Latest reviews by Vanessa Junkin

(2020)
"An amazing challenge! "
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The PHUNT Trail Race 25K was extremely challenging for me, as I live in a flat area, but I loved it! I went into it with the mindset of enjoying my day on the trails and not caring if I had to walk. I took some photos along the way and talked to people.

The race is held in the beautiful Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area. It was crowded for about the first 2.5 miles, at least where I was in the pack, but that kind of kept me moving. The elevation corrections for Strava and Garmin estimated about 1,700-1,800 feet of elevation gain, which is a ton for me — but not for some people. A guy I talked to along the way described the course as "runnable," but I found it very tough and my average pace was in the 15s.

One thing that made the race so great was how organized it was and the amazing aid stations. It was in the 20s, and the volunteers were friendly and helpful. There were also themed aid stations, which was a lot of fun, and there was plenty of food and water. The course was well-marked, and I received info ahead of the race.

The course is held along scenic, mostly singletrack trails, and it is a fun place to run.

I like the swag - a PHUNT Buff (a different brand, but I'm not sure what else to call it) and reusable cup, plus a "Phuckle" — a medal/belt buckle. The race is just $40 and I think it's an incredible value.

I arrived about an hour before the start and people were directing parking. It was easy to park not far from the activity hall. I picked up my bib that morning.

After the race, there was plenty of food — grilled cheese, Phries (fries), hot dogs, soup and cake. People can hang out in the activity hall before or after the race, so you can stay warm.

I signed up for 2021 on my way back to the place I was staying (when I'd stopped for coffee, not while driving). It was sold out by the next day, but there is a wait list.

Read my blog post here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2020/01/24/phunt-trail-race-highway-to-hills/

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(2019)
"Love this race! Beautiful, flat and well-organized! "
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The Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon/Half Marathon is one of my favorite races, and I've run it every year since 2013. In 2013 and 2014, I ran the full, and since then, I've run the half. This was my third year pacing the 2:30 group for the half.

This race is extremely well-organized. There is a Facebook group for the event, and the race director answers plenty of questions, something you don't always see for a race. The course is pretty, starting near the Atlantic Ocean, heading up the main road and into a residential area. There's then an out-and-back toward Gordons Pond and another on the Junction and Breakwater Trail.

It's an extremely flat course. About six miles of the half marathon course are on the crushed stone surface of the Junction and Breakwater Trail, which does include some rocks.

There were plenty of aid stations with great volunteers. Although I stayed in a nearby hotel and walked to the start and from the finish, I have driven to this race before, and parking is easy and free during this time of year.

I liked the swag as well. The women's race shirt (I'd ordered a women's large, but often am between a medium and large) was cut small. After the race, I was able to trade it for a men's small. Runners also got a reusable shopping bag, and there are free race photos. The medals are also nice.

The expo is pretty small, but the expo isn't something that's important to me. It was easy to get my bib and shirt. This race also offers race-day pickup.

The after-party is awesome! There is a party outside in a tent and another one inside The Cultured Pearl next door. There's lots of food (waffles, mac and cheese, burgers, pulled pork, etc.) and three Dogfish Head beers per runner. There's also a DJ and dancing.

I definitely recommend this race and plan to be back next year!

Check out my blog recap here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2019/12/10/i-paced-my-10th-half-marathon-at-this-years-rehoboth-seashore-half-marathon/

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(2019)
"Fun race with lots of water views! "
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Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Chartway Norfolk Harbor 10K 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!

I ran in the Norfolk Harbor race weekend for the first time this year. This was the inaugural year of the 10K, and I decided to run that, hoping for a fast time. I didn't quite meet my goal, but I still had a great race.

The course starts near the water in Norfolk and finishes with the last half-mile or so along the waterfront There's also another particularly scenic part of the race along the Mowbray Arch. Other parts of the race are more urban. I enjoyed the course and it was nice and flat.

There were four water stops and even a mini-pie stop. Normally, I'd love a mini-pie stop, but I was trying to run a fast time, so I didn't stop at that one. I got a cup of water at the water stop at Mile 3 and that went well.

Unfortunately, my friend missed an important turn on the course and ended up running about 1.5 miles extra, and she was not the only one who did this. Although I didn't miss the turn, I can see how this spot would have been confusing and think there should have been a volunteer actively letting people know which way to go. I also would have loved to have had mylar blankets at the end. I had not checked a bag and got cold in the short-sleeve shirt and shorts I'd worn for the race. I'd definitely recommend checking a hoodie and sweatpants into your bag if the weather is similar next year.

However, everything else was really well-organized. There was plenty of pre-race communication and for me, everything went smoothly. The race started several minutes late because an intersection needed to be cleared, but once I knew the reason, I wasn't bothered by that.

There was also a fun-post race band and finishers got soup and either White Claw or beer (up to three for 10K finishers and up to four for half finishers).

There's definitely a lot of swag! The finisher medal is beautiful, and there were options to get extra bling by registering for a 5K and half marathon challenge or a 5K and 10K challenge. Runners also received a long-sleeved tech shirt at the expo and a finisher hat and drawstring bag at the finish.

The expo was small but super easy to get in and out of. The expo isn't something that is overly important to me, but of course, it's nice to get your bib and shirt easily, and I was definitely able to do that. I also got a photo with Santa, which was fun. It was pretty small - not too many vendors. I don't think there were speakers or anything like that.

I walked from a nearby hotel, so I'm not sure how to rate parking/access, although it was super easy to access for me since I stayed in the hotel.

Read my blog recap here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2019/11/29/norfolk-harbor-10k-i-had-another-waterfront-finish-in-the-57s/

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(2019)
"Flat, fast and fun! "
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I ran Pacers Running's Veterans Day 10K for the first time this year, and I had a great experience! I had a great race personally, but I also thought everything seemed well-organized. I did get a free entry for this event.

The course is run at West Potomac Park, East Potomac Park and Hains Point in Washington, D.C. It is almost entirely out-and-back (there's one slight change around the turnaround), but the course is nice and flat and right along the water, with pretty trees nearby.

There was one water stop that we passed twice, just before we hit the Mile 2 marker and just after we hit the Mile 4 marker. I did not stop for water, but the aid stations looked fine to me, and there were seemingly a good amount of volunteers.

Unfortunately, my race shirt doesn't fit, but that isn't the race's fault. It's a nice long-sleeve shirt (almost between a tech shirt and T-shirt - Gildan Performance), and I like that Pacers offers the option of a race shirt, Retail Bucks for Pacers Running stores or an extra donation to the charity (in this case, it was Team RWB). There are also free race photobooth photos.

I picked up my bib and shirt easily on race day, and was able to put the shirt in bag check while I ran.

You couldn't park right on-site, but I was able to park 0.6-mile away, which I thought was reasonable for a large city like Washington, D.C. I also had to pay to park, and some of the meters were not working, but I found one that worked (and obviously that isn't the race's fault).

The race seemed well-managed, and I had no complaints. I also felt great and ran well, which added to my great experience. I hope to run this one again next year!

Read my blog review here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2019/11/18/consistent-pacing-leads-to-a-comeback-at-the-veterans-day-10k/

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(2019)
"Crazy weather but it really was a great race. "
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This was my first year running the Marine Corps Marathon, and I ran the race on my birthday. The weather was crazy this year. There were areas in which there was a downpour, and then for about the last two hours of my race (I finished in 5:34), it was sunny and somewhat hot.

I personally had a really tough race, but the organization of this race was great to be able to pull off a race of this size and magnitude in Arlington and Washington, D.C. The course was easy to follow, there were tons of spectators and there were Marines throughout the course. There were also a good amount of aid stations, and medical support was available throughout, as well.

Last year's colorful shirt with all the runners got a lot of complaints, and this year's marathon shirt was a 1/4 zip that was black with faint lines on it — a great shirt! The shirts are unisex and I got a medium, which fits perfectly. The medal is beautiful and looks like a high-quality medal.

I'm giving aid stations a "4" simply because some of them could not keep up (at least where I was in the course). I'm not sure if they were short-staffed because of the poor weather conditions or if it's always like this, but I filled my own cup at one of them. However, there were many helpful Marines at the aid stations and hardworking volunteers. There were also a good amount of aid stations.

The scenery is really cool. The race starts and ends in Arlington, Virginia, and much of the race is run in Washington, D.C. Some parts were really pretty with the trees, and we also ran past numerous monuments and waterfront areas. There were also plenty of spectators and lots of fun signs.

I went to the expo at 5 p.m. Saturday, and it closed at 6 p.m. I thought it was a fine expo with lots of vendors, but expos aren't that important to me and I didn't buy anything. It looked like there were some cool speakers and a podcast taping on the schedule, but since I went so late, it was not very crowded by the time I went. I got my bib and shirt quickly. I did have to pay $5 to park. Someone posted a sign for parking validation, but I didn't see that. Shuttles were also available from a Metro stop.

I'm giving it a "2" for elevation, as the course is mostly pretty flat. There are larger hills in the beginning and at the very end (the last 0.2), which are tough. I really struggled during this race and even the slightest incline felt like a hill by the end.

I thought this race was pretty tough to get to, but that comes with being a large race in a metro area. I walked 1.5 miles before I got to the start. I stayed in a nearby Airbnb and should have just walked, but instead, I tried taking a Lyft to get closer — I would not recommend that, as the driver got turned around and couldn't really get very close. There is a nearby Metro stop, but I was worried about the Metro being too crowded (it probably would have been fine). I would try to stay close to the start if you can. I did walk back to my Airbnb from the finish. There was also what felt like a long walk after the race to get out of the finish area and to get my checked bag.

This race was a great experience. I was questioning myself on a tough day, and I don't like to repeat marathons, but I'm already considering it for next year to try to redeem myself, as it was my slowest marathon.

Check out my race recap on my blog: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2019/10/28/mission-accomplished-i-ran-the-marine-corps-marathon-on-my-birthday/

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