Latest reviews by scott snell

(2022)
"Seeking Virtual Elevation Gain"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Virtual races will never be the same as in person races. That is just a fact. In some ways virtual races have an advantage over actual races. Virtual events of course negate the need for travel plans and save all the associated costs making them simpler and more affordable. They are also much easier to work into a busy schedule making them more accessible. But, all that being said, I still much prefer the excitement, feel, and energy of in real life races. Especially for a race like the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon as I have heard (and seen pics) of just how beautiful and scenic the actual course is. For that reason, I believe I suffered from a bit of FOMO while running the virtual option.

The highlight for me of this virtual run that made it unique was that it had an elevation gain requirement. Yes, not only do you run the distance, you also run it on a route that meets the minimum elevation gain guidelines. And I will add that they did not skimp on the swag. The finisher medal is one of the largest I’ve received at any race.

I have no complaints about the virtual race, but if I run this one again it will most likely be in person on the actual course.

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(2021)
"A Trail Party With No End In Sight"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Backyard Squatch Ultra backyard style race was everything I expected from a backyard style race and a Sassquad Trail Runners’ event: great food, friendly and welcoming community, the most kind and helpful volunteers, and a top notch Race Director (Kim Levinsky) at the helm! The venue at Stokes State Forest was perfect for this style of race with a beautiful and runnable trail loop and an easy out and back on a road for the night laps. I really can't say enough great things about the Sassquad Trail Runners and this race. If you are looking to dip your toes in the backyard waters or dive in head first, I highly recommend checking out The Backyard Squatch Ultra!

“I just have to keep running. I can control that. That’s all I can do.” That’s the conclusion I came to at some point during the second day of the Backyard Squatch Ultra when I was beginning to lose hope and feared it was only a matter of time until I DNFed (Did Not Finish). That was my lowest point of the race, mentally at least, and thankfully it only lasted a couple hours until it passed and then we ran into a second night without sleep.

Read my full race report at:
https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2021/09/2021-backyard-squatch-ultra-paving-path.html

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(2021)
"Inspiring A New Generation of Space Explorers and Runners"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

I actually ran the Inspiration4 Mile Virtual Run twice. I ran it separately with both of my two older boys. When I told them about the Inspiration4 mission they were both immediately interested. They both have already shown some interest in space exploration, pretty standard for all kids under the age of 10 I assume, but their interest might be a bit beyond the standard. Of the two, one of them has worn his NASA shirt to the point of extreme fading and the other is always telling me about what he learned watching the YouTube channel of a former NASA employee. When I showed them the race swag with the Inspiration4 logo, they were both committed to running the 4 miles!
While I thought the swag was cool, it wasn’t my primary motivation for running. My single biggest motivation was that the Inspiration 4 mission had named St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® as the charitable beneficiary of the mission.The fact that this virtual run benefitted families in need was what got me to sign up.
The part of this virtual run that I enjoyed most was sharing it with my two older boys. Sharing my passion for running with my boys has been one of the greatest experiences that being a father has brought me. Anytime I can share a running experience with my boys is a blessing! The fact that the Inspiration4 Mile Virtual Run provided the inspiration and motivation for me to share some happy miles with my boys was the most valuable takeaway for me.

Read my full race report at:
https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2021/09/inspiration4-mile-virtual-run-review.html

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(2021)
"Hope and Faith against a DNF"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Keystone Backyard Ultra is a "backyard" format style race. The backyard race format seems to still be growing in popularity with more races of this format popping up around the world. It’s a unique format as it has no set total distance or time that runners must complete; they must simply go farther than every other runner there. The standard format is a 4.167̅ mile loop that is run every hour on the hour. Every runner must finish the loop within the hour and then be at the starting line for the start of the next loop at the next hour. If the runner doesn’t make it back within the hour or is not at the starting line for the start of the next lap, that runner is out of the race with a DNF. This continues until only one runner is left. The winner must complete one loop more within the hour than any other runner. There is also the possibility that the race wins if multiple runners go out for a loop and all fail to finish before the hour cut off. It’s a harsh and unforgiving format that is as mentally draining as it is physically.

The inaugural Keystone Backyard Ultra (KBU) would be my third backyard format style race. It would also offer the largest and deepest field of runners of any backyard race I had run. This combination of race format and runner depth offers the opportunity for distance runners to push themselves to their limit. It also offers the greatest chance for their race to end with a DNF (Did Not Finish). With the chance for a great reward comes substantial risk. I set two conflicting goals for myself leading into this race. The first being to not quit and find my limit. I wanted to push myself and be pushed by the competition to find my breaking point and see just where my limit lies. I wanted to find out how many laps I could complete before the required minimum pace became unsustainable for me. The second being to finish the race without a DNF. To achieve one goal, the other must be sacrificed. You can’t have both and a sacrifice must be made to succeed at one or the other. In a sense, I got to choose my sacrifice, but one of my two goals had to be sacrificed for the success of the other. Of course, there was also the possibility that I could have failed on both counts.

The first few hours of the backyard are deceiving. It feels easy. You’re not pushing your pace, you’re taking in calories regularly, and you’re having fun learning your personal routine for the short course. I set landmarks for myself to measure where I should be on the course and at what time. I had planned walk break sections and a set point when I ate my energy gel. Foot placement in certain stretches of trail became a planned activity after several laps. As the day went on and temperatures reached the upper 80s, the exact route was modified slightly to stay in shaded areas of the more open stretches of the course. Besides that, my pace and foot placement had become a precise pattern for every lap

Read my full race report at: https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2021/06/2021-keystone-backyard-ultra-hope-and.html

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(2021)
"The race is virtual, the chocolate is not!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

It’s Virtual! I Got to Run Where and When I Wanted!

I’ll be the first to say it, I miss in real life racing. I miss getting to the starting line with other runners. I miss visiting new places and discovering new areas to run as a result of going to races. I miss the excitement of crowds along a race route and the energy boost they provide. I miss the feeling of an actual finish line and meeting and chatting with other runners there over bananas and bagels. I miss all those things that were a part of in real life races that I took for granted. But COVID, but COVID, but COVID… those two terrible words. At least we still have the option to run events virtually to give us a taste of what we’re missing. And as much as virtual events lack compared to IRL events, they do present their own unique benefits.

Virtual events of course negate the need for travel plans and save all the associated costs making them simpler and more affordable. They are also much easier to work into a busy schedule making them more accessible. Don’t like running in the morning? With a virtual race you don’t have to. You’re busy the day of the event? No problem! Run it the day before or the day after. Or run it a week before as I did with the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K because I’ll be busy running a 24 hour race on the day of the event. Lastly, virtual events allow you to choose where you run and what kind of terrain you run on. I was indecisive as to whether I wanted to run on roads or trails for the Allstate Detroit Hot Chocolate 15K so I ended up running both on consecutive days because why not?

I'd like to give some context as to why I gave only 3 stars for the "Aid Stations" rating. Since it was a virtual race, obviously no aid stations were provided. However, I didn't feel like I could fault or commend the race organization based on a rating criteria that was basically irrelevant given the circumstances of the race. Hence, the average rating I gave.

Read my full review of the race at https://www.beastcoasttrailrunning.com/2021/04/allstate-detroit-hot-chocolate-15k-race.html

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