 miles along the riverfront and through some wetlands. It is all paved or a boardwalk. It is quite flat and easy except a bridge. The original half marathon course seems a little more interesting but hillier. I believe the second half of the marathon goes along this trail. This would be a nice way to end a marathon. There were self-fill aid stations throughout with jugs of water as you had to carry water but there were volunteers at the stations if anyone needed help. It was a simple course but there were mile markers and the relay portion which was the most complicated part seemed well organized. It was a little tight on portions of the trail which is why they said they couldn’t just have marathoners do it twice and I can see why that would be the case after running the course. It wasn’t the most exciting course but I really did enjoy it. Finish line was quite exciting and they call out your name as you pass the finish arch. I had a very good finishing time for this being my second half marathon in 2 days and reached my goal of beating yesterday and having a “negative split” for the weekend. Although this was a much easier race than yesterday, the only difficulty was it was very humid although temps again not bad for June. You are handed your medal and there is also water bottles and gatorade. The medal is very large and the ribbon is distance specific. I like that they have a magnetic challenge coin you can give to someone who helped you train as part of the medal. There was a large selection of post-race snacks including chips, bananas, cow tail candy, crackers, applesauce and multiple choices of different types of snack bars – fruit and grain, granola or protein (I chose the traditional granola bar)! I had to eat lunch at the baseball game since there wasn’t enough time in between and there was plenty of food to hold me over until then. There were also a choice of a local beer or a non-local hard seltzer if you drink alcohol. The start and finish in a park is nice to hang out at before or after race. This was an excellent race and I don’t think a race that is an out and back along a public trail could be done much better than this. After all the drama, I thought I would not want to do another race with Corrigan Sports but I have decided I am willing to give them another chance given how well this race was done. After I participated in the race, I genuinely think the Race Company was pretty blind sided by the city. This was clearly a very runner friendly race and the race company clearly cared about the runners from what I saw race day. I still have a hard time strongly recommending this race as the city of Wilmington does not seem to support the race very much and I would still be cautious about signing up for races by Corrigan Sports (they do several mostly in Maryland including Baltimore Running Festival) especially this year and especially a full marathon but I will give them a chance and do another one of their races in the future. Overall this was an excellent weekend in the Philadelphia area. I just wish the Yankees played better.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

This is a German themed half or full marathon produced by Uberendurance Sports in Pennypack park in Philadelphia. This is always held in June and is known to often be … MORE

This is a German themed half or full marathon produced by Uberendurance Sports in Pennypack park in Philadelphia. This is always held in June and is known to often be a very hot race. I had my eye on this race when looking for half marathons in driving distance this weekend and on almost the same day that Philadelphia announced allowing outdoor events making this race likely to happen, the nearby Delaware Running Festival that I was already registered for moved to the day after this race and I couldn’t resist the opportunity for two halves less than an hour apart in one weekend. This is a very cheap race ($60-$70) for a race in a bigger city. However it does not have a big city feel so if you wanted a high energy, big city race where you see all the sights of Philadelphia, this is not the race for you. If you want a more laid back, smaller race with easy logistics and a cheap price tag then sign up for this one. There wasn’t as much pre-race communication as some races but the week before you are sent a helpful (and very funny) race guide. Logistics were very easy and smooth. Packet pick-up is either the day before or the morning of which is great since its a Saturday race so I don’t need to take off Friday or find someone to pick up my packet. If you are doing race day packet pickup you have to park at the German club and then take a shuttle to the park. If you picked it up early you can park at the park. It is stressed a lot that for same day packet pick up you must go to German club first. This is a smaller race with about 500 participants so packet pickup was smooth and it was the perfect sized race for right now as it was small enough to pretty much be a normal race. I don’t think there were any special protocols except wear a mask on the shuttle. Packet included a long sleeved zipped jacket with a patch of the race logo. It’s pretty nice but kind of weird for summer swag as I doubt I will use it for several months. The shuttle was super smooth and easy. The start of the race was festive with an accordion player and there were enough porta potties that the lines weren’t too long. Weather was actually pretty good today in the mid 70s. We were lucky we didn’t have last week’s weather. The start of the race was just a normal mass start. It was a big enough race I think some self seeded corrals or at least signs to line up for pace may have helped but the race thinned out pretty quickly. As I said the course is through a park. The park is quite pretty but nothing special. It is as pretty but not prettier than parks we have here in Rochester. The course is a lollipop with 5.5 miles of paved road through the park followed by a loop that is mostly trail then you repeat the same 5.5 miles. The first 3 miles are pretty easy just some minor hills. None of them had to be walked though I did walk a few of them to save energy since I was doing two halves this weekend. The next 3 miles are paved and hilly. I definitely walked these hills and would have walked them even if I didn’t have a half the next day but if you actually hill train and don’t just walk hills like me you could run them. The next mile is bonkers. There is a short portion on grass. Gross I walked this since I didn’t want to get injured and don’t like grass and then a quite technical hill section up to “Mount Cuckoo”. I’ve done worse trails but this was harder than I expected. Not so hard that you need to do trail training or wear trail shoes for just this mile but hard enough to prevent you from reaching your time goals. Mount cuckoo was both my favorite and least favorite part of the course and definitely added to the quirkiness and charm of the race. You then finish the loop and do the steep hills and then the flatter section. The race was pretty well stocked with aid stations but given the potential heat and humidity I would recommend carrying water. It was nice to have normal aid stations with cups of water and gatorade handed to you. One aid station in the middle that you pass twice also had snacks and gels. Half marathoners go through the finish line while marathoners do it again. If you are on the fence about the marathon you are able to chicken out and get an official time and potential age group award for the half marathon (the age group awards are really cool but I’m way too slow a turtle to have a chance). At the finish line you get your medal and there is a nice selection of snacks before you take the bus back to the German club to celebrate. I was aiming for a 2:45 finishing time since I wanted to save energy for my half the next day. I was about a minute and a half slower than my goal. Mount Cuckoo….man. Despite just missing my goal I was super excited to see at the post-race refreshment table there were both twizzlers and granola bars, my two favorite post race snacks. There was also some delicious and refreshing watermelon slices. I think there was other stuff but I got too excited by the twizzlers to remember the rest. The medal is fine. It is on the smaller side for a half marathon medal but not tiny. It has a plain ribbon. It is not distance specific but does have the date. After I ate my granola bar and twizzlers, I took the shuttle back to the German club. There runners can go to the beer garden to redeem their two tickets they got at packet pick up for a beer and a brat (or a diet coke and an impossible burger in my case). Overall I thought this was a fun, solid race and a good price. It wasn’t the most exciting scenery or swag but especially if you are used to big city races this would be a nice break. I’m not sure I would drive down to Philadelphia for this race alone but I’m very happy I did it this weekend when I was practically in town anyways and would do it again if I were in Philadelphia for another reason and would definitely recommend it to locals.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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This is a 5K at Fulkerson winery in the Fingerlakes region. It is produced by Confluence Running who have a few stores in Southern NY (Corning, Binghamton, etc.). This was … MORE

This is a 5K at Fulkerson winery in the Fingerlakes region. It is produced by Confluence Running who have a few stores in Southern NY (Corning, Binghamton, etc.). This was an inaugural race. Overall it was a much, much better experience than my last wine themed race (Virginia Wine County “Half Marathon” – the worst race ever!), but this race had a few things to work on. This year you signed up for waves of 50 every half hour from 10am to 11:30 am. This race is located about an hour and fifteen minutes from Rochester. I signed up for the last time slot so I could round first before the race since I was working this weekend. Rounding first was nice but the late start meant the race was very hot. It was 90 degrees and sunny today and the start time (even 10am) was way too late. I’m not sure much could be done about this since the winery opens at 10am. The RD though was very nice and let people from later waves start early given the heat which was great since I arrived about 45 minutes early. Packet pickup was right before the race. Swag included a nice tech material tank top and a wine tumbler. The tank top is bright pink and nice quality. It seems to be a nice material for running in but it seems a little weird for me to wear a shirt that says “Will Run for Wine” when I don’t drink alcohol. Oh well I do enjoy irony. The Tumbler is nice and has the correct race name. The area was absolutely beautiful. This is the scenery I was hoping to see in Virginia last week. The race was chipped timed and they let runners just go as a rolling start if they wanted to start before their waves. This made the start a little anti-climatic but I’m glad I wasn’t running during the heat of the day at 11:30. The course was gorgeous but harder than I expected. It is trail but not particularly technical but very hilly. You don’t need trail shoes. A lot of it is on grass weaving around the vineyard. Grass isn’t my favorite surface but this wasn’t bad grass to run on and it was neat to run through the vineyard. However there was no shade so I definitely walked most of the hills. There was also a smaller section in the forest which was more shaded. At some parts there were absolutely gorgeous views of Seneca Lake. My biggest complaint of the course and the race was I didn’t think it was very well marked. The markings were mostly just drawn on the ground and there were occasional flags. It would have been easy to get lost if you weren’t paying attention. There definitely should have been signs and volunteers. I’m also pretty sure one intersection wasn’t marked originally since I saw some of the early wave runners go off course running on the main road while driving into the winery which wasn’t part of the course and heard the RD mention it. To be fair, they did fix the mistake and by the time I got to the intersection you could not go the wrong way as there was a car and cones blocking it off. The RD cheered on all the runners at the finish. I did laugh that my Garmin showed the course to be just a tad short (3.0 miles vs 3.1 miles) but it is within normal error and not off by a mile and I’m not as concerned about the distance of 5Ks. There was only water at the finish line. I think it should be mandatory for every race to have some kind of granola bar at the end. I was super, super slow but is was super, super hot and there was about 300 feet of elevation gain. When I looked at the final results though I was in the middle of my age group and the overall winner was over 20 minutes so I think everyone was really slow today. There was also free wine tasting which is another perk over the Virginia Wine Country disaster but I obviously didn’t do the wine tasting. I thought this was a good race with a lot of potential. If they decide to hold this race again they need to do a better job with marking the course. I would also look into an earlier start but that may be out of the race company’s control. While there were some flaws, this was a much better wine race with beautiful scenery and nice swag. This is also a nice area for a day trip. If you are a wine drinker, there are lots of wineries to explore. If you are more of a hiker/outdoorsy person like me, Watkins Glen State Park is very close by along with other hikes in the Finger Lakes. I had to go home to catch up on some work right after the race but really enjoyed the views on the ride down and stopped in downtown Geneva on the way home for lunch. If this race is held again I’d be open to giving it another try if I’m in town.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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Very happy to find a local 5K to run this weekend while I am on call. This is a 5K that helps with the problem of hunger in the community. … MORE

Very happy to find a local 5K to run this weekend while I am on call. This is a 5K that helps with the problem of hunger in the community. It is located in Henrietta which is a suburb of Rochester about 10 minutes away from where I live so very convenient. Packet pickup was Thursday and Friday at the Henrietta Rec Center. The swag was excellent for a $20 local 5K. It included a fine cotton shirt, a water bottle, lip balm, and a finisher ribbon and came in a reusable grocery bag. I liked the finisher ribbon idea. While obviously not as nice as a medal, it is a good cheaper alternative as it is nice to have some kind of finisher item to place in my medal collection. The race started in a park in Henrietta. I wouldn’t call the start unorganized but you could tell the race organizers were just as confused as we all are about how much social distancing is supposed to happen now. It sounds like they originally had plans for waved starts and more social distancing but now that things are opening up they loosened the plan to make it more fun and it was sort of a rolling mass start. The course is pretty easy but nothing special. The only challenge was it was hot outside. The first 2 miles are through local neighborhoods. Kind of boring but safe and the streets were closed to traffic. The last mile is in a park on paved and gravel trail. Also kind of a boring park. I did see two direction signs that were placed incorrectly in the park (why I took away a sneaker from production) but it was easy to follow the main path through the park. I crossed the finish line at 3.1 miles exactly. My time wasn’t bad for the heat but not my fastest nor my slowest 5K. At the end there is a table with some water, a table with results, and then you walk to an amphitheater in the park where they give out food bags. The food bag is incredible. This race isn’t just about making sure community members don’t go hungry but also making sure the runners don’t go hungry. The bag had a water bottle, Wegman’s brand electrolyte drink, a granola bar, a fruit and oat bars (yes two bars!), a bag of trail mix, a banana and a clementine. There was definitely more calories in this bag than you burn in a 5K. Overall I thought this was a pretty well done local race. The course was nothing special but it went to a good cause. And the swag bag and food bag were very good for the price. This is one I would definitely do again if I were in town for the weekend.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
4

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This is a Friday evening trail race produced by Yellow Jacket Racing that takes place at Mendon Ponds Park which has some nice and tough trails. You have the option … MORE

This is a Friday evening trail race produced by Yellow Jacket Racing that takes place at Mendon Ponds Park which has some nice and tough trails. You have the option of a 4 mile or 8 mile race. The 8 miler is 2 loops of the 4 mile and they allow you to drop down if you didn’t realize how hard they would make this course. I was on call this week so chose the shorter 4 miler. That was the correct choice as this course was brutal. I will write a caveat to this review that it has been an exceptionally busy week at work and I am very sleep deprived right now and it was also really hot out so I wasn’t really in the mood for a tough race but I’m trying to run 100 races this year so couldn’t say no to a local Friday race. Packet pick-up was the day before at the store. Packet included a T-shirt. it is just a cotton T-shirt but the design is cool with neon skeleton logo and its a nice forest green. This race also had a rolling start from 5pm to 6pm. Not the most exciting but convenient for being on call. I was driving in near the beginning of the race and it seemed at the start it was probably more exciting with lot of runners but by the time I parked and got ready it was the middle so a little anti-climatic. Mendon is a fun but tough place to run but this course was a little much especially for my current mood. The first 0.5 mile was mostly on grass which isn’t my favorite but it was at least relatively flat. The rest is through trails and is more fun but the hills are insane. I run at Mendon just about every week and I didn’t even know these hills existed. One of the downhills was even harder than the uphill. My Garmin had about 600 feet of elevation gain total. There were a lot of rocks, roots and horse poop to maneuver around as an added challenge. The trail is quite pretty. I was sad I didn’t see any of my deer friends on the trail like I usually do but I saw them on my drive out. Just a heads up the course is long and was about 4.5 miles but I have no right to complain about a long course after my rant about the short course at Virginia Wine Country half marathon. I really didn’t care that it was long, it’s just a heads up and they describe this as 4ish miles not exactly 4 miles. Ugh the end is again on grass to the finish line. Again the RDs know me so I got a personal cheer and a bag of goodies including a nutrigrain bar, crackers and chips so I can replenish my snack supply. In the past I think there had been medals but there weren’t this year which is fine since since they did not say there would be a medal this year and I don’t need a medal for every cheap, short race. It was also manually timed. But timing seemed precise. The times aren’t listed yet so I don’t know how accurate they were but I assume they are accurate based on YJR’s usual attention to detail. But I was super, slow since I was tired and hot and I wouldn’t mind if my official terrible time doesn’t get published. I think if it were 10 degrees cooler and I got 5 more hours of sleep this week and my deer friends showed up on the course, this might have been a 4 sneaker race. It was well produced and very well marked. It wasn’t my favorite race but I would do this again if I were in town since it’s a Friday night so not competing with other races. But I also wouldn’t stay in town for this race Friday night if there was a race I wanted to travel to that was several hours away on Saturday.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

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I initially signed up for this race as more of a checkbox race to get a half done in Maryland on a date when it was really the only half … MORE

I initially signed up for this race as more of a checkbox race to get a half done in Maryland on a date when it was really the only half marathon in driving distance. I didn’t have huge expectations. Basically just that it would be a 13.1 mile race (which apparently is too much to ask for sometimes) but this race surprised me and I actually really enjoyed it. This is also put on by Bishop’s Events. Bishop’s Events puts on cheap, low key, no frills races throughout the DC area. This race takes place on the C&O trail in Great Falls Park on the border between Maryland and Virginia on the Maryland side. Just an FYI they say the park requires for you to pay for parking but if you arrive early no one is there and you don’t have to pay. Bib pickup is morning of and is easy. The shirt was a nice purple color and had the logo of the charity which for this race was the Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation which was appropriate for Veterans day. I feel like Bishop’s upped their shirt game this weekend. Both shirts were nicer than the ones I got in March. Not amazing shirts but solid tech shirts that fit that I will wear. They also gave participants the name of a soldier who died in combat to honor their race with which was a nice memorial day touch. This was one of the larger Bishop’s Events with about 100 participants in the half. There were a good number of people from my half marathon clubs since it was one of the only halfs today which made it more fun than some smaller races. Half marathoners went off in 4 waves based on bib number with waves going off every couple minutes. I was in the last wave. The start went pretty smooth. I was expecting the course to be a boring but pleasant canal trail path but it was absolutely beautiful and amazing. It is on non-technical trail. No trail experience necessary but watch out for rocks. I was in such awe of the surroundings by the falls I may have tripped over a rock and bloodied my lower right leg. Very shallow cuts but scratched up a large area of my leg. Looked worse than it was. Along with beautiful views of the falls there were so many wild animals. Animal sightings is probably my #1 criteria for how much I like a course. I saw several deer, great blue herons, turtles, some ducklings, and lots of butterflies and song birds on the course. And of course I stopped to take pictures. When I put my headphones down I could hearing chirping birds and croaking frogs. It was so nice and pleasant. And also the weather was perfect! Also the half marathon turnaround point was where it was supposed to be to my relief. The course is quite easy with just gradual inclines and declines and only about 300 feet of elevation gain. I marked it 2 sneaker difficulty just to remind you to look out for the rocks! While the course was unexpectedly amazing, the rest of the aspects of the race were just okay. Again this is a cheap, local race that raises money for charity so okay is fine for a race like this. While there were no major production issues, this race is definitely lacking some production elements seen in larger races and this was more evident for a longer race like a half marathon than for the 5K and 10Ks I’ve done with Bishop’s. There were 3 aid stations you passed twice. The first and third had water and gatorade and second had just water. They had cups placed that were filled and also jugs you could get water from which works well. This race though was missing medical which I could have used to help cover my bloody leg. The volunteer at the first aid station was really nice and gave me some napkins to help clean it up but could have used bandages. I had to wait until I finished the race to clean up my leg properly but I did find a use for my Wine Country Shirt as I need a cloth item from my car to clean the dirt and dried blood from my leg. I also would have liked to see porta-potties and some kind of gel or chew on course. But again the basic production aspects were all there and the race was the correct distance and the timing was accurate. Another issue which isn’t really the race’s fault is since this was an open course and a beautiful day the last mile and a half were full of non-race participants and some had very poor trail etiquette so there was a lot of weaving around people but I did make up a fraction of the missing mile from Saturday with the extra weaving. At the finish line you get your medal. These races do not have the best medals. This one was at least a little larger and nicer than some of the other Bishop’s medals I have but one of my worst half marathon medals. It does have the date and race name/distance on the back. There is also some jugs of water and gatorade and usually a box of snacks but the snacks were very picked over today. There was just goldfish crackers which are okay. I thought my finishing time was very good for someone who ran 2 other races this weekend including an almost half marathon 2 days ago, injured themselves in the first half a mile of the race and took like a million pictures of wildlife. I actually ran about the entire course. I think I only walked for about 1 minute which is the least I’ve walked in a half marathon. Overall this isn’t the best produced or most exciting race but the course was gorgeous and the registration very cheap and you got exactly what you paid for. This was about half the price of the disastrous Virginia Wine Country half I did on Saturday and overall a much more positive experience and much more bang for your buck. I think even if the Virginia Wine Country Race was the correct distance, this still would have been a better race and was definitely more scenic. This isn’t the race to do for Maryland if you want a large, high energy race with great swag but if you want a convenient, cheap, no frills race that showcases a beautiful part of the state this turned out to actually be a pretty solid option and not just a checkbox race. I would definitely consider doing this race again or another Bishop’s event on this course.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3
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This was an event by Bishop's Events who produce small, low key events thoughout the DC area most weekends. This was the exact same course and pretty much the same … MORE

This was an event by Bishop’s Events who produce small, low key events thoughout the DC area most weekends. This was the exact same course and pretty much the same race as the “Rolling Hills” race I did there in March so I called myself a “repeat runner.” It even went to the same charity and it is an awesome charity helping out dogs and cats! You can read that review for more details. Today I just did the 5K as a “break” between half marathons. I really liked the shirt for this race. It is grey and has the dog and cat logo for the charity really big. I will wear it all the time to promote pet adoption. The course is super fun, single track trail. I wore trail shoes today and it was better with trail shoes especially as it was a little muddy but better condition that I was expecting. It is a super fun course. It is an easy trail race but a tough race if you are more used to road. I was also really impressed that they improved the course markings and had a volunteer at the one offshoot where there wasn’t someone last time based off (I assume) feedback from the runner who went the wrong way in March. It’s nice to see a race company respond to constructive feedback in a professional way after yesterday. I wish I just slept in Saturday and did this half marathon instead of that Wine Country joke of a race. Production for this race was solid though not amazing but these are low cost races and the distance was correct! The medal was the same as the Rolling Hills with the little paw print. As I’ve said before these are solid, low key races and great for combining for multi race weekends in DC.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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What an epic disaster! I will start by saying do NOT sign up for this race or anything produced by Bad to the Bone Sports. This was the rudest, most … MORE

What an epic disaster! I will start by saying do NOT sign up for this race or anything produced by Bad to the Bone Sports. This was the rudest, most unprofessional race company I have ever dealt with and I race a lot. Also $100 for this “half marathon” was a joke. I will cut to the chase and say the reason I put “half marathon” in quotes is the course was about 1 mile short which is an egregious and unacceptable mistake and the response by the race company was even worse. Now for the full review. I was looking for somewhere to go for my three day weekend and the DC area seemed like a nice and appropriate place to spend memorial day and I found a race on all 3 days there. This sounded like the most interesting of the races offered this weekend so even though I am not a wine drinker, I enjoy pretty, farmland and thought this sounded nice and it had mostly good or at least decent reviews. Just some background info on the race. This race changed production companies a couple years ago. It used to be by “Destination Races” and the reviews from prior years are based on their production. This year it was done by Bad to the Bone Sports who also do the Charlottesville Marathon and a few other races if you want to know what races to avoid. This year the location also changed to Tarara winery in Leesburg. Okay, fine covid I get it. This race is located outside of DC. I stayed in a hotel by Dulles airport even though I drove since it was equidistant from all my races. One positive about this race is they offer morning of packet pick-up which I did since I drove in Friday. Friday night was very rainy, luckily the rain mostly cleared by Saturday morning but it made parking a muddy disaster. Should have been a bad sign. Packet pick-up was easy. I was actually pretty excited for the race as the bib was really pretty and personalized and this was a medium sized race (capped at 500) so was able to be pretty normal and still fit within size limits now that things are opening up. The start was just a normal start. I did think there should have been some kind of sign or something recommending to line up by pace but it was just a mass start. The field was small enough and it was chipped time so it was fine. The race is all on the winery property and it is multiple out and backs. It is described as “rolling hills” and we know what that means. As I’ve said before I don’t really mind a scenic, hilly course. However I wasn’t that impressed with the scenery. It was nice enough but I’ve seen much nicer farms in New York and Vermont. The course was kind of annoying where there was this one and back you did twice with another out and back inbetween. What made it annoying was the front of the pack caught up to the large back of the pack group I was in on their second out and back while we were on our first. The lead runner was escorted by police on motorcycles who yelled through a megaphone for us to get out of the way. I understand why this was done but it was obviously going to happen with how the course was set up and they should have figured out a better course. The course is a mix of paved and gravel roads. With the rain it was kind of muddy but not terrible. There were not mile markers every mile which I feel like for a $100 road race there should be huge mile markers. I did notice a 5 mile marker at the wrong place and thought it was just accidentally there but that should have been a bad sign. There were also pretty much no spectators which is not surprising since it is all in the winery and is in a rural area. However other races I’ve done in rural areas such as the EVL Halloween half marathon and Amish Country Running Festival placed signs throughout the course for encouragement in some of the more rural sections. I feel like if I pay $100 you can put a few signs up. The aid stations were really good and frequent though. One of my few positives. I liked how they did it. They had cups placed filled with water and gatorade and then also water jugs with foot pedals if you wanted it contactless. However the gatorade was very watered down. I swear they tried to cut costs every way they could. Anyways I get to the end of the out and back at the halfway mark and I noticed my Garmin only says 6.12 miles. At that point I realized the reason the 5 mile marker was off is the course was off by almost 1 mile! I immediately lost any motivation since I realized this was not going to count for any half marathon clubs and I wanted to save energy for my half on Monday. I walked all the uphill in the second half. I was pretty annoyed and it was hard to enjoy the rest of the race. I mostly just started looking for farm animals and saw a few cows in the distance, some ducks, a cat and a really cute alpaca. I made it to the finish line and my Garmin said 12.2 miles. Yes the course was short about a mile. And I confirmed this with several runners so it was not a Garmin error. Completely unacceptable. Especially for an expensive race that is billed as a “destination lifestyle experience” trying to attract runners from all over. I understand human error and if this was a cheap, local, mom and pop type race company that I paid $30 for a half marathon I could forgive them but not a $100 race. Absolutely ridiculous. If I spend $100 on a race I expect flawless production and at the very least an accurate course. At the finish line you got your medal and your shirt. The medal is really cute with grapes and a baby duck but is not distant specific and not year specific and it turns out was just the medal for 2020 that they reused. I mean I get why they would use the 2020 medals but what was my $100 entry fee used for. Also the shirts are literally the cheapest worst shirts I have every seen. They are black, just have the name and a picture of grapes in one color (so cheap) and made of scratchy polyester so not comfortable to run in or sleep in. And they are tiny. I get men’s mediums since I like baggy shirts and this one is tight on me which means it is smaller than a men’s small should be and it is definitely the men’s shirt because they initially handed me a women’s medium which looked like it might fit a toddler. Really what did they do with my money if the medals were reused, the shirt was cheap and production was terrible. There is also a wine festival but you have to pay an additional $25 to enter on top of the ridiculous entry fee. I don’t drink alcohol so didn’t participate but this race was so bad I was tempted to buy a glass and start drinking again. Also the free post-race snacks were super lame just a bag of chips and a small thing of M&Ms plus a banana and water bottle. There was a food truck you could buy food from but they advertised two food trucks so they didn’t even get that right lol. To add insult to injury, the race company was completely rude afterwards. I was waiting for an apology email or something but crickets. They seemed to want to ignore the measurement issue and pretend it never happened. Anyways someone commented on one of their posts on their facebook page that the race was short. Instead of apologizing, the race company just deleted the comment. People then commented again. Instead of apologizing the company again deleted the comments and made it so no one could comment on any posts. Super professional! They then offered an explanation saying the wind knocked down the turn around sign for the first out and back and it was placed in the wrong location. They did not apologize at all in the explanation. The tone actually sounded annoyed that runners would complain about their mistake. Also this message is in a comment on a facebook post and not an email sent to all participants so you have to look for it. I still have not seen an apology email or any apology for their mistake. I get it we all make mistakes. I expect less mistakes if I pay this much for a race but what I definitely expect is an apology when a race company screws up this bad. I have seen same day apologies for much, much, much more minor things by good race companies. The only good thing I can say about this race company is they have chosen the perfect company name because they truly are bad to the bone. Not in a cool, tough way but in that they are literally bad at their jobs to the bone. Avoid this race and avoid this race company at all costs. And the costs are high!

(also I am not usually this negative a person and I try to give race companies the benefit of the doubt – please read my positive reviews there are a lot of great races out there. If you are looking for Virginia, I highly recommend Shamrock in Virginia Beach)

***Just an update 1 week later and still no apology! But I did get an email to spend $49.99 on personalized race photos in case I wanted to waste more money on a race I am trying to forget***

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
1
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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The Lilac Festival held annually in May is one of the biggest events in Rochester and the accompanying Lilac Run 5K/10K is a very popular event with a few thousand … MORE

The Lilac Festival held annually in May is one of the biggest events in Rochester and the accompanying Lilac Run 5K/10K is a very popular event with a few thousand runners every year. The Lilac Festival and Run were canceled last year but this year they figured out how to hold them with social distancing protocols. I was on call this weekend so very excited to have a local race to do. This was by far the largest running event I have participated in Rochester, NY since I moved here and I assume the biggest running event here since the pandemic since I’ve done most of the races here. There were about 1500 runners with a little under 1000 doing the 5K and a little over 500 doing the 10K. Production of this race was absolutely amazing and they found that perfect balance between safety and normalcy which is impressive given the number of runners. This year the race was moved to Genessee Valley Park. Normally it is in Highland Park where the Lilac Festival is but by moving the race to Genessee Valley Park they were able to keep the course open for several hours and also help mitigate the crowd. This did make the race less festive since it was separate from the festival but was really the only option and Highland Park is only about 2 miles away so would be easy to go to festival after. Genessee Valley Park was also very convenient for me (especially on call) since it is about 1/2 mile from work so I could park at work and do my warm-up/cool down walk to/from the race. Packet pick-up was held at Medved Running store the week before and you choose the date of packet pickup when you registered. Packet pickup was outside the store which I think is best for safety. Packet included bib, shirt and a tote bag with some coupons for some local stores and the best part a $5 Dunkin gift card. Shirt is polyblend and its pretty nice but I don’t love the color. It is this greyish teal kind of color. It’s not actually a terrible color but it clashes with the race logo which is pink and purple. A light pink shirt would have looked so much better but I guess they didn’t want the shirts too “feminine” or something. Still a nice, comfortable shirt I will wear. For the race morning as I said I parked at work and walked to the park. The start was very well organized. Runners chose a time slot at registration and went off every 5 minutes. The 5K time slots were earlier in the morning and the 10K started at 9:30. Runners who deferred from last year got to pick first so the earliest slots were filled but I chose the next earlier at 9:40 which was the third 10K slot. At the start runners went through 3 corrals with their time slot of about 50 other runners: The staging corral, on deck corral and starting corral. Runners had to wear masks in starting area and everyone was complying. In the starting corral runners lined up in three rows at cones spaced 6 feet apart and 3 runners went off every 5 seconds. Worked very well, added some excitement and also felt very safe. Also this was many people’s first live running event since the pandemic started which added to the excitement even if it was about my 60th event since the pandemic. The course itself was fine. I normally do my runs on the canal path and frequently in Genessee Valley Park so it wasn’t too exciting of a place for me to run but it is a nice area and it is quite fast. It is pretty flat just a few inclines and declines and the only things resembling a hill are a few bridges you have to cross. The reason I added a sneaker to the difficulty is the end was the toughest part as there were two back to back bridges near the end and it ended on an incline. I had to take two calls during the run and it was a little hot and humid so my finishing time was mediocre but it was not due to course difficulty. This year there was only one water stop around the 4.5 mile mark for the 10K and about halfway through the 5K. They set it up with jugs of water to self serve and also left some cups for people who weren’t carrying water. I really liked this. Much preferred to the wasteful little water bottles. I was carrying water but as it was hot it was just in the right place for a refill but I do think given how hot it was it would have been better if they added an additional water station sooner for those not carrying water. But then again this was clearly stated in the pre-race instructions and they specifically recommended carrying a bottle so can’t really complain. The finish line are was in a separate park of the park to keep things spread out. There was a nice finish arch and the announcer called out each runners name as they went through which was a nice touch. At the end you were given your medal. It is a nice medal with the race logo and pretty pink/purple colors and good size for a 5K/10K medal but not bigger than my marathon medals which is the right size. They also had bags of food which included Biosteel Sports Drink, a banana and some candies. And the best part there was a Dunkin truck that had cups of coffees and bags of bagels and cream cheese to grab. The coffee and bagels were better post race food than the longer races I have been doing. It was probably a little hot for coffee for most people but I’m not most people and will always take coffee. Overall I thought this was a really well-done race and they did a great job hosting an event with over 1000 runners that felt completely safe and this would have felt safe even in the late fall before vaccination. This year I think the event felt a little less connected to the lilac festival being in a separate park which was a little disappointing but hopefully next year it will be back to Highland Park and the move was definitely better than not holding the race. I also did visit the Lilac Festival Saturday and it was fun and there are some beautiful lilacs (there were also few in Genessee Valley Park along the course but not as pretty as the ones at the festival). The lilac festival and this race are fun events in Rochester. I wouldn’t necessarily say they are worth flying across the country to attend but definitely a must do for locals and worth a couple hour drive for day trip. I don’t generally plan my schedule around shorter races but I will do this one again if I am in town.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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I initially had a couple days off around this weekend for a trip to California but my plans got canceled and I needed a new plan for my short vacation. … MORE

I initially had a couple days off around this weekend for a trip to California but my plans got canceled and I needed a new plan for my short vacation. I realized if I ran a marathon this weekend it would be 3 marathons in under 90 days and would qualify me for marathon maniacs so I decided to run one. I was looking for a race ideally in a new state in a location I wanted to spend 4 days. When Tobacco Road announced moving the race from March to this weekend, it sounded perfect. This was a really hard race to produce with local guidelines and the RD and those involved with the race production clearly went above and beyond to make this race happen. The marathon was changed to Saturday and the half kept on Sunday to allow more spacing. I actually ran the race on May 15 not 16. I flew into Raleigh on Friday. Luckily I had Friday off so I could arrive early. Out-of-staters had to go to packet pick-up the day before and show proof of being fully vaccinated or having a negative covid test. Packet pickup worked well. It was outside a running store and went smoothly. I liked that it was outside. Packet included shirt which is a nice, tech shirt. They were pretty spring colors, a light yellow for the full and a light blue for the half. They have the race logo and are a little simple in design but nice. You also got a thing of Gu and a race buff. If you needed anything else you could buy it in the store. I stayed at the host hotel the Embassy suite in the research triangle. It is nice but just a warning it is about a 15 minute drive from the race start. Race start was pretty smooth. This year you signed up for waves from 6am to 8am. The first waves were for people expecting to finish in under 3:30 or over 6:30. I expected to be pretty slow for this race since I somehow have neither fully recovered and tapered nor built up the necessary mileage for a marathon (all my long runs between the 50K and this race were half marathons which you can read the reviews about), but did expect to finish under 6:30 so I choose the next earliest 6:30AM time slot to allow for the course to be open longer and I realized it could potentially be really hot in North Carolina in May so wanted to run when it was cooler. I arrived about 45 minutes early. Parking was easy this year for the marathon but sounds a real pain during regular years. Plenty of porta potties at the start. They ended up letting people from later waves start early and it was more of a rolling start. Not super exciting but there was an announcer and music and it was very safe. Luckily the weather was actually pretty good today. It only got to the mid 70s by the end of the race and the first few hours were perfect running weather. The course is shaped kind of like a T with about 2 miles on roads before taking a right onto the American Tobacco Rail Trail where you then run an out and back and then keep going and run another out and back and then go back on the road for the final 2 miles. They used the regular marathon course this year but the half marathon is a modified course. The miles on the road are a little hilly. Nothing terrible just rollers. The trail is relatively flat but there are some inclines and declines. It is advertised as flat and fast. I wouldn’t quite call it flat but also wouldn’t call it hilly. It is a relatively fast course. If you actually trained and tapered properly you could have a fast time. It’s a pretty area so the road isn’t too bad to look at but the trail is really pretty and the star of the marathon. I really enjoyed running the trail. Mix of crushed limestone and a few paved sections so nice on the joints. It is a very pleasant, peaceful run although a bit monotonous running it for over 20 miles. The trail isn’t the best place for spectators but at all the intersections with roads along the trail there were lots of cheerful spectators. Just know there are some longer stretches without spectators. There were well spaced aid stations but ugh only little water bottles which are a pain and no gels or electrolytes but this was communicated and I was prepared. There was a nice amount of runners running the race so it wasn’t lonely but also well spaced. I actually think out and backs work well during the pandemic so you end up seeing more runners. It heated up a little in the second half but the trail was shaded so stayed pretty cool. The last 2 miles on the road were quite hot especially the uphills. I had a fast first half but kind of bonked out in the second half due to not really training or tapering. I didn’t really set a specific goal just to get an official finishing time so I would qualify for marathon maniacs and ideally finish under 6 hours and I did that. At the finish line you are given your medal. The medal is great. It is huge, specific to the distance and always train themed given the rail trail. This year along with a big train in the middle there is a little train on top that moves along the track. I don’t know if its quite as cool as the super bowl ring but its one of my best medals. Snack selection not the best since you know covid. You get a bag with a kind bar and pretzels and there were also bananas and chocolate milk (blech!) on a table you could grab. Overall I thought this was a really good race: nice and not too difficult course, great production, nice race shirt and nicer medal. Other than being a bit monotonous I have no other complaints. Also seemed to be the safest of all the larger races I have done during covid. I would definitely recommend this for North Carolina. It is a short enough flight I could visit in just a weekend so would actually consider coming back to run it again but probably just the half.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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I was heading over to NH for mother's days and thought I'd stop by Vermont on the way to run this inaugural race and check off a new state. This … MORE

I was heading over to NH for mother’s days and thought I’d stop by Vermont on the way to run this inaugural race and check off a new state. This is produced by Race Vermont and is located in Shelburne which is just south of Burlington. I drove up Friday night and stayed in the Holiday Inn Express in South Burlington which was very convenient. Race morning was smooth with parking and packet pick-up at Shelburne Field House. Due to Vermont travel rules, out of staters had to show proof of covid vaccine or negative covid test at check in and there was also a temperature screen. This made the race very safe. Packet included bib and you could pay for shirt. Shirt is nice poly blend shirt and has year on it but not distance specific. Race registration was very cheap even adding on the price of shirt it was less than most halfs. It was a pretty small race with about 100 participants in the half. For the start of the race participants stood in the field house in sections by pace. My only safety complaint is I thought it was odd for an otherwise extremely safe race to start indoors but absolutely everyone had a mask on properly (no noses to be seen) and everyone was 6 feet apart. The RD gave an intro to the course and race rules. He did say he thought this was a fast course and I have absolutely no idea on what planet this would ever be considered a fast course. Maybe on the hilly, hippie planet of Vermont. Anyways the racers were called out by pace and one by one went through the start line which was chipped timed. Very smooth, safe start. Both organized but also flexible. Wouldn’t work for a huge race but worked well for a race this size. The start of the course is on the sidewalk of a busy road this was the only part of the course I didn’t love. The rest of the course is through beautiful countryside and is wonderful. There are scenes of mountains and lovely farms. I saw some cows and horses but they were too far to get a good pic. Most of the race was on paved road, part was on a dirt road and a few miles were on non-technical trail which was a nice break on the joints. This was one of the most scenic road halfs I’ve done. It was also one of the hilliest. This was the second toughest road half I’ve done after Amish Country Running Festival. These hills were more than rolling and somewhat unrelenting. I don’t really run to PR so I don’t mind a hilly and scenic race but I wouldn’t plan on PRing this one. There was nothing crazy so I guess if you did a lot of hill training and really pushed yourself you could get a good finishing time. There was only one water stop around the half way point with small bottles of water. It was perfect running weather (cool and cloudy) so I carried water and refilled it there and was fine with only one stop. I do wish there were more water stops though just in case and also gels and electrolytes but this was told to us before. Course was well marked and there were plenty of volunteers and police to direct us and direct traffic since it was an open course. I enjoyed the course but it was a little lonely as it was a small race and I was running by myself a lot. I have a marathon next week so didn’t push myself too hard and walked a lot of hills. I was planning to finish around 2:45 and paced myself perfectly. At the finish line there was a table with medals and a table with snacks and water. The medal is pretty nice for a cheap race. Good size and sparkly though not distance specific. I also wish it had something to indicate the date or say something about it being an inaugural race. Food included fruit, granola bars and pop chips along with water. I did notice they started to close things down as I finished and there were a handful of runners behind me so this may not have been the most turtle friendly for them. After the race I went to Burlington for vegan food at Pingala Cafe and then drove to NH. I thought this was a good inaugural race. It was a little small and hilly but absolutely gorgeous. I’d consider doing this race again or another one of Race Vermont’s races since Vermont is one of my favorite places for a weekend trip. I’d recommend this race for someone who prefers small, beautiful races in the countryside but not for someone who needs high energy, crowded races or someone looking to PR.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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Now that things are starting to get back to normal, Yellow Jacket Racing (YJR) is holding their Wednesday evening Dirt Cheap Trail Races. This year they have three scheduled and … MORE

Now that things are starting to get back to normal, Yellow Jacket Racing (YJR) is holding their Wednesday evening Dirt Cheap Trail Races. This year they have three scheduled and possible will add more. These are low key 5ish mile evening trail races held on Wednesday evenings. They are dirt cheap with registration under $20 but as a result no swag. In the past if you signed up for the series you got a shirt but that wasn’t the case this year probably because they haven’t confirmed the exact number of races this year. This course was the exact same as the Dirt Cheap Halloween Edition Race in Durand Eastman Park last October so I called myself a repeat runner even though the race technically had a different name. This year the races have a rolling start from 5pm to 6pm. Packet pickup is recommended the day before but also available evening of race. I got my bib at the store yesterday. A minor complaint is the website advertised a chip timed race but this ended up being manually timed. The manual timing was extremely precise and results posted very promptly so not a big deal but they should update the website. YJR has been extremely busy planning a whole bunch of races now that NY is opening up so it’s okay that they missed a detail. At this point in the pandemic, I thought the rolling start was a little lame given this was a small race with only about 100 participants. I usually critique that things aren’t safe enough but I do think now things can be a little more normal but I understand erring on safety. I did find the rolling start to be very stress free as I just left after work, did my pre race routine and went. It just was not too exciting. I did start more in the middle of the time frame so it may have been more exciting in the beginning. The race course was really nice. It was absolutely beautiful in the springtime and now things are starting to be green. The best views were by the lake where some lovely swans were swimming. I have gotten much better at trail running training for my ultra. I remember thinking this course was really tough last fall. I wouldn’t call it an easy course but it seemed much easier. I ran almost all of it except the steepest uphills and downhills. As a result I shaved 5 minutes off my time. The race seemed completely safe as I was running alone a lot. I think I saw more people on my non-race trail run yesterday. I still really enjoyed the trail and the course was very well marked. The RDs know me by now so that made the finish line a little more exciting since they cheered me on. As I said, my time was very fast for a hilly trail race. You then got your bag of snacks so I will no longer have to go hungry now that YJR is supplying my snacks again. This was an enjoyable run, I look forward to the next one.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
1

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I'm a huge football fan and Canton, Ohio is a nice distance away from Rochester for a weekend trip (about 4.5 hours), so this race was on my radar even … MORE

I’m a huge football fan and Canton, Ohio is a nice distance away from Rochester for a weekend trip (about 4.5 hours), so this race was on my radar even before Covid and I was excited they were planning a live race when the other large races nearby this weekend on my bucket list (Pittsburgh, Flying Pig) were canceled or postponed. This race was very large for a race during the pandemic and a ton went into the planning and production. There was if anything too frequent communication. There were emails with updates at first monthly, then weekly, and then daily. I appreciated the check in but it was a little confusing since there wasn’t one email with all the info but more is better than less. Bib was mailed this year but normally there is an expo on Friday and Saturday. I drove in Friday night and did the 5K Saturday (try to do it if you can the medal is great – see my previous review and pic). Marathoners parked at the stadium and half marathoners parked at the Beldon Village Mall and took a shuttle. Parking was very easy and shuttle was very smooth. There is a lot of lodging by the mall. I stayed in the Holiday Inn Express in Beldon Village which was very convenient. The course was changed this year and started and ended at the stadium at the Pro Football HOF. This year the race was sent off in waves and you were assigned by predicted finishing time. The marathon went first and started between 7 and 7:15. The half marathon waves started between about 8:00 and 10:00am and were set up so that you would join marathoners of a similar pace at around the halfway point of the marathon. This was a pretty smart way to space out the runners and not keep the course open for 10+ hours and I hadn’t seen it done before. However there were two downsides 1. As a slower runner I started close to 10am and it was hot as heck today and 2. the half marathon course basically felt like the second half of a marathon course i.e. super boring just miles to make the measurement work. The start at the stadium was super cool. Also there were hardly any lines for the porta potties. The waved starts worked well and allowed enough space for social distancing. At first it felt a little sparse but as soon as the marathoners joined there were the perfect amount of runners around. Although I’m guessing they were quite jealous of our fresh legs. The course as I said was super boring. Just an out and back zig zagging through the suburbs. Literally that was all it was house after house after house. The good thing about the suburbs though is there was a lot of spectator support. The most I’ve seen during covid. The course had rolling hills. They weren’t too bad. Slightly less elevation gain than Gettysburg. However it was like 80 degrees out and the slower runners were out in the middle of the day so it was oppressively hot and even short inclines were killer. Shout out to the woman spraying us with her hose even if it is wasteful of water it was just what I needed. I carried water but there seemed to be plenty of aid stations. However again it was annoying little water bottles. Also no gatorade or gels but this was communicated. I do wish they figured out how to change this. It was not really safe to run without electrolytes today. I was prepared since I knew this in advance and had a pack of extra salty margarita flavored clif blocks that I ate throughout and bought this pouch of gatorade from target that I drank half way through. While the course was boring it was in a safe neighborhood and was not unpleasant and the finish line was awesome in the stadium! The energy from the stadium gave me a last minute push to finish under 2:45. This was one of my slowest road halfs but with the heat I completed my main goal of finishing and not getting heat stroke. Outside the stadium they had tables set up with finisher awards and food. The medal is absolutely amazing. It is designed like a super bowl ring and is big and sparkly and super cool. I think it might be my favorite medal. This is the last year they are doing the ring designs. I kind of wish they would do them every year since I would then have to do this race at least 8 times so I could say I have more rings than Tom Brady but looking at past pics it seems the medals that aren’t rings are usually equally cool. The shirt is meh. It is black poly-blend with the race logo. There is also a finisher blanket that is really nice. Food was kind of lame this year with granola bar, chips and Ho-Hos. I hadn’t eaten a Ho-Ho in like 10 years so that was kind of fun. I heard there is normally better food. The shuttle back to the mall was super easy. There are lots of places for post-race food and beverages at the mall. I went to the Melt Bar and Grilled which makes these giant, very extra grilled cheese sandwiches and the best part most of their food can be modified to be made vegan! While the course was boring, this was a very fun weekend. I also explored both the Pro Football HOF (normally you get free entry with the race but not this year) and the Rock & Roll HOF in nearby Cleveland. As a sports and music nerd I loved both museums. I thought production and swag for this race were top-notch and made up for the mediocre course. If you are a football fan you should do this for the swag and to check out the museum. If you are a local it is a well-produced race. If you are not a football fan and not a local and looking for an Ohio race, there are probably better ones.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5
My Media

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I did the 5K as a warm-up run for the half marathon tomorrow. More specifics regarding the race and the weekend will be in that review to follow. The 5K … MORE

I did the 5K as a warm-up run for the half marathon tomorrow. More specifics regarding the race and the weekend will be in that review to follow. The 5K is not at the football stadium but in downtown Canton. For the 5K this year there was in-person packet pick-up the morning of the race as opposed to the larger half and full marathons which had the bibs mailed to participants this year. One great thing about this race is that there is always race day packet pick up for the 5K so you can arrive at 10pm Friday and do both races without having to pay extra for mailing the bib or finding someone else to pick it up. I arrived just when bib pick up opened up at 6:30 and had prime parking. Bib pick up easy and plenty of porta potties at start. Weather today was nice. A little cool at the start but warmed up quickly. My biggest complain is the corrals and why I took a sneaker off production. For the start of the 5K you lined up based on based and were sent off in groups every couple of minutes. The race was chipped timed and this should of worked well but about 5 to 10 minutes before the start they had us move forward and packed all together way closer than 6 feet apart which was completely unnecessary and I would have felt very uncomfortable with this if I were not vaccinated especially as while almost every runner had a mask only about 75 to 80% of runners were wearing them correctly. There is no point to a mask if your nose is showing please wear it properly. Once we left though the race was perfectly spaced out. The course was actually nicer than I expected. It isn’t the most scenic 5K you’ll ever run but downtown Canton was nicer than expected. The course elevation profile is real nice and exactly how I like it. No hills but some gradual inclines and declines so also not pancake flat. About 50 feet of elevation gain total. It could be a fast course but the reason I added a sneaker to difficulty is as many of the other posts have said there are a lot of potholes and uneven footing so you have to be careful. Since I’m doing the half tomorrow I ran this at a comfortable pace but I’d worry if I were trying to PR I would trip and face plant on a pothole. The finish area was nice in a park. There was a finish arch and water and snacks which included chips and my go to post race snack granola bars. My finishing time was exactly what I aiming for which was a comfortable 10:30 min/mile pace since I didn’t want to over do it since the half is tomorrow. The medal for this race is ridiculously big. Almost offensively big like I’m pretty sure my marathon and 50K medals are going to be offended that this medal is just about as big as them. It is fun with a draft scene on it. The actual medal part doesn’t have the year on it but the ribbon does. They also give a race T-shirt at the end. It is a fine but not particularly exciting just a grey polyblend T-shirt with race distance and year. This year they gave extra finishing blankets from 2020 since they had leftovers but normally you don’t get a blanket for the 5K. Overall this was a nice warm-up run with a ridiculously big medal for a 5K. I just wish the corrals were better done in terms of social distancing. Again hopefully that won’t be an issue next year. If you are planning to do the half or the marathon, definitely try to fit in this 5K just for the medal!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5
My Media

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I was initially signed up for two other half marathons this day which both changed dates but was determined to run a half that was within driving distance of both … MORE

I was initially signed up for two other half marathons this day which both changed dates but was determined to run a half that was within driving distance of both Rochester and NYC and ended up running this one. And I am so happy I did! This ended up being one of my favorite half marathon courses. This year due to covid there was not race day packet pick-up. I paid extra to have it mailed before since I didn’t want to be stressed about making packet pick-up coming from the Bronx. It was only $10 extra to mail the packet which is not bad compared to other races. Packet included bib which is one of those obnoxiously big ones with lots of race details and the shirt. Unlike my last two races which had amazing shirts, this one had a very ordinary shirt. Not a bad shirt just a very safe design. It was also a nice, comfy polyblend shirt. It is a really nice brick red color. It just has the race logo in the front corner and a Abraham Lincoln quote on that back. It’s a fine shirt that I will wear but they definitely played it safe this year. I stayed at the Wyndham which is the host hotel in the Gettysburg Gateway Complex right by the start line. Very convenient and with the race discount was about $150 and was a very nice room for that price. This year due to covid, each event had a 10 minute rolling start and there were two waves for the half marathon. The marathon started at 8:00, half wave one at 8:10, half wave two at 8:20 and the 5K at 8:30. There were a large number of participants for a race during covid with just over 1000 all together with all the distances. The wave starts seemed to keep things pretty spread out. This is a really nice sized race where you are always running with people but you also aren’t constantly weaving around people. I was in the second wave and let the masses go first and started around 8:22. The course is fantastic. It is a lollipop loop with a short out and back at the end. The best part is definitely going through Gettysburg National Military Park and running past the battlefields. Fun fact, I was actually a double major in college and also studied history so this was a perfect race weekend for my college degrees. Any history buff will love this section. The next section isn’t quite as amazing but is still great through some very pretty farmland and farmland means farm animals. The race passed by some really nice cows and I stopped and took some pics. You then do the loop through farmland with the small out and back and then go back through the National Military Park to the finish line. The race is very hilly, I don’t think there was a single flat section. There are no crazy long or steep hills but it is constant up and downs. Not crazy difficult but a harder than average road race. The aid stations were frequent about every 1.5 miles. But it was little water bottles and gatorades so there was so much waste. Also its kind of a pain. I feel like a lose so much time opening bottles that it probably adds a couple minutes to my time compared to grabbing a cup but safety first. At the finish line there are water bottles and gatorade and then you go to the finishing tent to grab prepackaged food and your finisher awards. This is my only production complaint. This line was long, too long to social distance and while I think the runners were doing their best with masks today, most of us were recovering and drinking water and gatorade. It would have been better, especially because there was enough space, to set it up like they did at the Run for the Wild yesterday where there were two separate tables with food and two separate tables with prizes to space us out. There were food and prize tickets on our bibs so it would have worked. I like that the pre-made snack bag was put in a drawstring bag with the race logo instead of just a paper bag. There was a nice selection of snacks including a bagel with peanut butter, banana and some snack mix and chocolate milk (blech! I gave that back as nothing upsets my stomach more than chocolate milk). For the prizes you get the medal and a pint glass. I like that there is more than just a medal and shirt for swag but the medal was kind of disappointing this year. I did appreciate that it had the year and was distance specific. But is quite small and looks cheaper than the medals pictured from previous years. It’s not terrible I was just expecting something better and my 5K fun run medal from yesterday was bigger. Both the shirt and medal seem less exciting than what is pictured from prior years. I suspect this had to do with the financial difficulties for racing companies during the pandemic and I would rather have a great racing event and medium swag than great swag at the expensive of production so I will forgive them. My time for this race was okay. It was not my fastest but not my slowest. It was a somewhat tough course and this was my first long run since the Zion 50K. Also I probably shouldn’t stop and take pictures of cows if I want a good finishing time but I can’t help myself. We got an email saying there was some issues with timing but my result perfectly matched my Garmin and I had no issues with timing. Overall I thought this was a great race. It is definitely worth the 4 to 5 hour drive from Rochester and I will definitely consider this one again. It also seemed like a fun area to explore and I wish I had more time but had to drive back right after the race. This is a great choice for Pennsylvania especially if you are a history buff and/or prefer small town races.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3
My Media

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I actually lived in the Bronx for 8 years and I love the Bronx Zoo. Back in college when I was studying to become an ecologist and not an endocrinologist, … MORE

I actually lived in the Bronx for 8 years and I love the Bronx Zoo. Back in college when I was studying to become an ecologist and not an endocrinologist, I actually volunteered at the Bronx Zoo. So I was very excited when the Bronx Zoo announced plans for a live Run for the Wild this year. My parents were excited too and are recently fully vaccinated so they decided to join me and we walked it together. I will warn you this is an expensive 5K. It is $50 and you have to raise $35 on top of that but it does include free entry to the zoo and the zoo does some great behind the scenes conservation work which I can tell you about from first hand experience. It is also an untimed fun run so it is not an event for competitive runners hoping for an award but it is still a super fun and well done event. There were a lot of covid protocols in place and they really found that perfect balance between safety and normalcy. You had to sign up for half hour blocks that went most of the morning. We picked 9am. There is also a family 3K that is later in the morning. This year packets were mailed. Packets included bib. The bib was more of a ticket than a functioning bib since it was untimed. Bibs were color coded by time slot so it was easy for race staff to see what time the participants were signed up for. The packet also included race day instructions and the absolute cutest race shirt. This year the theme was lemurs and the shirt has this adorable ring-tailed lemur. It is a very comfy, nice quality polyblend shirt. It is a very nice purple color. I am not a huge purple person but I even liked the color. Almost every participant was wearing the shirt during the race because it was so cute. The start of the race went off without a hitch. Parking was super easy and luckily the race started at the parking lot near my old neighborhood so we could visit after. I stayed in a hotel outside the city and getting there in the morning was easy-peasy. After parking you went to bag check, then temp check, then the starting area. The starting area was set up so you lined up 5 runners (or walkers) at a time and went off every 20 seconds. There was loud music and an announcer making it a little more exciting. The race was perfectly spaced. There were generally other participants around but hardly ever was there anyone within 6 feet of you. It couldn’t have been spread out better. The race itself is really nice all through the zoo property. I didn’t see quite as many animals as I would have liked to on course. I did see nice views of the hyenas and the flamingos. Even without the animals the zoo is quite nice looking with lots of vegetation. The course was extremely well marked and easy to follow. You could not get lost. The finish area was set up great for social distancing but still being fun. After going through the finish arch you are handed a water and there are multiple tables spread out. There were two tables with snacks, two with medals, and two with additional prizes such as a cute lemur stuffed animal you could get if you fundraised enough. The medal is super cute with the lemur design. It is one-sided and the ribbon is boring but it’s a very good medal for a 5K fun run. There was solid snack selection with pumpkin seed bars (which are vegan and gluten free and quite tasty), fruits and fruit snack. Obviously this was not a fast time for me since we walked but my mom has some health conditions so completing a 5K was a big deal for her and I helped pace her well below her goal of 1 hour. She was very happy and proud. I marked our performance 5 sneakers for her. Afterwards you could enjoy the zoo. This year the zoo was only open to participants on race day and we could see all the exhibits. We then had lunch at the diner in my old neighborhood and then I left for Gettysburg. While, this is not the event for a competitive runner, it is a super fun event and organization was top-notch this year. I actually think it being untimed allowed everyone to have more fun and enjoy themselves. It is a great event to enjoy with your family or use as an easy warmup run before a longer race on Sunday. I will definitely do this again every time it works well with my schedule though I wouldn’t necessarily plan around the event and I would highly recommend it as long as it being untimed wouldn’t bother you.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5
My Media

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This is an annual Earth Day themed half marathon and 5K produced by Willow Running in Baldwinsville, NY. Baldwinsville is about 20 minutes west of Syracuse and a little over … MORE

This is an annual Earth Day themed half marathon and 5K produced by Willow Running in Baldwinsville, NY. Baldwinsville is about 20 minutes west of Syracuse and a little over an hour from Rochester. I did the 5K because I was on-call this weekend and ran a 50K last weekend so wanted to take it easy. I really appreciated that they offered packet pick-up not just in Syracuse but also in Rochester and Utica. I was able to pick up my packet at a local Rochester running store Thursday evening. The packet included a bib which has a timing chip since this is chip timed which I liked since I’ve had issues with the manual timing at Willow Running’s event. The packet also includes the most amazing race shirt I have ever seen. I am not sure if it is amazingly good or amazingly bad but it is amazing. It is a long sleeved tie-dyed tech shirt. Its not just tie dyed it also has runners, trees, fish, birds, frogs and other nature images interspersed with the tie-dye design along with the race name and location. It didn’t have date so it may be the same shirt every year but who couldn’t use more obnoxious tie dyed tech shirts. It is a very nice quality, detailed shirt down to having thumb holes. It is by far the wackiest and most creative race shirt I have and I must have gotten close to 100 race shirts by now so that’s saying something. I both love it and hate it at the same time. It is nice quality so I will definitely wear it running and will also wear it to the next Phish concert I go to if concerts ever happen again. The race started at Emmi’s Farm Market and there was a large parking area. There was also day of packet pick-up if you couldn’t get it before the race. The half marathon had a wave start from 7:45 to 8:15. Then the half marathon relay went at 8:20 and the 5K had a slow mass start at 8:30. I did not think the 5K was social distanced enough. There was almost 350 5Kers. I feel like they should have split us into waves or something. It was supposed to be a gradual mass start and the starting corral was small so not everyone left at once but it was much more crowded than other races. This is why I took a sneaker away from production. Kudos to the runners though as I didn’t see a single runner not wearing a mask at the start line and I only saw a handful out of hundreds not wearing it properly. The course was pretty nice. it was an out and back through some farmland. It wasn’t spectacular (although maybe I am spoiled by the views last weekend) but it was a pretty and pleasant place for a run. The course was as flat as possible for the area. There was one small hill at the turnaround and two kind of bumps. Total elevation was 76 ft about half that of the Pi day race I did here last month. I didn’t even think about walking and I have a very low threshold to power walk hills so that tells you how easy the “hills” were. It’s a somewhat hilly area so I’m assuming the half has some rolling hills but they appeared to make the courses as flat as possible for the area. I did think the course was a little congested with the mass start. It was actually kind of nice as it felt normal but we aren’t there yet with the pandemic and it should have been more spaced out. Also I forgot how annoying it is to weave around people walking in groups of two to three. I still enjoyed the race and I don’t think passing people while running outside is very high risk but it could have been safer. There is a nice finish arch and a festive finish area. My time was pretty good considering I ran a 50K last weekend. You got your medal which is nice and spins but my first medal broke so I had to get a replacement. I’d rather have a non-spinning medal that doesn’t break. The broken medal is why I took a sneaker away from swag but the shirt is so epic I almost gave the swag 5 stars even with the broken medal. There was lots of finish line food: cookies, bananas, chocolate milk, wraps, and chips. Along with a booth with monster energy drinks and a booth with beer (but no beer for me since I don’t drink and even if I did it would be a bad idea to have a beer before rounding in the hospital). There was also a vendor selling plant based power bars. I bought some since I like to support local, plant-based environmentally conscious businesses. There were also a few foods trucks. I wish I could have hung around more but I had to leave to round. Overall I thought this was a nice race. I would recommend it just for the race shirt. I do wish they had better social distancing for the 5K but hopefully that won’t be a problem next year.

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I enjoyed the Zion at Night half marathon so much I decided I wanted to run it longer and in daylight and therefore signed up for the Zion 50K for … MORE

I enjoyed the Zion at Night half marathon so much I decided I wanted to run it longer and in daylight and therefore signed up for the Zion 50K for my first ultramarathon. Pre-race communication was excellent with frequent emails and a very detailed race guide. They had to change the starting area due to issues with parking and make some course changes. I’m not sure if these are permanent changes or not since they didn’t specifically seem to be related to covid. Bib pick up was the day before. Vacation races has the drive through bib pickup down. This was the best bib pickup I had seen during covid. Very organized with the volunteers giving out the bib and shirt to you in your car. The bib is small (which personally I don’t mind as I can’t stand huge bibs you can’t find space to put on you) but I like they added a first time 50K design for first timers. The shirt is tech and nice quality. The design has some nice personal touches but I don’t like the color (dark grey). There was also a mini outdoor expo with a few vendors that if you were comfortable you could go to but if you’d prefer not to you could skip along with an area to drop off drop bags. I didn’t use a drop bag but it was an option for 50K runners. It didn’t seem worth it as the aid stations were very well stocked and I didn’t want to wait for my drop bag or get it paid to be shipped to me. There was a rolling start with each distance having a half hour time window. The 50K started between 7 and 7:30. I started close to 7 to run as much as I could while it was cool out and I had a lot of pre-race jitters. Just a warning the new start area is a little out there and kind of far from hotels (I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Washington as it was so much cheaper than Springdale and it was about 35 minutes from start). The start was exciting at 7am as a lot of runners were waiting in the starting area. I was prepared for this race with trail shoes and a hydration pack unlike Zion at Night. The start of the race is mostly downhill on a dirt road. Then you enter a loop through Grafton Mesa. This was my favorite running portion. This was mostly a single track dirt trail. It was technical but not crazy technical at least for most of the loop. It was beautiful during sunrise. The last mile or so was a little more technical but not too crazy. Then you go back on the dirt road to the first aid station around mile 8. This aid station had honey stinger, Gnarly electrolyte, water and a few other things but wasn’t as fully stocked as the later ones. The next portion is about 7 miles on the dirt road and mostly uphill to gooseberry Mesa. This part was kind of tedious and I power walked a lot of the uphill to save energy but since it was not technical even walking it was quite fast and there were a few very runnable downhill sections. There were some nice views here too. Then you get to the really big aid station which had everything (except twizzlers) including water, gnarly, chips, fruit, pickles, PBJ sandwiches, tortilla with Nutella, trail mix, etc. However there was no social distancing at the aid stations just a warning. Then you do a long about a 12 mile loop through Gooseberry Mesa. This loop is beautiful but brutal. There was some absolutely jaw droppingly beautiful scenery. But the terrain was tough. A lot of it was on slickrock and included some scrambling on the rocks. This was killer on my feet as it was very hard. It was also hard to get a good running pace this section due to technical rock scrambles so I spent a lot of this section hiking and just enjoying the scenery. Most runners with me were hiking this part too. Course was pretty well marked with pink ribbons but there were a few areas I thought could use a few more. There is an aid station in the middle of this section. One complaint I have is the guide said it was mile 22 but it was actuly mile 24. Then at around mile 28 you exit Gooseberry Mesa and go back to the big aid station. Then it is back on the dirt road for the finish. This is a nice finish and if the slickrock didn’t kill my feet it would be quite runnable since it was more downhill. It is brutal though the last mile is uphill. Also the course was 33 miles not 50K so that didn’t make it any easier. There were lots of people cheering runners on at the finish line. Even for the slow turtles like me who were mostly walking at the end of the race. My time was really slow but this course was really tough with 33 miles some of them very technical and just about 4000 feet of elevation gain so I actually think I did okay given all that and was well under the 11 hour time limit and there were over 100 runners behind me. You also got a box of snacks which are great. There is also chocolate milk but I hate milk so I didn’t take it. There is then a tent with awards. You got a choice of medal or homemade mug. The mugs were nice but I obviously chose the medal since I love my medals. It is a really nice medal. I especially like the ribbon which is very thick, has nice designs and the distance and date. This was definitely the toughest race I have ever done but it was beautiful and very rewarding and I am so proud to have finished it. I’m not sure it is the best choice for a first 50K since it is so tough but I did it and I am not particularly fast and there is a long 11 hour time limit. If you do choose this for a first 50K make sure you’ve run a good number of marathons first and get a lot of trail training in. I would also recommend training on slick rock or other more rocky trails. This is something I didn’t do and as a result was much less comfortable on the slickrock than the dirt trail. If you are an experienced ultra marathoner, this is a fun one just don’t expect to PR.

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I decided to fly into Salt Lake City for my Zion 50K because I have never been and flights were much cheaper to SLC than Las Vegas. I was planning … MORE

I decided to fly into Salt Lake City for my Zion 50K because I have never been and flights were much cheaper to SLC than Las Vegas. I was planning to spend a week exploring Utah before the 50K and thought I’d look for a 10K to 10 miler this weekend as a warmup run in even higher altitude than Zion to hopefully help me acclimate and I found this one. This race is a point to point race that mostly goes down emigration canyon road. There is a half marathon and a 10 miler option. The half marathon starts 3.1 miles away from the 10 miler and eventually converges. In terms of pre-race info I feel like the important things were covered but some minor details were missing. We also never got the “we are officially approved” email but that’s okay the race did happen. You have the option to either park at the finish line and get dropped off at the start or park at the start and be brought back at the end of the race. They do not provide shuttles. I parked at the start so I could wait in my car and also because day of packet pick up was at the start (they also had packet pick up Thursday and Friday). The volunteers seemed kind of confused at packet pickup but maybe it’s just because I was one of the first people to come pick it up that morning. Packet was just bib and T-shirt. The shirt is pretty terrible. Just a cheap grey shirt with the race logo but it does have the year. You could opt out of getting a shirt and save $5. That’s probably a good idea unless you need another pajama top or dish rag. It’s a cheap race though so wasn’t expecting a high quality tech shirt. The race was on the smaller side with maybe about a hundred or so runners in each distance so there weren’t any specific covid protocols since the size of the groups fit Utah gathering limits. The start wasn’t the greatest set up. There was just some cones indicating the corral. We were instructed to wear masks at start and finish. Not everyone was following the rules but there was enough area so everyone was at least 6 feet apart. This was again chipped time with a timing mat at the finish but not at start. The start was a little awkward because the announcer was on the phone with the person who was leading the half group to make sure we started the same time. It wasn’t the best start. I suspect more attention was spent on the start of the half marathon which is fair as they are running more. The first two miles of the course are rough and a steep uphill. I power walked the majority of this. I also just flew in last night and got in around midnight so was sleep deprived, not well hydrated and not acclimated to the altitude at all. So this was rough but the scenery was beautiful and a nice distraction. Also I appreciated they closed half the road so you didn’t have to worry about watching out for traffic. Once you get to the top the rest is almost all downhill and much nicer. I had a pretty fast 5 miles from mile 2 to 7 and then just bonked out at mile 7 due to the altitude. The entire course was quite lovely with mountain views. The foliage was a little brown due to the time of year but otherwise it was beautiful. Weather was also gorgeous. I didn’t like how they used shared mile markers for the 10 miler and half which meant the 10 miler markers were off by 0.1 miles i.e. you came to the 1 mile marker at 0.9 miles. A minor detail but annoying. I was also disappointed the aid stations had no electrolytes or gels/chews. I don’t think this was communicated with us and if it was it wasn’t clearly stated. There were 4 aid stations and they just had little Dixie cups of water. Maybe it was enough for acclimated runners who weren’t dehydrated from flying but I needed a ton more water and needed electrolytes than the race offered. Luckily I had my handheld water bottle but I would have brought chews with electolytes if I knew there wouldn’t be any on course and had some hand cramping. The volunteers at the aid stations though were excellent and wearing masks and gloves properly. As I said I bonked out at mile 7 and did run walk intervals the rest of the race. The finish line was nice with a big finish arch. There were lots of family members cheering runners on and it was on the more exciting side for a pandemic race. My time was terrible but I was expecting that going into the race. Also just a warning there is a tight 3 hour cutoff as they reopen the road and take down the timing mat at 11am (3 hours after the race). So not very turtle friendly for the half especially as it’s a tough race. I’m not 100% sure I could have finished the half today in 3 hours since the 3.1 miles added are mostly uphill. Also not so exciting is the lack of medals and food. This was not a surprise but I’d like at least a cheapo medal and a granola bar. The worst part was it took about 45 minutes to get an uber to get me back to my car at the start so I was starving (my first uber in nearly 13 months since the LA marathon crazy!). But my hunger did allow me to really enjoy my vegan breakfast burrito from Vertical Diner. Overall I did think this was a beautiful and challenging course. There were many things that could have improved the production but there were no terrible production mistakes. I would recommend this race to locals or if you happen to be in town like me but I would not recommend the half marathon for a 50 stater who is traveling just for this race and plans to only run one race ever in Utah given lack of swag unless you don’t care about those things at all. Just splurge and do one of the Zion races with Vacation Races for Utah instead even if they are like 3x the price of this one

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I was on call this weekend so I was looking for a short, live, local race within an hour drive of Rochester and this one fit the bill. I wasn't … MORE

I was on call this weekend so I was looking for a short, live, local race within an hour drive of Rochester and this one fit the bill. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this race. This race is produced by Wolfpack multisport which is a smaller racing company that I don’t know that much about that produces mostly triathlons in western NY. Overall I was pretty impressed with the race and the production was better than I expected. The race is located in a very small town inbetween Rochester and Buffalo in honor of a local man named Wayne Burlison. This year, the race had waves every 10 minutes from 1pm to 1:30pm. This was kind of weird timing for me with rounding and eating but did mean I could also do a 3 mile run this morning with my local running group, then round at the hospital and then run this race. It was a little difficult to time eating so I had a medium sized breakfast just before rounds and ate lunch after the race. The race started at a school and had raceday packet pick-up. Packet included the bib and the swag item this year was a pair of gloves with the race name. It was okay swag but this is a cheap, short race that raises money for charity so I don’t need much swag. The start of the race was well organized with small waves. It was chipped timed with timing mat the finish but no timing mat at the start but the waves were small so you pretty much passed the start at the same time. The course was a lollipop loop along a pleasant enough rural street and then went through a loop in the cemetery. This seemed kind of morbid for a memorial race especially as you apparently pass by Wayne’s gravesite but I wasn’t really reading the tombstones as I was running through to confirm this. My dark sense of humor got a kick out of running through the cemetery for a memorial race. I hope Wayne’s would too. The course was actually on the tougher side for a 5K with lots of rolling hills especially in the cemetery but I was really fast today. I was close to a sub-30 finish which surprised me since I already ran 3 miles earlier today. The course was also marked extremely well with cones, direction signs and arrows and lots of volunteers. The finish line looked nice with a big arch but there was no medals and only water with no other snacks. Oh well again it’s a 5K that goes to charity. I had a good time at this race and it was better than I expected. A few improvements that would bring it to 5 sneakers would be earlier start time, timing mat at start, and some post-race snacks. I would definitely consider doing this one again if I was in town and I actually decided to sign-up for one of Wolfpack’s events in the fall for my first triathalon since I enjoyed this event and it is a “paddle-bike-run” triathalon and I don’t swim.

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I am trying to run a half marathon every month and this was the only weekend in March I could squeeze in a half marathon between my work schedule and … MORE

I am trying to run a half marathon every month and this was the only weekend in March I could squeeze in a half marathon between my work schedule and marathon/ultra schedule. When I was looking for races this one caught my eye but I wasn’t sure how it would be possible to hold this race this year. Well you know what they say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Race directors definitely got a bunch of lemons this year (so please be kind to them!) but j&a racing did the best they could to make lemonade and hold a safe and fun event with what they were given. Logistics: this was held from 7am to 5pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on an open, official course with chip timing and limited to about half the normal participants but still a whole lot more participants than most races this year. I arrived in Virginia Beach mid-morning on Saturday. A plus of this modified race was I was able to do the dolphin challenge (8K + half marathon) which I normally wouldn’t be able to do without taking Friday off. As soon as I arrived in Virginia Beach I picked up my packet at the host hotel which is the Hilton right by the start. FYI if you want to stay at the host hotel book your room asap it was sold out when I booked hotels but I stayed at the Ramada which was right nearby and very convenient. Packet pick up was spread over 4 days and opened for several hours each day so I understand why it had to be inside and the conference room was very large, easy to space out in and well ventilated. Not as safe as outdoor packet pickup but as safe as indoor could be. This was set up as kind of a mini expo where they were selling some other Shamrock gear and some gels and chews for the race. At packet pickup you get your swag and the swag was amazing. It came in a tote bag and for the half you got a long sleeved tech shirt, blanket, hat and a cup plus with the dolphin challenge I got all the 8K swag too. You also got your medals at packet pickup which I get that it is safer to hand out everything at once but it was a little anticlimactic and this is the one thing I wish they figured out how to change. The medals are beautiful and sparkly and are all bottle openers since it is St. Paddy’s day themed and appropriate size for the distance. For the dolphin challenge you get 3 medals and the dolphin one is amazing and my favorite medal besides my Beach city sea turtle medal. I did the half on Sunday morning. The open course made race morning very unstressful. I wanted to start around 7am so I would have time to shower and relax after the race before 11am hotel check out time so I just rolled out of bed put on my running gear and walked to the startline and went. The start is not too exciting but the RD is there to cheer on runners which was appreciated (and allowed it to meet criteria for half fanatics/marathon maniacs during the pandemic – I confirmed with them it will count if anyone wants to know). The course is quite nice. The first 5 miles are an out and back along the boardwalk. It was lovely to be near the ocean. Also the boardwalk is cement not wooden boards so don’t worry it is fast. Weather was absolutely perfect on Sunday and there was not much wind. Course was well marked but one place I was slightly confused and had to stop and look around but quickly saw a course sign. After the boardwalk it is about a mile on the main street of Virginia Beach then an out and back that consists of few miles of pretty neighborhoods and a few miles through a nice and shaded state park where there is a turn around. It was pancake flat until the state park where there were some easy rollers which were actually a nice break to use some different muscles. The out and back nature of this course actual worked great for this race format and you were always with other runners. There were limited aid stations this year but they had 2 set up that you passed twice (four times for marathon) with self served water and Nuun. There were also mile markers on the course. There were a couple road crossings which maybe made me lose 30 to 60 seconds but they did a good job making a course with minimal road crossings. The marathon ended up being 2 loops of the half due to flooding on the initial course. The course this year was similar to the usual course from what I saw online but this year did not go through the military base. After the out and back you turn back on the boardwalk and run to the finish line. It’s a little anticlimatic with no medals at the end but the RD and lucky the leprechaun and a lot of runners are there to cheer you. No issues with the timing mat for my half marathon. My time was actually faster than I meant it to be due to the easy course and encouragement from other runners. I meant to do this at more of a training pace and finish around 2:45 since I’m tapering for my 50K but was closer to my usual goal race time of 2:30. Oh well I had fun and didn’t get injured which was my main goal. There was no post race party this year but several local restaurants and bars had deals for the runners but I chose instead to get some delicious vegan junk food for a post race meal from the Bumbling Bee which is about 5 miles away from the race but worth the drive if you love vegan junk food as much as I do. Overall I thought this was a very fun event and they definitely made the best of a bad situation. It wasn’t perfect and I definitely miss large races but this was definitely better than going fully virtual, deferring to next year, rescheduling to the fall on a date when I’m probably already registered for another race or even worse holding an unsafe event. I am planning to do the NYC Half Marathon next March (I did the virtual half for guaranteed entry in 2022 this year) which usually falls on the same weekend as this race but I absolutely want to come back and do this race again one year to see what it is like without the modifications. If it is this good with all these modifications I’m sure it is amazing without them.

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I did the 8K this year as part of the dolphin challenge. You can read my review for the half for more details but the silver lining of the modified … MORE

I did the 8K this year as part of the dolphin challenge. You can read my review for the half for more details but the silver lining of the modified Shamrock experience this year was I got to do the 8K and the dolphin challenge. The 8K swag was great for a short race and included a short-sleeved tech shirt, a drink cozie, and a really nice medal although appropriately smaller than the half and full medals. Since I did both the 8K and the half I got the dolphin challenge medal which was amazing! I did this race right after packet pickup. It started with an out and back on the boardwalk and then about a mile or so on a main street in Virginia Beach before turning back on the boardwalk. It was a nice, pancake flat 5 miles. The only difficulty is there was a strong headwind on Saturday when I ran it. There was issues with my chip timing for the 8K and they seemed to miss my finish line time but it sort of got fixed but now my listed time is 2 mins slower than my Garmin. Oh well I still had fun and the swag is great and had no issues with the timing chip for the half marathon

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This is a 3.14159265... mile race celebrating pi day. It worked out great that Pi day was on a Sunday this year. This race is located about 15 to 20 … MORE

This is a 3.14159265… mile race celebrating pi day. It worked out great that Pi day was on a Sunday this year. This race is located about 15 to 20 minutes outside Syracuse and is a little over an hour from Rochester. I was on call this weekend so happy to find a short live race to run. This was produced by Willow Running who produced a couple other races I’ve done last year (Turkey Chase and Ugly Sweater). I think their races are pretty good and they always have nice swag but I’ve seen a few hiccups in production and timing. This race was similar. This race started at a bar called Average Joe’s Beernasium which is definitely not a place I would normally go to. They had packet pick-up offered before the race or morning of race. Since it’s a bit of a drive, I got it the morning of the race in the bar. A complaint I’ve had before regarding their races is I wish packet pick-up was outdoors as it’s just safer but everyone was wearing masks and it was efficient. Swag included a nice mug, a collapsible water bottle and the best part your choice of a small apple, blueberry or cherry pie. You had to pay for a shirt but I thought the mug and the pie were more than enough for swag for a 5K. The race had waves every 15 minutes. I chose the earliest 9am wave in case I had to round in the hospital afterwards. This was not chipped time. The RD just used an airhorn to signal the start and we went. Course was pretty blah through a very generic suburb but it was a smart choice for an open course as it was safe and there was not a lot of traffic. Also I was surprised to see a number of people out in their lawns to cheer on the runners which was nice. The course was very well marked and there was a volunteer at any confusing turn. There was also a water stop you passed by twice. Course wasn’t too difficult. There was one kind of tough hill just after the first mile. Not tough compared to red rock but a little harder than expected for more of a fun run. The rest was mostly small inclines and declines. The end was at an incline which was a little annoying. At the finish line someone records your time and I had no issues with getting my time recorded this race but I prefer chipped timed races. I had a solid time. I ran 11 miles yesterday so wasn’t expecting a PR. Another complaint is the medals and post race refreshments aren’t at the finish line but you pass them walking back to the bar. Not a big deal but it made the finish line less a little less fun. Along with the medals which were very, very nice for a 5Kish race (although they didn’t have date and neither did mug) there were Monster energy drinks, water and some fruits. Pizza and chili was also available at the bar for runners. However the food wasn’t being served until 10am and as I finished at around 9:30 it wasn’t ready when I finished. I really don’t like being inside bars during the pandemic and didn’t stay for the food so I can’t comment but the pie I got at packet pick-up was absolutely delicious. This was a nice, fun race with good swag and delicious pie. I would do this one again if it fit in my schedule.

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This is another event put on by Bishop's Events. You can read my review from yesterday for more details about their events. This was in East Potomac Park in DC. … MORE

This is another event put on by Bishop’s Events. You can read my review from yesterday for more details about their events. This was in East Potomac Park in DC. The 10K was a double out and back. This race was on paved roads and as flat as possible. My Garmin recorded 8 feet of elevation gain total. Park was nice with waterfront views and views of Washington monument. I thought it got a little boring doing a super flat double out and back but not a bad course. Would be good for a PR if your legs weren’t as tired as mine. I had a mediocre time since my legs are still tired from my Vegas trip and the race yesterday but I was happy I didn’t have to take any walking breaks. Swag for this race included a tech shirt which was periwinkle blue which I prefer over yesterday’s and a small, generic medal but does have the race name, distance and date on the back. Again these Bishop races are good, convenient, low key events if you’re in the area but aren’t the most exciting races around.

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This is a race put on by Bishop's Events. Bishop's Events puts on races most weekends throughout the DC area in various parks in DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland. Their … MORE

This is a race put on by Bishop’s Events. Bishop’s Events puts on races most weekends throughout the DC area in various parks in DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland. Their races are cheap, low key, on the smaller side and in parks so no traffic control or strict course time limits necessary so they are the perfect events to hold safely during the pandemic. I knew Bishop’s Events were holding just about all their races and I was curious how they are done and had no options closer to home so thought I would check out a couple of their races this weekend. This race is in Northern Virginia about 20 to 30 minutes outside DC. I chose the 10K because I didn’t want to push myself too hard with a half marathon after the marathon last week. I like 10Ks so much more than 5Ks for a shorter race distance so was happy this distance was offered as I feel most races just offer half marathon and 5K options. I stayed at the Holiday Express in Lorton which is about 1.5 miles from the race so very convenient. For the race you just pick up your packet the morning of the race. Along with the bib you also get a tech T-shirt. It is fine with the race name but not distance specific and I would prefer a color other than white but a decent shirt for the cost of the race. This race also raised money for a pet adoption group (yay!) and they had a booth next to packet pickup and were selling a few things. I wasn’t really sure what to expect for this race since there wasn’t a very good description of the course. I knew it would be rolling hills but I thought it would either be on paved trail or gravel trail since it was not advertised as a trail race. The race had wave starts with about 10ish people per wave with the half waves first, followed by 10K and last 5K with faster runners first. I was in the second 10K group. One of the staff members gave a quick introduction and explained the course before we went off. The course was 2 loops of the 5K course. It started with a quick out and back and then was a lollipop loop. He said to watch out because the half marathon loops had a slightly different course than the 5/10K loops but that there would be signs where the course diverged. The beginning of the race was as I expected with about 1/4 mile on paved road including the very short out and back with the turn around clearly marked though two runners in front of me missed it and we had to scream to let them know to turn around. Then there is about 1/4 mile that is dirt road then surprise! The rest of the course is single track trail. This was a very pleasant surprise for me since I love running on single track trail but wish I knew since I would have worn trail shoes and I also ran the first 1/2 mile a little too fast thinking the rest would be similar difficulty. The single track trail was really fun with lots of ups and downs but nothing too technical. I loved running on it but its a little slower and more challenging than pavement. There was nothing too technical about this trail. I was wearing road shoes and had no issues but I did see one runner fall. As someone who does quite a bit of trail running, I thought this was an easy, fun trail run but some of the road runners were not quite as excited about the surprise. You definitely don’t need trail experience or shoes for this race but it would be good to know ahead of time to temper expectations. I thought the trail was well marked and easy to follow but at one of the sections where the half and 5/10K diverged there was no volunteer. We were told this ahead of time and I easily saw the sign and went the right way but the runner ahead of me asked which way to go and as she said one of the other runners (one of the same ones who missed the turn around) went the other way so I guess it could have been marked better but at some point you have to blame the runner not the RD for getting lost. There were plenty of water stations with cups of water and a cooler to refill your own hydration if you were carrying a handheld water bottle or hydration pack. You then do the loop again. It was fun so I didn’t mind doing it twice. The hills were a lot of fun. A little over 300 feet of elevation gain total so about 150 feet per loop. All were gradual and runnable. I ran the entire first loop. I walked a few of the hillier sections the second half as I ran out of gas from starting a little too fast. At the finish line you get a medal. Medal is small with a plain ribbon and not the best but it does have a pawprint which is a cute reference to the charity and the back says the race name, distance and date. There was a table with water and bags of chips for post race refreshment. I thought this was a really fun course but I do think they should have described it better. I still would have definitely ran it and actually would have been more excited about it if I knew it was more trail, but I think I could have been a few minutes quicker if I paced myself appropriately and wore trail shoes. My finishing time was slow for a 10K but not bad for a trail run. My overall impression of these events is they are solid running events. I wouldn’t travel for one of these Bishop’s Events’ races alone during a year when I have more options but I will definitely look into them if I am ever in the DC area for a conference (if those ever happen again) or another race as they offer a race just about every Saturday and Sunday so are great for combining for two race weekends (or three race weekends as I have planned for Memorial day). If you are a 50 stater and care more about convenience than great swag and super exciting race experience (again you will get okay swag and a solid race experience), I would definitely recommend looking into these as you could easily add one of their races to another event to make a combined Maryland and Virginia double race weekend and some weekends they even offer both a Virginia and Maryland half. These events are also very back of the pack and walker friendly with no time limits and they even have a back of the pack series for locals who run them often.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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So I am not a huge fan of the Vegas strip but I love the natural beauty of the southwest so this was already at the top of my list … MORE

So I am not a huge fan of the Vegas strip but I love the natural beauty of the southwest so this was already at the top of my list for a Nevada race even before covid. I needed a marathon to run this weekend as part of my training for the Zion 50K and when looking at my options this seemed like the marathon most likely to happen that I wanted to run. This was the most beautiful but also the most difficult marathon I have done but I was actually hoping for a more difficult marathon as part of my training. The amazing scenery and the over 2500 feet of elevation gain will take your breath away both literally and figuratively. Now for the details. Logistically this race was very complicated to hold with Nevada group size limits and multiple distances. It ended up being an all day event with 1 marathon group, 4 half marathon groups and 2 5K groups each capped at 50 people. I arrived a week before the race to do some hiking, trail running and sight seeing. I am not a gambler and am not really into the whole casino thing so I stayed at the Hampton Inn near Red Rock. Very convenient for the race and for visiting red rock but if you would prefer a more traditional Las Vegas vacation the race does offer a bus from the strip to the race for an additional fee. Prior to the race a detailed final instruction packet was sent. There were a number of modifications due to covid. One of the main ones is there was no pre-race packet pick-up and you just got it the morning of the race. Since the groups were small, parking was very convenient as we could park at the start line. Normally there is the option of the strip bus for a fee or a free bus from a closer location and no start line parking. I did think the start line was a bit chaotic as there was a half marathon group that started at 6:15 but a lot of them were out and using the port-a-potties and getting their packets when it was just supposed to be the marathoners outside their cars. Luckily the race staff realized this and had marathoners come to the front of the line for packet pick-up. Packet included bib and shirt. Shirt is nice and tech but not year or distance specific. The chaotic start seemed to be related to the multiple groups and not something that would occur in a normal year and I only took away one sneaker from production since it was a lot of work to arrange so many races in 1 day so a few blips is understandable. The marathon started at 6am so it was slightly dark and very cool. In case you have been following my recent weather woes with races, today the weather was absolutely beautiful but as it is the desert the early start is slightly cold but it warms up quickly. Either bring throw away clothes or do as I did and just suck it up and be cold the first 2 miles. Otherwise you might be too hot. Normally the marathon is an out and back along the entire 13 mile scenic drive. This year to accommodate multiple races it was a double out and back from the end of the scenic drive to the halfway point. The half marathon is normally a point to point course along the scenic drive but today there were two out and back courses with one at the start and one at the end of the scenic drive. At 6am the marathoners lined up about 6 feet apart and started. The marathon was manually timed not chipped time. But this isn’t a PR course so it’s not the end of the world if you lose a few seconds starting at the back. The course is absolutely gorgeous with the sandstone formations and desert scenery. There is one short out and back on dirt road in the beginning but the rest is road. The first half of the out and back is net uphill and is tough. It was especially tough since I did about 40 miles of additional hiking and trail running this week before the marathon. There are a few downhills but it is a slow start. The you go to the turnaround point and it is mostly downhill so can make up for some time. You then go to the start line and turn around and do it again. Normally I wouldn’t want to do a 2 loop marathon course but this was so spectacular I didn’t mind doing it again although could have done with a few less hills. There were aid stations about every 2 miles with water, Heed (electrolyte drink) and all but the first one had gels. Very friendly staff and everyone involved with the race was very friendly and encouraging. I was the last runner for some of the race but all the runners who passed me and everyone at the aid stations cheered me on. Even though this was a road race, it had kind of a trail race vibe where it was more laid back and about enjoying nature and each other’s company and not as much about trying to PR or BQ which I really enjoyed. While I was obviously quite slow given the elevation and my tired legs from all the hiking I did earlier this week, I actually felt great at the turnaround point around mile 20 and really killed the last 10K of the race and ended up passing a few people and my fastest miles were the final ones. I greatly enjoyed running (and I’ll admit it some power walking) among such beautiful scenery and I was actually sad it was over. I would have loved another 5 miles so I guess I am ready for my upcoming 50K. At the end they record your time and you get your medal. This was my slowest marathon but I knew that it would be coming into the race given the difficulty and all the hiking and trail running I did this week so I was happy to finish under 6 hours. The medal is big but again not distance or year specific. Also while I like that they use southwestern designs and patterns, I feel like there is too much negative space on the medal and the logo is too small but it’s not a bad medal. There were some cups of water and some grab and go snacks such as smartpop and Kind bars at the finish line but no festivities due to covid. Afterwards I left and went to my favorite vegan spot in Vegas (Violette’s vegan cafe) for my traditional post-marathon veggie burger. Overall I thought this was a gorgeous and wonderful race albeit very difficult. If you want to do well on this race, you will need to do hill training and should not hike 40 miles the week before. But if you want to just enjoy the race and have a great adventurous vacation do the hiking as there is a 7 hour time limit so you can walk a lot of it. Unless you are desperate for a PR or BQ, choose this for your Nevada race!

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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This is a winter trail raced produced by Yellow Jacket Racing in Webster Park just outside of Rochester. There is an option for a 5ish mile short course or a … MORE

This is a winter trail raced produced by Yellow Jacket Racing in Webster Park just outside of Rochester. There is an option for a 5ish mile short course or a 10ish mile long course which is running the short course twice. I chose the short course since I wasn’t sure how the weather would be and have a whole bunch of hiking, trail running and a marathon coming up next week so didn’t want to overextend myself. While this race has been happening before covid, this year “cabin fever” seemed like a very appropriate race name as this was one of the first races held in Rochester in 2021 and I think most of us have a little cabin fever right now. Packet pick-up was recommend at the store the day before but could also be done morning of race. Packet included bib and a decent long-sleeved, grey non-technical shirt with the race name. This year the race had a 1 hour rolling start with the long course starting a half hour earlier than the short course. Weather race day was terrible. It snowed overnight and was snowing quite hard during the race. I think the rolling start was the only start really possible as it would have been hard to put markers in the snow where to stand for a group start like YJR has done for other races. I started at the beginning of my time window which made the unexciting start slightly more exciting. This race was rough. I definitely regret writing I would rather run in snow that the thunderstorm I had in Florida. While the snow definitely was safer, it was tough. I had only done winter trail running on hard, packed snow so running through soft, powdery snow is a new experience. I think running or dashing as my title states is a little bit strong of a word to describe the forward movement I was doing which was more like trudging through the snow. Also it takes a lot of energy to keep any sort of running form so I did some hiking in the snow. I am normally a fast walker and hiker but I have very little experience hiking in fresh snow so I was super, super slow. This race took nearly twice as long as my trail 5 miler PR and was over twice as long as all my road 5 milers and was even longer than one of my road 10 milers. The trail itself actually wasn’t too tough. The total elevation was around 350 feet which isn’t bad for trails and there weren’t many steep hills. The slow race was all due to the snow which is like running in sand, but colder and more painful. On the positive side, the course was extremely well marked and when I took a second to forget how miserable I was trudging and looked up the trail was absolutely beautiful with the snow falling. The worst part of the race was the end. The entire course would be pretty runnable without snow until this steep area at the end where you have to grab roots to get up. That was tricky especially since I had a handheld water bottle that I had to toss up to the top to use my hands to climb. I then trudged to the finish line where the RD greeted the finishers and gave a bag of snacks which also had a bottle of water and a non-alcoholic beer from athletic brewing company. I’ve missed the YJR snacks and my house is getting low on snacks since they supplied most of my snacks for the fall. Also I am so happy I chose the short course as I did not want to do that a second time. I don’t have any complaints about production of the race but this was a miserable experience with the weather. I do think it would be a nice race if the weather was good but this is winter in western NY. Would I run this race again? Probably only if the weather was better but honestly once travel is back to normal I think I’d rather fly to a race in Florida and risk running in a thunderstorm.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2

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This is a free fun run put on by my local fleet feet. The run is completely free but you are asked to bring an unwrapped teddy bear to give … MORE

This is a free fun run put on by my local fleet feet. The run is completely free but you are asked to bring an unwrapped teddy bear to give to be donated to a child advocacy center. I was on call this weekend so it was the perfect low key, local running activity to do this weekend. Due to covid, runners or walkers chose waves every 15 minutes. I actually choose the first wave as I had to round afterwards. At check in you dropped off your bear and it was so cute to see all the teddy bears (see pic and that was just the first wave). You could get a race T-shirt for $10 and it was nice and a light beige color with the race logo. This is an untimed fun run and the course is open. You are given directions to run and it is a 3ish mile loop through the neighborhoods around the store. Since it was untimed there weren’t many competitive runners and I was at the front of the pack in my wave! Luckily there was another runner running at a similar pace who knew the area better than I did so I didn’t get lost. There weren’t course markings but each participant got a sheet of with very clear directions and it was an easy to follow course. Nice course through some nice neighborhoods. Most roads were easy to run on and well paved but one was a little icy. The course was actually long and closer to 4 miles. My time (from my Garmin) looks like I had a slow run but I had a pretty good pace for 3.77 miles which is what it recorded especially given I lost 1-2 minutes stopping at traffic and was the first female to finish in my wave. Finish was at the store where you got a bag of teddy treats (water, teddy grahams, and gummy bears – super cute) along with a sticker decal and a coupon for the store. Not bad for a free race. Also convenient to shop at the store after to pick up some items for my upcoming marathon. Obviously this was not the best or most exciting running event but great deal since it is free. Wouldn’t plan around this race but would run it again if I were on call and it would be a nice fun run to do as a double with a longer race on Saturday.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2
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This is an annual race off the space coast in Florida sponsored by Publix. Every year they have a different kind of produce for a theme which I love since … MORE

This is an annual race off the space coast in Florida sponsored by Publix. Every year they have a different kind of produce for a theme which I love since I love my fruits & veggies. This year it was the year of the Tangerine. My beloved orange cat is named Tangerine so I knew I had to run it! It also worked out perfectly that my trip coincided 2 weeks after my second covid vaccine making me finally feel ready to fly to a race (I was actually relieved Louisiana got postponed even if I can’t make the new date and have to wait until 2022). Logistics, Melbourne is about an hour east of Orlando so this race is very convenient to get to. I flew into Orlando Friday and was happy the race had race day pick up so I could spend Saturday at Disney World. Since I was at Disney I didn’t go to the expo Saturday so can’t comment. After Disney I drove to my hotel in Melbourne. I stayed at the Holiday Inn express in Melbourne. Nice staff who allowed late check out for runners and had an early breakfast of granola bars and bananas out starting at 4am for runners. The RD emailed a nice pre race packet with all the race information about 2 weeks before the race. The weather forecast didn’t look good the morning of the race with scattered thunderstorms predicted all morning. Luckily at least initially the weather seemed good. It is an early 6am start for the marathon and 6:30 start for the half so I got up about 5 and it was about a 10 minute drive to the race. There weren’t really hotels at the start line. I parked in the public structure recommended in the packet. Just a warning the packet said it was $5 but they jacked up the price to a whole $7 (lol still so much less than I paid for parking at California races) and it was cash only. It was about a 5 minute walk to packet pick up and the start. Packet pick up was smooth. You got a tote bag and people like myself who registered early got a shirt but due to financial issues from lack of sponsors during the pandemic they stopped offering shirts to participants who registered later but this was clearly communicated and I appreciated the honest communication from the RD. Shirt is long sleeve and tech so useful for me but fabric feels a little cheaper than some of my other tech shirts but the design is nice. Covid protocols were definitely not as strict as other races I’ve done because well it is Florida but everything was outdoors and the majority of people were wearing masks and trying to space out. The announcer was encouraging everyone to mask and social distance at least but there were a handful of runners not listening. My biggest non-covid related complaint of the start is there was nowhere near enough porta potties. After I brought my packet back to my car and returned to the start I literally waited in line for the bathroom until 6:29 when I quickly did my business and then just went to the back of the corral area as the half marathon was starting. They said there would be self seeded waves or something but it seemed to just start and everyone went but the corral was big and people were mostly spaced out. There was a nice number of participants (around 500 or 600 half marathoners) for a normal year where you were always running with people but it wasn’t hard to pass since I did end up in the back of the corral with the walkers so had to pass a lot of people. The starting temp was perfect but man the humidity. It was around 95% humidity and I did feel it but it was nice to run in a tank and shorts. The course is really nice. It is a loop around the water and there are water views most of the race. Other than a tiny out and back around mile 4 there is no repeating any part of the course for the half (the whole is 2 loops so that is all repeated). The course was pancake flat except 2 bridges with only 99 ft of elevation gain the entire race. That was less than my 3 miler 3 weeks ago. The uphill on the bridge was a little tough and I power walked it due to my issues with humidity but I did see some really cool birds fly by on the bridge. After you cross the bridge there are some really fancy waterfront houses across it. There were aid stations about every 1.5 to 2 miles. Unfortunately there were small water bottles and 3 had gatorade bottles and endurance gels too. Seemed very wasteful with some many thrown out half empty bottles (but I understand how it is more hygienic) but I needed a ton of water and electrolytes with the humidity and needed more than I was carrying. There were also plenty of porta potties on the course with never more than 1 person in line. The race was going pretty well, a little slow due to humidity but I was on pace to potentially make 2:30 if I had a good push at the end. However at mile 11 it started to rain. At first it was nice. Then at mile 11.5 the sky opened up, there was thunder and lightening, it was downpouring and there was even some hail. Yikes this was the worst weather I have ever run in. I was also a little scared to be on the bridge at the end of the race in the storm but also wanted to finish since I was so close. I was absolutely drenched and could not enjoy the downhill finish. I did not get the under 2:30 finishing time I wanted but I don’t think my finish time was too bad all things considered. At the finish line you got your medal which is big, beautiful and tangerine themed. My cat will love it. There was some dole pineapple juice which was a nice refreshing treat, water, gatorade, red bull and beer for those who drink it. There was not much food just fruit but I had some snacks in my car. With the horrible weather there was absolutely no gathering after the race. In normal years it sounds like the post race party is fun. They ended up pulling marathoners off the course right about the time I finished due to the dangerous weather so only the super fast marathoners finished. I thought about switching this to the marathon when Louisiana postponed since I am trying to do 2 marathons and a 50K in 90 days to qualify for marathon maniacs and am so happy I didn’t. Although in good weather this wouldn’t be a bad course to run twice for the marathon. I did think this was a good race and my main complaints (the weather and a few Floridians who refuse to wear masks) were not the RD’s fault. I plan to run a race in Florida most years since it is easy to fly to from Rochester or Buffalo. Next year I am planning to do Miami but I’d consider this one again in the future and hope for better weather but based on other reviews from previous years bad weather seems the norm but usually not this bad. Aww the irony of taking a trip to run a half marathon in nice weather and instead would have preferred to run in 20 degree weather with snow over the weather I got. Even with the weather I still had a great trip to Florida! Crossing my fingers Vegas has better weather for Red Rock!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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My racing plans for this weekend got canceled so I decided to go visit my parents in New Hampshire and run another Millenium Running event instead. Like all Millenium Running … MORE

My racing plans for this weekend got canceled so I decided to go visit my parents in New Hampshire and run another Millenium Running event instead. Like all Millenium Running events this was a very well produced covid race with the same protocols as the previous ones with the time trial start. My dad also ran this race. Parking super easy in a big lot. We picked up our packets the morning of the race. For your swag item you get a nicely designed sweatshirt and could choose between 2 designs. Very nice swag item for a short race. The start was the same as their other events. This race was very popular this year with over 1000 runners and my start time was slightly delayed and I started about 10 minutes later than my assigned time. With all the protocols still felt safe despite the large number of runners. The weather this morning was not too cold and there was not much snow on the ground but there was a strong wind which made running a little difficult. The course was changed this year. The first part was okay along the side of a main road. The next part was nicer and was a loop through a very nice, pretty neighborhood with some fancy houses. Then you go back on the sidewalks of the main road to the finish line near the parking lot. The course was moderately difficult for a 3 miler with lots of rolling hills but nothing too difficult and most of the uphill in the first mile so I had negative splits. My biggest complaint about the course was the end was very congested on the sidewalk and it was very narrow and tricky to pass people. I saved energy for a last minute push to try to run this under 30 minutes but there was too much weaving around people to pick up as much speed as I needed to. I didn’t get a sub-30 time but still had a very good time given the hills and wind. The course was changed this year due to covid. I don’t know what the usual course is like but pretty much any course in Bedford will consist of rolling hills and fancy houses so I imagine the usual course isn’t much different but assume the end is less congested. At the end you got a millenium running mask and there were some refreshments. I was disappointed in the snack selection just some fruit cups with nothing to eat them with and all the bananas left were green but they had a great selection of post race drinks including my new favorite Maple Water. Overall this is a nice, well produced 3 mile race. I plan to take a trip somewhere warm for a race most MLK weekends that I am not working so doubt I will do this again as long as travel returns to normal but would recommend for locals and would do again if I found myself in NH on MLK weekend.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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I found out about this race a couple days ago and decided to make it a double race weekend! This race really embodied 2020 and racing during the pandemic. The … MORE

I found out about this race a couple days ago and decided to make it a double race weekend! This race really embodied 2020 and racing during the pandemic. The race was produced by Confluence Running in Binghamton, NY about a 2 hour drive from me. For the race you signed up for time slots of 50 people at 8, 9 or 10am. I obviously picked 10 since it was a bit of a drive. Packet pick-up was recommended at the running store Thursday, Friday or Saturday before the race but I couldn’t make it so had to do it the morning of the race. The entire race was on the property of a mall in Binghamton and started in front of a brewery at the that sponsored the race. I signed up too late for a shirt but based on the website the shirt design looked nice with the race logo as an eye exam chart but it appeared to be a cotton, white tee and I have enough of those. All participants even those like myself who signed up too late for the shirt also got a buff which I was happy to see had the actual race logo since I loved the name of the race and wasn’t just a generic buff with the race company logo. The course was so stupid it was funny. It was literally just 3 laps around the mall parking lot. The RD had a great attitude and made a lot of jokes about the course and the “beautiful scenery” as we lined up at the start. I did think this was actually a pretty smart idea as it allowed a large area to run on and could be open for many hours to accommodate the waves as the mall doesn’t open until noon on Sunday. This race definitely showed the creativity RDs are using to produce races during covid and the fact that runners will literally run anywhere if it means swag and an official finishing time as this either sold out or almost sold out as there was only a handful of spots left when I signed up. Despite it being the dumbest course ever, the whole race was just so silly it was a lot of fun and all the participants and volunteers had a smile on their face. Course was pretty easy although the parking lot was on a small incline so there were some downhill and uphill sections but all low grade. The only real difficulty was a few patches of ice. Scenery was pretty terrible. It wasn’t even a particularly pretty mall…lol. My pace was pretty slow as I was sore from yesterday. At the finish line there was only water. I would have liked a granola bar but you did get a free beer coupon and there was food at the brewery (I think you had to pay for the food but I’m not sure as I didn’t go in as I don’t drink and am avoiding bars even more than usual during the pandemic). There was a Dunkins across the street where I got a post race bagel and coffee. Overall this was the dumbest race ever and I can’t in good conscience give a race in a mall parking lot more than 3 sneakers but it was actually a lot of fun and very well produced. I really hope this pandemic ends soon and I don’t have to drive 2 hours to run around a mall parking lot because it is the only race I can find in a 200 mile radius of Rochester ever again but I would definitely consider other events put on by Confluence Running given how well it was produced.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
1
SWAG
3

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This is an annual race in Northern West Virginia just outside Morgantown that raises money for literacy. This was a very convenient way for me to check off West Virginia … MORE

This is an annual race in Northern West Virginia just outside Morgantown that raises money for literacy. This was a very convenient way for me to check off West Virginia as it is only about a 5 and half hour drive from Rochester and was the only half marathon I could find in driving distance this weekend. This year due to covid the race was strictly capped at 250 runners but generally there are not more runners than that so it is on the smaller side but not too small. There was lots of pre-race communication both on email and facebook. Would recommend joining the facebook group if you are interested in the race. There was actually a lot of hotel options nearby in Fairmont and driving there was easy. You could also stay in Morgantown as well. This race is about a 1.5 hour drive from Pittsburgh if you are a 50 stater who is looking to fly to the race. The race starts at 1pm when it is warmest as it had been very cold some years. Also just as a warning to those potentially planning to run this race in past years it had to be postponed twice due to the bad weather. This year though the weather was perfect. It was sunny and just above freezing. With the sun I was very comfortable in a long sleeve running shirt, hat and leggings and never cold. The 1pm start made pre-race fueling a little difficult and even worse it was the same time as the Bills game which I had to listen to during my run. This race is on two non-technical trails at Prickett Fort State Park. Parking was very easy in a large parking lot. This year absolutely everything was outside due to covid which made the race feel quite safe and I’m sure the RD and volunteers appreciated the nice weather. Packet included bib and shirt as long as you signed up by the shirt deadline which I did. Shirt is long-sleeved and technical. It is a little plain but it is a nice navy color. I will definitely use it. The start of the race had looser covid protocols than the races I’ve done in NY and NH but overall it was better than I expected for West Virginia. Participants were asked to start in groups of 50 based on self-seeded predicted finish times and groups were set off every couple minutes with faster runners first to avoid as much passing. Participants seemed to be following this pretty well and race was chipped timed so there was no advantage to starting up front. The first 4.5 miles are an out and back on a paved trail. This trail was very easy to run on. In terms of scenery it was pretty enough but definitely would have been more scenic if there was snow (although I’m glad there wasn’t) or in the fall when leaves are changing color. During this portion you go through a tunnel. I thought it might be cool to run through the tunnel but it was dimly lit (but bright enough that you don’t need additional lights), damp, creepy and kind of smelly. But after a pretty dark week, running towards the light at the end of the tunnel seemed kind of symbolic. You then leave the tunnel and go to the turnaround point which is the 1st aid station. Aid stations included little water bottles (I carried by own so didn’t use) and cups of Endure Fuel electrolyte drink. The electrolyte drink was watermelon flavored and maybe it’s just me but I thought it was absolutely disgusting. There were aid stations every approximately 2.5 miles. Personally I would prefer more aid stations so I would recommend carrying water if you need it more frequently than that. You then run back on the paved trail to another out and back on a non-technical gravel trail. Definitely don’t need trail shoes but may want ankle gaiters as I got a lot of rocks and grit in my shoes. This trail follows the river and was prettier but again not spectacular. It was a peaceful run though. I also did love the mile markers they were these adorable book worm mile markers. Both trails had very low grade elevation change but I wouldn’t call it pancake flat as I felt like most of the race there was either a slight incline or decline but definitely about the flattest race you can find in West Virginia. You then turn around and run back to the finish line where you get your medal. Medal is wooden and a little simple with just a plain string for ribbon but I do like that they are two sided one side with the race logo and the other with an image of West Virginia making it a nice medal for 50 staters. There is chili, water, powerade and a grab bag of snacks at the end. Love that they had a vegan chili option. Grab bag included a banana, cookies, saltines for the chili and a sample of the watermelon endurance fuel which I am never going to use. My time was fine. I just met my goal of under 2:30 but feel like I should have been faster on such an easy course but I had trouble getting a good pace on the trail and the late start made me feel a little sluggish. I also could see this being a potentially difficult race if the weather didn’t cooperate which is why I marked 2 star difficulty. Overall I thought this was a fine race. I don’t have any major complaints (other than gross electrolyte drink which is a very minor issue) but there also wasn’t anything that made this particularly special compared to other halves I’ve done other than it being in West Virginia. It was a nice, smaller, well-produced race that raises money for a good cause so I would definitely recommend it to locals and think it is a solid and pretty convenient option for 50 staters. I’m not sure I would drive 5.5 hours to this race again in a normal year with more races to choose from but I am very happy to have done it this year and get another half in and a new state.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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This is an annual downhill one mile race produced by Millenium Running on New Years Day. My dad runs this race every year but this was the first year since … MORE

This is an annual downhill one mile race produced by Millenium Running on New Years Day. My dad runs this race every year but this was the first year since I started running that I spent New Years in NH so it was my first opportunity to run it. Packet pick up is either at the store or the morning of the race. We got it morning of race. Parking was very easy at the school where the race starts. Packet included bib and a winter hat as the swag item this year. Would have preferred a medal or a shirt but it was the nicest winter hat I’ve gotten as race swag and solid swag for a short, cheap race. Start line procedure was same as other Millenium Running events during covid with groups of 99 based on expected time with 2 runners sent off every 10 seconds. Timing was very precise today and I started the exact time I was supposed to. While I miss the excitement of a mass start I actually thought this sort of “time trial” start worked better for a mile race as the course was not crowded and you didnt have to weave around anyone and could just concentrate on pace. We also lucked out with weather and it was perfect (well as perfect as NH in January which is above freezing and sunny). The course starts at the top of a hill and is (almost) all downhill. The course was changed a little this year. Normally there is one turn so the entire course is downhill or flat. This year to accommodate the longer time the course had to be open and allow only half the road to be closed, it was straight down one street but there was a teeny, tiny uphill near the end but overall over 100 feet of elevation drop in 1 mile. It was a very fast race. I really wanted to finish under 8 minutes and I did it! I ran so fast I honestly can’t remember what the course looked like since I was just concentrating on pace. No medal at finish line but its such a short race it’s not really necessary. You then have to walk back which is a nice cool down. There was water, powerade and some interesting maple water (would recommend) for post race refreshments along with some chips, bananas and other grab and go snacks. Overall this is fun, fast and well-produced race to start the New Year. As it is only 1 mile and is an easy mile it is family friendly and friendly for people of all abilities. There were plenty of walkers in the last group. Will definitely do this every year I am in NH for New Years.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
2
SWAG
3

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I was planning to be in NYC this weekend and needed a long run to train for the Louisiana marathon so when this race magically appeared last week it seemed … MORE

I was planning to be in NYC this weekend and needed a long run to train for the Louisiana marathon so when this race magically appeared last week it seemed perfect. However it was far from it. This was an epic fail. Definitely the worse race I have done. This is part of City Tri’s return to racing series. I was very excited for this series since they were producing half marathons not just shorter distances like NYRR and NYCRuns but wow it was bad. For starters I arrived at the race almost an hour early because I always worry about getting lost and not finding the start. They gave very specific directions about where to meet in Prospect Park but no one was there. I am usually early to races but have never beat the RD before. Another runner showed up a few minutes later and we anxiously awaited the RD and were thinking this race might have been canceled and we missed the email as there was no one there 45 minutes later. Then about 10 minutes before the race someone comes by with the bibs. She gives the bib without safety pins and asks if we have a bib belt which I don’t. She then went on a lecture about how bad safety pins were while luckily I always carry some spare safety pins in my pouch. There are still no other runners but then a few more approached. Two of them saw how lame the race was and just left. If I didn’t need to get a long run in and it wasn’t so hard to motivate myself to do long runs in bad weather I probably would have too. In the end there were not even enough runners for it to count for any half marathon clubs. The other runner who was there early with me was very angry about this especially since the race advertised multiple waves and said “tech shirt for first 50 registrants” implying there would be a decent amount of runners. Personally I wasn’t happy this race wouldn’t count but if 2020 has taught me anything it is to just roll with the punches. The start was super weird. There was some weird chip timing with a scanner clipped to a pole. No start line or finish line. The race was just the main 3.3 mile Prospect Park Loop X 4 with the “finish line” about 0.1 miles before the “start line” to make it 13.1 miles. There were absolutely no course markings, mile signs or anything to indicate you were doing a race. One of the runners was confused where to go at one point and I only knew where to go because I just ran an organized race here. I actually didn’t mind the course. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about all the loops but it was kind of nice knowing what was coming up and Prospect Park is a pleasant place for a run. I didn’t love doing the long hill in the beginning 4 times but at least I knew it was coming. Prospect Park was pretty in the snow but not as enchanting as Central Park. There were two water stops one at the “finish line” and one halfway on the course with little water bottles and Huma Chia Gel. I hadn’t tried the gel before but I forgot to bring my own and tried it. It sat well during the race but not so much a few hours later while driving home. The “finish line” was super weird and I’m not even exactly sure where it was. I just kind of ran to the race staff member who then handed out the swag. The swag was surprisingly good. It was not specific to the race but Brooklyn themed and I assumed used for their other Brooklyn races but I mean they announced this a week ago so not really time for race specific swag. The color scheme and design isn’t my personal style but the medal is big and the shirt is tech. Although they gave me the wrong size I requested a men’s medium but got a women’s medium. Luckily the shirts run big and the women’s medium actually fits well. You also got a City Tri mask which is nice quality but I don’t really know if I want to give them advertisement. Also I am very confused by my listed race time on the website. The website initially listed the time I put above above which is consistent with my Garmin data and then when I looked later to write this review it had my “gun time” listed as the main time and it was 3 minutes slower. No idea where those 3 minutes came from since the race started like 20 minutes late so it clearly wasn’t subtracted from the start time and I passed the timing system right away since there were so few runners. Oh well this race doesn’t count for any clubs so I don’t really care too much about my official time which was pretty mediocre since I just ran it at a training pace since I couldn’t pump myself up enough to run my race pace as this didn’t feel like a race. This was definitely the worst produced race I have done. I also thought the website was somewhat deceptive to make this seem like something more exciting than a glorified training run. I definitely would not recommend these return to racing series by City Tri. I was planning to do a couple more but I have decided not to waste my time with them. I can’t figure out how this race benefits them. They couldn’t have made money and they definitely turned me off from doing any of their other races. At least it forced me to get in a 13.1 mile training run. If you are looking for a race in NYC definitely stick with NYRR or NYCRuns. However this disappointment of a race did seem like the perfect note to end the 2020 race season on. Here’s to a better 2021!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
1
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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This is a pretty low key race held annually in Central Park. I believe usually there are two distance options to choose from either a 10K or 4 mile option … MORE

This is a pretty low key race held annually in Central Park. I believe usually there are two distance options to choose from either a 10K or 4 mile option but this year it was offered only as a 5 mile race. This year there were 2 time slots capped at 50 runners each. Bib was also mailed. There was some USPS drama but everything worked out. The start of this race was on the 102nd street transverse and was a short walk from my hotel. The pre-race emails clearly said where everything was. The porta potties though were on the East side entrance which was annoying since I came from the west side but I knew this in advance and planned accordingly. Masks were required at start and finish and it was honor system during the race. For the start you lined up in rows of 2 at cones 6 feet apart. This was manually timed and they had this system where they wrote the bibs and had everyone go off every 5 seconds. The race was the entire Central Park loop minus the hilliest part in Harlem. It is crazy to think that 6 days ago I was running here in 60 degree weather and today Central Park was covered in snow. There was a large snowstorm Wednesday evening and Central Park was absolutely gorgeous today. It was chilly but not uncomfortably cold. The cold weather also meant the park wasn’t as jam packed. With all the snow and kids sledding in the background it felt like you were running through a Christmas card. I don’t think Central Park could be prettier than it was today. The actual path we were running on was well plowed and with occasional exceptions free of ice and snow. This race I really got in my zone and enjoyed it. Had a very good time. Only about 30 seconds off from a PR and Central Park is much hillier than my PR race. At the finish line they record your time and there are tables with water, a bag of food and a shirt. The food was a granola bar and some candies. Simple but exactly what I want after I run a short race. T-shirt is non-tech and white but it is cute with a cartoon crossing the finish line wearing a mask. Very 2020! Results were posted later today and even with the complicated manual system seemed correct. Overall solid low key race. This is normally a fairly small event with 100 or so runners. Good event if you want a less stressful NYC race. I wouldn’t make plans around this race in a year when it is not the only race I can find in NY state, but I would run it again if I happened to be in NYC the weekend of the race.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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This was initially the date for the NYCRuns Big Apple half marathon which is a multiple loop half marathon in Central Park. However given the multiple loop nature of the … MORE

This was initially the date for the NYCRuns Big Apple half marathon which is a multiple loop half marathon in Central Park. However given the multiple loop nature of the course and need for runners to pass each other multiple times that went virtual and NYCRuns had this 4 mile option instead with covid protocols. While I’d prefer a half marathon that was a smart idea and allowed a larger number of participants and less passing. This had very similar protocols to the NYRR race yesterday. And I did receive my bib in the mail for this race! For this race you signed up for waves of 50 people from 7 to 11am. I choose 11am because as I’ve said before I like sleep. I did think pre-race communication could have been a little better. The covid protocols were very well outlined but some of the logistics were not as clear. The race started on the east side of central park and finished on the west side. The separate start and finish was good for avoiding congregation but it was about a 10ish minute walk from start to finish. I had a hotel on the UWS and walked to central park so passed the finish area first where the bag check was. I didn’t plan to check bag so it didn’t really matter. Then I walked to the east side to the start corral. Could have been some better signage but I made it no problem. I noticed there were porta potties by the east side entrance to central park about 1/4 mile from the corrals but didn’t use them as they were slightly out of the way and I assumed there would be some closer to the start line but there weren’t. If I knew this I would have used the porta potties when I was closer to them. The start corral was well organized. There was temp check and medical screening before you entered. Then you lined up in rows of two 6 feet apart. However multiple people brought their bags to the corral area and were told they had to go back to the west side to bag check. That would have been really stressful if that happened to me. I do wish the maps, emails and/or race page had more instructions about the lay-out of the start such as where bag check and porta-potties were. It would have led to less confusion. The race was otherwise very well organized. Luckily for this race while you had to wear a mask at the start and finish line and the first and last 500 feet of the race you could pull in down the rest of the race as long as you could maintain social distancing. The course itself was a nice, again moderately challenging 4 miles through central park. Central park is hilly but this course did avoid Harlem Hill. I was surprised this race actually had less elevation gain than yesterday since it seemed hillier but the hills in Central Park were steeper and shorter than the more gradual longer inclines in Prospect Park. The last mile was mostly downhill which was really nice and allowed for a fast last mile although the finish line was on a small uphill. I used to live in NYC so have been to central park plenty of times but this was my first race there. If you’ve never run in Central Park it is pretty cool and along with the pretty park views can also see some great NYC architecture but I’m sure it gets old once you’ve run a bunch of races there. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. 60 degrees and sunny. It has been so cold, cloudy, rainy and occasionally snowy the past few weeks in Rochester I forgot about warm weather and only packed leggings and long sleeved running shirts so was a little hot. Will remember to also bring a shorts and short sleeve shirt option for future winter NYC races just in case. The beautiful weather also meant just about all of NYC was in Central Park today which made the race a little chaotic as it was open. There were kids on scooters, families walking in rows of four, fast cyclists, the occasional tourist stopping in the middle of the road to take a selfie and even a horse-drawn carriage that crossed the course causing me to have to stop. This meant fun people watching but you also had to keep your eye on the road which meant slower time and it was hard to get in my running zone. Had a decent pace and finishing time. At the finish line you got your post-race goodies. The swag item was a winter hat. It is solid blue with the Big Apple logo. It is fine but kind of basic. Still better than a generic mask for the swag item. The food was disappointing though just a squeezable applesauce and a fruit cup with no utensils to eat the fruit cup along with water and gatorade. Would have preferred something more substantial. Overall this was again a nice, very safe race. Compared to yesterday I thought the logistics were a little better ironed out in the NYRR race, but preferred to not always wear the mask and there was a better (but still not super exciting) swag item for this race (but worse post-race food). I’d recommend a race with either race company if you are looking for a safe race in NYC right now

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

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I was very curious to see what the NYRR return to racing events were like. This was race #7 in a series of NYRR races produced this Fall with social … MORE

I was very curious to see what the NYRR return to racing events were like. This was race #7 in a series of NYRR races produced this Fall with social distancing protocols. These sell out very fast as spots are limited and the races aren’t very well advertised so you have to kind of stalk the website and sign up within one of the first days a new race is announced. I do think the race was kind of pricey at $50 for a short distance but I had credit with NYRR for a race that was canceled and a lot went into production of the race and NYC isn’t cheap so its understandable. Also if you are wondering these are NOT part of 9+1 entry to NYC marathon. NYRR has a super detailed covid plan. Bibs are supposed to be mailed to you but they clearly stated on the race page that if your bib didn’t come there would be a representative on site to assign you a bib. I appreciated this as my bib never arrived in the mail. Only production issue was not getting my bib but can’t really blame NYRR for issues with USPS this year. Anyways getting bib assigned on site was very easy. Each runner is placed in a wave of 50 every half hour. I believe start time is based on pace. You have to fill out a covid questionnaire before hand and also have medical and temperature screening before you enter corrals. In the corrals there are two lines with markers spaced every 6 feet. 2 runners are sent off every 10 seconds to help with social distancing. Very organized and safe start. Not the most exciting but also not the least exciting start I did during the pandemic. This race was the main 3.3 mile loop around Prospect Park. It is a nice, pretty, moderately challenging 3.3 mile loop. There is about 250 feet of elevation gain but it is quite gradual and most in the first half. There is also a good amount of downhill. Not an easy course but not a hard course. Prospect Park is quite pretty especially running by the lake. The hardest part of the race though is you have to run with your mask on. Personally I think this is a little overly cautious but better overly cautious than not cautious enough. I haven’t run in a mask since I moved out of LA and I wish I practiced a little. It was a little hard to catch my breath but I got through it and a race with a mask is better than no race. If you absolutely refuse to run in a mask this is not the race for you. I had a solid pace but the mask did slow me down a bit. At the finish line you get a bag of goodies. The only non-food swag is a NYRR mask. It is a good quality mask but not really exciting swag for the cost and not specific to the race. The food in the bag is quite good with a water bottle, gatorade bottle, honey stinger waffle, mini pretzels and a bag of Christmas treats along with a sample of pain relief gel. This was definitely the absolutely safest race in terms of covid protocols. Also the cleanest, even the porta potties were super clean. If you are in the NYC area and a little nervous to race one of these races would be a good race to start with. Overall it was a nice race, very, very safe but a little on the pricier side.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
1

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Willow Running produces a few of these ugly sweater races in late November/early December throughout Upstate New York. Usually there is one in Rochester but that was cancelled this year … MORE

Willow Running produces a few of these ugly sweater races in late November/early December throughout Upstate New York. Usually there is one in Rochester but that was cancelled this year due to Covid-19. However Utica happened to be on the way home from New Jersey so this worked out perfectly. For the race you signed up for time slots so participants went off in small waves. Since it was about a 3 hour drive from where I was staying to Utica I choose the latest noon time slot. Packet pick-up was either on Thursday at a shoe store in Utica or race-day. I did race day since Utica is about a 2 hour drive from Rochester. The race starts at a pizza shop called Pizza Boys. It had a very large parking lot with plenty of parking. Packet pick-up was inside the pizza shop. My only complaint of the race is I do think outdoor packet pick-up would be safer. I understand it was quite cold this morning and everyone wore masks and social distanced inside and with the waves pick-up was quick so it wasn’t unsafe but outside still would have been safer. Packet included nice swag for a 5K and included a winter hat with the ugly sweater logo, gloves with Willow Running logo and a wristband with jingle bells which was fun for the race. The atmosphere of this race was so much fun. I have never seen a race where so many participants (myself included) dressed up for the race. I was wearing this wacky, fun but a little bulky Christmas sweater my mom made me. I think about 90% of participants had some sort of sweater or Christmas outfit. You started with your group and the RD just said ready, set, go and we went. The course though was very meh in terms of scenery. The first mile was through some very average looking suburbs. Other than a few houses decorated for christmas there was not much to look at. But it also wasn’t an eyesore. The second mile was on this paved trail which was behind the highway and was more of an eyesore. Then back to the suburbs for finish by the pizza shop. What the course lacked in scenery, it made up for it in ease. This course was so nice especially after yesterday. It was almost flat as a pancake. There was one little incline on the trail and a teeny, tiny baby hill and that’s it. Less than 50 ft of elevation gain total. Especially flat given Utica’s most famous race (the Boilermaker) is known for its hills. At the finish line you get your medal. It spins and is a nice size for a 5K. This was manually timed and the same company that did the Turkey Chase so I confirmed they had my time recorded at the finish. The pizza shop also had some soup and pizza rolls out for the runners and you could get a free beer there after the race. The soup didn’t look vegetarian but I lucked out as the majority of pizza rolls left were spinach and were delicious. Again I wish the “after party” was outdoors. The tables were all spaced 6 ft apart and everything seemed to be following all social distancing rules but it was little cramped and crowded for my taste so I took my rolls to go. Overall this was a really fun race. One of the most fun and festive races I did since the pandemic. The fun atmosphere and easy course made this a great race for casual runners and walkers. If you are a more competitive runner it would also make for a great PR course. I definitely didn’t PR but I had a good time considering I was still sore from yesterday and was wearing a bulky sweater. I’m not sure I will do this specific ugly sweater race again since it is a 2 hour drive but will definitely do the one in Rochester and would do this one again if I happened to be driving back from either the NYC area or New England the day of the race

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
5

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So this is my birthday weekend and I initially took Friday off to take a trip for a half marathon hoping things would be better and travel restrictions lessened but … MORE

So this is my birthday weekend and I initially took Friday off to take a trip for a half marathon hoping things would be better and travel restrictions lessened but we all know how 2020 went so I had to settle for a trip to New Jersey. This race was produced by the NJ Trail Series who hosts a bunch of low key trail races throughout the year in NJ. This year they changed the location of their usual fall race series to this location at the Campgaw ski resort. I was told this race was all on trails and not on the ski area so I was hoping it wouldn’t be as brutal as Battle at Bristol Mountain. Luckily it wasn’t quite that brutal but this was definitely the next hardest race I’ve done and the hardest race I’ve completed (yes it was harder than a road marathon). Pre-race communication was fine but there was not a super detailed plan. For the half marathon they said to arrive between 8 and 8:30 for packet pickup and the race would start at 9am with small groups sent off “based on quorum.” Packet pickup included your timing chip. It was not a bib but an old school ankle bracelet timer. Never seen that before but it seemed to work well as results were posted right after the race. You also got a piece of swag. There were a few things to choose from that weren’t race specific but had the NJ Trail Series logo on it. I chose some socks because it was rainy and I knew my feet would be cold and wet after the race which was a good call. The start of the race was very laid back and you just kind of went when you felt like it generally but not always in groups every 10 to 15 minutes. At about 8:25 the RD said if you want to start at 8:30 line up. I wish I knew I could start at 8:30 earlier as I wasn’t quite ready then but left with the next group around 8:45. I get why some people would like this laid back approach and it definitely seemed to work but the type A in me preferred the detailed startline protocols of Yellow Jacket Racing and Millenium Running. The race was set up so 5Kers did one 3.1 mile loop, 10Kers did two 3.1 loops and half marathoners did 3 of the 3.1 mile loops + a 1.2 mile off shoot. The course was much more brutal than advertised. The 3.1 loop wasn’t too bad and the first mile was pretty flat and then there was some gradual but mostly runnable uphill to the top of the mountain. It was advertised at 350 ft elevation per loop which didn’t sound too awful for a trail race. The misleading part was the 1.2 mile off shoot had the same elevation gain in half the distance and was really tough and technical. I was not the only one surprised by the difficulty. At the part where the half marathoners split two other runners running my pace stopped and spent some time deciding whether to go through with the half or switch to a shorter distance (they weren’t as stubborn as me and did not complete the half). Also the rain last night made this a very tough race and added some mud and a few unintentional stream crossings. Very glad I chose the socks! At the end of the loop you go through the parking lot and there is an aid station. Great aid station for a non-ultra race with granola bars and muffins and candy including my two favorite race candies twizzlers and Swedish fish. After fueling up, I was not really looking forward to doing the loop two more times but I decided to power through and finish it. While it was tough, the trail was very beautiful. One of the prettiest trail races I’ve done and if its this pretty in December I’m sure it is absolutely gorgeous in October. The highlight of the race was definitely having a family of deer run past me. The trail was very well marked and easy to follow. However I was annoyed that on my last lap they had taken some of the trail markers down already. Luckily I already “ran” the course twice so knew where to go (I put “ran” in quotes since I probably hiked more than ran in this race). However I was happy they kept the finish line open for me and the RD did apologize about the trail markers as soon as I came back to the finish area. At the finish area there were still some treats remaining at the aid station and there was non- alcoholic beer from Athletic Brewing Co. This is one of those low key trail races with no medal. Which is disappointing since I am hoping to run a half or full marathon in every state so would like a medal from New Jersey. However I will probably run another half in NJ before I finish all 50 states and if not I guess I can display the socks. My time was terribly slow and nearly twice my half marathon PR time. I almost didn’t want to post it but I do think it is helpful to show how brutal this was. My Garmin actually showed 2500 feet of elevation gain total. I wish the race better advertised how hard it was. I wasn’t expecting an easy race but I though it would be a similar difficulty to Zion at Night or Unlimited Breadsticks but this was much harder. If I knew how hard it was I would have chosen the 10K but I guess I’m glad I can check off NJ. I didn’t really think this was the event for me and I’m not sure I’d do another one of these races but everyone involved was very nice and I could understand how someone looking for a challenge who doesn’t care about PR or swag would really enjoy this.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2

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The silver lining to deciding to stay in Rochester this Thanksgiving instead of traveling was I got to do Yellow Jacket Racing's final race of the year. This race was … MORE

The silver lining to deciding to stay in Rochester this Thanksgiving instead of traveling was I got to do Yellow Jacket Racing’s final race of the year. This race was designed to be a cross-country course for older runners to relive their high school glory days or for younger runners whose cross country season may have gotten cut short due to covid to run another race. It was on what was described as a “classic” cross country course so I assume it was a course used for cross country meets in Rochester. Race was organized so runners started based on gender and graduating high school year which was a really fun way to do the small groups. Each group was 20 runners or less to fit social distancing guidelines. My dad was in town and did this race too. His group of the oldest men went first at 10 and my group of the 90s and 00s graduating females went at 11:30. You picked up packet and had health screening morning of race. I thought it might be boring with a long time between my dad and my waves but the course was designed so the runners were visible for most of the race and it was fun to watch the different races in between. A little before 11:30 I lined up with my group. There were X’s 6 feet apart at the start. The first short section maybe 1/4 mile or so was on grass but I was happy that only a short section was on the grass. There was then a small road section and then trail for about 1.5 to 2 miles. The trail was not too technical. A few roots and rocks and some mud as it has been rainy but nothing crazy. I had trail shoes which were helpful with the mud but my dad didn’t and he was fine. The hard part of the trail is there are two killer hills, one just before 1 mile and 1 kind of in the middle. Other than these 2 hills the rest of the course is relatively easy. After the trail there is a longer stretch on road followed by a bit on grass and then a painful uphill finish on grass. After crossing the line you get a bag of food and a water bottle. There isn’t a medal but participants get a finisher ribbon with the race name. There is also a shirt you can pay for. This race was only $15 so not much swag was not a big deal. I thought the course was a lot of fun with the mixed terrain and was nicely challenging. It reminded me of a shorter version of the Regal Beagle last week. I also liked this course more than the somewhat similar Roots n Road course I did at Mendon earlier and I was a couple minutes faster. I had a solid time for the course. Again my pace was inbetween a road and a trail pace. I thought the groups by age and gender were fun and there were lots of people wearing their old cross country uniforms. This was a lot of fun. I hope they bring it back as I would definitely do it again.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

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My initial race plan this weekend for a race just outside Rochester went virtual 1.5 weeks ago so I had to scramble to find a race and I am so … MORE

My initial race plan this weekend for a race just outside Rochester went virtual 1.5 weeks ago so I had to scramble to find a race and I am so happy I found this one before registration closed. This is a sort of hybrid road/trail race in the Bath Nature Preserve by Akron Ohio. It was the perfect course for a hybrid road/trail runner like me. Pre-race communication was good and it was very clear the covid protocol, packet pick-up and directions for how to get to and park at race but I do wish there was one email with all the info as it was all sent it separate emails so I had to figure out what email had what info. Packet pick-up was spread throughout the week. Given the current covid rates in this country, this was a pretty in and out trip for me and I picked up up the packet around 5pm the evening before at the Regal Beagle cabin which was cute and cozy and is probably really nice during normal years when you can hang around and chat with the RD more. Packet included a nice, warm sweatshirt with the beagle logo which I appreciated after the race and a bag with your bib and some Hammer nutrition samples and a collapsible cup. I’d say it was very solid swag and more than just a shirt like most races but wouldn’t call it the best swag I ever received. Race day you parked right by the start. You were assigned a wave beforehand and then lined up on X’s 6 feet apart and 2 runners went every 30 seconds or so. Very safe and organized start. I was worried based on the weather forecast it would be really rainy but at least the 25Kers lucked out and there was at most a light drizzle and it was cool and cloudy exactly the weather I like to run in. It did rain when I was driving home so the 50Kers may not have been so lucky. The course initially goes through the parking lot. Mixed feelings about this. It seemed potentially dangerous with the many different distances and finishing times but was very convenient because runners could use car as a sort of “drop bag” and get anything they forgot or put something away in it. The rest of the course was a mix of road and trail through the Bath Nature Preserve. The course is approximately 5 miles and 5-milers do 1 lap, 25Kers do 3 laps and 50Kers do 6 laps. It is advertised as a “fast” course because some of the fastest 50K times in Ohio were on the course. But as my title says “fast” is in the eye of the beholder. If you compared the 5 mile course to the dirt cheap courses yes it was very flat and fast but if you compare it to the 5 miler I did yesterday on the canal path it was very slow and hilly. Personally I really liked the course. I didn’t think it was particularly challenging but also didn’t think it was easy and I had a pace somewhere in between my usual road half marathon and trail half marathon pace. I liked the mix of road, non-technical single track trail, well-trimmed grass trail and a bit of more technical trail. The changing surfaces made the course more interesting and allowed for some fast road running mixed with some easy on the joint trail running. I would say it was moderately hilly. About 1000 feet of elevation gain for the 3 loops of the 25 K so about 300ish per loop. There was only one steep, long hill but it was pavement so you could power-walk it pretty fast. The rest were runnable but two of the uphills were a little technical so I walked them. The only thing I didn’t like about the course was the hardest part was the last mile. This was the most technical and mostly uphill and part was on a football field which wasn’t as trimmed as the grass trail and was a little muddy. This then led to the more technical wooded area. I enjoyed the technical wooded part but would have preferred it earlier in the loop and the less technical stuff later. The course was also very well-marked and easy to follow. I thought the course scenery was pleasant enough and it was an enjoyable place to run but the trees lost all their leaves and I actually think the Rochester trails are prettier but my Rochester trail race was canceled so I didn’t have a choice this week. I also liked how the nature preserve had signs with info about some of the plants and animals in case you want to learn some ecology during a running break. There were two aid stations per loop. One at the Regal Beagle cabin the other by the start line. As it was cupless I used a handheld water bottle and at the aid stations used the collapsible cups they gave for the Heed electrolyte drink. There were also gels and candies and chips and granola bars and lots of snacks (but sadly no twizzlers my favorite running treat). All were packaged individually due to covid. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about doing a race with loops but I actually liked how many runners you saw since we were all doing loops as some of these covid races have felt lonely. Also most of the trails on the course were pretty wide so passing wasn’t hard. But I do think I would feel a little loopy doing 6 loops for the 50K. After the third loop I was finished. My only real complaint of the race is after you cross the finish line you then have to go back a few yards to the aid station you just passed where you are given your medal and can also take some of the snacks for post-race food. A little anti-climactic to go back and while it wasn’t much of a walk I think it would have been annoying if I ran 31 miles. The medal is really cute with the beagle logo but also very small for the distance. My 5-miler medal from yesterday is much bigger…oh well trail races aren’t as much about the bling and at least this had a medal. Since this was my first 25K, this meant that not only did I complete a double race weekend, I had a double PR weekend. Guaranteed PR aside, I thought my pace was pretty good and I actually had a faster overall time than one of my trail half marathons. Afterwards I just drove back home careful to not hit any runners in the parking lot. In a normal year if you wanted to make this a weekend trip, there are actually some cool hikes to do in this area and it is close to Cleveland. There are other races I want to do that are normally held this weekend during non-pandemic years, but I would definitely consider doing this one again and am very happy I found this race.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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This was nice easy, flat 2.5 mile out and back on the Erie Canal path in a small town in NY state. Race had adequate pre-race communication and solid covid … MORE

This was nice easy, flat 2.5 mile out and back on the Erie Canal path in a small town in NY state. Race had adequate pre-race communication and solid covid protocols with small waves staggered 15 mins apart. At registration you choose your time. I chose the latest time slot because I like sleep. Race was easy to get to and a little under an hour drive from Rochester. I was worried about finding the race since the instructions said it was in a park not on Google map but they gave very good directions and it was no problem. Only issue is it was about 1 hour in the opposite direction of tomorrow’s race but beggars can’t be choosers when trying to do double race weekends in 2020. Packet pick up was easy. You got the bib and a nice, non-tech but good quality t-shirt. I did think the brown shirt color clashed a little with the brown of the racing turkey logo but overall a solid t-shirt. Start was simple you lined up with your group about 1/8 mile away from the finish line and packet pick up area. This was not chipped time and they were doing some manual timing system with an iPad which I didn’t trust. They then blew a horn at your wave time and you went. Course was as simple and pretty much as flat as possible on a crushed gravel portion of the erie canal trail. Perfect course for a double race weekend as the gravel was softer than pavement so easy on the joints. The only challenge on the course was a tree had fallen over on the trail and you had to maneuver around it. At the turnaround point there was a water stop. You then just turned around and came back but veered to the left to go through the finish line. The course was nice and peaceful and pleasant enough but not very exciting especially since I usually run along a different section of the canal path behind my house in Rochester. At the finish line you get your medal which is very nice for such a small, low-key race with lots of sparkles and the running turkey and is a decent size. There was also food which included wraps with your choice of turkey or veggie (yay!), a bag of smartfood popcorn and a homemade cookie. Being a slower runner in the last wave they were out of the more popular cookie flavors but luckily I love oatmeal raisin! They also had chicken broth and a hard cider if you consume those things. This was a very fast course with the exception of the fallen tree and I was excited I had PR’ed. However when I looked to see the posted results I saw a DNF next to my name. I knew I didn’t trust the timing system! To give the racing company credit, I did message them a screenshot of my Garmin and they quickly replied and fixed my time so I decided not to take an extra sneaker away from the overall review but did take an an extra sneaker away from production. Overall this was a nice, enjoyable, low key race that wasn’t too far to travel to. I wouldn’t necessarily make plans around this race but I’d consider it if it happens again next year and fit in my schedule.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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That title makes this race sound worse than it was but it was the best way to describe what running in the woods at night in late fall felt like … MORE

That title makes this race sound worse than it was but it was the best way to describe what running in the woods at night in late fall felt like in a nutshell. This is the first of a series of 3 trail races staged throughout the weekend at Mendon Ponds Park. This Friday night 3 miler is followed by a Saturday 5.5 miler and a Sunday 11 miler. Due to initially planning to be out of town and then having to be on call this weekend to cover a colleague I was only able to do Friday as the Saturday and Sunday races didn’t work with my rounding schedule. Logistics this race also had a rolling start and the same crazy, strict (but understandable) protocols as Wednesday’s VeteRun. Packet pick-up was recommended at Fleet Feet the day before but Thursdays are the one day I can’t pick up the packet during my lunch breaks so I had to get it race day. I can’t believe it but I actually have a minor production complaint about a race produced by Yellow Jacket Racing (YJR) but I thought parking and where to go was kind of confusing. The start of the trail has no parking space so you are supposed to park about 1/2 mile away and walk there. I left right after work and arrived around 5pm which is the middle of the rolling start from 4 to 6 pm. Luckily there were a lot of runners both entering and leaving the race so I just followed them and figured it out but I would have been confused if I was the first person there as there was not signs to indicate where to go. After parking you walk 1/2 mile to the trail head. Packet pick up day of was easy as there was definitely less than 25 people in the start area. I was happy that the packet actually included a bit of swag as all participants even those doing just one race got a buff. It is a nice fall themed buff with the racing company logo. There is no other swag unless you do the full series in which you get a sweatshirt but as the name implies these are dirt cheap races and it’s fine to have minimal swag and no medals. The race is on a very hilly trail and has about 500 feet of elevation gain in 3 miles…yikes. Also as I started at 5pm it got dark real fast. Unlike the Ready, Set Glow race these trail markers were very easy to follow. They stapled on some reflective tape on the flags so they were very visible and you could not get lost. Which was appreciated because it was very dark and creepy. During one stretch I was running alone in the dark with only the light of my headlamp with the eerie leafless trees and I thought this feels like I am in a horror movie running for my life. Then I realized it was Friday the 13th and thought yup…this is definitely a horror movie. I also realized I do not love trail running at night in the forest. Unlike the desert at Zion where there is still some natural light and the trails are open to the sky the trails here in Rochester are pretty much pitch black. It is very hard to get a good pace and you have to really watch your footing especially as this was very technical and hilly. There were some really steep uphills and downhills. Luckily I was careful and while there were some close calls I managed not to fall. I did think the finish line looked really cool lined with flashing glow sticks. At the end you got your goody bag with food and got to walk 1/2 mile back to your car. My time was incredibly slow. I’d like to say I had to answer a lot of pages but luckily I didn’t get any pages as I realized this was a terrible race to run on call as I don’t even know how I could have answered a page while participating. I didn’t love this race mostly due to not liking trail running in the forest at night not due to production issues or anything and it was definitely much better than the last nighttime trail race I did here. I definitely at some point want to do the whole series so will have to do this again but I don’t think I would go out of my way to do this race alone. And if you are keeping track, yes this was my 4th race in one week in 2020

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUC