Latest reviews by Jenn LE

(2017)
"Daytona Beach Lap the Track 3.1"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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This was my first year at the Daytona Beach Lap the Track 3.1 event and I was absolutely blown away. I want to participate in the Relay Challenge next year and get a taste of the half marathon course!

T-SHIRTS/SWAG - We each got a really nice, cotton shirt (I prefer them to the tech/wicking shirts). They were out of Adult Small for my son, so we had the option of a cotton Adult Medium or a small Challenge Shirt. It was nice to offer the option. Medals were gorgeous - heavy, colorful, glitter with a beautiful checkerboard ribbon. Nice, custom bibs, too.

AID STATIONS - One station on the 5K course, offering water and Gatorade. Still plenty to offer when we passed.

COURSE SCENERY - Pretty cool to run on the Daytona International Speedway track. Yes, it's just pavement, but it's rather fabulous to know that you're running where all the racecars will be racing.

EXPO QUALITY - We did not attend the expo due to distance (we live an hour away and didn't want to make two trips in as many days, nor did we want to spend the night). The little area set up at the track for packet pick up on race day was very nice, though. A few relevant vendors was a nice touch - really nice to be able to purchase Gu on race day if needed.

ELEVATION DIFFICULTY - The 5K course was pretty flat and fast.

PARKING/ACCESS - Easy peasy. We arrived with about 90 minutes to spare as we weren't sure if there would be enough parking or traffic, and we had to collect our packets on race morning. Parking signs were clear and plentiful, and we had no problem being directed to our spot on the infield of the speedway. Easy walking distance to packet pickup and the start line, too.

RACE MANAGEMENT - Flawless. Course was accurate and well marked. Plenty of volunteers helping to direct. Great music. Free, unlimited beer for runners at the finish line, as well as food trucks and food for sale. Everyone was friendly and helpful.

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(2017)
"26.2 with DONNA Relay Team"
Overall
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This is the first time I participated in 26.2 with DONNA on the big race day (I had done the 5K a few years ago, which was on Saturday in a different location, so didn't get the full benefit of the magnitude of the event). I really fell in love with the energy, the cause and the vibe. This was the 10th Anniversary of the race, and it felt really right to be there, with a team of four other wonderful women, running the marathon relay-style.

My review covers Leg 1 (start - mile 6), and the vibe of the expo/event.

T-SHIRTS/SWAG - With your registration, you receive a gender-specific, long-sleeve T-shirt. I loved the design. Each of the team members got a really nice DONNA-branded string backpack, a run DONNA car magnet, a copy of Donna Deegan's book "Through Rose-Colored Glasses", a sample of energy gel, a branded buff/headband and some other coupons and magazines. The finisher medals were STUNNING: large, stained glass, beautiful ribbons, etc. Probably one of my favorite pieces of bling.

AID STATIONS - Official aid stations seemed to be every 1.5 miles, with both water and electrolyte drink. Gels were available at stations further along the course. Unofficial stations were set up by spectators with all kinds of goodies - adult beverages, brownies, treats, etc. There was no shortage of fuel, drink or high-fives on the course.

COURSE SCENERY - A++++ The first 6 miles were through some gorgeous, beachfront neighborhoods in Ponte Vedra. Even better than looking at the architecture was all the people (and dogs) who came out to cheer us on. Neighborhoods got together to hang balloons and streamers, create pink archways and set up bubble machines... all for the runners. It was amazing and so kind. Based on pictures and what the rest of my team said, the rest of the run was pretty much the same.

EXPO QUALITY - Really nice expo with great vendors. The convention center offered free parking for people picking up packets which was a nice touch. The expo did seem a little smaller than the last time I was there, but it was well organized and put together.

ELEVATION DIFFICULTY - For my part of the course, it was fine. I upped the difficulty because there are bridges and an overpass, which are pretty brutal, especially for the last mile.

PARKING/ACCESS - The race is point to point, so runners are asked to park in the TPC lot to start, and then shuttle back from the finish at Mayo Clinic. Honestly, the last thing I wanted to do after a long day outside was sit on a school bus for 30 minutes to get back to the car, but it's a small annoyance that doesn't mar a great cause. There were some issues with the relay shuttles. We ended waiting an hour in freezing cold wind for a shuttle back to the finish line from transition one, which was pretty awful. Things happen, but the bus coordinator had no radio and didn't seem very interested in calling anyone for assistance. We finally got a bus when a volunteer coordinator started making calls because it was "inexcusable" that runners were left stranded that long. It was much appreciated to have someone step up to help.

RACE MANAGEMENT - Wonderful. Unfortunately, the weather started out cold, overcast and windy and ended up hot and humid, which was tough for the runners. The complimentary runner refreshment was soup, which was nice, but not necessarily the greatest thing for an 80+ degree day. Fortunately, Rita's was there, selling Italian ice. The Finisher's Village was beautiful with great energy. Crowd support was on point. I loved all the pink everywhere. Course was well marked and executed.

I am definitely in for this again, both for the event and the cause.

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(2017)
"Wolfson Children's Challenge Ultra Relay"
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Since our son was born and admitted to Wolfson for some medical issues, I have been very happy to support this particular event. Every year, we have run in honor of a Wolfson patient, and it's such an amazing feeling to be out there for this cause. My biggest complaint has to be the weather - it's always absolutely freezing out, but that can't be controlled, and we just bundle up and bring blankets.

The tent city was much better organized this year. Loved the addition of the 4Rivers food truck, and was happy to get my free beer at the beer tent. Tin Can Lounge was a nice touch for free, commemorative photo booth pictures, and the kids and adults all loved the characters who came out to mingle (Disney princesses, 501st Legion, etc).

T-SHIRTS/SWAG - I liked the cotton t-shirts although I wish they could vary the design a little. Additionally, medals did change their design after two years - 2017's medal had a spinner feature, which was pretty neat.

AID STATIONS - There is one water stop, and it was plentiful and manned by incredibly sweet volunteers.

COURSE SCENERY - The course was changed for 2017, and it was much better than 2016. Last year, half of the 5K loop seemed to be through the Everbank Field parking lots, but this year, we got to run down near the Landing and had a bit more of an urban route. I did do the loop several times, acting as a pacer, so it did get old after a while, but I think that's normal, and certainly not enough to deter me.

EXPO QUALITY - N/A. I don't believe there is an expo for this particular event.

ELEVATION DIFFICULTY - Jacksonville is fairly flat. There are a few really low-grade inclines but nothing worth mentioning.

PARKING/ACCESS - Free parking at Everbank Field. It's very plentiful, even if arriving later in the day.

RACE MANAGEMENT - The race seemed better laid out and organized this year. Every year, the event seems to grow and evolve, which is great. I love seeing all the teams out there, supporting each other, and the Wolfson 55.

It's the feel-good race of my year.

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(2017)
"Best Damn Race - Jacksonville"
Overall
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Absolutely LOVE Best Damn Race! It is my goal to run all of the locations, but for now I have only done Jacksonville and Orlando. I'll get there!

T-SHIRTS/SWAG - BDR outdoes themselves on their medals. This year's license plate was huge, even for the 10K, and came with a nice custom ribbon. Shirts matched the medals, and the were cute as well. I don't love traditional race t's, but I will probably wear this one.

AID STATIONS - Aid stations were well positioned, offering water and Nuun, and there was one gel stop along the way. The weather was cool enough that I didn't need to take advantage of anything on the course.

COURSE SCENERY - The Jacksonville races all have to follow a similar course, but this 10K is nice. I love the stretch along the river, and getting to run in the downtown area. It's good training for other races, and it's somewhere I don't get to see on my regular weekly runs.

EXPO QUALITY - I did not attend the expo this year, but it's nice to have a little set up of vendors and race merchandise at Metropolitan Park. There is plenty of room to expand, too. Race morning packet pickup was easy, and those best damn volunteers live up to their name.

ELEVATION DIFFICULTY - There are a few sneaky little hills and inclines in the 10K course. Early on, runners have to make their way up the Acosta Bridge, and then later, there are some rolling inclines in the road. It's nothing major but it's something to plan for at the 2/3 mark.

PARKING/ACCESS - Plenty of free parking at Everbank Field, which is directly across the street from Metropolitan Park.

AFTER PARTY - Best Damn Race boasts the Best Damn Afterparty. There is great music, beer, cider, a nicely stocked bar for mimosas and bloody mary's, pizza, brownies, Dunkin Donuts, fruit, chips and soda (Diet Coke!!!!). Photo backdrops, a PR bell, and a big-screen to watch the finishers round everything off. Best of all, BDR offers FREE FINISHER PHOTOS!!!

RACE MANAGEMENT - Amazing. The courses are great, well-marked and measured. All the details are on point. Great shirts, great medals, great crew, great volunteers, great amenities. In fact, you could say it's all the best.

This remains one of my favorite race series!

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(2016)
"Ragnar Trail Alafia River"
Overall
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I don't like the outdoors. I've never camped. I'm terrified of things that go bump in the night. Obviously, running the Ragnar Trail Alafia River was right up my alley!

I survived my first campaign experience pretty well. It was freezing on Friday, and heated up very quickly on Saturday, but that was ok. I got through all my runs before the temperatures started to soar, which helped a lot. I loved the trail vibe, we had a great team of women and we really had everything we needed right there. The Ragnar culture is unreal, like nothing I've seen, and I can't wait to try another one.

T-SHIRTS/SWAG - The official t-shirt is one of my favorites. It's soft and fits well and has a great design. The medal? Well. How often do you get a medal that is not compliant with TSA rules and can't be taken on an airplane? That's right. This thing is a multitool! And a weapon! Coolest!

AID STATIONS - As a trail run, Alafia River is pretty much self-supporting. On the red loop, there was an area with water spigots where you could fill your own bottle, but that's about it. Which was fine. None of the legs were long enough (in my opinion) where you couldn't self-support, if you needed water or fuel at all. I did carry some Starburst with me just in case I needed a little sugar boost, but I was fine for the whole race. Once you were done with your leg, you could always grab something in the village or at your campsite.

COURSE SCENERY - Stunning. I only wish I had managed to take some more photos out there. I had no idea such beauty existed in a Florida park.

EXPO QUALITY - There wasn't really an expo, but there was a merchandise set up, plenty of vendors and food trucks for the weekend. We'll call that the expo and it rocked. Also, in the Village, there was complimentary coffee and hot chocolate, a huge bonfire with free s'mores, and movies playing on the side of the Ragnar Truck throughout the night. They also did a Mannequin Challenge, yoga, and all kinds of other games and activities.

ELEVATION DIFFICULTY - For me, this was a big challenge. The yellow and red loops followed a mountain bike track, so we are talking about narrow, steep hills and swoops, with bridges, and climbs and all manner of things for which I wasn't prepared.
- Red Loop - This was my first outing and it was insane! While i never felt particularly unsafe, the wrong step could totally send you sprawling into water or down the side of a cliff. I ended up going a lot faster than I planned, just because you had to get the momentum to climb back up the hills.
- Yellow Loop - I hit this loop at night. I think it would have been gorgeous in the day. I really didn't get to appreciate the actual scenery because i was busy watching my footing. This was, by far, my favorite leg, even though I needed Knuckle Lights and a headlamp to get through safely.
- Green Loop - Ironically, I hated this leg. It was too flat, too dull and there was about a mile of sugar sand that just worked against me.

PARKING/ACCESS - Parking was fine. We had to pay $10 for a pass, and then got to pull up to campsite area, unload our stuff and move the car. We were asked to minimize the number of cars coming into the area, which was fair (we had three for 8 people, just because of logistics). It was tough lugging everything, and cars ended up not moving from the drop off area, simply because it was really inconvenient. Not sure how to improve on that, but it wasn't the end of the world.

RACE MANAGEMENT - No complaints here. The staff and volunteers were lovely. All runners got one ticket for a meal from any of the food trucks for use at their discretion, which was nice. Salomon was on hand, loading out demo trail shoes, which was a race-saver, especially for those of us who don't have a lot of trail experience. Portapotties were plentiful and maintained beautifully, considering. Information and communication was great. Couldn't ask for anything more.

My only complaint was that there weren't more photographers, or at least a finish line photog. It would have been nice to have the photo of our whole team coming in at the end. What photos were available were free, so I guess I can't complain, and it's certainly not any kind of deterrent. I'll make better arrangements for future races.

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