Latest reviews by Fallon C

(2016)
"Rolling through the Vineyards"
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Paso Robles Harvest Marathon serves as a fundraiser for the Paso school districts, all race proceeds go the schools. The race is organized by the high school athletic director and staff, the volunteers are students from the school's sports teams and coaches.

The race offers a half marathon, a 5K and a children's mile. Prior to this year, they offered a USATF certified Boston Qualifier marathon course. Due to road closure issues and low registration, the full was dropped from the schedule this year. Registration was available online and went from 70- 90, I believe.

Packet pick up was in the city park on Saturday from 10-7. There were 2 vendor booths- Costco and a local gym. From 4-9, they also had a live band as well as tri tip and a pasta dinner for runners to purchase. Registration included a technical tee with race logo, bib with timing chip, finisher's medal and free race photos. The only other thing included at packet pickup was a reusable shopping bag from the Running Warehouse.

Race started at 8:30 which is rather late for the area. The race started and finished at Le Vigne Winery, plenty of street parking was available for runners and family and organized by the football team. After a few announcements and the National Anthem the race started exactly on time. It’s a small race with a little over 200 hundred runners for the half. Aid stations were every 2 miles until mile 7. Due to an out and back section of a mile, the aid station at mile 6 was also at mile 7. From then on it was every 2 miles again with an extra station just past mile 12. Water and Gatorade was available at all stations and gels at the mile 6/7 station. All stations were adequately staffed.

The course is a giant loop on back country roads through scenic wineries and farms. There were 2 little graveyards as well. Course monitors were at every turn to ensure that no one was able to get lost. The course is not flat- it runs around 600 in elevation gain. Mostly rollers throughout but there was one long climb from mile 9 to 10.2. The roads are not fully closed so it is entirely possible that vehicles will pass you at multiple points along the course. While very scenic there is little no crowd support on course. Only the people working the aid stations are out there to cheer for you. I am used to both of those things but it is something to consider, there are long stretches where it is just you and the runner in front of you.

The finish line is back at the winery where you were presented with your medal and a full bottle of water. There was also a post race brunch going on next to the winery which smelled amazing. I believe there was also live music from a local band but when I finished they were announcing the Age Group awards. Overall male and female finisher were awarded with $500.00 as well as bottles of wine. The top 25 male and female runners were also given a trucker hat emblazoned with “CRUSHEDIT”. Top 3 male and female AG were awarded medals and the 1st place finisher in each group was also given a bottle of wine.

The race has always offered free race pictures, they were all uploaded and organized by bib number the next day- awesome!

Pros
Great local race with a hometown feel
Supports a great cause
Very scenic course (it rained this year and I still thought it was pretty)
Well organized aid stations
Free race pictures
Great finishers medal
Prompt timing results
Free pictures- Did I day that already?
Good awards for AG

Cons-
No prerace emails until 2 days prior- I was questioning if I had even registered
Minimal crowd support
Open Roads
Minimal swag for the non speedy

Overall it was a well run race and I am glad I was finally able to run it. I could have done without the rain for 7 miles but organizers have no control over the weather. :) I like smaller races and even the rain couldn’t detract from the scenery. I was not adequately prepared for that last long climb though. This is a race I would run again.

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(2016)
"From downtown to an ocean view"
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City to the Sea is a point to point race that starts in San Luis Obispo and ends in Pismo Beach. 2016 was the 21st year it was put on. The race is a fundraiser for Cuesta College athletics. Shuttles are provided to bring the runners back to the starting location.

Registration-
Available online up to the day before packet pickup. Also available at packet pickup if the event was not sold out. The race usually draws around 2000 runners.

Packet pickup-
This occurs in the parking lot of the Running Warehouse. There is little to no expo just a few booths from local businesses. Bibs are not assigned before the race, they are assigned on a first come, first assigned basis. Timing chips are provided for your shoes. After getting your bib and chip, runners are directed to the shirt tables. The race shirt this year was cute but ran extremely small. It was also made out of a soft cotton material instead of tech fabric. I’ve run this race 4 times and this was the first time I was disappointed with the shirts. I heard later that they would exchange the shirts after the race if you brought yours to the finish line. I did not. Another thing I was surprised by was that there were no bags this year- everything was just handed to you- safety pins, bib, chip, tie straps and shirt. It was a lot of little things to carry.

Race-
The race starts at 7AM in downtown SLO. There is plenty of street parking and garages nearby, being a Sunday the meters don’t start until 1:00 PM. There also seemed to be sufficient port a potties. This year was the first time I’ve seen the race start late- it did not start until 7:10. There were a few announcements and I believe the National Anthem was sung but it was very hard to hear. Pace groups are provided for 1:30-3:00 and the pacers are dressed in costume so they are easy to spot. There are 5 on course aid stations that provided water and Fluid and bathrooms. I saw one at mile 5 that was offering Gu’s. All the stations seemed to be adequately staffed. The volunteers are often students from Cuesta College. The event has a 3 hour time limit but they do not kick you off the course if you go over that- you just need to move to side and watch for traffic.

Course-
The course heads south out of SLO- you stay on the main drag for a little over 4 miles, it is flat to downhill. The roads are not closed but volunteers and police do a good job with traffic control. Just before mile 5 you cross under the freeway and head up a long, slow incline before making a hard right around mile 7 for another climb. Once past that, you are greeted with a nice downhill as you head into Avila Beach. The course deviates from the road here to add some distance on the Bob Jones Trail. The trail is paved and heavily lined with trees, the shade is nice. Once off the trail you head towards the main street in Avila with a hard left to climb another hill. Once there, runners make a right up another hill and into Pismo around mile 10. The remaining 3 miles are run through neighborhoods as you wind your way up and down to the finish. I feel the course has just the right amount of hills and flat portions. One warning though- parts of the roads are very slanted which can mess with your stride.

Finish-
The finish line is located on the street by Dinosaur Caves Park. The chute is usually lined with spectators. Once finishing, a volunteer will cut off your chip, then you are given your medal. New this year you were also given a plastic tumbler and a race sticker. Printed results are available on a nearby table. Plenty of water was available as well. There is a finish line expo with booths, breakfast and a live band but I did not check it out, I wasn't feeling too great.

Overall, this is one of my favorite races. I will continue to run it. The course is very scenic and I like the mix of town and nature. The medals are always nice and the finish line are is very pretty. In my opinion this can be a PR friendly course as well.

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(2016)
"Flat and Fast- HOB Fun Run"
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The HOB Fun Run is a small hometown race through and through. Always the last Sunday in September, the event has a variety of options for the whole family. A 10K, 5K, kids 1/2 mile race, 75 yard kids dash and a not-so-dirty diaper dash. New this year was the 1 mile race. The race starts and finishes in the city park which has bounce houses, crafts table and a free pancake breakfast. The event still offers cash prizes for the winners of the 10K and 5K. The participants in the diaper dash are entered into a drawing for a washer and dryer.

Being a small race, there is no expo. Packet pickup and late registration are available in the park on Saturday and early on race morning. Race shirts are a super soft cotton t-shirt, babies get a onesie. Medals are given to race finishers. Registration was available online, by mail and in local businesses.

100% of the race proceeds go to charity. The race management team picks 3 charities every year and the race participants choose where they want their registration fees to go while registering. The 10k, 5k, and mile are chip timed and times were up by Monday. Pictures are uploaded shortly after.

The 10K is a 2 loop course through downtown. The roads are 100% closed and monitored by course security at every intersection. The course is almost pancake flat and can boast some impressive times. It is a very PR friendly course. The lead runner is led by a motorcycle police officer. The 10k is typically small- only averaging around 70 entrants. Water stations are at miles 1, 2 and 3. Crowd support is minimal outside of the middle of town and the small race size means you run on your own for most of the 10k. It is also entirely possible you will be lapped by the lead runners. No lie, that can hurt the pride. :)

Names are announced as runners cross the finish line. Once crossing the finish, you get your medal and there is a booth with water bottles, oranges, bananas and pretzels is within a few yards. Race times are posted fairly quickly.

All in all, the HOB Fun Run 10K is a great opportunity to test your skills and see what a runner can do. It's a race I will run again. Ok, truth, I've run it 7 times. :)

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(2016)
"Family Friendly 5K"
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*This will look very similar to my 10K review.

The HOB Fun Run is a small hometown race through and through. Always the last Sunday in September, the event has a variety of options for the whole family. A 10K, 5K, kids 1/2 mile race, 75 yard kids dash and a not-so-dirty diaper dash. New this year was the 1 mile race. The race starts and finishes in the city park which has bounce houses, crafts table and a free pancake breakfast. The event still offers cash prizes for the winners of the 10K and 5K. The participants in the diaper dash are entered into a drawing for a washer and dryer.

Being a small race, there is no expo. Packet pickup and late registration are available in the park on Saturday and early on race morning. Race shirts are a super soft cotton t-shirt, babies get a onesie. Medals are given to race finishers. Registration was available online, by mail and in local businesses.

100% of the race proceeds go to charity. The race management team picks 3 charities every year and the race participants choose where they want their registration fees to go while registering. The 10k, 5k, and mile are chip timed and times were up by Monday. Pictures are uploaded shortly after.

The 5K is a 1 loop course through downtown. The roads are 100% closed and monitored by course security at every intersection. The course is almost pancake flat and can boast some impressive times. It is a very PR friendly course. The lead runner is led by a motorcycle police officer. Water stations are at miles 1, 2 and 3. Crowd support is minimal outside of the middle of town but the race typically draws 250-300 hundred runners so there is always people around. The course is great for the speedy and the walker. It draws repeat participants every year. It is very family friendly- people run with strollers, their pets and sometimes kids ride on bikes or scooters while their parents run.

As the 10k starts at 8 and the 5K at 9:15, it is entirely possible for a runner to run in both events. I have for the past 4 years. :)

Names are announced as runners cross the finish line. Once crossing the finish, you get your medal and there is a booth with water bottles, oranges, bananas and pretzels is within a few yards. Race times are posted fairly quickly.

All in all, the HOB Fun Run 5K is a great opportunity to test your skills and see what a runner can do. It's also a great race for beginners and families.

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(2016)
"Holy Hills"
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Registration- It took me 2 weeks to register as the discount codes were not working properly. I reached to race management via Twitter and email and eventually things were straightened out but it was a little frustrating.

Expo- The expo was located at Fort Mason and it was a very scenic location. That said, I was a little disappointed in the vendors. For some reason, I thought there would be more vendors. Granted, I did not arrive until late Saturday so maybe things were different earlier in the morning and the previous day. Packet pickup and shirt pickup was very quick and separated by race- Full, First Half, Second Half, 5k.

Race day- With the first half and full marathon starting at the same time, the start was a little congested. I couldn't find the portapotties. Runners were told to head towards to corrals. I found my corral and lined up. Wave 7 started exactly on time at 6:22.

The race starts on the Embarcadero and heads out to the Golden Gate Bridge, across it to Vista Point and then back across the bridge. From runners head through the city to Golden Gate park. After 5-6 miles in the park, runners exit towards Haight-Ashbury. The remaining miles were through a more industrial part of town before heading back by AT&T Stadium and finishing under the Bay Bridge.

The views in the first part of the course were great but the bridge was mired in fog and very slippery. The park started out very pretty but there were a lot of miles looping around the park, they began to drag on. But that is also just my opinion. The park is also where the First Half runners finish and the Second Half runners joined the marathoners. Haight -Ashbury was fun to run through but the industrial sections were a little mind numbing. Running past AT&T park and then under the Bay Bridge to the finish was kind of awesome.

There were plenty of on course aid stations but they were having troubles keeping up with the demand. A few had run out of pre mixed Nuun and others were having troubles filling the water cups. Once across the finish line, there was little direction from the volunteers, I was a little confused where to go. Granted, this was my first marathon and I was on the slower side so I know the volunteers had a lot to do and were probably tired too but I had hoped for a little more.

That said, I really did enjoy the course and the race. It has a lot hills (Garmin showed 1500+ elevation gain) but they kept things interesting. :) I would run this race again but probably just one of the half's- a few less hills that way. :) They also offer a variety of challenge medals for running the various distances in consecutive years.

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