Latest reviews by Janelle McLeod

(2018)
"A Super Run!"
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This was my first time attending the Super Sunday event and I enjoyed it! The packet pickup was at our local Fleet Feet store the day before the race and they also offer race day packet pickup options. The parking on event morning was simple as it was held at the local college campus. There was also a 5k option held at 8:30am and the 10k did not start until 9:30am. This allowed for any runners who wanted to run both races plenty of time to finish and get back to the start line. They also had a "championship ring challenge" award for those who ran both distances.

The course itself was a loop around the college campus and close neighborhoods. The terrain was relatively flat, mostly asphalt roads, one bridge that we ran over twice and some dirt/gravel levy paths. The course support was high school and college aged volunteers who provided a cheerful atmosphere as we ran by. The best part of the course was the finish line, which took place on the football field inside the college stadium. Runners came in on one side of the stadium, ran past spectators around the infield track and finished with a 100yd sprint to the finish line.

There was convenient grab-and-go snacks and water as you exited the stadium which made it quick and easy to leave. Once outside the stadium, there was a post-race party that had local breweries and food for purchase. This was advertised as a tailgate party and looked to be lots of fun with music and entertainment. I had to get home for the SuperBowl festivities so I could not stay and attend but it looked like a good time! Definitely adding this race to my list of annual races.

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(2018)
"A new Run Disney Experience!"
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This was my first RunDisney experience and boy, was it an experience! I am not a huge Disney fan, meaning I love DisneyLand but I do not live and breathe Mickey Mouse, nor did I desire to wear a costume for this race. I will commend all of the runners out there who did create a costume and toughed out 26.22 miles in it, because it did not look comfortable or easy! I am a creature of habit and I need to wear the gear that I know works for me when I run.

My husband & I were invited to do this marathon by a couple friends of ours. It was their first marathon, as well as my husbands first marathon. This would be my 3rd marathon but it was also a month after my 2nd marathon so I had planned to take it easy, back off and run at their pace. Our friends have ran Disney half marathons before, they dress in costume and they knew what to expect. We met them at the expo right after we flew into Orlando the Thursday before the race. The expo was held at ESPN Wide World of Sports and was spread out between 2 or 3 buildings. There was plenty of booths to shop at, specialized Disney items to purchase and designated creative zones to take pictures at. Everyone got to sign the marathon wall if they wanted to which was also pretty exciting. Our swag bag included a nice long-sleeved technical running shirt along with a RunDisney luggage tag and some fun snacks and treats. There were even better swag bags for those who signed up for several races or the Dopey Challenge, which was completing all 4 races (5k, 10k, half and full) over the course of 4 days.

The morning of the race was pretty cold for Florida, a chilly 42 degrees at the start. There was plenty of parking and bus drop offs because many of the runners came from Disney hotels. We drove our rental car there and had plenty of time. The walk from the car to the start line, however, was about a mile, so we started the trek early to allow time for bathroom breaks. There were plenty of port-a-pottys along the way, a stage pumping loud music and plenty of booths to walk by if the spectators were interested in shopping or browsing.

Because this was the 25th anniversary of the marathon, there were many special surprises planned, all with the number 25 in mind. They had corrals labeled A-H, but each corral had 3 or 4 waves in it. This allowed for a total of 25 waves to accommodate 25,000 runners. In between each wave, the DJ's would play a song from that year of the marathon. For example, wave 1 played music from the 1st year of the marathon, 1984. Wave 2 got music from 1985, wave 3 got 1986, etc. All the way until they reached the 25th wave and they played new music from 2018. I thought it was a fun touch to add to the theme of the 25th anniversary.

The race course takes you through all of the parks in the area as well as many of the freeway overpasses. You hit the Magic Kingdom around miles 5-7, then run through Animal Kingdom at miles 13-15, followed by ESPN Wide World of Sports for miles 19-22 and then the race finishes through Epcot. It was really fun to experience these parks while they were mostly still closed, and the crowd support was great in these areas especially. There were water stations at nearly every mile and a dozen character stops along the way. (Disney characters in costume that allowed you to line up and take pictures with them) Bathrooms were not hard to come by as there were plenty of port-a-potty's along most of the course and you could even use the facilities at the parks if you ran by one.

I found it hard to run fast during this race as there was not a lot of road courtesy and many walkers walked 4-5 people wide, taking up the entire path. There was also a lot of congestion around the character stops because so many people were waiting in line to take pictures or catch a glimpse of the characters. I can see why this would appeal to many Disney fans and followers, but for someone who wants to run a marathon to finish with a goal time, I would not recommend this race. RunDisney is more of an experience rather than a race. I thoroughly enjoyed everything they had to offer; the creativity, the positivity and the fun of this race.

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(2017)
"Family Fun Event!"
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This is my 2nd year running this event and it never disappoints. This race is typically the weekend before Christmas and offers a 5k and a 10k course. It begins at a local high school where there is plenty of parking and only a short walk to the starting line.

I love how family friendly this event is as they welcome all ages, strollers and even dogs. This year I ran the 10k with my 2.5 year old goldendoodle and we had no issues. The course runs along the paved bike trails through some residential areas with plenty of room to pass other runners as needed. There are some challenging hills but you are equally rewarded with a downhill shortly after.

This race also benefits a local charity for Keatan Raphael fighting Childhood Cancer. I am happy to run this race, promote this race and continue to sign up for this race for years to come. The community genuinely comes together to raise funds for this important cause and many students from the local high school volunteer their time to come out and cheer on the runners as well as man the aid stations. It is a positive experience with a cheerful vibe and I encourage you to check it out if you are in the area!

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(2017)
"Beautiful Country Run"
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I ran the 20 mile course for this race because it tied in perfectly with my marathon training. This event is 3 weeks prior to the California International Marathon and I needed a 20-miler before my taper so I chose this one. There were so many great things to mention about this race!

The packet pickup was simple- from 10-2 at our local Fleet Feet in Sacramento the day before the race. My only suggestion here would be to make the packet pickup time a little longer, they are usually 10am-7pm. The 4 hour window was tough to get to because I live 30 minutes away and coach youth soccer on the weekends. This race is known for their shirts; it is a nice, long-sleeved technical shirt made of the softest dri-fit material you will ever experience. I left mine in my car, knowing I would want to change into it as soon as I was done with my run.

Race morning was quick and easy. There was packet pickup starting at 6:30am on site for those who couldn't make the other packet pickup. The event starts at Delta High School and they allow parking there on the field, with several attendants to guide you in.

There was not a ton of people running the 20-mile course, so the start line wasn't too crowded. There was a quick "Runners on your mark; 3 - 2 - 1 - Go" followed by a gunshot and we were off! The course is very flat, only one or two small hills throughout, as we are running along country roads in wine country. The scenery was stunning and I enjoyed watching the sun rise over quiet vineyards. The roads were mostly closed the entire course, so we were able to spread out and I never felt too close to anyone until we met up with the half marathoners on the back half of our run. There were plenty of water stations, at least 6, and lots of friendly volunteers from the high school cheering us on. There were a few port-a-potties at each water station, but typically a line of 1-2 runners ahead of you if you needed to stop.

After mile 10, we met up with the half marathoners who started about 30 minutes behind us. There was also a 10k run but by the time we got back to their turnaround point they were all finished. My only frustration was the half marathoners we met up with were typically walkers as they were hitting mile 4 as we were hitting mile 11. From miles 11-20 we were stuck having to weave around the half marathon walkers on a narrow 1-lane road.

The finish line was small, with enough space between runners to have your name announced as you crossed the chip mat. This race also offers a hot lunch for all of the runners in the cafeteria; I didn't eat as I needed to get home but I saw some of the plates and it looked good! Bread rolls, pasta, salad, etc. I will definitely be back to run this race next year; with the distance depending on what I am training for!

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(2017)
"Always a GIANT time!"
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I always love running these Giant races; not just because I am a San Francisco Giants fan, but because the atmosphere is always so happy and positive. I ran the 5k this year with my husband as he isn't much of a runner so we kept the distance short. One of the perks of these runs is that you get to finish ON the baseball field; which is always exciting if you are a huge Giant fan like we are. To be able to experience what it is like looking up at the stadium from the field, sitting on the outfield grass and even admiring how large the scoreboard and the lights feel from the ground is awesome.

There are always thousands of people running these Giant races, and we were in the "2nd" corral- but still started about 10 minutes after the first wave. Because there are so many participants, the race administrators release each corral in 3-4 waves every 2 minutes or so to prevent traffic jams. This race is held along one side of the 2-lane Embarcadero which is right by the wharf in San Francisco. Because it is on the actual road, there isn't a lot of room for passing or large crowds to walk side by side so I appreciate their efforts in minimizing bottlenecking. It's a simple out and back race, so you will end up sharing half of the road with the returning runners after about 15 minutes from the start of the race.

Other than the on-field finish, one of my other favorite parts about the Giant Race is the SWAG. Not only do you get a tech tee with the year of the race and the city on it; but you get a nice, heavy duty medal that is specific to the town/race you are running. Because there are 4 races in the Giant Race Series (Scottsdale, Sacramento, San Jose and San Francisco), you not only get a medal at each race; but you earn points to receive other medals at the end of the series. You will earn the Turn Two award for finishing the SF and SJ races, the Three Bagger award for finishing SF, SJ and Sacramento. Finally, you could earn the Series Sweep award for doing all 4. There are virtual options available if you are unable to travel to all of the cities which still qualify you for the medals. I was able to do all 4 runs this year and walked away with a total of 7 medals!

The Giant Race series are also family friendly as they allow children and strollers at most of the events. I always suggest checking their website beforehand to make sure; but I see them out there a lot.

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