Latest reviews by Fallon C

(2017)
"The Longest .1"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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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(2017)
"Steinbeck and Salinas"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Registration- Registration was available online up until the Thursday before the race. Late registration could be done at packet pickup if it wasn’t sold out.

Swag- Registration included a technical race shirt, race themed wine glass and a finisher’s medal. The goody bag also came with a few samples and a calendar with scenes from the Salinas Valley. A free beer at the finish was also included with registration.

Bib pickup- Could be done at Farmer’s Market the Friday before the race or you could pick up your bib on race morning and the rest of the swag/goodie bag after the race.

Race morning- The race started at 8:00 and there was plenty of parking at the race site as well as plenty of port-a-potties. There was also a bag drop. Bib pickup went smoothly. An announcer was keeping everything upbeat as we were counting down the minutes to race start. It started on time.

Course- The race started at the Soledad Mission and ran north towards the town of Gonzalez finishing at Pessagno Winery. The course took you on back roads with various crops and vines for scenery. The crops were all identified with Salinas Valley Half signs as well as a variety of Steinbeck quotes posted throughout the course. There was even a hill called the "Beast of Eden". There were also 6 music stations at various points- ranging from DJ’s to live bands to Taiko Drummers. There was a bonus strawberry station around mile 10.2.

Elevation- Overall, I would call the course flattish- a few little rollers with one good climb right in the middle. FYI, the biggest climb is not the Beast of Eden. The finish line was also uphill. Normally it wouldn’t feel like a hill but 13 miles in, it felt rather large.

Finish- The finish line was well staffed with plenty of snack choices, bottled water and chocolate milk. There were recovery stations to stretch out and a medical tent if it was needed. Various wineries were there for tastings and BBQ was available for purchase. Picking up your goodie bag was quick and easy. Transportation back to the start for your car was offered and was also super simple.

One gripe- The race only had 5 water stations and the first one wasn’t until mile 3.3. I made sure to bring my own but this still didn’t see like enough for race in CA in August. I think it could have used at least one more aid station.

Overall, this was a great race and one I really enjoyed. I like running scenic roads and I loved all the extra touches that the race included. I wasn't feeling my best so I enjoyed taking my time and taking in all the race had to offer for runners. I took so many pictures and appreciated all the music stations. This is definitely a race that I will do again.

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(2017)
"Rock'n Through San Diego"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Rock n Roll San Diego is huge. It boasted upwards of 30,000 runners and offered a 5K, half marathon, half marathon relay and marathon. There was also a remix challenge if runners ran the 5K on Saturday and then one of the other races on Sunday.

Registration- was available online up until May 28. Discount codes were available online to help offset registration.

Packet pickup- Bib pickup was available at the expo Friday and Saturday at the San Diego Convention Center. Parking was available across the street for $15.00. Pickup was very organized. You started with your bib then went to the shirt pickup area. The expo was set up in a way that each section guided you to the next one. There were plenty of people around to help you if you needed it too.

Expo- The expo started off with the Brooks booth which was by far the biggest before runners headed into the main expo. The expo was large featuring a good variety of booths. Garmin, Eagle Creek, Honey Stinger, Fitletic, On Shoes, numerous races and many more. The race merchandise booth was large as well.

Transportation- As the race was a point to point- shuttles were offered from the finish with the purchase of a wristband or you could park elsewhere and ride the trolley. I hear parking was difficult. My hotel was 1 block from the finish line and across from the festival so walking to the shuttle was a breeze.

The course- The race started outside Balboa Park. It then leads you through San Diego up and away from the park before heading back down through the park towards the finish line which is a few blocks from the bay. The course took you through various city neighborhoods and the locals came out to cheer or provide their own aid stations. There were bands or DJ’s every few miles to keep you entertained. There was also a selfie station at one point. Mile 5 was emotional as it was the Run to Remember mile and honored fallen soldiers. The course was very organized and I actually liked looking at the city and neighborhoods of San Diego.
Finish- Once across the finish, you were handed your medal and a bottle of water. There were finisher photos being taken as well. The food at the finish was awesome- water bottle, full size chocolate milk and full size Gatorade plus a variety of snacks but no bags. That is a big pet peeve of mine- give us bag to hold everything- we are all tired and sweaty. Medical was also on hand if they were needed.

Elevation- By my standards this race is almost flat. My Garmin shows an elevation gain of 300 ft. I only noticed 2 real hills and both were after mile 10. But you also had 2 decent downhills to go along with those.

Course Aid- There were water stations with water and Gatorade every 2 miles, some sooner. All were well stocked and were well staffed with volunteers. They were also very enthusiastic. Aid stations were often set up by block- first block would be water, next block Gatorade. The only confusing part was that the order kept changing. Glukos gels and chews were also handed out around mile 8. That was the official course aid. Unofficially- there were numerous beer and alcohol stations along the way. There were also pop up stations with fruit and water by spectators.

Swag- The race shirt was tech shirt. They do run small, I am glad I sized up. The medal was nice and solid, it resembled a record and the middle spun.

Quirks- Just the bag for the finish line goodies.

Race Pictures- Done by MarathonFoto and some were up same day, talk about fast!

Overall- This race was awesome. I not generally a fan of large crowds but I would run this race again in a heartbeat. The race communication was on point, organization was awesome and the course great. I actually had my best race in years.

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(2017)
"Winding Through Wine Country "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Santa Barbara Wine Country Half is a smaller half marathon that starts in Santa Ynez and ends in Solvang. It advertises a scenic course with a great wine tasting party at the finish.

Registration- was available online up until 3 days before the race. You can register with a wine glass or without if you want a lower price. There was also a 2 person relay option. You could also purchase an extra wine glass at registration time for friends and family.

Packet pickup- Bib pickup was available at the expo Friday from 12-6. If this didn’t work for you, they did have 2 other options available for a small fee. Early bib pick up at a running store in Santa Barbara on Thursday and race day pickup for and additional $15.00.

Expo- The expo was located in the parking lot of the Solvang Park. It was small with maybe 10 booths. Bib and shirt pick up were at the same table and there was a station set up to take pictures if you wanted. The largest booths were the race merchandise and race sponsor booths.

Transportation- As the race was a point to point- shuttles were offered from a variety of hotels to the start. You could also park at the finish and shuttle to the start and vice versa.

The race- The race started in Santa Ynez. After the National Anthem, we started about 5 minutes behind schedule. The beginning miles or 2 are through residential streets that are pretty narrow, the runners were pretty packed in. It looked cool but it you wanted to be fast you needed to be at the front of the pack- passing was tricky. Miles 1-5ish take you through neighborhoods, the houses are pretty and while there was little crowd support from people- the furry kind was surprisingly present. Goats, dogs, full size horses, miniature horses and even a pet goose.

Mile 5 brings runners into Los Olivos, a quaint little town. This was also the relay transition point (mile 5.8) so the crowds picked up a bit. Coming out of the town it was into more rural roads before running into the beast named Corkscrew Hill. From then on, we were running down back roads between vineyards. If you’re looking for pretty courses, here it was. Mile 12 brought us into Solvang and on to the finish at Solvang Park.

Finish- At the finish you were handed your snacks in a bag (thank you!) and a water then your medal. You had to get your wine glass from a booth across the lot which was a bit distracting but made sense if not everyone paid for the race and wine tasting.

Elevation-If you look at the elevation map, it looks like a gradual climb from mile 1 to 7 then downhill to 12 with a little bump then downhill to the finish. I disagree. It felt most flat through mile 6ish when we hit Corkscrew which was a zig zag beast of a climb. It had a decent downhill after that but then it felt mostly flat until 12 again. The hill at 12 wasn’t huge, it just felt big being at mile 12. Bear in mind, my watch shows an elevation gain of 700ft so flat is relative.

Course Aid- There were water stations with water and Nuun every 2ish miles. All were well stocked and well staffed with kids and teenagers. They were also very enthusiastic.

Swag- The race shirt was nice cotton shirt. Not tech but a form fitting shirt that I will actually wear again. The medal was different in that it would also hold your wine glass if was around neck. The wine glass was good quality with the race name on it.

Quirks- The finish line area/ expo is very small and there were a lot of people and booths packed into that area. A slightly bigger area would be awesome.

Race Pictures- the race advertised that race pictures would be delivered directly to your phone through facial recognition by uploading a selfie. At the time of this review, this has yet to happen. There is also no link on the race website to access pictures via bib number or name.

Overall- I really liked this race, the course was great and it was very well run. This is one that I would run again without hesitation.

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(2017)
"Lovely Livermore"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Livermore Half is a smaller sized race with a great course.

Registration was available online right up to 2 days before race day. I registered in December for the March race and then didn’t hear anything for the longest time. That changed about a month before the race and then I received a minimum of 1 email a week leading up the race sometimes 2. This was helpful as they changed the start time of the half marathon to an hour earlier. The website was fairly user friendly but I could never get the half marathon course map to enlarge nor could I find an elevation profile for the course. I mentioned it at the expo and it was fixed that day.

The expo was in an outdoor plaza and fairly small. A few race booths, a merchandise booth and a couple other vendors. Bib pickup was organized by bib number and there was no wait when I was there. There was a snafu with the shirts. At registration, you were asked to pick gender specific sizing but the shirts were all men’s sizing and according to the volunteers helping me they all ran very large. I was lucky and my volunteer let me switch shirt sizes. The shirt was cute though.

There was plenty of parking on race morning- some of it was free and some was pay- it just depended on what time you got there. I didn’t have to use the portapotties but I had seen them lined up the day before and it looked like they had enough for this size race. The race started about 5 minutes late but that’s not too bad.

The course starts out through town taking you through neighborhoods for the first 3 miles. The 5k starts after the half marathon and runs alongside the half for the first 1.5 miles. This didn’t bother me at all but it didn’t seem like the best idea for the 5K leaders as they were heading back into the crowd of people running the opposite direction.

A little before mile 4, the runners head into a park and run the next few miles on a paved path. The path is blacktop and there is nature on both sides of the path, so in my opinion this was awesome. The path was narrower than the road so you could get stuck behind other runners and had to dodge and weave sometimes. Just past mile 6 and we were back out of the park running on the road. Miles 8 and 9 had the only real climbs of the course, overall this is fairly flat course- my watch showed an overall elevation gain of 290 ft. Mile 8 took runners off the road and back into another park with paved paths. This one was lined with vineyards. This continues through mile 11 where the course started to take you back into town. Another mile on another path then the last mile was on city streets to the finish. The course was a loop so it brought you back where you started.

Once through the finish line, you were handed your medal by a volunteer. There were also volunteers handing out bananas, chocolate milk and kind bars. You received a stemless wine glass as part of your swag but there was no one there so I grabbed that by myself. There were large water dispensers so you could refill your water bottles.

On course aid- there were aid stations every 2ish miles. They offered water, electrolytes and bathrooms. I don’t know what the electrolytes were because every station said something different. I always carry my own and drink water at the stations but I feel like there could have been more stations. I feel like there was a long stretch with no aid and I remember thinking it but I can’t remember what stretch it was.

In keeping with the wine theme, the medal can double as a wine stopper for your bottle. There was also a wine tasting event for all finishers with 13 different wineries. I do not know how the tasting went though as I was sick so I did not end up staying long enough to partake.

Overall, this was a great course and a good size. It is a race that I would gladly run again.

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