Latest reviews by Phillip Way

(2016)
"Inspiring cause to run"
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The #22tooMany event is a wonderful fund raising event that I highly recommend anyone of any age to participate. The name of the event reflects the purpose. Every day 22 US Military Veterans ends his/her life. Every 65 minutes. The lack of VA support and financial resources are a focus to make additional help available for counseling and treatment for those who suffer from PTSD or other combat and life related difficulties and results in suicide.
Registration was easy. The use of Active.com was the main method to ensure your spot in the race, which did sell out and onsite registration or participation was full. The cost was low ($22) and the proceeds were sent to the charity. The event raised $8,000 through registration and donations.
Every runner was provided a bib and was able to select a photo card of a veteran who lost his/her struggles. My selection was in memory of CPL Jeffrey Mount, USMC 5/26/14.
The run location was in Tempe near Tempe Marketplace as a run by the river as an out and back track. The weather was perfect at 6 am when check-in began. There was no prior day check in available for the event. The event was well attended and pushed the start time back by approx. 30 minutes. The expo consisted of only a handful of groups which was good for the size. I picked up some great info on RWB and the group had by far the most runners at the event. Ragnar promotion events was also interesting to talk with and find resources for communication to find a team or start one.
As the event was a 5k on very low elevation solid footing paths along the water, there were no aid stations for the event. The course scenery was pleasant and the path had areas of shade as well as open to the sun. Proper hydration before the run would be a good idea on this one.
Parking for the event was plentiful as check in was at the Marketplace early in the morning. As this was a smaller event under 500 race management did a good job separating people into groups for the release at the start. Race management was a little backed up on registration in the am as I mentioned and it did slow down awards at the end, but everyone in attendance was appreciative and understanding.
The Medal at the end was fantastic. It represents the Boot, Rifle and Helmut of a fallen soldier being honored with the 22 surrounding the silhouette.
The run was very inspiring and motivational. I was pleased to finish 3rd with an average time of 7:32min/mi and a PR for a 5k event.
This was a run with purpose and the variety of people participating had different experiences personally with the lost lives. I think I will run this every year. It was not loud or an over the top type event, but perhaps it should be. Talking with fellow runners I spoke with a woman who was looking through the cards and found her husband. Running is a community. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to experience the purpose for one another to run.

Happy running!

PJ
twitter: @pjway1
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(2016)
"Grand Canyon Half Marathon - My 1st Trail race #NPS100 #GCHalf"
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Wow! What can I say?
This was one challenging race!
Let's start at the beginning. As a USMC Veteran, I truly appreciated the fact the event offered a discount race price for military veterans and active duty. Thank you #Vacationraces it was a wonderful surprise.
Ok, so I arrived very late after a long drive (nearly 6 hours) on packet pickup day and the staff was very helpful and kind to get me organized. Race Management needless to say was great during the entire event. Parking was easy to find and readily available both the day before and day of the race.
As a National Park race there are no cups allowed on the course, which is why as part of the swag runners were given the option to be provided a portable reusable running cup to fill at the water stations. Some runners opted for a camelback system they brought with them.
The weather was NOT cooperating on the Saturday before or the Sunday of the run. It was cold (30's) rainy, snowing, a little hail, the sun came out for a little, then back to snow and rain again. Conditions of the course were very hazardous and every runner was aware before the race began. Event management informed everyone that if by mile 3 it was too much, then turn back because after that point it would be difficult to get you out quickly. Miles 8 - 12 were told to be very rocky and footing will be a challenge. The truth is, once you got past mile 3 the mud just piled up everywhere. Runners, yes me, were challenged to use balance with speed and practice active recovery on the flats and downhill areas. The terrain was up and down hill with 5200' in elevation. I train daily at 7200' so the altitude was not too bad for me, but the weather was brutal. With that said, there are no bad running events or experiences! The footing could be summed up in one key word.....MUD! ....and lost of it which meant slipping and lost/wasted energy.
The scenery, when not looking down at your feet, was beautiful. If you take the time to look around, you might find some flowering plants covered in the light snow and deep red and brown rock from the Earth sitting all around or 100' pines that have been standing there for what seems forever.
The trail is the National Park service vehicle road that had deep ruts and large boulders blocking parts of the path. You could clearly see where makeshift detours were made. Many runners had to take to the sides of the road in hopes of shaking off a few pounds of mud attached to their shoes making the run all the more difficult. Eventually every runner that talked simply wanted to make it to the end and not give up. It was a very rewarding personal experience for many people, myself included.
The final (less than a) mile was after the trail ended and pavement, sweet pavement, was found leading to the finish line. At the end you could expect the typical recovery goodies, but the best part was the bling we work for (in addition to the accomplishment of finishing such a challenging event)! The medal is a solid design of a traditional arrowhead with a wonderful design on one side and a relief design of the canyon on the other with the name and date of the event engraved. The running shirt had a similar design as part of the swag from the event and I look forward to running around wearing it.
Somehow I managed to finish in the top 16% of all runners even after stopping to help 2 injured runners along the way. I know this run would have been even more enjoyable with better weather conditions, but its all part of our personal test I guess. Still, I highly recommend running this event. This was my first trail run, and boy did I pick a doozy. This is certainly one of my top three races that I know I will never forget.
Good Luck on your next race. Thanks for reading. Hope to see you out there!

PJ

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(2016)
"First Time Warrior Dash"
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My children and I decided to run the Warrior Dash in Phoenix for a change of pace from the typical running event I enjoy. My son and daughter did no direct training although they are athletic. The race day event was on a bright and sunny day with great weather. Finding parking at the event was easy. Race management was well organized. My daughter didn't make the decision to actually join the race wither brother and me until we arrived at the event. The onsite registration was easy and quick. After purchasing her a pair of shorts to go with her new swag t-shirt she was ready to go.

Waves were organized in 15 minute intervals that could be selected during the initial registration. At the sound of the horn for our wave, we were off and running. The course began through the baseball park and around the outfield and back out through the park. After about 1 mile of running the stairs and through the park we arrived at several obstacles. Climbing walls, jumping logs, crawling under barriers....once we addressed the best method we moved through the challenges fairly quickly. The second mile brought some rocky terrain and it took care to keep your footing. This area slowed the pace and was at least in the shade to keep cool from the sun. The obstacles continued throughout the second mile with greater confidence and speed for the kids. The third and final mile was some the best fun we had on the run together. The obstacles were bigger, wet and very muddy. There was no avoiding the tall towers and the mud pit under barbed wire. Running was all but over as the challenge was no longer about the distance to run. It was about balance, focus and having a good time.
The course flat and level for most of the event as was not something that most serious runners might do for running sake. The park was nice and the weather perfect but not much in the way of scenery. Aid stations were well placed and frequent with plenty of water. The after event party was certainly geared toward the 21+ crowd and had a positive atmosphere. The medal was a sturdy Viking helmet and nice Warrior Dash shirt was included in the swag.
Overall I would recommend running one of these events at least once. It is definitely something to do with others, like your family or friends. Don't take it too seriously for competition in most cases, instead have fun with it. This was the first event my kids have ever entered with me associated with running and it certainly made memories for us.
Good luck on your next race!

PJ

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(2016)
"Enjoyable race down and back"
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To begin with, as with all my race choices, date is important. The race was being held during an election year on the same weekend as the Presidential candidates being in town. Clearly not within control of the race management during the organization of the event. There may have been a number of other events that weekend as all the hotels in the area were sold out, so be certain to book your hotel early! I bring my family with me to every race and event and make long weekends, so I was sure to book a room with one of the race hotels which was not necessarily more convenient or cost effective as it turned out. There was some savings of about $20 per room, but on a weekend when everything was sold out it was nice to have a dedicated room available.
I picked up my packet the day before the race and it can be described in one word...small. There was little for purchase, deals or discussions on running. It was in a beautiful hotel reception area but not many vendors. To my pleasant surprise the local Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce was offering racers a $20 gift card for use at a number of area participants. This turned out to be a great deal for our after race lunch at a pizza place!
On race morning, the race was easy to find and parking was plenty. I arrived 40 minutes or so before the race and was able to walk around a bit as teams had tents set up. Most racers arrived about 20 minutes before race time. They announced about 2000 participants (walk, 5k, 10k and half) and the corrals formed about 15 minutes before the race start time. Corral times were broken down into 30 minute increments and the group start for 10k and half was at 7:00 am with the 5k and walkers at 7:05.
As the sun was rising it was a beautiful race with scenery. The run was a switch back at mile 6.5ish so you know the hills climbing or going down hill in one direction meant just the opposite on the way back.
Mile 1 & 2 were slight inclines the entire distance. 3 & 4 were nice down hills and 5 & 6 were flatter with minor turns and brief ups and downs. As you near the turn around point there was a notable up hill run which provided relief on the turn around, but in reverse the lengths remaining were longer and steeper uphill that was enjoyed as a downhill minutes ago. Miles 8 though 10 were taxing as the morning heated and up hill inclines. The final miles were less challenging and a good relief.
Throughout the run, there were great views of the surrounding mountains, shadows across the land as the sun rose, and the beautiful cactus all around. The elevation was not a factor but that may depend on your running habits. I run daily at an elevation of 7200' as a note.
Water stations were well placed. A few of the stations had a flavored water that was not marked in the tables and could catch you off guard if you are looking to dump a little on your head. The volunteers were encouraging and ready to support all the runners.
At the end of the race there was plenty of water and a photo op stations with your new and nicely designed medal.
I made a wonderful connection with a race group that is focused on supporting wheelchair athletes and pusher participants. My daughter has special needs and I had the opportunity to enter one race with her in her chair about a year ago. I am looking to purchase an actual running chair and connect with the group further for future races.
I would recommend the race for personal satisfaction, the scenery, and the challenge of the distances for each incline.

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(2016)
"January in the Desert"
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The Rock N Roll series is always reliable for a good time. The expo was solid with good vendors and opportunities to try snacks and buy gear. Running in Arizona is always good for elevation and in January it is also good for the weather. Not too hot and not too cold. Parking for the expo and the event was adequate and available. As for scenery, well Arizona is a wonderful state and the Phoenix area is a great place to run anytime. A few areas in the later miles were less exciting with little interesting to look at but that is very short lived as you get near the waterfront and back into the road areas. The event course was all road and clearly marked. The bands playing throughout the course were very good. I love the creativity of the bands and the variety of music played. The course had plenty of Aid stations well spread out about every 2 - 2-1/2 miles with port-a-potties available about every 3 or 4 miles. The final miles bring you right to the waters edge and to a beautifully open park. The event permitted my family to sit and wait in a nice area. After the run, there were massages available, cold beer and music. Better than Ezra was the band featured and one that I have always enjoyed. My kids danced and sang the songs we all knew.
The hardware was great with Arizona colors and the captured image of runners and music at the same time. Race management did a solid job and you could hardly tell they were there which is a compliment to how efficient they ran the event. I would definitely recommend the Arizona Rock and Roll Half Marathon or any of the RockNRoll series. I look forward to running several others later this year. Hope this review was helpful in the highlights and personal experiences.

Happy Running!

PJ

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