Latest reviews by Fallon C

(2018)
"Rockin' Around San Jose"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Registration- Available online up until a week before race day. There was some limited registration available at the expo.

Race Communication- about one email every few weeks until it was closer to race day then the emails increased. All were very clear in providing helpful information about hotels, parking, race times, entertainment or spectators, and wave starts.

Expo- The expo was held in the San Jose Convention Center. It seemed smaller than other Rock N Roll expos I’ve been too but it was very organized. It had a large apparel booth from Brooks as well as the usual booths you would find at a good sized expo

Bib pick up- Bib pick up was organized by number which you needed to know first, they went paperless this race, so runners claimed their race numbers via the Rock n Roll app. Timing chips were located on the backs of the bibs. We then headed into another section to pick up our shirts and goodie bags. The shirts still run very small though, I really need to start asking for mens shirt at this point.

Race morning- My hotel was within walking distance of the start line, it took me less then 10 minutes. There were plenty of porta potties scattered up each side street along the length of the corrals.

The race started at 8:00 with a wave start. The elites and the first few corrals went off without a hitch and then we ground to a halt. There was some transit delay and the rest of the corrals were delayed. I couldn’t quite understand the announcer, but the corrals got really messed up and I didn’t end starting until 8:30.

The course- The course runs you north before looping back down towards Santa Clara. It runs through some cool business districts as well as some amazing residential ones. There wasn’t a ton of crowd support but Rock n Roll provides for you via live music, DJ’s and having the so many local schools’ cheerleaders come out to cheer you on. The cheerleaders were awesome.

Aid stations- The half marathon had 7 aid stations which had water and Gatorade Endurance. It was warm and very humid day and the stations were always well stocked and ready to go. A couple of stations offered SIS gels as fuel.

Elevation- In my opinion, this course is pancake flat but full of turns. For some it could be a great PR course, for me, I really needed some rollers.

Finish- There are multiple photographers around the finish area as you finish. You are handed your medal then funneled towards finisher’s photos then towards the food. Offered was a bottle of water, Gatorade Endurance, Chocolate milk, Cheese-Its, granola bar and a banana. Once again, I wish they would give you something to carry everything in.

This was a great race but a few things seemed squirrelly. The 8:00 AM start for a CA October race is too late, I wish it started sooner. Rock n Roll sent out a heat advisory email the night before the race which is good thinking on their part but an earlier start would have helped that too. I get that any race in a big city is going to have transit issues, but the start delay was a surprise. I read the pre-race info thoroughly and there was nothing about delays. Combine that with the later start, the heat and I was moving slower than planned and I had to hustle back to the hotel to check out immediately crossing the finish line. I barely glimpsed the finish line festival in the park as I was hustling.

I love Rock n Roll events and for the most part this was no exception. I hope to give it another shot next year.
Oh and the medal was awesome.

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(2018)
"Rolling through Los Angeles"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Registration- Available online up until a week before race day. There was some limited registration available at the expo.

Race Communication- about one email every few weeks until it was closer to race day then the emails increased. All were very clear in providing helpful information about hotels, parking, race times, entertainment or spectators, and wave starts.

Expo- The expo was held in the Los Angeles Convention Center. It seemed way smaller than other Rock N Roll expos I’ve been to. That may have been because this one is more spread out and wraps around the hall it’s in. Parking for the expo was a nightmare. The race is the same weekend as LA Comic Con and the Convention Center area was a mad house. I circled for 40 minutes before finding parking. I didn’t realize that this race is always the same weekend as Comic Con and it wasn't mentioned in the pre race emails.

Bib pick up- Bib pick up was organized by number which you needed to know first, they went paperless this race, so runners claimed their race numbers via the Rock n Roll app. Timing chips were located on the backs of the bibs. Shirt pickup was smooth but once again the shirts run small so this time I exchanged it for a mens shirt, this took less than 30 seconds.

Race morning- The race was pretty specific about using Waze to avoid running into road closures but I still ran into road closures and got turned around. I managed to find a spot in a garage for $20.00 and stayed in my car before heading out to the start line.
Instead of the usual wave start, the corrals were released via a constant stream but everyone funneled through 2 small openings. I’m on the fence if it made things better.

The course- The course consisted of 2 out and backs. The first one was just shy of 3 miles and the last made up the remainder of the course. We were mostly on Figueroa St and Wilshire Blvd. Some of the buildings were industrial/business but there were quite a few historic buildings and churches along the route to check out. I felt like this course had less on course music than other Rock n Roll races. While at times it was fun seeing other runners on the other side of the out and back, it was kind of sad seeing the sweeper car right behind some runners.

Elevation- The course had around 600 feet in elevation gain and consisted of rolling hills. There was one good hill before mile 4. I love hills so this was perfect for me, in fact I could used a few more in the first few miles.

Aid Stations- The course had 8 aid stations with water, Gatorade Endurance and SIS Gels. There were plenty of port-a-potties at each station as well.

Finish- Once across the finish line, a volunteer handed you a medal and you were directed down the chute. Finishing photos were next then bottles of water and snacks. I kept looking for Gatorade but couldn’t find it.

The after race entertainment was taking place up a level or 2 in one of the garages. The concert was just starting when I finished but I had spent 9 miles battling GI issues (again, thankful for all the on course bathrooms) and all I wanted was a Gatorade and a real bathroom. I finally found people handing out Gatorade bottles on a street corner on my way back to my car. Not the usual place post race.

There were parts of this race I really liked and parts that completely stressed me out. I don’t think the business of LA and I get along. That could also be colored by how sick I was feeling out on the race course though.

The medal was awesome- Frankenstein's monster!

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(2018)
"Lovely Vines and a little confusion"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Dang those targeted Instagram ads that sneak up on you. I was scrolling my feed one evening when a cute wine bottle shaped medal jumped out at me. I don’t know why- I don’t even drink wine- but I saw that it was in Santa Barbara, fit my training plan, reasonably priced and vineyards usually meant dirt of some sort. So I clicked through and registered.

Registration ran 70-75 for the race and wine festival after and 50 for just the race.
The website stated that all participants received bibs, timed results, finisher medals and wine glasses. Shirts (cotton) were only guaranteed if you registered by a certain deadline. I did not but I still received a shirt.

Race proceeds were for the Santa Ynez Valley Aquatic Foundation. I received an email the day before the race with a few last minute details. One thing that threw me was that the winery wasn’t actually in Santa Barbara but in Lompoc and spoiler alert- it wasn’t really there either- more in Buellton.

There was plenty of parking at the winery (dirt roads) and bib and shirt pick up was simple. There were port a potties and real bathrooms available prior to race start. Runners lined up for the start and that's when things got a little confusing. It was very hard to heard the announcer and there was only a couple hundred runners. Then it was go time and we were off through the vineyard.

The path was mostly fire road, though it was more uneven than I would have liked- I had a hurt foot. Some parts of the course took runners literally between the vines. The miles were all clearly labeled with cute wine barrels with painted feet corresponding to each mile. There were 3 water stations serving just water. They did a great job either blocking off side routes or having volunteers at certain points; if you've never run through a vineyard before- it is very easy to take a wrong turn. There was one bigger climb on the course in mile 3 around 300ish feet with a couple small down hills but other than that it seemed like a mostly flat course. There were also photographers throughout the course.

The views were pretty great. The vines, the view from the top of the hill, all great. Plus we got to run through a cute barn.

The finish line had an announcer calling out names as people crossed. Never mine- no one ever wants to pronounce mine. There was also a table with water, sliced fruit and granola bars.

Once across the finish line, there was some confusion. Registration claimed it came with a medal and wine glass for every participant but neither was anywhere to be seen. Now, I downgraded from the festival to just the race so the lack of wine glass was not a huge deal to me but the lack of medal was a little confusing as there had been zero announcements, at least that I could hear.

Runners did receive an email Sunday evening that said there had been a delay with the medals and that they would arrive Monday, then the race would be in touch with us after that. I heard from the race the following Friday that medals had arrived and they were gracious enough to mail it to me as I do not live in the area. Yay!

Communication issues aside, I really did like this race and would consider running it again if it fit my schedule.

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

Registration- Available online up until a week before race day. There was some limited registration available at the expo.

Race Communication- about one email every few weeks until it was closer to race day then the emails increased. All were very clear in providing helpful information about hotels, transportation, race times, entertainment or spectators.

Expo- The expo was held in the San Diego Convention Center. It seemed smaller than last year but very organized. It had a large apparel booth from Brooks as well as the usual booths you would find at a good sized expo.

Bib pick up- Bib pick up was organized by number which you needed to know first and I got there late Saturday afternoon so it only took a few minutes. New this year was that your bib number did not indicate your corral, so you did not know your corral until after you picked up your bib. The timing chips are now also located on the backs of the bibs instead of D-tags. We then headed into another section to pick up our shirts and goodie bags. The shirts still run very small though.

Race morning- Shuttle transportation is a breeze from Waterfront Park and you arrive at the start within minutes. There were plenty of porta potties scattered throughout the park – I think I heard a volunteer say there were over 200- but as with any race with over 20,000 runners there were long lines at each. UPS trucks were available for gear drop.

The race started right on time-6:15- but with so many corrals -33- each was released a few minutes apart. I crossed the start line at 6:48 and was in corral 17.

The course- I love that the race loop you through San Diego- city streets, neighborhoods, and Balboa Park. You run through North Park and Normal Heights and back down to the waterfront. The city really comes out to cheer on the runners, some in costumes, some create their own aid stations- there’s even a mile 4.5 bar. The people are awesome. And that’s not even counting the entertainment that Rock n Roll provides for you via live music, DJ’s and having the local schools’ cheerleaders come out to cheer you on.

Aid stations- The half marathon had 8 aid stations which had water and Gatorade Endurance. This sounds like a lot but it turned out to be a warm and very humid day and the stations were having trouble keeping up with the demand from the runners as it kept getting warmer. The volunteers were doing their best but the weather was a giant curveball. A couple of stations offered SIS gels as fuel.

Elevation- By my standards this course is fairly flat, it has 2 real hills, one at mile 2 and one just after mile 10. There’s a good downhill just after 11 and a slight downhill finish line. The overall elevation gain is just under 500.

Finish- There are multiple photographers around the finish area as you finish. You are handed your medal then funneled towards finisher’s photos then towards the food. Offered was a bottle of water, Gatorade Endurance, Chocolate milk, Goldfish, granola bar and a banana. Once again, I wish they would give you something to carry everything in. My favorite thing this time though was the volunteer just handing out bags of ice. Thanks, new best friend!

Overall, I still love Rock n Roll San Diego. The humidity level did a number on me and kicked my butt but the course and the volunteers are awesome. This is the second time I've run this race and it's a race I will keep running and I say that knowing it took me 7 hours of driving it get there. :) I'll just keep my fingers crossed for some cloud cover next year.

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(2018)
"Gorgeous Views for Miles"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Big Sur offers the marathon it is most known for as well as a 21 miler, marathon relay, 11 miler, 12K and 5k. Entry into the marathon is done by lottery whereas the other events fill up on a first come, first serve basis.
Communication from the race is just enough- every few weeks with all need to know information. Just before the race, they send out a very detailed participant guide answering any lingering questions runners may have.
Bib Pickup-
Bibs were picked up in the Monterey Conference Center. Runners were sent a QR code by email and that plus a picture ID were all that was needed to pick up your bib. When I went on Saturday, there were little to no lines. Then you went and picked up your bus ticket for race morning transportation before heading downstairs to pick up your goodie bag and race shirt. Again, there was no line and all the volunteers were super friendly.
Expo-
The expo was mid-sized with a few vendors, largest being the merchandise for the Big Sur Marathon followed by Hoka One One. The race merchandise booth dented my wallet pretty good. There were also numerous large canvases which presented good photo opportunities if you were willing to wait in a short line.
Race morning-
As the course is on Highway 1 and they close it to cars, you have to be bussed to the start unless you happen to be staying in Big Sur. My ticket said arrive by 4 and leave by 4:15 but we didn’t even board the buses until after 4:30. Then it’s a drive to the start, if you get car sick, take a Dramamine. Once we arrive and unload, it’s still a bit of a walk to the starting area where we dropped off our gear bags and lined up to start. There were plenty of port-a-potties scattered around.
The course-
The marathon route starts at Big Sur Station and winds North along Highway 1 to Carmel. It takes you between the trees and along the ocean. The views are awesome but you will work for them. There are hills throughout this course, the most significant being the one from mile 10 to mile 12. I am weird though and didn’t mind the majority of the hills-Mile 8 and the beast from 10-12 not included- I almost rated the elevation a 3 but realized that most people wouldn't consider 2200 ft of gain a 3.
Musicians/ DJ’s are sprinkled throughout the course as well giving runners something else to look forward to. Most notable would be the man playing the grand piano just after crossing the Bixby Bridge at mile 13.1.
There were 11 aid stations along the course with water and Gatorade Endurance. After mile 10, most had fresh fruit as well and 2 stations had Gu’s. Towards the end, one station was offering fresh cut strawberries like BSIM events usually do. Most stations also usually had Vaseline and basic medical supplies if needed.

Overall- This race was awesome. Every mile brings you something new to see and the views are amazing. Even on an overcast day like it was for me. Race day wasn’t my day, I ended up contending with some major back pain for the last 10 miles but it was all worth it crossing that finish line. Big Sur is definitely a race for your bucket list and one I will try to do again.

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