Latest reviews by Vanessa Junkin

(2021)
"Fun, safe in-person race! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I had a great experience at the 2021 Salisbury Half Marathon. I ran this race in 2019 and have also served as the race's coach since then (and I got a free entry because of that). It went virtual-only in 2020, right at the start of the pandemic. This year, it came back as an in-person event and was the largest running event in the area since the pandemic began. There were lots of safety precautions in place, including a COVID questionnaire, temperature checks, masking before and after the run, and five different waves (marathon waves at 7 and 7:15 a.m., half marathon waves at 7:30 and 7:45 a.m., and a 5K wave - different start location). Runners also were sent off in small groups rather than everyone at once.

Aid stations were serve-yourself from prepackaged items (water bottles, Gatorade bottles, small Clif bars and I think there were gels — I brought my own fuel). The volunteers were great and were wearing masks.

Swag this year included a lot of different items, which I always appreciate. Runners received a race shirt, branded BibBoards, a branded Hoo-Rag, a sticker with the race distance (13.1 for me), a $5 voucher to use at a Downtown Salisbury business and a VP Shoes coupon. For packet pickup, runners could either have their bib mailed or go through a drive-thru packet pickup on the Thursday or Friday before the race. I did the drive-thru and it was quick and easy.

The course scenery is nothing too special to me as I run some of these roads all the time. I think there are some prettier areas that were not included — it's not the most exciting course, but I do like the last few miles along Riverside Drive (along the river). The course is extremely flat, with a few minor inclines. As a warning, one of those few inclines is at the very end.

I live very close to the start, so I ran there and did not have to worry about parking (so I did not rate that section), but parking is free on the weekends. If someone parked downtown and ran the half marathon or marathon, they would have to walk/run about a half-mile to the start and they would finish near where they parked.

I thought the race was managed well, and there was plenty of communication with runners ahead of time. I felt safe at this event, which I think is the most important in COVID times.

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(2020)
"Fun race as always with new safety precautions! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was my fourth time running the Naylor Mill 7K, but this time, it was my first time running a race since March because of all the cancellations because of COVID-19. I had fun and also appreciated the safety precautions that were taken into account. This is a smaller race, and this year, there were 96 finishers.

Before the race, participants had their bib, along with a cloth mask, mailed to them. This meant there was no packet pickup. The masks were themed for the team — Team Bacon or Team Scrapple. Then, at the end, runners received a green T-shirt that had running bacon, scrapple and veggies.

I marked the elevation difficulty as a 5, because this is definitely the toughest course in the Salisbury area. Salisbury is very flat, but this course is mostly singletrack trails with twists and turns in addition to steep uphills and downhills. It is a scenic trail, though!

There was one aid station that offered water bottles (because of COVID). This was definitely adequate for the 7K distance, and the volunteers were friendly. Usually, there is bacon at the aid station, but understandably, there was not this year.

Parking is free and plentiful; I had no problems parking.

Race management was, of course, top notch. The race director, Trent Swanson, puts a lot of care into his races, and this time, he had the added considerations of safety precautions due to COVID-19. There was a health screening, masks required in certain areas (although not while running), a socially distanced race start with a starting curve, and prepackaged food at the end. There's an active Facebook group for this race, and we also received info via email. The course was also well-marked (it's a course that I think is tough to follow if you go out on your own, but it was easy to follow on race day).

Read my full recap here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2020/08/15/i-ran-my-first-in-person-race-since-march-the-naylor-mill-7k/

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(2020)
"Virtual but in Salisbury, MD area - Definitely made summer 2020 better!"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

I absolutely loved this event! Although it is virtual, you do need to live in or around the Salisbury, Maryland, area to participate.

The Tour de Salisbury included 12 different courses to run in the Salisbury area over a two-month period: June and July. These courses, which added up to 75 miles, really showcased the area, provided variety in terrain and were scenic. People could choose any order and any dates/times within June and July to run these courses, which were all Strava segments. Participants logged their segment times via UltraSignup.

These courses were:
Pemberton Park (3.9 miles - Salisbury, MD - trail)
Naylor Mill (3.5 miles - Salisbury, MD - trail)
Salisbury City Park (3 miles - Salisbury, MD - crushed stone trail)
Salisbury Airport Loop (7.3 miles - Salisbury, MD - road)
Trap Pond Loop (4.5 miles - Laurel, DE - trail)
Blackwater Loop (6.6 miles - Cambridge, MD area - road)
Ocean City Boardwalk (4.4 miles - Ocean City, MD - boardwalk)
Cooper Loop Half (13.1 miles - Outside Salisbury/Eden, MD area - road)
Cherry Walk (10 miles - Quantico, MD - road)
Salisbury University (6.2 miles - Salisbury, MD - road)
Blades (5.4 miles - Pocomoke City, MD - trail)
Assateague (7 miles - Berlin, MD area - paved path, beach, roads, trail)

The race was organized by ALQ Ultras, so race management/organization was great. Race Director Trent Swanson is easy to reach with any kind of race questions. Virtual support was also great, because there was a very active Facebook group. Some people even won awards for being the best tour guides. People could run alone or with friends.

Swag was cool — a T-shirt with the logo on the front and names of the courses on the back, a finishers' ticket for those who completed all 12 courses, and stickers. Runners also got a bib with spots to check off all 12 courses, which is a unique addition for a unique race. There were also awards for male and female winners with the fastest total times.

Whether COVID is still an issue in 2021 or not, I hope this race returns next year!

Read my recap on my blog here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2020/08/07/i-ran-12-scenic-delmarva-courses-during-the-tour-de-salisbury/

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(2020)
"A fun challenge with lots of engagement via social media! "
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

I'm not a big virtual race person, but I had a lot of fun with this event! Participants could choose between 250 miles or 100 miles in 60 days, and could choose to run/walk or bike.

One of the things I liked most was how engaging the social media was. A cyclist actually cycled across Maryland while the rest of us ran, walked or biked virtually, and he stopped across the state, highlighting various local businesses. There were also trivia questions and puzzles. This gave the virtual event more of a community feel.

There were 500 gift cards given away, and I won a $10 gift card, for which I got to pick the location (there was a website with choices). The race also benefited the Maryland Food Bank, and $20,000 was raised for that organization.

I thought the race was managed well, and I received the swag within a week after completing my 250 miles (everyone's swag was sent out on the same day). I was excited that this race offered a tank top, as not too many races do. I also received emails. People who gathered a social team of 10 or more participants (which my team did) could get $10 off per person.

Read my recap here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2020/08/20/the-virtual-race-across-maryland-kept-me-running-through-the-hot-summer/

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(2020)
"Fun way to celebrate Global Running Day!"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Global 24 Hour Relay 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!

The Global 24 Hour Relay was a new event hosted by Rochester Running Co. and held on Global Running Day. I thought it was a fun idea and cool way to celebrate Global Running Day, on the first Wednesday of June. Each person who signed up picked a team (I picked Washington, D.C. - you didn't have to live in the city of the team you chose, and you could run anywhere) and a half-hour time slot on that day. As a BibRave Pro, my time slot was assigned to me based on my availability, but people signing up chose their time slot. You could see who else had signed up for the team.

The race kept in touch via email and I also thought it was cool that the race donated a portion of proceeds from the event to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

You could see who else had signed up for the teams, and right before the event, there were still a decent amount of empty spots, so I was not positive that there were people in every time slot, including right before me (although I did get a text several minutes after my time slot started). I would have liked to have made more of a connection with my team. Luckily, I did know the person running after me, and I sent her a text when it was her time to start running, and we each posed for a photo that I made into a collage.

I received my swag in the mail about a month after the race. Swag was a black T-shirt with the race logo on the left chest and a medal with a pretty logo and fun ribbon. The medal is beautiful and higher-quality than I'd think would be expected for running for half an hour.

I had fun promoting and participating in this event — I just wish the teams would have been more filled out and connected.

Read my race recap here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2020/06/11/i-celebrated-global-running-day-as-part-of-a-virtual-relay-event/

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