Latest reviews by Heart Runner Girl

(2019)
"Not bad, but also not mind blowing"
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This is the second RnR race I've done and in general I always hear good things about their race series. The race was supposed to be on Sunday the 28th, but due to the elections it had to be moved to Saturday the 27th. They've told us this about two months in advance and they've made sure that if you were flying in late on Friday you could pick up your bib until midnight and if you had to cancel that you could do so.

The expo was at the IFEMA, which is easy to reach by metro. But from the metro station you had to cross the entire expo center to get to the race expo. Some more signs pointing you in the right direction would have been nice. It was a decent size expo and it was easy to pick up your bib, shirt and race pack.

There were 8 different corrals at the start, but they were the 10k, half and marathon combined. So, more than 30,000 runners were spread out over the 8 corrals, with the last one being the biggest one. I was in the last corral and it didn't bother me that much, it didn't take that long for most of the runners to pass me and I could quite easy run at the back of the pack.

The aid stations had water and Powerade in bottles, which you could then throw in the designated bins, only a lot of runners didn't do that and threw theirs on the ground. There were aid stations at 6, 9 and 15k. Since they handed out bottles I do think there were enough aid stations. And after the finish you got a reusable finisher bag with water, Powerade, juice and an apple.

They had medical staff on roller blades which also had vaseline with them and muscle spray. I thought that was a pretty smart move, because they could keep an eye on the runners, but they were also easily recognisable and approachable.

I was running at the back of the pack and unfortunately most of the bands had already stopped playing by the time the last runners came by. So, I did get to experience Madrid, but not a whole lot of Rock 'n Roll.

The course went along the soccer stadium, the famous bank buildings, a palace, the main train station and some other famous buildings in Madrid.

I enjoyed running this half, but I'm not blown away by it. It was pretty well organised and I did really like the medal and the shirt.

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(2018)
"A bucket list race"
Overall
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The expo is great, with lots of companies represented and you can hang around there for hours, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. They also have talks about course strategy you can attend. Picking up your bib and shirt is easy.

The thing that surprised me is that everyone asks if it's your first New York City Marathon, the amount of other marathons you've ran before almost seems to become irrelevant when you're in New York during marathon week.

On Friday there is even a big opening ceremony with all the flags of all the countries that are represented in the race and fireworks afterwards. It's a bit like the Olympics.

On race day you have to get to Staten Island early and thus it is quite the wait. I had to wait for 4.5 hours, because my bus left early and I was in the last wave. Make sure you wear enough clothes to keep you warm. There are bins where you can throw them in before the start and everything in them will be donated to charity. The starting village has enough toilets and there is enough food, such as bananas and bagels for you to eat while you wait. Since there are 3 starting colours and 4 different waves the 52,000 runners are spread out pretty well. It's busy on the course, but I never found it too busy. The streets are wide and you can run on the outside and enjoy the crowds or you can run more towards the middle if you need a bit of time to yourself.

It is a tough course with quite a few uphills. But there is no better way to see New York.

From mile 3 onwards there are aid stations every mile with water and Gatorade, which is awesome. From mile 21 onwards they also had bananas, but I wish they would have done that from the beginning. Not necessarily every aid station, but every 3 miles would have been great.

The views and the crowds are fantastic and you get to run though all the five boroughs and finish in Central Park. After you finish and get your medal, volunteers help you with getting a heat sheet on you and either getting you a poncho or getting your bag. I had chosen for the poncho and they also help you with getting the poncho around you (because moving can be a bit of a challenge after a marathon). All volunteers were very helpful and friendly. It is however still a bit of a walk before you can leave the park.

It is a great race and if you like road marathons it should definitely be on your bucket list.

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(2018)
"Yes, there are hills."
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Hills might not be the first thing you think about, when you think about the Netherlands. There are some hills in the Netherlands, but you do have to go look for them. Easiest way to do that is run the Seven Hills race, near the German border, because that will show you 7 of them at the same time. So close even, that my mobile phone welcomed me to Germany at one point during the race.

There are 20.000 runners which participate in this 15k race, divided over several starting waves. But that still means it can get very busy on the course at certain points where the roads get a little smaller. Despite the 7 hills in the course, it is a fast course and the current world record for the 15k was run here. You hardly run through the city of Nijmegen, it is mainly through the forest and between the fields outside of the city. Great views though, since this race in held in the autumn.

Start/finish of the race are close to the station, so it is easy to reach. It's a bit unclear where they want you to leave your bag, since there are changing facilities where you are allowed to leave your bag, but there is also a bag drop. The starting waves are divided over different streets, but the route to get there is clearly marked. You can opt out of a medal, while registering for the race. If you do get a medal this is marked on your bib, but this does cause a bit of confusion after the race.

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(2018)
"They changed the route"
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I’d heard good things about the Rock ‘n Roll running series and the reviews of the Dublin race also seemed to be positive. Main thing people complained about was that they had to get back to the start with busses after they’d finished. When I looked at the course for this year the start and finish were both at the Royal Hospital so that seemed to be sorted out. I did notice they’d also changed the rest of the course, but having never been to Dublin, I didn’t really think about it much. Turns out they had to change the route, because the Pope would be coming to Dublin two weeks later and therefore we weren’t allowed to run through the park.

Race Packet pick up was really easy. In the centre of town in Trinity College with clear markings where you had to go. Picking up my bib and t-shirt were also easy.

The Royal Hospital was pretty easy to reach on race morning. But the bag drop was a bit chaotic. For some reason the bag drop was based on the first letter of your last name instead of equally divided by race number. This caused some confusion, because when the lines got long you couldn’t really tell which letter you were actually queuing up for and it also meant that some lines were much longer than others.

There were 14 corrals, but there wasn’t that much time before the 10k would start after the half, so they decided to let several corrals go at once. We ran along the Guinness factory and soon after we left the city and ran past Phoenix Park, but we never went into the park.

Around 8k into the race there was a very steep hill. So steep that there was no running involved, everyone around me was also walking. And this hill basically went on and on. After which we turned around at roughly the 13 kilometre mark. The route then went along the river for a few kilometre until we ended up back at the same steep hill, just on the other side. So, most of the route went through the middle of nowhere and after the race you can’t really say that you’ve seen Dublin. I’ve heard more runners say afterwards that they didn’t get the time they wanted or that they found this the hardest half they’ve ever done. I also expected more live bands on the course. Rock ‘n Roll promises that there’s a live band every mile, so technically there should have been 12 bands. But I’ve only seen 7, of which two where just speakers next to the course.

All in all a bit disappointed. I’ve heard good things about the Rock ‘n Roll races and also about the race in Dublin. I’ve also heard it’s taken the organisation a long time to clean up the route. I don’t mind the organisation using bottles, personally I actually prefer them over cups, but it would be better to use smaller bottles and have enough bins to discard them in. But during the half there were hardly any bins.

Would I run this race again? Maybe. If they change the route back to a course that is flatter and where you get to see more of Dublin, then I might give it another try.

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(2018)
"Mixed feelings"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
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Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I have a bit of mixed feelings about this marathon. Some things were well organised, but other things really were not and that's really a shame for such a big event (it's the 3rd largest marathon in the world).

It's really easy to pick up your bib, but do make sure you have your passport, convocation and medical certificate before you arrive at the expo. There were a lot of companies at the expo, but most of the company booths at the expo were pretty small, so per brand there wasn't that much choice.

There were no signs towards the bag drop (which is at the finish area), which resulted in a lot of runners looking around in confusion. There were a lot of port-a-loos near the start, so didn't have to wait long in line.

The route is really nice and passes several landmarks and there are even signs on the course telling you which landmark you are passing. And since the route passes along a few metro lines it's really easy for supporters to see you multiple times along the route.

But the aid stations were pretty disastrous. They were only on one side of the road, and a pretty random intervals (sometimes 5, but also sometimes 6 km apart), which is already difficult with roughly 40,000 runners. They don’t supply any kind of sports drink, only water and since it was hot they couldn’t supply water fast enough, which resulted in the aid station tables being mostly empty and having to wait quite long before getting water with a lot of people pushing and shoving trying to get water. They should have had more aid stations, since it was so hot. I’ve heard quite a few ambulances during the race, some of those cases they could probably have prevented if they supplied more water and electrolytes.

At some spots the supporters were blocking half the road trying to find who they were looking for, but this caused congestion amongst the runners. Marshals did nothing to stop it. They also didn't stop any of the cyclists which were using the course and actually creating dangerous situations.

Getting your medal, finisher t-shirt and bag at the finish area is really easy.

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