Latest reviews by Sarah Flores

(2018)
"Perfect challenge to cap off a great racing season!"
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Full disclosure: this is my third year to run the Cap 10K and it seems like each year gets better and better. As the largest 10K in Texas, this race attracts runners of all different backgrounds and has a really fun atmosphere. I look forward to this race every year to cap off (see what I did there?) my racing season in Texas.

Here are my favorite aspects of this year's race:
- Easy sign up process and organized info for race day.
- A fun expo with quality vendors.
- An easy-to-access start line, complete with free parking options (if you get there early).
- A huge crowd, with unique costumes because of the costume contest.
- Extra challenges, like the King of the Hill, which times you as you ascend up to the highest point on the course.
- Well staffed, enthusiastic aid and cheer stations, as well as live music nearly every mile.
- Great swag, such as a cute tech shirt and medals, which were new this year!
- An unbeatable post race party, hosted at Austin's scenic Auditorium Shores.

For more details on my personal experience, read the full review here:
https://wp.me/p74Lch-uI

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(2017)
"A Festive, Fun Look at San Antonio"
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After enjoying the race in Dallas so much earlier this year, I couldn’t wait to check out Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio! I think this was the largest race I've run, and due to the time of year, it's definitely one that I would recommend to anyone. The weather can be nice (it wasn't this year, but that's not the race's fault) and San Antonio is all decorated for the holidays.

Here are some of the other highlights from the race:
- Sign ups were easy and there was ample communication beforehand (though it was almost information overload).
- There was ample surface parking near the runner drop off areas, which made it easy to get to the race.
- Course support was on point - they had plenty of water, gatorade, porta potties and volunteers, though I still would like to see them add in a couple more aid stations.
- Spirited crowds (likely due to the size of the race) and incredible scenery made braving the rainy weather worth it.
- All of the bands stationed on the course were fantastic, with a good amount of variety, including local mariachi bands and folk dancers.
- The post race party didn't disappoint either, with more music, lots of gear and of course, lots of food!
- I love my new shirt and medal; and plan to wear it all the time.

For more details, read my full review here: http://freetorunblog.com/rock-n-roll-san-antonio-half-marathon-race-recap-and-review/

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(2017)
"Management made the best of the bad weather. "
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I was truly looking forward to kicking off my racing season with the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon for the second year in a row, but they ended up having to cancel the race this year. However, that was totally out of their control and they made the best of the situation.
Here's the parts I was still able to enjoy with this race:

- Pre-race: While the website may not be updated super frequently, they do post frequent updates, giveaways and general information on their Facebook page. I also found that they emailed everything I needed to know, so everything was in one place. They also had a great deal on a wonderful hotel, and seemed to really think of every detail.
- Expo: They stepped up their expo game this year. It was small by some standards, but had a good amount of variety and a fun photo both. I appreciated that they took extra effort to make it worthwhile.
- Race Day Communication: I've had other, larger races get cancelled where they did not communicate nearly as well as this one. A cold front blew through less than an hour before start time (it was originally forecasted to pass through by then). Management continued to monitor the forecast and made adjustments to the start time, posting them to Facebook. Though they did end up having to cancel (again, not their fault), I thought they handled this situation as good as anyone could have.
- Post-race Party: They still were prepared to have the most important part - the post-race party! There was delicious craft beer, plenty of food to go around, and of course, swag.
- Swag: Finisher medals were amazing - large, colorful and complete with a bottle opener. We also received really soft finisher's tees, a boot glass to drink our beer out of (it is Oktoberfest, after all) and a nice tote bag at the expo.

Fingers crossed for better weather next year. I can't wait to actually run the fabulous course they worked so hard on next year.

Read the full review on my blog here: http://wp.me/p74Lch-sP

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(2017)
"Awesome Tour of Dallas, but Needs Some Tweaks!"
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I had the pleasure this past weekend of running the Rock 'n' Roll Dallas race. It was a lot of fun and had a spirited atmosphere, but I do think it needs some adjustments to be fitting for its southern customers.

First, let's start with the good! The sign up process was easy and there was a ton of communication beforehand from the race. The expo was easy to navigate and seemed to be plenty to see and do.

The race itself was well-organized, with ample signage and an awesome vibe! Water/aid stations seemed fairly well stocked, though I noticed some of the water servers had a hard time keeping up with demand. Aid stations are just over two miles away from each other. I didn't use a porta potty, but I didn't see any extremely long lines, so I think they had just the right amount of those.

The course itself offered a nice, scenic route that had a picture perfect view of the skyline several times. It was visually enjoyable, and there were also lots of spectators to cheer on the runners! It was a very hilly course (Austinite, here). It was actually tougher than the Austin Half Marathon course. That's not always a bad thing though - for every uphill, there's a downhill.

Swag wasn't anything too special - I loved the shirt and the medal, but that's all we got. Parking was easy to find using the Parking Panda option, but it was not really close to the start or finish, and was kind of pricy. I think I will use other options in the future.

Lastly, the music was fantastic. Live bands every couple of miles was good motivation to keep going on the tough course.

The cons? I didn't really like that one be present to pick up their packet, which was buried on the website. It's fine to have special expectations (this is the only race I've run where that has been the case), but make sure you don't waste time with unnecessary communication. People are busy, and I don't need an email a day if it's not communicating what I NEED to know.

Next, I think they were in desperate need of another water station. Texas weather is unpredictable. It might not have been necessary on another weekend, but it was hot and humid and they didn't plan for it. I loved the live music, but I would have liked to see less of that if it meant there was an additional water station.

I will definitely be back, and know what to expect with this series now, but did want to call those things out! Would love to see RNR change those things, but I'll also just prepare differently next time.

Check out my full review on my blog here: http://freetorunblog.com/rock-n-roll-dallas-half-marathon-race-recap-and-review/

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(2016)
"A Small Town Race That's Run Like the Larger Ones"
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My second marathon, the BCS Marathon was a top-notch experience.

It's held in December in the college town of College Station, and presents a fairly simple course terrain. If you hit the perfect weather, you will likely cruise to a PR.

First off, the expo. I actually wasn't able to attend, but I heard there wasn't much to write home about. Other than that though, the only comment I have is that there is no packet pickup option available other than at the expo. This is something I personally wish they would work out a solution for, but other than that, no complaints here.

The morning of the race went quite smoothly. Being in College Station, parking is a non-issue. There are a variety of hotels close to the start line at Post Oak Mall, so it's a quick car ride to the parking lot. From the parking lot, it was a short walk to the start line, where there were porta potties a-plenty (hardly even a line)!

After the gun went off and we crossed the start line, the route was scenic and ran all over the Bryan/College Station area. We ran through the historic neighborhoods, then moved on to downtown Bryan. Later on, we made our way out to the Tradition's golf course, which offered more nature/scenic views. Finally, we ran back to campus as people started to hit the dreaded "wall." It's planned perfectly because student organizations come out to cheer people on and staff aid stations. And everyone wants to be near campus, so they are really excited!

This race also offered a lot of bigger race features that smaller races usually don't have. Pacers for the marathon were really nice to have. The marathon relay group also made the course feel a lot less empty, which was well-planned.

Aid stations were also fabulous. They all had water and Gatorade, as well as medical staff (with Vaseline for chafing). Every few aid stations, they offered food - Gu, orange slices, bananas, gummy candies, etc. The race was small enough that the stations weren't crowded, either.

26.2 miles later, the finish line crowd was also spirited, as was the announcer (who high-fived me). Again, it felt like a much larger race. However, immediately after crossing, I was easily able to find my husband and parents, who had come in from out of town. I received my beautiful medal, banged the PR gong (heck yeah, 20 minute personal record).

The post-race party was filled with food and goodies. It was easy to find my finisher jacket, which was also pretty well-made. There were pizza rolls, beer, margaritas, breakfast tacos, the list goes on. It was just awesome. I also liked that there was a little bit of a walk back to the parking lot from Wolf Pen Creek, where the party was. It helped me to cool down.

Overall, just about everything was right on point, and I will absolutely be back fro the half or full again in the future. I would recommend it to anyone, given the variety of distances available and the professional way the race was organized.

For more of my race day experience, check out my full blog post here: http://wp.me/p74Lch-nj

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