Latest reviews by Lissa Nypaver

(2018)
"Bounce and Run and Bounce and Run"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb fb5f4a94 40a3 4da1 bd4b 279b694782d7

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)

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"Ran the Road, Rang the Bell"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb img 7390

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.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"Inaugural Hot Chocolate 15K - Charlotte"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb e77851c1 237e 4ded 9fed 456f74053414

The Expo was held in the ball room of a hotel just on the outskirts of Uptown Charlotte but you could also choose to have your packet sent out pre-race. It was pretty easy to get in and out of and if you stayed less than 20 minutes, your parking was free. I didn't stay long so I wouldn't have to pay, and was in and out easily while still getting everything I needed - the Bib system is like magic - they scan a QR code from your email and print a sticker to put on your bib - and exchanged my shirt (it was a bit on the tight side), picked up some Nuun, got some goodies (Hot Chocolate, chocolate dipped marshmallow and 2 small chocolate bars) and still was out in time. There was also a retail store set up with both Hot Chocolate gear and Charlotte gear.

There was lots of parking options around the area as the race was held just outside of Uptown Charlotte on the campus of a local community college (CPCC). I would have liked to see more signs directing parking options, but once you parked, there were lots of signs pointing to the start line and even with parking almost a half mile away, I knew exactly where to go. There were tons of port-a-potties available near the start and corrals were well marked with signage.

Now the actual start was where you could tell that this was a first year race, as it was a bit confusing. The race was slated to start at 8:05 and I was in Corral D, so I thought that meant I had an actual start time of around 8:21 as they said that waves would be released every 4 minutes. Well, joke was on me as Corral D was actually the first one (Apparently A-C were the 5K Corrals which started at 7:45). By the time I to parked, used the ports, said hello to a few friends and got into position, I literally had 15 seconds before starting!! I was a bit frazzled but took off.

As for the course, there was a lot of volunteer support at the 4 aid stations. Each had some kind of yummy treat first - chocolate chips, flavored marshmallows, candy hearts and M&Ms - followed by Nuun and Water. There were port-a-potties at the halfway point and a few others throughout the course. A full lane of traffic was closed over the entire course. It wasn't the most scenic run I've done, but to be honest, once you leave the Uptown area of Charlotte, there isn't too much to look at. The course was basically a loop to the Southeast of Center City. It would have been nice to run through more of the Uptown area - the big buildings and stadiums, but it was a typical suburban course - neighborhoods and retail areas. It was pretty darn hilly though so I can't say I was ever bored on course.

Coming into the finish, there was an announcer that called everyone's name as the crossed the finish and kept up some awesome encouragement. Thanks to him, everyone crossed with a smile on their face. After, I was given my awesome candy bar shaped medal with a hornet key chain to represent Charlotte and there were cups of Nuun, full water bottles and Nuun tablets available in the finisher chute. I hung out at the finish cheering on runners until my friends finished up and then we took a walk over to the post-race area to get our goodie bowls. There were lots of cool inflatables for photo ops and of course the finisher mugs full of Hot Chocolate and goodies were amazing. And before I had even left the race, I had received an email with a link to my free race photos. So that's really cool! I will for sure return again for next year's race!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"For the Love of Chocolate"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb 323c3422 a88f 4eb1 9a3b 173ecdad26b5

So let me get this part of of the way right at the beginning. This year's Hot Chocolate 15K Atlanta had some truly terrible weather. As a winter themed race, cold is to be expected, however, in addition to cold, the 2018 race was wet as well. As in pouring rain wet. With that said, of course that was in no way the fault of the race organizers and honestly, the race did everything within their powers to make the day as enjoyable as possible, which I really really appreciated. While rainy, it was just rain, no thunder/lightening so, as clearly communicated, the race went on as planned. The management company kept awesome communication about the status of the race right up until the start and even sent out a special email the next day thanking participants for their commitment and offering a discount code for next years race, which they in no way had to do. They really went above and beyond if you ask me.

With that out of the way, here's how it went...

Pre-race, the communication was great. In addition to periodic updates, every Sunday participants receive an email with a training plan. Pretty awesome. Like I said previously, the race was engaging participants on social media right up until the race time due to weather concerns.

This race was an out of town one for me and me and my run-besty drove up the day prior to hit the Expo. We stayed in a hotel that was in walking distance of both the Expo and the start line so we had no parking concerns (unless you consider the standard Atlanta hotel parking rate of $30 per day which is a bit steep, but standard large city rate). We walked over to the Expo which was well organized and picked up our bibs within minutes of walking in. They have a really cool system where you give them a QR code that was emailed prior to the Expo and it auto prints out your details on a sticker that is placed on your bib. Genius and quick. Then you head over to get your HC jacket which is SUPER nice! I am doing another HC race, so I actually opted for the Men's shirt for the Atlanta race so I could have one of each color. There is a try on area next to the pick up so you can switch out if they sizing is off, but it was perfect so no need. The rest of the Expo featured your standard vendors - clothing, hydration, nutrition, other races, and so on plus a station where you could get a yummy sample of the treats that would be waiting for you on race day, a shot of hot chocolate and a marshmallow with chocolate sauce. YUM!

As for the actual race, again, wet and cold, but for the stuff that actually was under control of the race management, everything was as great as it could be. The start waves were well organized and bibs were checked upon entering your corral. I was assigned to Wave 1, Corral B, so I didn't have as long to wait to start as some of the others. My race goal was 1:30 which would be a PR of just over 2 minutes. I quickly found the 9:30 pacer and tried to distract myself from the weather by chatting with her and others in the area. The race started mostly on time (a few minutes due to Atlanta PD closing the roads) and we were off. I stayed in decent pace with the 9:30 pacer for the first few miles, but stopped at a water stop for a quick pause and was left behind. No worries, I was still well within my goal time. The aid stations were well spaced and had both Nuun and Water and plenty of it. The first station around mile 1.5 also had marshmallows and I think something else, but I didn't stop for them. Other stations also may have had treats, but I will be honest, I did not notice if they did as that was not a priority for me. I trying to stay focused because I knew I was shedding seconds. This was due to the course being hilly. I mean really hilly. But that is part of the Atlanta race charm. Most people know this going in. I've never shied away from hill training, so I didn't think it was too bad, but it def slows you a bit.

The only exception was the hill just after mile 9. Not gonna lie, that one about did me in. There is a huge hill (full disclosure, it is not even the largest one, just it SEEMED bigger since it is literally in the last .25 mile of the race) and when I turned the corner and saw it, it about did me in. On a better day, I think it would have been okay, but that day, right then, that hill was it for me. I stopped, took a deep breath and then pushed myself over it though and ended just shy of my goal with a time of 1:30:51, but still a 15K PR so overall I can't be too upset. I was given my awesome candy bar shaped medal with golden peach key chain to symbolize Georgia and a race photographer snapped my picture. Photography was provided to participants for free and was available pretty much immediately after the race online.

After the race, Kim and I met up in the Mech tent and headed over for me to pick up my finishers mug full of Hot Chocolate and goodies. I chugged the HC straight down and held onto the goodies until I got back to the hotel to dry off and warm up. The race handed out the goodies covered in bags to keep your yummies dry which was just another super kind thing they did for us.

Overall, it was a great race on a terrible day. Everything the race had control over was really great. I really appreciated their efforts to make the event as enjoyable as it could be. Despite the weather, everyone seemed to still have a great time.

I also want to give a special shout out to all the volunteers who were on course both at aid stations and as marshals including the Atlanta PD. Despite the conditions, every single volunteer I ran past had a smile on their face and a cheerful thing to say. I tried to thank everyone I ran past and all said the same thing - it is my pleasure. People at aid stations were cheering for us, marshals were encouraging, several of the Police were actually singing even. As ugh as I felt running, they had to have felt worse standing still and I can't tell you how much their attitudes helped me along. Thank you race volunteers, from the bottom of my heart!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2017)
"Running for GotR"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb img 5665

The Reindeer Romp is one of the featured events of a yearly winter festival hosted by the City of Rock Hill called Christmasville. It is also the winter goal race for the area Girls on the Run. It's been a few years since I have run the race as I typically volunteer as a Course Marshall for the Girls on the Run races, but this year I was approached by a coach that needed a Run Buddy for one of her runners. I was happy to help!

This race is open to the public, but like I said, primarily Girls on the Run girls and is therefore untimed. Packet pick up takes place both in advance at the local Academy Sports 2 days prior and race day. The Start/Finish is in downtown Rock Hill which has plenty of free parking both in decks and on the street. The race director sends out lots of messages prior to race with great instructions and the meeting site is as organized as a place with 500+ pre-teen girls can be. There are colored flags indicating where each team is to meet and lots of music and fun events like hair coloring and costume contests pre-race). The event is really more focused on fun and it is not unusual to see participants wearing cute outfits and antlers (I always wear mine to it).

The course is a fairly easy one with a few minor hills and just one I'd consider a rough one which is right at the halfway point and features the water station at the top of it. Lots of on course support by local police and race volunteers and small crowds scattered throughout to cheer on the girls and a HUGE crowd cheering at the finish line. Every runner is given a medal and there is plenty of water and fruit immediately past the finish line. The girls are given goodie bags and there are several tents set up by local sponsors where you can load up on your typical race SWAG - pens, chapstick, key chains and so on.

Directly following the race, the Saturday Christmasville events start up which take place in the immediate area. I love Christmasville, so after saying good bye and awesome job to my run buddy, I popped back to the car, changed my sweaty shirt (left the antlers of course) and waited for a friend to finish up so we could hit the festival's pancake breakfast.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.