Latest reviews by AARON BLANKENSHIP

(2017)
"Free Turkey!"
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T-Shirts/SWAG
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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United Way holds a Turkey Trot 5K each year the weekend before thanksgiving, with an opportunity to win a frozen turkey if you finish 1st in your age division. Although I never won a frozen turkey, I really enjoy this race. The only swag to get is a long sleeve tee. There is plenty of food and beverages both before and after the course, but there is no bag of swag like at most races.
The course is comprised of large sidewalks or the road. The race is held at river walk, a 2.5mile loop for walking, running, or biking. To make the course a full 5K, they guide you along a road and back into the loop. The road and course is well marked with people waving flags and directing you at each turn as well as someone at each mile to tell you the current time. There is one aid station around the halfway point with water, I normally don't use aid stations in a 5K but this one did look smaller. The course is pretty flat with a long down hill just passed the halfway point and again at the very end. The only up hill is around the 2 mile mark and it is a long gradual incline which makes it easy to keep your pace.
This year was much warmer than in the past, around 49 degrees, which allowed me to keep a fairly consistent pace of 8min 20seconds for almost the entire race. It is a good race for those new to running or looking for a race that will not take too much out of you. This was their first year doing chip timing so there was some time to wait to hear the results. I also was told that the course may change next year as the river walk loop is being expanded.
Since I last did this race, I joined a run club (primarily for the speed drills) and have going to jiu jitsu classes more. I hit a PR recently in one mile run but my 5K time and pace hadn't dropped that significantly. This year I managed a sub 26min 5K and got first in my age group, which means....free turkey!!

Shoes: Asics Tri-noosa
Headphones: Aftershockz
Shirt: Nike
Shorts: Asics
Socks: Asics
Sleeves: 2XU

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(2017)
"Fast Road Race"
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T-Shirts/SWAG
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This race has been held for many years, but this is the first time I've participated in it. The race is held at the Rose Garden Museum in downtown Cartersville with plenty of parking available at the library, which is just a block away. The race takes place the same morning as the Roselawn’s May Market festival so there is plenty of vendors to visit after the race before the medal announcement.
Race: The course is very fast and actually a little under 3.1 miles. Overall it is a forgiving course and you can keep a steady pace with little need to slow down if you adjust to the few hills. It includes three hills and one rather steep hill that ends in a turn. The course is laid out with large blue signs at each curve and plenty of volunteers to point you in the right direction. The event organizers close off most of the roads from traffic, however there was one 4-way stop where traffic was still coming and a car came up behind me. This is definitely an aspect they need to correct in the future as I was literally a foot away from the car as it passed me. There was only one aid station throughout the race and it was a set up near the halfway point. I rarely go to an aid station in a 5K, but they could of used a second aid station as a lot of runners were looking for one earlier on. The end of the race comes up quick and consists of a slight downhill that curves into the finish line. The standard medal ceremony, consisting of overall finisher medals and then first through third place medals per age group, does not happen at this race. They only hand out medals for first place finishers in age groups of 10 years. I never like when a race changes the standard fiver year age group to ten years, the skill level and speed various so much in ten years that it is not a good way to award runners.
Swag: The swag is picked up after you finish. The shirt is a very soft tech tee that cuts a little larger than normal, which is great for running in the summer. The swag bag comes with a variety of items from the race sponsors such as a flashlight/tire pressure gage, a guide to all the places to visit in north east Georgia, and a legal pad and pen. Plus you can look around the fair for some local food and homemade crafts.
Verdict: I really enjoyed the run and the course and the shirt/swag are great! There are two things they need to improve on, closing roads for runner safety and standard age group and medals for 1st-3rd instead of just one medal for the fastest in a 10 year age group.

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(2017)
"Amazing Views!"
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It has been two years since I did a half marathon, so I had to do a lot of training to get back up to a pace that I could keep up with for two hours. I was not sure how long or how many hills were in the course, so I did a lot of up hill training and I am grateful that I did.
The overall course is fairly easy for the first few miles along the coast and residential areas, but then you reach the hill. I attempted to continuing running the entire hill, however after noticing the people walking around me were going about the same pace as my run I decided to walk the remainder of the hill as well. That hill is a real killer! Luckily the breathtaking views and fantastic aid stations along way make the difficult hill not so bad. Then end of the course goes down a slightly steep cobble stone hill that can be a bit tricky before going back along the beach and then to the finish. Similar to the aid stations, there are plenty of drinks and snacks after the race as well as free beer! Fact: I do not drink alcohol, but it was a good incentive for a lot of runners.
The expo had a ton of great brands, Oofos, 2xu, and many more. There wasn't much in the way of swag. You pick up your shirt and get a bag but that's it for the swag.
Shoes:Mizuno Inspire
Headphones: Aftershockz
Shirt: Nike
Shorts: Asics
Socks: Asics
Sleeves: none

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(2017)
"First race of 2017"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
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Race Timing/Turnout: Last year this race was held on MLK day on Monday and the turnout was very low almost everyone works in Georgia on MLK day. This year they moved the race to the Saturday before and the turnout vastly improved! I love seeing a race become more successful each year and is one of the reasons that I like to do the same races each year. It was an unseasonably warm day in January, being around 57 degrees at 9 A.M. and beautiful weather.
Route: The route is great around the course and since it is on the campus it does not involve any roads so there is no traffic to worry about. I haven't run as much since it's been cold so this was a great race to get me back into it. The course is very forgiving and great for beginners with the main difficulty being the huge hill at the end. The hill was an obstacle for runners of all experience as no one expected it to be as hard as it was. This area is used for a race in the spring but that course involves going down the hill as opposed to up it. I managed to keep a good pace going up the hill as my personal trainer has done a lot to make me better at keeping pace on hills.
Swag and Shirt. One thing I did notice is that there were not any aid stations, this may be because there were only about 30 people at the race. I normally don't go to an aid station during a 5K but it was something I noticed. After the race there was plenty of food from Panera Bread and coffee to have. The race shirt is a nice tech long sleeve perfect for running in the winter as a base layer or post workout shirt. They also gave a bag with Band-Aids, aspirin, nature valley bar, and a bracelet to for the diabetes charity the money goes towards.
Overall: This is a great flat course with one major hill to not underestimate. It is a perfect race to start your running year off with especially in the warm winter we are having in Georgia. This was the first race I used my Aftershokz headphones. Now I've used these before while training but never for a race. They were perfect! no need to readjust at all during the race and the blue tooth reception and sound was great! I highly recommend these headphones for anyone that runs in a city or races with courses through a city.

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(2017)
"Running in the Rain"
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This race usually happens on the first weekend in January, but due to ice and snow the race had to be postponed until the third week of the month. This race is a lot of fun as the course seems fast at first, but quickly becomes a serious of rolling hills up until the end were it flattens out on a downhill curve. While the race was moved to avoid the ice and snow we got weeks before, we ended up in the middle of a heavy rain storm minutes after the races began. This made the course slightly dangerous as the course throughout the residential area became very slick. It didn't place in the top three this year, but I did improve my pace by 20 seconds from my race the prior week so I was very happy about that.

There is not much swag but the significantly improved on the t-shirt quality. In the past the shirts were long sleeve and heavy cotton; this year the shirt was short sleeve and very soft. After the race there are door prizes, medals for the top three in each age group, pastries, coffee, chili, and a lot more food. The volunteers are extremely helpful and friendly, they really make you feel apart of the church which is also noticeable as many people return to do this race year after year. I can't wait to do this race again next year!

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