Latest reviews by Emily White

(2017)
"Ideal racecation race!"
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This has become one of my favorite races. I ran the 10k in 2016, and since I was coming back from injury I chose to do that distance again this year. I choose this race in part because it serves as the perfect weekend getaway.

Pre-race communication was good, they kept me informed of all the logistics associated with the race.

The expo/packet pickup is small, but there were a ton of friendly volunteers to keep things moving along. I was able to score a Sedona Marathon Event tank top.

The race offers free shuttle pickup at area hotels, but I chose a hotel I could walk from. The race has a later start (yay!), starting at 9 am with the full marathon, and each race staggered 10minutes apart. Mine started at 9:20.

Yes, it is hilly. I don't know anyone who runs a PR on this course. The red rocks provide a scenic distraction from the hilly terrain.
The start is fairly crowded, but we all spread out pretty quickly. I noticed a few aid stations, but spectators are only at the finish area. The last hill before the turnaround is a killer. But overall I find the second half easier to run.

Medals - It's a "collect a piece of the pie" type of medal - but unfortunately all race distances get the same thing (except 5k which is a totally different medal altogether). I wish they would diversify a little.

T-shirts - we all got nice tech shirts, which is always a plus

Finish area -there were bananas and cookies, plus a ton of different items for sale from vendors. There is a long walk from the finish line uphill to the medal and refreshment area.

Overall, this is a well managed race. We took advantage of other activities in the area after the race and made a weekend out of it. The scenery is 200% worth doing this race. Period. I hope to make this an annual event!

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(2017)
"Wet wild west 10k"
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This race is a small-town gem. Set out in the Superstition Mountains about 40 miles East of Phoenix, there is plenty of scenery to keep you going.

There is packet pickup available for 2 days prior to the race, but the expo is tiny. Packet pickup is available day of. LImited parking is available near the start, or you can hop a short shuttle from the rodeo fairgrounds nearby.

I ran the 10k but there is also an 8k trail run, half marathon and full. It's an out and back course that is mostly flat, with a few rolling hills thrown in.

Medals are given our to finishers, plus age group award winners. There was a selection of fruit and snacks at the finish.

This year featured nonstop rain and temps in the upper 40's. Not ideal.

This race is small, the course is never crowded and the views are cool. I highly recommend it!

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(2016)
"Festive, blingy 5k"
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When I heard about this brand new race taking place in the town I live in, at Christmastime, with huge bling, I was all in!

This is part of a series that also takes place in Carmel, Indiana. They bring a reggae dance party vibe to a holiday 5k. Pre-race instructions were good. There were several registration options. Everyone got the huge snowglobe medal, but you could choose to get the hoodie, tech shirt, or save some money and opt out of a shirt. The shirts were very nice.

Packet pickup was offered the day before and took all of 5 minutes. There was no "expo". You could also pick up day of.

The course itself was just on the roads in downtown Chandler Arizona. Nothing to look at, but nice and flat. There were opportunities to take photos with santa or with nice backdrops before the race. They played reggae music throughout as well.

Post - race was when things really got good! Hot Coffee, Hot Chocolate and very festive donuts from local donut shop Fractured Prune. Then those beautiful, as big as your head snow globe medals (filled with sand and santa on a surfboard) for everyone!!! Really cool age group awards as well.

Great volunteers on course and everything went very smoothly for this first time event. It was very family-friendly.

I highly recommend this race and will be back again next year!

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(2016)
"One big chocolate party!"
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This was my second time running the Hot Chocolate race in Scottsdale, but my first time with the 5k. I was originally signed up for the 15k but due to a recent knee injury I had to drop to the 5k.

Communication was good for this race, we even received weekly training plans via email (for the 15k registrants). The race is located at Salt River Fields, the spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Packet pickup was offered Friday and Saturday. No race day packet pickup was advertised. You could also choose to have your packet sent to you for an additional fee. It is a bit of a hike to the expo.

A few weeks before the race I emailed mgmt about switching distances and they told me it had to be taken care of at packet pickup. I carpooled with a friend to the expo (highly recommended) and it was a breeze to park and get inside. I went to the counter and was told that to switch distances I had to go to the services booth. I got to the services booth and was told that no, just wear your 15k bib and line up at the 5k start. So back in line I went. Fortunately, the lines moved quickly. Several local race vendors were there, and there was hot chocolate being handed out which is always a plus. The jackets we received in lieu of t-shirts are really nice, warm, and were perfect for our chilly race day!

On race day, once again I carpooled but my friend was running the 15k which had a start time 45 minutes after the 5k. So lots of waiting around. My advice is to go EARLY, no matter which distance you are running. Traffic can be a real mess, there were over 8,000 runners doing these 2 races! We sat in the car for a long time. Then there were some dancers doing a warm up before the start of the race. Eventually it was time for the 5k and we lined up in corrals.

The 5k course is extremely flat and not much to look at. There was one "sweet" stop of strawberry marshmallows, plus water and nuun along the way. As we were crossing the finish line, to the right were the racks of medals that were ONLY FOR the 15K RUNNERS. Kind of cruel to see them and not get anything.. I really think that 5k people would appreciate some small medal for their participation.

Then it was chocolate time! No lines, we were handed our finishers mug with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and plenty of dippers. They were delicious. The only bummer was that there was nowhere to comfortably sit with your goodies. You had to just find a curb to sit on or plop down in the middle of the parking lot.

Overall, this is a well organized event which I would recommend and do again.

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(2016)
"Fun entry level relay race"
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I love relay races - I've done several Ragnars. So when my local Moms Run This Town chapter leader suggested putting together a team, I was all in! What is it? It is a marathon relay - 26 miles divided by 4 runners who take turns running on three trails.

The race is managed by Startline Racing, a top notch local racing company. We registered many months prior (before I was injured). Even so, 6.5 miles per runner is totally doable.

They had packet pickup the day prior and also day of. They recommended bringing your own pop up tents, canopies, etc. We would be out there for several hours, with no shade, and in AZ our temps got up to 90 at the end of the race.

We got there early to scope out a good spot. Parking was adequate, but the walk was long to take your items down to the tents and transition area. There were three trails, a black, red and white- they were 1 mile, 2 miles and 3.5 miles. We all took turns running these loops in different orders. Since the mileage was low, the downtime between runners was fairly short. They called out approaching runners, which was really helpful so that your next runner was on deck.

Startline provided water, gatorade and a "runners brunch" in the transition area, plus a few other water stations. For the most part, the courses were well marked, but part of the course goes through the Riprarian Preserve, which is a maze of trails, and it was windy out and signs got knocked over and not necessarily set back up in the right spot. As a result, on my longest leg, I missed a turn and ran an extra .6 miles. It messed several of us up, and people were not happy.

There was energetic music playing the whole time, and with everyone camping out it had a fun vibe. We received shirts and medals at the finish.

This is a great "entry level" race if you've never done a relay race. It is the same set up as a Ragnar trail race, but with lower mileage and much shorter time commitment. It is worth trying!

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