Latest reviews by Dawana H

(2018)
"Great Views, Flat Course"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
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In all of the years that I’ve lived in Florida, I have never been to Fort Lauderdale, but I am aware of the A1A highway and all of its appeal. This race drew me in with the promise of an oceanside run, though I was completely nervous about the heat as I was told there was no cover. Thankfully, the weather gods were in my favor because the heat would have surely killed me. 

Pre-Race Communication was great, actually superb. I think I received a “final race information” email about 4 times. There was no way that people could say they didn’t know where to pick up their packet or what time the race started, that’s for sure. I am surprised at their lack of a presence on Instagram and Twitter as I looked there sometimes for updates, but they haven't updated in a long time.

Packet Pickup was easy. It was at the Broward County Convention Center, which you had to pay to park at (so annoying) but the hall was large and there were lots of great vendors. The swag bag was a green drawstring bag with the race logo and had protein pancake mix, olive oil, chocolate, coconut water, Lorissa's Kitchen jerky, among other things.

Parking was a breeze for me as I opted for the VIP parking pass which allowed me to park near the finish line. I took the shuttle bus to the start line and after I got off I learned that there was free parking near the start. BUT- I think the $27 was well worth the money so that I didn't have to worry about fighting with thousands of others to find a spot. The convenience of know that I had a place and could get to the start line on time gave me peace of mind. I do think it was weird that they didn't drop you off closer to the start line and you had to walk the rest of the way, but whatever. The start line had SO MANY port-o-potties, which was great. There were long lines, but that was to be expected I guess.

Bag check was pretty cool since this is a point to point race, they had UPS trucks at the back of the running corral waiting to collect our bags and then they drove them over to the finish line. 

The course started closer to downtown, worked its way to the coast, we ran through a park and then made our way back to the coast. What a beautiful coastline to run on! There was water and BodyArmor all along the course, 2 first aid tents, and port-o-potties. There were some great locals that were giving out Twizzlers and around mile 10 a family was passing out beer in front of their house.

Upon crossing the finish line, you received your medal (which is awesome!) and water. There were TONS of food options including Michelob Ultra beer, Barefoot Wine, BodyArmor sports drink, Bubba Burgers, and more. There were ridiculously long lines for everything so I just said no thank you and went to claim my bag. I would've loved to have seen some wet towels or something at the finish line to cool us off. The water was warm, which I like, but I'm sure some people would have liked cold water.

Overall I enjoyed the race.

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(2017)
"Run For The Chocolate On the Bay"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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Pre-Race Communication was great. They emailed me to let me know that I forgot to pick a size for my pullover and they had a great training plan that you could choose to follow leading up to the 15K.

Packet Pickup was easy. It was at the convention center downtown, which I hate going to (mostly because you have to pay for parking). I had no trouble with lines, I was able to walk right up, show them my QR code and receive my bag. They even had an area for you to try on your shirt just in case you wanted to switch sizes, which I thought was very nice.

Parking was a breeze as there is ample parking in downtown Tampa. From parking garages to parking lots, I don’t believe that anyone would have had a problem finding somewhere to park their car.

The start line was right outside of the Tampa Convention Center and there were plenty of port-o-potties, bag check, and pre-race festivities going on. This is the first time that I have ever used bag check at a race, but I knew that I’d need my Oofos after running 9.3 miles. The bags were kept behind a fence, you had to place your bag check slip on it and they even had little zip ties to close your bag for you. That made me feel comfortable that my shoes would be safe.

The course is gorgeous as you run along Bayshore Blvd. with great views of the Bay (aka Gulf of Mexico). The thing is, Tampa Bay gets pretty sunny and when the sun is beaming off of the water you can get pretty hot. Luckily for us, the weather was fairly cooperative, so it wasn’t ridiculously hot and there was an awesome breeze. It was a great day for running!

There was water and Nuun available at all of the aid stations AND they had sweet stations filled with M&Ms, marshmallows, and other sweet, chocolate goodness. I personally can’t run and eat snacks, but I know that those who can surely enjoyed it. They also had some awesome volunteers along the route telling people where to go and cheering us on, which was nice. There were first aid people bicycling along the course as well for those who may have needed help and I saw quite a few photographers out there.

The sweetest surprise for me? Was that photos were free! And were ready within HOURS of me crossing the finish line. That was amazing.

Upon crossing the finish line, you received your medal (which is awesome!), water, and WET TOWELS. I am so happy that they had those available to us.

After picking up my bag, I head over to get my mug which included a cup of hot chocolate, biscuits, Rice Krispies Treats, a bag of pretzels, a marshmallow, and fudge. YUM! There was a DJ there playing music, plenty of photo opps with blow-ups, and stairs for you to have a seat on.

To me the swag was unbelievable. First of all, the mug was filled with goodness, but the medal was amazing! The medal this year had a keychain attached to it with the city name and year. AND? The pullover.

Overall, it was a great race that I would do again.

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(2017)
"Hot Getaway in Saint Pete"
Overall
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When I first heard of this race I thought "Oh, a getaway run in Saint Pete? This should be fun." I imagined a nice beach or waterside run, but I was mistaken. It took place in downtown Saint Pete, which is also very beautiful but doesn't really epitomize the waterside running scenery that is depicted on the actual medal.

Packet pick up was easy. Pickup was at a local running store in downtown Saint Pete. Race day pickup was available, which I think is nice, so people can get their swag and drop it off back at their cars. 5K runners received a tech shirt while 10K runners received a zip-up pullover.

Parking in downtown Saint Pete is plentiful. The closest parking was at the Mahaffey Theater for $10, which I think was absolutely ridiculous. If you were willing to drive around, you could find both paid and free street parking. I believe I parked about 2 blocks away for free and just walked over to the start line.

The start line was buzzing with vendors, things for children to do, and a great announcer. There were also plenty of port-o-potties available to runners.

The 5K race started at 8:40, which is very late for Florida. We've had an unseasonably warm fall here in Florida and by this time it is already starting to be very hot. The course traveled through downtown Saint Pete, but not on a very scenic route. When you first start the race you are on the waterfront and it is gorgeous, beyond that I don't think there was much else to look at. We ran by the Vinoy and a dog park and that's about all that I remember. We traveled on some cobblestone/brick lined streets, which to me was very difficult to run on. I almost tripped a couple of times and had to move to the sidewalk because the road was so uneven.

There were plenty of police officers on the course and it was very well marked so that we knew where to go. Aid stations had plenty of volunteers and water available for runners. I personally ran with my own fluid so I did not have to use them.

The finish line was full of goodies. Right after crossing the finish line runners received water, their medal, tons of snacks, and there was a great boxed meal to eat. There were also tons of activities to get involved with, a band playing music, and the opportunity to paint the Nomad Art Bus.

For a first year race, I think they did a very good job. It was small this year, but I'm sure there will be more people next year. I would reconsider the start time to begin earlier so that people aren't dying from the heat (like I was). I wish the scenery was more appealing. I wonder if there are city ordinances that stop them from running the race along one of our awesome running paths in North Saint Pete that are right by the water- THAT would have been awesome.

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(2017)
"Great Location, Okay Views"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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St. Augustine is beautiful! So I was expecting amazing views through and through. It starts out that way as you run past the Castillo de San Marcos and get that great view of the fort and the water. You then run over the lions bridge, which is cool and head over to Anastasia Island... that's where the views kind of fall off. I thought we were running closer to the lighthouse than we actually did, so you got a quick glimpse of it as you ran by. (It is pretty, by the way)

The race photographers were at the beginning, once on the course, and then at the finish line. If you're big into pictures this may disappoint you some. The aid stations had Gatorade and water and one port-o-potty, which is nice as not all races have potties on the course. I guess the weather is usually cooperative, but this year (2017) it was hot and humid (not that they can do anything about that) so prepare yourself for that Florida heat if it is unseasonably warm.

The course was very well marked with mile marker signs, tape on the road, signs on where to turn and volunteers along the path. Police presence was very good at keeping cars off of the road at the right points. When I crossed the finish line I absolutely missed the water and Gatorade and thought for a second that they had nothing to drink. They had the medals on one side of the finish line and the drinks at the other and if you didn't turn around, you would have walked right by it (like I did). Finish line food was provided by the Columbia restaurant- there was salad, rice, beans, and paella. You also go one free Michelob Ultra as well. Minimal vendors at the finish line- maybe one or two, nothing really to see so I left.

There is a large parking garage across the street from the finish line for people to park in or if you stayed at a hotel nearby you could walk and avoid the parking fee. At packet pickup I received a drawstring bag and shirt (both of which mentions a kids race, but they don't have one), and my number. The medal for the 10K had a picture of the lighthouse on it, which was fairly representative of what we saw on the course.

There wasn't overcrowding like you experience at some races, though there was a bit of bottlenecking at the beginning. I enjoyed running in a new place and I encourage those who have never been to St. Augustine to head up, explore and give the race a chance, but I am not sure that this is a race that I would do again.

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(2017)
"Half Marathon Relay"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Elevation Difficulty
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For a first year race, I believe that they tried to consider everything that would make a race amazing.

Packet pick-up was easy. They held it at the Mahaffey Theater and it coincided with the Saturday Market, which allowed runners to do a little bit of shopping from local vendors. I didn't wait very long to be helped as they had multiple volunteers helping out with each distance. Relay runners get a timing bracelet to wear on your leg that you will pass on to your partner at the exchange point. There weren't any vendors at packet pickup in the ballroom and I think it is because the Saturday Market was going on.

Parking in downtown Saint Pete is plentiful. There is both paid and free street parking as well as the Mahaffey parking garage (which is closest to the start) for $10.

Parking for relay participants, while they tried to make it as seamless as possible, was not necessarily the best. Runner 2 was supposed to drop Runner 1 off at the start line and make their way straight to Ferg's to park. Well, my partner wanted to see me off and so when she tried to get to Ferg's, the street was already blocked off and she couldn't park at Ferg's so she had to find street parking. After I exchanged with her at the relay exchange point, I was directed to drive to the Albert Whitted Airport and use my parking pass to park in volunteer parking. Well, I never quite found volunteer parking and so I went to the Mahaffey parking lot, showed them my pass and they were kind enough to let me park. There weren't really signs for volunteer parking and so I didn't know where to go. Relays that I have done in the past have had a bus that shuttles the runners to and from the exchange point. I think that would be a fabulous addition to this race so that runners aren't worrying about exchanging cars, rushing to get to the parking place, and whether or not they'll be able to see their running partner off.

I ran the first half of the race and the course was nice. I was hoping that we wouldn't run over the brick streets that I ran over for The Getaway 5K and we didn't. We weaved in and out of the streets of Saint Pete (lots of twists and turns), but the best part was being able to run through Tropicana Field (where the Tampa Bay Rays play) and around the outfield. We got a blast of air conditioning and I was able to make a restroom pit stop. There was also a DJ playing music on your way out of the field. I also ran past a marching band playing music, which was very cool.

There are tons of murals in downtown Saint Pete, which I think is part of the city's charm and I do wish that we were able to run past some of the awesome murals during this race.

The exchange point was right outside of Ferg's and I was able to get my medal and swag, grab the car keys and drive to the finish line to meet my partner. She says that her half of the race was beautiful but ridiculously hot (my half of the race was hot as well). There isn't much shade on the course and while there was a 7 am start, I could have done with an even earlier start on this day. The problem with Florida is that the weather is so unpredictable- you don't know if you'll have breeze, humidity, heat- it is a toss-up.

The post-race party (expo) was amazing. Not only did you get a Tervis tumbler upon completion of the race, but you also got a towel, smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Outback/Carraba's/Bonefish were present, I mean- they thought of it all! I was very impressed with the after party and the swag. The medal had a spinning pelican's foot and was a nice size.

After the race, I did not receive an email telling me where to find race photos, so I had to go to the website and look under their FAQ section to grab the link for race photos. I did, though, get a postcard from the race directors wishing me happy holidays, which I thought was a very nice touch.

Overall, it was a great race that I would consider doing again.

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