Latest reviews by Mike Smith

(2018)
"Rip Off Alert"
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The prices for this race are absurd. “Late” registration, which starts nearly four months prior, is $70 for an open course 10K with a small turnout (less than 200 runners). What exactly am I paying for? The Santa Monica Classic is less than this race. The organizers should focus on building up the field and generating popularity before charging such high prices.

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(2018)
"Challenging But Rewarding Small Race"
Overall
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Elevation Difficulty
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The good: A challenging but rewarding trail race through the northwest side of Griffith Park. It is an out-and-back course that is almost all uphill on the way out. The course turnaround is at the Mt. Hollywood summit, giving you great views of Hollywood/West LA and of course the Hollywood sign. Decent medal and shirt (soft 50/50 blend). I always appreciate when a race organizer includes a back or sleeve graphic and doesn't get cheap with the bare minimum. Easy access and parking near the Abandoned LA Zoo.

The bad: packet pickup was a mess and the course was almost certainly short. I waited in line almost an hour to pick up my packet the morning of the race, and I got there in plenty of time. The race started 15 minutes late, and I didn't make it across the started line until 30 minutes after the scheduled start. It seemed like the organizers needed more volunteers to check people in. This organizer runs multiple races throughout the year, and this was a relatively small race with a capped field, so this was preventable.

The course distance is noncertified, and like I said above, the course was almost certainly short. My Garmin measured it about 0.4 miles short--whereas GPS trackers tend to measure long during races because runners don't follow the shortest possible route. Participants will have to approach this race from a recreation/training aspect and not expect to establish a credible PR.

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(2017)
"10K Review"
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This is a review of the October 15, 2017 Griffith Park Trail 10K. This was my first trail race, so nothing to compare it to at this point, but the course seemed challenging but not soul-crushing. Many short steep hills along the way. The course is in the northeastern-facing part of Griffith Park, so no sweeping LA views...just views of wonderful Burbank. Very small field (under 200) on an open course, and I wonder if the organizer could step it up a bit with promoting the race to make it seem a bit less amateur, particularly given the "Top Race in California" award featured on the race website. Don't get me wrong, the race was well-organized...just missing that big race day excitement.

The shirt is easily one of my favorites. It is a super soft cotton/poly blend. The "medal" is...meh. It's basically a Christmas ornament. For starters, there's a certain material medals should be made out of (hint: it sounds like "medal"). It seems like a lot of thought went into the shirt design but little into the medal.

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(2017)
"Pasadena Trail 9K"
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When I give $55 to a race organizer, I expect certain things for my money. Number one: I expect to run the correct distance. My Garmin showed 5.54 miles (~9K), meaning this race was measured a full kilometer short! I know there is a margin of error in GPS watch tracking, but there is NO way it could be up to two-thirds of a mile short. If anything, GPS watches tend to show runners over the official race distance, since runners don't run the shortest possible route. Also, this is the link (http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/1026737613) to the official route provided by Pasadena Running Company...notice how even they only show it to be 6.01 miles.

If you go based on time, supposedly I beat my 10K PR by two seconds. But that PR, from two years ago, was on a flat course and after three months of half marathon training, during my fastest year ever.

It's also the little things that can make a race and make you feel like the race organizers really care about your experience. Is my race's distance shown on the bib, medal, or shirt? No, no, and no, in this case. Is the race shirt something I would wear while running or working out? No again (100% cotton). Looking at the bib, medal, and shirt, it's like my 10K didn't exist. Which actually is true, since it was a 9K.

The "trail" part in the name is a bit of a misnomer as well. At least a third was on paved road.

I'll save the organizers the indignity of a one-star review because packet pickup and race execution were good. But I won't be back to give my money to a race company that can't even measure correctly.

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