Latest reviews by Christopher McManus

(2018)
"Hilly Half Marathon"
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Sunday was the Half Marathon for the Runner’s World Festival. The weather was not in our favor as it had been for the 5K and 10K, it was around 40 degrees with some decent wind as well. Warming up for this race was crucial and having the parking lot areas nearby to warm up in was awesome. For more information about the expo please see my review of the 5K. The race started promptly at 8:00am.

The course did a quick loop around the block before heading to the Philip J. Fahy Memorial Bridge like the 5K and 10K. After crossing the bridge the course differed from the 10K and took us through a residential area down West Lehigh Street. Once we hit the third mile is when the course started to get pretty hilly. The climb lasted until just after mile 9, there were several flat sections between the hills but not many downhill just yet. We passed by Moravian College on our way to Monocacy Park. Throughout this part of the course there were residential areas, rural areas lined with trees, and businesses. Once we hit mile 9 the course took us back in the direction of the Fahy Bridge with a long decent down Center Street and Main Street. Once you hit the bridge it is all familiar territory as you head down Columbia Street towards Sands Casino for the final Mile.

The course was more difficult than I imagined with all the hills however I felt that the flat sections after the climbs offered a nice reprieve to catch your breath. To reiterate, though from miles 3-9 you are mostly running uphill it isn’t all in one straight shot. There were many breaks to keep you motivated.

The course had many aid stations stocked with water and Gatorade, and one aid station with gels. I found that some of the aid stations were hard to spot, ones with few volunteers at them. There were also several unofficial aid stations from residents with snacks and drinks which I thought was very nice of them. Since the course took us through many residential areas there seemed to always be some spectators cheering you on.

After the race they had bagels, bananas, nature valley bars, water bottles, and popcorn.

I did like that there was a special half marathon medal for the grand slam runners that had magnets for the other medals to connect to. It made it more rewarding to see all the medal combined after running all those races back to back.

Whether you’re running this race as a standalone or as part of a multi-distance category I think it was the best race of them all. It really showcased the different parts of the city and still provided a fun challenge.

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(2018)
"10K of your dreams"
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The 10K at the Runner’s World festival was back to back with the 5K. Runners who ran any of the multi-distant categories had only about 45 minutes after the 5K before racing again. Since I ran the Grand Slam I ran both races. See my previous review on the 5K for more detail about the expo, parking, and accessibility. This race started promptly at 9:30am.

The 10K course started at the Bethlehem Steel complex and followed the same route as the 5K to the Philip J. Fahy Memorial Bridge. Knowing about the uphill climb of the bridge from the 5K was a plus. After we crossed the bridge we went left and made our way to Conestoga Street which runs along Monocacy Creek. I found this to be the best park of the race due to the scenery. After that is when the course gets a bit more challenging. It’s just after mile 2 at this point and then next 1.5 miles was pretty much all an uphill climb. The course cuts down a few different streets during the climb which if you weren’t prepared for the climb could be disheartening. However at mile 3.5 you get to enjoy 1.5 miles of downhill as you make your way back to the Fahy Bridge. The final miles follow the same course as the 5K, down Columbia Street and past Sands Casino. Again, knowing about the small climb toward the casino was key so you could reserve some energy for the climb.

After the race they had bottled water, bananas, pretzels, and nature valley bars.

My overall thoughts are that this is a fun race with more challenges than the 5K, and better scenery as well. You get to run through more of the city and see more of the sights and you get a decent amount of downhill time as well. The aid stations were stocked with water and Gatorade and spaced out perfectly across the course. Whether you’re running this race by itself or as part of a multi-distance category I think it’s must run race.

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(2016)
"Best race to date."
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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! "
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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"
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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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