Latest reviews by Meridith Daniel

(2019)
"Love the race - with little tweaks it could be perfect!"
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Boardwalk, sunshine, beach, ocean: it all has the makings of a good time. Atlantic City is my preferred place to run – it’s familiar, it’s flat, and it’s an easy drive to and from my house.

Last year was the inaugural Bungalow Beach 5 Miler and I knew then that even though I’m not summer race runner, I’d be adding this to my repertoire. There aren’t a lot of 5 mile races and I enjoy the distance (and can deal with the heat!).

The folks over at the AC races know what speaks to runners: competitive pricing, extra swag, and bling. I registered for this race last fall and it was under $35 with a coupon code. The experience includes the 5 mile race with multiple water stops, a race shirt (tank for the ladies), medal, beer, and photos. I’d say that’s a great value for the price!

The added incentive for 2019 is the Triple Threat medal. For those who run a race during the April Fools weekend, the Bungalow Beach 5 Miler, and a race during their fall weekend, you earn a triple threat medal. You can always find me at an Atlantic City race, so I’m pretty pumped to get this in October.

Packet pickup was Friday evening and also the morning of prior to the start. I particularly like this race because it’s a Saturday rather than the standard Sunday so it’s a great way to kick off the weekend.

We parked about a mile down the boardwalk at Resorts because we have frequent player cards there that entitle us to $5 parking. This is where my friend and I usually start our runs during training and figured it would be a nice way to warm up before/cool down after.

We arrived in plenty of time for the morning packet pickup, which was a good thing because the line was a bit on the long side.

When my friend asked for a bag (there was a pile on the table) the volunteer was a bit on the rude side and asked if she REALLY needed it because they were “running low”. As we weren’t planning on bringing our swag back to the car and didn’t see a bag check anywhere it was, indeed, something she really needed.

Given the swell in popularity of this event after just 2 years (there was a social media post the evening before stating that it was 90% full) the race will probably take that into consideration for packet pickup and have more tables in the future. Thankfully, the race started a few minutes after 8 to accommodate those still in line for their bibs/shirts.

The course is basically an out and back with a little dip onto the street for a few blocks at mile 2. The boardwalk is open so you have to be aware of people out for a morning stroll and bicyclists. There were many and to be honest, they don't really care too much that a race is going on. Or maybe they're mad about it? I'm not sure - suffice to say, you have to look out for them rather than the other way around.

The last stretch of the race is on the beach. Last year it was rough to run through the finish line because of all the people who had gone through before us but this year they had mats down, which helped a lot!

There was a photographer stationed at the finish line for free photos, however, I think they stopped taking pictures after the hour mark because there were NO pictures of anyone who finished after that. The course was open for 2 hours so the fact that the photographer didn't take any pictures past the hour mark wasn't cool.

We got our medals and delicious snacks – they always have a great spread. The option for beer at 9:30 in the morning wasn't too appealing to us so we decided to take the trek back to the cars and call it a day.

2/3 races in Atlantic City complete for 2019! I’m looking forward to returning for the 10k in October and getting my Triple Threat medal!

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(2019)
"Baby, We Were Born to Run!"
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The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon weekend has been on my list of ones to do for awhile. I'm a Jersey girl, born and raised, and I've heard great buzz about this race. While I would have rather run the half marathon, the scheduling worked out better for the 5k so that's the race I opted for.

Registration through Athlinks was super simple. The 5k and kids races were on Saturday; the half and full marathon on Sunday. Because I was doing the 5k, I was able to do day-of bib and shirt pickup. Therefore I didn't see the expo but it helped save travel time all around which was a plus. A childhood friend also signed up for the 5k, so we traveled to the race site together and ran the race together as well.

The race management suggested getting there early for parking purposes and we arrived a couple of hours before the 9am start time. We were actually the first ones in the parking lot. It gave us plenty of time to relax, eat our breakfast, and then pick up the bibs and Diadora shirts. The shirt is cute in the front but has a mesh back that threw me off a bit. I don't know if I'll wear it anywhere but at home.

Like I mentioned, we had plenty of time prior to the start of the race so we wandered back to our car (about a half mile away) to put our shirts away and stay shielded from the wind. It was a beautiful, sunny day but the wind was intense which was a bummer because we knew that running was going to be a challenge.

As the start time drew closer, the parking lot filled and we walked back to the start.

After a young lady sang the Star Spangled Banner, we were off on our 3.1 mile journey. The course was flat and wound along the ocean boardwalk, onto the streets, near a park, through a neighborhood, and back to the boardwalk once again.

There were two water stops along the way. Police presence and volunteers were throughout the course.

The wind was pretty brutal and by the third mile, we were fighting against it. Thankfully, the finish line was in sight and we finished strong and received our BEAUTIFUL record shaped medals. They even spin, which is so much fun!

In the finish line chute there were water bottles and snacks, which were great. There was also a small race village set up with a few vendors. We spent a few minutes visit booths and then watched the kids run their mile and a half race before heading back to the car.

Great race, maybe next time I'll do the half!

More pictures and words here: http://www.scootadoot.org/2019/05/01/race-recap-the-novo-nordisk-new-jersey-marathon-5k/

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(2019)
"3 Year Legacy!"
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I ran this race through BibRave.

2019 marks the third consecutive year that I've run one of the races at the Philadelphia Allstate Hot Chocolate series. I kicked off my 40th year in 2017, 2018 was my friend Ana's first 5k ever, and this year I ran solo. But I was never alone, I had friends all along the way.

What I love about this race is the appeal for local runners and newer runners, at that. Because it has such terrific swag and yummy treats at the finish, it has an appeal that can't be denied. Not only did I see adult friends, I also saw a lot of my kid runners from Healthy Kids Running Series.

I opted to have my race packet mailed to me. Along with the super soft jacket, there was also my bib, and a card saying that as a 3 year legacy runner, I was going to get even MORE swag! What? It's true - I just had to bring the card along with me and I was able to pick up a 3 year legacy medal, pin, and hat. So cool!

The course itself is standard Philly running. We chose to take the train in from New Jersey rather than deal with parking and walking from 15th/16th and Locust to Eakins Oval.

We got there just before 7am, had time to get a picture with fellow BibRave Pros, and then jump into the corral. I was placed in D but started in E because I saw some friends. The 5k race began at 7:15, I crossed the start exactly 10 minutes later at 7:25.

Running along the Schuylkill river is nice enough, although a bit on the boring side. The other side of the road is 1-76.

There was water and Nuun on the course, along with one chocolate station. I chose to skip the chocolate and indulge at the finish line. After I crossed the finish I circled back and cheered for my friends finishing the 5k. We grabbed our chocolate treats (and my extra swag!) and then cheered for the 15k finishers.

One thing that was disappointing was the photographers. Hot Chocolate always has free pictures for runners (yay!) but this year I didn't get that many and the ones that I'm in, I'm behind people. There are a few of me running but they're blurry. Whomp!

The morning was perfect for running though and as always, the race was a lot of fun!

More pictures and thoughts here: http://www.scootadoot.org/2019/04/10/race-recap-2019-allstate-hot-chocolate-philadelphia-5k/

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(2019)
"First 7k ever = instant PR"
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First things first, I love the Atlantic City races. I feel like I need to be upfront with this information because I’m at most of their events. If there’s a race in AC, you’ll most likely find me at one of the distances.

I usually opt for the half marathon at the April Fools race but this year I’ve been embracing the shorter distances and Saturday races. Additionally, my 14 year old son requested to join me this year so I figured the 7k distance would be the best bet. There’s also a 11k option on Saturday. The half marathon runs on Sunday.

For an additional $10 per packet, there was race morning packet pickup. Parking was only $5 with a Resorts Casino card, I picked one up a few weeks back when I spent the day in AC.

The weather was rainy but not too cold, so it was actually comfortable to run in. This was the longest distance for my son so we chose to do 1:1 intervals to keep a consistent pace.

The entire 7k course is on the boardwalk. There was a water station on the way out and back around the 2 mile mark (and the same on the return). It’s always a really nice run - despite the weather.

The finish line has lots of snacks and goodies. There is also a beer ticket to redeem a beer at Landshark. Really great morning in Atlantic City. I’m looking forward to the Bungalow Beach 5 mile race in a couple of months!

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(2019)
"PR in FUN!"
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I had the opportunity to run the 305 half marathon as a BibRave Pro.

When my fellow BibRave Pro and my friend for years, Ashley, mentioned that she was interested in signing up for this race, I immediately started making plans to join her. My parents live about an hour outside of Miami and I knew that a break from the cold New Jersey winter would be just what I needed at the beginning of March. We knew right away that our plan for this race was to get a PR... in fun. I'm happy to report that it did not disappoint.

I registered in January through Athlinks and it was quick and easy!

There was no expo but there were a few opportunities for bib pickup prior to the Sunday morning race in Miami Beach and Miami. They also allowed for race morning pickup and since we were driving from a distance, that's what we opted for. We woke up early allowing us plenty of time.

We found a parking garage a block away from where we needed to be. After turning into the lot we saw that it was a steep $50 for 5 hours. Yikes! Any additional time meant an additional $50! (We actually arrived back right at the 5 hour mark and the machine tried to charge us but thankfully the attendant fixed it.)

Shirt and bib pickup was quick and easy. The start and finish village were right next to each other and there were plenty of portapotties. There was a coffee bar in the start village and just beyond that area was the beach.

Shirt sizing is my nemesis so if you're like me and have sizing issues too, the shirts are men and women's cut and they were Sport-Tek brand this year. I ended up getting a shirt that's too large but oh well, you win some, you lose some! The shirts were a bright turquoise with purple lettering - very Miami!

The course was a big loop through Miami Beach and Miami. The corrals we well marked with the paces and there were pacers placed throughout the corrals as well. They had the music pumping, a fun light up guy on stilts and after a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem (seriously, one of the best I've ever heard) we were off and running just after 6:15.

The sun started to rise and it got hot quickly. Thankfully there was a breeze and well spaced aid stations throughout the course. While we were running we realized that some of the 5k runners somehow started running early with the half marathon runners - whoops! They stopped at the aid station near mile 3... not sure how they got back to the start.

For those thinking that this course is entirely at sea-level (like me, I don't always read the race guides like I should), think again! The causeways over the water are pretty steep on both incline and decline and there were about four of these throughout the race. However the sights were gorgeous and there was actually a rainbow that draped over the entire course for the first 5 miles!

No crowds to speak of but the volunteers and police were supportive. There were also about 4 DJs along the route. Ash and I didn't bring music but we were jamming to the beats as we went by them. We also ran right near where the cruise ships were docked, it really was a scenic event!

We finished the race with a BibRave shout out from the announcer and grabbed cold water and towels. There were free pictures from the course and finish and I love them all!

There was an issue with the medals not arriving on time, which we learned about 2 nights prior to race morning. I appreciate that they kept runners informed of how things transpired. We were given a temporary medal and a Starbucks gift card from UPS. The actual medals are going to be shipped to each runner within the next few weeks. Mistakes happen and I appreciate that they made every effort to make it as close to right as possible.

The finish area had a great assortment of snacks, choice of Bloody Mary or beer, and other fun stuff! Everyone was in good spirits and it was exactly how a Florida race should end! Ashley and I took a few minutes to walk over to the beach, take a few pictures, and then headed out.

For more thoughts/pictures, visit: http://www.scootadoot.org/2019/03/08/race-recap-miamis-305-half-marathon/

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