Latest reviews by Janelle Johnson-Grummert

(2017)
"Hot and Humid in Montreal!"
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This was my first time running a race outside of the U.S. and I was extremely excited to run my first fall half of the season in Montreal! Unfortunately, we had some unseasonably warm weather for race weekend, so much so that the full marathon had to be canceled, so many runners dropped down to the half.

The Expo was on Friday and Saturday and I attended on Friday. There was plenty of swag to buy and a decent variety of vendors. They also offered a free STM day pass for the day you ran your race, but since it was a separate process, I completely forgot to get in line and grab mine.

Getting to the race via subway was easy, but there was a long walk to get to the race start. Fortunately, there were plenty of porta-potties available and the view of the city from the Jacques-Cartier Bridge was stunning!

The course itself, honestly, was a letdown for me overall. Most of the time is spent running down parkways, through parking lots, or over/under highway bridges. You even run through an amusement park! Montreal is a pretty city but you don't get to actually run through it until about the last 4 miles, and when you do, it's really nice. That's also when you get the best crowd support. Because the heat and humidity were so high, the lack of scenery was even more apparent as I tried to find ways to distract myself, lol!

Also, this is a very crowded race. While on the bridge at the start you can see that there are tens of thousands of runners rearing to go. It's awesome to see, but if you're trying to PR (thank goodness I wasn't!), it would be really tough to avoid bobbing and weaving around people.

But with all that said, RNR did a great job organizing the race. The bands were great, the water stations were pretty well stocked (though they could have had more stops), mile/km markers were accurate, and there were plenty of post-race snacks plus beer.

I think that if the temperature was in the 50-70 degree range versus 70+ with 100% humidity, I would have really loved this race!

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(2017)
"Loved My First Trip to Seattle!"
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I live in Philadelphia and love Rock 'n Roll races having previously run in Philly and DC. I heard great things about Seattle decided to go for and go for a solo weekend trip. This year was a new course from "stadium to stadium" - going from the University of Washington Husky stadium to Century Link Field where the Seahawks play. I heard that Seattle is very hilly so I knew it wouldn't be an easy course, but I was looking forward to something new.

I arrived in Seattle on Friday morning and went to the race expo early in the afternoon. I spent probably way too much time in the Expo - there were plenty of vendors with lots of things to sample and I bought a ton of Seattle-themed gear - hey, I don't know when I'll be able to make it back! I actually had to do onsite registration because I forgot to register in advance (OOPS!) - thankfully everything went smoothly and I was able to get my bib and gear with no issues.

I stayed in a hotel downtown and took the LINK train system to the race start - it was extremely easy and convenient, but the trains filled up VERY quickly - they should have had more trains running that morning for the 6:30 am race start because I know there had to be a lot of people who made it late to the race. When I came up from underground I was pretty disoriented - I had trouble finding the gear check and the lines for the portapotties were EXTREMELY long - the longest I've ever seen - thank goodness I didn't have a bathroom emergency!

The race start was chaotic and people were confused about how to line up in the corrals - I was just happy to get started, just a bit before 7 am (I was in corral 13). The course was crowded and it took me a few miles to get comfortable, but once I got in my sweet spot, I enjoyed the race. The views along Lake Washington were beautiful and the rolling hills were fun. The live music was pretty good and there was a decent smattering of cheering spectators here and there.

The best part of the race for me was the Blue Mile in honor of our fallen soldiers. It was literally a mile long - longer than the Blue Mile in DC - and it really gave me so much perspective about life. It was definitely emotional and inspiring - thank you!

There were some awkward parts of the course where the marathoners would split off from us and then re-join us on the course. A little confusing, but volunteers did their best to communicate with the runners.

The last couple of miles were the toughest mentally since they were pretty boring with no spectators. When I could finally see the stadium I was excited and tried to kick it up a notch - happy to finish strong once I finally saw the finish line! My goal was to beat 2:15 and I finished under 2:12 so I was happy!

We got gorgeous medals and were provided with plenty of snacks on our way out. I didn't hang around for the free beer or concert - I honestly just felt gross from the high humidity and wanted to go back to the hotel and crash! I was glad I went out of my comfort zone traveling from Philly to Seattle for a race and I had a great time in the city. I'll definitely be back, but I probably wouldn't do the half again. The full marathon looks like a much better course!

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(2017)
"An Amazing Race - Buffalove!"
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I had an incredible experience at the Buffalo Half Marathon. I'm originally from Buffalo so I was looking forward to this race. From the very beginning, the Buffalo Marathon organizers had excellent communication in the months leading up to the race. There was even a note about potential weather concerns that Sunday, but we lucked out and had wonderful weather for the half marathon - starting in the low 50's and not a drop of rain!

The Expo was really nice and bib pickup was easy. There were plenty of vendors and official merchandise to buy, and everything looked great! There was a pasta party for Saturday night but unfortunately, I didn't get to participate.

The half and full marathon started together at 6:30 am, with fireworks, and we headed North on Delaware - the course was great, not too crowded and had plenty of shade for the most part. There was a nice amount of spectators along the way with sprinklers, orange slices, and plenty of high-five's The only crowded area was along the Marina when there were some out-and-back's between miles 10 and 12 that were a little tight. There are some inclines so don't think that the race is completely flat!

I was very fortunate to have a PR at this race - my hometown does SUCH a great job organizing the race! The post-race party included free craft beer and PIZZA - the best combination ever! There were also free massages after the race that I didn't get to enjoy, unfortunately. But great medal, great swag, great time overall!

This is a really great race and I would definitely do it again. You can find my full recap on my blog: http://www.runwithnoregrets.com/2017/06/buffalo-half-marathon-race-recap/

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(2017)
"Perfect Day to Run in Alexandria!"
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This was my first time running the George Washington Parkway Classic - it was recommended by a friend and when given the opportunity to run as a BibRave Pro I jumped! The course is point-to-point so transportation logistics are a little bit complicated between Mt. Vernon and Downtown Alexandria. Fortunately, there were several bus shuttle options to choose from for runners' convenience. After a practice run the night before, I was able to be easily dropped off at the starting area.

I didn't realize how BIG this race is - thousands of runners but Pacers did a great job keeping things organized! Before the race there were heat sheets, coffee, and other snacks available which I thought was great! The race started right on time and it was never too crowded on the course. The course itself starts on a downhill but then you have lots and lots of rolling hills to tackle as you run down the GW Parkway. It's very scenic and peaceful - not too many spectators, but still well-supported.

I really enjoyed this race and was fortunate to PR the 10-mile distance! We lucked out with a beautiful day, slightly humid from the previous days' rain, but we didn't get a single drop! I had a few friends run as well and they had a great experience. After the race was a great party with delicious beer, free massages, and plenty of snacks. I had a blast!

If you're looking for more of a challenging race in the spring I recommend adding the Parkway Classic to your list! Great course and swag, all at a great value!

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(2016)
"A Blustery Day But A Fantastic Race!"
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I very fortunate to be a Social Runner for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run and received a free entry to the race. Coming from Philadelphia, I was also able to get a free hotel a couple of miles from the race, which was such an amazing gesture.

We arrived late on Friday evening so we waited until Saturday early afternoon to pick up our bibs at the Expo at the National Building Museum. The set-up was very organized and there was a large variety of vendors available for shopping and picking up race discounts. There was also several seminars on Friday and Saturday that were hosted by running professionals and elite runners including Meb!

In 2015, there was an accident the morning of the race in which the organizers had to scramble to shorten the course. This year, the weather forecast wind gusts of over 50 mph. Because of that several changes had to be made - no course signage (including the start/finish line), no awards ceremony, no kids run. Logistically, this made things challenging for the runners, but you can't control the weather! It was a COLD, blustery morning and they just wanted us to run, finish, and get the heck out of there for our personal safety!

The cold, windy weather stunk but it was still a very exciting day with lots of runners ready to brave the wind. This time, I found it much easier to run the first few miles since I (unintentionally) ended up starting in an earlier wave.

The course is beautiful and you get to see the various monuments of Washington, DC. There was great course support which was amazing considering the awful weather. There is a long stretch on Hains Point that can be mentally tough on its own, but it was also physically tough due to the headwinds. Still, I found it pretty enjoyable overall and was happy to have a very strong race!

The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run is a lovely race and I will do my best to be back for 2017! The organizers are volunteers are fantastic.

My full recap of the race is on my blog: http://www.runwithnoregrets.com/2016/04/2016-cherry-blossom-10-miler-race-recap/

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