Latest reviews by Christina
A Bay Area native who was born and raised in the South Bay, I love that the 408K gave me a new way to see my 'home.' Part of Represent Running's "Run the Bay" challenge, in 2014 I ended up running it remotely, but in 2015 I was able to run it in person with my parents. (Side note: I was also pregnant and in the first trimester.)
- great bling
- seeing historic homes of San Jose
- the Mariachi Mile and Memorial Mile
- finishing at Santana Row
Review rating notes:
- I received my bib via mail and cannot speak to the expo
- My cousin lives near the course, so we were dropped off, but it seemed like folks were having to park and walk a bit. I'm guessing there was parking at the Shark Tank for runners, but that's not where we finished.
- I carry my own fuel, but the aid stations seemed stocked and staffed.
- I knew we were running through some residential areas, so I didn't expect to be blown away by scenery (like the backside of the mall.)
Really, the big highlights of this race for me are the Mariachi Mile, a literal mile stretch towards the end that is packed with mariachi bands, and the Memorial Mile, where servicemen and women are there in person. That is one mile where your time really doesn't matter: what matters is stopping to say thank you and shake hands. This year was especially poignant as we ran past the home of Joe Bell, a service man who stood outside his home in 2014 in uniform, cheering on runners, quickly becoming a viral video sensation. He has since passed, and in 2015 his family put a chair outside with his photo and a US flag. Runner after runner veered off course to pay their respects. It was quite awe inspiring. (http://www.representrunning.com/joe-bell-memorial-mile/)
- There were no bananas at the finish. As a runner I've been trained to be rewarded with a banana. Where's my banana?
I look forward to toeing the line again for this well-paved course, not pregnant this time, and dancing with the mariachi bands.
Full review here:
2015 - http://littlebeastling.com/2015/03/31/408k-a-family-affair/
[Disclaimer: I am the "arch Run Angel," captain of the Title Nine Run Angel team that is present at the Bay Area races, and have helped put on other Title 9K races in the series. I worked behind the scenes for all locations and have been present in Boulder and Spokane.]
The Title 9K series is one that is near and dear to my heart because it's where I first found a running "home." A women's event (that has since opened up to allow U18 boys as well, to help encourage family running,) the 9K distance is one of the many things that make it unique. Instant PR, right? How many other 9K races have you done?
- This is HUGE. Not only are running strollers allowed, there are two divisions solely dedicated to them: one for walkers, one for runners. These gals are FAST, don't be fooled! Most races either say strollers are not allowed or that they'll turn a blind eye if they start way in the back. The 2015 Spokane Title 9K OVERALL 9K winner was a stroller runner. Wrap your head around that!
- Race tees are always wearable (no logos of sponsors on the back) as everyday tees. U18 participants receive a hat.
- Reusable goodie bag from packet pick-up has snacks and samples inside and is just the right size for lunch. These are always a favorite.
- Free Ragamuffin Run pre-race is always a highlight. There are three heats: the Rumbling Reds (ages 2-3,) Blazing Blues (ages 4-5,) and Yahoo Yellows (ages 6-8). Simply sign them up at the registration tent the day of the event. All kids receive a snack, previously from Clif Kids, in more recent years from Honey Stinger.
- The 'expo' doesn't sell anything at the event. It's more of a forum to try out local eats, see new gear from Salomon Running and the like. Free snacks! This could be a bummer, if you like shopping expos.
- The final aid station on the course is always chocolate. Just chocolate.
- "Catch a Run Angel" is always fun. Catch a Run Angel on the course for a raffle ticket and win great prizes.
- You don't have to be fast to win. Submitting your running story pre-race could score you a prize.
- This particular location has not been on the event calendar since 2014. The flagship Mother's Day Boulder Race is ongoing, and the Spokane race has been revived to much fanfare.
- If your 18-or-over son/nephew/husband wants to run with you, they'd have to bandit the course, which naturally I don't endorse.
- The course is not closed, so there are other runners/walkers/bike riders occasionally on the path as well.
- No medals. Lots of folks run for the bling. Instead finishers get something else, usually a Title 9K necklace. One year it was water bottles.
- No age group prizes, but instead, division prizes. I only list this as a bummer because most folks want to see how they did in their AG. Prizes are given to the fastest overall woman, fastest girl U18, fastest stroller, and to the three best stories.
My feelings on the Bay Area series:
More about the Title 9K:
In 2014, I ran the inaugural Marina Bay Half Marathon, affectionately called "the Riveter," a la Rosie the Riveter. (Sadly, I did not get a run costume together in time.) It was a half I signed up for on a whim since I live very close by the half marathon course. It looks like there's actually a 5K and a 10K option too. Here's what my fuzzy memory recalls.
- It's a pretty flat road race. Flat is always welcome when you're not sure you're really trained enough for 13.1 miles.
- It's a smaller race (it may have grown since I ran it) so great for Bay Area locals who want to explore their 'hood on foot.
- It starts and ends right around the Marina (right by Craneway Pavillion for you Bay Area Derby fans) so the course does take you around the water. If you like water, boats and the like, this is a good one for you.
- Decent course support. When I ran it in 2014, it was quite warm, so I do remember stopping and giving a guy some of my personal hydration because he was cramping up. I don't blame the race directors, since there were a decent number of stops on the course, but due to warmth their probably could have been one or two more added on.
- Good bling. I love me a good medal with a printed ribbon.
- I ran as part of a fundraising team for Coach Art. Why not run for an awesome local cause?
- The shirt is one of few race shirts I never wear, and I think that's mostly a personal issue. It has side panels that are black with the rest of the shirt being white. There's a full front graphic and sponsors all over the back. The shirt itself is of good quality, but a little busy for me, and I wear all the neon colors at once! Again, I think it's a personal issue.
- We had to go upstairs (inside one of the buildings) after the race to pick up our swag. I don't recall if you could pick it up before, but I definitely remember hobbling up the stairs with a number of other grumbling runners post-race to get my tee.
- Not much in terms of an expo. If there was one, it wasn't memorable.
- Parking was hard to come by if you didn't arrive early. There's a small lot, which I was lucky to park in, but otherwise it's street parking.
Overall, since it's basically in my backyard, this is an event I'd do again - flat, fast, a great training run and the bay breeze is always nice!
Going into this race I knew it was going to be a sea of pink, so I showed up in what I refer to as my "Naked Maleficent" run costume: a Sparkle Athletic visor with Maleficent horns, black sports bra, Sparkle Athletic skirt and purple ProCompression socks. I knew that running shirtless wouldn't be something most folks were doing, just like I knew running in pink was something that most folks would be doing.
Yet somehow I was NOT prepared. Everything was PINK. Even the handful of dudes present were decked out in pink... so if you have a pink aversion, definitely, shy away from this race. Shirtless and not in pink, in the end I definitely stood out like a sore thumb!
- I worked the expo both in 2014 and in 2015.
- BibRave has it right as "San Francisco Burlingame," while the Run Like a Diva series calls this race San Francisco. Don't expect to run through the city, because this is not a true SF race.
- I don't recall the aid stations for this event, so I didn't rate them. They did have aid stations, and there's a final "aid station" before the finish where you can deck yourself out in a tiara and a pink feather boa if you so choose.
- Spoiler alert: I heard that the guys at these races who hand out the medals aren't necessarily what they're dressed as. For example, I know real SF Fire Dept. gents, and they were not the shirtless gents in fireman pants at the finish line handing out medals. If you're not into shirtless dudes, there is no other way to get your medal.
- There were a TON of walkers I saw, so if you're not a runner, or if you're an entry level runner, there's no "oh gosh, everyone is going to leave me in the dust and I'll get swept" fear necessary.
- Woman-centric event (which as a woman, I appreciated.) Men are welcome but there sure aren't very many of them.
- Lots of costumes (superheroes, for example) and other festive apparel on course, which I always see as a perk because not every event has to be a super serious Boston Marathon qualifier.
- Bibs are customized if you register in time to say "Diva [Name of choice.]"
- The bling is BIG and you get champagne at the finish line. Cheers!
- There is an expo but it isn't very big, and it's at a hotel.
- If you can't make it out to the expo, there's no day-of pick-up. I had to have a friend pick my bib up for me and she hid it at the starting line for me to grab.
- While you do run along the water, I don't recall the course itself being all that thrilling. Maybe I was just super focused on the fact that I was literally the last half marathoner to start and I had to chase down the sag wagon in my first mile. After that you can imagine how my race went.
- As a runner who had a late start, while it's awesome people were walking, there were so many people walking, especially in groups, that in narrow portions of the course I had to do a lot of weaving, running slightly off the path to get around them and a lot of "on your left/right" yelling that no one seemed to heed.
Overall, if you're thinking about the half as an option I'd deem this a good choice if you want a pretty flat local run and don't want to hit up an event that is Rock'n Roll sized. If you're a serious runner, or at least a runner who doesn't want to get caught behind walkers, definitely corral yourself maybe a touch faster than you think you'll actually be running to prevent extraneous weaving.
Full recap here:
2014 - http://littlebeastling.com/2014/03/08/archive-sfdiva/
Hi, my name is Christina and I am crazy enough to have made the most-definitely-not-flat Oakland Marathon my first full 26.2. Thankfully, I knew that going in I was going to be encountering hills, hills, and more hills, which made it not bad. ;) Full disclosure, I was so enamored of it that I signed up for the 2015 event within three days after running it! I ended up having to defer to 2016 when I found out I was pregnant, and look forward to toeing the line again.
- I didn't stick around the expo long. It's a smaller expo, especially since my first expo exposure was at a runDisney event, so I compare all things to how massive and thorough that was.
- Elevation I gave a four because for a road race, there's a lot of climbing, but there isn't nearly as much climbing as some other road or trail races.
- Parking near the lake is hard even when there isn't an event, so add an event and it's hard to come by. My husband had a hell of a time finding parking when he came back from seeing me on course to meet me at the finish.
- The scenic portions are beautiful, but be prepared to run through some urban parts of Oakland. There were some portions where I was basically running alone for a mile or three, down roads, hoping I was still on course.
- getting to see many facets of Oakland in a new way
- many DIY aid stations on the course thanks to awesome residents (there was a mimosa station I totally should have stopped at)
- running local is awesome, period
- embroidered long sleeve shirt with thumbholes
- good bling
- volunteers who helped me do things like open my water bottle (I was tired)
- some unsupported sections, but that's to be expected; would you go sit on a random residential hill and cheer runners on?
- where's the fruit at? I only recall seeing bananas at an aid station around mile 12 and I wasn't quite ready for one yet. After that I probably would've given someone $10 for half of a banana. I didn't see one until the finish line, so this year I'll be carrying my own non-gel/non-hydration/non-drop fuel as well as my usual arsenal to be safe. Like I said in my 408K review, I've basically been trained to run for a free banana. Where's my banana?
To me, this event was "very Bay Area" with a wonderful mix of people of all different walks participating in, aiding and cheering the event. I was the only person I saw on course rocking Sparkle Athletic gear (skirt, visor, sleeves) and loved all the little kids who yelled things like "Mommy look at the fairy princess!" There were some great signs on the course, various spots with music and dancing and a very "all are welcome" vibe. I saw some folks who definitely looked like this was their first event ever, others who had clearly trained hard and long for this. All different bodies and speeds, ages and backgrounds -- it was beautiful to see. This is why I love running: there's a place for everyone and a place for every pace.
I really appreciated that this was a big event that felt like a smaller event. There were no designated corrals at the start and there was only a small arch with a small pre-race area on the grass where folks were congregating and stretching. It was a trip basically running to my father in law's house from the lake; my husband and FIL were at the Safeway in Montclair to say hello mid-run. Now when I drive through the Oakland Hills, I laugh when I see the trails on behind the fences of the freeway; it's crazy to think "I ran that."
And I can't wait to run it again.
2014 - http://littlebeastling.com/2014/03/29/archive-oaklandmarathon/