Latest reviews by AARON BLANKENSHIP

(2018)
"Half road half trail"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Swag
The swag bag consists of a bottle of PowerAde, a pack of jelly belly jelly beans, sunscreen, biofreeze, and some flyers for local business. The medals are giving out in the normal age brackets, although the medals are pretty standard and do not have any engraving or sticker with the race name or date on it.

Course
The race is held at the Georgia Highlands College campus in Rome, Georgia. I expected the course to be a flat loop around the campus, however that was not the case. The first half of the course is an off-road gravel, trail like terrain and then changes to a standard paved road course with a quarter of a mile being an uphill that also serves as the last quarter mile of the race. There is a walk and a 5K that both start at the same place but separate a little past the first mile. Although the course had chalk arrows and directions on where to go, it would have been beneficial to have course guides out there to help direct the runners and walkers.


Verdict
This is a fast, fun, and hot race! Since it is June, it can get pretty hot and humid in north Georgia, and this day was no exception. Luckily the race starts at 8 A.M. so The turnout in north Georgia has varied a lot in the last couple of years, but it was a pretty good turnout with a handful of day of registration which is great since it all benefits the NW Georgia Child Advocacy Center. After the race, there was plenty of drinks, food, and cool towels to help you recover from running in the Georgia summer heat. They do a great job of compiling results and giving out awards. The race started at 8AM and awards were completed by 9AM. I don’t think I’ve ever been at a race that was this organized and efficient. Overall it’s a fun race once you know the terrain and course.

Race Day Gear:
Headphones: Aftershockz
https://aftershokz.com/collections/wireless/products/trekz-titanium

Shirt: RADRabbit Ez Tee
https://www.runinrabbit.com/collections/mens-tops/products/ez-tee-blackcharcoalwiggle

Shorts: Rabbit "Quadzilla" shorts
https://www.runinrabbit.com/collections/mens-bottoms/products/quadzilla-sodalite

Socks: Rabbit Swiftwick
https://www.runinrabbit.com/collections/goodies/products/rabbit-x-swiftwick-ankle-socks-ink-puffins

Leg Sleeves: 2XU

Shoes: Brooks Ghost 10

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(2018)
"Three Minutes Faster Than Last Year!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Swag
The 5K’s main sponsor was Harbin clinic so the swag was their usual items: pens, cups, Band-Aid packs, and Chap Stick. The shirt is a nice design and although it is a heavy cotton Gildan t-shirt, it feels softer. Post race there was plenty of muffins, bananas, and water to snack on before the medal ceremony.
Course
The course is entirely on the roads throughout the city. The first mile is pretty flat and allow you to get a great starting pace. The next two miles consist of gradual up hills, but nothing too bad. My second mile was around 16 seconds slower, but there are a few down hills to catch backup up on mile three. Unfortunately, the finish line is 10 yards past the top of the final up hill.
Verdict
The weather was perfect for the race and the course is very fast making this a race you can achieve a PR at. I did this race last year, six days after running the La Jolla half so I was a little tired then. I felt much better going into it this year and had an actual training plan. Last year I remember it being a struggle after making it to the half way point, this year was the exact opposite. The race does not use electronic tracking, so it pays to be up towards the front when the race is about to start. This seems like a negative, but they were so well organized that they had the award ceremony quickly after everyone has finished and a 1K fun run as well, which participants also were able to qualify for a medal in their age group. I would recommend this race to runners of all levels, especially if you’ve never run a 5K before.
Race Day Gear:
Headphones: Aftershockz
https://aftershokz.com/collections/wireless/products/trekz-titanium
Shirt: Nike Zonal Cooling
https://www.nike.com/t/zonal-cooling-mens-training-top-KK3M7l
Shorts: Rabbit "Quadzilla" shorts
https://www.runinrabbit.com/collections/mens/products/quadzilla-dressblues
Socks: Rabbit Swiftwick
https://www.runinrabbit.com/collections/goodies/products/rabbit-x-swiftwick-ankle-socks-ink-puffins
Arm Sleeve: 2XU
Leg Sleeves: 2XU
Shoes: Brooks Ghost 10

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(2018)
"New Course in 2018"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Swag
No swag here, just a heavy cotton Gildan short. In the past they would have a lot more swag from local business, such as Chick-Fil-A, car washes, and many others.

Course
The course this year is entirely on the school campus with the exception of a small portion on unpaved land behind the school. Since the course is around the school, the scenery is mainly the middle school and high school buildings. There is one long, gradual hill that comprise about a mile of the course which, while paved, does slow down your pace. There was just one aid station, which didn't have enough people manning it. I don't normally get water in a 5K but they needed to be better prepared.

Verdict
The weather was perfect for the race and the course is quite fast making the race pretty fun. I've competed in the race in the past, when the course was more straight forward as a mile and half out and back. I noticed that since then, the course and the age groups for medals have been changed. There also used to be a raffle to win prizes that is no longer part of the event. The medals were award in the normal 5 year age ranges until it gets to 20 years old, then they change the awards to a 10 year age range. This of course meant I got smoked by three 30yr olds and came in 4th :) The participants are mainly students and children now with the adults primarily being former students. The adult runners in community in the north west Georgia area seems to have steadily decreased over the past 3-4 years. I'm not sure why, but I'm one of the few still out there at races that used to have huge turn outs. Although it was fun, I may not do this race next year as the change to medal age ranges and change in the overall atmosphere of the race has changed to be more focused on runners in school.

Race Day Gear:
Headphones: Aftershockz
https://aftershokz.com/collections/wireless/products/trekz-titanium

Shirt: Nike Zonal Cooling
https://www.nike.com/t/zonal-cooling-mens-training-top-KK3M7l

Shorts: Rabbit "Quadzilla" shorts
https://www.runinrabbit.com/collections/mens/products/quadzilla-dressblues

Socks: Rabbit Swiftwick
https://www.runinrabbit.com/collections/goodies/products/rabbit-x-swiftwick-ankle-socks-ink-puffins

Leg Sleeves: 2XU

Shoes: Brooks Ghost 10

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(2018)
"First time at night"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The With or Without You 5K takes place yearly at the Brook Run Park in Dunwoody around Valentine's day. This was my second year participating in the race and their first year of holding the race at night instead of in the morning. Aside from the normal age groups, you can also run as a couple and finish together to qualify in the fastest couple category. Ran alone this time and it was my first race of 2017.

Swag
There's no bag of goodies however, you do get a long sleeve shirt, box of chocolate, and a participation medal. The design for the medal and on the shirt were more on the Ed Hardy side, which is a shame since the shirt is pretty nice quality especially for a local 5K. First Watch provides plenty of food and drinks after the race, such as freshly made pancakes, bananas, OJ, and other snacks.

Course
The course is a basic loop with a few gradual hills to consider, nothing major but it definitely is not a flat course. It is all paved with a few wooden bridges about a mile in which makes it a pretty fast course. I was hoping to get a fast time however, i forgot to take my inhaler before the race (exercise induced asthma) so I finished around 26 minutes instead of the 24 minutes I was aiming for.

Verdict
The course is suitable for new runners, as you can train the exact course on your own before the race and the course lends it self a quick pace. I personally prefer morning races as I know what and when to eat prior to the race and night races are always hit or miss for me. I will definitely do this race in 2018 if my schedule allows it.

Race Day Gear:
Headphones: Aftershockz
https://aftershokz.com/collections/wireless/products/trekz-titanium

Shirt: Nike Zonal Cooling
https://www.nike.com/t/zonal-cooling-mens-training-top-KK3M7l

Shorts: Asics

Socks: Rabbit Swiftwick
https://www.runinrabbit.com/collections/goodies/products/rabbit-x-swiftwick-ankle-socks-ink-puffins

Leg Sleeves: 2XU

Shoes: Asics Gel Noosa Tri 9

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(2017)
"Last 5K of 2017!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was the inarguable Jingle Jog in Cartersville, Georgia. It is held on the first weekend in December and will be next year as well. All the proceeds from the race go to "Small Bridges" Adoption Solutions (www.smallbridges.org) which wonderful! Since this is a new race and a smaller local race, the swag consisted of a soft short sleeve. Granted, it's a nice soft shirt so I was fine with nothing else.
The course itself is exactly the same as the Turkey Trot held at the same location in November. It is a fairly flat course with a nice down hill after the first mile and another at the final half a mile. There is one gradual uphill after the second mile, which is not very difficult and does not slow your pace down much at all. My pace for this race was a flat 25min, which is actually faster than my Turkey Trot pace. The weather was perfect, 50 degrees and the sun just coming out when the races started. I do not remember seeing any aid stations on the course, I personally don't use an aid station during a 5K but it is something that should be there.
There was a 1mile 45min after the 5K started and a short dash for the younger children after that. Since this was their first race there was a long time waiting for the medals and results. It was a little long, but I can understand since the timing company and the organizer are new at this. They did a raffle before the medals with a lot of cool prizes from the sponsors. Overall, I really enjoyed the race, the medals, and the shirt.

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