My Profile

@seagroves87

Rochester, NY Raving since 2020 50 States hopeful/finisher, Seven Continents Club, Half Fanatics #18410 Active 4 hours, 6 minutes ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):

    NYRR, Greater Rochester Track Club, Greater Derry Track 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 or full marathon 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 (37)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
5K Bronx, NY Apr 24, 2021
Half Marathon Gettysburg, PA Apr 25, 2021
5K Canton, OH May 1, 2021
Half Marathon Canton, OH May 2, 2021
Half Marathon Shelburne, VT May 8, 2021
Marathon Cary, NC May 16, 2021
Half Marathon Purcellville, VA May 29, 2021
5K Lorton, VA May 30, 2021
Half Marathon Potomac, MD May 31, 2021
Half Marathon Philadelphia, PA Jun 12, 2021
Half Marathon Wilmington, DE Jun 13, 2021
Half Marathon Randolph, NY Sep 25, 2021
Sprint Silver Lake, NY Sep 26, 2021
Half Marathon Hampton, NH Oct 3, 2021
Marathon Forest City, PA Oct 10, 2021
5K Manchester, NH Nov 6, 2021
Half Marathon Relay Manchester, NH Nov 7, 2021
Half Marathon Richmond, VA Nov 13, 2021
Half Marathon Hamlin, NY 2021
5K Nashua, NH 2021
Half Marathon Rochester, NY 2021
5K Savannah, NY 2021
Marathon Baton Rouge, LA Jan 15, 2022
Marathon Miami, FL Feb 6, 2022
Half Marathon Atlanta, GA Feb 26, 2022
Half Marathon Newport Beach, CA 2022
Half Marathon Oakhurst, CA 2022
Half Marathon Seattle, WA 2022
Half Marathon Des Moines, IA 2022
Half Marathon Kansas City, MO 2022
Marathon Folsom, CA 2022
Half Marathon Wilson, WY 2022
Half Marathon West Yellowstone, MT 2022
Half Marathon New York City, NY 2022
Marathon Tokyo, Japan 2023
Marathon Inverness, United Kingdom 2023
Half Marathon King George Island, Antarctica 2025

Past Races (64)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
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

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.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4
My Media

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

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.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4
My Media

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

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

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
1

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

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.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
2

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This is an annual Veterans day 5K in Mendon Ponds. However it is on the roads not the trails. I was excited that Yellow Jacket Racing (YJR) was able to … MORE

This is an annual Veterans day 5K in Mendon Ponds. However it is on the roads not the trails. I was excited that Yellow Jacket Racing (YJR) was able to hold another live event. However when I went to register and check out the details I was initially disappointed they were reverting back to old rolling start of the earlier pandemic days rather than the more exciting small waves of 40 starts they had been doing. However this ended up being very fortunate. On Monday it was announced that Monroe County (where Rochester is) is in the “yellow zone” so gathering sizes are now limited to 25 people. I thought for sure this race was going to be canceled but YJR made it happen! The rolling start was much easier to adjust to “yellow zone” rules than the waves of 40 which would have broken the size gathering limit. I have no idea if YJR was lucky they changed to a rolling start or are that good at organizing races they knew this was coming (I’m thinking a little of both). There were a ton of race updates since Monday which was very appreciated with the uncertainty and a super, super, super detailed covid plan. It was highly recommended to get your packet outside the store the day before which I did. Packet also included a T-shirt. Just a normal navy blue T-shirt with the race name and an American flag. There was a rolling start from 10 to 1pm (initially 10 to noon but extended for more social distancing). For the race only 20 participants were allowed in the start or finish area at the time (so total of 25 with participants + volunteers and RD). The RD was constantly counting the number of people and if there were too many you would be asked to wait. You were instructed to have your headphones and watch all set up as you had to just go as soon as you got your temp taken. There was some music but this was definitely the least exciting start for any pandemic race I did. The race is usually an out and back entirely on the roads of Mendon Pond Park but this year to keep it open to traffic they adjusted the course so it was a loop and to make the distance work there was a little more than half a mile on non-technical trail. The weather was back to being gray and drizzly and was perfect running temp. I felt worse than I thought I would since I was more sore from my marathon than I thought I would be but I was actually able to run okay. While obviously this was an easy race compared to a marathon or one of the dirt trail cheap races I thought it was moderately challenging for a fun, family friendly 5K. The road portions have a lot of inclines and declines but nothing too steep. The trail portion used for this race would normally be easy to run on but there was a light rain so it was a little muddy. The roads of Mendon Park are quite pretty but the trees were definitely past peak foliage and most had no leaves. It was kind of eerie looking with the gloomy weather. There were participants of all abilities and a lot of people dressed in stars and stripes or carrying flags and it seemed like it would normally be a really fun event. At the finish line you got your bag of food and just left. There was no medal this year. Previous years had medals. I’m not sure if it was due to covid and not wanting to spend money when a race might not happen or a permanent thing. I love medals but don’t need them for every cheap 5K I do so this wouldn’t stop me from doing the race again. You then had to just leave other than the RD congratulating me when I walked past her to my car and me thanking her for holding the race there was not a lot of interaction with other people and this felt kind of like a training run but was extremely safe and better than virtual. Definitely not the RD or YJR fault but the fault of rising covid rates. As this race was (appropriately) going backwards in terms of being more socially distant I am concerned the next step is no races so I enjoyed this one as much as I could while still feeling sore from my marathon. I was very impressed with my time given the circumstances and how I was feeling. It was definitely not my fastest 5K and was nowhere near my usual goal of sub-30 but it was also nowhere near my slowest. This was a nice local 5K and good way to support my local race company and local veterans. The only reason I may not do it again is it is normally at 11am on Veterans Day which is not a holiday I normally get off but just happened to be on vacation today but may see if I can squeeze it in during a lunch break. Would recommend it to locals if you have Veterans day off.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

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I have very mixed feelings about this race. It was amazingly well-produced, had great swag and I am very grateful to be able to run another safe marathon this year … MORE

I have very mixed feelings about this race. It was amazingly well-produced, had great swag and I am very grateful to be able to run another safe marathon this year especially given this is a pretty large event. This was one of the largest running events in the US since the LA marathon with well over 1000 participants. However I was not a huge fan of the course at all. Packet pick-up was either at the Millenium Running store or race day morning. I got my packet on Friday with my dad who was doing the half marathon. Packet pick-up was kind of cool as they set it up as sort of a mini expo in the back of the store. There was music and places for pics and some other marathon items for sale and the RD was there to greet runners. Not a true expo with other vendors but you could then buy anything in the store you forgot. Packet pick up included the bibs and a long sleeved tech shirt. Really liked the shirt. Nice blue color with race logo and I am in need of some more long sleeved shirts to run in so will definitely use it. The race started in downtown Manchester. Had the same start protocols as the NH 10 miler and New England half. It was by Veterans Park which was appropriate since this race is always the weekend before Veterans days and raises money for Veteren charities and convenient since there was lots of outdoor area for racers to social distance. The weather this year was unusually hot. My last 3 marathons I was worried it would be really hot and did specific heat training for them. This marathon I was worried would be bitterly cold and windy so bought and tried out all these winter running gear and did a miserable training run in the rain in preparation for this race and ironically this was my hottest marathon. Not dangerously hot but it was slightly uncomfortably hot since as a slower runner I started around 9am and ran in the heat of the day. It was probably nice weather for the faster runners with earlier starts. This race started just about on time and I started really close to my assigned time. The course was modified this year so there was more on the rail trails however I heard they added extra hills. The first five miles of the race were a loop through some suburbs and the paved part of the rail trail. This part was pretty nice. 2 steep but not too long hills in the burbs and lovely running on trail and then looping back to downtown Manchester. The next 8 miles were horrible. A super hilly 8 mile loop through the suburbs of Manchester. These hills were as bad or maybe worse than Amish Country Running Festival and while the suburbs were pretty enough the scenery was not nice enough to make up for the hills like Amish Country. Plus the heat did not help on some of the unshaded hills. There was this awful hill around mile 11 that almost killed me. The end of this section is through some not very nice areas of Manchester. Didn’t feel unsafe as there was police presence but didn’t help the experience. Then you go back to downtown Manchester and I was jealous to see the half marathoners run through the finish line while I had to keep going. Usually it isn’t until mile 16 to 20 that I get sick of running but I was over it after those hills. Luckily the second half of the course is much better with most of it on the rail trail. The rail trail is lovely and the first part on soft pavement and the second part on non-technical trail. It was very pretty and peaceful. Although past peak fall foliage season the trees were still quite beautiful. There were a few off shoots in the suburbs off the trail which were annoying and hilly but in general the second half was much, much better than the first. Unfortunately I was so tired out from the first half I couldn’t take complete advantage of the nice second half of the course. You exit the rail trail and go back to the city and see the finish line at about mile 25.5. You are so tired of running you hope they accidentally measured the course short or you killed the tangents but then your heart sinks and you realize you have to go past the finish line and run around a block and then come back through. My dad who finished his half a few hours ago met me at this section and we walked together a bit and then I ran the last quarter mile or so towards the finish line to get an under 5:50 finish. The medal is amazing. Absolutely huge and it spins. Has the logo with the image of downtown Manchester and is just beautiful. One of my favorites and most deserved medals. I was very happy that even though I was an extra slow turtle this race, aid stations were well stocked throughout race with water and Powerade and 2 with maple syrup instead of gel (yummy and so New England) and there was plenty of food left at the finish area. This year just grab n go stuff like granola bars, fruits and chips along with water and powerade bottles. I grabbed a granola bar and headed to a meal with my parents (not sure what meal is at 3:30 sort of a combined lunch and dinner). My dad (who is a better runner than me) said it was the hardest half he ever did and was 15 minutes slower than his previously slowest half and even he had to walk some of the hills which made me feel better about this being 15 minutes slower than my slowest marathon. As I said I have mixed feelings about this race. If you are looking for a NH race I’m sure you can find an easier course but this one is really well-produced, has amazing swag and is very back of the pack friendly but not the course if you want to PR or BQ. Manchester is also a very easy location to get to. There is a small regional airport in Manchester which is super easy to get in and out of and Manchester is not far from Boston if you can only fly to a bigger airport. I’m actually planning to be in NH again this weekend next year. I am definitely never doing this full marathon again but I think me and my dad may do the half relay or if he isn’t available I might do the half.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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Normally this 5K is on Sunday the same day as the full and half marathon. However due to covid this year they moved the 5K to Saturday which meant double … MORE

Normally this 5K is on Sunday the same day as the full and half marathon. However due to covid this year they moved the 5K to Saturday which meant double race weekend! This was well organized with the same format as other Millenium Running Races. It was a modified course this year so no roads had to be closed and was a lovely out and back on the rail trail. Mostly flat just a bridge to go over twice. I thought it was a great 5K course as the rail trail was beautiful but would have been congested with a mass start. I ran this very easy at training pace so obviously was a slow 5K for me. One improvement would be to have an aid station at the halfway point since it was unseasonably warm this weekend. Also there was no additional swag for doing the 5K. 5Kers got the race weekend shirt which is really nice but since I was doing the marathon the next day I already got the shirt and no medal for 5K. I would have loved if they added a challenge medal but they switched the date for the 5K only a few weeks in advance so understandable why they didn’t have one. Would be great if they kept the 5K Saturday for future races and made it a challenge.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2

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Normally Yellow Jacket Racing (YJR) has a 5K road race in Rochester on Halloween weekend. However that had to go virtual due to covid so they held this live race … MORE

Normally Yellow Jacket Racing (YJR) has a 5K road race in Rochester on Halloween weekend. However that had to go virtual due to covid so they held this live race instead. Normally the Dirt Cheap races are 4-5 mile trail races held on Wednesday evenings during the summer but YJR added a couple fall weekend ones this year as they are some of the easier races to hold during covid. This race was held at Durand Eastman park in north Rochester right by Lake Ontario. This was my first time exploring this park. Logistics were the same as the last Dirt Cheap race with packet pickup recommended at store the day before and waves of 40ish runners every 15 minutes. Production was of course excellent and safe. There were some Halloween decorations and music blaring at the start line to make it as exciting as possible for a covid race. The weather was cold but beautiful and sunny which was wonderful after nearly 2 weeks of gloom and rain. The first mile of the course was an absolute treat. Just perfect trail running. The leaves were beautiful there were views of the lake and the trail was not too technical and I was thinking I may PR. This was very surprising given how difficult the other 2 Dirt Cheap Races I have done were. But alas, this was a trick and the rest of the race was full of difficulties. The trail at the second mile was at an angle and was very muddy with the previous rain making this tricky to run. Also the leaves while pretty made footing a little difficult since you didn’t know what was under it. Also this is where the hills came. Not quite as hilly as the last one but there were some good hills. There were also some very nice stretches for running mixed in. I don’t think it was intentional but it was a mix of tricks and treats on the trail. The trail was open and since it was cold there was not much use but there was congestion at one point due to a group of birdwatchers which was a first for me. At the finish line you put your masks back on and get your bag of treats. No swag as the Dirt Cheap refers to the fact that these are really cheap, under $20 races all about the trail and not about the swag. I did not PR with all the tricks thrown in the course but did manage to run it in under an hour. I actually would prefer this race over the 5K road race but I get a 5K road race is a little more family friendly. I think it would be awesome if they started to hold this race annually on the Saturday of Halloween weekend and the 5K on Sunday or vice versa but may be a lot of planning. This park is in the normal rotation of Dirt Cheap races so even if the Halloween Edition is a one year event I look forward to running here again.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
1

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This is an annual Halloween themed Half Marathon in Ellicottville (EVL) in Southwestern NY produced by Endurance Factor who also produced the Dirty Dozen race I did there this summer. … MORE

This is an annual Halloween themed Half Marathon in Ellicottville (EVL) in Southwestern NY produced by Endurance Factor who also produced the Dirty Dozen race I did there this summer. This is one of their bigger and more popular races. After trialing a few smaller races they were able to hold this race safely during covid with close to 500 runners. There was tons of pre-race communication via email including a very detailed athlete guide. Would have been excessive most years but this was appreciated during 2020. Packet pickup was easy as the bib was mailed to you along with some coupons for shops in town. I had no issues with the mail and got the bib the Monday before the race but again could see there being some issues relying on the mail this year. For the race you signed up for waves. The 5K was earlier in the morning and the half marathon in the late morning/early afternoon. I choose the 12:25 to 12:35 window. This was a later start than I am used to and made pre-race fueling a little harder since I had to eat more than usual but the late start was appreciated with it being a 2 hour drive from Rochester so no hotel or early wake up necessary. There was a parking lot that was large with porta potties and also a table with pins and hand sanitizer. Parking was very easy but it was about a 5 min walk to the start. The start was very anti-climactic. They basically just let you go. I arrived a few minutes before my start time and thought there would be a bit of a build up until 12:25 but they just let me go a few mins early. This did feel very safe as there was no congregating at all near the start but I thought some of the more creative starts other race companies have done are more exciting while still quite safe. Of course safety is definitely more important than excitement so I appreciated they erred more on the side of safety. It was still a fun environment with a lot of the runners in Halloween costumes. The course starts in downtown Ellicottville but is mostly through rural, farmland. I have finally gotten to the point where farms have stopped being super exciting for me. I thought the scenery was pretty but I was spoiled by the farmland at the Amish Country Running Festival and the perfect peak fall foliage of the New England Half and this wasn’t as scenic as those two races. Also not too many farm animals to see but I did see some nice horses and maybe stopped for a picture. While this was one of the safest races for covid protocols this was not one of the safest races for traffic. Most of the roads were open. The roads were large and there was little traffic so it wasn’t unsafe but the caution runner signs were small and there were no cones or anything blocking an area for runners for a lot of the race. Also at one intersection where there was a volunteer a driver stopped and asked the volunteer for directions and then proceeded to drive straight as I was crossing the street. I stayed alert, got out of the way and nothing happened but could have been dangerous if I wasn’t paying attention. The course was very hilly with about 700 ft of elevation gain. The evil part of the course was the first half was net downhill and second half net uphill so don’t expect negative splits. There were no crazy steep hills but starting at the halfway point there was about 3 miles of gradual uphill which was mentally tough and seemed never ending. Luckily the final mile is all downhill as I realized at mile 12 I had to maintain about a 10 min/mile pace to make my goal of 2:30 and I killed that last 1.1 miles to do it! There were plenty of water stops on the course with small cups of water, powerade and 3 had Gu gels. One complaint I have is the second to last water stop was abandoned when I got there. I was carrying water so not a big deal but it is a pet peeve of mine at races especially when it was supposed to stay open another hour. This seemed to just be this water stop since the final water stop was open. Another improvement for production is to have a timing mat at the out and back around mile 9. I definitely saw a runner who I previously passed a few miles back magically appear in front of me when I came to the end of the out and back. After the downhill finish you pass the finish line, put your mask back on and get your goodies. You get your medal, shirt, bag of food and there were also monster energy drinks. Each year is a different monster theme. This year was vampire which is the theme for shirt and medal. The medal is big and glittery and is something. It is a little gaudy and not really my aesthetic but is a lot of fun and appropriate for a Halloween race. The shirt was black and also had the vampire. It is not my favorite shirt in terms of design but is a very comfy T-shirt and will be great for sleeping in which is my main use for my non-tech race shirts. The bag of food had a ton of goodies and anything you could want a muffin, granola bar, apple, banana, pretzels and a few lollipops. Overall this was a solid race with very safe covid protocols. While it was scenic it wasn’t quite as special as the other fall roads halfs I have done this year. I was very happy with my time given the hills. It was definitely on the hillier side but not crazy and was a good warm-up race for my upcoming Manchester City Marathon which is also quite hilly. I think this race would be a lot more fun and special during a normal year where I imagine the finish festival is fun and Halloween themed. While the medal was a little gaudy, it was a lot of fun and I wouldn’t mind adding another monster to my medal collection. I would definitely consider this race again as it is worth the 2 hour drive especially since I don’t need a hotel with the later start (normally it starts around 11) but am not sure it is worth a longer drive if you are an out-of-stater. There other October races I would like to try during a normal year so I don’t think I would make this an annual race but I’d definitely run it again.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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The Dirt Cheap Race series is a series of challenging 4 to 5 mile trail races held in different parks in the Rochester Area. Usually the series is held from … MORE

The Dirt Cheap Race series is a series of challenging 4 to 5 mile trail races held in different parks in the Rochester Area. Usually the series is held from late spring to late summer/early fall on Wednesday evenings. However this year Yellow Jacket Racing (YJR) decided to add some Fall weekend dirt cheap races since a few spring/summer ones didn’t get made up and these are some of the easier races to hold during covid. I was very happy to get the chance to run 2 more of these races. As the name implies these are dirt cheap. They are under $20 and as a result no swag (there is a T-shirt for the series) but you get a well-produced, fun and challenging trail race. The logistics of this race were similar to ROCtoberfest with groups of about 40 runners based on sign up time starting every 15 minutes. This course was also held at Mendon which is a great place for trail running. However Yellow Jacket Racing switched it up and did a very different course than the last dirt cheap I did. This course didn’t have the obstacles of the other one. There was no mud, stairs to climb or logs to go over or under but man there were a lot of hills. While Mendon is hilly I have no idea how they found this many hills. Most of it was on the East Esker trail which is my usual trail for hill training however there were quite a few parts that took small side trails I didn’t know existed to lead to more hills. Very impressed with how they made this course and found these hills. Although it was quite cruel. The hills were so steep that even the really fast trail runners who passed me from later waves were walking them. The trail was extremely well marked as expected from a YJR event which was appreciated since this race took us on some off the beaten path trails. Mendon was beautiful right now with the leaves changing color. I think this is a better time of year for this race than the spring/summer. At the finish line you get a bag of food but no other swag which is fine since the race is dirt cheap. These races are a lot of fun but very challenging. YJR goes out of their way to make the courses as hard as possible and I was definitely right about this being more technical than yesterday. You definitely want trail shoes for this one. You are only going to do well if you are an experienced trail runner but the course is short enough you would enjoy if you weren’t as long as you don’t set expectations for time. They also don’t give a map or elevation profile but that is intentional to surprise you with all the challenges on the course. I was happy I was a little faster than the first dirt cheap although much slower than yesterday. Although I actually thought the first dirt cheap course was a little more fun and this one was a little excessive with the hills. Looking forward to another one in 2 weeks!

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
1

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This is a lovely, not terribly technical trail race in Ashbury Woods in Erie PA which is about a 2.5 hour drive for me. I didn't want to wake up … MORE

This is a lovely, not terribly technical trail race in Ashbury Woods in Erie PA which is about a 2.5 hour drive for me. I didn’t want to wake up super early so stayed in a hotel Friday night. Logistics were very easy. Packet pick-up, start and finish were at the Nature Center at Ashbury Woods. I thought production for this race was very good especially for a race not put on by a professional race company. It didn’t have all the super detailed, creative protocols of Yellow Jacket Racing and Millenium Running but had solid covid plan and felt safe. They started packet pick up 45 mins before the race. Along with bib, you got your swag. Swag was decent for a cheap low key trail race and swag bag included a set of runphones which look interesting, a small jar of maple syrup produced in Ashbury woods (yum), a granola bar (thank you), and also a can of beer which I have no idea what to do with since I don’t drink. I do wish though there was some swag specific to the race but not sure if there wasn’t just because this is 2020 and who knows if a race will really happen. Swag bag also included a disposable mask to wear at the start and there was a garbage can placed a little past the start line so it could be thrown out during the race. This is a smart idea that I hadn’t seen at other races. This year they switched to chip timing to allow for a more spaced out start which was also smart. Runners were instructed to run in waves of 50 that started every 2 mins. They capped registration at 150 runners so there were 3 waves. They were pretty loose with the waves. You were placed in a wave based on bib number but they let the faster runners go in the first wave to avoid as much passing and you could do a different wave to run with a friend, etc but for the most part everyone followed the waves. Start was in the parking lot of the nature center which was spacious and allowed everyone to spread out. You start out running out of the parking lot and then on a tiny downhill stretch of road to the trail. The trail was quite pretty and the perfect amount of technical for a beginner trail runner. The trail was wide and easy to follow but there were enough rocks and roots and leaves to add a bit of a challenge. At least the first 2.25 miles were pretty flat for a woody trail race with the occasional short hill and incline. There were also a few sections on boardwalk where you could pick up the pace. Trail was well-groomed with very little mud and was well marked with lots of volunteer helping to direct. Although there were a few parts that I thought could have been marked better. It would have been hard but not impossible to get lost. I was running a very good pace and thought I had a chance to even get a 5 mile PR but then there is this bridge which then leads to a large hill which I definitely didn’t bank enough energy for having assumed the rest of the race would continue to be as “flat” (again flat for a trail race). One production complaint I have is I do wish they had a map with elevation profile on the website so I could have strategized this hill better as while it was large it was runnable if you saved your energy. There was one other steep hill after that and the rest of the race was downhill or back to the not very hilly trail. The trail was quite pretty especially with the leaves changing color but didn’t seem any prettier than the other trails I have been running on this fall. There was also a water stop at the halfway point. Even if I did have to slow down and walk for the hill and didn’t get a 5 mile PR I was very, very happy with my time and had my fastest trail pace by a lot finishing a few minutes under an hour. I will call this a trail PR. And I was about 30 minutes faster than my last 5 mile trail race lol. At the finish line there were water bottles and they asked that you left right after to avoid congregating. Overall I thought this was a really nice race. It was the perfect race for a beginner trail runner. Techinical enough to be a true trail run but very runnable and nothing crazy technical (no climbing rocks, jumping over logs, mountains to climb or creek crossing). If you are an experienced trail runner it may not be as fun as the more technical stuff but would still be a nice, peaceful race. Trail shoes helped but road shoes would have been okay if you don’t have trail shoes. This race was originally planned for June but was moved to October for covid. I actually think the October date is better given the cool weather and leaves changing colors. It seems Ashbury Woods realized this and next year this race will be in June and there will also be a 6 miler in October along with a fun run in February that they have held before. I definitely enjoyed this race but Erie is a bit far but not crazy far for me to travel for a short race. However I will definitely consider doing this again or one of the other races in the trail series next year especially if there are still limited races and would definitely recommend for locals. Time to rest up and get ready for another trail race tomorrow which I have a feeling will be a bit more technical.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

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This is a quintessential fall New England half marathon that happens to end in my hometown of Concord, NH. This year they changed the course. It was still point to … MORE

This is a quintessential fall New England half marathon that happens to end in my hometown of Concord, NH. This year they changed the course. It was still point to point ending at the state house in Concord but prior years it had started at the speedway but this year it started at an apple orchard. I’m not sure if the change was just for this year due to covid or permanent. Personally I liked the change as I was looking for a nostalgic, fall run and am not a Nascar fan so don’t really care about the speedway but that may have disappointed some people. This was by far the biggest race I have done since the LA marathon and production was impressive given covid restrictions. Packet pickup was either at the millenium running store the day before or you could get your bib at the start of the race and the race shirt at the end. My dad also did this race with me and my parents picked up our packets the day before. I like the shirt a lot. It is a very comfy, long sleeved shirt with a nice and simple pattern with a leaf changing colors. It is hooded which is interesting. It fits nice and since we picked it up early they weren’t out of sizes this time. For the start of the race you could either take a shuttle or be dropped off. Luckily my mom could drop us off as I’d prefer not to take a shuttle this year but I saw the shuttles as we were driving and they seemed as safe as possible with runners spaced out wearing masks. The start was the same as the NH 10 miler so I won’t go in as much detail in this review. But basically runners are placed in groups of 99 runners based on finishing time and stand at numbered cones spaced 6 ft apart. Unlike the 10 miler this race they were a little behind on calling out the runners which is my only, real production complaint. I ended up starting about 20 to 30 mins later than my assigned time. Not a huge deal but it made timing pre-race fueling and bathroom a little difficult and also meant a larger amount of people congregating near the start. But the start was outdoors and a large area and everyone spread out in masks so again not a huge deal. Again they called your name out as you crossed the start line adding a personal touch. This race is net downhill which is nice. But don’t let that fool you there is still a lot of uphill and about 500 ft of elevation gain. The first 7 miles or so are through beautiful, rural New Hampshire countryside. The weather was absolutely perfect and the leaves were at their peak color changes. It was lovely and peaceful and mostly downhill and fast. The only uphills in this section were pretty small. The water stations now had cups that volunteers filled while wearing gloves and placed on the table instead of handing to you. This definitely seemed less wasteful than all the half full mini water and powerade bottles in the trash at the 10 miler. The water stops were about every 2 miles. I thought it was really cute and fun that instead of a giving a gel at mile 8 they gave little packets of maple syrup. It was a little risky since I never fueled with it but it was yummy, did not upset my stomach and worked as well as a gel and added to the New England experience. After the maple syrup I was not as excited about the giant, seemingly never ending hill at mile 8. I was on track to PR but did not bank enough energy or time for this hill which went past Concord hospital and up to a small area of trail and lasted over a mile. There is a then a small section on non-technical trail which is a nice break on the joints from asphalt but was mostly uphill still so not as great for the pace. After the trail it is about 4 miles through Concord that is mostly downhill and quite fast if you didn’t waste all your energy tackling the hill. I walked some of the hill to save energy for this part. Personally I really enjoyed this part as it went past my high school and my childhood neighborhood which brought out lots of nostalgic feelings and obscure memories from a simpler time. But may have just been a boring suburb to other runners. The course then ended at the state house which is definitely the most iconic building in Concord although I will admit my hometown doesn’t really have as many iconic buildings to show off as LA. The course was open to traffic this year (I don’t believe this is normally the case) which I wasn’t sure how it would work since while Concord also doesn’t have the traffic of LA it is a much busier city than the other races open to traffic I have run. But there were plenty of cops and volunteers directing traffic that it was very safe and traffic did not interfere with runners. The only minor issue was the shoulder to run on was a little narrow. There was plenty of room for yourself but it was sometimes tricky to pass other runners. At the finish line you got your medal and there were also snacks and drinks and a results area. The medal was very nice and big with changing color leaves. There were less post race snacks than usual but some fruit and other stuff. I didn’t take any since I was going to lunch with my parents right after but did grab an organic energy drink for my drive home after lunch. The finish line at the state house was great for a post race selfies as well. Overall this was a really great, New England half marathon. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a New Hampshire half. It is the perfect time to visit New Hampshire. The weather should usually be great and the net downhill makes it a fast course. Even though I didn’t bank enough energy for the hill I still easily ran my second fastest half. Again the hill around mile 8 makes it a little hard to PR but if you did some hill training and banked your energy right you definitely could. While I didn’t think production was quite as smooth as the NH 10 miler I could not dock a sneaker given the impressive feat of holding a safe half marathon with nearly 1000 runners on open roads through the downtown of a small city with covid restrictions. There are a lot of other races on my bucket list that are held this weekend normally but I would definitely consider running this race again and would definitely recommend it for a NH half!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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This is an annual 5K in Rochester that raises money for local charities and is usually a sort of Oktoberfest celebration. This year was a little different with covid restrictions … MORE

This is an annual 5K in Rochester that raises money for local charities and is usually a sort of Oktoberfest celebration. This year was a little different with covid restrictions but I’m happy Yellow Jacket Racing was able to do this race as a live event this year. Packet pick-up easy the day before at the store or morning of the race. Packet included bib and you could pay an extra $10 for a shirt which was a cotton T-shirt with the race logo. Race had very detailed covid protocols and was flawlessly executed. There were waves of 40 runners every hour and you were assigned a wave based on when you registered i.e. the earlier you registered the earlier your wave. I was in wave 2 which started at 10am. Before the race you had your temp checked and each runner stood on a blue circle that was 6 feet apart in front of the start line. The course was very modified this year. Normally it is an all asphalt course along the Genesee River but this year it was a 2.5K loop course with half on grass half on asphalt that you ran twice so the race didn’t take up as much of the park since it was going on for many hours. The course was kind of mediocre and I don’t love running on grass but it was still a fun time. Also luckily the grass was very well-trimmed and there were no holes or anything in the dirt. There were some pretty parts of the park and some less pretty views as well. It was mostly flat but there were a couple bridges which had a short but kind of steep uphill and one again short and steep uphill from grass to asphalt but was generally a pretty easy course. It was beautiful weather but got a little hot on the unshaded grass. At the finish line you got your race goodies and medal. The medal wasn’t huge but had the race logo and doubled as a bottle opener which fit with the Oktoberfest theme. Nice medal for a small 5K. You also got a non-alcoholic beer from Athletic Brewing Co in the bag along with lots of snacks. I was happy about the non-alcoholic beer but not sure those who “run for beer” were. There were obviously no post race celebration this year and runners just left after. My time was solid especially since I’m not that fast on grass. While I thought it was a mediocre course, I’d definitely prefer a live race with a mediocre course than a virtual one and they did a good job making this as fun and safe as possible with all the restrictions. I think the real course would be a very nice 5K course based on the map I saw. Overall this is a nice, local 5K that I will continue to do as long as I am in town and it doesn’t conflict with another race.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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Due to Covid they couldn't give an unlimited buffet of breadsticks but even though they were limited don't worry you get a lot! This was a redemption race for Rochester … MORE

Due to Covid they couldn’t give an unlimited buffet of breadsticks but even though they were limited don’t worry you get a lot! This was a redemption race for Rochester Running Company’s trail race series this weekend after the somewhat disastrous Friday night race. This one was definitely much better and all the production issues were things we were warned about. This is a point to point trail race starting at a golf course and ending near an Olive Garden. I got my bib Thursday at the store but you could also get it the morning of the race. Normally there is a shuttle that takes you to the start (I think but I haven’t done the race before so it may be the other direction with the shuttle) but this year you had to find your own ride or I guess could make it a marathon and run back. They said they weren’t able to provide a shuttle this year due to covid. That kind of surprised me as I know other races have used shuttles but I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it was a NY state rule and not that they didn’t feel like dealing with arranging a shuttle. Start was smooth. This time there was a timing mat at the start which just works better for spreading out runners since there isn’t an advantage to crossing the start line quickly. Again there wasn’t as strict of covid protocols as other races but everyone had a mask and spaced out and felt safe. The first mile is a mostly downhill road mile so you will have one fast mile but don’t expect anymore fast ones as the rest is mostly technical and quite hilly trails. There is a nice mix of different terrain and trails. Some more technical in the woods with roots and rocks other on smoother single track trail through some meadows and a small bit on a rail trail. More in the woods than the meadow which was appreciated as it got hot. There was some very pretty areas especially with the trees starting to change color but nothing that stood as as remarkably more scenic than any other pretty trail run in NY. This trail was very, very, very well marked as the email said. Unlike Friday, it would be very hard to have gotten lost. There were a few road crossings. This is one of the weaker parts of the production. They didn’t close roads and you potentially had to stop for traffic. The vast majority of the crossings were not busy and I didn’t have to stop but the last one is on a major road and you do need to wait for the walk signal. Not a huge deal for me as I was exhausted by then and could use the 20 seconds of rest but just an FYI if you plan to run this for a trail PR (you aren’t running this course faster than a road half marathon). The race was pretty much constant ups and downs. It was technically net downhill but a lot of up hills in-between. All of the steeper uphills weren’t too tall and there were a few taller but more gradual hills at the end right where you want them…not. I definitely hiked those ones. Overall there was just under 1000 feet of elevation gain. Most of it was runnable but I obviously hiked quite a bit given my tired legs. There were 2 aid stations with water bottles on the course but it was mostly self-supported. I’m assuming there are more aid stations normally. At the finish line you get your delicious food from Olive Garden. They had to do it prepackaged this year so each runner was given a bag of 5 breadsticks and a take-out box with pasta and salad. There was a choice of marinara or meat sauce (obviously I chose marinara). Fun fact the olive garden breadsticks along with being delicious are also accidentally vegan! Almost the entire meal was vegan except the salad dressing and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on the salad which made me very happy. What didn’t make me as happy was the lack of other swag. There is no medal or other finisher award (well there would be the pint glass if you signed up for the series but I will avoid that rant in this review). I feel like it should be a rule any race a half marathon distance or longer should come with an award but I get some of these more laid back, cheaper trail races don’t. There was a shirt you could pay for. I did since I wanted something to remember the races by but they weren’t ready so are being shipped. I obviously had a slow race since it was my third race and second half marathon this weekend and I am still pretty new at trails. My only expectation was to finish and I did that! I was surprised me and my running buddy from Friday who I also ran this race with (and who provided me a ride back so thank you!) were the last 2 runners. I know I am not fast but I ran quite a bit and there are always a few walkers and back of the packers behind me in the races I have done. I don’t really mind being last but I worry if I am last that there is something that makes a race not back of the pack friendly. After chatting with runners, I heard last year they pulled some of the trail markers before the back of the packers got there and they ended up getting lost and that probably discouraged them from running this race again. I didn’t have this issue this year but just a warning for any back of the packers interested in the race. While the race was tough it would have been a nice, moderately hard hike if you wanted to walk it all. I would consider doing this race again. The main reason I may not is it is usually the same weekend as Amish Country Running Festival like it was this year and while I enjoyed my 50K worth of running this weekend I don’t think I would want to run both these halfs in one weekend again and would choose Amish Country over this one. But if I didn’t want to deal with a hotel or needed to stay in Rochester for the weekend or it was a different weekend I would do this race again or maybe mix it up and do each race every other year. I’m open to another double half weekend but would choose easier halfs (not that I had a choice this year). I have now successfully completed 50K worth of races this weekend now I just have to do it continuously with no rest inbetween in April!

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
1

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About a month ago this appeared to be the only race in Western NY so I signed up for the half, then 2 weeks ago they announced some trail races … MORE

About a month ago this appeared to be the only race in Western NY so I signed up for the half, then 2 weeks ago they announced some trail races near Rochester this weekend so I may have overextended myself a little this weekend but I am glad I did this race. If you sign up, definitely like the Facebook page as they write a personal post welcoming each runner who signs up for the half or the full. Logistics, this is in Amish country in SW NY about 2 hours from Rochester which means either a hotel or getting up crazy early. I opted for the hotel. Luckily they had day of packet pick-up because I got in pretty late Friday night after running a night race. Packet pick-up included a nice pint glass with the race logo, a race sticker, some samples of things like HEED and pain relief gel, coupons and a wrist band for food. There was no shirt. This disappointed me a little but led to this joke I thought of “I’d rather have a race with no shirt than a shirt with no race which is what I got with most of the races I signed up for this year.” After packet pick-up I waited around in my car waiting to go to the corral. The corral was my biggest complaint of the race and the main reason I docked a sneaker and 2 sneakers from production. This was the only race where they were not enforcing or even recommending social distancing in the corral. Participants weren’t required to wear face masks and some were standing very close. I didn’t feel unsafe personally since I had a mask and tried to space out but this seemed irresponsible to me. Along with the public health consequences, if there was to be a large covid outbreak linked to a road race we would be back to all virtual for the foreseeable future. Anyways besides that the race was well produced for a small local race. It was manually timed not chipped time but you aren’t PR’ing on this race so it doesn’t matter. The course goes through beautiful countrysides in Amish country. The leaves were just starting to change colors and the starting temperature was perfect for running although it got a little warm but not uncomfortably so by the end. I was considering switching down to the 10K after I signed up for other races this weekend but decided to stick with the half and just take it easy. I am so happy I stuck with the half as all the best parts of the course were past the 10K turnaround. Prior to the 10K turnaround it was very pretty farmland but afterwards is when you are really in Amish country. All these adorable Amish children ring cowbells and cheer you on. There are also tons of amazing and adorable farm animals. I love farm animals (one of the many reasons I am vegetarian and mostly vegan). There were so many cute cows and horses including the most adorable pair of calves I’ve ever seen. My plan of attack for this race was to walk the uphill and run the downhill and just enjoy it knowing I have another half tomorrow. Oh did I tell you it was hilly. There was over 1000 feet of elevation gain for the half. Since I knew I wasn’t PR’ing with this strategy (and if I tried my hardest wasn’t PR’ing) I stopped and took tons of pictures of the adorable animals. The course is an out and back. Normally I’m not the biggest fans of out and back but I saw different animals on the way back that I missed the first time around. The first half is more uphill and second half is more downhill which led to some negative splits and this is the first half marathon where my second half was quite a bit faster than my first. There was aid stations about every mile. They were well stocked but had water bottles so I used a handheld and refilled it a couple times on the course. Along with the usual gels and bananas there was also chips and candy and one stop at mile 5 had bacon but I don’t know how anyone could eat meat while running with these amazing animals. At the finish line you got your medal. Not the biggest fan. It was just the race logo, not distance specific and had this red, white and blue flag ribbon that totally clashed with the color scheme of the race logo. Plus I believe 1 milers got the same medals as marathoners. There was food at the end. Normally it is served inside at the church but due to covid it was served under a tent and there were spaced out chairs. The food included these gross looking beef sandwiches which I obviously wasn’t eating and again can’t believe anyone would eat after seeing those calves. There didn’t appear to be any vegan options but I was starving and no one wants me driving 2 hours home hungry so I did eat some potatoes (that were prepared with butter) and mac n cheese along with a donut and some delicious apple cider and apologized to the cows for eating dairy. I thought it was odd they also had massage tables. I get why you would want a massage after a half or full marathon but seemed like an obvious thing to drop due to covid but as I said some of the participants and the RD didn’t seem as concerned as me about covid. My time was okay. I was not going to do well in race with over 1000 feet of elevation change that I purposely walked half of and stopped to take a bunch of pics but I was quite a few minutes under 3 hours. It was kind of fun to not take a race seriously. I wouldn’t do this for every half as I like trying to PR and pushing my body and willpower to their limits but I may treat a few half marathons a year like this. While I had some concerns about covid protocols (again didn’t affect me as I socially distanced and wore a mask) and didn’t love the swag, I absolutely loved the course. I would definitely run this one again. This is a real hidden gem of a race. I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a smaller, low-key half or full marathon in NY as long as you don’t care about PR’ing. There are also lots of distance options and no time limits so people of all abilities can participate. Looking forward to coming back and seeing my cow and horse friends again!

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2
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The concept of this race sounds fun. A 5 mile trail race lit up by glow sticks. However the execution left a lot to be desired. I was really excited … MORE

The concept of this race sounds fun. A 5 mile trail race lit up by glow sticks. However the execution left a lot to be desired. I was really excited for this as my first night run since Zion at Night but was very disappointed in this race. This was a race that was retired 4 to 5 years ago and then revived this year during 2020 of all years as part of a trail race weekend here in Rochester. This was the first race produced by Rochester Running Company this year and honestly they just didn’t seem prepared. For starters this was initially going to be a 3 day trail race series where you could sign up for the series and get a pint glass or sign up for the individual races with no swag. Since I already had a race Saturday I just signed up for the Friday and Sunday races. However they ended up canceling the Saturday race and changing the series to just Friday and Sunday and adding extra waves to each race as those races were more popular after I already registered. So if I was disorganized and registered later I would have signed up for the series and got the pint glass but since I registered early before the change I didn’t. All these changes also happened over a period of like 10 days since the race was announced about 10 days before this weekend. I feel like they should have done a survey or something for interest instead of just changing their plans on the fly. Packet pickup was easy at their store the day before. Only issue was if you did the series you got one bib but since I registered for the 2 races individually I got two bibs. The bibs were generic and identical other than number so they had to write which bib was for each race. I feel like even if they couldn’t give me the pint glass since I wasn’t a “series runner” (which I guess I understand the reasoning because they may have had limited numbers of them – to be honest I don’t even know why I want the pint glass so much when I won’t use it but it’s the principle), they could have still given me just one bib but anyways. At the race they had glow-stick necklaces and bracelets to give to the runners and that was literally the only swag (except that dang pint glass if you signed up for the series). The start on the course was kind of strange. It was unclear where the start was and most people were lined up by the finish line initially. The start just had a race company banner and we lined up spaced out on a soccer field. There wasn’t as strict of protocols as other races I’ve done during covid but all the runners wore masks and were voluntarily spread out. They said go and we left. This was again a race with no start timing mat but an end timing mat. The race went through trail on the park. The course had a lot of twist and turns they said that this was so you would see many runners around you lit up with their head lamps and glow sticks but in the end it just meant everyone got lost. This race course was so hard to follow. There were little yellow flags that did not reflect well and the occasional glow stick or other sparkly thing. I spent most of the race concentrating on finding the yellow flags which meant a very slow pace and didn’t really get to enjoy it and get in my usual running zone. Almost everyone got lost. Some people got really lost and ended up running a couple extra miles. I ran with another slower runner I met since we didn’t want to run this alone and then the people who got really lost followed us even though they were faster because they really didn’t want to get lost again. The course was also a little technical for night time. I’m pretty sure everyone tripped at some point too. I had two minor falls on some light sandy areas and then tried to pick up my pace at the end and had a big fall. Luckily no major injuries but I have some nice scrapes and bruises on my knees. I was very happy for this race to be over and go through the finish line. My pace was awful. This was my slowest pace on a race I completed since I walked a 5K in high school. The course was definitely tough but not any tougher than the dirt cheap race or the dirty dozen race I ran earlier this year and I actually walked less in this race than those and my pace was still like 3 min/mil slower. The slow pace was mostly due to difficulty following the course not the course itself. At the finish line there was no food. I understand not serving a ton of food or having the usual post-race festivities but a granola bar would have been nice as I was getting hangry and it was past my usual dinner time when this was over. I do feel like this race had potential but I think they need to change the course to something easier to follow and/or have a lot more glowsticks and make the course much clearer. Even though this was cheap, local and on a weekday night so not competing with other races I don’t think I would do it again unless they really modified the race. But honestly I think this race should just go back to retirement. I am now worried about the race tomorrow but at least it is in the daylight so I won’t have to worry as much about getting lost and I know there will be food. I laughed today when I got the email with the instructions for tomorrow’s race that now included a comment about it being “very, very well marked” and included a cell phone number for who to call if you got lost since so many people must have complained about getting lost during this race. Again as my title says I would only recommend this race if you like getting lost and injured.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
2
SWAG
1

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I was looking for a short race this weekend and an excuse to visit Vermont for some hiking now that I am back on the East Coast so was excited … MORE

I was looking for a short race this weekend and an excuse to visit Vermont for some hiking now that I am back on the East Coast so was excited to see RunVermont is starting to hold their fall events with safety precautions. This was the first race they’ve produced since the pandemic and they did a great job. The race is on a farm & vineyard on an island in Lake Champlain. I stayed in Burlington for the weekend which is about half an hour away. For the race you signed up for one of 5 waves each 20 minutes apart. I signed up for the latest wave knowing I was staying 30 mins away. Packet pick up was extremely safe as packets were mailed to you. Definitely the safest and easiest thing for the participants but kind of ballsy with everything going on with the USPS but anyways I got my packet (it sounds like from an email there may have been a few issues using mail). They also mailed very detailed race instructions including recommended arrival time and when to start. After parking they send you for medical screening and temp check. You can also pick up you shirts. Unfortunately the shirts weren’t included and you had to pay extra for them but they were really nice, tech shirts. I love the logo with the farm animals but the color is a little neon for me but I’m glad I paid for the shirt and it will be perfect for my night race on Friday. You then line up in the “corral” which is actually between the vines and then 5 minutes before the race you go to the start line. Lots of very helpful volunteers to help with the process. At the start line you are instructed to stand 6 feet apart. One improvement in an otherwise extremely well produced and safe race would be to put Xs or cones where to stand but all the runners were great about standing apart so it was fine. They modified the race this year. It is normally a 10K. This year it was a 5 mile out and back. This allowed for a shorter section of road to be closed since the road would have to be closed for a number of hours with the multi-wave starts. It was a chilly morning but nice for running. The course was very scenic and one of the prettiest road races I’ve done. You pass by lovely farmland including this farm that looks like it came from a picture along with some beautiful lake views. The course is definitely not flat but it is mostly gradual ups and downs with 2 not very difficult hills. It was nice having the road closed and not having to worry about traffic since most races I’ve done during the pandemic haven’t closed the road. There was one water stop at the turnaround point with water bottles. I didn’t use it since I carried water with me but thanked the very cheerful volunteers. I actually have never run a 5 miler so it was an automatic PR but I still ran very well and was well under my goal of 55 minutes. I was especially happy with my time given I ran a marathon last week and did a strenuous almost 5 hour hike yesterday. At the finish line you there were water bottles, bananas and granola bars. Instead of a medal you get a wine glass with the race date and logo. It is very nice but I’m not sure what I will use it for since I don’t drink wine. Will probably just display it. You also get 2 for 1 wine tasting at the vineyard and they encourage you to visit the vineyard and farm. Since it didn’t open until 11 I didn’t get a chance to visit since I have a long drive home but it looked lovely. This is a little far for me to travel for a 5 miler (or 10K which it usually is) but this race was lovely and I would absolutely recommend it for locals and would definitely run it again if I had another reason to be in town. Vermont is a fun place to visit with great hiking and great vegan and vegetarian food including non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s so even If I don’t run this race again I will definitely do another event with RunVermont. They are putting on a few more races this Fall if anyone is looking for a well-produced, safe race.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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This is an absolutely gorgeous, pancake flat non-technical trail marathon or ultramarathon in Northern Pennsylvania. I stayed in Corning in Southern NY which is about 45 minutes away as I … MORE

This is an absolutely gorgeous, pancake flat non-technical trail marathon or ultramarathon in Northern Pennsylvania. I stayed in Corning in Southern NY which is about 45 minutes away as I had originally planned a small vacation to Corning for Wineglass weekend but when that went virtual I switched my vacation weekend to coincide with this race but there is also closer lodging in Wellsboro PA or you can even camp on site if that is your style. Since the marathon had a late start at 9am I still didn’t have to get up early with the 45 minute drive and Corning is lovely. I was not very impressed with pre-race communication at least via email. However there were many updates on Facebook so make sure you like their page if you are going to run this race. All the other races I did during covid had very detailed procedures but this was mostly vague like don’t congregate too much and we are serving mostly prepackaged food. The marathon is very small (about 30 participants) so even though there weren’t as specific of covid procedures it felt safe enough but I’m not sure how it felt for the more popular ultra distances. The marathon is very simple a 13 mile out and back on a trail then a 0.2 mile run through the parking area to the finish line. The start was kind of odd there was no timing mat at the start at 9am someone just said go and you went. I was a little worried about a 9am start and running in the middle of the day in September but the weather was cool and absolutely perfect. I was also worried an out and back on a trail may be boring but the scenery was absolutely gorgeous. You could easily get lost in thought and it was very peaceful and zen and luckily as it was on one large trail it was very easy to follow and would be hard to actually get lost. For the marathon there were 2 aid stations you pass twice. They were well stocked since it is an ultra race with the usual gels but also candy, chips and sandwiches. I would recommend bringing either a hydration pack or a handheld water bottle as the aid stations are as far as 8 miles apart but they gave you a collapsible cup with your swag and if you don’t need much water you may be okay without one. At 13 miles there is just a sign that says turn around. It wasn’t super big and there was no volunteer there so it could easily be missed. It also didn’t say the distance the turnaround was for. Obviously if you were running the marathon you knew to turn around there and the longer distances to keep going but as the 100 mile runs the course twice I believe I could see getting confused in the middle of the night. You turn around and run 13 miles back where you came from and then do a 0.2 miles loop through the parking lot to complete the marathon distance and there is a timing mat at the end which I’m guessing gives you a time based on how long you are after 9am. The race is pancake flat the change in grade is barely perceptible and the terrain was technically very easy. A marathon is never easy but this course is as easy as possible. Mentally its a little tough without as much crowd and aid support but you pass by some of the ultra runners who all cheer you on. Also it is so pretty it helps. My finishing time was okay but I would have liked to have run under 5:30 but I was happy enough with it especially since I didn’t do any specific training for this race and had no runs more than 16 miles before the race as opposed to the LA marathon where I religiously followed a marathon training guide. If you did train properly this would be a great PR course as it was much easier than the LA marathon. But if you didn’t another great thing about the race is it has practically no time limit. Basically the 100 mile race has a 30 hour time limit and the other races need to finish by then so the marathon pretty much has no time limit (technically it is 27 hours) and the 50 miler and 100K have very generous time limits of 28 and 29 hours respectively. So great course for walkers or beginners. At the finish line you get your medal which is wooden with the race logo and distance. It is a fine medal. Not particularly big or special but also not gaudy. Normally I would want a fancier medal but the simplicity of the medal worked for the simplicity of the race. There was also food. They were making hot food for the ultra runners which wasn’t ready but they had other cold items including chips and hummus my favorite snack which was enough to hold me over until I could get into town for my traditional post-marathon veggie burger. Other swag could be picked up either the day before at a local store or the morning of the race. I got it the day before. It came in a nice simple tote bag that I will definitely use filled with lots of useful goodies including a buff, small flashlight, poncho, the collapsible cup, this cute lady bug cold pack and the best part some maple candies. It also had the shirt which is super ugly. It is a hideous lime green with these weird black stripes over the sleeve. It is also not distance specific and just says pine creek challenge 100 which is kind of cool because if I am brave enough to wear the shirt in public people will think I ran 100 miles. Its actually a decent shirt other than the color and is tech material so I’m sure I will use it. Overall I really enjoyed this race and am so happy to have done a marathon during the pandemic. I did think there were some production issues which is why I took away a star but nothing that got in the way of the overall experience. I’m not sure I will do the marathon again given there are so many other fall marathons I want to do but I could be convinced and would absolutely do it again if we are stuck with limited options again next year. I wish there was a shorter either half marathon or 30K distance so I could run this race regularly. If I ever decide I want to try a 50 mile race I am definitely picking this one given the easy terrain and generous time limit but right now the idea of running nearly twice the distance I ran today sounds pretty awful.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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This is usually the first race in a series of 5 midweek, low-key trail race put on by Yellow Jacket Racing that highlight different trails around Rochester. However this year … MORE

This is usually the first race in a series of 5 midweek, low-key trail race put on by Yellow Jacket Racing that highlight different trails around Rochester. However this year due to Covid it ended up being the third race. It was the only one I had the opportunity to do and it was a ton of fun. As the name says these are dirt cheap. They cost less than 20 bucks and are all about the trail. There is no swag unless you sign up for the series in which you get a shirt. This one is at Mendon Pond Park which is my favorite place for trail running. It is not my favorite place because it is easy. It is about as technical as possible to still be mostly runnable. This race was 4.5 miles through the trails and they definitely chose all the most challenging parts. The race had a rolling start from 4pm to 6pm and you came, picked up your bib, they checked your temp and you went. A little anti-climatic but the RD is there with music making it a bit more fun. The course starts easy enough with some relatively flat, not too technical trails and I had a really fast first mile. Then you get deeper in the woods and it gets technical. Some big hills. One was really steep up and even steeper down. Along with lots of rocks and roots there are also some fallen trees to climb over or under. To top it off a nice stair climb. Miles 3 to 4 were through this muddy, marshy area. Yep there was mud. Pretty much this was nature’s obstacle course race (well other than the stairs which were man made). The mud was kind of fun at first but as I was running very carefully because I didn’t want to get injured before my upcoming marathon I ended up walking through the muddy area after I almost tripped. After the mud it is a small stretch through grass. There wasn’t as much grass in this race and it was mostly connecting trails. Then you head back to the more runnable trails to the finish. At the finish you get some prepackaged food (chips, protein bar, water). No medal but swag isn’t the point of this race. I ran it very carefully so purposely had a pretty slow time. Race was the perfect difficulty to feel really hard-core for finishing but not a complete masochist. The course also had some pretty areas and I even ran past a deer which is not an uncommon finding at Mendon. I look forward to doing the race series next year and hope they can produce their winter trail race series this winter. Highly recommend this race. Even if you aren’t up for a difficult trail race it is short enough you can walk it.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
1

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I am originally from NH and now that I am back on the East Coast I am planning to visit quite a bit as long as covid rates stay low … MORE

I am originally from NH and now that I am back on the East Coast I am planning to visit quite a bit as long as covid rates stay low in both NH and NY therefore I was very happy to hear the Millenium Running in NH is planning to hold all their fall events with social distancing protocols. I was very impressed by the organization of this race and the ability to host a race with over 500 runners safely. Each runner was placed in a wave based on predicted finishing time with faster runners in earlier waves so there is less passing. Each wave is limited to 99 participants and each gets a number 1 to 99 and stands at a cone 6 ft apart based on their number then every few seconds a new runner goes. Each wave is given a time for parking, packet pick up and entering corral to avoid large congregations. Parking was easy but since I was in a later wave I had to park kind of far. Packet pick-up was that morning (or the option of early pick up at the store but I arrived too late the evening before). You got bib and T-shirt. Only issue with shirts and really only production issue is they were out of men’s mediums (I switched to choosing men’s sizes since women’s sizes are too unpredictable) but they had women’s larges left which ended up being a perfect fit for me. I have mixed feelings about the shirt. It is tech and fits nice. I like how the race logo has the elevation profile incorporated in the image but the color is kind of an ugly charcoal grey. The start went quite smooth and I like how they personally introduce each runner before they start adding more excitement to the start line. The weather at the start was gloomy, cool and slightly drizzly which I actually like running in weather like that. The course itself is quite tough and very tough for a road race. They aren’t lying about the hills. It was pretty nonstop up and down for the whole race. This year the race was run the reverse direction as usual so the runners ran against traffic and roads didn’t need to be closed. With the wave starts, spaced out runners, and lots of signage it felt safe running on the open roads. This changed course meant the steepest hills were up front which is better but the finish was not downhill which is worse. There were 3 water stops with small water bottles and the last 2 had small powerade bottles. This seemed very hygienic but not very good for the environment. So many half full water and powerade bottles in the garbage. I hope they get recycled and even though I prefer to run lighter I plan to use my hydration pack next race to reduce the waste. The course went around a pretty lake and the views of the lake were nice. The rest of the race was pretty (it’s hard to find a not pretty 10 mile in NH) but not as pretty as a New England race in the Fall. The hills were tough and this had probably the second toughest hills I dealt with on a road race after the Chinatown Firecracker 10K but after those mountain trail races I can’t give it a 5 star in difficulty (but it may be that difficult for exclusive road runners). About halfway through it started to rain hard and I no longer liked the weather (I can’t always expect perfect weather now that I am out of LA). Most of the race was road but the last mile was on the rail trail. Normally I’d like some easy, non techinical trail at the end of the race but not in the rain as it was muddy and hard to avoid puddles. Also the last mile was a slight incline so it was a tough end. At the finish line they called out all the runners as they crossed another nice personal touch. Given the hills and weather I was happy to finish under 2 hours. At the finish line there was water, powerade, fruit cups, coconut bars, bananas and apples. You were also given your medal. The medal was amazing. It was huge and by far my largest medal from a non half or full marathon. However it didn’t have the year but from what I saw online was a different medal than last year. I will forgive RDs this year for not putting the date on the medal since they may not have been 100% sure the race would happen when they ordered them. This was not the most pleasant race with the rain which was not the race’s fault but was very organized and felt very safe. I’m not sure in a year with multiple races to choose from that I would choose to visit NH for this race alone but if I had another reason to be in town the week of the race I would absolutely run it again. I hope Millenium Running can keep holding their events like this as I am hoping to run the New England Half and Manchester City Full. But their cancellation policy is more than fair offering credit to any future Millenium Running event so low risk to sign up for their races if you are local or visit NH a lot.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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I like the concept of this race, part trail and part road, and was very happy Yellow Jacket Racing (YJR) was able to produce this race this year and especially … MORE

I like the concept of this race, part trail and part road, and was very happy Yellow Jacket Racing (YJR) was able to produce this race this year and especially happy they added an extra day and extra spots since I hadn’t originally signed up for the race since the original date was last March. I chose the 3 miler because I was on call this weekend and had to round in the hospital after the race (and after a shower of course). Like all YJR events I have done this race was impeccably, carefully, and safely produced. The corral system was the exact same as for the Shoreline Half marathon. Only production issue is the direction link on the race website didn’t take me to the right place but when I googled Stewart Lodge I got right there. This is at Mendon Ponds Park which is my favorite place in Rochester for trail running and hiking. The first mile was pretty nice. It was about half a mile of mostly gradual downhill, fast road racing. Then there is about a half mile of non techinical, pretty flat trail. The second mile is where the fun begins and by fun I mean about half a mile of more technical stuff starting off with what pre-covid would have been a very intimidating hill for me but after these trail races I’ve done on ski mountains was nothing to me…okay it wasn’t nothing I did hike instead of run a bit of it but I wasn’t intimidated by it. Then there is some more technical downhill sections which are quite fast. It is helpful to have trail shoes for this section as there are some rocks and roots but if you don’t have trail shoes just be careful on this section. The technical section is quite short so not worth getting trail shoes for this race alone. After the technical trail you are back on the road for about another half a mile. This part is mostly slight inclines and declines. It felt like there was more up than down but nothing to bad. It got kind of hot by now and the road wasn’t very shaded so that was the most difficult thing about this section (although heat shouldn’t be a problem in March when the race usually takes place). The final mile is where the fun ends and my least favorite part of the course. It was mostly all on grass and most of it slight uphill. I have learned that I do not really like running on grass. I got paged and took a call on an uphill section that seemed particularly annoying to run on and just walked it. I do have to say though the grass and the course were very well marked. I feel like the last mile was kind of a cop out mile to make the mileage fit exactly. I would have preferred a more interesting 3ish mile race on more real trail instead even if the distance wasn’t exact. You are then back on the road for a very short section for a downhill finish. I am enjoying the smaller city running culture and the RD now knows who I am and cheered me on as I crossed the finish line and gave a personal cheer to most of the other runners as they crossed as well. My time wasn’t great mostly because I answered a page during race but even though it was slower than all but one of my 5Ks, this was technically another PR for me as it was my first 3 mile race. For swag, you get a nice, cotton T-shirt and a bag of prepackaged food at the end. There is no medal. I love medals and keep all my medals even for 5Ks but to be fair I don’t really need a medal every time I run a 3 to 5 mile race. The race was also pretty cheap so while there wasn’t a ton of swag, the swag seemed fair for the price. Overall I loved the trail, liked the road, and disliked the grass. This is a good race for those curious about trail running but not yet ready to make the commitment. Difficulty would depend on your experience. I would have found this race quite difficult 6 months ago before covid forced me to learn the joys of trail running but it is probably quite an easy race for an experienced trail runner. As I am somewhere in the middle I rated its difficulty in the middle. Personally I’d kind of prefer a fast road race or a technical trail race but the mix was fun (without the grass). It wasn’t my favorite course but I did like the first 2 miles and I’d do it again if I didn’t have other plans and would choose the 5 miler if I weren’t on call.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
2

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After the Battle at Bristol Mountain I was a little hesitant to sign up for another race at a ski resort but as this was the only real race I … MORE

After the Battle at Bristol Mountain I was a little hesitant to sign up for another race at a ski resort but as this was the only real race I could find in a 100 mile radius of Rochester this weekend I decided to check out the website and while it was up a mountain it had a much more forgiving elevation profile so decided to sign up and I am glad I did. For the race you signed up for a certain time frame. There were 2 time options for the 4 miler and 2 for the 8 miler. I decided to sign up for the later 8 miler slot as I hadn’t decided whether I wanted to drive to the race in the morning or get a hotel (it is about a 2 hour drive to Ellicottville from Rochester). In the end I decided on a hotel which was great as I was able to spend Saturday hiking in nearby Allegany State Park and Ellicottville was a cute little town and I found a place with vegan buffalo wings. Packet pick up was on race day and you were assigned a time slot to pick up your packet based on your race time. Packet included a really nice and soft (but not tech) shirt, a neck gaiter featuring the race company’s logo and some tickets to some activities at the resort. The start was a rolling start where you could start anytime in a 15 minute time slot but most people started at the beginning and you stood on X’s 6 ft apart and a new racer started every 5 seconds. Course was tough but doable. Terrain was mostly non technical trail. There were a few loose rocks so I’m glad I had trail shoes but they weren’t completely necessary. The first 3 miles were mostly uphill with a few downhill sections. There were some steep sections but at most there was a 20% grade and most of the uphill was more gradual than that. If you had more experience with trail and mountain running you could probably run it all or at least most. I do not have much experience so I power hiked a lot of the uphill. It was a tough run but not a terribly tough hike. The good thing about a mountain race is what comes up must come down so the last mile is downhill. It’s a little steep to take complete advantage of the downhill as you have watch your footing but is completely runnable. For the 8 miler you do this twice. It was a little demoralizing as the fast 8 milers in the wave ahead of me caught up with me just before my second lap and headed to the finish when I had to do it again. However I have to say trail runners are the nicest people in the universe and all of them told me good job in a genuinely nice way as they passed me. The 4 mile loop wasn’t too awful so I didn’t mind repeating it again. There were aid stations at the 2 mile mark which you passed twice and the 4 mile mark with cups of water and Gatorade. At the end you get a bag of food and a wooden medal. There were lots of treats in the bag (clif bar, apple, banana and muffin). It was a tough race but not “you have to be crazy to run this” tough. I rated it as 5 stars in difficulty as it was definitely the second toughest terrain I have raced on but it was a cake walk compared to Bristol. I wasn’t very fast but reached my goal time of under 2 hours and technically it was a PR since this is my first 8 mile race. I really enjoyed this race and loved the challenge. I am now open to more mountainous and challenging trail races as long as there aren’t 30 to 40 degree grades like at Bristol. I’m not sure if this race will happen again or was just a covid pop up but I would do it again and will definitely run other events with this company even if it is a 2 hour drive.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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I have no idea if this race was really this great or only seemed this great because it was my first long-distance road race in exactly 5 months (if there … MORE

I have no idea if this race was really this great or only seemed this great because it was my first long-distance road race in exactly 5 months (if there is a silver lining to this pandemic it is that ordinary things that we used to take for granted become extraordinary), but I was so happy to be running this race. I was also so lucky to be running this race. I signed up for this race last winter (pre-covid) once I took a job in Rochester as it was initially scheduled my first weekend in Rochester and thought it would be fun to do. Then covid happened, registration for the race was paused and only those who were signed up already were allowed to do it due to NY state group size regulations. Also luckily the race was pushed back 1 month as I would have had to self-quarantine during the initial date. If I could give an extra star for production with all the planning and hoops that had to be jumped through with NY state park restrictions I would. The RD had to call me to confirm I was not living in CA (when I registered I didn’t have a place in NY yet so used my CA address) and I had to send my lease as proof. I have absolutely no issues with this and understand why NY state has these restrictions but this is just an example of everything that went into this race to produce it safely and in accordance with local guidelines. Packet pick up was outside fleet feet the day before and very easy. Although they also had day of drive through packet pick up if you couldn’t make it though it was discouraged to do it. Packet included a tech tank top. I liked that they gave a tank top you can actually use while running in the summer. The design was nice and simple but I wish it wasn’t white since it’s a little see through. The start of the race was like a well oiled machine. Runners were assigned to waves in groups of 15. Waves were assigned based on when you registered and they tried to put people who appeared to be running together i.e. same last name in same wave. This seemed like a very fair way to do it. There were 3 corrals set up. 1 with temp check, one to wait and one at start and every 3 minutes a new wave went through each corral. The corrals had markings where to stand 6 ft apart. I really liked this start while it was a little complicated and you had to time things perfectly, it was exciting to start with a group even if it was a small one and I liked it more than the rolling one hour time window approach most of the other races I’ve done during covid have used. The course starts in Hamlin state park and the first 3 miles are through a pretty wooded street. I will warn you there is very little shade and it can be hot. It has been an extremely hot and humid summer here. We were lucky today wasn’t as hot and humid as it had been but it was still hotter and more humid than I’d prefer. Then you leave the park and run the next 7 to 8 miles through farmland. As I was running past fields of corn and farmhouses this is where I realized I am not in Los Angeles anymore. I actually really enjoyed the lovely farmland and while it definitely didn’t have the energy of a big city race, it was very picturesque and serene. For this part of the race you ran on the shoulder of the road and it was open to traffic but it seemed very safe as there was barely any traffic (again did I tell you I am not in LA anymore). There was only one water stop at about mile 6 so you had to carry water (this is not normally the case and just due to covid and they warned us about this ahead of time). I had my handheld water bottle. I appreciated the volunteer at the water station filled my bottle up as they could only give out water bottles and I thought I was going to have to grab a water bottle and fumble around with it to fill my handheld. While there were limited other volunteers I appreciated the ones there and they were at all the right places to prevent you from getting lost especially since some of the race I was running by myself. Also one of the volunteers recognized me from Bristol mountain. Another perk of being in a smaller city, people are already starting to know me 2 weeks into the Rochester running scene. At around mile 11 you go back into the park and this is the prettiest part of the course where you run along a paved trail right next to the beach. Then you run to the finish line where you are given a bag with some packaged goodies (bars, chips, banana) and your medal and a water bottle. It felt good to actually get a medal at the end of the race. Medal is cute with a seagull and the race logo but not year or distance specific (to be fair after all these race cancellations I know now why a race may not want to put the year on their medals). I hope this doesn’t mean there are the same medals every year but that wouldn’t stop me from running this again. I also really liked the course elevation profile. It was relatively flat (especially for the Rochester area) but not pancake flat. There was no true hills but some little rollers and some inclines and declines which is how I like a race. I was overall happy with my time. I didn’t have high expectations given the heat and knowing I was a little rusty from not running as many road races as usual but I achieved my goal of under 2:30 and was nowhere near a DNF with the 4 hour time limit. If the weather somehow was cool during a normal year with regular racing and more aid stations this could be a PR course but it is often hot so I wouldn’t plan on it for a PR course. Normally there is a barbecue at the end (with vegetarian options !) but that obviously couldn’t happen this year. I have no idea if this is actually as amazing of a race as it seemed today but that being said it is definitely a well-produced, nice local race with a great elevation profile. I will definitely run this again.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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So I knew this race was going to be brutal but not DNF because I couldn't finish 10 miles in 4 hours brutal. This is one of the toughest trail … MORE

So I knew this race was going to be brutal but not DNF because I couldn’t finish 10 miles in 4 hours brutal. This is one of the toughest trail races you will find and you basically go up and down a mountain at a ski resort and it is a battle. I had just moved to Rochester about 3 weeks ago (so I am post the 14 day quarantine period) and was very excited that Yellow Jacket Racing just announced they were having their first live event since the covid pandemic started which was this. When initially looking at races in Rochester this was not on my “to run” list as I really didn’t want to tackle going up and down a mountain but with so many events canceled and nothing else to choose from I thought why not. I knew the half was ambitious but I am hoping to level up in half fanatics so thought I’d try it. The half is the 10 mile course + the 5K course and you have to finish the 10 mile course in 4 hours to continue (24 min/mile) which sounds easy enough as I normally run 10 to 12 min/miles and even in trail races have always maintained under 15 min miles but man was I was wrong. I’ll start with production and logistics. This course was amazingly well produced especially given how strict NY state is with covid. It was done very similarly to Zion at Night. There was an outdoor packet pick up at Fleet Feet Thursday which was very smooth and you signed a covid waiver. They also had race day pick up if you couldn’t make it. You have to bring you own water and I used a hydration pack (a must as you want your hands free so I do not recommend a handheld water bottle). The race had a rolling start from 7:30 to 8:30am. They checked your temp before you start. Again a little bit of an anti-climatic start but I came at 7:30 and everyone was lined up 6 ft apart and excited for real racing. The first part of the course is uphill on gravel. This was too steep to run on but I power hiked at an under 20 min/mil pace and was feeling good. Once you get to the top after about 1.5 miles it is downhill. However these are skiing trails and are pretty much untrimmed grass which is not something I practiced running on. I was very impressed with how well the course was marked and how easy it was to follow given we weren’t running on actual trails. I actually thought it was quite fun to run downhill through the grass but not the fastest surface but maintaining an under 15 min/mil pace on the downhill so not too bad. Then you get to this killer hill that had grades of 30 to 40% and I pretty much died. Took about 30 mins to get up the hill but eventually you get to the top and there is an aid station. The aid station is well stocked with gels, bananas, bars, chips, and candy. My only complaint about the aid stations is they had water bottles. I understand how this is better for hygiene purposes but it would have been hard to fill up your hydration pack and I wish they had a system like Zion at Night did. I just grabbed a water bottle and stored it in a pouch and drank from the water bottle when I was hiking and didn’t need my hands and used the hydration pack while I was running or the steep parts where I used my hands. The next part is really nice and is about a mile or so of more typical trail in the woods and is shaded. FYI most of the hills are not shaded and it was hot. Then there is a downhill which was very steep too steep to really run on. Then you get to this absolutely killer hill that never seemed to end around mile 7. Yikes. I made it to the aid station at mile 8 (it is the same one) and had 41 minutes left before I would be DNF and thought I can do this. The next mile was downhill. Again really steep but I did it in about 20 mins. Then there was a giant, steep hill again and I realized I wasn’t going to make it. At that point since I knew I wouldn’t make the time limit I just enjoyed myself (as best you could hiking up a hill with 35% grade) and chatted/commiserated with the other runners. Finally I made it to the top and the rest was downhill. I knew I was too slow and even if I had been fast enough I don’t think I would have wanted to do those extra 3.1 miles. I still made it to the finish line and was proud of the 10 miles I did. I was hoping they would give me a 10 mile time instead of a DNF but sadly they did not (it’s okay it’s my fault I thought I could do this). But to be fair I don’t really think I want anyone to see my pace. At the end you get a goody bag with food and if you finish on time a medal which sadly I didn’t get and man it would have felt good to get a medal at a finish line (again my fault not the RDs). Even though I got a DNF I had a great time meeting local runners and participating in a real event. I wasn’t planning to do this race pre-covid and I don’t think I would do again unless there are still limited races next summer but I’m glad I tried today and did it once. If I did it again I definitely would do the 10 miler or less. I’m not sure going up and down practically vertical hills is for me but if it is for you, you will love this race. There is normally a 50K as well (it was cancelled this year) and I can’t imagine the kinds of masochists who would want to run that loop 3 times but to each their own. Overall not my most successful race but a very memorable one.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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I am so happy Vacation Races is being creative to work with local guidelines to produce safe races at this time. This was a small group trail half marathon. How … MORE

I am so happy Vacation Races is being creative to work with local guidelines to produce safe races at this time. This was a small group trail half marathon. How it worked is runners ran in waves of up to 50 and signed up for specific times over the course of 2 nights. The times were from 7pm to 7am. So if you are a morning person you can choose the early morning or night person the evening or if you want to save money there was a discount for the middle of the night. I choose 8pm on night 2 (Saturday night). This was a good time as it was light for the beginning and most of the race but was dark at the end so got to experience running at night. There was no expo. You just parked within a half hour of your start time and go to a booth to pick up your bib and shirt. The shirt was really nice, technical and perfect size. They also had another booth selling some VR items and porta potties near the start line. With wave starts bib pick up was smooth and there was no lines for the porta potties. It was also so exciting to see an actual start and finish line. The start was a little anti-climactic a staff member just scans your bib and you go with no official start (you can pretty much start anytime within a half hour before or after your selected start time). The race itself was beautiful but quite tough. I’m glad I ran some of it before dark because unfortunately there were clouds so there was not as many stars as I’d hope (not VR’s fault). Running in the scenery around Zion was absolutely amazing. I was not very prepared for this race as it was announced only 2 weeks ago and had mostly done road races and had pretty much only been training on the road since trails had been closed in LA for most of the past few months. The altitude change was also difficult. I had only arrived the day before so wasn’t really acclimated. I did a run/walk strategy and absolutely loved the race even though it was my slowest half marathon by 30 minutes. It was very peaceful and serene and the exact opposite of my last race the LA marathon (but I still loved both of them). There were limited aid stations. I used a handheld water bottle and the aid stations were spread out perfectly just when I needed water. It was definitely a trail race and had some technical elements but nothing crazy. I didn’t have trail shoes since again it was announced 2 weeks in advance and I had been a mostly road runner and I was fine but it probably would be better with trail shoes if you had them. The elevation gain was very gradual. If you were an experienced trail runner and acclimated to the altitude you could run the whole race. The course was a loop and the finish line was where you started. The medals weren’t ready yet but I appreciated they gave a Zion Half Keychain at the end. You also got a box of snacks I was happy to see all the snacks were vegan (they were also all gluten-free). And then you just drove out. One issue is there are no restaurants open late in the area (not sure if this is normally true or just due to reduced hours from covid). I thought about getting take out and heating it up but ended up getting food from the Taco Bell in Hurricane which was pretty much the only option but I do love Taco Bell. Overall I absolutely loved this race and decided I want to get better at trail racing and would love to do more of vacation races trail races in the future. In terms of social distancing, I felt as safe if not safer during this race than I do running in my neighborhoods or the local trails by me that recently opened. There were aspects of this format I liked better (no wait time for bibs and porta potties) and aspects I liked worse (no expo, less aid stations, no spectators) but it was definitely much better than a virtual race and I hope Vacation Races produces more of these (maybe on the East Coast since I am moving back East in 2 weeks…hint, hint) and other race companies consider similar formats. I am also very excited to run a Vacation Race in the future and get the full experience when things are normal and excited to get my medal in the mail!

FYI as a post-race update I did receive the medal in the mail and it is absolutely beautiful and as big as my marathon medals!

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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This was the best (and hardest) 26.2 miles of my life. What an amazing race seeing all the sights in LA! It is basically a running tour of the best … MORE

This was the best (and hardest) 26.2 miles of my life. What an amazing race seeing all the sights in LA! It is basically a running tour of the best of LA. There was tons of pre-race communication. Almost too much, although the frequent updates were much appreciated this year with the uncertainty of the coronavirus. They email a nice final instructions packet that has all the info you need. The expo is at the convention center in DTLA on Friday and Saturday. Unless you pay for the VIP hospitality you need to pick up bib before race day. Take the metro to the convention center if you can as parking is very expensive (the expo line goes from santa monica right to the convention center). The expo was big and crowded as expected. There was a line to get in but once in bib and packet pick up was smooth. Bib numbers are assigned beforehand and you just line up by number. My Conqur LA challenge sticker was right on my bib making that part easy. Then you pick up shirt and gear check bag. Shirt is nice and tech quality but it’s sized a little small. The expo had all the typical booths and you could get any race day needs you forgot. There were lots of things to try at the expo but very little samples to go home with. The only thing I came away with that I didn’t pay for besides the shirt was a small clif bar. For race day parking you can park at santa monica and take a shuttle to dodger stadium or you can park at dodger stadium but there is no shuttle back. This is really my one major complaint about the race. I live really close to Dodger stadium (and therefore very far from santa monica) so I parked at Dodger stadium but getting back there to get my car was a mess after the race. If you are coming from out of town I’d recommend staying in Santa Monica. After reading other reviews I thought I would add that I woke up at 3am and arrived at the stadium around 4am. While I had to wait at dodger stadium for many hours it seems worth it to be up so early as there was no traffic getting in and parking there was super easy for me. Lining up for the race was not the most organized but seemed about as organized as possible for a race with >20,000 people. Try to get a seeded corral if you can. The open corral was sort of a free for all but it moved surprisingly fast and I was happy to be at the start line only 20 minutes after the first runner started. The course is difficult and crowded but absolutely amazing. Luckily it is net downhill but most of the downhill is in the first 2 miles and last 3 so there is a lot of uphill in the middle. There are only 2 bigger hills in the first few miles downtown but lots of slight inclines throughout the race. The course is designed to go through as many landmarks as possible. It starts at Dodger stadium, then Chinatown, then DTLA, then Echo Park and then goes through my usual hangout spots Silver Lake and Los Feliz so it was fun to run past all my favorite cafes and coffee shops (I didn’t realize how many coffee shops I love in Silverlake until I literally ran past all of them). The next part was the most fun for me. I generally avoid places like Hollywood, the Sunset Strip and Beverly Hills so this was actually my first time after nearly 6 years of living in the LA area that I saw Grauman’s Chinese Theater and Chateau Marmont and my first time going down Rodeo drive. It was fun to pretend to be a cheesy tourist. After Rodeo drive the course is a little more boring but that is where the spectators come out. The last 3 miles of the course through santa monica are downhill and super fast so save your energy. I was able to run pretty much the entire last 3 miles. Unless you are a really fast runner just walk the inclines in mile 22 and save your energy. I saw so many people struggling to keep running form that mile only for me to fly past them on the downhill. The course ends along Ocean Ave in Santa Monica. There was plenty of course support with aid stations almost every mile and plenty of spectators giving out goodies. However the aid stations were kind of slow handing out drinks but I think it may have been due to the last minute changes due to coronavirus. At the finish line you get your medal which is really nice. It isn’t the biggest or flashiest medal but it is beautiful and classic. If you do the Conqur LA challenge (Santa Monica Classic, Pasadena Half and LA marathon) you get an additional medal which is huge. Finish line had typical food and water. I skipped the finish festival since it was packed and I don’t drink alcohol so can’t comment. Getting back to Dodger stadium was a pain. I took the train to my favorite vegan burger joint on the East side of town for a post race meal and then took an uber back but apparently the uber was supposed to enter at a different gate than the one we entered in the morning so it was an adventure figuring out where to drop me off. We eventually figured it out and my uber driver ended up getting a huge tip from me (it may have been nice if how to drop someone back to their car at dodger stadium was mentioned in the instructions or even nicer if they provided shuttles back). Aside from the mess getting back to dodger stadium, overall this was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend it. While I did manage to PR (it was really only because this was my second marathon and I avoided the mistakes of my first) this is not a great PR course. There is a ton of weaving around crowds and it’s almost impossible to get the tangents right so my GPS said I ran 27 miles. Also the course is pretty difficult. So don’t run this race to PR instead run the race to enjoy all that LA has to offer. If you were only to run one marathon in your life this would be a great choice given how awesome it is. Plus is it one of the biggest, if not the biggest, marathon in the US without qualification or lottery to enter. I am moving out of LA this summer which means I won’t be able to make this a yearly race but I am hoping to come back and run it again in 5 years for the 40th anniversary.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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Overall I really enjoyed this race but I'm not sure it was worth the price. I decided to run the race because it was focused on women and benefited a … MORE

Overall I really enjoyed this race but I’m not sure it was worth the price. I decided to run the race because it was focused on women and benefited a great charity. I chose the 10K because it was 2 weeks before the LA marathon and I didn’t want to risk getting injured in a half. I thought the price was kind of high for a 10K. For instance it was $10 to $20 more than the Santa Monica Classic and the LA Chinatown Firecracker 10Ks I had done previously this year and they were bigger and a little better produced. Since some of the money went to charity it made me feel a little better about the price tag. Parking was very easy and free and they gave clear instructions. Bib pick up also easy. This was a pretty small event compared to other runs I have done which made things smoother. I really liked the design of the shirt. It was tech quality and had a simple design with the name and date of the race on the front and an inspirational quote on the back. However the shirts ran about a size too large. They did offer to swap sizes but I don’t really mind my shirts being big. The race was nice through the park and across the dam and then you turn back and go over the dam again and a shorter run through the park to the finish line. But after having just ran across that dam twice for the SRLA 30K mentally it was tough to do it two more times. Something about that dam it just seems endless and has a slight incline so it is deceptively harder than it looks and there is no shade but luckily the temps were perfect today. One side of the dam has really pretty views of the mountains and the other side has ugly industrial views. I was happy with my finish time while I didn’t PR, I did run my second fastest 10K time. I actually finished third in my age group. I was disappointed because the website says there were age group prizes but the final instructions were that only top 3 overall got prizes. I understand it’s a little excessive for such a small race to give so many age group prizes but please change the website. Since the field is small this is a good race for moderately fast runners to place in the top 3. The finisher medal was fine with the WRLA logo, year and location. But they were not distance specific and the ribbon was plain. It was a good medal for a shorter distance race but I would have been disappointed with it if I ran the half. I enjoyed that they had free topo chico and cold brew oat milk lattes at the end (literally my 2 favorite drinks). They also had a food truck and a Papusa stand to purchase food from along with the usual free bananas, oranges and bagels. There were some other interesting booths to stop at. I’m happy I did the 10K over the half marathon since the half marathon didn’t really add anything except 6.9 miles since it was essentially running the 10K twice with a slightly further turn around spot and the shirts and medals were the same. Overall this was a good race and I probably would have given it 5 stars if it were $20 cheaper. I liked it enough to sign up for the 5K in Oxnard in May since I was planning to do a 5K that weekend anyway. I am moving out of California this summer but if I were staying I would do the 5K or 10K again but I don’t think I would do the half unless it fit perfectly into my marathon training.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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This race is a challenge but it is worth it. Unfortunately I had to work the day before so I couldn't pick up my packet saturday and get the noodles. … MORE

This race is a challenge but it is worth it. Unfortunately I had to work the day before so I couldn’t pick up my packet saturday and get the noodles. However sunday went very smooth. I arrived early and found a $5 parking lot right nearby. Bib pick up was easy but it likely took longer if you showed up later. The T-shirt is my absolute favorite race shirt with year of the rat theme. Somehow they made the rat cute. You also got a drawstring bag with rice and crackers. There were a ton of vendors and I got so much free stuff (clif bar, cold brew, energy drink, green juice, etc) that the race practically paid for itself. The start is super fun with the dragon dancers. I do wish they at least had suggested waves or something telling walkers to go to the back because there were people walking in rows of three or four that I had to run around in the beginning. The first 2.5 miles of this race are pretty much straight uphill in Elysian park. I did not do enough hill training for this race and had to walk a small portion of the uphill. You are rewarded with some beautiful views of LA and also pass by Dodger stadium. The next mile is amazing and you fly downhill. The rest of the race is mostly downhill but there are 2 smaller hills in last 3 miles. In some ways these were mentally worse than the beginning because you thought you were done with hills. This was definitely the most challenging road 10K course I have done. But it was very rewarding. I would