My Profile

@seagroves87

Rochester, NY Raving since 2020 50 States hopeful/finisher, Half Fanatics #18410 active 4 hours, 17 minutes ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):
  • Rave race:

    Los Angeles Marathon 2020

  • Race that's calling my name:

    New York City Marathon, Zion Ultras

  • I run because:

    Running changed my life! 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 Races

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

50 States Map
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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Future Races

Personal Bests (12)

Race Distance Location Date Result
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
4.5 Miler Honeoye Falls, NY Oct 18, 2020 1:06:04
5K Los Angeles, CA Dec 14, 2019 28:40
3 Miler Henrietta, NY Aug 22, 2020 36:03

Future Races (15)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
5K Henrietta, NY Nov 28, 2020
Half Marathon Mahwah, NJ Dec 5, 2020
1 Miler Londonderry, NH Jan 1, 2021
Half Marathon Fairmont, WV Jan 9, 2021
Marathon Baton Rouge, LA Jan 17, 2021
Half Marathon Melbourne, FL Feb 7, 2021
Marathon Las Vegas, NV Feb 27, 2021
50K Virgin, UT Apr 10, 2021
Half Marathon Wilmington, DE Apr 25, 2021
5K Canton, OH May 1, 2021
Half Marathon Canton, OH May 2, 2021
15K Utica, NY Jul 11, 2021
19K Seneca Falls, NY Jul 17, 2021
Half Marathon Randolph, NY Sep 25, 2021
Marathon Miami, FL Feb 6, 2022

Past Races (40)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
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

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 though 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

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

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 Thursday 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

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

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

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

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

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

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 star and 2 stars 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 prices. 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 not recommend it to those looking to PR or for someone’s first 10K. I was happy with my finishing time. I didn’t come close to a PR but I ran it in my average, usual 10K time and this is not an average race in terms of difficulty. The medal is nice and double sided with the cute little rat. Highly recomend for those who are looking for a challenge and love hills. Overall very fun event and even if you don’t love hills as long as you don’t mind walking some of the uphill you will enjoy it.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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This is the perfect training run for the LA marathon. This is a students run LA event (which is a great program) and most of the runners are students but … MORE

This is the perfect training run for the LA marathon. This is a students run LA event (which is a great program) and most of the runners are students but it also open to the public. I was planning to do an 18ish mile training run this weekend as part of my LA marathon training and saw this race advertised on the LA marathon facebook page and thought it would be a fun way to do it. It was a pretty no frills race but it was well organized and a good price for the distance. It doesn’t cost much more than some 10Ks in the LA area. As a result it isn’t the most scenic or have the best swag (you do get a cotton t-shirt and a small finisher medal). Parking was a mess, arrive earlier than 6:30 because you don’t want to be like me and have to walk a mile to your car after the race. The course was a 9 mile loop that you run twice and it was pretty challenging with some hills and inclines especially the dam at the end of the loop. I overheard someone say this race is harder than the marathon which I hope is true because while I had no problems finishing the race, my pace was a little slower than my goal. This was also a great event for all the students involved. While it wasn’t the most exciting or scenic race I’ve done, if you are training for the LA marathon this is a good race to keep you on track. I would recommend signing up for the Pasadena Half and then this 30K to keep you on top of your training.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
2
SWAG
2

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I ran this race as part of the beach cities challenge. Overall it was a fine race and I had a good time but the race didn't seem prepared for … MORE

I ran this race as part of the beach cities challenge. Overall it was a fine race and I had a good time but the race didn’t seem prepared for the number of runners. Pre-race communication was well-organized and getting to the expo/race was easy. I went to the expo and ran the 1-miler on Saturday as part of the Cowabunga challenge. Expo was well-organized and had a decent amount of stuff to look through. Getting my bibs was easy except the person handing them out didn’t know how to give my Cowabunga challenge stamp so I had to go to solutions. The 1-miler was a silly but fun run on the beach. It turns out I have no idea how to run on sand so it was slower than all 13 of my miles on Sunday but fun way to get 2 extra medals. On Sunday, I parked in a public parking lot off Main St. since I planned to stay in HB during the day for the game. Parking was easy and cost $15 for the whole day probably less if you only stayed for the race. There were also free parking lots with shuttles off site. The start of the race was kind of a mess. There were self-seeded waves instead of assigned corrals and participants just seemed to be randomly choosing waves. I chose the 2:16 to 2:45 wave and finished in that time frame. However I spent the first 5 miles weaving around walkers. I have no issues with people walking a half marathon just please go to the correct wave. You are not finishing in under 2:15 if you are walking the entire race and shouldn’t start in a wave ahead of me. The course was fine there were pretty views of the beach and bolsa chica reserve but I thought it got a little monotonous mainly just running along the PCH. The course should have had plenty of water/aid stations. However even though I was right in the middle of the pack, they ran out of Nuun (electrolyte drink) at most of the aid stations which means half the half-marathoners didn’t get it. I felt it and had some hand cramping/numbness that occurs when I need electrolytes. When I finished the race they were almost out of food so I’m guessing about 1/3 the half marathoners and a good amount of marathoners didn’t get food at the finish area. If the aid stations were properly stocked this would have been a good PR race since it is flat. The medal at the end was fantastic with the wooden surfboard and doing the Cowabunga challenge I ended up with 3 medals from the weekend. The shirt was also a very nice long sleeve tech shirt with a cute design. The only issue with the shirt was it did not differentiate half from full marathoners so I could see marathoners being disappointed with it. You also got a cute tote bag. It was fun staying in HB to watch the Superbowl and hang out at the beach afterwards. This had potential to be a good/great race if there were seeded corrals and a more organized start and if the aid station/finish line had enough food/Nuun. The races sold out and there were more runners than prior years so I just think they weren’t prepared for the number of runners. Hopefully they will fix this next year. I can’t wait to get my sea turtle beach city medal in OC in May

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
2
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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I participated in this race as part of the Conqur LA series and it turned out to be one of my favorite halfs! The race was extremely well-organized starting with … MORE

I participated in this race as part of the Conqur LA series and it turned out to be one of my favorite halfs! The race was extremely well-organized starting with pre-race instructions and emails. I liked that there was remote packet pick-up at several locations instead of an expo. I had to go to the mall anyways so it was very convenient to get my bib along with some shopping. If you spend less than an hour at the Westfield Century City parking is free so I shopped quickly. I got to the Rosebowl very early about 5:15 and parking was pretty smooth but there were already a lot of cars there so I wasn’t as close to the start as I thought I would be. I was very impressed by the organization of the corrals and the start of the race. I am a middle of the pack runner and was put in corral 4 out of 8 which seemed right. Other than a few people who snuck in the wrong corral everyone was running a similar pace to me and the corrals were sent off in waves so I didn’t feel like I was constantly having to run around walkers like I have in all the other large halfs I’ve done. I really enjoyed the race course. Pasadena isn’t super exciting but it is super pretty. The course had the right amount of water stops and all but the first had Nuun (electrolyte drink) and there was also honeystinger on the course. The views of the mountains from the hill were amazing. The worst part was definitely the uphill around the Rosebowl but it was worth it for the downhill finish. My last mile was one of my fastest. As a sports fan I loved ending at the 50 yard line in the Rosebowl such a cool experience. Overall the course was nicely challenging with the hills but manageable. I would recommend studying the course elevation and making a game plan about when to conserve and when to expend energy running if you want to PR which I did. The race is very expensive for a half but it was so well-organized so the price is understandable. However the Swag wasn’t the best. The medal is really nice but the T-shirt was just fine and not a tech shirt. There really wasn’t any other swag. The post-race festivities also didn’t seem as exciting as some races but I usually just leave and get brunch afterwards anyways. There are also free photos and free parking which is a plus. I would definitely recommend this race and if I wasn’t moving out of California this summer would definitely run it again. I may come back to visit LA on an MLK weekend to run it again

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2

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I believe this is sadly the last year for the New Year's Race so this review probably won't help anyone but in case it comes back. Overall this is a … MORE

I believe this is sadly the last year for the New Year’s Race so this review probably won’t help anyone but in case it comes back. Overall this is a very fun way to start the New Years. I actually love night races since I am not a morning person so I am always happy to find evening races. I did the 9.3 challenge. I wish there was an option for just the 10K but the 9.3 challenge was fun. The race is in DTLA by city hall which is always a fun and convenient place since there is a metro stop. The 5K was first and I had a goal to run under 30 mins while saving as much energy for the 10K as possible. Somehow I timed myself perfectly and ran 29:59 exactly. It was annoying to wait another hour for the 10K but I understand they want to make this event walker friendly so it is nice that people of all levels of experience can complete this challenge. I was a little tired from the 5K so I ran the 10K at a comfortable pace and had a mediocre finish time but I would be happy with my overall time for a 15K. I think due to previous complaints of hills, they made the course as flat as possible in DTLA. I’m not saying it is completely flat but much flatter than the turkey trot although also not as scenic either but running through the tunnel is fun. You get a total of 3 medals and the 9.3 challenge one is very big along with a sweatshirt if you do the challenge. There is a fun finish area with food trucks at the end. If this race comes back, I would recommend it.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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So I'm a little biased as a pediatric endocrinologist but I did really enjoy the event. It is at Griffith Park and follows the typical 5K loop. The course is … MORE

So I’m a little biased as a pediatric endocrinologist but I did really enjoy the event. It is at Griffith Park and follows the typical 5K loop. The course is on dirt but really flat and easy. Before the race parents of kids with growth disorders told their stories which was great and there were quite a few booths to look at. While I enjoy races at Griffith Park usually they aren’t my fastest but I was on fire the day of the race and had my second fastest 5K and easily broke 30 mins. At the end you get a small pretty basic medal. Not the greatest medal ever but a lot of 5Ks don’t give them out so I appreciated it. Instead of given at the finish line each runner went on stage to get the medal which was a nice personal touch. You also get a cotton T-shirt with packet pick-up. I know the doctor who leads the event and he did a great job. There was also pizza afterwards which you could eat with the families but this was when I was still a crazy strict vegan so I opted out of the pizza. Along with a fun morning of running the race raises money for children’s growth disorders something near and dear to my heart.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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Great way to spend Thanksgiving morning so you can eat your meal guilt free. I picked up my packet the weekend before and it was very easy. Along with the … MORE

Great way to spend Thanksgiving morning so you can eat your meal guilt free. I picked up my packet the weekend before and it was very easy. Along with the bib you got a T-shirt, sunglasses, a drawstring bag and a clif bar. I took the metro to the race. I enjoy races that are at metro stops so I don’t have to worry about parking but parking in a nearby lot didn’t seem too bad. It was a chilly and rainy morning. It really rained during the 5K but luckily the rain slowed down for the 10K. It was probably too cold for most Los Angelenos but I actually loved the weather. The course went through downtown LA and there were a lot of hills and a lot of great architecture. I took advantage of the downhills and the chilly weather and PR’ed by nearly 6 minutes despite this not being an easy course. Although it is well designed so the hills are mostly in the beginning and it starts uphill and the last segment along spring street is pretty flat. You got a small finisher medal with a cartoon of a turkey and LA. There were some vendors and booths in front of city hall to look at before and after the race. Afterwards you can go enjoy your turkey (or tofurky in my case)

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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I ran the Long Beach marathon as my first ever marathon. I chose Long Beach because I had started running again the Fall prior and wanted to go from couch … MORE

I ran the Long Beach marathon as my first ever marathon. I chose Long Beach because I had started running again the Fall prior and wanted to go from couch potato to marathoner in a year. Overall I enjoyed the race and the accomplishment. The day prior to the race is an expo at the Long Beach convention center. Bib pick up was easy and the expo had a nice amount of things to look at but felt a little cramped. Also I didn’t like paying for parking twice. Race day I arrived early and parked at convention center. Great idea for marathoners since it generally isn’t full by the time the marathoners would arrive and is right by finish line. The beginning of the marathon was smooth and there was a nice amount of runners in the full. Enough to always be running with people but not so many that it felt like I was constantly weaving around people. I’m guessing the half feels kind of crowded since there are a lot more runners doing the half. The parts of the marathon course that shared the half were great. Downtown long beach all lit up in the dark was beautiful and I loved that sunrise was occurring while running on the beach. The second part of the full that diverges from the half was much more boring. It was just through residential neighborhoods and cal state long beach. There weren’t a ton of spectators and nothing super special to look at. The course is relatively flat with a few easy hills except a lot of the hills are closer to the end. There is also a really long 7.5 hour time limit making this a great race for first timers or walkers. I got a little injured during training and knew I was going to have to walk some of the second half. I ended up finishing well before 6 hours but knowing there was no way I would miss the time cutoff made the race much more enjoyable. There was a nice long sleeve tech shirt and a nice big finisher medal. I’m moving out of California but if I were staying I’m not sure I would do the full again but I would definitely do the half.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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I normally train at night because I am not a morning person so I actually love nighttime races. I signed up for this as a training run for the Long … MORE

I normally train at night because I am not a morning person so I actually love nighttime races. I signed up for this as a training run for the Long Beach marathon and choose the 10 miler. I arrived early afternoon and checked out the expo and hung at the beach. The expo was small but had a few booths and vendors to check out. The race is just 5 miles out and 5 miles back on the PCH so it is very easy and flat. All 3 distances (5K, 10K, and 10 miler) start at the same time. I wish they would have staggered the races so the 10 milers had a head start. It is designed so all the runners run through sunset. As a result the first 3 miles of the sun setting on the beach were absolutely gorgeous. The last seven were very dark. It would be nice to have an earlier start so less of the race was dark. There was plenty of nutrition and water stations. The smoke from the bonfires was a little annoying but it didn’t bother me too much. I took the race pretty easy and enjoyed it. Finisher medal was a nice glow in the dark surfboard but it was a little small and not specific to the race distance. I thought it was a great training race for the Long Beach marathon but it looks like next year the Long Beach marathon is scheduled before this race so that is too bad.

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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I ran this as part of the Conqur LA challenge. Like all the Conqur events I have done it is very well-organized. I parked at one of the public parking … MORE

I ran this as part of the Conqur LA challenge. Like all the Conqur events I have done it is very well-organized. I parked at one of the public parking lots close to the finish line. The start line was about a mile away. This is best so you can get a warm-up walk in before the race and not have to walk far after. Parking was just a few bucks. Bib pick-up in the morning was super easy and fast. Pretty much my only complaint about the production is there was not enough porta potties at the start line and I waited in line so long I ended up in wave 3 even though I am more of a wave 2 runner. As a result I had to weave around some walkers and slower runners in the beginning of the race. The course is fine but it is on the road and there isn’t as nice of ocean views as I expected. There are no hills per se but the first four miles are a gradual incline. The final 2 miles are a slight decline and are super fast. I feel like they could have designed a better course so there is more downhill and less uphill but I understand it may be logistically tricky since they can only do the race on the main roads as opposed to beach paths since it is such a large race. The finisher medal is really nice especially for a shorter distance. It’s probably my nicest 10K medal. I liked the shirt design but I wish it was tech. The finish area on the pier was okay it was kind of crowded and there were very large lines. I just got my shirt and left for brunch. Overall it was a well-organized and good 10K but I’m not sure I would do it outside of the Conqur LA challenge.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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This race had the typical Griffith Park route. I thought it was well organized for a smaller race and very fun. I enjoy running in Griffith Park although it is … MORE

This race had the typical Griffith Park route. I thought it was well organized for a smaller race and very fun. I enjoy running in Griffith Park although it is not a great place to PR since I find I can’t run as fast on dirt as road. Race is relatively flat. There was congestion at the water stop and at one point, the slow 5Kers, medium 10Kers and fast 10kers all crossed paths at the same time. Finish area nice with Hawaiian themed entertainment. Nice medal and non-tech shirt especially for a short race.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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This was a very tough race. I was planning to go to OC this day and saw there was an evening race so decided to sign up. I was not … MORE

This was a very tough race. I was planning to go to OC this day and saw there was an evening race so decided to sign up. I was not prepared for this at all. I had run half marathons and thought I can run a 10K under any condition but I was wrong. Despite having to walk a lot of the hills and finishing about 20 minutes slower than my usual 10K time I still had fun and it was a very rewarding race. It was well organized and the organizers were really nice. Beautiful views.

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2

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This was one of the most fun racing experiences I've had. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire event from the expo to the finish line party. I went to the expo … MORE

This was one of the most fun racing experiences I’ve had. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire event from the expo to the finish line party. I went to the expo on Saturday at the San Diego convention center and it was huge and well-organized. They had it clearly labeled where to go for everything. There were so many vendors and products I think I spent a good 2 hours there looking at everything. I did not like paying for convention center parking though. I stayed at a hotel about 5 miles away from the race and shared a Lyft with another runner so I wouldn’t have to deal with parking. There were so many street closing the Lyft dropped us off about a mile away but it was a nice warm-up walk and got to meet other runners. My biggest complaint about the race was that they seemed to assign me to the wrong corral. There are a ton of runners and the corrals were clearly marked and it was well organized I was just in too slow of one I put my predicted finishing time as 2:20 and ended up in one of the later corrals and both the 2:30 and 2:45 pacers were in corrals ahead of me. I didn’t quite make my goal of 2:20 but finished a few minutes under 2:30 but never caught up to the 2:30 pacer because they started about 10 minutes before me. Other than the corral mess and having to weave my way around walkers the first 2 miles, the rest of the race was a blast. It isn’t the most scenic route through San Diego but it is designed to not be too hilly. That being said, there are hills but none are very large. Personally I like a race with some rolling hills. The crowd support for the race was absolutely amazing running through the local neighborhoods. People were giving away everything from fruit to donuts to tequila shots. I don’t drink alcohol but if you do and don’t take this race seriously you could have a lot of fun. There were also numerous bands and musical acts and the finish line in downtown San Diego was great. The finisher medal was nice and San Diego themed but it was smaller than most of my other half marathon medals. The T-shirt was tech quality. I’m glad I got the men’s/unisex because the women’s shirt was an ugly color. They weren’t ready at the expo so we had to pick them up after the race. The finish line festivities were great. There is a post-race concert and food trucks and then you can enjoy San Diego. This was the most fun I have had in a race. I am moving out of California this summer and am going to be out of town during the race this year, but I am hoping to come back sometime in the future to do the full

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

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This was my first half marathon. I chose this race due to timing and because it raised money for a great cause. It was a very fun local race. I … MORE

This was my first half marathon. I chose this race due to timing and because it raised money for a great cause. It was a very fun local race. I picked up my race packet the day before and it was very easy. Parking was free for packet pick up and the race. There were around 500 or so half marathon runners and you lined up based on predicted finish time. This was a nice number of participants. There were generally always other runners around you but there was also plenty of space. The course was nice through some of the neighborhoods and parks in Irvine. It didn’t have the energy or the iconic scenery of a big city race, but Irvine is very pretty. The volunteers at the aid stations were great. The course had a few rolling hills but nothing too challenging. The medal was huge and really nice although it didn’t say the year so I am not sure if they give the same medal every year. After the race there was some food trucks and booths and other entertainment. For participating you also got a shirt, half marathoners got a hat and you were given a bag with some coupons and goodies. I was very happy with this for my first half marathon. Great race if you are looking for a mid-sized race and/or a race for a good cause.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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