Latest reviews by Lissa Nypaver

(2019)
"My First Marathon!"
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This was my 2nd time running Tobacco Road, but my first time on the Marathon Course (I ran the Half last year). Man, what a great race. It is small enough to make you feel like you are getting individual attention with small touches like the RD shaking everyone's hand at the finish line, but large enough to be exciting.

I drove in about 2.5 hours and stayed at the host hotel for the Expo, which was super nice and had a few perks for runners like free reception the night before and free late check out for runners. The Expo was small, but well organized and a few cool things this year like a visit from Jeff Galloway who gave a talk and was gracious enough to chat with and take photos with anyone who wanted to. I'm always too self conscience for that, but two of my friends got their bibs signed and he greeted them like old friends.

Perhaps my least favorite, and only real issue with Tobacco Road is the parking situation. There are really 2 parking options (3 if you count getting dropped off) 1 - purchase 1 of a limited number of parking passes and 2 - parking at a remote lot and taking the shuttle in. Pretty straight forward, but both require you to arrive by 5:30 am for a 7:00 am start, which I feel is a bit too early. I rode with a friend with a parking pass and arrived right at 5:30 where we sat in the warm car for 45 min before getting out to use the ample port-a-potties and looking for other friends. We lined up at the start about 15 min before the race and pacers were well positioned for both the Half and the Full distances.

The first 2.5 miles of the course was on road and had a few hills. Nothing I hadn't trained for, but a bit hilly nonetheless. Both the Half and Full start at the same time and cover this distance together. When you arrived the trail, the Marathoners turned right, while the Halfers tuned left. The right trail was hard packed dirt for the first few miles, then half hard packed/half asphalt so you could choose which surface to run on. There were a few road crossings that we well managed by police and support stations heavily manned with cheering people and water, Gatorade, gels, and Stroop waffles. At mile 7 (and 11) there was a Mimosa station that had bacon too. You ran to about mile 9, then turned back to where you started, where you were at just around mile 14. Then you crossed the main road (well manned with police) and started on the Half course. This side was all hard packed. You ran to about mile 19, then turned back to where you came onto the trail. Just past the turn around point, there was a huge spread of all kinds of goodies - cookies, snacks a ton of stuff that I didn't stop to check out, but was super nice. There were several port-a-potty stations also along the course. Once you came off the trail, you made you way back to Thomas Brooks Park down the same 2.5 miles you came in on. I felt the hills a bit more the way back, but nothing terrible, just gently rolling.

Lots of excitement at the finish that was a bit of a blur to me to be honest, but there was a beer garden, free pizza, water stations, chocolate milk and I'm sure lots of other things I missed. Tons of volunteers were on hand for anything you needed. And the huge medal was gorgeous! I plan on wearing it for quite awhile!

Overall, it was an amazing race for my first Marathon. I would highly recommend it for you 1st, 5th, or 50th!

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(2019)
"Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte - Even Sweeter for 2019"
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I received entry into the AllState Hot Chocolate Charlotte15K as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out BibRave.com to read and write race reviews.

This past weekend I rant the Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte and let me tell you, this is an awesome race that got even more awesome for 2019. This is the 2nd year that the Hot Chocolate race series has held a Charlotte event, and you can tell that they worked hard to improve an already great event. The event Expo and Start/Finish were moved into Uptown Charlotte, both of which were massive improvements over the 2018 race.

The Expo was on Friday and held at the Charlotte Convention Center, which was super easy to get in and out of. There is a light rail station right outside of the Convention Center, so I just parked at a station with free parking down the line and picked up a round trip ticket and was on my way. There were lots of parking options for those who wanted to drive in and didn't mind the price of a parking deck. Picking up your Bib a super easy process, you scan a barcode and get your bib. Then around the corner for your jacket, which were AMAZING! Warm, cozy full zip hoodies. Love it!

The morning of the race, I carpooled with others into the city. We could have taken the train, but decided if we loaded up cars, by the time we split the cost of parking, it would actually be cheaper, plus we'd have a place to stash stuff. There is a lot of available parking around First Ward Park, where the race started and finished.

Right before 7:30 I made my way over to the start area to send off the 5K runners. There were 3 very well organized Corrals and the first started right on time. The 2nd and 3rd Waves were sent off in about 2 min intervals after. Then it was time for the 15K runners to get into position, also multiple well organized Corrals. Right at 7:45, we were off!

Since the Start and Finish were in a different place this year, obviously the course was a bit different as well. First Ward Park is kind of on the edge of Uptown and we quickly made our way out of the Center City area, over the 277 overpass and into NoDa area and towards Villa Heights. From there, we circled around Country Club Heights and then wove around a bit through Plaza Midwood before heading back into Uptown and finishing on 7th Street. I've run a few races in this area, including a 10K that finishes on 7th Street so I was fully aware of the amount of Hills that I would be encountering, which is to say... Several. Charlotte is not a flat city, if you are going to race there, you are gonna race on Hills, that's just a fact that I've learned to embrace over the years. Compared to last year's course, though, even though it was a slight bit hillier, I enjoyed the scenery much more this year.

As far as the actual running of the race, it went really well for me. Knowing I would stop at the 4 aid stations on the course, I tried to keep a bit ahead of the 9:30 pacer to account for when I'd slow/stop for water or Nuun, both of which were about every 2 miles. Also, at the aid station were some treats. I didn't partake (goals, yo) but saw gummy bears, marshmallows and chocolate on course. I managed to keep pretty close to the pacer who was cheerful throughout and would give helpful heads up like upcoming turns and Hills. The course also had lots of police and volunteers around the route and mile markers with timing at each mile interval, plus at the 5K and 10K marks.

I crossed the finish light at 1:28 (EXACTLY a 9:30 pace which gave me a NEW PR) and was met by cheers of my friends that ran the 5K. There were multiple finish line photographers snapping pics (Free Race Photos!!) as volunteers handed out medals and gave out bottles of water and Nuun, but in cups and samples for later in the finisher chute. The medals were really cute and as usual, specific to the City. The bottom of the medal had a Charlotte Skyline and a Cardinal, which is the NC State Bird.

I made the short walk (about 2 blocks) to First Ward Park for the Finisher Party Area. Finishing in Uptown was SUCH an improvement over last year. The post-race party being in First Ward Park was amazing and there was lots of room for the runners to mill around and check out the several tents that were up, including, of course THE POST RACE GOODIE TENT where you picked up your Hot Chocolate and Finisher Bowl of yummy goodness!

The Finisher Bowl contained of course, a big steaming cup of Hot Chocolate, chocolate fondue, banana, cookies, Rice Krispie Treat, marshmallow, pretzels and new this year, a Honey Stinger Waffle. In addition to the race goodies, there was also a tent giving out Jelly Belly jelly beans and even a Taco Truck giving out free tacos!

Overall, it was a pretty awesome race. I really really enjoyed the changes that they made from the 2018 race. I can't wait for next year, which will be Hot Chocolate Charlotte 15K number 3 which means LEGACY status and extra bling!

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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)
"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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