Latest reviews by Fallon C

(2018)
"Heating up in San Diego"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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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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(2017)
"Racing along the Strip"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Registration was available online until a week before the race. Some registration was also available at the expo. Prices increases were advertised via email and social media so runners could take advantage of the best prices. The Half marathon could also be part of a Remix Challenge- run the 5K on Saturday and any of the other distances- 10K, 13.1, 26.2, on Sunday and earn an extra medal.

Swag included a race specific tech tee, Competitor magazine, fruit snacks and a sample of something similar to BodyGlide. It also included an awesome medal post race. Note- size up on the tech tee, they tend to run small.

The expo was held in the Las Vegas Convention Center and was pretty big. It opened with an awesome selfie station followed by the amazing organization I love from Rock n Roll. Bibs, shirts, Brooks, expo! There were a variety of vendors at the expo- most expected- R8, Garmin, ProCompression and few surprising ones- nail polish. The Rock n Roll Las Vegas merchandise was great and was unable to leave empty handed.

Pre-race communication was on point. From the time I registered to the time of the race I received 40+ emails. Seems like a lot but it wasn’t. Each one communicated something important or shared information runners needed to know. Particularly as it got closer to race day and recent events necessitated a course change as well a change in starting location and concert venue.

The course was an out and back primarily on Las Vegas Boulevard. This is the only race that completely shuts down the Strip for hours at night under the lights. This year’s race started in front of the New York, New York and headed south for 2 miles before turning around. These miles were mostly quiet in deference to recent tragedy. While I appreciated this, it also seemed like these miles were super dark, and I should have brought a light. However, it was light enough to see people starting to cut the course at the first water station. I have never actually seen course cutters until this race and unfortunately, I saw more after these 3. Once at the turn around, runners headed back into Vegas and lights of the Strip made the rest of the race awesome. Live bands were playing at points as well as DJ’s. Runners ran down to the original Fremont area before looping around and heading back towards the finish near the Bellagio. Elevation wise- I'd call this race pancake flat but my watch showed about 140 in gain.

Course aid was every 1 to 1.5 miles. Water was at all stations but Gatorade was hit or miss. I would have appreciated Gatorade at all the stations. Bathrooms were plentiful but the first section was kind of a mess. The port a potties were set up on a center divider and 2 were back to back so the doors were facing the middle instead of a side of the street. This meant the bathrooms were open to both sides of the course which caused serious line confusion and some cranky people. Having the bathrooms face the street would have been better.

Medical stations were on point. I was running this race with a friend and she unfortunately became injured early in the race. We had to stop at a med tent around mile 10. They were able to help her out quickly but while we were there I observed them helping out other runners. I liked that they were taking down the bib numbers of the runners they were giving aspirin to.

Post race snacks included with a bottle of Gatorade, a banana, pretzels, Pringles, an Oatmega bar, Chocolate milk and a Beer if you still had the beer wristband on from the expo the day before. And this leads to my biggest gripe- they don’t give you anything to carry all the goodies in post race so people are left juggling a handful of snacks, medal and drinks in sweaty, tired hands. I remembered this from another Rock n Roll race so I had shoved 2 dog bags into my belt so my friend and I both had a bag. This actually worked great but a bag would have much appreciated.

Overall, this is an awesome race and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who asks. My friend and I didn’t have the race we hoped for but we still had a great time out there.

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(2017)
"Lighting up the Night"
Overall
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
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Registration was available online until a week before the race. Some registration was also available at the expo. Price increases were advertised via email and social media so runners could take advantage of the best prices. The 5K could also be part of a Remix Challenge- run the 5K on Saturday and any of the other distances- 10K, 13.1, 26.2, on Sunday and earn an extra medal.

Swag included a race specific tech tee, Competitor Magazine, fruit snacks and a sample of something similar to BodyGlide. It also included an awesome Medal post race. Note- size up on the tech tee, they tend to run small. Post race swag was a little disappointing with a bottle of water, a banana, pretzels and an Oatmega bar. But that could just be my opinion.

The expo was held in the Las Vegas Convention Center and was pretty big. It opened with an awesome selfie station followed by the amazing organization I love from Rock n Roll. Bibs, shirts, Brooks, expo! There were a variety of venders at the expo- most expected- Roll Recovery, Garmin, ProCompression and few surprising ones- like nail polish. The Rock n Roll Las Vegas merchandise was great and I was unable to leave empty handed.

The race is run on Saturday night and this year's race started at 6:00 PM.

The 5K was a loop course with the start and finish in the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. The corrals were split into color groups and then divided by pace.

Due to a serious backup on the monorail and then a slow entrance due to security checks ( not complaining just a fact- thank you for the added security) a lot of people were running super late getting into their corrals. My original corral had already started by the time we got into the grounds. I was joining a friend for her race so it didn’t bother me but it something that people need to be aware of for the future. We left our hotel more than an hour before the race started but were still late.

The 5K does not run the Strip, instead it takes you on an out and back course through the streets just to the side of the Strip. Rock n Roll does their best to liven it up with music stations- speakers, live bands and DJ’s along the way and lighted mile markers but it isn’t the showiest course. Watching how all the other runners tried to light up the night is fun though. Some people are very creative.

The race only had one aid station at mile 2 and that is my biggest issue. It wasn’t exactly cold out there and security was making people dump their water at the gate so another water station at mile 1 would have been awesome. Or even moving the one station to the center divider between both sides of the race so it could supply both sides with water would have been great.

Coming back into the festival grounds, you ran zigzag through the back lot adding distance. In a daytime race this might have been frustrating but watching the line of glowing and blinking runners was kind of fun. At mile 3, runners ran under the awesome, giant guitar guy and then they could sprint to the finish.

Post race- There were food trucks, a beer tent and places you take selfies or pictures with friends and some lighted props. The concert was taking place that night instead the next day. The Goo Goo Dolls took the stage to rock at 7:45.

All in all it was a good race and was a great way to pump runners up for the main event to come the next day. I had fun and would definitely run it again. However I now know to bring a light for the middle mile. And dress more festive.

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(2017)
"The Longest .1"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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This is my 5th time running City to the Sea.

Registration- Available online up until 5pm the Friday before race weekend. The prices increased occasionally but the website was very clear on the dates and race management emailed previous participants prior to each bump.

Race communication- Consistent but not too much. Spoke of how the race is a fundraiser for Cuesta College Athletics and has been for 22 years. Some emails would point out fun things to do around SLO if you were staying for the weekend.

Swag- Shirts this year were a dark blue tank for females and a lighter blue shirt for the men. Just like last year, the shirts all ran small but the volunteers were letting runners try all the sizes and pick what worked best for them. I was just stoked to have my first tank top. 😊 You were also supposed to get a silicone ring with the race name but I didn’t see where to get them and no one directed me where to go. The medals were similar to 2016 but way better colors in my opinion. Your bib also came with 2 free beer tickets.

Expo- Packet pick up is held in the parking lot of The Running Warehouse. It’s not an expo. Bibs are assigned on a first come first served basis then you head over to the shirt table. There was also a table for the on course electrolyte drink- Fluid- another local business.

Course- The course starts in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo and heads south towards Avila Beach before meandering though neighborhoods to finish in Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo Beach. I personally enjoy the scenery as I run- from the city streets to the back roads to the Bob Jones Trail to the ocean view. Another thing to note is that the course is not completely closed. You will encounter vehicles on the road.

Elevation-The first 4 miles are slightly downhill and from then on the course is rolling hills. The 2 biggest hills are probably in miles 7 and 10. It’s not super tough but it will make you work for it.

Aid Stations- The course had 5 aid stations all with water, Fluid and port-a-potties. The first one was at mile 2 and the last one at mile 12. The stations were always fully staffed and stocked and ready for the runner to pass them. The station just past mile 7 was handing out Gu’s of some sort too.

Crowd- There was very little crowd support except at the finish and the aid stations. In previous years, the college teams would come out and cheer the runners on at various points but I did not see them this year. I missed that.

Finish line- I swear this race has the longest .1 ever. From mile marker 13 to the finish line takes FOREVER. Every single time. Due to multiple curves in the road you can’t see the finish line or even hear it when you hit mile 13. It kind of messes with your head.
Once crossing the line, they cut your timing chip off your shoe and give you your medal. They are tables with water and a board with all posted times. There is also a recovery tent if it was needed.
It’s also very crowded as the 5K and kids race have finished so it’s party in the park time. 😊 There was live music playing and multiple booths to check out.

Overall- I love this race. I’ve run it 5 times. I chose to run it over a flat course even if I was cursing it during the mile 10 hill. The people are always great, the scenery is good and the finish line can’t be beat. I also somehow had my best race in years so yay!

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