Latest reviews by Lissa Nypaver

(2018)
"Bounce and Run and Bounce and Run"
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In 2015 I did the Insane Inflatable 5K Charlotte (which was actually in Rock Hill, SC) race and ever since, my daughter has been super jealous. "You got to run on bouncy houses!?! I WANT TO DO THAT!!" Well, this was the year that we decided at 7 she was old enough to put in the training necessary for the race. Because while it is totally fun it is also a pretty tough workout.

The race was held in Concord, NC just north of Charlotte near the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The location was on a big field across from one of the smaller tracks and was mostly grass with some gravel. There was plenty of onsite parking as the venue is used for huge events all the time but parking did cost $10. You could pick up packets early but we just got ours the morning of the race. There was a small event expo area with several vendors giving out samples of Powerbars and energy drinks, fitness companies selling stuff like socks and headbands and the usual random insurance companies and so on giving out pens and coozies. There was even a warm-up bouncy house that my daughter spent some time in pre-race.The event lasts for half the day with multiple start wave times which were very well organized by a very enthusiastic DJ who kept the crowd pumped with dance music. We chose the 10:30 wave as it was Nov. and a bit on the chilly side hoping it would warm up some, which it sadly did not.

Every 15 minutes, groups were released to enter the course. 11 obstacles (was supposed to be 12 but 1 was deflated and just sadly sitting there in a puddle) were spaced throughout the curvy route which was marked with orange cones. The obstacles ranged from rope climbing up an inflatable wall and sliding down the slide and running through giant beach balls to weaving in and out of an inflatable obstacle course and running over a giant blow up mattress. Both the Start and the Finish lines were giant inflatable slides.

The race itself was crazy fun. I did it with my little one and my brother, neither of which are what you would consider serious runners, and we had a blast. The obstacles were spaced no more than .2 - .4 miles apart so it was just quick sprints from one to the next and tbh, the transitions off the obstacles were the hardest part. The course had a single aid station with plenty of water and gatorade. There were lots of volunteers to keep racers on course but you could pretty much see the next obstacle ahead. Several of the obstacles had event photographers and photos were free. My husband tagged along to take pictures since it was the little one's first 5K and he was never waved off the course.

It was a lot of fun, the little one loved it and we were all exhausted once it was over. There is no timing for the event and you can pretty much spend as much time on the course as you like. Lots of walkers participated so it's friendly for all levels. There was a bit of line build up at one or two of the obstacles, but for the most part, things ran smoothly.

When you cross the finish (which is a giant slide) you are given a medal and pass by a table to receive your event shirt. No youth sizes, adult sizes only so my little is using hers as a nightgown. They were your basic white cotton unisex tee with a color event logo on it. I don't typically keep these, but my brother gets lots of wear out of his, so it is really your preference.

My only major issue with this race is that each year there seems to be some kind of date/location change so it is challenging to do long term planning. One year the Charlotte race was in Rock Hill (which frankly was awesome for me, the Start was 2 miles from my house, I just ran there) and then it moved to Concord another. The 2017 race was in November and the 2018 one will be in June. I'd prefer a bit more consistency, but overall it is a super fun race and I will continue to do it as long as I can find a crew to come with me. Definitely the type of race that way more fun the more people you have with you. I've already registered for the 2018 race with an even bigger group!

THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2017 RACE. I MADE THE REVIEW IN 2018 AND AM UNABLE TO CHANGE THE DATE (OOPS)

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(2018)
"Rocking and Rolling the 5K"
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I did the 5K as a part of the Rock n Roll Savannah Remix Challenge, having done the Half the day before. Signing up for the race was a breeze. Emails were aplenty from the Rock n Roll team and I always felt like I knew what was going on. The Expo, was held at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. It was super easy to get to (the previous year there had been some construction that caused issues) and we arrived around 4:00. There were attendants to help with parking, but there were ample spaces.

The Expo was super well organized. The packet pick up area was large and had great signage. The race had sent out your bib numbers the week before so as long as you had those (which we did) you walked straight up to the correctly numbered table and got your bib. Those of us who were running multiple races were also given a wrist band to collect our Remix Medal after the 5K on Sunday. After bibs, you took your bib to the area for shirts and they tore the tab off your bib and gave you your shirt. There was an exchange area for you to change out your size if necessary. The shirts were a bit snug, so I'm glad I traded up. It was super easy, barely and inconvenience.

The races didn't start until 1 pm, so there was no reason to set an early alarm (YAY!) plus, it was actually the start of Daylight Savings which means I get even MORE sleep. It was AWESOME and much needed. I think it was the first time I've ever started a race, especially and out of town race, so well rested.

The 5K took place at Savanah Banana Stadium, (actually called William Grayson Stadium, but I just love saying Savannah Banana). our car to head over to the Savannah Banana Stadium. Parking was a breeze. Since it was held at a baseball stadium, there was parking a plenty. Plus, there were a lot less people running the Day 2 races. There was a small festival area set up around the stadium and pre-race the bathrooms and the stadium were open. The finish line was inside the stadium, so spectators could sit in the stands and cheer on the finishers.

The start line of the 5K was very well organized with well marked Waves. It was a rolling start where the first wave was released and then whenever you made it to the start, you went, not official other Wave starts. I hit the timing mat and was off. I had a bit of trouble getting out of the crowd at first, but it cleared fairly quickly.

The route was beautiful. You ran through a beautiful residential area with huge oak trees draped in Spanish Moss and cute little gardens all over. The course had several turns and I have a terrible sense of direction, so quickly lost track of where I was, but had no issue following the course. It was super flat as well. There was a water stop halfway through which I passed. They were handing out full water bottles instead of cups which I thought was a bit clunky, especially for a 5K.

The 5K finished in the baseball stadium which was a bit awkward because you had to run into the stadium and through a side gate with a bit of a step down in to sand, but there were race volunteers warning about the step down, so it wasn't really an issue.

I checked my watch as I crossed the finish line and I knew it would be a squeaker whether or not I hit my goal But alas, I missed it by 3 seconds with a 26:53 finish. Much like the Half, there were plenty of volunteers handing out the cute medals (the 5K was a Trolley, keeping with the transpiration theme) and again there were pretzels, trail mix and water bottles given out. I waited for my friends to finish, got my free finisher beer, and picked up my Remix Medal, which we had been given a wrist band to get at Expo.

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(2018)
"Rocking and Rolling in Savannah"
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Disclaimer: I received a free entry into the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah half marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Signing up for the race was a breeze. Like most races, the earlier you registered, the less expensive and there were ample discount codes, including a $15 off one from BibRave. Emails were aplenty from the Rock n Roll team and I always felt like I knew what was going on. The Expo, was held at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. It was super easy to get to (the previous year there had been some construction that caused issues) and we arrived around 4:00. There were attendants to help with parking, but there were ample spaces.

The Expo was super well organized. The packet pick up area was large and had great signage. The race had sent out your bib numbers the week before so as long as you had those (which we did) you walked straight up to the correctly numbered table and got your bib. Those of us who were running multiple races were also given a wrist band to collect our Remix Medal after the 5K on Sunday. After bibs, you took your bib to the area for shirts and they tore the tab off your bib and gave you your shirt. There was an exchange area for you to change out your size if necessary. The shirts were a bit snug, so I'm glad I traded up. It was super easy, barely and inconvenience.

We stayed with friends and our kind host offered to drive and drop us off at the race so I can’t say much about parking. I do know passes were for sale at the Expo in addition to Shuttle passes. She was able to get pretty close even with lots of the streets closed and we only had to walk about 3 blocks to the start area. The area was really well organized with lots of PortaPotties and the Waves were well marked.

The race started right on time, immediately after the singing of the National Anthem, the first Wave was released and each Wave made their way continuously to the start. When I arrived to the start, I took off as I hit the start mat and didn't have too much trouble getting out of the crowd as the waves were broken up nicely (I think I heard someone say there were 16 waves.

I really enjoyed the course. Savannah is literally what you would expect a city in the deep south to be. Charming, beautiful, draped in Spanish Moss and pretty darn flat. And the people of Savannah were super kind and gracious to the runners. It truly lived up to it's nickname of Hostess City of the South. There were people on the side of the course cheering THE ENTIRE ROUTE. I have never run a race where that has happened before. And not only cheering (which let me say just how many sweet older ladies I saw ringing bells and waving, so cute), but offering things as well. Impromptu aid stations, with things like boxes of tissues (which, by the way AMAZING thing to offer, had never thought about it or seen it on course before, but OMG, tissues!!), water, food, and I swear I ran past 4 or 5 groups offering beers in the last 2 miles alone. If you feed off crowd energy, HIGHLY recommend Savannah Rock n Roll. The parts through the downtown area were absolutely beautiful. The only part I wasn't a fan of was the conditions of some of the older roads, running on brick and large cracks in some areas were not my favorite, but it was only an issue briefly.

On course aid stations were plentiful and had Water and Gatorade Endurance. I don't carry during a race, so I took advantage of each station (except the last) and alternated Water and Gatorade. There were also a couple stations that handed out gels, but I bring my own, so I did not take any of these, but it was nice that they did.

At the finish, there were tons of volunteers handing out medals, which were cute and transportation themed (the Half was a bike and the Relay was a tandem bike, which, adorable!) and the crowds were immense. I felt like a RockStar when I finished. They were also handing out bags of pretzels and trail mix, but that was the only food there. There were also bottles of water and Gatorade Endurance.

After my friends had all crossed the finish line, we headed over to the post-race party/concert area. 3 of my friends immediately got in line for massages. Another girl and I got in line for our free beer (tickets on your bib). The lines were long, but went quick. There were also merchandise tents and some local food trucks around the park. It was a beautiful area to end a race. I enjoyed the entire experience greatly and hope to run it again next year.

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(2018)
"An Awesome Challenge"
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I have several friends that have done this race each June and it seemed like a lot of fun. Basically, the race is a night time romp through the local Anne Springs Close Greenway. Prior to the Bootlegger, I've only run on this particular greenway once before. I know, not amazing prep, but I felt ready. I'm crazy like that.

The race started at 8:55 pm, so it was going to be dark during the run. I was meeting several friends for this race so we arranged to arrive a bit early as there was no pre-race packet pick up. We wanted to have plenty of time to meet up, get our packets, run stuff back to the car, hit the port-a-potties and take some pictures before the race started. Everything was super well organized and I was excited to see one of the ladies in my run club volunteering at packet distribution. I love local races! With all that taken care of, we just had to wait until the sun set so we could head out into the woods.

So here's the scene... It is late June in SC in the evening, so you know it's hot. And humid. I'm honestly a bit terrified to be running in the woods at night. But the Greenway is beautiful and everyone is in a super cheerful mood pre-race, so that calms my nerves a lot.

The race started exactly on time and we were off. The sun had just set so it was still a bit light, but the second that we hit the woods, the light disappeared. The race mandated that you had to have some kind of light in order to participate, so I had a pretty strong headlamp to light my way. The first half mile or so was on a pretty wide gravel trail so I felt like it wasn't too bunched up or crowded. The path was also lit by lots and lots of tea lights along the side of the trail which was really helpful. And any place that you may have confused for a turnoff was roped off which I really appreciated as someone not familiar with the trail. By the time we hit the more narrow trails, runners had pretty much thinned out into their own pace. I heard another runner pretty directly behind me and yelled to her to let me know if she wanted to pass (I have a tendency to flail a bit on trails, so I wanted to move over closer to the side if she were passing) but she said she was using me to pace, so we got to chatting throughout the race.

Trail pace is of course always slower than road, but I was feeling pretty good as these trails were obviously very well maintained. There were a few rooty areas and one crazy area that randomly had concrete stairs, which thankfully we ran up instead of down, and I only really caught my footing a few times. I did hear someone fairly near behind me fall but she yelled she was fine, so me and my new pace buddy kept going. Each mile was marked with a speaker playing banjo music (which yes, the organizers joked about during the starting info) and was a fun way to mark the way, especially since my Apple Watch wasn't tracking very well in the woods. We wound around Lake Hagler and then back out to the original trail we started on which I had not noticed on the way out how steep down it was, but trust me, I noticed how steep UP it was. Man, that last half mile was a killer.

Finally, I burst out of the woods, back past the parking area and to the finish where each racer was welcomed back by name. There was a bluegrass band playing and Moonshine was being served (your bib had two Moonshine tickets on it) in two varieties - Peach Tea and Tropical Sunset and computers were set up so you could get your official finishing time. I was the first of my friends to finish, so I grabbed a bottle of water and hung out at the finish line cheering runners in. It wasn't until then that I realized just how hot and sweaty I was! I honestly could not have been wetter if I had gone swimming instead. Gotta love Summer races in SC!

When a few more of us had finished, we went to get our Moonshine, I opted for the Tropical Sunrise which was very fruity and good, but also very weak on the alcohol, which wasn't a bad thing. There was also a lot of food available, nuts, pretzels, chips and so on. I also found out that I placed 2nd in my division so that meant hanging around for the awards. The race always has really neat placement awards that are unique each year and they are usually really cool things like lanterns or neat bottles and so on. This year was no exception. We were given personalized growlers with our placement on them, so cool!

All in all, it was an awesome race, and awesome adventure and I am so glad that I did it.

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(2018)
"Ran the Road, Rang the Bell"
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This was my first time running the Tobacco Road Half Marathon and I really enjoyed it. Race Management sent out ample emails to communicate leading up to the event and the race website was one of the most comprehensive I've ever seen complete with training plans, event maps including the runners village and inspirational stores from some of the people registered. I felt well informed coming into the race.

I drove in from about 2.5 hours away for Tobacco Road and that meant finding a hotel. Decided on the host hotel for the Expo for the ease, an Embassy Suites, which is a bit fancier than I usually stay, but since I brought the family with me, figured it would be easier. Not only was it easy, since packet pick up was on site, it was SO worth it as the hotel totally catered to the runners offering a discounted rate, evening reception, super early (4 am) breakfast and automatic late (1 pm) check out for runners. It was about a 20 min drive to the race. Would HIGHLY recommend any travelling runners to stay there!!

The Expo was a bit small but well organized. You checked in, got your bib number, went the area marked by your number, went to another area for your parking pass, went to another for your shirt and one more to pick up your Feetures Socks (race sponsor). I didn't mind the moving around cause I like to browse Expos, but if you were in a hurry that could be annoying. All your info was on your bib, so once you got that, it was quick and easy to get your other items. There was a store area with anything you may have forgotten from apparel to shoes to nutrition, massages, food vendors, other races and area clubs. I picked up a cute singlet and took the obligatory pictures with the race themed wall and was off. I will say that the race shirts were WAY on the small side. As in I usually wear a M and I got a L and it was super snug. You could exchange shirts, but only at the race site and it wasn't worth it to me to bring it with me. It should work as long as it doesn't shrink in the wash.

Again, not being local, I decided to opt for the optional parking pass. Best $12 I ever spent! It gave me access to one of the 900 spots close to the finish line so I didn't have to take the shuttle in. My biggest (well, only) complaint about race was they told us that even with a parking pass they could not guarantee our spot if we were not there by 5:30 am! Umm, I got the pass so I could sleep in. Well, it turns out you did, because I guess the shuttles buses only ran until 5:15 am! I understand wanting everyone on time, but making it so that everyone is there an hour and a half early, especially when its fairly cold out is a bit much. I hit the potties, but since not much was going on and there were no heaters (there were tents) I went back to the car and hung out in there for over an hour. Around 6:30, I hit the potties again (plenty on site) and then made my way to the start. It was low 40s and I had borrowed a light hoodie from a friend and thankfully so as the sun never fully came out, but not terrible for a race day.

The start line was well organized and the Half and the Full started at the same time at 7 am. There was ample paces, about every 10 min interval, and since I was aiming for a 2:10 finish, I found the 2:10 pacer and started a bit in front of them. Prior to the start, the National Anthem was sung and we were off.

The Half and the Full followed the same route for the first 2.5 miles. This covered leaving the Ball Park and through the neighborhood leading to the American Tobacco Trail. Once we go to the trail, the Full turned right to follow the North Trail and the Half left for the South Trail. Both legs were a down and back with the Full doing the North down and back and then continuing onto the South down and back. There were a few pockets of crowds leading to the trail, but once you got onto the trail, space became limited and basically it was the other runners and the trees to keep you company. The miles were marked clearly and regularly and there were several aid stations with Water and Gatorade, so many that I skipped 1 or 2 and didn't have any issues even without carrying. A few stations were also giving out Gu packs. There was minimal elevation and for someone like me used to running hills, it felt super flat. The woods were pretty, but with bit of a grey day, the scenery pretty much all looked the same so it was a bit of a long 8 miles on the trail without much excitement. On the trail, you basically ran 5.25 miles, turned around and ran back the same 5.25 miles to the trail entrance. It has rained a bit overnight which was nice as the trail was what I would call hard packed gravel/dirt mainly and that little rain was enough to pack the trail a bit without making it muddy. I could see where dust might be an issue on a drier trail. The trail was also a bit on the narrow side which started to become an issue later in the race when you had runners going both directions, plus the faster Marathoners coming into play. I was off the trail before the bulk of the marathon runners made it over to the half side, but I can imagine you would have a bit of weaving in and out of slower Half runners on both sides of you. Once back off the trail, it was back the same 2.5 miles to the Ball Field for the Finish Line. It was a bit hillier on the road, but again, nothing terrible, especially some of the races I do in the Charlotte area.

At the finish an announcer called everyone's number and there was lots of cheering. There was a PR bell right before the medals which I got to ring! I was swinging for 2:10 (my previous PR was 2:12) and I hit 2:07:11! The medals were really cool, pretty big with a train on them. See, flat and fast course! Past the finish area was the Runners Village where there was lots of food/drink options. You had your standard fruit, but also Papa Johns was giving out pizza slices. There was free water bottles, Gatorade, juices and coffee (YAASS) and a Beer Garden with several beer options that were unlimited for runners. There was also a pretty good band playing on stage at the end of the Beer Garden. I grabbed a quick beer, chatted with a few friends and made a quick easy exit to head back to the hotel in time for breakfast still being served.

Overall, it was a GREAT race! Had a blast and will hopefully do it again next year.

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