Latest reviews by Brian
I just completed my first ultra-marathon this last Saturday. It was the Salmon Falls 50k Endurance Run and it was incredible. The course, volunteers, and race management all were top notch.
The registration was done through Ultra Signup and was $95.00 plus 5.98 for processing ($100.98 total). The fee pays for the race, finisher’s medal, and a light-weight jacket with the race logo on it. Registration was really easy and you get a lot for your money. The race benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JRDF), which is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research. Not only are you getting to do an awesome race, but get to help changes lives as well.
The packet pickup was at Gold Country Run and Sport in Folsom the day before the event. There was only one person in line at the time I was there and they were very organized. You picked up your bib, jacket, and a sample jar of Squirrel’s Nut Butter. The people from Squirrel’s Nut Butter were on hand to talk about their product and they had some larger jars for sale as well. I do wish that they offered race day packet pickup, but it wasn’t a big deal.
Parking and Transportation:
The morning of the race, you can hop on a school bus (they had 4 or 5) that will take you from the finish at Folsom Point to the start at the Magnolia Ranch Trailhead. The gates opened at 6:00AM and the buses left at 6:45. There were park restrooms that were open (three mixed gender stalls). There wasn’t anyone from the park at the booth and there were only a few envelopes in a box to pay for parking. I got one of the envelopes, but many people had to pay on their way out. There were plenty of parking spots though and volunteers directed people to the closest parking spots. People could also be dropped off at the start line or they had parking across the street.
It started out around 38 degrees at the start of the race and warmed up to the mid 50’s. It was nice during most of the race and there was a little breeze the last 2 miles that cooled you off. Even with the creek crossings, the temperature was never too warm or cold. The conditions were most likely a little more wet than normal because of the unusually wet winter. The creeks did shrink back to a decent level by race day though. A few weeks before, two of the creeks were impassable because of the runoff.
The course starts out at the Magnolia Ranch Trailhead where you run through a wet, marshy area. After about the first ½ mile, you come to the first river crossing. The water was just under my knees and there were steel posts with ropes to help guide you along the way.
Once you cross the creek, the climbing begins. You follow the “Connector Trail” as you run through the hills of Cronan Ranch. There are oak groves and meadows and you can see the American River below at certain spots. You go up a hill that is about a mile long (Hidden Valley Cut Off Trail) toward Pedro Hill. Once you get to the Cronon Ranch parking lot (first aid station), you begin to ascend the West Ridge Trail to the top of the ridge. You can look down at the Cronon ranch area as you are running on top of the ridge.
You start to descend and have an aid station part way down the long hill, which will take you to another creek crossing, which is about half way up your calf. There aren’t any ropes, but it wasn’t an issue at all. After the crossing, you head back up until you reach an overlook with manzanita on either side of you. You can see Salmon Falls, and Folsom Lake off in the distance.
This is where you start to descend toward the Salmon Falls Parking Lot, and the third aid station. On the way down that hill, you encounter the “Red Dragon” which gets its name because of its technical twists and turns as well as tons of rocks and red soil.
After the aid station, you cross a bridge and start to follow the Sweat Water Creek trail system. You run along oak groves, open grassy meadows, and plenty of views of the lake. This section (the last 20 miles or so) is made up of mainly rolling single tract trails. There are a few more aid stations along the way and you end up back at Folsom Point where the finish line awaits.
Each aid station had water, electrolytes, and coke in small cups. They also had an assortment of trail foods. They had pretzel sticks, M&M’s, PB&J sandwiches, salted baked potatoes, potato chips, Oreos and gels. I absolutely loved the pretzels and coke. The volunteers at the aid stations would refill your bottles and get you anything you needed and encouraged you while they did it. They were awesome!!!
As you cross the finish line, to awesome music, they called out your name. You were given a water and they put your finisher’s medal around your neck. They had a variety of soda and beer as well as burgers and soup. The food was great and the crowd was awesome.
The people from Captivating Sport Photos were at the race to take pictures. They offer you the pictures for free if you would like to download them or you can purchase prints from their website. I love that I get free pictures and they did an amazing job.
You get a light weight jacket with the race logo on the front. The jacket is a little big, but is nice. There are several areas of reflective piping as well. They were also selling hats for $20 each (proceeds went the JRDF as well). They had a trucker hat or runner’s hat. I bought the runner’s hat and really like it. The finisher’s medal has the race logo on a spinner. The whole medal and ribbon looks extremely sharp. It is one of my favorite medals (although that could be due to this being my first ultra).
I absolutely love this race. Everything was top notch from the course, to the management and the volunteers. There were plenty of aid stations and the SWAG rocked! I would highly recommend this race and I will be back!
The Golden Gate Half was one of my bucket list races and I got to check it off the list. The race used to be called the US Half Marathon. The idea of running across the Golden Gate Bridge and the awesome scenery were the main reasons why I was so drawn to this race. The temperature in San Francisco this time of year is fairly dependable and is perfect for racing.
SoFi and Muscle Milk
There were tons of emails that said where to park, what to bring with you, packet pickup/expo information and more. There were 4 emails the week of the event along. There was a lot of great information.
Starting Area and Parking
I got up at 2:30 to drive from Sacramento to San Francisco and get there by 5:30. I parked near Fort Mason in the Yacht Club parking area. None of the people who parked there knew if we were allowed to park there or where to go from there to get to the start. There could have been better signage and a better list of where to park and how much it would cost. There should have been some signs in Fort Mason that pointed people in the right direction since you needed to walk up some stairs and through a park to the starting line from the parking area that I was in.
The start was rather packed and it took several miles before it was easy to pass people. They could have organized the start a little better by either pace or in waves to reduce the congestion at the start. There were quite a few of walkers up front that you had to make your way around.
You start the race at the Muni Pier in Aquatic Park. You could get some great pre-race pictures with the Alcatraz and Ghirardelli in the background. Here is a breakdown of the course.
The race starts out by taking you immediately up a short hill and around to the marina and Presidio on your way to the Golden Gate Bridge. The course is fairly flat for the first 3 miles until you start your hill climbs.
The first hill is about 0.3 miles long with about a 60 foot elevation gain. Follewed by an equivalent downhill section. Then you start your biggest climb, about 250 feet of elevation gain over 1.5 miles. The next mile (from roughly mile 5-6) is primarily downhill and takes you to the Golden Gate Visitor Center where you get on the bridge.
You run along the Eastern sidewalk of the Golden Gate Bridge for the next mile. Where you head up to the vista point, which is a great location to take a quick selfie or bridge pic. The course then takes you on a gravel downhill section that winds under the freeway and up a small hill to the Western side of the freeway. Runners will run along the Western sidewalk of the Golden Gate Bridge until they get off the bridge.
The sidewalk on the Golden Gate Bridge was wide enough for 3-4 people to run side by side, but most of the time they were running 3 across and it was difficult to pass. You just had to plan your passing when there were opportunities.
After you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, you come to your final hill. A 100 foot elevation gain over 0.15 miles. You are rewarded by a 0.75 mile downhill stretch where you lose 150 feet of elevation. This is where you can make up some time. You follow the bay to Fort Point where which is the end of a short out and back. The last two miles consist of rough paved roads and running on hard packed sand as you pass Chrissy Field and finish at Yacht Harbor.
There is a total of 1,215 feet of elevation gain according to my Garmin. I felt that the most difficult part were the hills were between miles 3 and 5. Let me also say that my Garmin showed the race as being 13.2 miles, which can be explained by me not running tangents (cutting the turns closely). This is the most accurate race in terms of being close to 13.1 miles. Usually I find that races measure a little short or long. Great job in that aspect.
There were plenty of aid stations and they were well placed throughout the course. The Golden Gate Half Marathon had more photographers than at any race I have ever been to (which I thought was awesome). For most of the course, they had one street lane blocked off for runners and a wide pedestrian sidewalk.
There were pacers, but I am not sure how many. The one I saw only had a little white sign and it would have been hard to spot on the course. I feel that they could have done a better job in this respect. My recommendation would be to have more pacers and signs that are easier to see (neon colors).
The weather was in the mid 50’s to low 60’s and it was foggy. One of the key draws for me were the views, which you couldn’t see because of the fog. Not the races fault by any means. The temperature was great though and other than a fine mist, there was no precipitation, which is what was forecasted.
The expo was held the day before the race (Saturday, November 5th) from 10:00 AM-6:00 PM. You had to attend the expo to pick up your race bib and event tee unless you wanted to pay for one of the options that allowed you to either get the bib and timing chip mailed to you or wanted to pick up the bib on race day (both options have an additional fee associated with them).
You get a long sleeve tech tee when you picked up your race bib. The quality seems decent, but not exceptional. The design is nice and clean. I love the idea of giving away a long sleeved shirt since I have plenty of short sleeve shirts but only a few long sleeve race shirts.
As you cross the finish line, you get your medal and a water bottle. The medal is larger and heavier than any medal that I have received to date. It is at least 4” in diameter, maybe more, and looks great.
There was a virtual Swag bag that included discounts from various races like the Surf City Marathon & Half, 30% off the HipZipp, and 20% off goodies from the Divas Half and 5K. They also had discounts off Injinji, Brandinc, Pro Compression, and Uber plus a few others. Really, there wasn’t anything that I would use.
They did have food and goodies after the race. They had bananas, Kind Bars, Kettle Chips, and a few other samples.
Sierra Nevada was on hand for those people 21 and older. There were a few food trucks, one of which had some huge doughnuts for sale that looked amazing.
Muscle Milk had an area with Yoga mats and Trigger Point Rollers for people to stretch and roll after the race. You could also pick up a free bottle of Muscle Mile, which was awesome.
They also had a Sofi relaxation zone with round couches that had plenty of pillows. There were a few people taking naps. There were some picnic tables and nice padded benches to sit on.
Bark Thins was also on hand and was giving away samples as well as an area to play Corn hole and Backyard Jenga.
There was a large white tent that had tons of race booths, specialty health drinks and snacks to sample, clothing you could purchase, and the gear check.
They did have a gear check at the beginning of the race and you could get your stuff after the race in the big tent where they had the vendors. There weren’t any signs stating where you could pick up your gear and it was extremely unorganized. There were no lines and really no order of where they placed the bags from what I could tell. Just big piles of backpacks.
Why I would recommend the SoFi Golden Gate Half Marathon
1) Amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Baker Beach and more (weather permitting)
2) An awesome finishers medal and reusable water bottle
3) The experience of running across the Golden Gate Bridge
4) Challenging course
5) Usually great temperature (Average low: 52 degrees, Average high 66 degrees)
6) Several places to park within about ½ mile of the start/finish line (some locations are pay by the hour parking structures)
7) Tons of spectators
8) Plenty of aid stations
9) Great picture opportunities
10) Great post-race party
This was my first race that I traveled outside of the Sacramento area for so keep that in mind. I thought the information provided by the event via email and directions were well put together for the most part.
I was impressed by the course, aid stations, and amount of photographers on hand. There were a few things that could be improved upon including better pacing, parking directions, and where to pick up your gear. I really liked this race and would recommend it in the future. Any large event will have areas where they can improve and even thought I mentioned some negative things, you should know that the event was well put together and I hope to race it again in the future. Please let me know if you have any specific questions and I will be more than happy to answer them.
This is the third year that I have run the Urban Cow. The race is managed by Capital Road Race Management so it is very well organized with great aid stations, plenty of vendors, and beer after the race.
The race starts and ends at William Land Park, across the street from Sacramento City College, which is a beautiful park in Sacramento. You run through Downtown Sac, near the Tower Bridge, through Old Town Sacramento, and then you run along the river on the bike path.
The packet pickup is at Fleet Feet in Downtown Sacramento and there were no lines when I when Saturday morning. It also gives you a chance to pick up some last minute fuel or gear that you might need. There is also same day packet pickup and race registration at the event itself.
The race starts at 7:30AM and it was easy to find the pacers (in 5 minute increments). Some pacers banked time while a few were behind from what my friends said, but it is a nice feature to have at a race.
They had several bands along the course, tons of spectators to cheer you on, and aid stations about every 2 miles. There were several locations that had port-o-potties as well. There are some hills on the course, but nothing larger than going over or under a freeway overpass.
The temperature started in the low 50’s and when I finished (a little before 9:30) it was in the upper 50’s. Perfect temperature for racing.
At the finish line you could pick from granola, milk (chocolate or regular), strawberries, bags of healthy chips, several types of granola bars, a packaged lunch tray (pretzels, cheese, grapes, and carrots), and organic yogurt. They kept telling me to grab as much as I wanted and there were people taking small boxes of goodies with them.
You get a great medal (cow bell) and awesome tech-tee. I really don't have a bad thing to say about the race. It is a nice, fairly fast race, that’s all paved. I'll be back next year for year number 4.
The packet pickup was at Fleet Feet in Downtown Sacramento and there were no lines when I went Friday morning. It also gave me a chance to pick up some last minute fuel. There is also same day packet pickup and race registration at the event itself.
The race started at 8:00AM and we got there about an hour early. The race is located at Granite Point on Folsom Lake. It’s a state park and you have to pay $12 to enter the park, but there was plenty of parking right near the packet pickup and port-o-potties (which there were plenty of).
The start line is about ¼ mile from the parking lot and Hoka One One was there with shoes to demo. Fleet Feet was also there in case you needed some last minute shirts, hats, or other extra items.
There were two courses, the short course (6.6 miles) and the long course (11.2 miles). I did the long course and the course measured out exactly at 11.2 miles, which is the first race that was right on in terms of mileage. There was 571 feet of elevation gain on the long course and while there were a bunch of hills, there were only a few that were significant (although it’s all relative). The trails were clearly marked by orange tape on the trees and caution tape preventing you from going on the wrong trail. They also had chalk arrows for confusing points.
The race started on time and since this was my first trail race, I am only guessing that most trail races are like this, but it was rather jammed up for the first few miles. It was easy enough to pass people next to the trail through. There were aid stations at miles 4.25, 5.75, and 7.75. They had water and Nuun at each location.
It rained fairly hard the whole day before, but the course only had one or two muddy spots and the course was beautiful. The forecast from the day before showed steady rain and 20 mph winds predicted on race day, but that morning it was dry and the winds were almost non-existent. It was perfect!
At the finish line, they announced your name and time as you cross under the inflatable arch. They handed you a water and a stainless steel pint glass. Yolo Brewing was on hand where they had a few beers for you to try. You also got a burrito. They promoted fajitas, but there were no grilled peepers or onions. It was one awesome burrito, especially after a race. Much better than what I am used to at my half marathons.
There were tons of picnic tables and the atmosphere was really laid back. I loved the whole trail race experience and can’t wait to do another one. This was the inaugural Granite Head Trails and Ales. I plan on making this an annual event.
This is the first time I have raced the Capital City Classic 10 miler. The weather was great. It was about 58 degrees at the start with almost no wind. The race was fairly flat, with the exception of a few hills to get up and down the levees. It crosses the beautiful Tower Bridge in Sacramento twice and was really cool because as you are starting the race and cross the bridge, you see the Capitol building ahead of you.
You start in West Sacramento at Riverfront Park. They had about 20 port-o-potties, a sweat check, and a packet pickup line that only had one to two people in it at a time. You could even register that morning, I believe. There were bike paths for you to warm up and parking was a breeze, especially if you got there about an hour early. For those who came about a half hour before the race, there was plenty of parking, but it required a short walk.
The race started on time and the race directions were clear. They announced the route for the first mile or so, which was nice. We started with a left turn and proceeded about a half mile before we turned onto the Tower bridge. After the bridge you turn right and follow the bike trail along the levee. There were a few out and backs along the course and there were a few hills, but nothing terrible. The aid stations were spread out about every 2 miles, which was perfect and they were all stocked with Gatorade and water.
On the way back, with about 2 miles to go, you cross the Tower Bridge again and run along the other side of the river near Raley Field. There is one last hill with about 1/4 mile to go and you finish on the bike path above Riverfront Park.
The one complaint would be that there were no pacers. Other than that it was a great race and I will be back again next year. I was able to place 3rd in my age group (which was my first time placing). There were plenty of Corn Thins, Lara Bars, Bagles (with PB or Cream Cheese), Oranges, Bananas, and waters at the park.
I would definitely recommend this race! The views were awesome and A Change of Pace always puts on a great race.