Latest reviews by Vanessa Junkin

(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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(2019)
"Love this race! Sign up early if you want to run! "
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This was my seventh year participating in the Dogfish Dash, and I had a great time! The course is an "off-centered" distance of an 8K (almost five miles). It starts and ends at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware, and takes runners through residential areas, around a field and through the small town. It's mostly flat, although there is at least one noticeable hill, at least for someone from a flat area (like me).

Swag is always awesome for this race! This year, it was a long-sleeved shirt and reusable orange Chico Bag. Runners also get a reusable plastic water bottle at the finish. There was also a reusable spork being given out, but the food lines were so long that I didn't get one.

Although this race is at the end of September, it's always hot, and I was thankful for the three water stations on the course, stopping at all of them.

Scenery is pretty basic — nothing amazing, but it's a nice run.

There isn't really an expo. There is no race-day packet pickup, and my boyfriend picked up my packet the day before because I had another commitment.

Parking can be tough, as the on-site parking fills up quickly, but we found a close spot this year. Plan to arrive earlier than you think you need to.

This race is well-organized. I took off one star just because the food lines were so long that I didn't end up getting any of the free food (I did buy some doughnuts). Another food line would definitely help. There was also an isolated problem with my results not showing up initially, but I contacted someone, and that was resolved.

Runners get three beers with entry (cans this year), and the lines for those were much shorter than the food lines.

If you're interested in registering, registration usually opens in April and sells out quickly. This year, it was open longer than usual (there have been years when it's been a few minutes).

This is a fun race, and some people come in costumes, as well! It benefits The Nature Conservancy's Delaware Chapter.

Read my blog recap on She Runs by the Seashore here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2019/10/15/my-seventh-dogfish-dash-was-fun-as-always/

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(2019)
"1979 theme this year for the 40th annivesrary! "
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The Mike Sterling 10K is always one of my favorite races, and this was my eighth year participating. This was the 40th year of the race, so there was a 1979 theme this year, and participants were invited to dress up in gear from the era, which I did.

The course is extremely flat. There are water views at the beginning, and the rest of the course goes through neighborhoods and Crisfield's main road. Runners finish under an arch made out of crab pots.

Swag for this year's race included a retro-style shirt, and the first 100 people also got a sweatband. Overall winners, including the fastest Crisfielder, received painted watermen's boots. First and second place in each age group received crab pot "medals."

There were two official aid stations and one in someone's yard that I think was unofficial. These were helpful, as it's usually very hot on race day — it's always held Labor Day weekend in conjunction with the National Hard Crab Derby.

Packet pickup is race morning near the Crisfield City Dock and is extremely easy. Free parking is plentiful nearby.

I'm friends with the organizers, but either way, I'd say this race is well-organized. It has grown in recent years and everything is done well. The course is well-marked, the swag is cool, there was a costume contest this year for the 1979 theme, and there are also great door prizes, including a Smith Island cake, crab meat and free pairs of shoes from VP Shoes.

I'd definitely recommend this race and hope to see you for the 41st annual next year!

Read my blog post here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2019/09/06/we-threw-it-back-to-1979-at-the-mike-sterling-10k/

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(2019)
"Always a fun time! "
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Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon 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 really enjoyed my third Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon! This race is very well-organized, and it's a large event, but from my perspective, it seemed to go off without a hitch. The course did have to be changed slightly, but everything was well-marked. I also received plenty of communication from Rock 'n' Roll via email and social media leading up to the event.

There were plenty of water stops with friendly volunteers along the course. I stopped at all of them except the last one. Although temps were in the 70s this year, it still felt hot and humid to me, and it was sunny. It is Labor Day Weekend, so that's to be expected — just be sure to hydrate ahead of time and take advantage of the water stops.

The course is also filled with entertainment. There are numerous bands along the course, cheer groups that come out, and locals that come out and support the runners. One in particular I remember year to year is the Croatan Pop Stop, where people hand out ice pops — much appreciated on a hot day!

Half marathon runners also get free access to the American Music Festival, and 5K runners get access to the Sunday night concert. This year's Sunday night performers were Dashboard Confessional and +Live+.

I do think the music festival ticket is awesome, but I'm not sure if that counts as "swag" or just a perk. I'll count it as "swag" and give that a "4." I thought the shirt was OK. I'm a little tired of gray race shirts, and I loved some of the shirts at the expo, so it would have been cool to have one of those colors/designs as the race shirt. There was also a nice finisher medal, and plenty of opportunities to earn additional medals by completing additional Rock 'n' Roll races, both during this weekend and during other events.

It's fun to run through Pacific and Atlantic Avenues, and the boardwalk finish that goes alongside the beach is amazing! I gave the scenery a "4" just because parts of the middle are not overly scenic. The course is very flat; there is one bridge that runners go out and back on. I'm from a flat area, so I could tell it was a hill, but it definitely was not that bad of a hill.

The expo was easy to move through and I got my bib and shirt without any problems. I didn't think there was anything especially exciting about this year's expo, but I didn't really want to buy much anyway.

I stayed at an oceanfront hotel, so I had a short walk to the start. That's why I didn't rate parking/access.

Afterward, runners can relax on the beach. The finish line band performed near the boardwalk this year rather than on the beach. I preferred the beach performance, but I assume there was a reason it was moved.

I'll be back next year! This is a fun race to have as part of my annual schedule.

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