Latest reviews by Jessica Shank

(2015)
"Last Minute Decision... Well worth the trip! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I was searching for a half marathon to do in preparation for the Philadelphia Marathon at the end of November and came across the Trenton Half Marathon. What a well manned and organized race. I was able to pick up my packet on race day which was a huge plus coming from Philly. Parking was easy and readily available. I thought I would have to park on the PA side and walk over, but there was ample parking in NJ. Packet pick up and bag check went smoothly. I have never seen shorter lines at porta potties! What a welcome 'relief' before the race!

The course was relatively flat with a slight uphill grade from miles 8-9. Miles `10-12.5 are crowd supported by outgoing participants for the half marathon. There was a steady stream of cheering during a vital portion of the race. The half ended with a loop around and into the stadium. Here, we circled around the outfield before tearing down the 3rd base line to cheering crowds, our names on the jumbotron and an announcer letting everyone know we finished!

There were a few timing issues for some of the participants (myself included) but they were quickly remedied by the race director. For some reason, my times never came up at the end despite receiving emails for all of my splits. I would advise you check your times after the race at the designated table and talk to someone if the results aren't showing.

The weather was perfect, the refreshments (fully supplied by Wegman's and they definitely do it right!) were flowing and the energy at the race was palpable! There was representation from multiple running groups in the area Black Girls RUN, Black Men RUN, Latina's in Motion just to name a few.

As for the Swag, the medal was pretty standard but did come equipped with a bottle opener, which was a nice addition. The shirt was one of the better ones I have received at a race. It was half zip with thumb holes and interesting coloration. The women's shirt was a teal heather color while the men's was a purple heather. I will have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the single color print (white) on the women's shirt compared to the men's (blue and yellow). I don't know, maybe its just me being picky having worked with a shirt screen printer for years, but having multiple colors printed on a shirt is a huge upgrade!

All in all I would have to give this race 2 thumbs up! I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a half marathon, 10k or 5k!

Enjoy the race!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2015)
"Rocky Ran Philly, You Can Too!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb pm

I've lived in Philly for a little over 10 years and have never attempted the full Philadelphia Marathon. I completed the half marathon a few years back and was completely daunted by mental energy it would take to continue on at the half/full split. Surprisingly, it was not as bad as I built it up to be. Maybe I have a soft spot for this marathon because Philly is now the city I call home, but I think this is a well-organized and scenic race. I have never left a marathon on such a high!

Expo/Packet Pick up: This event was held at Philadelphia Convention Center, which is easy to get to on foot if you are in the city. There is parking, but for a fee. If you park at the Reading Terminal Market and purchase something there (and how couldn’t you) the fee is only $4. Volunteers were extremely helpful in directing you throughout the expo. Wind through the extensive Expo to find the packet pickup along the back wall.

SWAG/Shirts: The shirts for the female was fitted and fit to size. The long sleeves were a little short for me but I have this problem with most shirts. I do wish they would be a little more adventurous with the design. Clear swag bags (backpack style) with an assortment of toothpaste, beet juice, cough drops, coupons were pre-packaged with the shirts.

Expo: Gortex was the largest sponsor of the race and had a huge exhibit. The expo had anything and everything you expect at a large race expo. You could sign up for races, spin the wheel for items, sign up for items, purchase shoes or race apparel, buy last minute fueling things, take photos, meet people, commemorative merchandise, posters, freebies. The place had it all and you could plan an entire day to check everything out. There were also seminars throughout both days at the expo.

Pre-Race: I don’t know if they took a hint from Pope-apalooza a few weeks earlier or Boston, but the security was much greater than when I ran the half in 2012. All bags were inspected and tagged through specific security checkpoints. I entered at the 21st street entrance. After searching for the black corral, I sought out the port-a- potties, which were not outside of my corral but the lines were manageable. Volunteers were checking bibs at each corral. The race started about 10-15 minutes late but thankfully the weather was perfect for running! There are a few parking lots in the area but at the community college or street parking north of the start line (some of it restricted on Sunday). I live in the city and was able to easily ride my bike to the start line.

Surface: Standard Cityscape. Mostly Asphalt and Cement with a speckling of potholes and uneven surfaces.
Elevation: Mostly flat with hills around mile 8-10 in the west Philly area. Once you pass the half/full split the course is mostly flat.

Aid Stations: Water and Gatorade stations could be found every 2 miles or so while the Carb Boom! Energy Gels were at mile 10,17, and 22.

Spectators: There were many spectators for the first 6-9 miles until you get into the park. Around the split the crowds were thick, however on Kelly Drive, the spectators were somewhat sparse until you entered Manayunk. The finish area was 6-people deep for the last mile supporting the finishers.

Photographers: There were plenty of photographers along the way with red tape across the road to alert you to where the cameramen were and when to say “Cheese”!

Course Markings: Miles were clearly marked with timers at the 10k, the halfway split and the 30k. Though I found the markings to be quite clear, there was a young half marathoner who managed to get lost and run the full marathon!

Bathroom: Port-a potties were not outside each corral but lines were manageable and I didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes. There were ample bathrooms along the course. As always, longer lines for the bathrooms early on but deep into the race there were many bathrooms and no lines!

Scenery: Independence Mall area, South Street, a touch of west Philly prior to a tour through Fairmount Park before the half/full split. The full marathon finished up with a breeze up and down Kelly Drive to Manayunk before sliding home in front of the Art Museum.

Finish/Post Race: Upon completion of the race, I was greeted by tons of volunteers and immediately adorned with a finishers’ medal and foil wrap to keep me warm (I love those things). What’s the first thing you need after a marathon? FOOD! WATER! FAMILY & FRIENDS! Water was immediately provided. Unfortunately, I had to wait in line for 15 minutes to grab something to eat. Post race nourishment consisted of bananas, oranges, almonds, rice chips, peanut butter, chicken broth and of course the classic Philadelphia soft pretzel! After making it through the line, I thought I’d make a left hand turn and meet my friends. It would be another 10 minutes before I was able to exit the runners’ area and to meet everyone.

Loading Comments... Ajax loader

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2015)
"Small town race with potential"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb image

I decided to run this race on a whim! I came home for the weekend to visit my family and ventured down to Allegheny Adventure X-Fest at PNG Park to listen to some music when I noticed the registration table for the Johnstown Marathon. I had nothing to do the next day so I figured, why not? The weekend was filled with an abundance of activities from kayaking to geocaching to cycling and of course running! I participated in the half marathon. This was the 40th anniversary for the marathon. It is definitely a small town marathon. To begin with, the expo was on the smaller size but was well equipped with live music, a bar, REI, Fat Jimmies Outfitters, LHORBA cycling club, Forbes State Park, there was a table for your typical marathon expo gear and accessories as well as a few fire pits to add to the ambiance (and to keep warm on a rather dreary day).

As for the marathon SWAG, there was a regular cotton T-Shirt with an unexciting design on it, a reusable Johnstown marathon bag, a free spaghetti dinner the night before and a Clif bar. There was also a fair amount of free samples and free at the expo.

This is a gun time race so if you are going for a PR make sure you are at the front of the pack. The race itself looped through the Westmont and Johnstown areas with a relatively easy course with one significant downhill patch and two small climbs during the race. The course is primarily on streets throughout the township areas followed by the last 2/3rd of the race on a well traveled road. To put well traveled into perspective, from miles 8-11 approximately 10 cars passed me and from miles 11-13.1 I encountered no more than 50-75 cars. For the last two miles, one lane of traffic was blocked off with cones for runners (this is the same course used for the marathon, half marathon, 10k, and 5k). While this course is run on open roads, safety was ensured throughout by volunteers at every intersection to stop and direct traffic for runners as needed. The course was clearly marked with orange arrows for the full marathon and yellow arrows for the half marathon. There were Gatorade and water stations approximately every 2 miles or so with no gels along the course. That being said, there were gels at the registration on race day you could take with you if you wished!

There post race food was significant with Subway Subs, chocolate milk, cheese sticks, peanuts, fruit, water and Gatorade, and all of the vendors from the expo the previous day. Upon the completion of each race, each runner received a medal. The medal left a lot to be desired and actually mine fell apart in the car. So if you are someone who runs for an interesting medal, this is not necessarily the race for you. There was an awards ceremony for the top 3 overall in each of the races as well as each age group. Because this race is so small, your odds of placing are much higher than they are in the larger races. In fact, I actually placed first overall female with a time of 1:34:30!

Happy Running!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2015)
"Perfect race for a last minute BQ!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Just google best Boston qualifying marathons and you will find the Via Lehigh Valley Marathon! Not only is this one of the fastest marathons with a high number of Boston Qualifiers, but it is also one of the last Marathons before Boston’s registration. I got in just under the wire!

The course was a point-to-point course, which I never attempted before. Logistically, it was not as difficult as I anticipated. I stayed in Bethlehem halfway between the start and finish where the expo was located. I was there with my boyfriend so he was able to shuttle me to the start and pick me up at the finish. However, there were lines of buses to shuttle participants from the finish line to the start and visa versa.

The expo was held at the Steelstacks, a steel factory converted to music venue and art exhibit hall. While the setting of the expo was interesting this expo cannot be compared to a city race’s expo. There were about 6-10 vendors and no freebies. The race included a short-sleeved tech T-shirt and drawstring backpack.

The race itself could best be described in to words: FLAT and FAST. The majority of the course was flat or had slight downhill with a speckling of hills that would best be described as a subtle grade. Be prepared for your quads to burn the next day! I have never been sore after a marathon, but this one kicked my butt! This is not fully a road race. The majority of the race was packed gravel on a towpath. Tree roots and rocks were spray painted to keep runners safe and prevent injury, which I greatly appreciated. Crowd support was minimal. If this is something you require to propel you through a race, this may not be the marathon for you.

The race was well organized and the post race food was bountiful! I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking to qualify for Boston or looking for an ‘easy’ marathon to start with!

Also, a big shout out to whoever turned in my car keys and the race director and team for sending them to me so I didn’t have to purchase a new key!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2015)
"Great Race, Great Cause!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

What an outstanding and well-organized race. This was not a ‘running only’ race and there were plenty of options to accommodate all levels. There was the option to walk and ride if you are unable to run-bike-run which made this a great family event. The race also allowed for a relay option if you wanted to make it a team event.

There was no expo as packet pickup is the same day. This was convenient for out-of-towners like me driving the same day. Each participant received a New Balance Black Performance high quality long sleeve event t-shirt and the opportunity to enter drawings to win gift certificates to local businesses. There were snacks, water and Gatorade pre as well as post race for participants to partake in.

The race was a lot of out and back paths on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), which is a trail composed of a packed crushed stone. The trail was fast and flat. The duathlon starts with a 6.2 mile run (out and back on the trail) before participants switched over to bikes. Here, you headed in the opposite direction for 7.5 miles before returning for a total of 15 miles on the bike. For the biking portion, I would recommend a hybrid bike though some participants did use their road bikes. Upon return to the transition station, riders dismounted and headed out to finish the race with the last 2 miles of running. The race was followed by an awards ceremony. Certificates were awarded for all age groups, both male and female, and for both the walkers and the runners.

This race was in honor of one of my parents’ dearest friends who passed away from a brain tumor. The funds raised through this race are utilized to support local cancer patients with the day-to-day expenses incurred during their treatment. We would love to see many more participants come out to support this great cause!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.