Latest reviews by Courtenay Brinckerhoff

(2016)
"A Beautiful Well-Organized Race With A Community Vibe"
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This is a fantastic race because it is on a lovely course and it is very well organized by a local running store group. It is a point-to-point course so there are some logistics involved with getting to the starting line (there is parking near the finish, with buses to the start) but it is very well organized and runs smoothly. The course has a net negative incline profile but there are some serious rolling hills during the first five miles before the course becomes downhill to flat -- until that last hill at mile nine!
There is not really an expo - easy packet pick-up at the running stores - but there is a great post-race party at the park near the finish line with a beer garden, live music, and fun stuff for kids too.

My full race recap for 2016 is here: http://got2run4me.com/2016/04/24/2016-gw-parkway-classic-race-recap/

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(2016)
"A Great Race For Those Who Braved The Wind"
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Full disclosure - I have been involved with the blog for this race for the past few years, but this is my personal review of this race!

I will start at the beginning - Registration is by lottery, which usually takes place the December before the race. BUT if you volunteer you earn a lottery exemption for the next year. You can even volunteer and still race if you sign up for a Friday or Saturday volunteer slot, and then you will be all set for the next year.

The expo for this race is usually at the National Building Museum. There are usually a ton of vendors, expert/athlete clinics and even a "happy hour" on Friday evening.

The race starts and ends on the grounds of the Washington Monument so it's pretty easy to get to by Metro, driving (if you are willing to park a few blocks away) or bike -- they offer free bike parking as part of their efforts to be "green".

The course really is mostly flat (many races say that, but it's true for this one!) -- over Memorial Bridge and back, out to the Kennedy Center and back, over towards the Washington Monument again and then around Hains Point and back to the finish line by the Washington Monument. The crowd support is sparse along Hains Point but HUGE at mile 5 and along the last mile.

Although the race usually is held during the National Cherry Blossom festival, whether the trees will be in bloom is anyone's guess. Last year (2015) they were in full bloom for race weekend, but this year (2016) they had come and gone even before the wind that led to race-day modifications.

About that wind. I think it was Friday when the race organizers first alerted us to possible weather issues -- by email and on their Facebook page. By Saturday they had canceled the kids fun run and down-sized the festivities by cancelling the pre-race warm-up, eliminating the start/finish banner, eliminating the mile split clocks (but they had volunteers posted at each mile), and basically eliminating anything elevated - stages, tents (except the medical tent), speakers, signs, etc. This was all done for safety in conjunction with the National Park Service, and was communicated in advance.

Winds were so bad overnight many runners expected (hoped?) the race would be canceled, but there was an early morning e-mail confirming that the race was on! It was REALLY windy around the Washington Monument, but as the sun came up it turned into a glorious day! While we could feel the wind on Memorial Bridge and the last mile of Hains Point, it really wasn't bad. It was hard pushing to the finish line with a finish line banner to set my sights on, but I could tell by the crowds where the finish was. They handed out space blankets and water right in the finish area, and then I made my way to get a banana and a bagel, picked up my medal, and headed home.

There are so many things that make this race great, but my favorite moment is lining up to race on the grounds of the Washington Monument and listening to the National Anthem before heading out to run with thousands of other enthusiastic runners.

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(2016)
"Rolling Hills Make For A Challenging PR"
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The Reston 10 Miler is put on by Potomac River Running, a local running store group. It is a very low-key race with a community vibe but it is very well-run (no pun intended).
The race logistics couldn't be easier -- it starts and ends at a high school, there is ample parking in the school parking lots, you can do race-day bib pick-up, and there is usually access to the high school bathrooms. :-)
The start is very low-key. Most people stay inside until 15 minutes before the start time, and then head out to the road. There are no corrals, but people usually line up pretty nicely. When there's a few minutes to the race director gives a warning, and then he starts us off.
The course loops around through pretty neighborhoods with lots and lots of rolling hills. None of the hills are terribly steep or terribly long, but they keep coming!
The race benefits the high school track team, so usually there are lots of students out along the course, directing and cheering on runners. Other than that there's not a lot of crowd support, but the scenery is nice enough to keep me going.
The race finishes through the school parking lot and onto the track. It's an awkward way to finish - weaving around parked cars, across a sidewalk and onto the track - but once you are on the track it is pretty cool to push to the finish line, and then finish a "lap" to cool down.
Post-race, there is plenty of water, bananas and bagels.

My full recap for the 2016 race is here: http://got2run4me.com/2016/03/06/hilly-pr-reston-10-miler-race-recap/

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