Latest reviews by Ashley Jones

(2016)
"Great small town race with lots of perks!"
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This was a great small town race with only 121 half marathon participants, which was NOT a bad thing. There was lots of volunteer participation and aid stations every mile- which is unusual and a blessing! The course was beautiful as well!!! I thoroughly enjoyed the race day packet pick up, as it saved me some time driving to and from my hotel. I was impressed with the crowd participation at the finish and having the ability to take pictures with Ultra Running Legend Dean Karnases was a treat! If you are looking for some hill training and want the small, special touches that only a smaller race can provide... I highly recommend this one!

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(2016)
"Great race, good weather, nice crowd but SUPER crowded and congested."
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This the first time I have run the OC Half and I had high expectations going into it, just coming off of Surf City.

I was very disappointed with a few things about this race: 1.) parking at the expo was a ridiculous $8- do yourself a favor- park across the street and walk into the fairgrounds 2.) the race shirt was terrible and the logo was shredded even before I received it at the expo 3.) the race itself was the MOST crowded race I have ever run (and I have done SF, Long Beach and Surf City). People did not follow the corral "suggestions" and everyone just crammed in the front of the line. Which made my run very difficult. 4.) getting to the starting line was an absolute nightmare. Traffic was backed up for miles.

However, there are a lot of things I was very happy with 1.) The post race celebration concert was FANTASTIC. The band is awesome and plays great 80s music, which was so much fun (and my post-marathon beer buzz helped as well). 2.) The expo booths were great- ProCompression, Nuun, and GU were a few that I personally hit up. 3.) The course scenery is GORGEOUS! The majority of the race is along the marina, which is an absolute beauty to look at 4.) Crowd support is high. There were people cheering along the entire course, which is not usual and was much appreciated. 5.) The course is hilly, but not too hilly. In my opinion, it was the right amount of hills.

A couple of things that I learned: 1.) Study the course map! I knew going into the race that there were hills at 7 & 11, so I was prepared, but I don't think most people were. 2.) UBER! Get an Uber or a Lyft to the race start- this is a point to point race and I am sure that riding the bus back to the starting line with 50 other smelly runners isn't fun. 3.) Park and walk to the expo. Save yourself $8 and park across the street and walk... paying to park is totally not worth it.

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(2016)
"Beautiful, Scenic, Flat Ocean Course! Love it! "
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The weather predicted unusually HOT temperatures on race day.
With a 7:45 am race start time, I was nervous about the heat.
I drove down on Saturday morning and was able to check into my hotel early.
After some shopping, I headed over to the Expo to pick up my packet.
The expo was HUGE!
There were lots of big names there… Running Skirts, ProCompression and Nuun, were a few of my personal favorites.
I received a cute long sleeved tech shirt, my bib and a decorative race bag.
After the expo, I headed home and got myself situated
I headed over to the starting line around 6:30 am and could not believe the number of people who were running this race.
There were atleast 15,000 people.
Woah dang.
The elevation chart shows that there is a fairly steady incline but it’s relatively flat-ish.
In my opinion, the course is more “rolling hills” than anything.
None of the hills were too difficult.
The ocean breeze was very welcoming as it started to get hot around 9 am.
There were aid stations at every mile (or so), which was very much appreciated.
Most races don’t have that many aid stations, so I was very impressed!
The majority of the race is along Highway 1 and the views are gorgeous!
Seriously gorgeous.
I enjoyed every second of this race.
There were a LOT of people, but it was well organized and staffed appropriately to meet everyone’s needs.
The race swag was great as well.
I loved the “I ran this beach” shirt, and the medal was HUGE!
I also received my California Dreamin’ medal… so I walked away from this race with some serious bling!
I definitely plan to run this one again.
See you next year Surf City!

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(2016)
"I love running for chocolate!"
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ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 10, 2016 I RAN FOR CHOCOLATE.

Although I usually run for bloody Marys, or pancakes… on this special day- I made an exception.

This race was off the charts awesome!

It was held in San Francisco, CA.

Home of my younger sister and of course the Hot Chocolate 15k / 5k race.

We went to the expo the day before to pick up our packets.

It was very well organized, despite the fact that there were 2 billion people there.

Nuun is an official sponsor of the race and it was served on the course.

There were about 15-20 booths at the expo.

We had fun checking everything out and taking pictures.

Participants receive a very nice zip-up with their entry (which I was stoked to wear after the race) and the packet pick-up went very smoothly.

I was very impressed by the amount of man-power that went into running both the expo and the race itself.

ON RACE DAY, WE WERE OUT THE DOOR AROUND 6:30 AM TO MEET OUR UBER DRIVER.

We got to the race with plenty of time!

My sister ran the 5K- so I hung around and watched the start.

There were over 80,000 people running either the 5K or the 15K, but everything was wonderfully organized.

My race started at around 8:30 AM.

I was freezing (thanks a bunch, weather!), so I was very thankful to start running so I could warm up.

AS I PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED NUUN WAS AVAILABLE AT THE AID STATIONS, AS WELL AS WATER AAAANNNNDDDDD CHOCOLATE!

Aid station 1: chocolate chips
Aid station 2: M&Ms
Aid station 3: I skipped this one (sorry)
Aid station 4: Marshmallows

I thought this was a fantastic perk and is something that you don’t see during most normal races.

It definitely gave me something to look forward to!

The first 5K took runners through Golden Gate Park.

IT IS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!

I would love to run through this park again the next time I am in town.

The second 5K ran along Highway 35, which is right next to the ocean.

The waves were crashing and the sky was beautiful!

This was the flatter portion of the race, with teeny tiny rolling hills.

And then came the last 5K.

I was definitely not prepared for this section.

It was an uphill climb for almost 2.5 miles!

GOODNESS, IT WAS CHALLENGING.

I made it, thankfully.

And met my sister at the finish line, where I received my super cool medal.

LOVE IT!

My sister then walked me over to the Race Celebration Area.

The race volunteers were dancing, singing and screaming at the tops of their lungs.

It was a sight to see.

It was definitely the most enthusiasm I have seen by volunteers in a while.

It was very refreshing!

Speaking of refreshing…

These excited volunteers met me with the most wonderful present I could imagine.

MORE CHOCOLATE.

I was starving and quickly devoured the contents of my cup.

Chocolate fondant with a banana, rice crispie treat, pretzel and chocolate stick dipping sauce.

Yes, I ate all of it.

No, I didn’t care.

It was absolutely delicious.

This was one of the most organized and highly staffed races with the best swag and most energetic volunteers I have ever seen.

“Disclaimer: I received a complementary entry into the Hot Chocolate 15K to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

I highly recommend this race and would recommend it even if I didn’t receive a free entry!

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(2015)
"Ridiculously Amazing Swag and Finishers Celebration"
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On November 1, I ran the Two Cities Half Marathon in Fresno, CA.

I will begin my review, by stating the positive things about this race.

The packet pickup was at the Vets Hall in Downtown Clovis, which was easy to get to and seemed to be well organized.

Score one for Fresno.

Not only do race participants receive a short sleeve race T, but they also receive a long sleeve technical half zip at the finish!

Two for Fresno.

The race also has the option of running two Half Marathons (one in Fresno, or one to Clovis and back).

This is one of the few races that I know of that offer two options for Half Marathons.
Three for Fresno.

Lastly, the Finish Line offers a huge assortment of food for the finishers…

Scrambled eggs, potatoes, pancakes, coffee, hot chocolate, ice cream sundaes, fruit… the list goes on and on.

It was an amazing sight to see after running for 2 hours.

Four for Fresno.

Now lets get to the negatives… I have to be honest here people.

Surprisingly, I only have one.

The Fresno Half Marathon course, the one I decided to run, is pretty challenging.

I felt like I was running up hill the entire time.

Looking back on this race two weeks later, I realize now that I went wrong in four places…
1.) I was overconfident in my training.
2.) I went into this race without really giving my race plan much thought.
3.) I failed to study the course map and elevation chart prior to the race.
and lastly…
4.) I tried to keep up with the pacer.

I broke one of my cardinal rules… run your own race.

Had I taken all of these failures into consideration before running the race, I think it could have ended much differently.

But, I am chalking this one up to another learning experience.

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