Latest reviews by Laura

(2018)
"Largest All-Women's event in the world"
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RACE: The Vhi Women's Mini Marathon, an annual 10k charity road race, occurs each June bank holiday weekend in Dublin and is the largest Women's event of its kind in the world.

COURSE: Starting in Fitzwilliam Square in the City Centre, the course takes you out to UCD via the N11 to a turnaround point. It then turns down Nutley Lane to Merrion Road, finishing in Merrion Square. It's a rather flat course with a slight downhill drag down Nutley Lane. However, the first 2k is very crowded and doesn't really open up until you're through Donnybrook. Overall, a fantastic route!

SWAG: Every finisher gets a medal and a swag bag with food and a collection of goodies from local sponsors. The finishing area also has a fantastic atmosphere with massage tables, entertainment and lounge chairs.

OVERALL: Definitely recommend taking part in this event with a group of girlfriends, whether you are a local or a tourist!

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(2017)
"Americans Run the Emerald Isle for this Rock n Roll!"
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As an American living in Ireland, I was thrilled to experience the Rock n Roll series outside of the USA. I have run many Rock n Roll events and have come to love the enthusiasm and celebration that comes along with these events. After moving here in 2016, I immersed myself into the Irish running community as much as I could and was honoured when I was asked to be an official pacer for this race.

EXPO: The first thing to know about Dublin Rock n Roll is that the expo is really quite small. I have run the Liverpool, St. Louis, San Diego and Chicago Rock n Roll events and had grown accustomed to the large, major expos that surround them. The expo here is much smaller and definitely not on such a grand scale. That said, it's still a very welcoming environment and lots of friendly people and you can even meet the pacers there! It's just small in comparison to the American events.

WATER STOPS: It's important to know that the water stops on the route are very different than in America. They typically hand out bottles of liquid and there are only 4 altogether. The Irish weather is never predictable, even in the summer. This particular race day was quite warm and many runners struggle near the end. I was pacing the 2:45 group so our runners were definitely feeling the heat at the end.

COURSE: The course is mostly flat but there are a few notable hills. In the first 5K, there is a short and steep incline in the city. It's not long but it's steep. My advice is to not attack it, rather take it handy and slow down a bit if necessary to save your energy for later. The route flattens out until mile 10 where you are presented with a long, rather nasty incline into Phoenix Park. It's important to make sure you have enough energy left to get you up this monster. It's a rolling kind of incline with pockets that even out a bit before climbing again. It's a tough 2 miles in total so be prepared. The last mile flattens out and you can ride it into the finish line.

INTERNATIONAL RUNNERS: I must say, I met more Americans running this race than I had met the entire year I had lived in Ireland! While there are some Irish runners, this particular event attracts more internationals than native runners. It takes place during the build up to the Dublin Marathon and most Irish runners are preparing for that race.

PARKING & TRANSPORT: I drove into the race and parked at the finish line area. Shuttles to the start are provided so I hopped on one of those and easily dropped my bag into gear check. Since I was pacing the 2:45 group, I had plenty of time before my corral started.

START CORRALS: They start this race in waves so be prepared to wait a while if you are in one of the back waves.

FINISH LINE: The refreshments were top notch after a long race! Another note for American runners to know is that the beer on offer is nonalcoholic. That may seem strange for some since most major American races offer alcoholic beer. But here, nonalcoholic is the norm. Don't worry though, there are PLENTY of pubs where you can get a nice, cold Guiness afterwards!

SWAG: The tech shirts are great but were not available in women's sizes, only unisex. The medals are amazing and definitely on par with what you would expect for a Rock n Roll race!

OVERALL: It's a fabulous destination race if you are wanting to see a bit of Dublin. It's a fantastic atmosphere and a lovely, welcoming city for a racecation!

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(2017)
"Liverpool Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 "
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Liverpool is a short flight from Dublin, so I flew in on Saturday morning before the 5K. I did not register to run the 5K, but see now that I would have had plenty of time to do so if I had wanted to.

Expo: While the expo opened on Friday, I collected my bib on Saturday. They would not let me collect my half marathon bib until after 10:00, the last start time of the 5K. I arrived at about 9, so had to wait an hour to get my bib. Expo was definitely smaller than any of the US Rock 'n' Roll events I have attended. There was limited gear to purchase.

Course: I thought the course was lovely! It brings you through some fabulous Liverpool landmarks including the Liverpool Cathedral, Chinatown, and out to Penny Lane. There are a few hills, but it felt that the hardest uphill drags were in the first half of the race. It was nice to have some downhills for the 2nd half.

Access: The main start/finish was located at Albert Docks, a brilliant location as it is easily accessible from the city centre as well as public transport (bus, taxi). The Echo Arena served as home base and was just beautiful on the sunny days we had for race weekend. My accommodation was within walking distance from all the race activities which made it super easy to navigate.

The only drawback, in my opinion, is that the full marathon starts an hour later than the half. The entries for the full marathon are considerably smaller than the entries for the half and 5K, but many marathoners were not able to enjoy the amazing post-race afterparty since they were still running. If you finished after 4:30, you missed the headline concert. Just something to be aware of if you choose to run the full.

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(2017)
"Liverpool Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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Liverpool is a short flight from Dublin, so I flew in on Saturday morning before the 5K. I did not register to run the 5K, but see now that I would have had plenty of time to do so if I had wanted to.

Expo: While the expo opened on Friday, I collected my bib on Saturday. They would not let me collect my half marathon bib until after 10:00, the last start time of the 5K. I arrived at about 9, so had to wait an hour to get my bib. Expo was definitely smaller than any of the US Rock 'n' Roll events I have attended. There was limited gear to purchase.

Course: I thought the course was lovely! It brings you through some fabulous Liverpool landmarks including the Liverpool Cathedral, Chinatown, and out to Penny Lane. There are a few hills, but it felt that the hardest uphill drags were in the first half of the race. It was nice to have some downhills for the 2nd half.

Access: The main start/finish was located at Albert Docks, a brilliant location as it is easily accessible from the city centre as well as public transport (bus, taxi). The Echo Arena served as home base and was just beautiful on the sunny days we had for race weekend. My accommodation was within walking distance from all the race activities which made it super easy to navigate.

The only drawback, in my opinion, is that the full marathon starts an hour later than the half. The entries for the full marathon are considerably smaller than the entries for the half and 5K, but many marathoners were not able to enjoy the amazing post-race afterparty since they were still running. If you finished after 4:30, you missed the headline concert. Just something to be aware of if you choose to run the full.

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(2017)
"Royally great race!"
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Running London Marathon was a dream come true as I am on a journey to complete all the World Major Marathons. This was #3 of 6 for me. I chose to run for a charity to guarantee my entry to the race. It is notoriously difficult to gain a spot unless you run for a charity. I am so grateful for the chance to represent Leukaemia CARE in this year's race.

Expo: Amazing experience unto itself! You could spend the entire day there and a small fortune on all the amazing deals on offer. Definitely worth allotting a few hours to attend. Be sure to bring a water bottle to stay hydrated though!

Start: For such a large race, getting to the start is pretty arduous. Not as epic as NYC marathon, but definitely give yourself enough time to get yourself out to Greenwich. My hotel was right by the finish line so I had to give myself an hour on the tube with 2 transfers to get to where I needed to be. Good news is that runners ride free on race day!

Course: AMAZING!! There is a very steep downhill section within the first 3-4 miles, but otherwise, it is quite flat. You will run through the most gorgeous landmarks of London so be prepared to smile along the way. The crowds are unbelievable! There really was not one section that was not supported during this race.

Finish line: I have never had such an easy process collecting my bag after a major marathon. I was able to easily walk through the finish line, collect my finisher's shirt and goody bag and find my bag with no problem whatsoever. The crowd in St. James Park was pretty massive but I found my husband pretty quickly and was able to walk to my hotel without a bother.

Definitely a bucket list race for marathon enthusiasts!!

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