Latest reviews by Jenna Volden

(2018)
"Love this Race"
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I hadn't done the 12ks of Christmas for a couple of years and decided I wanted to do it in 2018. It was the 10th Anniversary, and I love the cause. They support pet adoption, and the onsite expo includes dog rescue groups (with dogs!).

I try not to take this race too seriously. It's a fun Christmas run with most people decked out in Christmas gear. People run with their kids and dogs, and they are also all dressed up for the occasion. The course can be a little tight at spots, and there tends to be a lot of walkers. The start tends to be the hardest spot to get around walkers as its a narrow path with an incline on both sides.

This year I decided to try the 6k instead of 12k as it fits better with my December run schedule. I had never done the 6k before and enjoyed the route. The 12k includes an out and back that gets a little boring. The 6k also has an out and back, but it was new to me and didn't feel as long as the 12k. It is mostly a road race, but there are some spots with dirt. I wore my trail shoes as it had rained recently and I knew there would be mud. I'm glad I did because I could run through it easier than others. If it's rained, I'd recommend trail shoes for parts of this trail.

The medals this year were impressive for the 10th anniversary. Plus you always get a pair of socks. They are thick, and I love wearing them around the house to keep my feet nice and warm.

I would do this race again and recommend it to others. I tend to think of it as a fun run and not worry too much about time as I know I'll get slowed in spots.

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(2018)
"Not a bad 5k"
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I'll try to keep this shorter than my review for the half. LOL, for expo info, please look at that review.

Easy to get to on monorail, just across from the SLS. Security check was quick to get through. Corrals were crazy full and no one was checking where you went in. It took a bit to get through all the corrals, which isn't surprising.

There was a lot of bob and weaving. I pushed the pace more than I usually would to get around walkers (please, sign up with your correct time so you are placed in the right corral).

The course was flat and there wasn't a lot to see right on it but you could look further out and see various hotels all lit up. It was basically an out and back with some running through a parking lot at the end. As we were going through the parking lot I heard someone say this was the worst course they have ever been to. I would disagree. It certainly isn't the best but I've had much worse (I can think of two I would say were worse off the top of my head).

I got through the finishing line and chute fairly quickly. I could not have the granola bars or pretzels they were handing out so I grabbed a banana. They actually gave us an entire banana, which was a nice bonus. Celiac/Gluten-free runner so I can't just eat anything.

I didn't stay for the after party but noticed the beer line was fairly long. Glad I didn't have to wait in that line.

Swag: T-shirt design was great. And I loved the 5k medal! It's a slot machine and the pull handle actually sticks out (I was worried it may break off when traveling but it did not!) It was pointed out to me that the 5k medal was dated 11/11/18 on the back even though the race was 11/10/18. I probably would not have noticed otherwise. Not sure if it was a mistake or they just dated all medals for the 10k/half/full date.

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(2018)
"Another Fun Fam Run"
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I always look for a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning and for the last two years have looked for one between myself and my brother's family. This year I went with Strut Your Stuffing because I know 131 puts on fun races and they have great medals.

Strut Your Stuffing was no different! It was definitely a fun run. The start was a little rough with a lot of walkers and a small area. A group of us were following each other to weave through the runners. This is always my biggest complain about races and I really wish there was a way to change it but I have no ideas.

The course was basically flat. It ran around the park. My GPS registered it at just over 3 miles, not quite 5k. My timelines up with around a 5k so it's possible my GPS was a liar. ;)

The tank top for the race is nice. They don't feel thin or cheap like some. The medal was large and it spins.

I would definitely do this one again and would encourage others to do it as well!

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(2018)
"Bucket List Race"
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When I first head about the Rock n Roll Vegas I was immediately interested in running the strip at night. I love having unique race experiences at least once. This did not disappoint!

I originally had signed up for the marathon but because of several factors, I decided to switch to the half. About two weeks before the deadline I emailed and had my race changed. When it came time to confirm our entries, I was still in the marathon. This is my biggest complaint on the race organization. I made sure to follow the deadline and give them all the information needed to switch and they did not follow through. I tried emailing and received no response. I sent a message on Facebook and was told they would have a HALF bib for me at the expo but they did not. I keep my bibs and I wanted to have the correct bib. It's slightly disappointing that I follow instructions and they mess up twice.

The expo was easy to get to by monorail. You could also park for free per the info they sent out. The expo wasn't busy at all on Friday afternoon and was quick and painless to get my bibs and t-shirts.

I had seen the t-shirt designs online and was super excited about them. They look really great in person and are of similar material as the other Rock n Roll t-shirts I have (which are some of my favorites).

As for the race, it was definitely worth it! I would recommend doing at least once. For me personally, once was enough. I followed instructions and went to the pre-run party to get to the corral. I was in the corral before the cut-off time. I was in the corral for almost an hour before I actually started. My legs and feet were already tired by the time I started (despite spending most of the day relaxing in my hotel room).

Turns out, many people didn't follow all the directions and hopped in the corral chute in several spots along the way. I was in the blue group and people in green and yellow were getting in. I was supposed to be in blue 12 but ended up somewhere in blue. I probably could have pushed forward more but didn't really care to.

I heard some people talking about their time. They said it would take them four hours. I thought, oh, they must be doing the marathon. I took a peek at their bibs, nope, half marathon. Please do not lie about your time when signing up. There is no way you would get in blue for a 4 hour half. These same people ended a few corrals/minutes ahead of me and I passed them in my first quarter mile. I get it, I'm not the fastest but I would never fudge my time that much just to get an earlier corral. I felt bad enough as is because I should have been a few corrals back but kept getting pushed forward.

There was some dodging and weaving early on, which is expected but once you got out of the start it opens up. Since the entire strip is shut down there is plenty of space.

The course, if not for the strip at night, would probably be fairly boring. You run out, turn around, run really straight for a while, turn around, and come back. It's really being on the strip and seeing all the lights and casinos from a point of view you normally do not get.

I also loved all the crowds. The sidewalks and overhead walkways are full of people watching and cheering. It really helps push you through, especially at the end when you are really tired.

The course between the strip and Freemont/Downtown has very little to offer. Not many crowds or sites. There were several wedding chapels (got to see a few people getting photos done) and apparently the pawn shop from TV. At least according to the people behind me and everyone stopping for a photo.

The Container Park has a praying mantis sculpture that erupts fire. Well, I did not know this and it scared the crap out of me (and I think a few others around me based on reactions). We could not see the sculpture and all of a sudden we hear "whoosh" and see flames coming from the roof of a building (from our perspective). We round the corner and look only to see the praying mantis all light up.

The finisher chute was almost a half mile long. I didn't get a thermal blanket from a volunteer. They were running low and I was like oh I'm not bad. I'll get out and get my clothes from family. Wrong! I got cold quickly but luckily one other tent (bubbas burgers I think) was handing them out too.

My biggest issue with Rock n Roll this year is the post-race snacks. Only the banana halves are gluten-free! I had this issue in Phoenix in January as well. I can't have the granola bars, Pringles, or pretzels they hand out. In previous years I have been able to have mandarin oranges, other brands of chips etc. As a runner/athlete with celiac disease, I can't have anything with gluten. Luckily we were able to get in early at the place we had reservations so I could eat something fairly quickly after.

Swag: The medal alone is worth it! This is probably my favorite medal ever. It is a roulette wheel with three cards (that move!). The cards indicate the distance (1, 3, 1 for the half). There's glitter too. It's extra. And I love it!

Overall/TLDR: Great race, fun swag, long wait times, lots of runners but not really crowded.

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(2018)
"Good for family fun, not for setting a PR"
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In 2017 I searched for a turkey trot that would be convenient for my family to get together at and run on Thanksgiving morning. Laveen was a great location for this. (Bibrave will not let me edit the year. I didn't realize I left it as 2018)

I liked that it was a small race with packet pickup the same morning. Since it started at a high school, there was plenty of parking. It was easy to get in/out of. For a smaller race, they put on a nice show. My three-year-old nephew had a great time running the kids dash.

The t-shirt was not my favorite material but it was a well-made shirt with a cute turkey design. It was made of the really slippery tech material.

I thought the course was great except it was short. I think it ended up being around 2.6-ish instead of 3.2. I apparently ran their 5K course averaging 9:42. I know I did not run 9:42 miles. My watch had me doing 11:36 pace, which is closer to what I normally run. The course was flat and took you around a park with a lake. I liked the route but wish it had been closer to 3.1

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