Latest reviews by Karen Bayne

(2018)
"Missoula Half Marathon"
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The Missoula half marathon was half # 23 for me and everything I hoped it would be. Beautiful scenery, well organized and good weather, considering it is a summer race. This was my first time running the event and I traveled from out of state. I really enjoyed the expo location; it is a bonus the river path is so close by. I was fortunate and stayed in a hotel that was within a mile of the Adams Center where race shuttles leave from. I really enjoyed being able to walk to the shuttles and not have to deal with race traffic. The pre-race atmosphere was fun at sunrise. The community support is pretty good and there were numerous sprinklers, hoses, etc. to cool runners off during the race and plenty of aid stations/port-o-potties during the race. The course has very little elevation gain as advertised and most of it was shady! The volunteers and police officers were awesome and supportive. I loved the design of the finisher medal. The after race food was a great and in the same location as the expo, so it is a really nice area to hang out in and free printed after race photo….what’s not to love!?

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(2018)
"Theme Park Running Rocks"
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It is June in VA so it will be very hot and humid, but the event offered many different race distances and it just so happened the day we ran it was a torrential downpour, so for once I wasn't overheating! I was drenched and it was still fun. This is not about an exact distance, or PR's, it is really about fun. It is cool to arrive at the park early while it is quiet and run though before crowds of people show up and your race entry allows you to stay for the day and enjoy the rides. My one and only wish, they would run a few roller coasters so you could hop off the course and ride during the race, it really is a great package deal! We smiled the whole time.

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(2017)
"Parched in Margaritaville "
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I ran Panama City Beach Half marathon on Dec. 2, 2017 for the second year in a row. I hate to be a downer, but it was a tough race experience this year. I would recommend it, but want other racers to know what the course conditions were like. Panama City Beach, FL is beautiful, and obviously heat can always be a factor, but this year's weather was considerably warmer than last year! It was a very sunny clear day and the beach was looking gorgeous, but it was roasting warm on the course in the upper 70’s. Warm weather is fine, but there is an expectation race organizers will be prepared for that!

First, let me say this is a great race location, there are plenty of hotels to stay near by and and a huge parking lot by the finish/start line. Pier Park is a huge shopping area so bring $$ if you like the kind of thing!

This race typically offers pace groups, has a big crowd, is chip timed, and is one of the best finish lines area around.
It is an out and back course that offers pretty good views of the ocean. The race is very clear on the web page it is open to traffic and runners need to be responsible for their own safety, but I found this year to be much more challenging traffic wise. The first 6 miles of this race are pretty peaceful due to the 7:30 a.m. start and the lane is coned off. Traffic definitely picks up after the turn around point, but this year traffic was particularly heavy on the way back maybe due to the warmer weather. The running lane on the way back is quite narrow, and runners do thin out, but this year it seems there was a lot more negative interaction between runner and drivers. I witnessed a lot of horn blowing and close cutting cars.

The main issue this year was trouble with hydration, which happens to be the key to a happy race right?! The course is set up for the Half Marathon like this: Water and/or Gatorade will be on course at mile markers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9-12 and Start/Finish Line.
The first stop had no cups of water ready at all...no worries, I’ll catch the next one I thought. I was hoping this was a snafu due to late volunteers. In the heat by mile 3, it truly felt too long between stops. I was regretting not carrying my handheld or carrying a disposable. Mile 3 I had a cup of water and was a bit sad there was no Gatorade, it would have been very beneficial as hot as it was. Mile 5, I was dealing with stinging eyes from sweat and feeling the lack of hydration, I took two cups of Gatorade and could have easily gulped more. It helped for sure and on I went to the turnaround point. The mile 7 stop offered peppermints and water. I only took a sip and used most of the water to wash out my eyes. I really needed Gatorade to replenish. I sucked my peppermint and not long after I got a terrible cramp in my side. I am not sure if it was the mint or lack of hydration, but I was feeling miserable started walking more than I was running. Mile 9 had nothing, no cups or water...I couldn't believe it. I felt defeated. I kept walking a few steps running a few steps. Traffic was very heavy at this time too, I tried to look at the ocean and enjoy the beauty, but it was tough to stay positive under the circumstances. Mile 11 had a few jugs with just a tiny bit of water in them, no cups. We took swigs towards our mouths so we could share the jug without putting our lips to it. It was ridiculous and a few people just took the jugs and ran on. Next table had nothing...it was so hard to continue. I did realize later there were a few stores to my right and I did have my ATM card in my running belt. I could have went in and purchased some Powerade, but I so rarely ever run near stores it didn't occur to me until mile 12.
I will say, some folks pushed on and ran almost the whole race, the girls I stayed with had slower than usual races, but were able to handle the heat a tad better than me. I am very sensitive to heat sickness and didn't want to spoil my whole girls weekend, so I slugged towards the finish line, very hot, and a few times I had bad chills which resulted in a lot walking for me.

The finish area is a long pretty chute of shops, palm trees, people cheering, a loud DJ calling out names where everyone is from, but I was not feeling festive. I tried to focus on how fun the after party is at this event, but I could feel the tears welling up. Miles of frustration coming out.
As I crossed the line to my absolute personal worst half time ever, I got myself together and went to find my run buddies...it is just running after all, but it wasn't even a fun experience, to be on the course all those miles with no hydration, it took its toll.

Now here is the good stuff. The after party at Margaritaville is like no other and I didn't get heat sick because I walked so much, so I was able to hang out on the deck and enjoy the after party. Unlimited Landshark beer on tap. I was arriving almost 3 hours after the start time and the beer supply was plentiful. There is always a food option too, this year was rice and gumbo. Last year they had chili, so if you are vegetarian this obviously wouldn’t be good, but Margaritaville has a huge deck and you can order food. This is one race runners hang out for hours afterwards and it was really fun to socialize with many Instagram buddies and enjoy the sun. It is also great if you are with someone running the full marathon. You have free Landshark and a perfect view of the finish area, so you can wait for them to come in.
I saw on the FB page an explanation from race organizers that vendor did not fill the water order properly which resulted in shortage, but honestly I kind of expected an apology email at least. It was disappointing to travel and have that kind of race experience. All that said, since it is a beautiful race location, and the afterparty is so fun, I will probably run it again, but I will carry my own hydration for sure! I won't be caught in FL. heat again without some electrolytes.

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(2017)
"Peak to Creek Marathon "
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This race starts on Jonas Ridge and ends at Mountain Beach resort. The race web site says the course descent is 2,946 feet on mostly unpaved road, and when you hear that you think downhill race! The reality felt different to me. The downhill portion was a dream but that ends early in the run! I stayed in Lenoir, NC which was very convenient race morning, only about 35 minutes to the shuttles. Shuttles ride you from Mountain Beach resort, where parking is plentiful, to the start line and I was pleasantly surprised shuttles were actually very comfy tour buses! There was a store on Jonas Ridge that let us wait inside since it was a chilly morning. The first 10K of the course had slopes and hills that felt very challenging to me and I took the race organizers word to heart and kept the pace conservative. The bulk of the course was on unpaved road, the texture of which changed throughout the course. Some sections had tons of small rocks and that was hard on the tootsies. Oddly, the unpaved at the top felt easier to navigate than some sections in the later miles...some areas had little gravel cover and it was basically running on hard dirt which was nice, but I did have to navigate the flat stones carefully because they are slick when wet. It rained a few times during the race. The downhill section felt like a dream! Less resistance really does conserve some energy and running downhill made me feel like a superhero....till the course went flat! LOL Shortly after the half marathon point all the downhill is behind you and it is just flat road. I found going flat was hard on the mind because I felt so slow (even when I wasn't) and I still had a long ways to go and it was hard on the quads. Downhill running uses the quads up in a special way and it is a tough transition to train for unless you live in similar terrain. Thankfully the views are pretty great. There are lovely trickling waterfalls as you wind your way down the mountain, thick tree cover, a few wide open views of very lush green hills, and even a Christmas tree farm. The course is immersed in Fall colors. The course is open to traffic, most of the miles were pretty quiet, however the flow of cars did increase during the last 10K. It was a bit tough mentally when I felt worn out and had to watch around corners for cars. Any shed gear was carried to the finish area and I was able to retrieve my vest and gloves at the end, which was great. I did carry my own hydration and I was thankful or I would have really struggled. Stops were about 3 miles apart and I am not sure I could have gone that long. The aid stations were well stocked though and all the volunteers were very nice!! A few stations had cut up oranges which tasted amazing! Best marathon fuel ever :) The end of the course you run along side a fast flowing creek and the sound is very soothing. In the end, I crossed the finish line and got a very nice medal :) It is 26 freaking miles, I was elated! The race organizer David, is really great at communication and sends lots of information via email, this race has a very family feel to it. Limited to 400 runners it is a very unique way to run 26.2. It is not really trail or pavement, it is an experience that is right in between!

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(2017)
"Petersburg Half ~ #runPetersburg"
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This was my 3rd year running through Old Towne Petersburg and National Battlefield Park. The course is paved rolling hills, complete with soldiers in period dress reenacting civil war scenes with lots of booms and gunpowder in the air. This race has improved each year I’ve run it. The course was short the first few years, but this year it was a full 13.1 miles! I love the variety of this course, the park is really pretty and the hills are a fun challenge. I will warn you, the hills feel a little harder in the heat. This year it was warm, sticky 72 degrees, but last year it was a crisp 50 degrees. VA weather is a toss-up this time of year. The race course is well marked, and there is plenty of support is with police at busy intersections and Gatorade at several water stops. The finish line area is a really nice set up with plenty of food options as soon as you cross the finish line. I really enjoyed my very cold can of beer for each runner. Miller High Life in a cozie…nice touch :) The medal has been exceptional every year, but they really put out a monster this year, very cool design and it is the size of dinner plate, it is awesome!
I would recommend this race to anyone looking for something other than a flat course. I registered early so it was only $70. There is plenty of accessible parking in walking distance of the start/finish area and they offer race day bib pick up, which a lot of folks utilize, so come a few minutes early. The lines were long picking up shirts and bibs, but it was moving pretty well. The race shirt was a really awesome red tech shirt this year! You can’t go wrong running Petersburg, the swag and the course is really great!

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