Latest reviews by Kimberly Greene
This race series offers a 1 mile kids race, 5K, half marathon, marathon and marathon relay – basically something for everyone!
Each year the race donates money to the Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital Child Life Program. The funds helps support patient programming items and supplies to help make the hospital feel a little more like home to the children staying there. This year’s race raised almost $38,000 for the hospital!
I went to the Expo around 3:00 p.m. on Friday. It was held in the Charlotte Convention Center. It was small, but very efficient. I went to the back of the Expo to get my bib and didn’t have to wait in line at all. What I loved about this experience is that I picked up the bib and then my race shirt was handed to me in a bag. I didn’t have to go searching for the race shirt after getting my bib. I stayed at the expo for around 45 minutes before leaving to go back to the hotel.
It was unseasonably cold and windy on race morning, but thankfully the anticipated rain never came – yay! The race had a nice early start of 7:30 a.m. The hotel wasn’t to far from the race start so I left the hotel around 6:50. It was super windy outside so I didn’t want to wait longer than necessary. The race started right on time and I crossed the start mat within 2 minutes. I was off on my hilly running adventure! I looked up the route and elevation before the race, so I thought I knew what to expect but I didn’t think the race would just be up, down, up, down the entire time!
The first few miles are through downtown Charlotte, It was nice to get a tour of all the construction going on in the city. My Lyft drive from the previous day told me that on average 50 people move to Charlotte everyday – no wonder there was so much construction for new roads, buildings and apartments!
The first mile wasn’t bad but after that I started to notice the rolling hills. Toward the end of this portion we started to run through a few residential neighborhoods. I was impressed with the amount of spectators that came out during this portion to cheer us on!
I would say that this was the hilliest part of the course. I was cruising until mile 9 and then I had to take my first walk break. One thing that kept me going during this portion was the crowd support. There weren’t tons on spectators everywhere, but when we did see them, they were loud and full of support!
Okay, just 3.1 miles to go! At this point I was entering the pain cave – things were starting to get rough. Just as I approached mile 12 I got the boost that I needed. A spectator with an adorable puppy was standing near the mile marker and the puppy gave me a high five. I love animals so this was just what I needed! I was able to push through with a mix of running and speed walking for the last 3 miles. As I was running to the finish line wind was picking up like crazy. The race finishes behind BB&T Ballpark.
Would I recommend this race? Yes, but just be very prepared for the hills.
There were MANY pros to this race!
Welcome bag of swag
Upon checking into my hotel, I received a nice swag bag of race items – tall glass, sticker, temporary tattoos, phone wallet, portable phone charger, lip gloss and a pen. It was a nice unexpected treat!
The race had 6,000 runners between all of their races. I think the half marathon had the most runners but the course never felt crowded.
After the race we were able to pick up water, bananas, granola bars, fruit cups, chocolate milk and Gatorade. I also appreciated that they gave us bags to hold all the items as well.
I received a really nice navy blue long sleeve shirt. I loved this because I don’t have too many long sleeve shirts so it’s nice to add that this to my collection. The medals for each race were awesome, and I especially loved my half marathon medal.
I was happy with the amount of pre-race communications that I received in the weeks leading up to the race. The race also did a great job at sharing updates via social media as well (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter).
There were also a few cons to the race as well:
When my mom and I arrived to the the start area we noticed that there weren’t many signs. Luckily we just followed a crow of runners, but it would have been nice to have more sign, especially for the 5K runners since they were supposed to be in a holding area since the other race distances started first.
The race uses the RaceJoy app for tracking and I’m not a huge fan of it. In order for it to work, you have to register yourself as a runner on the app. You also have to not only run with your phone, but you have to start the app as you cross the start line. I was very concerned that the app would kill my phone battery so I didn’t use it. It would have been nice if my mom could have used the tracker but I just ended up calling her when I was at mile 11 to let her know I was close so that she could meet me at the finish line.
I didn’t even know the race had started until the people in front of me started to move. There was no National Anthem or countdown to start so it was a little weird.
So many HILLS!
I am NOT a fan of hills but I knew that this course would be hilly. I just didn’t think that it would literally be up, down, up, down the whole time! Technically this could be a “pro” if you’re a fan of hilly races 🙂
I ran the Surftown Half Marathon in Westerly, Rhode Island. The race offered a 5K, half marathon and half marathon relay. Westerly is about 2-2.5 hours from where I live so I decided to stay in town overnight versus driving there on race morning (I just didn’t want a super early wake up time on race morning). Luckily there were also a few hotels within walking distance from the race start/finish. I selected the Pleasant View Inn which was less than a mile from the race start/finish. If you’re thinking of doing this race and want to stay overnight, I would highly recommend this hotel. It was clean and the customer service was great. They offer free parking, provide you with bottles of water for your room and each guest gets a free “signature drink” from their bar (it was a delicious rum punch).
Since I’m training for the Chicago Marathon, I thought this race would be a great training run. As luck would have it, I had 13 miles on the schedule. Once my friend arrived, we chatted for a little while before getting our bibs and race shirts. The pick-up was super easy – no lines – and then we went back to the room. There really wasn't an Expo - just a spot on the beach to get the bibs and are shirts and also to purchase merchandise. For dinner, we ended up splitting a margarita pizza from Providence Coal Fired Pizza and it was absolutely delicious! Just what we needed to power through the half marathon the next day! Before we knew it, it was race morning!
The race starts right outside of Misquamicut State Beach on Atlantic Avenue. This part of the course was on paved roads and near the coastline. The first 3 miles were in direct sunlight so it was a little rough, but luckily we got cloud cover very soon after mile 3.
Around mile 4 is where we started to get the “rolling inclines” as I like to call them. Definitely not big enough to be considered a hill, but not flat! During miles 5-6 we headed back toward the start on Atlantic Avenue which was nice because more people were out cheering on the runners.
The runners that were doing the half marathon relay had their switch point a little after mile 6. As I was running by I thought “Should I have done the relay?”, lol. During this part of the run we were treated to views of absolutely beautiful homes..like stunningly beautiful. It took my mind off the fact that my right IT band was starting to go crazy.
Mile 10 saw us running through the village of Watch Hill. We were also greeted with a pretty steep hill as well. We also ran by a gold club and then turned down Atlantic Avenue for the last part of the race. While I could see the finish line, it felt oh so far away! There were also more “rolling inclines” during the last 3 miles.
I crossed the finish line feeling pretty good!
I also used this race as my NYRR Virtual Halfway There 13.1 race. I really like this concept because it’s nice to connect with other runners on Strava that are training for Fall races, and it’s free! Bonus – if you show your Strava badge of completion at the TCS New York City Marathon Expo, you’ll get a free gift. I’m hoping to claim mine when I volunteer at the Expo.
As with any race, there are always pros and cons:
Fluid Stations – There were water/Nuun stations every 2 miles. In addition they offered GU at mile 7. I don’t use Nuun or GU (I use water and my SiS gels) but it was nice that both were offered on the course.
Pace Groups – The race offered pacers ranging from 1:30 – 3:00. I never use pace groups during a race because my paces are usually all over the place, but I think it’s always a bonus when races offer them.
Pre-Race Communications – The race sent out a few emails the week before and the week of the race. They were very well detailed with information about when/where we could get our bibs and race shirts, parking for the morning of the race, etc. I felt very well informed before going there.
Race Medals – The race medals were very unique. I don’t have anything like it in my medal collection which is always a good thing! The 5K medals were cute surfboards!
Race Size – This wasn’t a big race (950 finishers). The course never felt crowded and I also never felt alone out on the course. I could always see a group of people in front of me.
Visible Mile Markers – I saw all of the mile markers and timing clocks on the race course. I appreciate that it was very well marked.
Volunteers – Every single one of the volunteers on the course greeted me with a smile and words of encouragement. Literally the nicest race volunteers I’ve ever encountered!
Post-Race Food – They offered New England clam chowder after the race…I’m not really sure who would want to eat that after running 13.1 miles? They also had bananas, some weird dark chocolate granola and oyster crackers (for the chowder). They also had chocolate milk but I didn’t see it. I basically just grabbed a bottle of water and the banana. It was just a weird mix of items.
Race Course – It’s described as “fast and flat” but in my opinion that’s not 100& accurate. There were definitely some “rolling inclines” and a hill at mile 10.
Race Shirts – I was not a fan of the race shirt. The color wasn’t appealing and I didn’t like the graphic. On the plus side, it’s very soft so it will make a nice sleeping shirt 🙂
If you’re looking for a half marathon in Rhode Island I would recommend this race. The course was just challenging enough to where it keeps you on your toes (you definitely won’t get bored, that’s for sure!) and it’s very pretty as well.
We only spent about 30 minutes at the expo. It was small but well organized. We waited in a short line to get our bibs and then went to a separate line to get our race shirt and Challenge Coin. This year’s Challenge Coin options included Boston Police, Boston Fire, State Police, MA Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation or an EMT coin. These coins are unique because they fit in the middle of the race medals. I selected the Boston Fire Challenge Coin. While at the expo we visited a few vendors. Our hotel, the Seaport Boston Hotel, was located right across the street from the expo and the race start – it doesn’t get much better than that!
The race started bright and early at 7am. As I mentioned earlier, our hotel was directly across the street from the start line so we didn’t leave the hotel until 6:30am. We met my friend in the lobby of the expo so that we could pick up our tribute bibs (the race offered 7 different tribute bibs). These bibs paid tribute to fallen first responders and could be worn on the back of our shirts during the run. Michelle, my mom and I selected Trooper First Class Walter Greene from the Connecticut State Police. Walter was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and served with the CPD for 28 years. He passed away from cancer as a result of his response and service in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Friday will mark the one year anniversary of his death. It was a honor to run with his tribute bib.
Thankfully the weather was perfect when we started! Low 60s and the rain had stopped a few minutes prior to the start. We also didn’t have high humidity – yay! While it did get a lot warmer for the second half of the race, I was so thankful that the first half was quite pleasant!
The race offered a nice tour of downtown Boston, including the State House, Government Center, Faneuil Hall, Boston Common, The Public Garden, the Old State House, and Post Office Square. We also ran through Back Bay, which offered a backdrop of the Boston skyline. For someone that hasn’t been to Boston is almost 20 years, it was quite a beautiful course!
The race starts at the Seaport World Trade Center on Seaport Blvd. After running over a bridge, you arrive in downtown Boston. Around mile 1 we ran by the Old State House. Then we ran by Quincy Market. Around mile 2 we ran by the famous Cheers bar and then split off from the 5 mile runners. At mile 3 we ran over the Massachusetts Ave bridge and we could see MIT.
Around this time we ran along the Charles River. We continued on Memorial Drive and then ran by MIT around mile 5. We then hit a little incline but still continued along Memorial Drive. I felt decent for the first half of this course. The weather was still great and I was keeping a steady pace. I also ran all of the inclines.
Still running along Memorial Drive and we hit the turnaround just before mile 7. Loved the view of the Boston skyline on this part of the course! After mile 9 we crossed back over the Massachusetts Ave bridge. We could also see the Prudential Center in the distance. During this part of the race we also encountered the emergency vehicle and cheer section! This section included police vehicles, fire engines, and active and retired 1st Responders cheering us on. They had their hands out so that we could give them high fives, which I did!
We ran along Beacon Street for a while before turning onto Arlington Street. Then we made a turn onto Boylston Street. It felt so cool to run down that street knowing that it’s part of the Boston Marathon! We could also see the Boston Common on this section of the race. At mile 11 we headed back toward downtown Boston. This was a cool section because people were downtown shopping at the Downtown Crossing and also cheering us on! At mile 12 there was a Tribute Wall to honor the fallen. This gave me the incentive I needed to keep pushing forward and finish the race.
Wheels pretty much fell off during this portion of the race. It was hot. The race results said the temps got to 88 degrees but it didn’t feel that hot to me (I would say more like 80 degrees). At this point I was running to find any shade that I could. The trifecta of my right hip, crappy stomach and heat forced me to walk a LOT more than I would have liked but that’s just how things go sometimes.
I was so happy to cross that finish line!
As with every race, there are pros and cons. Here’s my list:
Long Course – My Garmin measured 13.5 and Michelle’s measured 13.4. Michelle also said that runners around her had similar distances on their watches. I know I tried to run the tangents as much as possible and we didn’t really run a lot in the city with the building, so the course was definitely long.
Race Shirt – I liked the color and design of the race shirt, but it’s cotton so I’m not able to run in it. They had tech shirts available for purchase.
Mid-Sized Race – While I don’t mind super large races, it is nice to run in mid-sized races. This race caps out at 10,000 runners between both the 5 Mile and Half Marathon. The race course never felt crowded yet I was never alone out there. That’s a big deal to me as a slower runner. It sucks when you’re out on the course alone!
Post-Race Food – After finishing the race we had to go back into a large room at the Expo to grab our post-race food. I was a back of the packer for this race and they still have plenty of food left – tons of bananas, oranges, chips and bagels…BAGELS! They had plenty of seats and tables in the room as well if you wanted to sit down and eat. In addition, they were also were giving out Yasso Frozen Yogurt bars. That was the perfect treat after running in the warm weather. I highly recommend the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor – yum!
Race Logistics – I absolutely loved that the designated hotel for the the race was near the expo and the race start/finish. Also there were tons of great restaurants within walking distance from the hotel. Honestly, the accommodations couldn’t have been better! In addition, the race was super well organized. We had a wave start – faster paced runners were positioned on the left side of the street and slower runners on the right side. There were 3 waves with 5 minutes in-between each wave so my wave started around 7:15am. This ensured that there wouldn’t be any bottleneck sections on the course. I saw visible mile markers and there were plenty of water/Gatorade stations. The volunteers were amazing as well.
Security – I’m always very appreciative when I see security at larger races. There were a few different security checkpoints for runners and spectators. They were checking bags as well. Thank you to the Boston Police Department for keeping up safe and making me feel more at ease.
Pro and Con
Race Medal – While I like the race medal as it definitely fits in with the theme of the race, and I love that it fits the challenge coin, I don’t like that everyone got the same medal. I prefer when races have different medals for each race distance.
So, would I recommend this race? ABSOLUTELY! Not only was it super well organized, but I love that the races really focuses on paying tribute to our fallen law enforcement and first responders. In addition, the race gives money to various charities in the community as well. If you’re looking for a race in Boston, you’ve found it!
This race series offers a 5K, Highmark Kid’s Fun Run, Half Marathon, Marathon and 4-Person Marathon Relay – basically something for everyone! If I do this race again next year I’d love to do the 4-person relay with friends.
My mom and I arrived in Wilmington around 1:00 pm. We had a very uneventful Amtrak ride (just how I like it) and we were able to check into our room right away. After dropping off our suitcases, we headed back downstairs to the lobby to go to the Expo. While small, it was very well organized and we were able to get our bibs and shirts within minutes.
On race day morning, we left the hotel around 6:20am. We had a nice easy walk down to the race start (it was about a 10-15 minute walk). The weather was great (55 degrees) and NO RAIN! We took a few photos and then we were off to start the race!
The race started and ended at Tubman Garrett Riverfront Park.
Although I liked the course overall, I thought the first three miles were a little bit weird. We spent some time running through a shopping center and also a few parking lots. Because of those areas, some sections on this part of the course were very narrow. This is the only time when the race course felt crowded. On the flip side, we did get to run on the Riverwalk Path during this part of the race – it was beautiful!
At mile 4, we crossed the bridge over the river at King Street. This section of the race took part through Brandywine Park and past the Brandywine Zoo. While pretty, I could have done without the zoo smells at this point, lol. Once we hit mile 6, I knew this was where the first real hills started. It was pretty much a gradual uphill from mile 6-7. There was a good amount of run/walk intervals at this point. I didn’t want to push too hard since this was only the mid-way point of the race and I knew I would need energy around mile 10 (that’s when I tend to need a boost)!
Around mile 7 we headed toward Bancroft Parkway. At mile 7.5 we were greeted with an aid station AND Dunkin Donuts munchkins! I was looking forward to this stop for the entire race. I didn’t want to risk any stomach issues so I just took one munchkin donut – it was delicious! We then did a loop through some neighborhoods (with beautiful homes!) and headed toward 9th street. This was another out and back section and then we proceeded back over the Parkway.
Miles 10-12 were nice because it was back to flat areas with a few downhills mixed in. Then at the start of mile 12 we ran on King Street, and hit another hill (yikes). I tried my best to do a quick powerwalk. After a few minutes we finally hit the downhill and then it was smooth sailing to the finish line! While we did run in some industrial areas, the majority of the course was very pretty (especially running in the park) and we did get to see some areas of downtown Wilmington.
With any race, there are always pros and cons.
There were MANY pros to this race!
I was SUPER impressed with all of the pre-race communication. Not only did I get numerous emails, but the race was very active and posted tons of information/updates on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. In addition to updates, they also provided a Runner Handbook via email a week before the race. The handbook basically outlines everything you would need to know for the race – race start times, race course, expo details, start/end location, parking, deadlines (registration and distance switch) and how to sig up for free race photos and runner tracking.
Race Aid Stations
There were 7 aid stations on the half marathon course. Each aid station had water and Gatorade and two of those aid stations also had GU, bananas and Utz salty snacks. There were also Dunkin Donut munchkins available at mile 7.5. I definitely took advantage of these options considering I forgot to bring running fuel! Luckily I didn’t need to use any of these items, but some of the aid stations also had self-aid boxes with band-aids, Vaseline, and feminine hygiene products.
Wilmington is an easy city to get to via car or train. Also you can fly into Philadelphia and then either take a shuttle bus or drive to Wilmington. There’s also plenty of parking available for anyone that drives to the race. The hotel was conveniently located a half a mile away from the race start/finish which was the perfect distance for a pre and post race walk. It was so easy to get around, which is just what you want/need when traveling to another state to race!
I guess this would be considered a mid-size race? The race was capped at 3,000 runners for all of the events. I felt it was a nice size because the course didn’t feel overly crowded but I was never alone on the course.
I asked my mom how she liked the runner tracking and she gave it two thumbs up. She said it was very accurate and that the predicted finish time they gave me was right on target.
After crossing the finish line, there were tables with cups of Gatorade and bottles of water. I grabbed one of each as I sweated like crazy during the race (which was odd because it wasn’t super humid or hot). At the next table they had various fruits – bananas, oranges and apples, in addition to granola bars and UTZ snacks (I grabbed a banana, granola bar and a bag of the UTZ party mix). After entering the festival area I found the beer tent and picked up a can of the Dogfish Slighty Mighty beer (I liked it but my mom wasn’t a fan) and also grabbed a small slice of pizza before heading back to the hotel. I was satisfied with all of the options.
FREE Race Photos
Need I say more about this awesome perk?!?! It’s pretty nice not to pay an arm and a leg for race photos.
There were also a few cons to the race as well..
Luckily the Expo was in the same hotel that we were staying at, but it was rather small. It was well organized but unfortunately there weren’t many vendors 🙁 Because I forgot my running fuel I was hoping to buy a Honey Stinger gel, or any kind of gel, at the expo.
There were no pacers for the race. This didn’t bother me as I wasn’t running with a particular time in mind but it might matter to others, especially if you’re aiming for a PR.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this race, especially if you’re looking to do a race in Delaware. Hope you enjoyed this race recap!
This race has 20,000 runners from all over the world. This was my first time running the race and it was probably the coldest race I have ever done. The weather was not ideal at all, but I'll try to provide a breakdown of the race.
Miles 1-6: Central Park
So the first half of the race is in Central Park. As a runner, you either love or hate Central Park. It’s definitely challenging with the hills. Around mile 3 we hit the biggest hill which is Harlem Hill. It’s a pretty big hill and you feel like it will never end, but once you get to the top, you rejoice! After that you have a few more hills and then you exit the park.
Miles 6-8: Times Square
SO MUCH FUN! I usually hate Times Square because it’s way too crowded but it was so awesome to hear the spectators and give a bunch of high fives AND I was lucky enough to see the kids race in Times Square while I was running so of course I had to cheer them on as well! I think I smiled the entire time.
Miles 8-12: West Side Highway
This was by far the worse part of the race for me. I was still cold and now getting hit with wind gusts. Also it seemed like this part of the race just went on forever and ever! This is probably the most boring part of the race by far, but it's primarily flat so that's always good!
Mile 12-13.1: Tunnel and Finish Line
Around mile 12 you enter a tunnel, which was awful. I’m not afraid of tight spaces or the dark, but In just felt uneasy. It was also super windy so that was of no help at all. Once we exited the tunnel you see a 400ft sign which means it's time to pick up the pace.
Expo - This wasn't a regular "expo". There werent many vendors, but they did have a shopping area, a place to eat, easy access to the t-shirt/bib pickup and a chance to hear course strategy from experts.
Aid Stations - Water/Gatorade stations were fully stocked and volunteers we awesome, as usual!
Post-Race Food - We received a bag with an apple, pretzels, water and gatorade. While that was nice, an apple is not something I want to see after running 13.6 miles (the course measured long for me). Give me a bagel!!
Overall, the race wasn't bad but towards the end it can get a little boring for sure!