Latest reviews by Fallon C

(2019)
"Out and Back through Oaktown"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Registration was available online up until the day before the race. Online communication was on point- just enough without being too little. I never had any confusion about where I needed to be and when.

Packet pickup was spread out over 4 days at various locations throughout the city and nearby Berkeley. If those dates didn’t work for you, there was an EXPO-in-a-box option that would send everything to you in the mail as well as race day VIP pickup. Both of these did include an extra cost.

I chose the expo-in-a-box option but there was a snafu. Come race week, my packet never arrived. I reached out to the race and they confirmed that due to an error of some sort, my box was not going to arrive. They were able to refund my money and arranged for me to do race day pick up.

The race started at 7:00 and I was staying at the race hotel so I headed to the start line around 6:00. There was a little line at that time but it moved quick. Then I headed off to the portapottie line which was the longest I’ve ever seen. It moved fairly quickly though.

The race started exactly on time after a singing of the National Anthem.

The first few miles saw us running out towards the Jack London area then doubling back towards downtown. We then headed out to Lake Merritt and looped around it. And then around it again the other way in a long out and back. Then once back downtown, we ran 2 more out and backs along Broadway and the street with the Fox Theatre. It was then back to the start alongside the Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Once across you were handed your medal and a cute Mason jar.

Swag- Medal, race shirt which was a nice cotton and cute, mason jar. I can’t speak for anything that was given out at the expo. There was also one free beer for runners and the best- FREE race pictures!

The aid stations did a great job but I feel like they were oddly spaced out. That could be due to the out and back nature of the race. The stations offered water, Nuun and Honey Stinger Gels.

Elevation- by my standards this race is pancake flat. Flat, flat.

While I enjoyed the scenery of the lake- there was a lot of it. There were a lot of out and back portions that I think broke my brain. This race did have the better scenery compared to other ones I’ve run in Oakland though I did miss the chance to run by more murals.

Overall this was a fun race and I would keep it on my list of races to run again.

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(2019)
"Rockin' 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, parking, race times, entertainment or spectators, and wave starts. The day before I headed down to the race, we received an email letting us know there was a delay with the half marathon shirts and we would have to get them after the race instead of at the expo.

Expo- The expo was held in the San Diego Convention Center. It had a large apparel booth from Brooks as well as the usual booths you would find at a good sized expo. I arrived pretty late on Saturday but it was still packed. I was able to pick a few things I had forgotten at home. Oops.

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.

Race morning- I always book my hotel near the finish line and pick up one of the race shuttles to the start. There were plenty of porta potties scattered up each side street along the length of the corrals.

The race started at 6:15 with a wave start. Marathon and half marathoners start together. Instead of crossing the start all together- the waves feed into smaller funnels to disperse people. I am on the fence if I think this helps.

The course- I love this course. It takes you through North Park, Normal Heights and Balboa Park. The town comes out to party and cheer you along as well. There has been a mile 4.5 full bar every year I've run it. There are a variety of pop-up aid stations as well. Rock n Roll has a few music booths out on course and we run through a disco tunnel towards the finish.

Aid stations- The half marathon had 8 aid stations which had water and Gatorade Endurance. It was warm and pretty humid and the stations were always well stocked and ready to go. A couple of stations offered SIS gels as fuel. They were having a bit of trouble keeping up with the demand but I was able to take water at every station.

Elevation- I love hills- well hate them but my body loves them- so I don't find this course to be very hilly. I think I am alone in that though. The only hill to worry about is just past mile 10 in Balboa Park but you get rewarded with an amazing downhill to fly down.

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, a banana, Pringles and fruit snacks. For the love of Pete, give me something to carry everything in!

The Finish festival happens in Waterfront Park just a few blocks down from the finish line. Matt Nathanson was the headliner this year.

Picking up the race shirt after the race was kind of a mess. They did their best but everyone seemed to want their shirt at the same time and it was chaos. Women's shirts were a neon green color and the men's were blue. I got a men's shirt because that was where I ended up in the crowd and well I like blue better anyways.

I love this race, I really do. This was my third year running it in a row. and if I have my way I will be back again. They really do it right here.

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(2019)
"Let's Run Oakland"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Registration-
Available online until the day before the race and available at the expo.

Communication-
Once I registered, I received 1-2 emails a week detailing race information. One included a very in depth runner’s handbook just for race weekend.

Expo-
The expo was on the smaller side but had plenty of things to do as well as photo ops. The race merchandise was pretty good- I ended up purchasing a shirt. Olympian Alysia Montano was also at one of the booths signing autographs.

Races-
The race offered a full marathon, half marathon, and 5k. There was also a We Run This Town challenge with an extra medal for running the half and 5k on the same day.

Race morning-
The half had a late start of 9:30AM. The only confusion was shuttles and parking. The race website said there were shuttles from the race hotel. The race hotel said there were not. Thankfully the shuttles were right where they were supposed to be.

The race started on time with self seeded corrals. The start led us down past Lake Merritt and then into the streets of downtown Oakland. Oakland has some pretty great street art. The first 8 miles were better than the last 5. Miles 8-12 were a little less than scenic. Mile 13 brought us back towards the lake and the finish line.

Post race-
Once across the finish line, runners were handed a variety of snacks as they made their way through the chute. I would have appreciated a little bag to carry everything in. Once past the food, the runners were handed their medals. I have never received the medal after the food before.

The park had booths set up for the finishers and their families. I was already seriously pushing a late checkout so I just hightailed it to the shuttle to make it back to the hotel.

Aid stations-
There were aid stations with water and Gatorade every few miles. They were always well staffed and organized. I think this was the first race in a long time I’ve run where they were still fully staffed and stocked even in the later miles. And I was slow on race day so I really appreciated that.

Elevation-
In my opinion, this is a flat race. I think my watch showed less than 200 ft elevation gain.

Swag-
Every runner received a race specific long sleeve shirt, and an awesome medal commemorating the 10th anniversary running of the Oakland Marathon. Plus the drop bag given at the expo, food at the finishers line, 2 free beers and FREE race photos!

Overall, I really enjoyed the race. I do wish it had an earlier start time- 9:30 is just so late, it was starting to get a little too warm towards the end. The last few miles are a little bleak but I get that there’s only so long the downtown roads could be closed. The race hotel was amazing, if you run this race, stay at the race hotel.

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(2019)
"Rain in Surf City?"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Registration -
was available online up until the Friday before race day.

Communication-
The race organization sent out at least one email per week leading up to the event and more as it grew closer, especially when it began to look the weather was going to turn on us.

Expo-
Due to the bad weather and flooded freeways I was unable to make it to the expo, it closed Saturday at 4. But I appreciate that Surf CIty would allow other runners to pick up your bib and swag as long as they had your QR code and a picture of your driver’s license. I wish more races did this.

Race morning-
There seemed to be plenty of port-a-potties available for runners pre-race and an announcer was trying to keep the energy up despite the less than stellar weather. I have run Surf City 3 times and this is first time it wasn’t sunny and warm.
The corrals are self seeded and I wish there was a little more regulation here, hardly anyone ever puts themself in the right corral. I placed myself in wave 4 as I knew I was going to be slower and it took about 20 minutes to get across the start line.

The course-
The route is primarily an out and back along PCH with views of the ocean. Around mile 2.5 runners turn up a street to loop a neighborhood for 2ish miles, that gives the course it’s only decent “hill” otherwise it is primarily flat. The neighborhood also usually boasts the most spectators outside the finish area, it’s a good spot to cheer on runners.

Aid Stations-
There were aid stations with water, Nuun and port-a-potties every few miles. They all seemed well staffed and were managing to keep up with the demands of the runners. One station had fuel- I think it was Honey Stinger Gels. There was also a medical tent just past mile 9 and the race was staffed with Race Guards- runners who were equipped to help with medical emergencies. This was the first race I have run that Race Guards available.

Swag-
The race gives runners a nice long sleeve tech shirt as well as a race themed reusable shopping bag. This years medal was a VW bus on overlaid on the iconic Surf City surf board.
There was also a variety of goodies given to the runners as we made our way through the finishing chute but I wish they had given us a bag.

Post race-
There is a beer garden and fun photo opps for the runners but I was cold and wet and just wanted a change of clothes so I headed to the car. Which I couldn’t find. Which leads me to-

Parking-
There are numerous beach parking lots available but on warm, sunny days they fill up fast. My car was actually in a beach lot this year (thank you rain) but it was still 2 miles south of the finish line and that’s the closest I have ever parked at Surf City. So be prepared for a hike post race.

Overall-
I love this race, I have run it 3 times now and even though I never seem to run it at my best, it is a great race that is worth running again and again. And that is coming from someone who hates flat races- Surf City is my exception. I will be back again.

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(2018)
"Ho Ho Holiday Half Fun"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Holiday Half offered a 5K, half marathon, a Penguin Waddle for kids and a Snowflake challenge if you completed both the 5K on Saturday and half on Sunday.

Pre race communication seemed to be a little light but that could be that the last few races I ran bordered on over communication.

Bib pickup could have been done on Saturday at the Pomona Fairplex during the Expo/ after the 5K from 8:45-12Pm or before the race in Sunday morning from 6:00 am to 8:00AM. Being 5 hours away, Saturday’s expo hours really weren’t convenient for me so I opted for race morning pickup.

Parking – While there was plenty of parking for a $12.00 fee (which we were told would work for both days but I was only there one) getting in was a little difficult. You went from 6 -7 lanes of cars buying passes into the lot which fed into 2 lanes which then fed into 1. From there it was a short walk -1/2 mile- into the interior of the Fairplex for the start and the race morning festivities.

Bib pickup and shirt pickup had no line and took maybe a minute.

The race was self seeded and runners all lined up in the corral after a race announcement. Following the National Anthem and under a dusting of faux snow, the runners were off.

Course- The course led out of the Fairplex and wound through nearby neighborhoods before bringing us back into the Fairplex and out onto the Pomona Raceway which was cool. The course then wound us through neighborhoods and parks and campgrounds. We ran passed Raging Waters so that was kind of cool. There was a lake on our left for a good chunk of the miles so there was always something to look at. Then it was back through a campground and back onto the racetrack. The only mile that was then great was the last. To make up mileage, you S-curved from the race tracked through the parking lot back to the main Fairplex. It gets kind of frustrating feeling like you are going nowhere when you know the finish is right there.

Elevation- This is not a flat course but it is a very runnable course. The race website showed a total elevation gain of 762 feet. In other words, almost perfect by my standards but then I am odd.

Aid Stations- Started at mile 2.5 and then were around every 2 miles. They all offered water and Nuun and some offered Honey Stinger Gels. All were well staffed and had plenty of supplies.

Swag- all runners received an ugly sweater themed tech shirt and a festive holiday themed medal. There was also an impressive amount of food passed to finishers as we made our way out of the finishers chute- BAI water, chips, banana, granola bars, NUUN, and something else I can’t remember.

One cool thing about this race was that it was also a Student RunLA event so a giant group of younger runners all started after the main race at 8:30. And some of those kids were fast. I felt bad that they had to dodge and weave around all of us runners who were going more of a party pace.

My only gripe was the pacers- the 2:15 and 2:20 were running together and finished together. The 2:40 pacer passed me and finished ahead of me. Why advertise a pace if you are not going to stick to it?

Overall, I really like this race. The course and crowds were just what I liked and it was very organized. I had been super sick the weeks leading up the race and probably had no business running 13 miles but I still enjoyed myself as I ran and walked that day. I would love to run it again but healthy. 😊

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