Latest reviews by Brie Hemingway

(2016)
"AMAZING crowd support!"
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I signed up for the Portland Marathon knowing that it was only a month out from my biggest adventure to-date, a seven-day stage race through the Alps called the TransAlpine Run. My husband and I decided to drive down and make a weekend out of it! The race has two distance options, full marathon or half marathon - I choose the full. Both are walker friendly with the caveat that the course closes after 8 hours.

Package Pickup & Swag: The package pickup and expo was located in the Hilton Portland which was right downtown near the race start and finish lines. There were lots of vendors including a Portland Marathon gear store, Altra Running, Nuun, and a local brewery giving out beer samples.

The only thing I had to pickup for the race was my bib and a "souvenir bag" which was just a plastic bag with a sticker on it. I appreciate that the race opted for a “virtual goodie bag” that contained online discount codes and promotions for their vendors rather than loading up the race package full of promo items that would end up in the recycling bin. I received the rest of my swag at the finish line and it was definitely worth running 26.2 miles for! All runners received a medal, a rose, a light cloth ponchos, a commemorative coin, a pendant, a long-sleeved shirt, and a little tree sapling after crossing the finish line. The medals were gorgeous. I had seen an image of them before the event and that’s when I first decided I HAD to finish this race. Run, walk, or crawl. The commemorative coin and pendant were designed very similar to the medal – very cool.

Course & Aid Stations: The route starts and finishes in downtown Portland. The half and full runners complete two out and backs along the river before the marathoners hang a hard right while the half marathoners continue straight back to the finish line. The marathoners then head further north to the St Johns Bridge at 17 miles where they cross over to the other side of the river and run back along it heading south until 24 miles when they cross back over the Broadway Bridge into the downtown core. Historically, the Portland Marathon typically has great weather but of course the year I run it, it rains non-stop. Unfortunately this meant I missed seeing views of Portland and the river. The race had many aid stations with water and some with electrolyte drink as well. I saw a couple that had gummy bears and one that had pretzels. I still can't get over how many spectators were out on the course despite the rain cheering everyone on - this was my favourite thing about the whole race!

There was an issue with all or most of several corrals missing the very first turn which resulted in about an extra half a mile. I was one of these runners but we got back on course and I didn't even know it had happened until I saw someone else's post. More details in my full race report (link below).

Post-race: I was soaking wet and cold after I finally got all my swag, and then found my husband, Jesse, in the “reunion area" so we didn't hang around long. The great thing is that the race finished downtown so there are lots of coffee shops and restaurants to re-fuel at nearby.

In spite of the weather and a couple race management issues, I had a great race! I felt like I had redeemed myself on the marathon distance and got some great swag to boot! I also enjoyed spending time with my husband exploring the community and meeting new running friends.

Read my full race report here: http://brielikethecheese.com/blog/2016/10/race-report-portland-marathon-2016/

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(2016)
"My first wine run and it was fantastic!"
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I drove down to Battle Ground, WA, for the North County Wine Run with a friend and fellow BibRave Pro, Bradley. The race had two options: a half marathon, which had about 200 runners, and a 3-person half marathon relay, which had about 50 teams. We both ran the solo half marathon.

Package Pickup & Swag: We woke up early to pick up our packages before the race and there were no lineups. They gave us our bibs, timing chip, bonus goodies, and a race t-shirt that said “run now, wine later” on the back. After the race we received a really cool medal and a wine glass for some free tastings. Overall, I was impressed with the race swag and goodies!

Course & Aid Stations: The race started at the Rusty Grape Vineyard and went through two other vineyards where the relay exchanges were located as well as aid stations with water, Gatorade, and tiny wine samples. The route was a bit hilly with scenic views of fields with cows and horses. I had one issue with the race – traffic control. The roads weren’t very busy but they also didn’t have shoulders. The race had set up cones along the very edge of the road which forced runners ta little closer to traffic. There were signs posted about the race and most vehicles were great moved nearly fully into the other lane to give runners space … but some vehicles didn’t seem to care.

Post-Race: The post-race party was top notch. They provided a post-race meal of pasta, which was vegetarian (yay!), and Caesar salad. It was simple but delicious and again there were no line ups! The vineyard was a great setting and had a few areas with picnic tables set up where runners could enjoy their food and drinks.

Overall, I would recommend this race! It's quite the drive from Vancouver, BC, so if I did it again I'd make a bigger weekend out of it. But for those of you in the Seattle and Portland areas it's not much of a drive! Huge bonus points for the race for having photographers on course and making the photos accessible on social media for FREE!

Read my full race report here: http://brielikethecheese.com/blog/2016/09/race-report-north-county-wine-run-2016/

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(2016)
"Canada's largest 10K!"
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The 32nd annual Vancouver Sun Run is was held the morning of Sunday, April 17. It is Canada’s largest 10K road race and this year had over 42,000 registrants. This was my second time running the Sun Run and I have lucked out with amazingly sunny weather both years.

Package Pickup & Swag: I went to the package pickup expo at lunch on the Friday. There were basically no lineups and it was a breeze to get through. There were quite a few retailers and some free samples of juice and snacks being given out. Everyone gets a t-shirt included with registration. This was the first year that the Sun Run decided to forgo their traditional white cotton t-shirts and instead opted for blue technical shirts. However, there are no medals for this race.

Course & Aid Stations: The race starts on Georgia Street and the corrals span 5 short city blocks. The route heads west towards Stanley Park and then back east along English Bay, south over the Burred Street Bridge, and continues further east until heading north over the Cambie Street Bridge and around BC Place where the finish line is located. There were ample water stations along the route and one station specifically for red bibs (walkers, strollers) that had some snacks.

Post-Race: Since I had been to the package pickup expo, I waited outside in the nice weather while my friends battled the crowds inside BC Place. They came back frustrated that they couldn’t see or get around to everything and eventually had given up. I’m not sure what was inside but I suspect the same shops/booths for the various running brands, snacks, and races.

Despite starting at the very last corral and waiting over an hour to get to the start line, it is a really fun race! There is something cool about running among tens of thousands of people. Surprisingly, we were even able to finish in 1:09 by weaving in and out of the crowd.

Read my full race report here: http://brielikethecheese.com/blog/2016/04/race-report-vancouver-sun-run-2016/

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(2016)
"Fun & well-organized community race!"
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The 2016 WestVanRun was held on March 5 and 6. The first day was the 5K event and the second day was the 10K. I was lucky enough to be a part of the race as an ambassador along with a group of amazing local runners and, of course, opted to participate in both days! The race attracted a group of over 1200 enthusiastic participants including elites, runners, and walkers.

Package Pickup & Swag: They did offer same day package pickup for out-of-town runners, but I was warned it would be busy so a friend picked mine up prior to race day. The package included one bib with chip timing to be worn both days and two cool-looking WVR water bottles.

Course & Aid Stations: The race was located at Dundrave Park which I had never been to before. It was a great spot on the waterfront with plenty of parking, a building with washrooms (that’s right, flush toilets!), and a restaurant. The start line for both events was a block inland and the race headed east parallel to the ocean until the halfway point where the route takes you back right along the water to the ocean-view finish line. The only downside is that you could see the finish line from quite a distance … so close and yet so far away! There was one aid station for each race with water. Unfortunately, the water was full bottles so a lot when to waste and other people didn’t take any due to not needing a whole bottle. It was a bit confusing. Next year I’d like to see the usual cups.

Post-Race: There was a small expo with booths from Kintec, 5 Peaks, and other running-related brands. Bottles of water, hot chocolate, and a natual energy drink were available for the taking. Racers could head into the restaurant to get a grab bag of breakfast food (banana, mini yogurt parfait, mini croissant, etc) and sit down at the tables. The awards ceremony was also held in there.

It was a really fun event and great to see all the WestVanRun ambassadors and crew – they are such amazing and hilarious people! There were lots of PBs (including one for me on the 5K day)!

Read my full race recap here: http://briehemingway.com/blog/2016/03/race-recap-westvanrun-2016/

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(2016)
"Challenging first 100K"
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The 2016 Gorge Waterfalls 100k was held on Saturday, April 2. Last year, the 50k race was held the following Sunday, but this year it was held on the following weekend this year (April 9). It's probably easier for the organizers and volunteers to do it this way but unfortunately it meant that I didn't get to see my friends run the 50k. There were a couple other changes from last year including it being a Western States qualifier, having a 17-hour cut off (rather than 16 hours with the option to start an hour early), 6am start (versus 4am last year), and no pacers allowed.

Being a slower runner, this race was really tough. The cut offs were tight and I was chasing them the whole time, knowing that if I slowed down I likely wouldn't make it. On a positive note, it pushed me to run harder than I otherwise would have - my default pace is incredible leisurely, and with all the amazing scenery I could have spent a lot more time taking photos!

Package Pickup & Swag: Bib pick up was the morning of the race which was super convenient. The only swag included was a race sticker. They also have shirts and other products for sale.

Course & Aid Stations: The course is an out-and-back parallel to the Columbia River. The trails are stunning and there are several waterfalls along the way, including one you run under! There is one significant stretch of road (several kilometres) but it's a small price to pay for an otherwise beautiful single track route. There is a total of 12,000 ft elevation gain described as "rolling hills" and "mostly runnable" (I beg to differ) with a big climb at the start and finish. The aid stations were amazing and the volunteers were incredible even after many hours on their feet and helping runners. Dropbags were allowed and transported to all but the first aid station.

Post-Race: I didn't experience much of the post-race party since I showed up really late to it - about 14 minutes after the 17 hour cut off ... oops! Luckily the finish line was still open, the pizza guys were still cooking, and there was still beer left!

Overall, it was a really great race! I'm so glad I did it and would definitely recommend it to others! The only major downside ... no medals!! Rainshadow Running races are all like this - they put the swag money towards awesome aid stations and after party with fresh cooked pizza and kegs of beer. I'd definitely pay extra for a medal though.

Read my full race report here: http://briehemingway.com/blog/2016/04/race-report-gorge-waterfalls-100k-2016/

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