Latest reviews by Fallon C

(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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(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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