Latest reviews by Jeannine Avelino

(2017)
"The rain didn't dampen our Seawall Race spirit!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

For the full recap, check out my blog here: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/10/race-recap-seawall-race/

Organization – Despite the roadblocks this race weekend faced (RnR pulling out, postponed half marathon, and medal re-design), race organizers did well with the cards they were dealt. In the end, they still pulled off a really successful race and it showed on everyone’s reactions that day. There were ample signs and volunteers throughout the course and roaming photographers. Communication was ok. They used Facebook and email to notify us with race information and updates. There’s complimentary gear check, which is very convenient and lots of bathrooms to change in. The location is also very accessible via bus or bicycle. You can bring your car too but there’s limited parking and they encourage carpooling.

Course – Beautiful, scenic, and flat. It’s a counter-clockwise loop, my preferred way of running the seawall. Those not familiar with the Stanley Park seawall will be treated to mountain and ocean views, various landmarks and public art and the natural beauty that Vancouver has to offer. The only thing is that it's not a full 10k, it's a 9.5 km course and has been that way for over 40 years.

Swag/Package Pickup – With the bib, runners received a grey v-neck tech shirt with the race logo prominently printed on the back and some flyers with future race discounts. Package Pickup was held at a Running Room store in Downtown Vancouver and they had special discounts just for participants (which I took advantage of).

Post-Race - There were bananas, energy drinks, protein bars, water and coffee at the finish line. There was also a costume contest and awards given to overall and age group winners. Hang out until the end in case you win a door prize.

Would I Do It Again? Yes! It’s a fun and fast race organized by fabulous people and a Vancouver tradition. Looking forward to next year!

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(2017)
"Blown away by the spectators and course!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

For a full account of my experience, visit my blog here: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/10/race-recap-bmw-berlin-marathon-2017/

Organization – The Germans are very organized and it shows. It’s easy to figure out where to get what you need. Communication was great and lots of information was available online and at package pickup (they handed out information booklets and transit maps). All my questions were answered quickly just by looking online or reading the booklet. The race started promptly and there were lots of signs and volunteers showing you where to go. They also gave advice on which station to get off at since there are road closures all over the place.

Package Pickup & Expo – I went on the first day right when it opened and it was a breeze; although, I heard that things get quite hectic closer to race day. While it was a large venue, everything is organized and easy to find and within 10 minutes, I got my package. What I didn’t like was that once you left package pickup, you can’t go back in. The Expo conveniently located by the Gleisdreieck U-Bahn station. It was large and you can take up a lot of time just walking and seeing everything. The Adidas shop is massive and they had separate lines for people buying official merchandise and those buying regular stuff. I don’t know why but I’m sure there was a reason. We bought official and non-official stuff separately and there wasn’t much of a lineup due to the number of cashiers. There’s food outside if you get hungry as well (bring cash).

Course – The course is fast and flat as advertised. You run through a bunch of neighbourhoods, cross the winding Spree River 6 or 7 times, and see some iconic landmarks. The best part was running through the Brandenburg Gate, a nice welcome to the finish line. Aid stations were plentiful and well-stocked. There was also a Red Bull station at about 6 km to go which was helpful. They did use plastic cups for water but paper cups for energy drink. I think they could’ve used paper for both, I don’t know why. It made a bit of a mess. All the volunteers were friendly and happy to help you out. There were even massage stations in the second half of the course!

Swag – I don’t like that you had to pay for finisher shirts but I like that they gave you a choice to even get a shirt or not. I personally bought the shirts but I know some people would rather not have it. I guess I could count the Breakfast Run as swag… it was a free event with free food. That, I appreciated, as it was a fantastic shakeout run. The medal is beautiful and the post-race snack bag I got had a lot of stuff in it. Again, I wish I bought the shoes.

Would I Do it Again? In a heartbeat. I know I could do better if I wasn’t feeling like crap. Plus, I love Berlin.

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(2017)
"That hill seems endless..."
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

For a detailed recap, visit my blog here: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/10/race-recap-5-peaks-whistler-2017/

This is our second year doing this race and it didn't disappoint. We did the same thing as last year and drove up to Whistler early in the morning. Package pickup was near the gondola and they were also handing out the swag while we were in line (amazing metal water bottles). We hopped on the first gondola and it took about 20-30 minutes to get to the top of Blackcomb. Keep in mind that you have to make it there early (they tell you what time in the pre-race email). We got to the top with enough time to get changed and drop our bags off at gear check. Near the start/finish line, they had tents set up with swag for sale as well as tables full of post-race food which included fruit, brownies, and bagels. I bought a 5 Peaks BUFF and a 5 Peaks T-shirt, which I love. If you plan on buying things, remember to bring cash. I hope one day they will accept credit cards but thank goodness there was an ATM nearby. Race direction was on point as usual, the routes were clearly marked and there was lots of pre and post-race communication. The race is tough with lots of climbing. There's lots of single track and some technical parts, but all in all pretty runnable. The scenery is beautiful, the most scenic race I've done so far. All in all, a great race experience.

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(2017)
"Better than last year!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Visit my blog for a more in-depth review: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/08/recap-seawheeze-half-marathon-2017/

Registering: This itself was a race on its own. If you're not quick with the refresh, you're not getting in. I managed to get in, thank goodness, but I know other people had problems with check out and ended up not getting their entry. Hopefully next year the glitches won't happen. The price went up unfortunately but if you plan on taking in all the festivities and grabbing everything that you can get that comes with the race, it's worth it. What's great this year is that they allowed transfers up to a certain date. It was way easier to get rid of an entry if you're injured and the replacement runner can run under their name.

The shorts: I wasn't a huge fan of the shorts design this year. Lululemon had vibrant shorts designs in the past and I was disappointed to get a black and white pair. It's still the shorts I like though so that's fine, I still wear them. Although I did notice that they fit smaller and are shorter than last year's pair (I got the same size).

Exclusive online sale: New for this year, runners were given the opportunity to buy from a secret online store, a limited number of merchandise. I managed to get a pair of speed shorts in a nice pattern but I heard others didn't get too lucky. Apparently the link was leaked and non-runners managed to buy merch as well. Perhaps Lululemon can fix this so registered runners will have to log in to access the sale.

Prewheeze/Package Pickup: November Project had a pop-up workout the morning of package pickup so I went to that and had a blast. I didn't line up for the showcase store this year because people have started camping out for the store 2 days in advance. There's no way I was going to get in so why bother. I decided to go on my lunch break instead. There were 2 lines, one for package pickup and another for the store. The lineup for package pickup moved quickly and I received my wristband, gear bag, water bottle, a tube of Nuun and sunglasses. I then went to the store (no lineup) and managed to get something I wanted despite the lack of merchandise. There were still lots of shorts, tops, and bags but in the not-as-popular colours and patterns. I heard the rainbow reflective gear were the first to sell out first. As usual there were vendors out at Jack Poole Plaza giving out free samples and all the free yoga sessions were held there too.

Race Day: I thought it was better this year. Last year my complaint was that the on-course entertainment seemed lacking but this year they seemed to have stepped it up. Check out the blog to see my favourites... there are lots to list.

Medal and swag: I loved the medal this year. It's a cairn, a stack of stones. It's hefty and doubles as a bottle opener apparently! There were no hats this year since they splurged on the gear bags instead. That was a bummer, I liked their hats. The Saje pouches were not handed out on the way to the breakfast line this time. You had to pick it up from their booth and from what I heard, they ran out/other people took more than one. That's not fair for back of the pack runners and I hope they would just hand it out at the finish line like they used to do. The breakfast was great this year and easier to get to. The line was very organized and it was literally grab and go rather than chase someone down for a meal (like last year). I loved the banana bread and fruit combo this year... much better than the breakfast sandwich.

Sunset Festival: I didn't get to go this year since I had more training in store for me the next day but I heard it was awesome.

Would I do it again? Yes I would but it won't be the end of the world if I don't get in, since it's so expensive. It's a great destination race though and I highly recommend that you go and try it out. The course is not too challenging... some hills but mostly flat and very scenic. You'll love Vancouver!

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(2017)
"Same route but way better weather"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

For more details, visit my blog here: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/07/race-recap-5peaks-cypress/

Thankfully, the weather cooperated and the race at Cypress went ahead as planned, with no changes. This is my second time doing the sport course (the shorter one), which measured about 8 km. Last year, we raced in the fog and cold, this year it was hot and sunny. As you can see in the photo attached, it was quite a difference. The course was not too technical, but it had a lot of loose rocks and gravel. I had forgotten how much we had to climb from last year. It was shrouded in fog last year so I couldn't gauge how far we had to walk up. Because it was sunny this year, it was clear how high the hill was. Still, it's a fun course with a mostly downhill finish.

The swag for this race was supposed to be a water bottle but the shipment didn't arrive on time. No biggie, they just swapped swags and gave us headphones... which really is a step up not a step down :P The bottles will be given away at the next race, I hear... which I will be going to as well :)

The volunteers were great as usual with lots of food and water on hand. Race organizers were clear in the emails as usual and warned us about all the bugs at the top of the mountain.Thankfully it wasn't too bad but we sprayed ourselves with bug repellent anyway.

5 Peaks always puts on fun races. You'll see another 5 peaks review from me soon (in August). My last one for the year :)

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