Latest reviews by Rory Leigh Correa

(2019)
"13.1 Miles through Hawaiian Paradise"
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Expo Quality
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Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And its not as expensive as you may think to get to! Why not make your next race-cation The Hapalua? 13.1 miles of everything that makes Honolulu beautiful - sandy beaches, sparkling blue water, historical landmarks & a nice downhill right before the finish. And you'll appreciate that downhill after having climbed around Diamond Head - a volcanic crater created over 300,000 years ago.

Packet Pick Up
The Expo was held at the Honolulu Convention Center. Bib PickUp was so fast that I had plenty of time to walk around the expo & grab some breakfast afterwards. After getting my bib, shirt & tote - I took pictures with the Instagram board & checked out the vendors. I cannot say enough about the tote bag that we received! It held all of my expo purchases & now I use it whenever I am traveling. Tip: Be sure to check out the Virtual Goodie Bag for discounts at the Expo!

Course Route/Elevation
Parts of this course are also apart of the Honolulu Marathon. Not quite ready for 26.2 Miles? Try your hand at the Hapalua (which means Half) as practice before the big Honolulu Marathon in December.

The majority of the Hapalua is pretty flat, starting at Kuhio Park & making your way around Honolulu. But around Mile 9 you begin to climb Diamond Head - which will be the most difficult yet most rewarding part of the course. Once you hear the sounds of the drummers, you know you are almost to the top! Once there, you can pause at the lookout spot with other runners to take it all in. Then, start your decent to the Finish Line!
Tip: Stay at a hotel close to the Duke Kahanamoku Statue. Its like a 1 minute walk to the Start Line & a 10 Minute or so walk from the Finish Line.

Swag/Extras (Beer Party)
At the end of the race you are greeted with cold showers, food, photo opportunities. A few days after the race, we received links to each of the Finish Line videos - which had all been uploaded to YouTube! This way you can save the video of you crossing the Finish Line - for free!

Medal
It spins! This year’s medal featured the same logo as the T-Shirt & Tote Bag. The part that spins kinda reminds me of military dog tags.

Runners come from all over the world to run The Hapalua. If you are looking for a race with plenty of spectators (many willing to feed you & hose you down with water) & a challenging yet beautiful course - make plans to get to Honolulu the 2nd Sunday in April! Its an unforgettable experience!

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(2019)
"BQ, Ring The Bell & Have Some Wine "
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Summary:
A Boston Qualifier, the Napa Valley Marathon follows the Silverado Trail through world famous Wine Country. The inaugural Half Marathon followed the last 13.1 miles of the Marathon route. Peaceful, tranquil & serene - this was one of those most picturesque races I've ever run. 

Packet PickUp:
Packet PickUp was incredibly organized & held at the host hotel - Napa Valley Marriott & Spa! After getting checked in, I headed downstaris to the Hospitality Suite. I was fortunate enough to recieve VIP Access which included a special gift at Packet PickUp as well as receiving VIP Creds for Race Day Morning. In addition to a gift basked filled with goodies (Rudy Cabernet Savignon, Smash Mallows, a Nuun California Bottle & More!) there were water bottles & GU Stroopwaffles for us to load up on for race day. I grabbed a few & headed to the Expo. 

The Expo was just a few steps outside of the main lobby. First I grabbed my bib number in one room & then headed to the main room for my Runner's Bag. It was an intimate expo, offering your typical merchandise, local race discounts as well as merchandise from a local running store & winery. While it wasn't the biggest expo, they may want to consider moving it to a bigger room next year as it got very crowded very quickly. 

Once I received my Runner's Bag, I purchased a few items & headed out of the Expo. 

After the Expo & in the courtyard, there was a Beer & Wine Tasting presented by nakedwines.com. I grabbed a cup of Scott Kelly Pinot Noir & headed up to my room. By far the easiest expo experience! 

Course Route/Elevation:
The road does slope, so you will want to stay towards the middle of the road/yellow lines as much as possible. If you do that, you won't have any issues. 

Other than the above - this course is basically a straight shot. Its also, for the most part, closed. Its the worst when you are running along a race & have to dodge cars. I happily trotted down an open road with a few rolling hills at a consistent elevation decline. Whats not to love? Especially if you are trying to BQ, this course is perfect. It's not crowded, you can stretch out & focus on the task at hand. Yes, there are a bunch of turns at the end to get to you to the high school, but you also know once you enter the neighborhood that you have about a 1 mile to go. 

-- Aid Stations: Both GU & Nuun were offered on course & a few of the aid stations had orange slices & banana Halves. There was enough for everyone, it was well manned & stocked.

Swag/Extras:
--Wine: There was plenty of wine!

--Pasta Dinner: There was a Pasta Dinner held & the panel included some amazing runners! 

--Bag: Alot of people fly into Napa, so this study & durable bag was perfect! Everyone had to use their bag as a drop bag. I was able to throw in all kinds of items & still had plenty of room. It's nice & deep with plenty of pockets. This bag is now my official 'drop bag' at races. 

--Shirt: Although not a tech tee, this long sleeve is super lightweight & soft.

--VIP Start: Held at Conn Creek Winery, We were provided a light breakfast (Bananas, Yogurt, Granola Bars, etc.), Bag Drop & restrooms before the start of the race.

--After Race Fun: Showers & Locker Rooms at the High School. I didn't use the shower, but I did change out of my wet clothes in the Locker room - which on a cold & windy day was a true blessing! Hot soup was offered afterward as well along with the usual bananas, water & Nuun.

--Medal: The medal is big, beautiful & heavy - everything runner's want in a medal!

To Note: 
To say that the Napa County residents don't care is not at all a valid! This isn't meant to be an Urban Marathon with a huge amount crowds. What I will say is that I saw plenty of cars parked along the Silverado Trail with people in them & as the temps got warmer & the drizzle subsided - people were getting out of their cars. I even passed a few places where people were giving out treats. It was a cold & rainy day for Napa standards - previous years the temps have been in the 70s. 

Conclusion:
I had an amazing time in Napa & I PR'd my Half. The running community in Napa is amazing, many returning year after year to run this race. With the Half Marathon being inaugural, I absolutely plan on returning to run. #Legacy

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(2019)
"Race To The Row!"
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Summary:
The San Jose 408K: Race To The Row is a fun, well sponsored race with a fast flat route & amazing swag!

Packet PickUp:
Sadly, I missed packet pickup at Santana Row & I missed out on all kinds of goodies! However, race day packet pickup was super simple. My hotel was less than a half mile away from the Start area, so I grabbed my bib & ran back to the hotel to stay warm until closer to the start time. Thats how fast & easy it was! But I definately recommend doing it in the days before or having it mailed to you so that you have your race morning free.

Course Route/Elevation:

This course was a tour through San Jose! No major hills, a nice downhill & pretty much level throughout otherwise.

Swag:

After the race, we were corralled into the post race area where we collected shirts, played games & picked up our gear. At the Amazon tent, we go cooling towels & Wrist bands (they hold your id, keys, etc.). You could also take a picture, but of course - the line was long. Speaking of pictures, in addition to the FREE race photots - there are plenty of photo stations throughout the post race area to pose with your crew. After grabbing my Amazon swag, I got my finsher's tee & headed to the buses. And these weren't just any buses, these were spiffy charter buses that took us the 5 Miles back to the Start area. (Which was deserted lol)

Summary:
Represent Running & their new title sponsor, Amazon - put on quite the event! The Represent Running team are all about running local & you can sense their pride of the Bay Area. Between the free photos & swag, you more than get what you paid for! :D

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(2019)
"The Hills are Alive in San Diego!"
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Summary:
I'm officially in love with the 15K! A little more challenging than a 10K, but not as much as a Half! Last year, I wasn't ready for what this course had in store. This year, I arrived well prepared & was awarded with a PR!

Packet PickUp:
Hot Chocolate races have the most technology advanced check in system! Bib Numbers are not received before hand, however, you are provided a QR code. You take the code (for iOS users, it hangs out in your Wallet) & walk up to the first available station. The volunteer simply scans your QR code & tada - a little sticker prints out with your Name & Corral Letter which is then affixed to your bib and off you go to pick up your swag at the next station.

(Tip: If you are running more than 1 race - grab a different color hoodie! Since I already had the Wine colored one from San Francisco, this time I requested the 'Mens' hoodie - which is Black. I ordered a size Small & it fits perfectly! Now I have TWO super comfy hoodies!)

In addition to picking up up your bib, you can try on & swap sizes for your hoodie, grab some sweet treats at the chocolate station & keep hydrated at the Nuun Bar.

Usually, I grab my bib & go. But this year, they had a lot of merchandise on sale! Even though the only size they had was XL, I was able to snag a Hot Chocolate branded pullover hoodie for only $15. I wore it after the race on the train ride home - it was so snuggly!

Course Route:
This year I was ready for those hills! And it was such a clear, crisp morning that we were able to see so many beautiful views at the top of those hills.

Swag/Extras:
Chocolate on the course, Nuun available on course as well as before & after the race, Food Trucks & the legendary HC Finisher's Mug!

Summary:
Even though in CA we are known for our beautiful weather, our nights & early mornings are pretty chilly. San Diego is the perfect place to experience all that the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K has to offer without the frostbite!

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(2019)
"Get All The Chocolate in San Francisco!"
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Summary:

The Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K in San Francisco is a simple, flat & beautiful out-and-back course that takes you through Golden Gate Park & along the California coast.

Packet PickUp:

Packet PickUp at any #HC15K race is a sight to behold - it's so efficient & technology forward! First, when you register - you receive a pass that you can add to your Apple Wallet. When you arrive at Packet PickUp, you take this same pass & scan it at your designated table. Bib Numbers are given to you at this time & a small little sticker prints out with your name & Corral letter designation - Cool right? The next station is where you grab your swag & then you head on to the Expo booths. Every #HC15K I've even gone to, I can be in & out in less than 10 minutes!

Swag/Extras:

The swag at this event is unbelievable! Nuun is one of the sponsors, so you can always grab a few free packets or a tube. This year, we received hoodies. The women's color is wine & the men's color is black. These hoodies are so comfy & perfect to run in! There are zippered pockets on each side & thumbholes at the end of the sleeve. While I didn't wear it during the race, I wore it home & I've worn it on my daily runs - I love it!

During the race, the aid stations are fully stocked - but there are also Sweet Stations where you can grab a few chocolate chips or M&Ms.

And of course after the race, you receive your iconic blue Hot Chocolate Finisher's Mug, filled with yummy treats: Snyder's Mini Pretzels, a Rice Crispy Treat, 2 biscottis, a Marshmallow, a scoop of hot fudge & a cup of hot cocoa. They also provided plastic bags to keep your mug in for transit. The fudge will eventually cool & harden - so you may want to put it in another container or cup. I used the bottom of our paper cups at the hotel to make fudge cups :).

More Swag: Free Photos, Free Personal Video, Legacy Status.

Course Route/Elevation:

For the run to be in San Francisco, I was expecting outrageous hills - but this course was actually pretty flat considering the locale. There were a few hilly parts, but nothing out of the ordinary. The best part of the course is when you are running along the Pacific Ocean. Words cannot describe it!

Medal:

This year, the medals got an upgrade! Each medal will be specific to the city you are running in. The San Francisco Medal is the full #HC15K candy bar with bite and the Golden Gate Bridge at the bottom. The ribbon for the medal was double sided.

Conclusion:

The #HC15K is a great race for the money. Its fairly priced so that all can participate & for what you receive - its an awesome value. You are guaranteed to make some new friends, get some cool swag & all the chocolate you can eat!

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