Latest reviews by Amanda Berg

(2019)
"Beautiful Turkey Trot!"
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This was my first ever turkey trot and Run Sedona does a really great job with a small-town race.

Pick-up: We were able to pick up our bibs and swag at the Sedona Running shop the day before the race (you could also pick up same-day). Instead of T-shirts, this race gave us these cool big mugs with the race logo on them! So, not really an expo, but Sedona Running had some really cool Run Sedona gear in their shop and offered 10% off for racers.

Race: This was a small race (maxes out at 500 runners) and run on open road. If you could stick with the pack, though, we owned the road for a bit. There was a water station half-way through and the SCENERY - I just love running through the red rocks! Really great views on this route. There are a few hills on this route and Sedona is at almost a mile of elevation, so it was a challenge for me as a low-lander. Still, I was only 30 seconds shy of my 5K PR!

Be prepared for any weather at Thanksgiving in Sedona - our day was cold and threatening rain, but it juuuust held off.

Oh, and there was pie at the end, so #winning!

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(2019)
"It's all Downhill... until it's not!"
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This was my first Vacation Race series race and I really enjoyed it! A group of 5 of us who are all friends from high school and college challenged each other to this race. For one of our friends it was her first half marathon!

Arrival: One of our friends lives in Fresno, so we flew into the airport there (which is the closest airport to Yosemite). Note: it is a TINY airport, but got the job done! We drove up with one car and our camping gear the day before the race and set up camp.

Expo: The expo was definitely a different vibe from your typical road race; it was set up right at camp. Just a quick line to pick up our bibs and then we stopped by the fire pit for free s'mores! S'mores easily makes it my favorite expo ever.

Racetime: If you're not an early riser, maybe look for another race because we were up at 3 a.m. to catch a bus up to the top of the mountain. It was SO. COLD. We drove up, up, up in the dark and then walked to the start line where they did have coffee and heaters waiting for us. Soon, though, we would know that it was all worth it.

The first 5 miles of the race is on a fire road, which is basically a wide trail in the forest. This part started out with some light hills, and eventually transitioned to a bit downhill. But this was the most magical and beautiful part of the race - the flowers in boom in the forest all over the trees made it feel like running through a fairytale. Once we hit the road, it was all blue skies and steep down-hill. Not easy on the quads, but you did kind of feel like you were flying.

Then the last three miles hit and we bottomed out on one side of the lake. Did you know tiny rolling hills could feel so difficult? I didn't! When you just spent almost 2 hours running downhill, even flat terrain is a slog. But the speed we picked up downhill got me a fairly good time; not my best, but far from my worst.

We ended right back at camp at Bass Lake and my 1 runner friend and I waited about an hour for our three friends to finish.

After-party: One of the big perks of Vacation Races is that you are already in a beautiful place. We had planned to meet up with some other friends and rented a boat on Bass Lake. If you go, I highly recommend this as an after-race activity!

Other Highlights: Big beautiful bling!

Recommendation: Would definitely run again!

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(2019)
"THE Los Angeles Marathon"
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What can I say? This was my FIRST marathon and I am so glad this is the one I picked.

Arrival: I live in San Diego, so this was pretty easy for us. We drove up from San Diego the day before the race and got a hotel room downtown (but not at one of the race hotels).

Expo: We were staying quite a few blocks from the convention center, but parking is expensive, so we took a lyft on down. The expo was pretty typical; LOTS of booths to explore. For me, it's all about what photo opportunities are available. I got a great shot of me, in my ucla shirt, with my bib in front of a photo of the original LA Marathon medal; I even got a shout-out from the UCLA alumni instagram!

Race morning: Probably one of the most difficult start lines to get to that I've experienced. If I were to do it again, I would stay at a race hotel and use their shuttle. As it was, it was SUPER early in the morning and I had to call a lyft. My driver did NOT want to drive through the traffic to the start line, Fortunately, I had left early enough that I had a little time to walk to the start line, use the restroom, and then wait as the elites started off.

THE RACE: What I loved about this race was that you get to see a TON of LA landmarks. It starts at Dodger stadium, you can see Griffith Observatory on the hill and the hollywood sign, run past Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the Pantages, through west hollywood, riiiight near UCLA, and down into Santa Monica! As someone who went to UCLA, this race was a real dream come true.

I definitely struggled and was not fully prepared for how hard a marathon would be, but I am SO glad I made it!

Aftermath: one of the tough things about this race was that my boyfriend had to park pretty far away from the finish; so it was a long long walk back to the car before we could go get lunch. But overall, it was fairly easy to find my friends at the exit.

Summary: Definitely a race to remember; I highly recommend if you're looking for a west-coast scenic marathon.

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(2017)
"Beautiful, but look out for that hill..."
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I ran the AFC Half Marathon this year as the third race in the San Diego Half Marathon Triple Crown series. This was my first time running AFC.

My #1 favorite thing about this race was that the scenery was incredible! I run in San Diego every week, but this really takes the cake. You get to start at Cabrillo National Monument, my favorite tourist spot in San Diego, and then take the rolling hills through the National Cemetery, then down the winding hills of Point Loma into San Diego proper, where you get bayside views of downtown as you run your way into the city.

Then it all goes totally wrong... because as you reach mile 12, you realize you have to go up, up, UP to get to beautiful Balboa Park. The incline isn't really all that bad, but it starts out gradual and then you turn another corner and it gets STEEPER. I don't think this hill is really all that tough for an experienced runner, but this was my 5th half marathon, and it took a lot out of me getting up that hill. Just fair warning, until I got to that hill, I thought this was my favorite half marathon ever.

Besides the course itself, I was a big fan of their course support. For a hot race, they had the right amount of water stations etc.

The place where they need the most improvement: parking. What a nightmare. Disaster traffic getting into the event, parking so FAR AWAY from the finish line that I had to walk back to after. There's not a lot they can do to get more cars into that area easily, so just be prepared - head to the race EARLY.

All in all, I will run it again... because they're now doing a TRIPLE Triple Crown.. and I can't say no to that, I'm already 1/3 of the way there!

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