Latest reviews by Laura Mullins

(2017)
"Americans Run the Emerald Isle for this Rock n Roll!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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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 "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
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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
Race Management
Thumb img 6806

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!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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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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(2016)
"Great Race to Experience Dublin!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
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Elevation Difficulty
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This was my first ever Dublin Marathon and I was excited to tour my new home city as a marathoner! This year's race sold out with a capacity of 19,500 runners, the largest EVER Dublin Marathon. This was the first year they held the race on a Sunday, rather than Bank Holiday Monday. This schedule change most likely led to many more non-Irish runners flying in from other places to run as they could just make the trip a long weekend.

SWAG: This race series does a great job with runner's swag! In my marathon packet, I received a high-visibility vest and head torch to use for running in the dark. What a fabulous perk for runners as we head into the dark, winter months! We also received a long-sleeve tech finisher's shirt at the finish line. It's well made and a great reward for running a race.

Expo: Expo was fantastic! It would rival any major marathon expo in the States. Not only was there a great diversity of vendors, there were speakers and presentations held on stage throughout the expo. Lots of sample snacks were available and good deals to be had. There were also several Irish running Olympians working the expo! That was a cool bonus.

Parking/Access: Definitely limited, but public transport gets you right where you need to go! The race guide gave plenty of information about transportation prior to the race.

Course: Lovely course through some gorgeous and historic areas of Dublin. While many marathons use a wave start to control traffic of runners, this is especially important in the Dublin Marathon. The infrastructure of the city is hundreds of years old and the roads are very narrow. I spent the first 5 miles or so looking down as to not trip on a curb, cobblestone or someone else's feet! It eventually opens up once you get to Phoenix Park, but it's something to be prepared for going into the race.

Elevation: The course is mostly flat with a few hills throughout. However there is one long drag between miles 21-22 that can break your heart. It's not that it's very steep, it's just very long and gradual and occurs at a point in the race where you might be hanging on for dear life! To add insult to injury, it is followed by a much shorter but much steeper hill less than 1K later.

Aid Stations: I have a real issue with aid stations at a marathon not offering any type of electrolytes until mile 9. This happened to me in the Dublin Half Marathon in September and I read on the website that the set up was the same so I came prepared and ran with my Orange Mud VP1. It saved my race! Then, when the race did offer electrolytes, they were handing out 500mL bottles of Lucozade. Nobody really needs that much at one time, so many people were throwing almost-full bottles to the side of the (narrow) roads. Near the end of the race, I saw more runners vomiting than I have ever seen at a marathon. In my opinion, many runners got into hydration trouble early on in the race due to the lack of electrolytes available to them.

Race Management: To be fair, this was the largest Dublin Marathon in history so I'm not sure the management knew exactly what they might need to change from previous years to accommodate such a large crowd. Corralling runners to the start line was very unorganized. I walked nearly two miles in circles around the city because we kept getting diverted and not allowed to walk down certain roads. It caused a lot of stress for runners trying to drop off bags at bag drop then find a toilet and then get to the corral. Hopefully they will figure out a better plan for next year.

Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend this race. The crowd support was simply amazing! There was never a stretch of time without spectators! The entire country rallies around this race and I would highly recommend it to anyone who's looking for a fun European marathon.

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