Latest reviews by Christina Dunn

(2016)
"once again flat, fast fun"
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This was my third year running the 408K, second year as a Represent Running ambassador. This race kicks off their "Run the Bay" three-part challenge. The race is now sponsored in part by Under Armour.

Perks include:
- great bling, as always; this year it has a "foot" so you can stand it up on a shelf (see mine here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BCqNWOcCaaW/)
- an Under Armour tee with a design by locals Cukui
- the Mariachi Mile and Memorial Mile
- finishing at Santana Row, home of good eats
- loads of backdropped photo ops throughout Santana Row
- kid's race option is always a good thing -- and it's fun to watch

Review rating notes:
- I once again received my bib via mail and cannot speak to the expo, but heard loads of good things from folks who did get to see it in person, hence 4 stars
- I carried my own fuel again, but the aid stations were stocked and staffed by friendly folks

The Memorial Mile was wonderful as always as it's great to take the time to thank those who serve our country. This year, there was nothing outside Joe Bell's home, but we still ran past it. (http://www.representrunning.com/joe-bell-memorial-mile/) The Mariachi Mile did not disappoint! This year I think there were even more groups on it that last year. It's a truly festive way to end a nearly 5 mile race.

Bummers:
- This has nothing to do with the race itself BUT it was a bummer. A few spots in Santana Row promised to give a percentage of their proceeds if folks stopped by on race day. The RR ambassador group tried to meet up to toast our day at Rosie McCann's but it was a MADHOUSE, and they basically told us that if we weren't going to get a table, we had to go. There was no room at the bar. Like I said, nothing to do with the race itself, but it was a bummer.

Bonus: THERE WERE BANANAS AT THE FINISH. I know, not a big deal to some people, but there weren't any when I finished last year (when I was pregnant and always hungry.) My cousin (who paced me during the race, shown in the photo) and I agreed that the snack bags finishers received were a perk, and the DJ booth at the end of the finisher's chute, where folks were receiving their medals, was a nice touch.

I look forward to doing this one again!

Full review here:
http://littlebeastling.com/2016/03/10/sj408k-2016/

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(2016)
"We Run the Town Challenge"
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After running the marathon in 2014, I returned to the Oakland Running Festival to take on the We Run the Town Challenge, in which runners run the 5K, then later in the morning, run the half marathon. Runners received a medal for each event as well as a third for having done both. I received a tech tee for the 5K, a tech long sleeve for the half and the Run the Town Challenge medal joiner is pretty cool. (See it here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BDOPLHCCaYp/?taken-by=littlebeastling)

Perks include:
- great bling for all three events
- one start line for everything
- easy bag check (which included easy check in, check out, check in, check out for me. I really appreciated being able to change shoes/socks and grab sweats between events.)
- general city support and love on the course

Review rating notes:
- the 5K I ran solo, the half marathon I ran with two co-workers I often "runch" with
- I carried my own fuel again, but the aid stations were stocked and staffed by friendly folks

While not 100% of the course is "Ooh, oh, so beautiful" (let's be real, some of it is pretty urban,) it's still a great, flat tour of Oakland. It was clearly marked, well supported by both official and unofficial aid stations and no one I know got lost. The little village of sorts that they build by the start/finish is nice too, not just for runners but also for those supporting runners. It's a great meet-up spot. I happened to score parking nearby.

Bummers:
- Everyone I talked to who did the 5K agreed it seemed a little long, but how long varied. (You can read about my experience on my blog, link below.) It wasn't bad enough that I wouldn't run it again. I did PR, after all, so I can't be mad about that.
- The expo is always super cramped, and they make it sort of like a rat maze so you have to wiggle in and out all the way through in order to get out. It always seems weird that the expo is crowded when there always seems to be extra space outside the booth area.
- ...can't think of any others!

5K recap: https://littlebeastling.com/2016/03/24/wrttc-5k/
Half marathon recap: https://littlebeastling.com/2016/03/27/wrttc-half/

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(2015)
"a new local favorite 10K"
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I've run the Let's Go 510 every year since the debut and it has continued to be a personal favorite way to bring the year to a close, as I rarely run events after it. A joint effort between run local advocates Represent Running and the trail race masters of Brazen Racing, the Let's Go 510 is absolutely a fun event with a little something for runners of every ilk, including the kids. I've never run the 5K option, but do love that the out-and-back course makes for some revelry. Who doesn't love cheering on the lead runners as a middle-of-the-packer? The kids from Running for a Better Oakland are always out there too, and that's a hugely uplifting thing to see out on the course.

Perks include:
- easy parking and start line access (which means easy car access post-race)
- great bling and shirts
- post-race spread (eat ALL THE FOODS,) and if you're into it, horse races at Golden Gate Fields
- surprisingly scenic "road" course with much of it along the water

The first two years the race finished on the race track, which if you've never run on a horse race track, is much like trying to run through guinea pig bedding on the moon. It's HARD! This last year, 2015, the course finished on pavement, which was kinder. I was ready to channel my inner racehorse, so it was a surprise to me, but a pleasant one as it was my first postpartum event. This is one 10K that I now make a point to hit up every year.

Notes on my ratings:
- I can't rate the aid stations, as I always carry my own fuel, but they seem to be stocked and staffed well
- There isn't a 'real' expo. Packet pick-up is at a run store, which is awesome, and the last two years you had a chance to win some Hoka One One shoes. Bonus!
- Elevation is tricky. It's not a flat course, nor a trail run, nor a totally paved one. There's one big hill but otherwise, it's light rollers. Compared to the 'hilliness' of most Brazen Racing events, it's a cruise!

Full reviews here:
2015 - http://littlebeastling.com/2015/11/15/dont-call-it-a-comeback-lets-go-510/
2014 - http://littlebeastling.com/2014/10/31/letsgo510/

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(2015)
"hello, 5K in the city"
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Newly acquired by Represent Running to help keep the event alive, the Across the Bay 12K and 415K is part of their Run the Bay challenge. I ran this in 2015 and was speedbumping at the time (read: pregnant enough that folks knew it wasn't a burrito) so I opted to run the 5K option.

Perks include:
- great tees and medals, as always
- good post-race snacks and photo op
- very close to the Farmer's Market (which we hit up after the race, yum)
- well marked and officiated

Bummers:
- the first thing we did was run up a small hill, which thankfully my buddy and I had walked down to get to the start, so we knew what to expect.

We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day in the city. It was fast, flat course with a lot of exposure, so we actually got a lot of sun! I always love the cheering that happens on an out-and-back course. I heard from the 12Kers that running across the bridge was a fun to-do (since it's not normally something most folks do) and I can't wait to do it myself this summer.

Full recap:
2015 - http://littlebeastling.com/2015/04/27/acrossthebay2015/

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(2015)
"some things you just can't unsee"
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Full disclosure: I won VIP entries from Clif Bar less than a week before the race, so I had three days to prep. I was also 25 weeks pregnant.

Let me start off by saying this is an event I don't think anyone except for those who can score elite corral positioning runs for speed. You run for the sake of the run, the revelry and if you're into it, the mobile party. Seeing as how everyone else seemed to be drunk and naked when I ran it, being clothed, sober and pregnant made me an immediate weirdo. (I saw at least two other women rockin' speedbumps on course, which was nice.)

Perks:
- VIP area meant private loos, bag check (which I definitely will utilize this year) and front row seats to watch the elites warm up. I even called it! There was a gal warming up and I told my friend "She's moving like she's here to win." Later we found out she did.
- Costumes, lack of costumes and tradition. Throwing tortillas and letting your junk hang out are just BtoB traditions. Don't be surprised if you're getting a faceful of can't-be-unseen before you even get to your corral.
- I was very impressed with how many bib checks there were and the security presence on course. It definitely didn't feel like The Man was trying to be down on the party, but more of a "we're here in case sh*t goes down" presence, which I appreciated.

Bummers:
- Sorry to say it but some of the partiers were a bummer for me. If you want to pay for a bib so you can be drunk and topless in public, fine, but please don't be a completely oblivious roadblock. It's not just a party. It actually is a running event. I can't imagine how some of the actually-running-centipede teams managed to get through certain areas.
- Corrals are BIG. Be prepared to walk a number of blocks trying to find yours.
- "THE HILL" is steep and really is a giant party. Pretty much every house on that street is partying. The perk to this is that if you're actually trying to run, you'll lose most of the partiers in this section. After THE HILL, we had some wiggle room and weaved a lot less. There was still a lot of wang flopping about, though, that didn't change.
- The VIP entrance in the finisher's area was confusing for us to get in to. We accidentally left the finisher's area trying to get in to the VIP area, so we didn't get a chance to get in on the massages or non-potato chip sample food. As a pregnant woman, that was a big bummer.
- Post-race transit was a huge drag. We waited for almost an hour for a bus, and when it finally arrived it was packed. Add rude people (like a teenage boy who didn't get up for an elderly woman because he was busy texting, and the father with a tween and teenage daughter who also sat in the front seats glaring at my pregnant self as I tried to not fall on them while standing) and it was one hell of a ride.

Notes:
- I don't recall the aid stations, really. I carried my own handheld, so I know I refilled my water at least once, but I don't recall there being any food. Considering that I was pregnant at the time, I KNOW I would remember if I had seen food, 'cause that was my #1 priority when we got to the finisher's area!
- I won't call parking a bummer because we planned and parked somewhere sort of near the start. Either you park near the start and know you'll have to hoof it back, or park near the finish and know you'll have to hoof it to the start. We used Parking Panda to reserve ahead of time.
- My running buddy hit the expo, not me. We apparently were supposed to get something special and commemorative as part of the VIP package but we never got whatever it was.

As long as you know what you're getting in to, Bay to Breakers is a 12K not to be missed. My friend and I will be returning again this year, hitting up the VIP again and using our learnings.

Full recap:
2015 - http://littlebeastling.com/2015/05/19/bay-to-breakers2015/

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