Latest reviews by Sara D

(2018)
"Breathtaking! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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Newport is one of my favorite towns on the East coast. With absolutely breathtaking views and awesome food, it's hard not to love it!

Registration: Registration was quite simple for this race. Registration prices can vary greatly between $50-$80 online based on when you register. As it gets closer to the race online registration prices increase, as it happens with most other races. I think this year there were VERY limited (if any at all!) spaces to register at the expo. I heard somewhere in the ballpark of 15 spots!

Expo/Packet Pickup: I was unable to attend the expo prior to race day, but I really wish I would have made the drive down to Newport. In previous years I had heard the packet pickup for Newport was easy with hardly any lines. I'm not sure what they changed this year, but it was probably the most nerve wracking part of my day. I got in line with plenty of time until the race and ended up running to the front of the line (sorry!) because the race was about to start. It was confusing as one line branched into gear check and there were 5k runners looking to get their bibs too. I had promised myself I would never do another race day packet pickup again after Providence last year...I wish I listened to myself. In all fairness though, Rhode Races DID warn everyone to try and come ahead of time if at all possible as they were expecting long lines on race day. I just didn't listen.

Swag: All runners received a short sleeved technical shirt in men's or women's cut. The design on it this year was super cute and very nautical (appropriate!). I really love the feel of it and can't wait to rock it on future runs. All half marathon and marathon finishers also got a GORGEOUS medal! They really outdid themselves in my opinion!

Start Line: I did not spend a lot of time in the starting corrals before the race started (maybe 2 mins tops) as I was waiting to get my bib. But everyone was asked to self seed based on projected finish times. There were also pacer groups spread out throughout the start.

Course: Wow, this one is a doozy! There was 400 ft elevation gain, which might not sound like a ton to some people from more mountainous regions, but for a girl from Cape Cod, it was really something. The first mile had a 70 ft climb and it felt like from then on things were generally uphill. Though it was generally uphill, besides the first big climb I felt like everything else was gentler and manageable. The course itself was absolutely stunning. It took you along some of the most famous streets in Newport as well as a nice long stretch down Ocean Drive with gorgeous breaking waves, sea air, and wonderfully expensive houses. That was definitely my favorite part! The crowd support along the middle of the course was sparse, but locals were definitely out and cheering throughout the 13.1 miles.

Aid Stations: There was an aid station every 1.5 miles (or so). They were well stocked with water at every station and Gatorade at every other station. There was 2 station with blocks and gels. The volunteers at the stations were so wonderful and encouraging.

Parking: Parking was not allowed at the start/finish line which is understandable. There was plenty of free parking in a nearby industrial park with shuttles to the start. The shuttles ran relatively regularly and got us to the start line on time.

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(2018)
"So flat! So fast! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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Registration: Registration was quite simple for this race and is linked with Athlinks for easy tracking of results. Registration prices can vary greatly between $100-$125 online based on when you register. As it gets closer to the race online registration prices increase, as it happens with most other races. Very limited registration at the expo.

Expo/Packet Pickup: The New Jersey Marathon had multiple packet pick up days, and one especially mid week for all locals at the Asbury Park Brewery. I attended Saturday's pick up which was held at Monmouth Park (the start of the race). It was nice to see where we were starting from and to best plan out my strategy/route from the hotel for race morning. The expo had race technical gear, sweatshirts, etc. for sale as well as some last minute fueling. Packet pickup was super organized and took less than 3 minutes. They used a "fluid bib assignment" which basically means that bib numbers weren't assigned until you arrived. So the wonderful volunteers looked you up, entered the next bib in the pile into the computer, and slapped a corral sticker onto it. Overall, super smooth in my opinion.

Swag: All runners received a short sleeved high quality t-shirt in men's or women's cut. They are not technical shirts, but I actually really love the design and have already worn it twice. I really love the feel of it. All half marathon and marathon finishers also got a GORGEOUS medal! They really outdid themselves in my opinion! The medal is super heavy, I love it! They had specific colors for all races, which I think was cool as well.

Start Line: The start line was split into 7 corrals with pace teams scattered throughout. Every runner was seeded into corrals by projected finish time and a sticker was placed on the bib when you got your packet. However, there was no real patrolling of the corrals. I felt overall, everyone kind of stuck to where they should be. There was a wave start with each corral going approx. 2-3 min apart to decrease congestion.

Course: The course was super fun and flat (maybe 2 "big" hills to get over a bridge). The half marathon course took runners through residential and industrial areas and then with about 2 miles to go made the turn onto the Asbury Park boardwalk. Crowd support along the route was AMAZING! There were so many people out in their driveways with amazing signs. So many cowbells! I really appreciated how enthusiastic the residents of each town were. They definitely kept me going.

Aid Stations: There was an aid station every 1.5 miles (or so). They were well stocked with water at every station and Gatorade at every other station. There was 2 station with blocks and gels. The volunteers at the stations were so wonderful and encouraging.

Parking: Parking was free at the start line (Monmouth Park race track) and was well coordinated on race morning. There were limited parking passes which were available for purchase for the finish line area. Honestly, with all of the road closures, I don't think I would have wanted to park at the finish line. I think it would have been super tough/taken a long time to get out of the area. There were free shuttles back to the starting area, which took approximately 10 mins. My shuttle driver was amazing, so friendly!

Other: If you're not from the area (like me) and had to get a hotel, I would highly recommend booking early. The hotels mentioned on the race website sold out fast and were quite expensive. I was lucky and found a hotel in a nearby town (Colts Neck) for an inexpensive rate.

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(2017)
"Run For Your Turkey! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

What a great local race the weekend after Thanksgiving! I ran this race last year and when I booked my tickets to come home for Thanksgiving this year, I immediately signed up for the Turkey Trot again. I love it! Busse Woods is absolutely beautiful to run through, you don't want to miss it!

Pros:
+Easy Packet Pickups at local running shops: Plus, if you picked up your packet early, you got 10% off at Dick Pond Athletics! My sister picked up my packet this year and you needed to sign a waiver to let someone else pick up your packet, which I thought was nice.
+Gorgeous Scenery
+2 parking locations, one at the start and one at the finish. The parking lots at the start seemed a little busy, but there was plenty of parking at the finish where we parked. There were shuttles to take us to the start as well.
+Great race week emails with FAQs and helpful information
+Finisher medal for everyone, cinnamon rolls, chicken noodle soup, and water at the end of the race!

Cons:
-Though there were plenty of shuttles, they didn't exactly drop us off at the start. There was about a .25 mile walk from the drop off location to the start
-The pathways got a little crowded at times, but it was nothing that was unmanageable

I truly hope I get to run this again next year. I love this race so much!

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(2017)
"Running Through A Cool Borough"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Registration: Registration was super easy as it is for all Rock n' Roll events. Registration prices can vary greatly between $50-$99 online based on when you register. As it gets closer to the race online registration prices increase. It is possible to register onsite at the expo, but I believe it was almost $175+ to register for the half marathon.

Expo: The expo was a bit cozy. There were not a ton of vendors or merchandise to purchase. What was for sale was quality products and fun to look at, but I definitely missed the big Rock n' Roll expo feel. It was also held at the Javits Center in Manhattan, which can be a bit of a hike to get to, especially if you're staying in Brooklyn.

Swag: All runners received a short sleeved technical shirt that was navy this year. As with all Rock n' Roll races, the quality of the product is great. I was a bit sad to see that the shirt was the exact same design as other races from this year instead of something Brooklyn specific. But I guess it makes it a little easier? The medals, however did not disappoint! They are always superb!

Start Line: There was a wave start that I expected to take much longer than it actually did. I was in one of the last corrals and crossed the starting line 30 mins after the official start. This may seem like a bit of a wait, but I thought it went smoothly. There were also clearly marked pacers within the corrals which was nice to see. Sometimes I feel like I have to hunt to find the pacer I want to try and follow.

Course: My opinion on the course is a bit mixed. Running through Prospect Park was awesome and I felt there was good crowd energy. The first 3 miles were generally downhill, which played with my mind a bit because I kept thinking "I'm going so fast! Yippee!" and then had to remind myself that no, you're not. Slow down. Around mile 4.5 the course turned into an out and back stretch through a residential neighborhood that just seemed to drag on. I generally prefer looped courses to out and backs because I like to look at different things, but I was hoping that there would at least be interesting things to look at for this out and back. Unfortunately, there wasn't. The good news was that it was all flat until the very end (mile 9.5) which was much appreciated. And there were some fun marching bands along that stretch as well. Once you end the out and back and turn back into the Park there was a pretty nasty hill at mile 11 which I thought would never end. Once I finally crested the hill it was smooth sailing to the finish. There was awesome crowd support at the finish, which gave me an extra boost!

Aid Stations: There was an aid station every 1.5 miles (or so). They were well stocked with water at every station and Gatorade at every other station. There was 1 station at about mile 5.5 with blocks and gels. The volunteers at the stations were so wonderful and encouraging.

Other: I was super lucky and was able to stay with my friend who lives a mile from the park. However, parking and the MTA were a bit challenging for people. Some of the subway lines were closed around the park which increased the walk to the start line for people. I also heard it was almost impossible to find a parking spot near the start line unless you used "spot hero" to reserve it ahead of time. This obviously isn't the races fault, but something worth noting.

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(2017)
"So much fun! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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Registration: Registration was super easy as it is for all Rock n Roll events. I registered VERY early (possibly during one of their promotions) and got a highly discounted race fee. As it gets closer to the race online registration prices increase. It is possible to register onsite at the expo, but I believe it was almost $175+ to register for the half marathon.

Expo: Honestly, I was a little disappointed by the expo this time around. It might have been because I didn't make it there until midway through the second day, but I felt there were not as many vendors as previous years. It all felt kind of cramped and chaotic too.

Swag: All runners received a short sleeved technical shirt that was gray this year. It's a great quality and the design is fun, but I miss the highlighter green from last year! I love neon! The medal this year was amazing! So much fun! Rock n' Roll medals are always amazing and this one definitely didn't disappoint.

Start Line: There was a wave start that I expected to take much longer than it actually did. I was in one of the last corrals and crossed the starting line 30 mins after the official start. This may seem like a bit of a wait, but after my experience in Philly last year when it took over an hour for me to cross the starting line, 30 minutes was awesome.

Course: The course was SO fun! There was great crowd support (including a high-fiving pug!) and everyone was so happy to be there. Awesome bands, per usual, though I wish there were more along the river as that tends to be a long, somewhat boring stretch. There are 2 "hills" for an otherwise flat course. They really aren't that challenging and are at the beginning of the race, so it's nice to get them out of the way.

Aid Stations: There was an aid station every 1.5 miles (or so). There were well stocked with water at every station and Gatorade at every other station. There was 1 station at about mile 8 with Glukos blocks and gels, but by the time we got there they had run out. I'm glad we decided to bring our own fuel! The volunteers at the stations were so wonderful and encouraging.

Other: The weather is always a factor in the middle of September. It was much improved from last year, but still humid. Luckily there was some cloud over and a nice breeze, which made it much more bearable.

Check out my full weekend recap at: http://sararunsthecape.blogspot.com/2017/09/rock-n-roll-philly-recap.html

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