My Profile

@Solupia

Petaluma, CA Raving since 2016 Boston Marathon finisher, 50 States hopeful/finisher, IRONMAN, Marathon Maniacs #14210 active 1 week, 5 days ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):

    Empire Runners Club

  • Rave race:
  • Race that's calling my name:

    Western States Endurance Run, SkyRun 100, Barkley Marathon

  • I run because:

    I want to challenge myself, to achieve my next PR, to explore new race courses, to enjoy the beauty of God’s handy work.

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

Personal Bests (7)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Super Diablo Grande, CA Jul 16, 2016 1:56:20
100 Miler Page, AZ Mar 9, 2019 27:15:59
100K Sai Kung Peninsula, Hong Kong Jan 14, 2017 15:45:31
50 Miler San Francisco, CA Nov 18, 2017 11:20:56
50K Salinas, CA Feb 3, 2018 5:33:54
Marathon Ojai, CA May 29, 2016 2:59:49
Half Marathon Windsor, CA May 22, 2016 1:23:47

Future Races (8)

Race Distance Location Date Paid
100 Miler Custer, SD Aug 16, 2019
100 Miler Palmetto Bay, FL Sep 28, 2019
100 Miler Mt Baldy, CA Oct 12, 2019
51 Miler Bald Head Island, NC TBD
Marathon Cincinnati, OH TBD
Marathon Manitou Springs, CO TBD
Marathon Forest City, PA TBD
100 Miler Wartburg, TN TBD

Past Races (62)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
100 Miler Hatch, UT May 17, 2019
100 Miler Old Fort, NC Apr 12, 2019
100 Miler Page, AZ Mar 9, 2019 27:15:59
Marathon Snoqualmie Pass, WA Sep 16, 2018 3:30:56
100 Miler Leadville, CO Aug 18, 2018 29:38:45
100 Miler Hatch, UT Jun 2, 2018
12K San Francisco, CA May 20, 2018
Ironman Geyserville, CA May 12, 2018
50 Miler Geyserville, CA Apr 14, 2018
66K Smithville, TX Apr 1, 2018
50 Miler Decatur, TX Mar 17, 2018
Marathon Fort Worth, TX Feb 25, 2018 3:22:03
50K Salinas, CA Feb 3, 2018 5:33:54
Half Marathon Walnut Creek, CA Dec 9, 2017 1:29:49
50 Miler San Francisco, CA Nov 18, 2017 11:20:56
100 Miler Granite Bay, CA Nov 4, 2017 29:01:13
Marathon Homewood, CA Oct 15, 2017
Marathon Incline Village, NV Oct 14, 2017
Marathon South Lake Tahoe, CA Oct 13, 2017
Half Marathon San Ramon, CA Sep 30, 2017
Half Marathon San Jose, CA Sep 2, 2017
Marathon Greenville, CA Aug 19, 2017 3:42:00
Half Marathon Martinez, CA Aug 12, 2017
Ironman Guerneville, CA Jul 29, 2017
Half Marathon Castro Valley, CA Jul 22, 2017
Olympic/International Monte Rio, CA Jun 4, 2017
Half Marathon Bay Point, CA May 27, 2017
Half Marathon El Sobrante, CA May 13, 2017
Marathon Big Sur, CA Apr 30, 2017
Marathon Hopkinton, MA Apr 17, 2017 3:47:04
Half Marathon Fresno, CA Apr 2, 2017 1:28:27
Half Marathon Paso Robles, CA Mar 26, 2017 1:29:32
Half Marathon El Sobrante, CA Mar 18, 2017
Half Marathon San Miguel, CA Feb 19, 2017 2:00:56
100K Sai Kung Peninsula, Hong Kong Jan 14, 2017 15:45:31
Half Marathon Walnut Creek, CA Dec 10, 2016
Marathon Folsom, CA Dec 4, 2016
Half Marathon Merced, CA Oct 16, 2016 1:25:16
Half Marathon San Rafael, CA Oct 9, 2016 1:44:23
Half Marathon Petaluma, CA Sep 18, 2016
Marathon Santa Rosa, CA Aug 28, 2016 3:18:25
Marathon Greenville, CA Aug 20, 2016 3:13:12
Marathon San Francisco, CA Jul 31, 2016 3:14:33
Super Diablo Grande, CA Jul 16, 2016 1:56:20
10K Kenwood, CA Jul 4, 2016
Half Marathon Richmond, CA Jun 19, 2016 1:25:44
Super Salinas, CA Jun 4, 2016 2:07:38
Marathon Ojai, CA May 29, 2016 2:59:49
Half Marathon Windsor, CA May 22, 2016 1:23:47
Half Marathon El Sobrante, CA May 7, 2016 1:32:08
Marathon Weott, CA May 1, 2016 3:10:31
Half Marathon San Rafael, CA Apr 24, 2016 1:30:23
Half Marathon Oakland, CA Apr 17, 2016 1:58:12
Half Marathon Rocklin, CA Apr 10, 2016 1:27:27
Half Marathon Plumas Lake, CA Apr 9, 2016 1:27:53
Half Marathon Sacramento, CA Mar 26, 2016 1:24:58
Half Marathon Oakland, CA Mar 20, 2016 1:31:40
Half Marathon Chico, CA Mar 5, 2016 1:29:12
Half Marathon San Rafael, CA Feb 7, 2016 1:30:27
Half Marathon Bakersfield, CA Jan 30, 2016 1:35:06
Marathon San Francisco, CA Jul 27, 2014 3:58:38
Marathon San Francisco, CA 2013 3:50:40

My Raves

Antelope Canyon Ultras

Antelope Canyon Ultras

Antelope Canyon 100 is one fun race to remember. I had a lot of fun running it. It's very scenic. There wasn't a whole lot of elevation gain, which is … MORE

Antelope Canyon 100 is one fun race to remember. I had a lot of fun running it. It’s very scenic. There wasn’t a whole lot of elevation gain, which is undoubtedly why I got my new 100 mile PR here.

The race first brings you through Antelope Canyon, which is usually limited to tour access only. Then you travel through Navajo reservation to overlook the Horseshoe Bend, a route claimed by the Native Americans, i.e. no crazy tourism interruption. Finally, for the 100 milers, we get to run around the Page Rim Trail 6 times, viewing the gorgeous landscape surrounding the town of Page, and overlooking Lake Powell.

The course is relative easy due to the only 6400 ft elevation gain. While the sandy terrain can be quite exhausting to maneuver, the sandstone can give you quite a painful pounding.

As the usual me, I am always running a little late even though I am sleeping at the start line. I swear the race started 2min earlier than the official 6am.

The race came into a bottleneck fairly quickly after a 1000ft of jogging. Warning: This course requires cliffhanger and rock climbing to complete successfully! Ok, maybe not that extreme… but you will need to have the gut to run up a slick sandstone with a 45% grade and add a little class 2 technical trail with a slight scrambling using your hands. Personally, I think this just boosted my morale about this race from a boring flat race to a little bit of adventure.

Comparing to my previous 100 mile races, I believe I ran the most during this race. My feet and knees didn’t give up on me, though my ankles were getting sore from stabilizing each step in the sand. No altitude sickness because I am used to 4000s from my work in SoCal. However, I have yet to learn how to combat stomach problem and sleeplessness.

Faithful Challenges of Ultrarunning and Lesson Learned:

1) Bib belt sucks in a 100-mile race. Couldn’t find my safety pins last minute in the dark before 6am start time, I put on my bib belt. 20 miles in the race, i can feel the constriction of the belt bruising yup my abdomen. At that point, I knew it could be a problem later on. My concern was chaffing around my waist. However, that seems not the case. As it continued to be a bothersome in the race, i was able to receive some safety pins from a fellow runners to pin the bib to my shorts at around mile 48. However, the damage has been done. By mile 64, I began to have the ultra runner stomach issue. Ingesting food without getting nausea was almost impossible. Thankfully, Coke and pineapple were still on my menu. Too bad pineapple soon became a scarcity. Though I have tried ginger chew, which was supposed to work wonders to stomach problem, it didn’t work this time. By mile 74, I could no longer jog. Power hike or walking was my only option, since any fast pace movement would induce puking sensation. I tried to throw up, however, nothing would come out. I thought I was overnutrition, yet I couldn’t make a dump to yield more room inside my body. At mile 99, my hypothesis was confirmed when I finally able to relief in the compost toilet. What came out of the body is pure blackness of unwanted byproducts. Surely, the race has done a good deal of damage inside out. Never again would I use a bib belt in an ultra race.

2) I have yet to figure out how to deal with this dilemma. The only logical conclusion to the little crazy old me is run faster next time. You wonder what I am talking about? It’s sleep depravity. The lack of sleep in a race going over 24 hours is always a challenge. The hardest hours fall between 3am and 4:30am. This is against your circadian rhythm to be awake at this ungodly late hours. So what my body decided to do? Sleep walking! This is a particularly hard race to do that. With cliff and desert constantly accompanying you along the night trail, I can only wander so far before I must safe myself from some sort of death or stray away from the course. The last 20 miles of my race were surely slow and dreamy. XD

3) If we need to talk about one thing all ultrarunners hate the most, it has to be chaffing. Blisters, we will just deal with it. Sore muscles and painful feet, we will suck it up. Stomach issue? Well, let’s just stop and try to rest up and eat something a little bit at a time. But oh man, I think I have heard more people DNF because of chaffing than anything else. It’s the one thing you can prevent yet cannot control once it occurs. It can happen in many locations, and if you have been running long enough, you know where to apply the anti-chaffing creams on. And surely like a “seasoned” runner, I would have done the same thing. But I left out one spot, which I thought of at mile 8, but it becomes an additional nightmare at mile 80. The unwanted ungodly location decided to have chaffing. And surely enough, my night through the Page Rim Trail had been eventful, and hopefully I would learn my lesson to wake up earlier to be more prepared for my race start.

Finally, to conclude, I actually did pretty good at the race overall. Though i am still beating up myself (figuratively) for not being in the top 10, I ended up with a #18 out of 115 participants and first in my age group. 47 people finished within the 32-hour cutoff. It’s not an easy race for many. But I wish I could have done better. In fact, I knew I could have ran better if I for once can have a perfect race. It was closed. I was aiming for sub-24hr, but when the stomach and chaffing called me off guard… Maybe next one?! Honestly, considering my “exceptional” training regime, I should be happy that I even finish the race. For most people, they wouldn’t have lasted the race as long as I did if they train like me. That’s something I should at least be thankful for.

*****
Personal Course Difficulty Rating 7/15
Altitude 2/5 – 4000+ft above sea level
Elevation Gain 2/5 – 6400+ft
Terrain 3/5 – Sandy desert mix with hard sandstone outcrop with occasional class 2 technical trail scrambling (may require assistance of hands)

Race Swag 4/5 – Though the buckle is nice and made individually and each unique on its own. Man, I would love to get those pretty 50-miler finisher medal, which looks way cooler. I guess I am pickier on the design than many others.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Leadville Trail 100 Run

Leadville Trail 100 Run

Spoiler Alert: This review is modified from my original Race Report. A quick summary review is available near the end, Leadville 100 marks my 3rd attempt for 100 mile race … MORE

Spoiler Alert: This review is modified from my original Race Report. A quick summary review is available near the end,

Leadville 100 marks my 3rd attempt for 100 mile race and 2nd finish. It’s the hardest race thus far, yet best 100 mile race for me. Tho not my PR, I had less feet problem compared to Rio Del Lago 100, and I finished at a higher altitude as supposed to Bryce Canyon 100 (which I DNF’d).

LT100 has a hard cutoff of 30hr as supposed to BC100’s 36hr. I came into the race knowing it will be tough with 14k+elevation gain at the altitude between 9000 and 12,600 above sea level. In order to ensure I don’t have the same problem as I did in BC100, I spent 5 days acclimating in the Rockies. Sure enough, I had no headache during the entire race! Hurray!

The temperature was perfect. Though it’s cold in the low 40s before dawn, I had plenty of layers to keep myself warm. Maybe too warm … 😓 As I left the first aid station at mile 12, we ran up to Sugarloaf Pass. Though it started to rain, I began to sweat under my base layer. But worrying about the cold evening on my return, I kept under armor on till 3rd aid station at mile 29. This turns out to be a major mistake. I was originally on track with my pace for the sub-25hr plan, because of overheating, my time dropped significantly between Outward Bound and Half Pipe aid stations.

Rain stopped. After taking off my under armor at mile 29, I started to pick up my pace as I traversed over foothill of Mt Elbert. I made up some lost time as I arrived at Twin Lakes.

Knowing I will be heading up Hope Pass, the highest point of the race, 12,600 ft above sea level, I had been relatively conservative in my approach for this race. I took my time to scrutinize the scenery and took off towards the river crossing. The cold water felt nice on my slightly sore feet. But it messed up the insoles of my shoes. Once I got to the base of the Mt Hope, I began my relentless climb. I was making amazing progress as I passed many people on the way up without taking a break. I felt great with the cadence and progressed forward with a vengeance against my previous DNF. When I reached Hope Pass, the view was gorgeous. I am surprised that I didn’t have my usually headache. I knew then I can finish this race for sure. Trotting downhill, I came to a bottleneck behind a blind runner, Jason. He is an incredible athletes even though he is legally blind. He is officially a Lead man by completing the Leadville Race Series including the Leadville 100 MTB a week ago. It’s inspiring yet scary to look as he ran down the rocky mountain. I seriously don’t know how he managed that without spraining his ankles. Or he may have some amazing tenacity.

After some delay before I got to pass Jason the blind runner, I made it to the Winfield the turnaround point. Upon arrival, I had less than 40min till cutoff time. I make a quick replenish of my gear and started heading back. That’s about 32 min before cutoff.

As I heading back up the mountain, Jason the blind runner caught up to me. Instead of letting him pass me, I took it upon myself to start running up the hill with him by opening up the path in front. It actually have me great advantage to pass many people. Jason was running at a steady 11min/mile pace. Though I was running in front of him, he was really the one pacing me the whole time. We ran together for over 2 miles. But since I left the last aid station really quickly, I didn’t give myself enough time to go take care minor business. I said goodbye to Jason and off the bush I went. I didn’t catch-up to him until I have reached Hope Pass. There’s a long trail of bottleneck with people hiking slowly up the mountain. I took this opportunity to rest my body for the descent.

Once the other side of the mountain, I began my speedy descent. Sun began to set, I wanted to head down to Twin Lakes as fast as I can.

By the time I reached aid station, it was roughly 50 min before cutoff. I had gained some time I thought. But that’s when thing began to go wrong. In order to prepare for the night, I went to the portable potty to change out my gear. It was stinky inside, and I got really nauseous by the time I was finished. I needed I breather. I was thinking, I can’t throw up now and lose my momentum. After testing a little bit with some coke and ginger ale, I began my ascent. This was 30 min before cutoff.

Getting some fresh air in my system, I was able to regain my energy to move forward again. I got to Half Pipe with 45min from cutoff. I thought I was going to regain some time little by little.

Lo and behold, things didn’t go as I planned. It started raining again upon arrival at Half Pipe. Fortunately, it was a quick shower. After leaving mile 71, my stomach began to shut down. I threw up all that I ate at the previous aid station. This is the first time I experienced over nutrition. I have heard of it, but didn’t know it will happen to me. Previously, I had been consuming Bolthouse protein shakes as my main source of fuel during this race. However, this is where the mistake comes in. Though protein is great to combat bonking, it’s far harder to digest than carbohydrate. As a result, my body was unable to suggest all that I had consumed thus far. Now it just decided to reject anymore intake. In fear of wasting more energy throwing up, I stopped ingesting any food as much as I can. But the nausea didn’t go away.

From Half Pipe to Outward Bound was relatively flat, I was able to jog along without losing much time. I left the aid station without eating or drinking anything. This was 45 min before cutoff. I thought I will forsure to finish now as I am still progressing in a good pace.

However, I made a 4th mistake. I ran off the course. Instead making a left turn onto the dirt road up Sugarloaf Pass, I ran straight along the road for an extra quarter of a mile. I thought it was weird that I haven’t seen any course marking and no one was following as I slowed down to a stop. I started to worry and took out my phone to check the map. Unfortunately, Google map doesn’t show the trail up Sugarloaf Pass. I was unable to confirm my location relative to the course. After some debates, I backtracked until I could find the course marking. Of course, I missed the turn!

Without knowing how much time I have wasted and how far left to go, I started scrambling up the mountain. Reaching to the top, a floating aid station was created by some volunteers. Folks at the aid station claimed that there’s only 4 mile downhill to May Queen aid station. Since I had 90 min till the cutoff at the time, I thought I would have plenty of time to spare to find the race. Unfortunately, the 4 mile was a lie. Running downhill after an hour later, I still haven’t seen any sign of the aid station. I began to worry again. I was being extra cautious of afraid being lost. Every time I haven’t seen a flag for more than 100ft, I started to doubt myself.

At the same time, my nausea hadn’t improved. I was still unable to ingest anything without throwing up. A fellow runner had offered me some mango ginger candies. They helped, but only lasted for 10 min. I was slowly getting worried about bonking, though my body is still feeling okay for the meantime.

Thank God, I reached May Queen 10min before cutoff! Without stopping for a moment, I ran pass the timing mat and moved on even though I needed to use the restroom. Half a mile later, there’s a bathroom. Now, it’s 3hr 30min to finish cutoff.

In order to finish in time, I must maintain an average 16min/mile pace. That’s not a causal walking pace, especially not over a rolling hills stretch of the course. With my body slowly depleted of calories, I can sense the bonk was coming. I prayed really hard that God will give me strength to finish this race with it knowing how much I had left in my tank. I had been going on without any food or drink for 20 miles now and about 6 hours now.

As I make my attempt to let gravity pulled me on the downhill and power walk the uphill to speed up the process, I could sense the empty tank light lit up in my body at about 7 miles before finish.

Not knowing what I should do, I decided to chuck half of my protein shake down. Every time I was about to puke, I gulped in a bit more protein shake to counter the body reaction. Not sure if that would work, I managed to intake some Calories. That’s huge.

To be energy efficient, I must move quickly. I start power hike and jog as quickly as I could. Taking advantage of the “non-empty” stomach, I made the best out of it with the downhill. But of course, the last 4 miles of the race was mostly uphill. Grinding my teeth, I pushed forward. Little by little, I regained my momentum. I was able to pass back people passed me from earlier during my bonk. However, I could began to feel the impact of the long pounding of the miles.

As the last mile was in sight, for the first time in any race, I became emotional. I choked up in excitement, knowing that this was a miracle to I could even finish in time after all that went wrong. I was crazed with excitement because it was yet the best birthday present I have ever received. God is gracious to me. This race was hard, but full of memories to savor upon as my best birthday race yet.

I wasn’t quite sure if I could jog up the finish line due to the series of hills, instead I power hiked the last quarter mile with confidence and excitement. I had finished my 2nd 100 mile race! My official time is 29:38:45.

Now to the recovery! To my surprise, my recovery is quicker than I could ever expect. 2 days after the race, I was able to run again on my feet. This is by far my best experience of 100 mile race. Though not a perfect race still, I had a consistent strong performance throughout the race despite the repeated setbacks. Now I can finally say that I get the 100 miler bug 😂

* * * * * * * * * *
Review Summary:

OVERALL Production and Race Swag 5/5
Excellent Production. I love the Finisher Jacket, custom printed with your name and finishing time, available in post race party 2 hours after cut-off!!! The race director has it down! Not to forget the shiny buckle. This is a special one, carefully carved and well-designed.

Course Marking 4/5
For runner who gets tired and delirious after so many mile, they should make it even more obvious, especially when it comes to me. I am the worst in following the course. I can easily go astray but following an opening in the forest or the animal trails. Since I managed to ran off course at one point, I guess there’s still improvement to keep my weary eyes on course.

Course Difficulty 10.5/15: Altitude 4.5/5; Elevation Gain 3/5; Trail Technicality 3/5
As I am learning more about ultra and course type, This course is quite manageable for some seasoned runner, and elites. Though it is recognized as post-graduate course, majority of the course is fairly runnable including many jeep trail and occasional asphalt. The 14k+ elevation gain with some rocky terrain in the mix at an Average HIGHEST elevation 100-mile course in the USA make it an above average difficulty race, However, here are definitely race out there with more technical terrain, 20k+elevation gain and higher altitude at the highest point. Therefore, I didn’t max out my rating at this time.

Course Scenery 5/5
From lakeside to mountain view, I love nature!

Lesson Learned:
1) Overnutrition is Real! Though protein is good for you and great to keep your stomach from growling, readily accessible carbohydrates are crucial to fueling during a race.
2) Ginger Chew/Candy is your friend during mountain trail race. It helps nausea and relieves upset stomach.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Bryce Canyon Ultras

Bryce Canyon Ultras

Bryce Canyon 100 locates just west of the actual Bryce Canyon National Park. Overall Production and Race Swag 10/10 Race director was great. I felt welcoming. The T-shirt is really … MORE

Bryce Canyon 100 locates just west of the actual Bryce Canyon National Park.

Overall Production and Race Swag 10/10
Race director was great. I felt welcoming. The T-shirt is really cool with all participants’ names on it. 100 mile finisher received a buckle. 50 mile finisher, or in the case of your truly DNF the 100 mile but ran over 50 mile got the special made ceramic cup. Since I dropped at mile 85.5, I was escorted back to start line in a vehicle, so that I won’t need to run back.

Course Scenery 5/5
No question asked. This is BEAUTIFUL will all the unique rock formation. I love outdoor nature!

Course Difficulty 9.5/15: Altitude 3.5/5 Elevation Gain 3/5 Technicality 3/5
This is my very first race above 8000 ft. Highest Point is at Pink Cliff at around 9400ft. Runners spend majority of the time going up and down between 8000 and 8500 ft. For a sea-level dweller, the sudden change of altitude without acclimation, I was experiencing high altitude sickness during middle portion of the course. I had never feel this weird sensation of a lagging robot in the mountains. I had so much energy, but my body seemed to have its own mind for not moving according to command. Near midpoint, I got the dry cough and had to puke a couple of time. I was unable to ingest any more artificial sustenance. The transverse during nightfall was miserable when I was enable to pick up my pace and my body temperature dropped substantially. By the time I was finally acclimated to the atmospheric pressure, my body was too worn to make any comeback pace for the final finish. I had to drop at mile 85.5 knowing I will miss the cutoff by 30-60 min. I know I got my first DNF here, but it was not the hardest race out there, and I am going to come back in 2019 to redeem myself,

Lesson Learned:
1) Acclimate if I plan on racing above 7000 ft
2) Have extra warm clothes ready for nightfall in drop bags, since fatigue runner seldom able to produce enough heat to sustain through the night in the mountains.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

The Cowtown

The Cowtown

What to say when you had so much fun! As soon as Cowtown Marathon was voted as runner-up in last year tournament, I know I wanted to run it. I … MORE

What to say when you had so much fun!

As soon as Cowtown Marathon was voted as runner-up in last year tournament, I know I wanted to run it. I was born in the city, but I love country music and the rustic charm of the Midwest. This race will check me off as my 4th state in my 50 States challenge (marathon+) .

The energy. The view. The people. I felt like I am home. Well, I guess I am by far the most festive of all, since I had my plaid shirt on, too.

The Cowtown Marathon is a big loop course starting and finishing at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth. On the course, you shall run through the Historic Stockyards and pass by the Tarrant County Courthouse, then cross over and run along Trinity River. The course is flat, with minor rolling hills. I was so happy to see some incline, or I would have died of boredom. This part of Texas is flat. No mountain in sight for miles.

If you are festive like me, you can put on your plaid shirt and run in style. If not, at least you get to receive a colorful neckwear as souvenir.

Along the course, you have pacers who will help you to achieve your goal. It is a Boston Qualifying race, so all you young bucks can take your chance to ring that bell and register for next year Boston Marathon.

Different from normal road races, you get chicken noodle soup at finish lines. Oh yea, I like a savoury taste of our ultra community. What’s more? Beside beer garden, we have Spritzer bar. Now that’s what I call a classy finish.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

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The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship – California

The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship – California

It's reverse logic the way I train and NO underage should ever attempt! This is my 3rd ultramarathon ever and yet I have not competed in a 50-mile race yet. … MORE

It’s reverse logic the way I train and NO underage should ever attempt! This is my 3rd ultramarathon ever and yet I have not competed in a 50-mile race yet. You must be thinking I did 2 50k as my training run then. Nope either! I actually did a 100k and a 100mile. In fact, my 100-mile race was only 2 weeks before the 50 mile, so you now understand me a little bit better of where I am coming from. Insanity is in my blood.

With enough divergence, let’s talk about the logistic of this race and what to be expected. This race is surprisingly easy to run. The course is 95-99% non technical, which means you really need to pace yourself. There are switchbacks, but no significant treacherous steep climb. Compared to my previous 100 mile race, this is half the distance but with 2000 ft more elevation gain, giving it slightly over 10,000 ft gain. You are spending most of your time going up and down. Watch out your quads! With my legs still recovering from my 100-mile race, my knees were bruised up from the downhills. I didn’t realized that was possible, but when your muscles are overworked, you put more stress on your joints, and sometimes that stress can be great enough to burst some capillaries bed on their own. I highly suggest you to train for some downhill if you are planning to run this race.

The North Face 50-Mile has one of the prettiest course sceneries in the Region if you are lucky with the weather. Guess what? No coastal fog on race day! This meant I got to see the horizon across from the shoreline at Muir Beach and Stinson Beach, and no fog hiding the Golden Gate. You also get to run through the Muir Wood National Monument. You end up getting a quick private nature tour of California coastal ecosystems, from oak woodland to grassland to sand bluff to riparian forest to redwood forest to mixed temperate forest. And you can see them all in 1 day.

Aid stations are spaced out evenly with the furthest segment less than a 10k distance. I came somewhat prepared for my personal nutrition, but I ended up saving mine in the drop bags and utilizing what are on the course.

Course marking is Outstanding. I am terrible with direction usually when I run on a trail race. But the course is super well-marked that, you must be not paying attention to miss a turn. The only confusion I have heard from other folks were that they ran the wrong direction after stopping for aid stations. I highly suggest all runners to ALWAY communicate with the aid station volunteers to confirm where you are exiting to not back track the way you come from. I know how it is to be a long distance runner. You focus so much on your breathing and cadence that you lose track of your sense of direction during a race, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Okay, so the race was pretty successful overall you think. Yes, mostly. One complaint I had was the shuttling system to the start line. Unlike most point-to-point races where you meet at finish line and get shuttled to start lines., runners have to park elsewhere to get onto the shuttle. Which itself was not a problem. The problem was that the bus driver was confused where to drop the runners off. Partially, I blamed one of the runners was confusing the bus drivers when he saw someone waving the bus to go left when the bus driver went straight through the intersection. We ended up making U-turns and circling around to figure out where we should have gone. I wondered if the bus driver didn’t get distracted, would he be able to figure out where to drop us off?! In anycase, the ball field which we were to start at was in the middle of a giant block. It was fenced out by neighboring apartment complex with no way to get in. The start line address on the website brought runners who used Uber to an Academy, only to found out the gates were locked. They seriously need to have better description of how to get to the start lines. And there were no road signs for folks to know where to enter the ball field and locations for drop-off. It’s a mess! That itself worths some rating deduction. Beside the start line chaos the race went fairly smoothly. Shuttle back to parking area could have been closer to finish line in my opinion. After all, you have bunch of limping athletes trying to exit the venues walking to the Sport Basement parking lot. And at that point, the race was over, people were getting cold and the pain finally kicked in after the adrenaline had dissipated.

As for the 50-miler swag, you get a T-shirt, a finisher medal, a finisher water bottle and a baseball cap (that they forget to give out during pre-race packet pickup, meaning you have to ask for it.) For a major event like North Face Endurance Challenge Championship race, you would have expected better items, but the design of the T-shirt was mediocre. The finisher medal was generic, the only difference among the different distances was the lanyard. To me, that’s a disappointment.

Overall, the race was fun thanks to the weather and gorgeous view. I enjoyed especially the last 3 miles of the race as my adrenaline finally kicked in when I got onto Gold Gate. My competitive instinct came back, and my knee pain was gone for the moment. I was like a kid again dodging between tourists and passing all the runners who passed me when I was limping through the course. I must have passed 10-20 runners along the way, and I got some of my fastest split in the last 3 miles. It was a rush of excitement to be able to see the end of the tunnel for the race. What an exhilarating feeling to be able to finish strong after an ultramarathon. I think that’s why I enjoy ultramarathon so much. It maybe slow in the progress, but you have so much energy left that you can have a victorious entry at the finish line, and all the pain and suffering faded away for the moment as you enjoy your new accomplishment (conquering an ultramarathon).

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
3

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Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Endurance Run

Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Endurance Run

Rio Del Lago 100 covers a large territory around the Sacramento Foothill region. You spend a great deal of time along Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma. It's fairly runnable for … MORE

Rio Del Lago 100 covers a large territory around the Sacramento Foothill region. You spend a great deal of time along Folsom Lake and Lake Natoma. It’s fairly runnable for first time 100 miler with an elevation gain of approx. 8200ft. The course covers similar trails as the American River 50 and Way to Cool 50. You also get to run part of the Western States course when you ran between Auburn Lake Trail aid station and No Hands Bridge aid station. The only difficult thing about this race is its length. This race gave me a new perspective of ultra racing. I now have an utmost admiration of all ultra runners who managed to finish such mental endurance challenge.

RDL 100 is the last qualifying race to Western States lottery application of each year. This fact attracts a crowd of ultramarathon fans. This is they have 430 participants, that’s huge for an ultra running event. Thanks to the surge of popularity of the race, it makes the entire trip of the race less lonely. There are many fellow runners along to course to cheer one another onward.

As a big ultra event, it does not always go smoothly without flaws. The problem I encountered personally was the inconspicuous course markings in 2 crucial intersections. Both time I ran passed the markings without realising it. I turned around soon after only because I felt something was wrong and I haven’t seen any other course markings along the wrong trail. For that reason, I deducted the rating on the race production.

Now let’s talk about my performance. This will give you a better picture of how this race went down as one of my unforgettable self-inflicting adventures. Yeah, that’s how my family think about my race at the least. Every 100 mile finisher MUST have a loose screw in their minds to even consider running one, so I admit I am one of the queer guys next door.

The first 20 miles of the race are very flat and fast and mostly paved. This was a great disadvantage I had. I was wearing my Salomon Ultra Sense, which is extra light trail running shoes, great for ultra trail races. But they have minimal cushioning against hard top. And with the next 10 miles running on top of granite trails (aka “meat grinder”), my feet were all bruised up (and probably starting to swell as I later find out by the end of the race) from all the pounding. I begin my seemingly never-ending of limping and jogging and running in pain when I departed the aid station at mile 30.

Mile 45 was located at the Overlook in Auburn. You reach the base of the Cardiac hill 3 miles before the aid station. The climb is actually fairly manageable on a paved road. It was tempting to run up if my feet were not giving me complaints. After the Overlook, you run downhill towards the No Hands Bridge, where you have the American River visible on the right side of the trail the whole time. Gorgeous view I dare to say.

However, rain started pouring in the most untimely part of the day. By the time I reached mile 58, I was behind my idealistic goal of sub-20hr. I figure maybe sub-24hr may have a say for it. But from that point on, my achilles tendon began to give me grief from the constant pressure of the lip of the heel of my shoes. I was limping even slower than before. It was a long hike before I finally pick up my grooves again when I reached mile 75 at the Overlook in Auburn again.

The surprise sight of an old friend at the aid station gave me a burst of energy to keep me moving even though I was in much pain on both my feet. My legs were actually still hanging in there. I must admit I haven’t had to break a sweat at all because I was limping so slow. If I wasn’t in so much pain with my swollen feet, I would have been running still.

From mile 75 to mile 83, I made a quick descent from the Cardiac Hill and got to Rattlesnake Bar, where my friend was supposedly awaiting. But later I found out he might have fallen asleep while he was waiting inside his car. I was super thankful to have a friend who was willing to stay up through midnight at that point just to cheer me on. I was super grateful.

From Rattlesnake Bar to Horseshoe Bar, it was a drag with lots of limping and mental endurance. I had to constantly remind myself that I still have enough time to finish even if I was to limp all the way in, as long as I stay on a 20min/mile pace (3mph). It was not a very easy task when the temperature continues to drop and my vision became to blur from lack of sleep. I felt like I needed a nap, but if I were to stop, I may be overcame with hypothermia. I can tell my body temperature would have dropped dramatically if I stopped moving. So I do everything I can to distract myself from sleeping, and praying that God would give me strength to get through the hours till sunrise.

The most challenging trial had came to passed when I got to the next aid station and regained my energy with a delicious breakfast burrito. After the gruesome 8.5 miles from the previous aid station, the longest segment without any aid, the breakfast burrito tasted extra good. At this point, it has been the longest duration I have ever been in a race. The only way I can keep myself going is that I know if I drop out now, I would still need to get back to finish line for my personal vehicle. Without any crew or pacer, I didn’t have anyone who could pick me up on the course and drop me back to the finish line. Even the friend who showed up was a surprise to me, and I would have no idea how to get a hold of him to bring me to finish line. Beside the point, I never wanted to not finish my very first 100mile. I know I have the energy for it still. So I prayed for strength to finish strong. I looked at my watch, it’s low in battery and about to give up on me. I did the math in my head one more time, my goal now is to finish before the 30hr cutoff. I had to give myself some buffer room. I have calculated that it would be close, but I may still make it as long as I stay pushing myself and not to stay too long in any remaining aid stations. I counted my steps to keep my cadence going. One step at a time is the motto of any ultrarunners. You are not to worry about what comes next, just focus on what you can right now.

Slowly but surely, sun rose up in the sky, I know time is in the essence. I had survived over 26hours of the race at that point. More folks were passing me every 5-10minutes. It might seem discouraging. But my mind was set on the finish line, and I know I can physically do that. My legs weren’t seriously tired until after mile 95. But I knew at that point I had a good chance to still finish under 30 hours. With less than 3 hours to spare from the clock when I reached the final aid station. I was about 4.5miles from the finish line. It was so close that I could taste the “victory” . I worked hard to stay in constant pace to aim to finish as early as I could before the cut-off. I was thinking I may have 30min to spare. Now groups of ultrarunners were gaining on me as everyone was trying to give their all to finish strong. I tried to keep up at my best ability with all the shuffling of my feet. At this point, my watch was long dead. I don’t know how fast I was moving or how close I would have been from the finish line. I could only trust that I was still moving at a reasonable pace to finish strong. I could not yield a moment to doubt, only believed that I would finish. With much hobbling, I finally got to the berm leading to the damn next to Folsom Lake, and the finish line was only 100yd from the other end of the dam. Now my adrenaline finally kicked in. I jog as fast as I could and for bliss of a minute, I felt the pain was fading away as I made my final entry to the finish line arch. The rest was history as I grabbed my finishing medal and buckle to prove that I finished under 30hr cutoff time.

I still didn’t know how on earth I managed to ran across the dam and to the finish line with all the pain I had. I was limping at most 25-28 min/mile pace. But then, I am surely glad that I was able to do it. It was a miracle indeed.

The next couple hours, I was walking like a slug, my feet were out of the shoes and socks and very much swollen. Though it was a nice idea to soak my feet in the lake to get them iced up. But the lake seems to be miles away for me to limp to at this point. I slept in my car to regain energy before I took off to return home.

After my first 100 mile race, I have to seriously rethink if I should still attempt such novelty adventure. But if you ask me whether or not I regret I did it, I can confidently tell you, “No!” In my mind, it’s a great accomplishment, pushing my body to its limit. Afterall, I was guilty of being undertrained. Yet still I had learned so much from the experience. I also deeply enjoyed the ultra running community as a whole. I don’t care about the poor course marking at time, it’s the community of the volunteers and runners that matters the most. Everyone was there for one another and not just for themselves. You cheer for me, and I cheer for you. There’s no judgement or prejudice in the mix, just crazy people who loves running.

With that being said, I encourage everyone to be part of an ultra running community. I know running 100 miles is not for everyone, but you can volunteer, become a crew or pacer for a fellow runner, or be a spectator just to cheer on those passing by. I think our society would be a better place.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

4 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Running with the Bears

Running with the Bears

This is my second time running Running With The Bear Marathon. It is by far one of my favorites for many reasons. Why not let me convince you to become … MORE

This is my second time running Running With The Bear Marathon. It is by far one of my favorites for many reasons. Why not let me convince you to become part of this amazing race.

1) Running For a Cause
Running With The Bear Marathon is a Charity Run, operated by Mountain Circle, a non-profit organization for foster care program. People can become charity runner by raising a minimum of $600. All donations helps funding foster care programs in the Central Valley and Sierras of California and western Nevada.

2) Theatrical Theme
Being part of a charity run, all the aid stations are of course fun by volunteers from the community. In fact, they are in for a contest to raise fund for their own cause. Runners get to vote for the Best Theme and Best Spirit aid stations. And of course, the volunteers won’t disappoint you by putting their best on to cheer you on along the course. This is I saw Pirates, Road Safety Workers, Alice in the Wonderland and 20s Gangster along the course. Never have a dull moment with this race.

3) Real Food for Fueling
Unlike most road races, instead of giving you energy chews and gels, you have fruits and nuts along the course. Depending on the aid station, you may even find grilled cheese toasted sandwich, baked potatoes and scramble eggs. I don’t know about you, but that saved my race. I had a rough nutrition deficit on my pre-race day. I normally don’t eat breakfast. And for lunch, I was go to get off work early so I can eat and drive to the venue. But instead, I got off work 3 hours late and missed lunch because I was running late for the pre-race dinner. Wasted some time in the rush hour traffic, I missed the pre-race dinner and was unable to grab my bib number until the next morning. Since the race is hosted in a small town, all the restaurant closed after 8pm. I ended up going to bed with an empty stomach. And you bet I was not planning for a good race to start with. However, those aid stations at this race surely know how to fuel you up. I stopped at every aid station to savor their “chef” specialties. The community support and the type of aid stations they have reminds me of the ultra running community on the trail. Gotta love it.

4) BQ certified
This race is one of the Boston Qualifying races, which means you can use it as a ticket to Boston Marathon. The course is relatively flat with minor rolling hills. It may just be the course to set your PR. There may be minor setback with running at 3000s ft above sea level if you are from the sea level and have limited training.

5) Small Race Big Price
Being a race of only 600 max registrants (across all race categories), the race director works hard to gather multiple goodies from a variety of sponsors. Therefore, again this year I find myself leaving with a grocery full goodies bag. Not only that, because the race is such small, most people have a great chance for Top 3 age group winner medals.

5) Run Hard Party Hard
After the run, you get 10min free complementary massage. For those who are daring, we have a ice bath tub for you to plunge in to shock your system. At the post-race party dinner, we had cocktails, dress up theme, turkey pie bingo, silent raffle ticket auction and human Foosball.

6) Unpredictable
Being in the bear country, nothing is for certain. For instance, this year there was sighting of bear by a couple of 10k runners during the race. How fitting it is for the name of the race. In addition, we had a half marathon runner witnessed the miraculous moment of goat giving birth.

Running With The Bear is always such lively and full of positive spirits. I would highly recommend anyone to experience it themselves.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

3 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

IRONMAN Santa Rosa

IRONMAN Santa Rosa

This is my very first Full Ironman ever. With limited experience, I came into the race with only 1 triathlon in my belt. With that being said, I really had … MORE

This is my very first Full Ironman ever. With limited experience, I came into the race with only 1 triathlon in my belt. With that being said, I really had no clue what I am getting myself into, except it will be another sweet challenge to overcome once I finish the race.

Given only 3 months to train from scratch, I was totally under-trained and not ready for it. I had no road cycling experience before April this year. I bought my first road bike back in April right before my Boston Marathon. However, my triathlon training did not start until May due to my busy race schedule with both Boston and Big Sur Marathons in April. In addition, work schedule has been super busy with mandatory overtime. (Note that I work outdoor requiring hiking 5-10miles daily in rugged terrain.) This surely cut short my training time.

In the beginning of June, I have completed my first Olympic Triathlon. Feeling the urge for a more challenging experience, I registered the Full Ironman out of the blue. Many people asked me why Full Ironman right away; I answered the local Half Ironman was sold out back in November last year. Of course, my daring personality will always get me into crazy ideas of challenging myself physically to the limit.

However, misfortune was bestowed upon me when I had my bike stolen on pre-race day, while I attended the race briefing and packet pick-up in downtown Santa Rosa. I then spent the remaining afternoon filing police report and scrambling to find a replacement bike. With special thanks to the race director and his assistance Judy, I was provided with a loan bike from the local bike store for free and got a free bike transport to the start line. But the anxiety of the race only grew in me as I lost my appetite for fueling that evening.

Is Full Ironman my limit? Maybe. I did get my very DNF in my racing career. I swam 4 min longer than the cut-off time required by the event official (2hr 20min). Obviously, I am not a fast swimmer; after all, I have always been a runner most of my life. But I don’t think I have reached my limit yet. I was not prepared for the open water racing. With my only previous open water racing experience back in 2001 when I was still 6th grade, I don’t think I really know how to be efficient in open water. In fact, my downfall of the race was not practicing enough of sighting in open water. According to my Garmin watch, I swam 2.9 miles as supposed to 2.2 miles which was the official distance for Full Ironman swim. Sadly, not being fully aware of my time and surrounding during the swim costed me dearly by not being able to continue my race regardless of still being pumped and ready to go for a ride.

With a DNF at my first Full Ironman, you may think I have nothing to offer for the rest of the race course. You are partially right. I did not have the full experience of the entire race like other finisher had, but I am a local from Sonoma County with great knowledge of the entire bike course and run course. Because this is the very first Santa Rosa Ironman, you will find the course kept changing quite a bit until the week before the race. And so let me explain the race course with greater details.

The race started at Lake Sonoma which is located in Geyserville, west of Hwy 101. The swim is composed of 2 loops in the lake. Because we had a hot summer this year, the water was warm at 78.1 degree Fahrenheit, which was the maximum water temperature to be a legal wetsuit triathlon race. I, on the other hand, swam without one. This year race morning was clear of fog. Triathletes were able to witness a gorgeous sunrise over the lake while awaiting to enter into the water. Being a local, I know that it’s hard to predict the fog in the area. We were surely lucky.

After the swim, it’s a quick descent ride from the lake to the park visitor center. Cyclist with encounter one of the biggest hills in the race at around mile 7 on Dutcher Creek Rd. From there on, it’s all easy rolling hills and flat course along Highway 101 and the beautiful wine country. The next decent size hill is not until around mile 35 on Lytton Springs Rd. The race official changed the bike course at last minute and eliminated a brutal incline at around mile 50-54 originally. However, there was 2 turnaround locations (not my favorite). Once folks get to downtown Santa Rosa, it would be a 2 22mile-loop course around Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa. The bike course is fairly easy, but the roads aren’t all evenly paved. There are areas during the 22mile loops have major potholes and sometimes gravel shoulders.

Once dismounted from the bike in downtown Santa Rosa, triathletes would proceed to the final phase of the race, 3 out-and-back loop run along Santa Rosa Creek Trail. Oh yes, you are gonna hear me grumbling about this. As a long distance runner, I enjoy exploring new scenery during my race. This is just outrageously wrong to make someone run the same loop course 3 times as part of a marathon. But after all, it is an Ironman, and people would be tired and would like to see their love ones more frequently, so I would accept the race official last minute executive decisions.

So what have I learned from this experience? Full Ironman is not for everyone. I am a terrible open water swimmer. You must train for it, or else you won’t do well. Also, it is better to park on the street instead of parking in the Santa Rosa plaza parking garage. At least with all the eyes on the street, it’s less likely to get your bike stolen. Also, you may as well use the $40 bike transport service to get your bike to the start line, so your bike gets proper attention throughout the process. Finally, my challenge to complete an Ironman is not done yet. I still need to check it off my bucket list, which means, I will be back in 2018 to redeem my DNF.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

2 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon, ever since the bombing in 2013, has been the Marathon to run for most amateur runners. It's the climax of most runners' racing career. And so, I knew … MORE

Boston Marathon, ever since the bombing in 2013, has been the Marathon to run for most amateur runners. It’s the climax of most runners’ racing career. And so, I knew I had to run it at least once in my lifetime to experience this historical moment.

Getting Qualified…
From qualifying to registration, it’s a roller coaster of excitement. Because of its popularity, it’s getting harder and harder to get in every year, with more qualifying runners from all over the world trying to compete in it. With the help of a downhill course at Mountain to Beach Marathon in South Cal, I was able to gain a spot in the Boston Marathon in September last year.

Training? What’s that?!
Race preparation through the long-waited wet winter in NorCal and busy overtime schedule at work was found to be slow and unproductive. I was not getting the weekly mileage a normal marathon runner should have. As a result, I was unable to perform in my tip-top condition.

Warm Race this year
Weather on race day this year has been on the warm side of spectrum comparing to previous years. It was in the upper 60s and low 70s on race day morning. This threw many runners, who had been training in freezing cold winter, off their games.

Quad Killer
The marathon course is point to point with a net downhill of 400ft. However, there’s still an 850ft total ascent along the course, with the main climb at heartbreak hill at mile 21. Started the race with a quick downhill during the first 4 miles has proven to be a major quad killer for novice runners. Being under-trained, my quads were twitching at mile 21, I had to stopped to prevent a full-on cramp. I highly recommend some speed workout with some downhills during your training.

Sea of Spectators!!!
What makes a world class marathon different from a local race is its tremendous support from the running community and the NEVER-ENDING sea of Spectators on both sides of the course. I have never been to a race where you can’t see course scenery, because there are too many spectators blocking the view. But then, I guess in this case, the super energetic fans were the breathtaking course scenery from start to finish. I don’t think I will ever experience anything close to the spectacle I witnessed as I ran from Hopkinton to Boston.

Support Overdrive
In all the marathons I have ran previously, aid stations are usually spaced out about 2 miles apart. But at Boston Marathon, you get aid stations every mile starting at mile 2. That’s about a thousand of volunteers there to support you every step along the way. A setback for me is that I had too much Gatorade, my mouth tasted like electrolytes for 2 hours after the race. My suggestion for future participants would be “Be Smart about your Hydration Plan during the course.” You don’t have to take electrolytes every miles just because you are sweating. Water can be good for you, too. The only drawback I had on the course was that at mile 21, I stopped at the medical tent to request leg cramp prevention tablets, but they didn’t have any. Instead, they provide me an electrolyte mix that took them 5 min to fix it for me. Oh well, at that point, I don’t care about the time anymore anyway.

Here to Have FUN!!!
That’s right. Now that I have qualified for the Boston Marathon, though I naturally wanted to perform well, but given the under-trained dilemma I had, the only thing left for me to do is to enjoy the cheers of the crowd and have FUN every step on the way to the finish line. It’s not a time I would be proud of, but it’s a race I will always remember because of the community united together for such incredible event.

Final thought….
For every major race, there’s always a cost. As for Boston Marathon, it’s your dedication to running and your tenacity of living up with long waiting lines (inside jokes only for Boston Marathon participants ;D)

#BeBoston @BostonStrong

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4
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Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail Race

Hong Kong 100 Ultra Trail Race

Summary: Praise God for giving me strength to finish my first 100k ultra marathon. It's a miracle for me to even finish the race. I rolled both my ankles within … MORE

Summary: Praise God for giving me strength to finish my first 100k ultra marathon. It’s a miracle for me to even finish the race. I rolled both my ankles within a month period before my race. I have been combating the flu the week prior to the race. I had a major headache and lost my appetite the night before my race. I thought I was going to forfeit the race. Despite being under trained and under the weather, I had a great race. I finished under 16 hours at a course with over 4500m (14,500+ft) ascent. The temperature was perfect. The course is a mixture of paved road, rocky technical trail, and long steep stone stairs with sufficient amounts of checkpoints to resupply my fuel. Though my ankles and bottom of my feets were screaming at me from all the descent and pounding, I am thankful for no blisters and sprained ankles. Yippee! I am finally qualified to register Western State Endurance Race.

Difficulty: The course is difficult indeed. The only feedback I would say is that I didn’t really get eaten me alive. However, it has a significant amount of ascent that rivals some 100 mile races. What make the ascent more difficult is stat they are steep incline with no switchback, which was not fun at all either to climb or to descent upon. With part of the course paves or covered with stone slabs. my feet weren’t happy about it at all. This can be a major concern for most amateur runners from the US who are used to softer surface trail races.

Scenery: It was gorgeous. It’s hard for me to compliment Hong Kong when I was born there and hated the city pop cultures and air pollutions. This was my very first time visiting HK since I moved away when I was 14. What’s different about the scenery than other races is the diversity of vegetation and landscape throughout the course. We started running through a water reservoir, from beaches to mangroves, from mountainous terrain with small village to cityscapes afar, and even found monkeys harassing your from the abyss. It was a heck of an adventure.

Production: This is an internationally-rated ultra races, with multiple countries represented amist. They have translation for multiple languages during the pre-race briefing. The course is fairly well marked. Gotta love the aid stations with varieties of food including rice balls and cup noodles. Even more impressive, it’s actually a qualifying race for both Western States and UTMB! That’s a plus for all the ultrarunners out there.

Swag: This race is by no means skimpy on its swag. You get a buff, a pair of socks and a tech t-shirt for just participating the race. However, when you finish the race, you get a really good qualify finisher jacket along with a trophy. Yes, a trophy, not a medal! In fact, depending on your finishing time, you may qualified to receive either a gold/silver/bronze finisher trophy. That was a surely special souvenir for me to remember as my very first ultra race ever!

DIFFICULTY
5
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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Merco Credit Union Half Marathon

Merco Credit Union Half Marathon

This is my first time in Merced, CA, the city housing the newest UC campus. The course starts and ends on UC Merced campus. Runners spend first 10k running along … MORE

This is my first time in Merced, CA, the city housing the newest UC campus. The course starts and ends on UC Merced campus. Runners spend first 10k running along road next to open fields. The course is flat and rather boring initially, but the scenery changes when runners enter a bike trail though residential area, eventually back to the campus.

Compare the other races I have been to, the course markings are sufficient, but there surely can use a few improvements along the bike trails due to multiple outlets and lack of course monitor.

Since the course is fairly flat, it’s a fast course. But it rained during my race, so I didn’t managed to PR. However, I still score a second place in my age division and earn an extra medal. However, if you were the age division winner, yous shall receive one of a kind collectible carved river rock. With that being said, I am amazed of the lack of competition for a race held on a college campus like UC Merced.

Overall, it’s an easy course. But the town of Merced is not a very good selling point for a rather ghetto town in my opinion. But if you have heard of the California Half and Full Series, this will give you a lay-back racing experience.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

 

Honey Badger Half, 10K & 5K

Honey Badger Half, 10K & 5K

This is the 4th trail race of the 2016 40k/80k Sasquatch Racing Tour Pass Traliblaze series. If you have completed previous 3 races: Rattlesnake Ramble, Sasquatch Scramble and Tick Trailblazer, … MORE

This is the 4th trail race of the 2016 40k/80k Sasquatch Racing Tour Pass Traliblaze series. If you have completed previous 3 races: Rattlesnake Ramble, Sasquatch Scramble and Tick Trailblazer, you can receive a series medal which can also be used as a can opener and a belt buckle.

If you have read my other review from this series, you would also know that all their races come with a scavenger hunt theme along the course as well as a handy well-designed half marathon finisher medals. They are by far one of the most innovative design I have received this year.

The beauty of a trail run is that you get to escape from the cityscape and submerge with nature. This race is located in China Camp State Park in San Rafael, CA. Being next to the San Francisco Bay, as you descent from the hill, you actually get to see the East Bay from a distance. With every descent you come across in any loop race, you have to work for it to earn the childlike transcending freedom, and this is no exception. From mile 1 to mile 2 you have a 400ft elevation gain, which is also known as the badger hill. If you are not warmed up yet at the bottom, you surely will feel the burn at the top.

After some setbacks with course markings being tempered with in previous races in the series, everyone is required to have a course cheatsheet carried with them at all time. This race was well-marked and the volunteers were at the right spots to monitor the course. I am pleased to be able to run the course without worrying about getting lost.

Overall, I am happy with the experience and would recommend this fun trail racing series to anyone.

P.S. There are always a free beer and a robot dancing party at the finish line waiting for you. ;D

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5
My Media

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Santa Rosa Marathon

Santa Rosa Marathon

Being a Sonoma County local runner, I have to run Santa Rosa Marathon at least once. SR marathon is rated one of Top 10 most likely to qualified for Boston … MORE

Being a Sonoma County local runner, I have to run Santa Rosa Marathon at least once. SR marathon is rated one of Top 10 most likely to qualified for Boston Marathon. Many people travel from afar to make their last attempt for BQ in this race.

Being an iconic marathon, it locates in the heart of Sonoma County, where Snoopy was born. The course takes runner through downtown Santa Rosa, then along Santa Rosa Creek Trail to a neighborhood of suburb residential/vineyard area. Runner will run through a winery at mile 10 and loop back through some low volume streets back to the trail, back to the start line.

This course is fast, with very few incline. Most of the inclines are actually located near the end of the race. Though most of the course is well-marked with volunteers and spectator standing on both sides, runners did run the wrong direction early on in the race after the 1st aid station. There were over 80 of us running alongside with the 3:03 and 3:08 pacers following some elite runners down a wrong turn and added an extra 0.9 mile detour. This inevitably hurt many runners from qualifying for Boston. The pacer tried to help runners to achieve their finishing time goal, but it’s not going to be easy.

Personally, I had qualified for Boston from a different race earlier this year. Therefore, I was not in a panic mode as many others. With a cheerful spirit of training for my future ultra-marathon career, I finished the race under 3hrs 20 min. I was happy with my time considering I ran a consecutive weekend marathon. My arch was sore and hurting a bit since mile 4, but I was able to finish strong. I guess after this experience, the world of ultra-marathon is calling my name.

The temperature was great. The course was pretty. If and only if no one got lost, it would have been a great race. The finisher medal is super big and shiny. All participants get a free red wine as a souvenir. Welcome to the wine country. Too bad, I prefer cocktails.

So here’s my suggestion for all you runners who are trying to qualify for Boston, check out the course before you run the race, and don’t blindly follow someone in front of you. Pacers are there to support you, but they are runners like you trying to follow the course marking and others in front to maneuver the course. Be prepare for human error and don’t wait for last minute to try to qualify for the big race. And always train for a goal 5 minutes off the qualifying time just so you can buffer some of the unfortunate turn of events.

Otherwise, you may get lost in downtown Santa Rosa playing hide and seek with Snoopy, just like I did.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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Running with the Bears

Running with the Bears

Running with the Bear is a Boston Qualifier as well as a charity run for a local foster care non-profit organization, Mountain Circle. It's one of the (if the THE) … MORE

Running with the Bear is a Boston Qualifier as well as a charity run for a local foster care non-profit organization, Mountain Circle. It’s one of the (if the THE) smallest BQ race out there. Only 600 participants allowed to registered among 3 races (Full, Half and 10k).

Despite being a small race, it has all kinds of perks that captivate my heart.

First of all, the small town peeps know how to make a production! You get the pre-race pasta dinner and post-race party. During the race, there are aid station contests going on. 10 aid stations, each operated by non-profit organizations are competing for sponsorship in 3 categories: best theme, best spirit and best snacks. They all worked hard to gain the runners’ vote. Some aid stations have glamorous props and costumes. It’s surely fun to have them cheering you on.

Then you have the BEST goodie bag EVER. You have 40+ samples of snacks and goodies and coupons. To emphasis the incredible volume of items in the bag, I had to share a picture. As a charity run, they know well what it means to be a cheerful giver.

As for the course, it’s a relatively flat course with maybe a couple of rolling hills. You are running in the Indian Valley between Plumas National Forest and Lassen National Forest. The only challenge for sea-level people is running at a n elevation average around 3500ft. Though it’s a road race, you are surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges. The temperature is cool in the 50s-60s in morning. perfect for a run. But there’s a heatwave during the race weekend. It was in the 90s by noon. I ran as fast as I can to finish the race before the temperature starts to rise. I was thrilled to place top 3 finisher in the race, even though I had to slow down during the last 7 miles due to tight legs. But then this course has no time limit, which means marathon walker is welcomed. Gratefully, slower people are allowed to start as early as 5:30am to avoid extended exposure to heat during later of the day.

The post-race party started with a gorgeous finished medal and a 30 min massage. (You can get a free massage for 5min, or pay for a 30min massage.) There’s also a polar bear plunge (ice bath) for people to jump in. All top 3 age division winners would receive a medal. Then it’s time to relax and wait till the evening hoedown party. They have duck pie bingo, a live band and dance-till-you-cramp contest. Though originally the event was to end with a square dance party, but it ends up an open floor for everyone to dance with some pop music. Still, it was lots of fun. (Spoiler alert: Next year is gonna be Hawaiian theme.) The staffs know how to party.I had a lot of fun.

What a splendid way to celebrate my birthday this year. I Highly recommend this event. It will certainly sell out FAST! Be sure to register EARLY. Maybe then, I shall see you at next year race 😉

For additional extensive review, check out the podcast by Denny at DizRuns.com (Guest speaker at pre-race pasta dinner 2016) : http://www.dizruns.com/running-with-the-bears/

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5
My Media

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San Francisco Marathon

San Francisco Marathon

Welcome to the Golden State where the Golden Gate is waiting for you to run through! The Boston qualifier course is marked by the iconic Gold Gate bridge , found … MORE

Welcome to the Golden State where the Golden Gate is waiting for you to run through!

The Boston qualifier course is marked by the iconic Gold Gate bridge , found in many movies and postcards. Despite the hilly terrain throughout the city of San Francisco, the course is surprisingly leveled with few rolling hills. Though it may not be as flat as other BQ courses, it’s not a very difficult one to complete. Personally, I liked the layout of the course because it involves several rolling hills allowing some recovery stride during the downhill portions. However, I dislike a new change in the course where we now have a turnaround spot in the Gold Gate Park. (If you read my other reviews, you would have known I am anti-turnarounds in a race course. So this course is no exception to my rules.) Please be mindful of a 6 hour limit to the course. The roads will have to reopen once the time limit is up. From a personal experience escorting a slower friend, bag check will be removed from the finish line when the roads are reopened. Late finishers will have to claim their belongings the following day at the headquarter.

So what’s so good about this course? Why am I running it the 3rd time in my life? My answer is simply this: I want to have a legitimate good finishing course PR as supposed my half-hearten effort couple years ago. Beside that, there aren’t really anything that charming about this race. Okay, maybe I lie too early. The race production is well-organized considering all the road closures involved. I love the fact there’s multiple corrals to split up runners with different pace, so that you won’t have to muscle your way through the crowds. In addition, all participants get to brag about themselves running aross the Golden Gate Bridge. But the pretty scenery soon disappear to the back of your mind when you ran through residential then industrial district of the city. I live only an hour North of SF, and I know there are many cooler places the course could have gone through. But the race chose some of the ghetto part of the city as part of the course. This makes the whole marathon experience less tourist-friendly. It’s sad to find a race in a big city to be not so glamorous through and through.

My rating for the race swag is average. The finisher medal is a piece of medal of boring carving. The design is mediocre and seems to be worse than previous ones. Part of the reasons I run multiple races is to collect their unique medals. But I am not impressed by the SF marathon medals. Considering their registration fee, the amount of goodies you get is slim.

So if you want visit the Golden Gate, just go for a run on your own. You don’t have to spend over $100 just to have an overcast view of the iconic landmark.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
3
SWAG
3

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Spartan Race – San Francisco

Spartan Race – San Francisco

This is a new course location for Spartan Race. As usual, Spartan Race has put on a great production for everyone to enjoy. It's noteworthy for any first timer that … MORE

This is a new course location for Spartan Race. As usual, Spartan Race has put on a great production for everyone to enjoy. It’s noteworthy for any first timer that this course is not for beginners to trail racing. The main nemesis is not the obstacles here, but the heat. It’s better to race during morning while it’s cool than during afternoon. Many afternoon participants were dehydrated due to the heat. If you don’t train properly, it is not advised to race the afternoon waves even if it is non-competitive.

Spartan Race is an obstacle race, which means it is innately challenging for average people. However, some races are doable for people who trained for it. My course difficulty rating is primarily a comparison with my past experience with the World Championship Tahoe Beast as 5. I have rated this course 3/5 with a couple of considerations. First, Spartan Race is known for burpees as penalty for failure to complete its obstacles. Since there are primarily 3 categories of distances, super means 8-10miles with 25-29 obstacles. This race is 8.7 miles with 26 obstacles. Different courses have different obstacles, but among those, there is 1 obstacle no one are allowed to skip, Bucket Brigade. This obstacle is one of the toughest because you are asked to carry a bucket full of rocks or dirt and up a loop with incline. In addition, there is an inspection at the end of the obstacle, where a staff will make sure your rock/dirt are above the fill lines as indicated on the bucket. Failed to have the appropriate amount will result in a redo or disqualified. I remember vividly the World Championship has a quarter mile loop with 40% incline, it took me 90min to complete the obstacles with multiple breaks. However, the Bucket Brigade at this course is particularly short, which is why I lower the difficulty rating significantly. Beside this, I also consider the barbed wire obstacle here as easy because it is a much shorter distance to crawl and no requirement to roll on your side , which I personally is thankful for. I hate the obnoxious and dizzy feeling from rolling under barbed wire for 5 minutes straight. No fire pit is present in this course, which is understandable with dry grassland throughout the course and average 90s during the afternoon. Beside the usual obstacles, this course includes multiple steep hills, you better be ready for some steep incline. Add hill workout to your training routine.

As for my performance, I had to do 90 burpees to make up my shortcoming in failing the spear throw, Z-wall and Hercules Hoist. Spear throw is one of those obstacles you don’t want to fail, or the penalty will add up the time significant. To complete the Z-wall, you must go slow, or you can slip off the blocks easily, which I did. And Hercules hoist is one that requires shoulder, back and core strength to lift a sandbag 40ft up in the air by pulling on a rope. It’s not easy for a lightweight guy as myself.

Overall scenery is average with rolling hills and open oak woodland, typical for obstacle course.

Race swag includes finisher T-shirt and medal. They offers banana, protein bar and 1 can of fitaid. Personally, I am not a fan of protein bars. I wish there are more drinks to be offered especially with the heat. However, you get to show off your accomplishment with the battle scars. Very few finish the course unscathed. That’s the beauty of obstacle courses.

AROO!!!

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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Marina Bay Riveter Half Marathon

Marina Bay Riveter Half Marathon

This is definitely a beginner friendly race for all the first time half marathon runners. It is fast and probably the flattest course you can ever ask for a half … MORE

This is definitely a beginner friendly race for all the first time half marathon runners. It is fast and probably the flattest course you can ever ask for a half marathon. We had the perfect temperature. Perfect for first timers to get a great PR. But for a seasoned runner, I bet you the differ.

Difficulty: As i have pointed out, it is fast and flat. You can hardly go wrong with that. So you would think… but there are about 5 turnaround points in the mere 13.1miles course. That’s a sore eye for a long distance runners. You have to brake so many times in the race, which makes energy conservation extra-inefficient. I personally hated this course because of that. I prefer loop course or point-to-point course.

Scenery: The course is primarily along the shoreline of Richmond. It’s hard to beat the beauty of the ocean view while strolling down the paved trail. The only upgrade to this would be a coastal trail without all the infrastructures.

Production: The race went super smoothly. The only shortcoming I would like to make a note of is the post-race award. There’s no tent or station with a sign to tell winners to claim any awards even though it was stated on the website about award availability. You have to ask around to track down the one person who has the awards kept away in the hidden treasure chest. Unfortunately, it appears the race organizer does not think runners are interested in competing for awards at all.

Swag: For all participants, you receive a tech tee and a medal. Though the design of the medal was mediocre, the coolest takeaway item from this race is a custom-printed Buff. That’s special compared to other races.

Performance: As I mentioned, it’s a fast and easy course. But for someone has several half marathons in his belt, I did not get my PR. I blame it all to the poor course design. After all, I have never been a fan of flat course anyway.

So there you have it. If you like to make U-turns, this is the race for you 😉

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
4
SWAG
5

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Spartan Race – Monterey, CA

Spartan Race – Monterey, CA

This is my second Spartan Race. My first was the Lake Tahoe Beast. This is a lot easier in comparison. Course layout: This is a hilly course with multiple steep … MORE

This is my second Spartan Race. My first was the Lake Tahoe Beast. This is a lot easier in comparison.

Course layout: This is a hilly course with multiple steep terrain, but totally doable. Since I have done the World Championship course, the amount of incline here is insignificant in comparison. I gave a 3/5 for difficulty. Please note that there are multiple loose dirt steep downhill. If you are not used to running downhill will minimum footing, it could be a difficult course for you to finish. For those who are competitive, you may have trouble passing people due to narrow trail and slow-down at some steep downhill area. You’ll better be ready to scream “RUNNER!!!” multiple time unless you get to be in the front pack of elite wave. Unfortunately, even in competitive wave, there are still way too many people walking the hills. That really slow me down when I can’t pass them off easily.

Obstacles: There’s no fire in this year’s race. I don’t know about the history though. You can expect the usual with walls, bucket and dunk. After the Tahoe experience of bucket, I think this bucket obstacle is much doable, shorter hill to climb and gravels instead of semi-wet dirt. Personally I still hate the barbed wire, because I get super dizzy from rolling on my side. Thank God, it’s not as long as the one in Tahoe, otherwise, I would have thrown up. You may want to figure out a tactic for motion sickness or crawl you way through instead.

Scenery: The course is primarily chaparral and grassland with sparse oak woodland. Honestly, once the race starts, I hardly focus on the scenery but rather making sure I have the proper footing to avoid injury or tripping over. Therefore, I don’t think I would be a fair judge of the scenery. But again I was not there to hike, I was there for the obstacle course to challenge myself.

Race production: The bib pick-up was quick. The only thing worth mentioning is that waiver is provided on-site to be signed. I printed out mine, but they said they revised it. This happened at the Lake Tahoe Beast, too. Basically, the online waiver version is useless if they keep revising it last minute. Just be there early enough to sign the waiver. Due to no parking at the actual course, parking is elsewhere and people must take a shuttle to get in. If you do your homework and read the email, you would have known that and be prepared for an early arrival. I had to wake up at 3pm to start driving. Next time, I should have stay at somewhere nearby.

Swag: You get a finisher medal along with a T-shirt. I love the quality of their T-shirt. It’s soft and fitted and comfortable. You also get a slice of the Trifecta medal. Collect 3 of different pieces to complete the medal.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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Mountains 2 Beach Marathon & Half Marathon

Mountains 2 Beach Marathon & Half Marathon

This race fills up fast. Plan to register ahead of time. I didn't start looking into my 2016 race schedule till end of January. The race was full by then … MORE

This race fills up fast. Plan to register ahead of time. I didn’t start looking into my 2016 race schedule till end of January. The race was full by then and I was on a 200+ wait list. But after being patient for a couple months. I was given a spot to register in early April.

I got my sub-3hr PR and first race to qualified for Boston here. Definitely a top BQ race.

The overall downhill race is great, but watch out for going too fast. You can burn out your quads really early on. Be prepared to control your pace during the downhill stretch, or you may find yourself running at your 10k pace. There is a decent incline 1.5mile before finish line. I definitely slow down significantly when I reached Ventura downtown because my feet went numb after all the downhill pounding.

The course is pretty on its own. But I must say I have raced in prettier landscape before. Having lived in NorCal where there are oak woodland and ocean view, the course scenery is average in my biased opinion. However, if you are from the inland, it would be a treat.

The half and full marathon has an astounding quality tech T-shirt for all participant. A definite thumb-up. The medal is also well designed, a great addition to the collection.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
5

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Windsor Run & Wine Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Windsor Run & Wine Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

To start off, it is a fast course. If you are looking for a PR in half marathon. This is it. I got my PR on this course without my … MORE

To start off, it is a fast course. If you are looking for a PR in half marathon. This is it. I got my PR on this course without my Garmin watch o help me track my time. A special thanks to a fellow competitor who I paced with most of the way through.

Scenery: The course setting is in a suburb town, Windsor, within Sonoma County, a wine county. Okay, I admit there’s a slight bias on my rating. I have worked in this area. I am familiar with the scenery. That’s why I don’t think it is anything special. It’s another peaceful country setback that I see daily. so it’s probably considered really pretty for most who are from the city. (That’s why I consider myself one of the harshest rater on this category.)

But onward with the course…

Difficulty: It’s not a hard course at all. It has some rolling hills midway through. But if you have training for a half marathon, they are easy. In fact, I personally prefer rolling hills over flat course as I may have mentioned in my other reviews. The benefit is the recovery time you get after the uphill, meaning cruising down the slope a gallop. What it means is that it is a self-sustain system. In addition, thank God it’s a loop course! I ran in so many courses with turnaround, which makes me sick in the stomach. So this means you can go all out without slowing down. Yay!

Production: The course is well-marked and supported by the locals. You can’t get lost at all. There’s a cyclist leading the front pack and everything is well-organized.

Swag: The T-shirt is special cotton made, in between a regular tee and a tech tee. But it’s white, which means it can get dirty fast. That’s where I took 1 pt off for the rating. Medal is nice. And top 3 age group winners get to take home some wine. Um… nice, but I am trying to have a low alcohol diet for being true to the call of running. I want a pair of running shoes instead 😛

Last but not least, Go Run, Get Wine, Less Whine.

Welcome to Sonoma County!

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
3
SWAG
4

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Avenue of the Giants Marathon & Half Marathon

Avenue of the Giants Marathon & Half Marathon

Alright, it's not common to see me like a course with more than 1 turnaround spots. But this race is the exception. Right off the back, you get to run … MORE

Alright, it’s not common to see me like a course with more than 1 turnaround spots. But this race is the exception. Right off the back, you get to run within the old growth coastal redwood forest in Humboldt County. It’s so beautiful and breathtaking that I don’t mind to run past the same scenery over and over again.

So what’s it like to run a Marathon here? I would say it is an ideal course for Boston Qualifier. The course is relatively flat with some rolling hills, which helps break away from the dull flat courses. Since I am all for a moderate amount of rolling hills, it’s just the course I like. Yes, there are 2 turnaround points, so you may have to slow down a bit near quarter and three-quarter of the way (I guess the only bummer about this course.

This is my 4th Marathon ever, and I performed exceptionally well with a full-40 minutes improvement in my time and I felt great at the finish line. Considering all the Marathon I have done so far at this point of time when I am typing up this review (6 Marathons in my belt), this is my best race yet. It may have it’s hiccup for the start, considering the untimely long lines for parking giving me a late start for the race. I had a BLAST!!! playing Indian Run, catching up everyone. From dead last to finishing Top10, that’s unprecedented. I know some peeps hated this, but I love it when we get to merge the course with the 10k and half marathon runners, meaning more people to pass near the end. *smirky laugh* The exhilarating excitement of weaving through the crowds remind me of my childhood growing up in one of the most populated city in the world, Hong Kong. Therefore, this race is like a deja vu with loads of FUN. I think the inspiration of getting to pass people in a competitive event helped me to avoid any bonking in this race. Along with majority of the course sheltered by the redwood forest, the temperature was ideal for racing.

At finish line, you receive your medal and there’s the Perrott Creek for finisher to jump in, relax and cool off. It’s a true paradise. I would highly recommend this race to any runners.

DIFFICULTY
2
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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Marin County Half Marathon

Marin County Half Marathon

There are a few races that are in my bottom of the barrel To-Run list. This is one of them. I shall explain why in a few moment. But let … MORE

There are a few races that are in my bottom of the barrel To-Run list. This is one of them. I shall explain why in a few moment. But let me try to recap some of the pros of this race, then some of the critiques.

Scenic Course:
Marin County Half Marathon is located in San Rafael, CA where runners will run through part of the China Camp State Park. In the course of running through the state park, runners get to enjoy a spectacular view of the San Francisco Bay. The scenery is breathtaking.

Race Support:
This is a community event, which means many locals come and cheer on the runners. You get shuttles to accommodate the parking issue at start lines. It’s not easy to find parking here.

Backward Logic:
It’s a 50:50 trail/road race with a 1200 ft elevation climb. For most races, the inclines are either during the 1st half of the race or simply series of rolling hills, which allows runners to recover during the downhill stretch. This race devise its backward logic, by having a 3+ miles of downhill in the beginning of the course, leaving majority of the inclines happen during the second half of the race. Not to mention, the downhill portion is along the road, while the uphill is along the trail. This may not be a poor strategy, except most inexperienced runners may end up running too fast during the downhill portion and jeopardized their quads for running back uphill to finish now. With less to say, It’s not a beginner-friendly course.

Collection pooper:
As an amateur competitive runner, I run to collect race souvenirs, finisher medals and T-shirt. To my utmost disappointment, this race sucks in both production.

Starting with tech tee at the bib pickup, all participants of all races (5k, 10k and half marathon) can get a decent backpack and a free shirt. Yay for backpack, but Nay for tech tee. Not only was the design generic, the sizes were supposed to be “unisex”. I generally wear men small. so naturally I grab a small shirt. But when I try the shirt on after the race, it was super uncomfortable and especially tight around the shoulder. It’s a women cut, not unisex as the shirt claims. I ended up donating the shirt to the charity.

Okay, the shirt ain’t fit, that’s not a biggie. I have tons of race shirts, I don’t really care to have an extra one or not. But my heart broke when I came through the finish line only to find a generic key-chain-sized medal just like a dog tag passing out to everyone finishing their races. That’s slightly demeaning when half marathon participants have to pay $75+ for the race. I feel like they should have been more thoughtful for people who made the effort to run the extra miles in the race.

So if you are here for a challenge and a good view of the SF Bay, this is a great run for you. But if you are here to collect another finisher medal, this race is a complete downer. Just find a different race.

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
2

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Sasquatch Scramble 5K, 10K & Half

Sasquatch Scramble 5K, 10K & Half

It's not a beginner course, that's for sure. You have steep inclines throughout the first half of the race. Like other sasquatch racing event, there's treasure hunting component to it … MORE

It’s not a beginner course, that’s for sure. You have steep inclines throughout the first half of the race. Like other sasquatch racing event, there’s treasure hunting component to it which makes it fun. Since it’s a trail race, aid stations are far apart. The course is shorter than 13.1miles, but it surely felt long. Unfortunately, due to a crucial course marshall bailed out last minute, this left a main intersection un-monitored. Along with someone tempering with some course markings, many got lost or ran part of the course twice.

It is MANDATORY to take a course cheatsheet with you and look up the course map beforehand. The race director is super responsive to all suggestions and try to avoid same issue happens again. It’s just unfortunate when the unexpected happened.

As for my performance, I was handicapped by running part of the course twice. Luckily, I realized it sooner than later, and corrected myself before I went too far into the unending loop. The first runner got lost and disappeared from the radar for an hour, allowing myself unofficially to come in the top.

In the end, everyone made it back to the start despite everyone ran extra long on the course than planned. To put it optimistically, at least the course is well shaded in a beautiful mixed evergreen-deciduous forest at Redwood Regional Park. The plus for my adventure is that I won a Salomon cap from the raffle. Perfect for myself, I would say 🙂

DIFFICULTY
4
PRODUCTION
3
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

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Peace Love Run Half Marathon – Sacramento

Peace Love Run Half Marathon – Sacramento

This is one of the races that I least recommended based on experience. If you are competitive runner, forget about this race and find something else. Beautiful Scenery: You get … MORE

This is one of the races that I least recommended based on experience. If you are competitive runner, forget about this race and find something else.

Beautiful Scenery:
You get to run on the Tower Bridge in downtown Sacramento and along American River.

Poor production:
Considering the presumption that a race held at the state capital should be well-organized, this race simply proves the opposite. Volunteers and the cops have no idea where the course is. All top runners got lost at the first turnaround point at mile 3. Volunteer left the turnaround sign on the ground instead of propping it up for runners to see. The annoying thing is that I ran by the volunteers and asked about the direction, they had no clue where the turnaround should have been, so we ran an extra half mile only to find out we ran too far. At the second turnaround point, the sign is up, but at a very confusing location. Runners were to double back a single lane trail, which means you are running into oncoming runners. Then there’s the train track which I had to stop. They tried to track it by jotting down your bib number, but how do they know how long each person were waiting at the track when there is no chip scanner to be found in the area? Finally, you are supposed to run past the finish line and continue another quarter mile and turnaround to cross the finish line. But there’s no volunteer or sign directing the runners. I ended up cutting the race short there because a cop at the intersection told me it was OK to run to the finish line without the last bit of turnaround. The bottom line is that I have never ran a more confusing course than this race in my life.

Despite the official record says I am first, I told the race director I should have been second because of all the confusions with the course. I was all tensed up and started to slow down during the second half of my race because of all the confusion. I could not accept the official record as my personal best. (In fact, the race director tried to compensate the time lost due to the train track waiting and people running extra distance due to being lost. But honestly, I do not trust that result at all.)

In the end I have received an additional cotton race T-shirt and a Target gift card for running “second place” as I insisted. But there’s no Top 3 winner medals, even though age group winners got theirs. (Now I’m bummed.)

DIFFICULTY
1
PRODUCTION
1
SCENERY
4
SWAG
3

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Rattlesnake Ramble

Rattlesnake Ramble

This is my very first Sasquatch Racing series. There are 5 of them throughout the year, with each each held at different part of San Francisco Bay Area. It provides … MORE

This is my very first Sasquatch Racing series. There are 5 of them throughout the year, with each each held at different part of San Francisco Bay Area. It provides a great opportunity for people to explore new trail to run on.

Difficulty (3/5) :
The half marathon course is a loop around the lake with some hills. Because of the nature of trail race and some elevation change, I give it an average rating for difficulty. Generally speaking, this course is fairly straightforward and a great one for beginners to ease into a hilly course. The trails are wide and have lots of room for maneuver make it fairly easy to race on.

Scenery (4/5):
Rattlesnake Ramble is held at Lake Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley, which provides a beautiful setting for a fun trail run. Here we have oak woodland adjacent to a reservoir. The combination of land and water always gives viewer a sense of tranquility. It makes the run a lot more relaxing.

Production (4/5):
The race is well organized. The course is marked with ribbons and flour on the ground. There are volunteers on the course to point you the right direction. There’s course cheat sheet for everyone to run with. Do grab one, because you may get confused when you run past a minor trail that’s not marked. (What I really mean is that not every intersection is marked with ribbons, some minor diverging trails are ignored. As a runner’s perspective, I prefer no room for discrepancy. )

Race Swag (4/5):
For all finishers, you receive a T-shirt and finisher medallion. Half marathon finisher medal is also functional as a bottle opener. There’s post-race beer and raffle. The coolest of all about Sasquatch Racing is that you get to play treasure hunt throughout the course. There are hidden wooden medallions that can be exchanged for special prizes. I really like that, thought I failed to find any because I was too busy competing. The reason I didn’t give a full score for swag was because I registered late online and they ran out of small and medium size T-shirt. Beside that, if you are a competitive runner, do not expect any age-group or overall winner award. This is straightly family-fun treasure hunt trail racing. That was a bummer for me because I got second overall.

Still, the experience is positive and I would highly recommend this race to anyone. Just bring a positive attitude and hope for a little luck to find some treasures to bring home with.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
4
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

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