Latest reviews by scott snell

(2020)
"Most impressive virtual race I've run so far."
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Since virtual races and virtual running events are a relatively new concept, the standards for what is expected are still in development in my opinion. Early virtual running events seemed to be more or less a process of reporting your finishing time and awaiting for your swag to arrive in the mail. As this race format has become a more common replacement with in real life races being cancelled due to COVID, the expected standards are being raised. I believe that even when our norm of in real life racing returns, a number of virtual events will remain. Most likely the ones that raised the bar for what runners expect out of a virtual running event. I won't be surprised if the California Coast 500 is one of the virtual events that remains popular even when actual in person racing returns.

The California Coast 500 did so much right and provided a well organized, engaging, and fun event. The communication from the race was great from registration through the finish. Online support for the single problem I had with my runs syncing was super responsive and resolved the issue quickly. The event kept participants engaged through weekly challenges, prizes, and my personal favorite, the chase pack which pitted participants against some well known and extremely accomplished ultrarunners. Having all of your mileage sync automatically and being able to track your and the other runners' progress on the map across California was really cool also.

Read my full review of the race at https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2020/08/using-california-coast-500-virtual.html

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(2019)
"First Time Relay Experience at The GAP = Awesome!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail Relay was a very well organized and fun event for my first experience running a relay race. The race website and prerace emails were both super informative and included all of the information the teams needed to prepare for the event. The individual leg maps with turn by turn instructions were clutch for our team getting from checkpoint to checkpoint. Especially since cell service was spotty at locations when we were trying to use GPS. In hindsight, I would highly recommend downloading the maps ahead of time so they are available on your mapping app of choice for those situations when/if you lose service. The only improvement I would recommend to the race organizers for the turn by turn directions provided on the website is to include distances between turns.

Race management also went all out with the swag. Our swag bags at the start were packed with lots of great running gear and other useful items. We all got a long sleeve shirt, a Nathan flashing wearable safety light for night running, a $10 Sheetz gift card, Honey Stinger waffles, Honey Stinger gels, GU Hoppy Trails gel, body glide, Balega socks, and Nuun tabs. It was quite a haul!

All of the course that I saw was beautiful and completely runnable. My only gripe about the course at all is that two of the four legs I ran were after dark so I wasn’t able to enjoy the sights. From the views I got during daylight, I can only imagine what sights I missed out on during the night time hours. I realize that with a 150 mile course running portions in the dark is unavoidable so I’m not complaining about it. I enjoy night runs through the woods with only a headlamp to light my way, but it is a trade off for missing out on the daylight views. Regardless, I still enjoyed the course and having a bit of time between legs to check out the sights at the exchange stations along the way. One of the exchange station highlights was the train museum that had a full miniature train set on display.

Support at the exchange points provided by the race organizers was good throughout and seemed to improve as a greater distance was covered. The Domino's pizza over night was a real treat. The Panera bagels and coffee in the morning was also much appreciated. The other bonuses like the photo booth at Boston (exchange station #20) was also a nice surprise.

The finish line celebration was also very well done. With the finish line celebratory music (yeah Linkin Park!) well within earshot, our final runner came into view. When she reached us we all got our legs to move again and ran across the finish line as a team. The announcer was quite the hype man and got every team pumped as they crossed the finish line calling out their team name. After receiving our hefty finisher medals and getting some finish line photos, we made our way over to the conveniently located after party at the Hofbrauhaus. With the beautiful South Shore Riverfront Park in view from our seating area, we were served large soft dough pretzels with cheese dipping sauce and our choice of biers: lager, hefe weizen, or dunkel. On top of it all, there was a bottomless pierogi buffet that our table ate our share of.

Read my full race report at https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2019/10/2019-gap-trail-relay-initial-impressions.html

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(2019)
"Second trip around Pine Creek"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

My second time running Eastern States 100 did not go as I had hoped. Nothing went terribly wrong, I just didn't have a stellar day. The race itself was super organized and appeared to be managed flawlessly with no hint of any problems. I wouldn't recommend it as a first time 100 miler, but I would say it is a great race for anyone who enjoys a challenging course with plenty of beautiful scenery.

Read my full race report at https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2019/08/2019-eastern-states-100.html

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(2019)
"Racing to an unknown finish line"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
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This event is a slight twist on the last person standing race format made explosively popular recently by Courtney Dauwalter and Johan Steene’s amazing performances (279.168 and 283.335 miles respectively) at the 2018 Big Backyard Ultra hosted by the evil genius Gary Cantrell aka Lazarus Lake. The race format requires runners to complete a 4.166667 mile loop in under an hour. The beauty of the rather seemingly random distance is that in exactly 24 hours you’ll have run exactly 100 miles. Sounds pretty easy so far, but every hour the race restarts and all runners must do it again and again and again until all but one runner remains. The last runner to finish one lap more than any other runner becomes the sole winner; all other runners receive a big fat DNF (Did Not Finish). Is it fair? Maybe not. Could it be soul crushing? Maybe so, but that is how the race format works. In fact, there could be no winner at all if a final group of runners goes out and none of them make it back before the one hour cut off.

The RDs of Run Ragged added a few twists to the format making it a bit unique amongst the abundant crop of so many new races that have popped up recently which are nearly exact replicas of the Big Backyard Ultra format. Where the traditional format uses a daylight trail loop and a night road course, Run Ragged used a single trail loop for its entirety. Most last person standing races use a relatively easy 4.166667-mile-long course. Run Ragged opted for a more challenging 5k loop. It was a shorter distance, but from what I’ve heard of other last person standing events the terrain and elevation gain (≈ 500’ per lap) made it a tougher course. While a good portion of the Run Ragged course was runnable, it was not easy or mindless running. The more runnable sections were broken up by technical stretches, short and steep climbs, and some tricky descents.

Read my full race report at: https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2019/06/2019-run-ragged-last-person-standing.html

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(2019)
"Just As Good the Third Time As the First Time"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Just as amazing of a race for my third consecutive year of running it as it was my first time there. Beautiful trails, great and helpful aid station volunteers, and an amazing after party. This race is nearly everything a trail ultra should be.

Read my full race report at https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2019/06/2019-hyner-view-trail-challenge-50k.html

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