Latest reviews by Vanessa Junkin

(2018)
"Fun race with great community support! "
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Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Vermont City 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!

This was my first time running the Vermont City Marathon, which is in Burlington, Vermont, and I was impressed. I could tell it was going to be a good race leading up to it, because everything seemed very well-organized. I also really like the city of Burlington.

There were Facebook Live videos each week and regular emails. The website had all the pertinent information, and I was added to a Facebook group called New2-26.2, through which a coach provided training plans. We also received training info from the coach via email. (I was provided with this for free through BibRave, but this is available with a deluxe registration for $10 additional - early rate - or $15 additional - later rates.)

The shirt was a basic short-sleeve tech shirt, but I thought the design was really cool. This year was the race's 30th anniversary, so that was a major theme in the design of the shirt and the medal. There was no extra physical swag for the regular runner (I received some extra items as a BibRave Pro), but there were perks like food and beer at the finish.

Aid stations were awesome. There were so many water stops that I lost count during the race (a full list of water stops is available on the race website at www.runvcm.org.) The volunteers were helpful and there were so many of them. The on-course fuel was UnTapped, a maple syrup fuel that I trained with after seeing it would be on course. The fuel was not with the water stops. There were also unofficial aid stations, including a Maple Syrup Shots station and at least two ice pop stations beyond the one listed.

I really liked the course. It goes out in a few different directions, continually returning to the center of the city. The first part is in the downtown area and includes the Church Street Marketplace (runners go through here twice during the race). Next is the Burlington Beltline, which is a highway with nice views. Runners then go back to a city environment before heading up toward the Burlington Greenway (bike path), with an energetic neighborhood on the way. There are views of Lake Champlain from the bike path and from a different neighborhood. Being from a very flat area, I thought it was a hilly course, although it seemed like people from hillier areas did not think it was that hilly. My watch logged 696 feet of elevation gain, with more elevation lost. The most daunting hill was on Battery Street, during Mile 16, but I noticed even the smaller hills. The next largest hill was leaving the Beltline area, around Mile 9.

This year's race, the 30th anniversary, had the added perk of having Meb Keflezighi there for the race. I got to meet Meb and get a photo with him at Waterfront Park the day before the race. I went to the expo later to get an autograph, and ended up getting another photo instead because the line was very long. However, plenty of people did get autographs. It was great that he was so accessible. Even though I finished too late for this, some people even got high-fives from Meb at the finish line. He ran with a relay team.

I picked up my bib and shirt easily on Friday evening, but since I got there right before the expo closed, I returned the next day. There was an opportunity to taste and purchase 14th Star Brewing Co. beer, which I did. UnTapped was also at the expo with samples, and I bought some maple leaf earrings from Danforth Pewter. It was a smaller expo, but it had everything I needed.

I was told by my host that if I left before 6 a.m. (the race starts at 7 a.m.), parking would not be hard to find. He was correct, and I was able to find a free parking spot not far from Waterfront Park. I can't speak to later parking, but I found parking easily. I saw that there were also shuttles from some hotels.

I enjoyed the contact via email and information ahead of the race. The course was also well-marked and easy to follow. There were plenty of portable toilets, lots of water stops and everything went on smoothly.

The finish line was awesome. I came in at 5:07:17, and there were crowds of people on both sides — I felt like a celebrity. I got post-race food and drink including water, a piece of pizza, chips, Ben & Jerry's (there were samples, but I bought a full-size cone). Runners also got a free beer. This year, there were different Vermont brewers' beers. The 14th Star beer ran out before I got to the tent, but I got a Zero Gravity beer that I liked.

There were also tons of drummers on the course, from the Taiko Drummers on the Battery Street hill and drummers on the Beltline to people drumming on trash cans and bins. There was great community support for this race, which is definitely appreciated! Everyone was also very friendly.

Check out my full race recap on my blog: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2018/05/31/vermont-city-marathon-full-of-syrup-scenery-and-support/

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(2018)
"Awesome race with great swag! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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I ran the Coastal Delaware Running Festival Half Marathon for the first time this year. I ran the race as the 2:30 half marathon pacer, so I did receive a free entry.

I loved this race! It was well-organized, scenic and fun, with awesome swag. I received a really nice shirt, a BOCO Gear trucker hat (finishers received this at the end), a great medal (also received at the end, of course), a pint glass and a magnet. So much swag! I will note that I generally wear a medium in regular clothes, but I have often started ordering a large for race shirts, and I am definitely glad I did for this race. The shirt is more of a regular-wear shirt than a running shirt (at least it seems that way to me) and seems to run on the smaller side; the large fits well. Unfortunately, a friend who is about the same size as me had ordered a medium shirt and wanted to switch to large and was unable to -- something to consider if you are a woman.

Aid stations were plentiful and had what I needed. It seemed like they were well-placed on the course. I didn't take any fuel, so I didn't pay attention to that as much, but I did get water at each station.

This course is very scenic! It starts and finishes on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk and takes runners up and down the beautiful Gordon's Pond trail, with a loop rather than a turnaround. It is also very flat. During the half marathon, my watch only logged 118 feet of elevation gain.

The expo was easy to navigate and I didn't have to wait in line for my packet, but it was nothing special. There were only a few vendors and a photo background where you could get a photo. The expo is not really something I personally care that much about at a race, though.

Parking was very easy and free (off-season at the beach). My friend and I arrived early because I picked up my pace sign at 6:15 a.m. ahead of the 7:30 half marathon start, and we got a very close spot.

Race management was great. Everything about the race was well-run. I received numerous emails and Athlinks updates.

There was also great food afterward! In addition to some of the regular runner food (like bananas), there was a full buffet from sponsor Grotto Pizza that included pizza, baked ziti, chicken tenders and salad. Runners could also have three beers. The lines were very long and a little confusing, but I found out that the lines were shorter inside.

Read my full blog post here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2018/04/24/a-successful-scenic-pacing-experience-at-the-coastal-delaware-running-festival-half-marathon/

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(2018)
"Had fun pacing this race! "
Overall
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This was my third year pacing the OCMD Island to Island Half Marathon, and this year went much better than last year as far as the weather (which obviously can't be controlled). Last year was abnormally hot and humid, and this year was still somewhat hot but much more normal. If you read my BibRave review from last year, you may have seen I barely didn't hit my pace last year (I had really tried to hit the pace, but the heat negatively affected me), but I did this year. I did receive a free entry to the race as a pacer.

The race course goes from Assateague Island to Ocean City, with the course doing a loop in a neighborhood and going up a little on the Boardwalk before turning back. The course is flat aside from one hill, which is the Verrazano Bridge leaving Assateague. The bridge is early on in the race, which is good.

Since it's a point-to-point race, runners take buses to Assateague from the Ocean City Inlet. Since my friend and I were pacing, we got there pretty early and it was easy to board a bus; we didn't have to wait in line. There were also plenty of portable toilets at the Inlet. We ended up going to the bathroom in Assateague. We used an indoor bathroom, and there was a wait, but we still had time before the race began.

I would give course scenery a "4" because the beginning and end are awesome — Assateague and Ocean City — with water views, the Boardwalk and beach sights, but the middle can get a little tedious, as it's a long stretch of road.

The T-shirt this year was black, with the race artwork on the back and the logo small on the front left side. I got a women's cut, and it seems to be more of a regular T-shirt than a running shirt, although you could run in it. It seems to run a little small. I'm normally a medium, but I have been ordering large in race shirts recently since they all seem to be sized differently. I got a medium for this one and it is snug. I would have preferred a large. The medal was cool and had a Maryland theme (although it was missing the word "half" in front of "marathon," it did say "13.1").

The aid stations on the course were good and the volunteers were helpful, but I think there should have been more. Runners around me were surprised that they were three miles apart at times.

My friend picked up my packet for me and there wasn't really an expo anyway as far as I know, so I did not rate that.

Parking was very easy, but I took off a star because the price was somewhat high ($3/hour in the offseason). My friend paid about $16 for us to park, putting in enough money till shortly after 11 a.m. There was also a line at times to pay at the kiosks (you can also pay via an app — it's a new system for Ocean City).

After the race, runners could enjoy a piece of pizza and snacks like cookies, granola bars and bananas, along with a beer (no craft beer this year). I thought this was a well-run race in general and I didn't have any problems.

Read my full race recap on my blog here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2018/05/04/true-redemption-pacing-the-ocmd-island-to-island-half-marathon-the-year-after-a-tough-race/

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(2018)
"Small-town race with fun and food! "
Overall
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This was my fourth year participating in the Run for the Animals in Onancock, Virginia, on Virginia's Eastern Shore, and I had a great time! This race is well-run and has a fun small-town atmosphere.

The race was just $40 (early rate) for all distances, including a 10K, half marathon and noncompetitive 5K. I ran the 10K this year. This year, it was hotter than it normally was, but there were three aid stations (one was the same one that we passed twice), which I thought was a good amount, and they had what I needed. It would have been good to have a trash can, but I am hoping the volunteers picked up the cups I dropped.

I loved that this race had a mug as a premium like it did last year. Last year, the mug was wider and black; this year, it was a different shape and there were all kinds of colors to choose from. My friends and I had trouble choosing! There are also finisher medals and the overall and age group trophies are unique. The shirt is a pretty basic tech shirt, but I would have given the 5-star rating just to have something cool like a mug.

The town of Onancock is nice to run through; then there is an out-and-back stretch on a road with not much to see. The race is very flat and it's very easy to park close to the start/finish, and of course, parking is free. Race management is great; everything went smoothly and I did not have any problems at all.

There is not what I would describe as an expo; people can pick up their packets race morning.

After the race, there is tons of food, including delicious Corner Bakery doughnuts, fried chicken, various breads, beer and more. I would definitely recommend checking out this race!

Read my recap on my blog here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2018/04/22/run-for-the-animals-10k-doughnuts-heat-and-more/

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(2018)
"Another awesome Tim Kennard River Run!"
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This was my eighth year running the Tim Kennard River Run, so clearly, it's a race that I enjoy, as I come back every year. It's a great community event in my hometown of Salisbury, Maryland. There's a great atmosphere and it's a fun time. The race includes a 10-miler and 5K, which are both certified.

There is also the Rob's Run for Kids, which is a free event for children the day before the race (donations are accepted).

My running club, the Eastern Shore Running Club, is one of the Tim Kennard River Run sponsors, and I set up at the ESRC table at the packet pickup the day before the race. I didn't rate the expo category because it's more of a packet pickup; there are only a few vendors.

Salisbury is a flat area, so it's a flat course (if you live in a flat area, like me, you may notice a few minor hills). I also enjoy the scenery. The race starts and finishes at Salisbury University and includes nearby neighborhoods, the downtown area and views of the Wicomico River.

I really like this year's shirt (although I think last year's might be my favorite from this race). The women's shirt was blue with pink writing. I also loved the age group awards — insulated cups, which were teal for women and black for men — and I was able to earn one this year.

The aid stations were great. There were a good amount of them and the volunteers were ready with water. I brought my own fuel and don't remember if there was fuel on the course.

I also give race management a 5 — I am friends with the race organizers and my boyfriend is on the committee, but this race is well-planned. One really cool thing about this race is that there are training runs every Sunday for about two months leading up to the race, many of which I attended. The course was also well-marked and there was a fun after-party at the finish with chili, Rise Up Coffee and other food.

Parking is a breeze — I parked in the parking lot right by the start/finish. Parking is free.

I would definitely recommend this race and would love to see you there next year!

Check out my blog post here: https://sherunsbytheseashore.com/2018/03/29/tim-kennard-river-run-a-fun-community-atmosphere-and-a-successful-finish/

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