Latest reviews by Samantha Roderigues

(2018)
"A Race Through the Desert"
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This was a really cool race that I would like to do again someday!

They give you a really nice technical tee, a little backpack, chap-stick, a finishers medal, and free race photos.

The aid stations start out every two miles on the mark, but increase to every single mile at some point after the half (thank goodness).

The course starts around a housing development in the middle of the desert and at about mile 5 spits you out onto the longest, straightest stretch of highway through the middle of the desert. I honestly felt like I was in a Road Runner and Coyote cartoon. It was really cool running down the seemingly infinite stretch of straight, flat highway, past tons of cacti and tumble weeds toward the mountains & plateaus in the distance.

Not only was the course incredibly straight, but it was also really, really flat. The course elevation map shows it's almost all slightly downhill, but I honestly don't remember any significant hills up or down.

Parking both at the start and finish were easy (this marathon does not finish where it starts). Also as soon as you got onto the longs stretch of highway your friends/cheer squad could safely pull over to the side to cheer for you pretty much at any point. (I had a bad day and my friends stopped for me at EVERY mile. It seemed like most of the other runners' cheer squads did about the same so there was people cheering you on a solid amount of the time.)

The race was run really well. They had the big flag markers at every mile, a clock at the half, and ample signage anywhere there was actually a turn to be made (not often, but still important so no one would be getting lost in the desert).

My only "problem" with this race was it was in Arizona so while it is December and doesn't actually get too hot temperature wise, the dry heat and sun beating down on you at all times made it seem so much hotter. I was so glad for the aid stations upping to every mile because I felt like the water was evaporating from my throat as I drank it. I don't usually drink much during races, but I stopped at every single of the last aid station, sometimes taking two waters. I would definitely still recommend this race and just say be prepared for the heat!

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(2018)
"Can't wait for next year!"
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I had an absolute blast at this race and will definitely be attempting to get in again next year!

For SWAG you get a finisher's medal, the choice between two different colored technical t-shirts, and race photos (photos not free but awesome!). The finish line also has tons of different food options and some activities, like yoga!

The aid stations were the usual about every two miles and had Gatorade and water. I believe they also had fuel at some (I had brought my own). Many were on both sides of the road, which was really nice. They were also generally really big, with lots of awesome volunteers (lots of adorable kids helped out too)!

The scenery was SO BEAUTIFUL! You did a lot of running along nice country back roads full of trees and along rivers. It was REALLY hard not to stop and jump in! Next year I will definitely be making a weekend of this race and checking out the course when I'm not racing.

Elevation was decently flat, some inclines and declines definitely. Mile 5 there was a hill medium in both length and steepness. Mile 8 there was a VERY steep, but pretty short hill. They had a full out marching band playing at the bottom of the super steep hill so that was a really neat way to pump you up!

Parking was easy to get to and your standard "field converted to parking lot" so plenty of space. I stayed at the KOA Campground and would highly recommend it as it's 2.4 miles from parking. Next year I might just warm up and cool down to and from the race and not bring my car. It's a point to point race so you were shuttled from the your car to the start, and then again shuttled from the finish to your car at the end. The shuttles seemed to run regularly without any issue.

The race management seemed amazing. They put on a great race with all the stops:
- racing clocks at every other mile
- bands and music about every other mile
- gave the race either the entire road or at least a whole lane the entire time
- instant results at the end
- bags shuttled from the start to the end (because point to point)

Overall I absolutely LOVED this race and will be attempting to get in again next year. I say that because registration sells out in about 15 minutes. I ran it for fun since I heard people raving about it, but I might race it next year as I feel like it's a course you could definitely PR on. My only warning is cell service isn't the best in that area, but that's what you get for such an awesome, nature filled course!

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(2018)
"Ragnars are awesome but not this one in particular"
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I want to start off by saying Ragnars are great races and that I would recommend everyone does one at some point in their life! But my team and I all felt this particular Ragnar was pretty poorly executed.

As always you get the really soft cotton shirt and puzzle medals that you must put together to form a sentence. That was great. But rest of the "after party" was really disappointing. The "meal" was only a hotdog, which was even already put in a bun (so although hotdogs themselves are gluten free, I could no longer eat it). Also I'm pretty sure we finished with some of the elite teams but we still weren't fast enough for them to not already have run out of soda.

Aid stations were mostly non-existent. We had to stop to buy our own water constantly. I'm all for cup-less, but it seemed they almost were going hydration-less as well. One of the only water stops I saw was during my night leg, pushed way back from the road in a completely unlit little truck stop that I wasn't about to go use.

The course was mostly highways. And not scenic highways either.

Pennsylvanian hills are no joke. They almost feel never ending. It doesn't help that the roads are super winding so you can never see the top. I would have loved to run elevation like this elsewhere.

Parking was always fine since most exchanges were at places with parking lots. I'd still say access was poor though since I'd consider that access to runners as well for Ragnar style races. The roads almost never had anywhere you could safely pull over to cheer for your runner. This made for much less cheering than the other Ragnar I ran and that was really disappointing.

I don't want to completely bash race management because they put on other Ragnars which are amazing! But I'm not sure what they were thinking with this one. The course wasn't very safe since the road shoulders were generally extremely small or non-existent. It was often on high traffic areas/highways. The course signage was pretty bad for runners and non-existent for vans causing a lot of getting lost for both. It honestly seemed like the roads they chose in Pennsylvania just weren't made for this type of race and they need to rethink the course.

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(2018)
"An awesome race I'd highly recommend!"
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The Tough Mudder is an awesome race with an amazing atmosphere! This was my entire group's first Tough Mudder and I think it is safe to say we all caught the bug and plan to do a full in the future!

You get a really nice technical t-shirt, a cool sweatband, and free photos. The only thing about the photos is for numbers they only give you a front bib (which doesn't really work well for mud races). They had markers at the beginning (that looked scarily like sharpies, but weren't) without instructions. I would honestly recommend writing the number across your forehead for being able to have the most of pictures tagged. Even so some of the photos get taken from behind so you might want to know about what time you hit each obstacle. That's if you really like photos like me. I also brought my GoPro to take my own photos of the group, which I'd highly recommend!

The aid stations were the best I've seen at a mud race. They had water, some electrolyte drink, and bathrooms. There were also some with energy bars and bananas!

The course was also pretty scenic for a mudder and included a decent amount of pretty woods!

There wasn't much challenging elevation. The obstacles were the challenging part.

Parking was your standard field converted into a parking lot, but it was well run so parking was a quick and easy task. You need to pay for a pass, but the pass is in the same QR code as your registration so you won't be forgetting it! There was an extremely short shuttle ride (like we could have walked) to the actual event from the general parking lot.

Race management did an excellent job of setting up the whole event! They set a great tone of teamwork such that any obstacle you needed help on you were instantly offered help by multiple other participants. It was a really great atmosphere. We honestly took forever to get over the warped wall type obstacle because we sat cheering people on with all the other participants for awhile. It was REALLY fun. We had a last minute switch of registration and the website didn't allow it the day of the race, but the management at the race were able to quickly help us fix it. They also had a changing tent at the end which was really nice to be able to get out of our wet clothes.

Everyone in the group agreed we were slightly sad we hadn't signed up for the full.

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(2018)
"Awesome Race!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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I ran this race as the half last year, but didn't realize the full wasn't just an extension of the half course.

As always Rhode Races provides you with an awesome technical t-shrit, a finishers medal (that can be combined with other race medals in the series to make a mega medal!), a bunch of little things in a goodie bag, and (my personal favorite) really high quality free race photos!

The aid stations were about ever 2 miles (with a slight gap in the second half of the half I noticed), but were awesome and always had water, Gatorade, and super friendly volunteers!

The scenery for both the half and full impressed me since I wasn't expecting very much being in a city. They managed to find lovely country back road and water side views for the most part. A lot of the second half being along the bike path.

I was in a rush on packet pickup day so I didn't really have time to check out the expo much. Seemed like there was a decent amount of merchandise though.

For being labeled as a really flat race (and knowing a good portion is along the bike path which is the flattest of flat), the first third to half included a decent amount of little hills and inclines. But again the second half is along the bike path and completely flat until about the last 3 miles through the city.

Parking is at the Providence Place Mall so there's tons and it's super easy to get to the start. It's not free, but you could probably look into other lots in the area.

I've run many of Rhode Races races and they have all been great! They seem to really care about your racing experience and just keep improving their already great management yearly!

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