Latest reviews by Vanessa Junkin

(2018)
"Unique race!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was my fifth year running the Across the Bay 10K, which takes runners across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The bridge is closed to pedestrian traffic aside from this race, so it's definitely a unique opportunity to run across the bridge and get a different perspective.

I'm giving T-shirts/swag a "2" this year because there was a spelling error on the shirt. The font is small, but it says "Queen Ann's" County instead of "Queen Anne's." As someone who really cares about spelling and grammar, I think it's crazy that this was misspelled on thousands of shirts and that nobody caught it. The medals are nice, and it's cool that they interlock, but runners were told that we would be completing a five-year medal puzzle this year, but the medal had an extra notch. This seems disingenuous and leads me to believe that the race organizers are trying to get people to run another year (even if they weren't planning to return) to keep their puzzles going.

This is a cupless race, which makes sense because you don't want people throwing cups off the bridge, or have cups fall into the Chesapeake Bay. So, I carried a water bottle during the race and didn't use the aid stations.

The expo is held the two days before the race at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Runners have to either attend the expo to pick up their shirts and bibs, or pay to have their bibs mailed to their homes — there is no race-day bib pickup. It was easy to park and get bibs and shirts when my friend and I attended Saturday, but there was nothing special about it that stood out to me.

I give this race a "2" for elevation difficulty. I live in a very flat area, and there is a gradual incline to reach the top of the bridge. It's not extremely hilly, but for me, it was noticeable. It is nice to have the downhill after reaching the top.

Parking was easy, but I'm giving it a "3" because we are charged to park in the parking lots to take the required shuttles. I paid $20 for a parking pass for the Kent Narrows Center. I think that's excessive when I already paid $60 to run the race. At least my friend and I drove together so we didn't both need to buy a parking pass.

Race management I'm giving a "4." This race does seem to be very well organized and run smoothly — particularly for such a large race — but I was left feeling disappointed by some things, like not getting the completed medal puzzle that we were led to believe we would receive, and the spelling error. There were also no space blankets at the end, and it would be nice to get one free beer.

Despite the costs, I would recommend doing this race at least once, just to experience what it's like to run across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It is a fun experience!

Read my blog post here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2018/11/09/across-the-bay-10k-i-beatthebridge-again/

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(2018)
"Beautiful race with challenging hills"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Freedom’s Run 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!

This was my first time running Freedom's Run, and I loved this small-town race, although it was very challenging! This was my ninth marathon, and it was my slowest one. I'm also not in the shape I was when I ran my first marathon, but this race was very hilly. It was also very well organized and a lot of fun.

The marathon begins in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and ends in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The majority of the course is actually run on the other side of the Potomac River in Maryland. We started out in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, ran in the beautiful Murphy Farm area, made our way down a steep downhill to Lower Town Harpers Ferry and across a bridge onto the C&O Canal Towpath. We then followed that for about 10 miles before heading up the very hilly Millers Sawmill Road. After that, we traveled the beautiful Antietam National Battlefield, which was also very hilly. We went through the town of Sharpsburg and finished on the Shepherd University football field. I was able to pick up the pace in the last three miles.

I rated this course a "5" for elevation difficulty. I live in an extremely flat area, and these steep hills were certainly a challenge. My watch logged 1,417 feet of elevation gain and 1,572 feet of elevation loss. I'm assuming that much of the loss must come from that early downhill, because it felt very uphill.

I also rated the scenery as a "5." This course was beautiful and provided a lot to enjoy along the way. There were few spectators, but the scenery made up for that!

There weren't as many aid stations as you would normally see at a marathon, but I knew that going into it. However, the aid stations weren't always exactly where I thought they would be. I also spent a little longer at each aid station since we were not supposed to litter and there were not usually trash cans after the aid station (a few had this, which I liked).

I really liked the long-sleeve shirt that I received — I love the color! I often wear a medium, but have been ordering a women's large in running shirts recently, so I did that for this race, and it looks like it will be a good size. The medal was beautiful and unique — crafted by Joy Bridy Pottery. We also received a reusable water bottle and a pint glass.

Because I finished somewhat near the end, I actually got a whole pizza from the volunteers. I also enjoyed a beer. The pizza is near the finish line (I didn't realize this at first), but the beer is across the street at the Bavarian Inn.

Parking was extremely easy. I boarded the bus at the Shepherd University Wellness Center early on race day to head to Harpers Ferry for the race, and the parking lot seemed almost empty. This did mean there was a bit of a walk from the Bavarian Inn afterward, but it was very easy to park, and it was free.

There wasn't much of an expo, which was fine with me, as the expo is not super important to me. Packet pickup was extremely easy and quick, and I also stayed for a talk by race director/co-founder and author Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, which was cool. There was also race-morning packet pickup.

Race management was good. I was aware of what I was getting into, I got emails ahead of time, and I really appreciated tips that Cucuzzella gave race morning, including his recommendations of when to walk on the course.

Although this was a difficult course, I thought it was a great race!

Check out my blog recap here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2018/10/13/freedoms-run-marathon-a-literal-uphill-battle-among-beautiful-battlefields/

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(2018)
"A great small-town race! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I love the Mike Sterling 10K! This was my seventh year in a row running this race. The race is held the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend as part of the National Hard Crab Derby in Crisfield, Maryland.

It only costs $25 to enter, and if you get five people to sign up with your referral link, you can get $20 back. So it's definitely a good value — whether or not you get the money back.

The course starts not far from the Crisfield City Dock and takes runners on an out-and-back by the water before heading into neighborhoods. The last part of the race is a straight road heading back to the start, which is more than a mile. The race is extremely flat.

From what I recall, there were three official water stops and one that looked unofficial but was still great. Since this is always a hot and humid race, the number of water stops were appreciated, and the volunteers were helpful.

This is a small town (technically a city of less than 3,000 residents), and parking is easy. I arrived a little bit later than I planned to and still easily found a spot close to the start. Parking is free and plentiful.

I'm friends with the race directors, and I thought the race was well-organized. The course was well-marked, there were enough water stops and there were wet towels at the end — which were awesome. I did not win an award this year, but the overall and age group awards are really cool. This year, the overall male and female runners, the fastest runner from Crisfield and the fastest walker each received a watermen's boot, and age group winners received a mini crab pot on a lanyard as a "medal." Second place in each age group also got an award.

There are also lots of door prizes, including a pound of crab meat, a Smith Island cake and free running shoes from Vernon Powell Shoes.

Normally, the premium is a cotton T-shirt, but this year it was a cotton tank top. Although I don't think I will be running in it much, I do like the switch to the tank top! It's nice to have something different.

There isn't an expo for this race. You can just pick up your packet that morning.

I would definitely recommend this race!

Check out my race recap here: sherunsbytheseashore.com/2018/09/07/feeling-strong-at-the-mike-sterling-10k/

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(2018)
"A great small-town race! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I love the Mike Sterling 10K! This was my seventh year in a row running this race. The race is held the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend as part of the National Hard Crab Derby in Crisfield, Maryland.

It only costs $25 to enter, and if you get five people to sign up with your referral link, you can get $20 back. So it's definitely a good value — whether or not you get the money back.

The course starts not far from the Crisfield City Dock and takes runners on an out-and-back by the water before heading into neighborhoods. The last part of the race is a straight road heading back to the start, which is more than a mile. The race is extremely flat.

From what I recall, there were three official water stops and one that looked unofficial but was still great. Since this is always a hot and humid race, the number of water stops were appreciated, and the volunteers were helpful.

This is a small town (technically a city of less than 3,000 residents), and parking is easy. I arrived a little bit later than I planned to and still easily found a spot close to the start. Parking is free and plentiful.

I'm friends with the race directors, and I thought the race was well-organized. The course was well-marked, there were enough water stops and there were wet towels at the end — which were awesome. I did not win an award this year, but the overall and age group awards are really cool. This year, the overall male and female runners, the fastest runner from Crisfield and the fastest walker each received a watermen's boot, and age group winners received a mini crab pot on a lanyard as a "medal." Second place in each age group also got an award.

There are also lots of door prizes, including a pound of crab meat, a Smith Island cake and free running shoes from Vernon Powell Shoes.

Normally, the premium is a cotton T-shirt, but this year it was a cotton tank top. Although I don't think I will be running in it much, I do like the switch to the tank top! It's nice to have something different.

There isn't an expo for this race. You can just pick up your packet that morning.

I would definitely recommend this race!

Check out my race recap here: sherunsbytheseashore.com/2018/09/07/feeling-strong-at-the-mike-sterling-10k/

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(2018)
"Go Team Bacon! Tough terrain for Salisbury, Maryland!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This is a fun — but very tough — trail race at the Naylor Mill Forest Trail in Salisbury, Maryland. The terrain is unlike most of Salisbury, so I was about four-to-five-plus minutes per mile slower than my normal race pace (although I think everyone was affected by the terrain, they might not have all been affected as much as I was). It was also hot.

The course started out with about a mile around the baseball/softball fields at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex. This was definitely the easiest mile of the race, and it helped to spread people out before we got to the single-track trails. Once we entered the woods, the trails were narrow and there were plenty of roots to dodge. There were also hills. Although the hills were steep and tough for someone who lives in a flat area like me (I live in the city where the race is held — Salisbury, Maryland), I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars because I know there are much hillier races. My watch logged 288 feet of elevation gain.

The race was very affordable — just $15 — and the shirt was awesome! I gave it a 4 out of 5 because it's a regular T-shirt, but it has a really fun design. Runners could sign up as part of Team Bacon or Team Scrapple, and there were also a few people on Team Veggie. Runners got a shirt that corresponded to their team — mine was a blue shirt with a piece of bacon running ahead of a piece of scrapple. There was also a fun personalized bib.

There was one aid station, which was at a good spot along the course. It was announced before the race that this would be a cup-less race, which makes sense because we wouldn't want to litter the trails, and it would be possible that if there were cups, they could end up off the trails or down hills. There was also bacon available at this station, along with wet washcloths — which were appreciated!

The scenery is nice and is mostly in the woods. Parking was plentiful, close to the start, and free.

Although my watch logged the course as a little long (4.75 miles for a 7K — which should be about 4.35 miles), I would say race management was great. My friend does manage the race, and I think he made it a great experience for everyone. The course was extremely well-marked, which was crucial for being in the woods, and I liked the touches like the teams and their colors, the personalized bibs, bacon and scrapple doughnuts at the beginning and a general fun evening — it's held on a Friday evening.

There was not really an expo, just a packet pickup at Smokin' BBQ at The Pavilion at 1400 South the evening before the race.

Read my blog recap here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2018/08/11/tough-terrain-repping-team-bacon-at-the-naylor-mill-7k/

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