Latest reviews by Samantha Andrews

(2023)
"2023 Hot Chocolate Atlanta 15k: A sweet race"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This year marks my 9th Hot Chocolate ATL Race. I ran the first race in 2013 and have been running the series consecutively since 2015. Every year we pray for the best weather situation and then hold our breath until race day. This year, was one of the best years for running the race. The weather was "perfect", meaning no rain or extreme cold temperature. We could actually enjoy the delicious chocolate after the race. I represented BibRave for the race, but I was asked to join the Beast Pacing Team a few days before the race since pacer had to miss the race. So, how did this year go?

The Expo
The expo this year was held at Southern Ballrooms on Peachtree Industrial. This was a change from previous years at the Georgia World Congress Center. It was close to the MARTA and easy to travel to for bib pick up. Packet pickup was quick and easy. We were provided a QR code to present to the volunteers for the bib. After receiving my bib, I entered the main expo to pick up my goodie bag that contained my sweatshirt. Runners were allowed to try on their sweatshirt and exchange it for another size if needed. The main expo also had many vendors and chocolate treats to enjoy. I met up with a few friends and took pictures. I also ate and drank chocolate goodies.

Race Day
The race route has not changed in several years. It started near Olympic Centennial Park. I was added to the pace team a few days before the race. I paced the 14 min/mile group (I switched with another pacer right before the race). The race started downtown and then took us through Summerhill (near the GSU football stadium). We raced near Oakland Cemetery, down Piedmont Road, and through Georgia Tech (my alma mater). The course was typical Atlanta, hills and thrills.

I had fun running with my pacing pod. We talked and built character as we climbed the hills. I finished in 2:10:20, which was my intended completion time. We were awarded beautiful, retro-like medals at the finish. My favorite part of the finish was the chocolate bowls.

Overall, I enjoyed the race. The weather was perfect and it was great catching up with my friends. I will be back next year so I can keep my legacy status. Next year, I will celebrate 10 years of running the race consecutively. The race also provided free pictures, like the one below. See you next year!

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(2022)
"Back for the Double Pump 15 "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This year was my fifth year running the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run Double Pump Race. The race consist of a 5k (one trip over the Talmadge Bridge), followed by a 10k (two trips over the Talmadge Bridge. The 15k is a total three trips over the Talmadge Bridge that grants spans the Savannah River. While I enjoy the challenge of this race, honestly it doesn't get easier each year. I always say "Hills Build Character" and this race serves a PhD in character. I was a more strategic this year so I could conserve my energy for the race. Let's recap how this year's race went.

Expo
The expo was held at the Kehoe Iron Works Building on E Broughton Street. I arrived to the expo late due to traffic delays along the way. A friend picked up my packet before I arrived. I was able to quickly pick up my VIP wristband for the race. Thanks to BibRave and the race, my registration was upgraded to VIP. There were a few vendors selling appareal and services. One benefit of arriving late is that Fleet Feet was offering all their shoes for $50. Unfortunately, they didn't have my Brooks model, so I had to pass. The venue offered plenty of parking and other participants were able quickly pick up their bibs and tee-shirts.

Race Day
The race started at 8 am. The 5K and 15k started at Hutchinson Island. There was plenty of free and paid parking. I met up with a few BibRave Pros who were also running the 15k. This year, the race combined and organized the runners and walker into corrals. This was a great improvement over previous years where the two groups were separated and eventually combined before climbing the bridge.

Based on my previous year's experiences, I chose to run intervals (2 min running, 45 s walking) for the entire race. In the past I would run the 5k and then struggle during the 10k. Running intervals made the race easier and recovery faster.

5K
The first trip across the Talmadge Bridge wasn't that bad. With the intervals I was able to climb without using all my energy and not going overboard on the down hills. The 5k ended by the Civic Center and once I crossed the finish line, I continued on with the 10k.

10k
The 10k is the doozy. I probably walked a bit too much, but I chose to slow down on the second trip over the bridge so I would have energy for the last trip. It was fun to see all the runners in their costumes during the race. It was beautiful distraction. I also took time to snap a few pictures on the journey to the top.

The Finish
I finished in 1:55:58 and I was awarded 3 medals. The medals have moving boats on them. I also visited the VIP tent for a free catered breakfast. The tent also offered messages and a place to sit and relax. I had to return home after the race, so I didn't take advantage of those amenities. I took the free shuttle back to the start so I could head back to ATL.

I really enjoyed the race and plan to run next year. I think the race corrals were a big improvement to the race experience. I wish the expo was a bit larger and showcased more vendors (running and food) that highlight the Savannah City experience. I love medals and I am glad to add them to my collection.

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(2022)
"2022 Minions 5k Virtual Race"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

I ran the race in mid-January through my neighborhood. Surprisingly it wasn't that cold, which made the run a lot of fun.

The Swag
My swag arrived well before the race. Due to shipping delays, the medal did not arrive with the other items. I received a tee-shirt, bib, and a cute pom hat. My medal arrived in March, which was fine.

The Race
I ran the race as part of a 5 mile progression run. I started in Decatur and took a loop that including running in the City of Atlanta. The weather was mild and there was plenty to see along the way.
I finished the race in 36:08 and had a post race celebration of sweet tea at Chick Fil A on my way home. The medal is unique and a great addition to my collection.

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(2022)
"Urban Bourbon Half Marathon 2022"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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This year I had the privilege of running the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in Louisville, KY on Oct 8, 2022. I finally go the opportunity to hit the road to run a new race and add another state to my 50 states journey.

The Expo
The expo for packet pickup was held at the Louisville Slugger Stadium. Packet pickup was quick and easy. Our packet included our bib, long sleeve-shirt, and armband with food/drink coupons. There were a few vendors present and we could test bourbon. I tried my first and last sip of bourbon. I am not much of a drinker.

Race Day
Race day was at 8 am. My hotel room was a 5 minute walk to the start line so I couldn't have asked for a more perfect place and time to start. It was bit chilly, but the weather was ideal for racing. I wore my race shirt since I didn't check the weather before I left. I lined up with the 2:30 pace group and my plan was to just enjoy the race and finish. Since the status of my foot was uncertain, I didn't know how it was going to work out.

We took off and headed toward Indiana. We crossed the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge into Indiana and after a short distance, we came back Kentucky. Crossing the bridge wasn't that bad and it was fun cheering on the front of the pack as they passed on the opposite side. I have not had the chance to run a race in Indiana so that was an experience too.

The remaining part of the race was a mixture of road and trail racing. I loved the trails. Running with nature made the run so much more enjoyable and calming. Even better, the race was flat with little elevation. I ran 2:1 intervals for majority of the race and I felt great. I finished in 2:36:09 (officially).

Race Afterparty
After the race, I headed directly the afterparty which was right behind the finish line. Hands down, the race had the best afterparty in the 4th Street Live area. There was live music and food. Every runner was a given an armband with coupons for pizza, beer, 3 bourbons, and stew. I ate the pizza and stew.

Overall, I really enjoyed the race and Louisville and would love to come back again.

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(2022)
"Glad To Be Back "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This past Saturday I ran the Publix Savannah Women's Half Marathon. This was fourth time running this race, which included 2 virtual events. I was glad to be back on the course after 3 years. My only goal for this race was to finish.

The Expo
The Fashion Fitness Expo was held at the Kehoe Iron Works Building. This is a popular venue for many Savannah races. Race number and bag pick up was quick. The venue is nice and had many vendors. I visited around lunchtime so I only spent about 15 minutes at the expo. I was grateful for the volunteers who were taking pictures for the runners and giving out swag.

Race Day
One of my favorite reasons for running Savannah is the ease of traveling to the race. I was able to snag free parking a block from the starting line. The race was composed of the half marathon and 5k. Both races started together, but we split after mile 2. I remember the split because the Girl Scouts were giving out cookies (yes to Thin Mints).

My only plan for the race was to run on the right side and control my pace. Savannah is flat and as a result it is easy to start off too fast. I purposely walked the intersections to slow down. Walking also helped my ankles survive the prolonged flatness, so it was a win-win.

I finished in 2:30, which is a PR for this race. I had a great run and weather was perfect. I enjoyed the other runners and was greatly appreciative of the volunteers.

At the finish were given a Publix reusable bag of snacks and our medals. I didn't mingle for the post-race party, but it looked fun. The park also had an outdoor market too. Savannah is one of my favorite destination cities and I can't wait to return later this year.

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