Latest reviews by Megan Johnston

(2015)
"Lace Up Palos Verdes 10K"
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Honestly, this hasn't been my favorite of the Lace Up races (Irvine still ranks high in my books). Palos Verdes is just a logistically challenging location given the hills, tight roads and not a ton of open spaces to stuff in a race expo or venue. It works, given that Lace Up is so small, but not without challenges.

The race started late - thankfully, because I was one of many stuck at the top of the cliff at the parking lot that required shuttle service. Not Lace Up's fault, but only 1 of the 4 scheduled shuttle drivers had shown up that morning so he was frazzled and scrambling to get people to and fro as fast as he possibly could.

The course is beautiful - challenging, but beautiful, but otherwise kind of boring at the same time. I can stare at the ocean for hours, but the course is just on the main road that hugs the cliffs that fall into the Pacific. Houses (though gorgeous ones) overlooking you, but at least the ocean always providees a great backdrop.

My results were faulty at the end, so I had to wait until later Saturday afternoon for them to actually update. I don't know what actually happened, but they were accurate once posted later in the day. My true disappointment came with the "post-race brunch" that was really a salad and some kind of mushroom empanada thing. Not at all what one wants after a hilly course!

Otherwise, Lace Up puts on a great race and I'll be tackling my third in the series in just a few weeks at Riverside. I'm grateful to be an ambassador for Lace Up, so please note that these are just my opinions and not reflective of Lace Up's nor any other ambassador's!

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(2015)
"Inaugural Riverside Turkey Trot "
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As an inaugural race, I honestly have no complaints. Well planned, great (re: easy) course and a great community production. There is no race expo, just packet pick up (available race morning or the Sunday prior, this year), though at the finish line festival there are other local Riverside races and community groups. Tech shirts are GREAT and the medals were fantastically adorable.

Aid stations were all supported by high school volunteers who spent their Thanksgiving morning pouring water and cheering us on and were absolutely phenomenal! I was most appreciative of their energy.

The 15K starts in the community and residential areas near Fairmount Park and then dips on to the Santa Ana River Trail for miles 3.5 - 7 or so. A beautiful trail and some nice scenery in the shadows of Mt. Rubidoux.

My only suggestion is that to make slightly different medals for the 5K v 15K finishers - maybe a different color ribbon/turkey or 15K medals bigger. A combo race morning is also an option (the 15K followed by the 5K) with a bonus medal, so there should be a slight difference to those medals also.

All in all, a truly great race. I paced the 15K, so was provided a free entry, but I will go back and pay for this race for years to come.

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(2015)
"Inaugura USA Half Marathon Invitational "
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I think it's always critical to indicate a race as an inaugural effort, as there are always things to be criticized but commended for in a first-go-round effort.

Nte that I did not attend the expo but heard from multiple friends that it was small and a little disappointing - I did not rate the expo based on my lack of attendance. Thankfully, it is easy for someone else to pick up your bib and race jacket for you with a copy of ID and signed waiver.

The course starts on the end (last 4 miles) of Rock 'n Roll San Diego, rolling uphill through Balboa Park and at some point runs down the massive downhill of Washington Ave (almost a mile-long downhill), where the San Diego Half runs straight up. Last half is fast and flat if you didn't kill your legs on the hills in the first five miles!

Fantastic volunteers, quiet on the support/spectator front if that's critical for you, and fantastic medals at the end. My only disappointments were the change of the jackets (website made it look as if they were to be windbreaker-type jackets whereas they turned out to be pocketless track jackets that ran large in size for most everyone). Overall, a good effort, but not quite the price tag I remember paying for it.

The race is marketed as becoming the Boston of half marathons, because it requires qualifying half marathon times per age group and gender, which certainly adds a fun level of competitiveness, though not many elite runners were present. I know as the years move on and the race gains popularity, they will continue increasing the speed and qualifying times, so get in soon if you're just squeaking in to your age category now! :)

Free race photos are always a plus (from BuzzMedia).

You can read a full review on my blog: http://runnermegan.blogspot.com/2015/11/race-recap-inaugural-usa-invitational.html

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(2015)
"Surfers Point Half - 2015"
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This is a great, small local race (140 marathon finishers, 375 half marathon finishers), so if small is your thing, this is a perfect race for you. Elite Sports California hosts this race, along with a variety of others, throughout Southern California.

'Expo' isn't even the word, as packet pick up is just at Sports Authority the day before the race. Packet pick up is also available the day-of, as again, the race is small enough to accomodate such a feature, which I am always grateful for.

Course is entirely flat, with minimal inclines along some stretches of road and follows the Ventura Boardwalk, and then oceanside trail and along Highway 101. Close enough to the ocean at times that I actually got misted upon by crashing waves. Glorious! Views for days and certainly a great race to show off that California coastline.

Fantastic post-race beer garden (805) and street tacos (can you say best post-race food ever?).

A decently priced race for what it offers, but if you're just looking for the views and a simple event, this is definitely a race for you. My only complaint is that race shirts are cut incredibly tiny for women, so where as I easily fit into a women's medium, by the time I put it on at home, it was hardly sitting at my shorts wasteline. Oh well. Great swag otherwise (medal, shirt, water bottle, race bag). Thanks Elite Sports!

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(2015)
"Revel Canyon City Half Marathon"
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Overall, incredibly impressed with this race. I served as a pacer for the 2:10 half marathon group, so my entry was provided - BUT I cannot say enough positive things!

Knowing that there's a HUGE downhill net loss, it's easy to get carried away on the course. Mind yourself though, as there are some good rollers in that last half (especially if you're doing the full course). Great potential for a PR, but you need to mind those legs! A good downhill finsh otherwise!

Scenery is beautiful, and makes you forget you're in sprawling LA suburbia - trees, back sides of the dam (with water, no less!) and crystal-clear skies for days. Local high school support groups were outstanding, as were aid stations.

Parking was smooth, considering full marathoners and half marathoners park in opposite directions and catch their bus from their respective locations. Kept distances/bus routes clear and easy to find.

Overall, incredibly well done race and I can't wait to be back next year!

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