Latest reviews by Fallon C

(2017)
"Perfect weather and ocean views- yes please!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb carlsbad

Registration/swag- Available online up until 4 days before the race. Prices ranged from $80-$130 for the half. With registration, you received a long sleeve gender specific race shirt, race cinch bag and a ¾ zip pullover.

Expo- Expo and packet pickup took place on both the Friday and Saturday preceding the race. The expo was in the parking lot of the Shoppes of Carlsbad so there was ample parking if a little congestion. The expo opened with Bib pickup by number and shirt pickup was in the back. The expo was mid-sized with 10-15 vendors.

Race- The course was an out and back but there a couple places that it deviated slightly so that it wasn’t as dragging as some out and back courses can seem. I am not a huge of fan of out and back courses but I really liked this one. The majority of the course ran along the ocean and was very scenic. The weather was perfect which helped contribute to a very picturesque course. There were only two real climbs on the course, one in mile 1 and one in mile 7. Other than that the course was little rollers to flat in elevation, if you were looking for a PR, this could be a good place to get to get it.

Aid stations were every 1.5 miles or so and were very well stocked and manned. All had plenty of people working throughout the race and I never experienced a table without any water or electrolytes. Water was in cups with Arrowhead on them and the electrolyte provided was Ultima and served in branded paper cups. Stations also had Vaseline for runners with very clear signs that specified it was not to be eaten.  I only wish there was more consistency in which came first- water or Ultima.

The course had more crowd support then I expected but it is not a crowd heavy race. The crowds did pick up towards the finish line. The finish line was located near the expo. There was an announcer calling out names as you finished. Once across the line you were handed your medal, then a mylar blanket and a bottle of water. From there you were funneled into a chute and handed a chocolate milk, paper bag with snacks and a coconut water. There were a couple of places to take finishers photos but they had really long lines.

Overall, this was a great race from start to finish, it is definitely one that I would recommend and would run again.

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(2016)
"Running the Bridge"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Lead up to the race- Registration was available online up until the race sold out. The race used IMAthlete for their software provider. Pretty user friendly. The race offered race day packet pickup or bib mailing for an extra cost. Both were very nice options if you were traveling. Communications emails were sent on a weekly basis increasing in frequency as the race grew closer. The emails covered the expo, start line/ time and finish line party. All of them were very informative and filled with helpful information.

Expo/ packet pickup- Packet pickup was located at the corner of Scott St and Marina Green Dr. Bib pick up was organized by bib number. The shirt tables were set up right next to the bib tables. There was a booth selling race merchandise and a booth from a local running store. There were a few other booths under the large tent but not many. Outside was a coffee truck and a Bark Thins truck. There were chairs, tables and games set up in the grass for runners and friends.

Race- The race started by the Municipal Pier and had tables set up for late pick up and bag drop. There were porta a potties available for runners but the lines were enormous, a few more would have helped. The race was scheduled to start at 7 and it started right on time after a few announcements and the National Anthem. There were pacers available but the signs were a little hard to read.

The course is amazing. It takes you through the Marina and the Presidio before looping up and around to the Golden Gate Bridge. Runners then run out the Eastern walkway before looping around Vista Point then down under the bridge on a trail and back up the other side. Runners return along the Western side of the bridge, looping off and under it once across. The route then takes you downhill and out to Fort Point before turning around to head back along a dirt track on the shoreline towards the finish at Marina Green. Notable- this course is not flat- my watch showed an elevation gain of 1200'. That said, the first 3 miles and last 2 are mostly flat, the hills are all in the middle.

Once crossing the finish line, you were handed a giant medal. Seriously, it's a beast and awesome. Here's where things get a little off- I hit the banana table only to be told there were no bananas. A volunteer handed me a Kind bar and another chased me down to give me a logo water bottle. Which was great but when I went to fill it up at the water stations they were out of water. I was a little disappointed.

My thoughts-
The course was amazing, to me it was all the things I wanted to see in San Francisco. I wish there had been less fog but race management has no control over that. :) The medal is amazing and I liked the touch of the reusable bottle. I like hills and dirt track so all of those things made me happy. I would imagine that on a clear day, the views would be amazing. Even with the fog, I have never seen so many people taking mid race selfies.

There were plenty of water stations but they seemed to be spaced out oddly. There was a long stretch from 5-8 with no water. 2 tables had troubles keeping up with the demand for water as well. It could benefit from a wave start as well. The bridge was amazing to run but bottle necked easily. It was hard to pass and numerous people were taking pictures too. A thinner crowd would have made for a smooth few miles. The only other downside it that parking in SF can be very pricey. Some information on places to park or a maybe a garage that had rates for runners would be great.

That said, I loved this race. The course was amazing. It was extremely organized. The medal was awesome. If you measure a race by repeat runners, this race had plenty. There were runners wearing race shirts from 2013 to 2015. I can understand why, it is a race I would love to run again.

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(2016)
"Rolling through the Vineyards"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Thumb bill 3050

Paso Robles Harvest Marathon serves as a fundraiser for the Paso school districts, all race proceeds go the schools. The race is organized by the high school athletic director and staff, the volunteers are students from the school's sports teams and coaches.

The race offers a half marathon, a 5K and a children's mile. Prior to this year, they offered a USATF certified Boston Qualifier marathon course. Due to road closure issues and low registration, the full was dropped from the schedule this year. Registration was available online and went from 70- 90, I believe.

Packet pick up was in the city park on Saturday from 10-7. There were 2 vendor booths- Costco and a local gym. From 4-9, they also had a live band as well as tri tip and a pasta dinner for runners to purchase. Registration included a technical tee with race logo, bib with timing chip, finisher's medal and free race photos. The only other thing included at packet pickup was a reusable shopping bag from the Running Warehouse.

Race started at 8:30 which is rather late for the area. The race started and finished at Le Vigne Winery, plenty of street parking was available for runners and family and organized by the football team. After a few announcements and the National Anthem the race started exactly on time. It’s a small race with a little over 200 hundred runners for the half. Aid stations were every 2 miles until mile 7. Due to an out and back section of a mile, the aid station at mile 6 was also at mile 7. From then on it was every 2 miles again with an extra station just past mile 12. Water and Gatorade was available at all stations and gels at the mile 6/7 station. All stations were adequately staffed.

The course is a giant loop on back country roads through scenic wineries and farms. There were 2 little graveyards as well. Course monitors were at every turn to ensure that no one was able to get lost. The course is not flat- it runs around 600 in elevation gain. Mostly rollers throughout but there was one long climb from mile 9 to 10.2. The roads are not fully closed so it is entirely possible that vehicles will pass you at multiple points along the course. While very scenic there is little no crowd support on course. Only the people working the aid stations are out there to cheer for you. I am used to both of those things but it is something to consider, there are long stretches where it is just you and the runner in front of you.

The finish line is back at the winery where you were presented with your medal and a full bottle of water. There was also a post race brunch going on next to the winery which smelled amazing. I believe there was also live music from a local band but when I finished they were announcing the Age Group awards. Overall male and female finisher were awarded with $500.00 as well as bottles of wine. The top 25 male and female runners were also given a trucker hat emblazoned with “CRUSHEDIT”. Top 3 male and female AG were awarded medals and the 1st place finisher in each group was also given a bottle of wine.

The race has always offered free race pictures, they were all uploaded and organized by bib number the next day- awesome!

Pros
Great local race with a hometown feel
Supports a great cause
Very scenic course (it rained this year and I still thought it was pretty)
Well organized aid stations
Free race pictures
Great finishers medal
Prompt timing results
Free pictures- Did I day that already?
Good awards for AG

Cons-
No prerace emails until 2 days prior- I was questioning if I had even registered
Minimal crowd support
Open Roads
Minimal swag for the non speedy

Overall it was a well run race and I am glad I was finally able to run it. I could have done without the rain for 7 miles but organizers have no control over the weather. :) I like smaller races and even the rain couldn’t detract from the scenery. I was not adequately prepared for that last long climb though. This is a race I would run again.

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(2016)
"From downtown to an ocean view"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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City to the Sea is a point to point race that starts in San Luis Obispo and ends in Pismo Beach. 2016 was the 21st year it was put on. The race is a fundraiser for Cuesta College athletics. Shuttles are provided to bring the runners back to the starting location.

Registration-
Available online up to the day before packet pickup. Also available at packet pickup if the event was not sold out. The race usually draws around 2000 runners.

Packet pickup-
This occurs in the parking lot of the Running Warehouse. There is little to no expo just a few booths from local businesses. Bibs are not assigned before the race, they are assigned on a first come, first assigned basis. Timing chips are provided for your shoes. After getting your bib and chip, runners are directed to the shirt tables. The race shirt this year was cute but ran extremely small. It was also made out of a soft cotton material instead of tech fabric. I’ve run this race 4 times and this was the first time I was disappointed with the shirts. I heard later that they would exchange the shirts after the race if you brought yours to the finish line. I did not. Another thing I was surprised by was that there were no bags this year- everything was just handed to you- safety pins, bib, chip, tie straps and shirt. It was a lot of little things to carry.

Race-
The race starts at 7AM in downtown SLO. There is plenty of street parking and garages nearby, being a Sunday the meters don’t start until 1:00 PM. There also seemed to be sufficient port a potties. This year was the first time I’ve seen the race start late- it did not start until 7:10. There were a few announcements and I believe the National Anthem was sung but it was very hard to hear. Pace groups are provided for 1:30-3:00 and the pacers are dressed in costume so they are easy to spot. There are 5 on course aid stations that provided water and Fluid and bathrooms. I saw one at mile 5 that was offering Gu’s. All the stations seemed to be adequately staffed. The volunteers are often students from Cuesta College. The event has a 3 hour time limit but they do not kick you off the course if you go over that- you just need to move to side and watch for traffic.

Course-
The course heads south out of SLO- you stay on the main drag for a little over 4 miles, it is flat to downhill. The roads are not closed but volunteers and police do a good job with traffic control. Just before mile 5 you cross under the freeway and head up a long, slow incline before making a hard right around mile 7 for another climb. Once past that, you are greeted with a nice downhill as you head into Avila Beach. The course deviates from the road here to add some distance on the Bob Jones Trail. The trail is paved and heavily lined with trees, the shade is nice. Once off the trail you head towards the main street in Avila with a hard left to climb another hill. Once there, runners make a right up another hill and into Pismo around mile 10. The remaining 3 miles are run through neighborhoods as you wind your way up and down to the finish. I feel the course has just the right amount of hills and flat portions. One warning though- parts of the roads are very slanted which can mess with your stride.

Finish-
The finish line is located on the street by Dinosaur Caves Park. The chute is usually lined with spectators. Once finishing, a volunteer will cut off your chip, then you are given your medal. New this year you were also given a plastic tumbler and a race sticker. Printed results are available on a nearby table. Plenty of water was available as well. There is a finish line expo with booths, breakfast and a live band but I did not check it out, I wasn't feeling too great.

Overall, this is one of my favorite races. I will continue to run it. The course is very scenic and I like the mix of town and nature. The medals are always nice and the finish line are is very pretty. In my opinion this can be a PR friendly course as well.

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(2016)
"Family Friendly 5K"
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*This will look very similar to my 10K review.

The HOB Fun Run is a small hometown race through and through. Always the last Sunday in September, the event has a variety of options for the whole family. A 10K, 5K, kids 1/2 mile race, 75 yard kids dash and a not-so-dirty diaper dash. New this year was the 1 mile race. The race starts and finishes in the city park which has bounce houses, crafts table and a free pancake breakfast. The event still offers cash prizes for the winners of the 10K and 5K. The participants in the diaper dash are entered into a drawing for a washer and dryer.

Being a small race, there is no expo. Packet pickup and late registration are available in the park on Saturday and early on race morning. Race shirts are a super soft cotton t-shirt, babies get a onesie. Medals are given to race finishers. Registration was available online, by mail and in local businesses.

100% of the race proceeds go to charity. The race management team picks 3 charities every year and the race participants choose where they want their registration fees to go while registering. The 10k, 5k, and mile are chip timed and times were up by Monday. Pictures are uploaded shortly after.

The 5K is a 1 loop course through downtown. The roads are 100% closed and monitored by course security at every intersection. The course is almost pancake flat and can boast some impressive times. It is a very PR friendly course. The lead runner is led by a motorcycle police officer. Water stations are at miles 1, 2 and 3. Crowd support is minimal outside of the middle of town but the race typically draws 250-300 hundred runners so there is always people around. The course is great for the speedy and the walker. It draws repeat participants every year. It is very family friendly- people run with strollers, their pets and sometimes kids ride on bikes or scooters while their parents run.

As the 10k starts at 8 and the 5K at 9:15, it is entirely possible for a runner to run in both events. I have for the past 4 years. :)

Names are announced as runners cross the finish line. Once crossing the finish, you get your medal and there is a booth with water bottles, oranges, bananas and pretzels is within a few yards. Race times are posted fairly quickly.

All in all, the HOB Fun Run 5K is a great opportunity to test your skills and see what a runner can do. It's also a great race for beginners and families.

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