Latest reviews by Christopher McManus

(2016)
"Best race to date."
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was my first time running any of the big six marathons, boy was this little Maui boy in for an eye opening experience. I feel like this race was so great that I will forever be let down when I run other races.

Expo: This was by far one of the biggest expos that I've been to save Honolulu. It was so well organized, which is had to be with so many runners. We got an email with our bib number and a QR code, which was even Apple Passbook capable. So when I got to the first station I scanned my code from my phone that checked me in a gave me a station number. At my station my name and bib number were already in cue making it easy for them to give me my bib. Next we walked all the way through the expo to the end where our swag bags and finisher shirts were. They scanned our code again and made sure we got the correct shirt. Then there were all the different vendors including but not limited to Nike, Fleet Feet, Aftershokz, Nuun, and so so many more! Tons and tons of swag in the bags for us!

Race morning: Getting to the race start was pretty overwhelming. I have to enter through a specific gate in order to get to my corral. Then go through a security checkpoint where they check your bags, and then still another checkpoint at the gates to my corral to make sure I had the matching letter on my bib. The MC did a great job keeping the crowd moving and entertained as we made our way up to the start. The race started on time and was very prompt form corral to corral.

Race: It's really difficult to recall all the different roads and neighborhoods that we went through for me not being a Chicago native. You can get a more detailed and specific description of the course on their website. The things that stuck out the most for me were how flat the course. The only real hills were going up over bridges or under an underpass, except for in the final .2 miles there is on pretty steep hill. I thought that it wasn't terrible because the crowd was raging loud enough to push you up the hill. The course went all around that city so there were parks with beautiful fall colored trees, residential areas, and through big cityscapes. Absolutely breathtaking!

Aid Stations: each aid station was about a block long. They don't mess around here! The first half was all Gatorade and the second half was water. There was an aid station that had Power Gels in many different flavors that they passed out, some with caffeine and some without. Then towards the ladder end of the race there were three different aid stations with bananas.

Parking/Access: it was a very accessible race location. I didn't have a car so I cannot say how the parking was like but the buses, trains, and taxis made it very easy to go to and from the race. I will note because this is probably one of the biggest faults of the race is that to leave the finisher chute you have to walk down a flights of stairs. I'm sure everyone complains about this, I didn't find them terrible at all. I mainly just wanted to mention so they future runners would know to expect that.

An extra fun fact is that there were Nike Run Club pacers who were perfectly on time! Something to keep in mind is that if you need someone to run with then they will be there for you. I think this is one of the best races I have ever done so I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to have a fun Marathon!

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(2016)
"Half the distance, double the satisfaction! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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Thumb photo sep 18  07 10 47

This was my third year in a row running at this event. It's one of my favorites because I love that this race is big enough to actually have an expo and tons of sponsors to make the race very exciting! This event is the longest running marathon series west of the Mississippi, so it's pretty big for Maui standards.

Expo: communication about the expo was very limited. I received an email several weeks ago with the time and location, and then nothing until the night before with only our bib number. I headed to the Westin Maui Resort & Spa where the expo was held and was very aggravated to find out that the resort would not allow me to park on their property even though they were hosting the expo. I was directed to park at the neighboring shopping mall garage, where if you aren't an employee like I am you would have to pay $3.00/half hour to park there. Despite this annoyance the expo itself was wonderful! The bib check in was very organized and smooth. I got a draw-string sack with tons of swag from local restaurants and businesses, and was even more impressed with the finisher's t-shirt. It was a light material tech shirt with the Maui Marathon logo in a light green. Lots of good vendors and the Maui Marathon gear that had for sale had great variety.

Race Morning: I arrived at the event a tad too early as I was expecting parking to be crazy, which is was about 20 minutes after I arrived. The options were either to park in the shopping mall garage (lucky me for the cheap parking as an employee) or to park at the Lahaina Civic Center and take one of the provided shuttles over that ran every ten minutes.

There were tons of port-a-potties so the lines went quickly. The announcers did a great job of explaining the course in English and Japanese - the main sponsor is Japan Travel Bureau - so lots of Japanese flew over just for this race. There weren't any corals which might have helped with the almost 1000 runners but it made the first mile fun to zig zag around everyone.

The race started with the gun and we were off down Kaanapali Parkway. The road was shut down for us which was nice, then at the end of the parkway were headed south down Honoapiilani Highway. We stayed on the highway for about 2.5 miles then took a right down Front Street (to point out the course was almost all along the coast). Again all of Front Street was shut down for us which was nice - this is one of the busiest roads in Lahaina. It was actually pretty cool to run by all the buildings and restaurants without any other people around. The view was pretty unique for someone who is used to seeing tons of people shopping and walking. At the far south end of Front Street we jumped back on the highway for another mile and a half until we reached Launiupoko Beach Park for the halfway point and turn around. It was a very noticeable turn around so no one would be able to miss it. Then we returned to Kaanapali along the same route. Finishing just before sunrise was great because it hadn't had the chance to get too hot yet.

Aid Stations: all stations were stocked with water and powerade, then what was really cool was each stations was sponsored by a different business or organization. So some stations had fresh fruit for us, others had cups of pretzels or cookies. It was a pleasant surprise.

Post race: there was a long covered tent right after the finish line with tons of water, fresh fruit, bagels, and Jamba Juice frozen shakes.

Overall a great event and really fun and flat race, which is good as it is the only race on the island that is a Boston Qualifying race. I do want mention that the weather was a beautiful clear day, which wasn't good for the full marathon runners. That meant they were in full sun for the last 6 miles, that's why I prefer the half since you finish before the sun rises. Hope to see you next September to run with me!

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(2016)
"Loving the Trails"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
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Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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Thumb photo aug 20  11 19 11

I have been a big fan of Xterra races since moving to Maui. The Adventure Fest is a newer race, and as such I had to try it out. I knew that this race would be a little different than the Xterra that I’m used to, which was good to already have in my mind because it really was different.

Race Morning: They had us arrive at 7:00am on race morning to pick up our packets. I was a little early, naturally, I found it to be a little disorganized most likely because they were just opening and getting everything organized. However there was a keiki (child) race which a lot of schools had teams put together which cause a lot of confusion. For me however, since I had already signed up was very easy for me to get my bib and shirt.

Then the waiting began for me. Just after 8:00am they began the Keiki 2K. They ran two different heats, one for girls and one for boys. They waited for all the girls to finish before starting the boys. It was really cool of them to offer this, the kids had a lot of fun and it was encouraging them to be active. I was happy to be on the sidelines supporting the keiki. Maui Spider Jump was one of the sponsors and hade four bungee jump trampolines set up for the kids to jump on once they finished.

Once all the keiki finished their race then they started the 5K. We had to wait for all the 5K runners to finish before they would start the 10K. This was pretty annoying for me as they usually have the 10K start first then start the 5K. Waiting around for all the 5K runners to finish was a drag because it was a hot and sunny day, no shade in the middle of the field, and only music playing to keep us entertained.

Finally it was time for the 10K to start, 40 minutes late. The course started down the field we were in then up a small staircase that took us into the trail. The first mile of the trail was up the side of the ridge in a narrow path. Once at the top we hit a paved road and went down a steep hill. At the bottom we cut through the bushes and crossed the creek bed, which was luckily dry. Then it was up a trail that took us to the Kapalua Village Trails, while ducking under fallen logs and jumping over some smaller branches. Once we got to the Village Trails we spent about half a mile on the paved trails before heading back into the trail. Running up this part of the course was pretty steep but really fun. At one point there was a fallen tree about chest height that we have to climb over, definitely a fun obstacle. At the top of the trail we made it to the duck pond and ran around the pond, into the woods and ran a switchback set of trails until reaching the duck pond again. Then our descent began. This part of the trail was not mowed down at all, just matted down from the runner ahead of me. The decent was pretty steep in some spots, but very fun with a mixture of terrain, dirt, pavement, grass, tree roots, and mud. When we made it to the bottom we went into a different trail that took us back to the trail down to the creek, back up the paved hill, and down the ridge back to the start.

The course was very well marked with cones, arrows, and course marshals to make sure that we didn’t get lost.

Aid Stations: There was 2 aid stations stocked with water and Gatorade, one of which we passed twice. So we would have had 3 chances to rehydrate.

Parking: There was an entire field where people could park and there was plenty of space for all the runners and their families. There wasn’t any parking fees either which was nice.

T-Shirt/Swag: The finisher shirt is totally awesome! The logo is a shoe print with the Xterra “X,” the Hawaiian Island with Maui in bold, a bike tire, and ocean waves all made to look like the tread of the shoe print. It’s not a tech shirt but it is a light cotton which is great to just casually wear around in the Maui heat. They also gave out Xterra temporary tattoos.

Regardless of the confusion with packet pickup and the delay in the start time I would still recommend this race. The course was very fun and really embraced ideals of a good Xterra race with lots of varying terrain to keep it exciting.

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(2016)
"Holy Hill"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Parking/Access
Race Management

This was the first time that I ran this race, it's one of those hidden gem races that I never knew about. I'm so glad that I did run it because it was a great race and post-race morning. This race is hosted by the Valley Isle Road Runners, a local running group that hosts a bunch of fun races throughout the year. They have a free group run every Wednesday night just to bring people together who love running. Last year they had about 75 runners in their race and this year they had 175, so a nice jump up.

Expo: I couldn't make it to the expo due to my work schedule, but I heard it was just a packet pick-up. More on their swag later.

Parking: the race started at the municipal parking lot in Wailuku, which on a Saturday morning was completely empty. There was a ton of parking, even more than they needed.

Course: This race is a 3 mile climb up to Iao Valley about with a 900 foot elevation increase, and then decrease as you head back down. There were two intersections, crossing Vineyard St to Main, and Main to Iao Valley Rd; both intersections has traffic cops. The weather ended up being pretty wet, which made me nervous with the elevations change but I didn't notice any slippage. The scenery was beautiful coming down the hill as the height we were at gave us a good vantage point of the East Maui Mountains.

Aid Stations: there were two aid stations with water and Gatorade. One at mile 2 that your would hit twice (on the way up and down), which they even ran the table across the road so it would be on the correct side when we passed it again. The other one was at the top of the road in the valley, even a set of pot-a-potties there too.

Post Race: they had a TON of refreshments for us once we finished. Strawberries, watermelon, cookies, krispy kream donuts, chips, Starbucks coffee, and lots of water. Then they used our bib tags for a ton of raffle drawings: over 15 restaurant gift certificates, tubes of joint supplement (one of the race sponsors), with the grand prize being a treatment of choice at the spa at Andaz Wailea.

All in all a well organized, fun, and challenging race! If your in the neighborhood this time of year then don't miss this race!

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(2016)
"Maui's best kept secret race!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb kahakuloa

I will start out by saying that this is by far the most difficult but rewarding course on Maui. The race is very popular and caps racers at about 200, so it is very small. Proceeds are donated to an organization that is restoring the Hawaiian Congregational Church in Kahakuloa. For any runner looking for a challenge and to run for a cause I highly recommend this race to you. The race offers a solo half marathon, 2 person relay team, and a 4 person relay team. So there is distance levels for any runner.

Expo: I wasn't able to make it to the expo due to my job. However because the race is so small it is more like a packet pick-up than expo. It was conveniently located at Sports Authority (one of the last ones around) so you could grab any last minute fuel or gear at the same time.

T-shirt: The shirt was not a tech shirt losing a star for that, but the design and color were very unique this year. The shirt is a dark teal with graphic of Maui and the Hawaiian Congregational Church on it, the same symbol as the medal.

Aid Stations: There were seven of them on the course each with water and Gatorade. They were spaced out based on distance, but some of them just felt like they were in the right spot. Meaning that some were right before a big hill to keep you hydrated on your way up, and others were at the top of the hill as a reward for your efforts.

Course Scenery: The race starts at DT Fleming Beach Park and merges to Route 30. From there we follow the road up north all the way to Kahakuloa, very straight forward course. Once you cross onto route 30 the Plantation Golf Course is on the right, the #1 ranked golf course on Hawaii, and the ocean on your left - the ocean is almost always within view during the entire race. After the first of many hills you come up on Makuleia Bay on the left, commonly referred to as Slaughterhouse Beach, a small hidden beach. Then you come to the southern tip of Honolua Bay - a Marine Sanctuary that's a prized snorkel destination - heading down hill you come to a single car bridge inside a canopy of trees then once you get to the top of the north side you get to see the full view of the bay that is stunning. The next stop is Honokohau Bay which has the steepest hills of the course, both down and up. Once you get to the top for the next few miles it is a lot of twisty hills that aren't so so steep but consistent. The next amazing spectacle is Poelua Bay (see my picture). The next few miles are blessed with either views up the mountain or down to the ocean, so even if you start bogging at the hill at this point you cannot help but enjoy yourself. Then around mile 12 the road get kinda tricky, it narrows down to a single lane road with the rock wall on one side and the no guardrail cliff on the other. Cars need to be very careful at this point because there are only certain points where there is enough space to pass, which might mean backing up the hill to a safe spot. As a runner at this point you are zigzagging between cars where there is space to do so. Some cars do get a little to uncomfortably close to you but as you're on the home stretch you just keep trucking on forward.Coming to the crest of the last hill you can see the finish line at the bottom right by the church making your goal in sight for the final downhill.

Elevation Difficulty: As described it is all hills where the down hills are almost more taxing than the uphills. My app tracked an 1150 foot elevation climb between all the hills.

Parking: DT Fleming Beach Park has tons of free parking, more than enough. The race also provided shuttles back to the start from Kahakuloa. Most people car pool on the way back, especially the relay racers because they have a car at the finish.

Race Management: This race is very organized, Rudy is an amazing Race Director. He is very responsive via email and willing to answer any questions. He really thinks of everything, so when you run a Runner's Paradise race you know it is well managed.

My final comments are that you should definitely run this race at least once. The scenery alone should be enough to convince anyone. Yes the road can be driven, but by actually running it you get a better sense of the area and can really appreciate everything. Don't worry about the hills, walk if you have to but don't miss this race!

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