Latest reviews by Sarah Bulin

(2021)
"Triple Challenge is Triple the Fun!"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

The Virtual Women’s Half Marathon offered a half marathon distance, a 10k, and/or a 5k. A Combo of any two races for the double challenge and all three races comprise the Triple Challenge. The half marathon was designated at 7 am on Saturday, with the second race of your choosing at 7 am on Sunday. One thing I really enjoyed is that the race director gave a send-off at the top of the hour for each time zone. You could watch her live video on Instagram, then start your race. I really appreciated this attempt at a community start.

The swag was also great! I did the triple challenge so I received their super cute shirt, a bondi headband, three gorgeous flower-shaped medals (with charms!), two bibs, two samples of sunscreen, and two sample packs for hydration powders. It's so nice that I received two of the samples and of the bibs because that meant I could use a set for each day of my virtuals.

I want to say that the race directors and the race itself were VERY active on social media. It gave the whole virtual experience a much larger community feel. 10 out of 10, would race again!

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(2020)
"Great Swag, Fun Race"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

When I heard about a Batman themed virtual race, I knew I absolutely needed to sign up! Batman has been my family's favorite hero since my brothers and I were small, so this virtual race was perfect for me.

Distance: I loved the fact that the Batman Virtual had a 10k option, so many virtual races are 5ks, so having more distance options is great. I use these virtual races as "treats" or to get me out to run on days where I'd much rather stay at home. For the Batman 10k, I used the race as a treat to get out and do my recovery run after a rather grueling long distance run the day before.

THE SWAG! Honestly, the swag for this race is the absolute best. The swagincluded the Batman Medal, Bib, a running hat with the batman logo and a black pullover with the batman logo. Both the hat and the pullover are NICE! I've been using the hat for runs at least twice a week since.

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(2020)
"A Fun Texas-sizer Challenge "
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

2020 was a miserable year for racing, so I was really excited to try more virtual options for running on our own. The Texas Distance Challenge was just perfect!

While you can do teams to run across Texas (from El Paso to Texarkana), I decided to do a solo run. Thats 814 miles, and they give you 10 months to complete the challenge.

I have to say, the most fun part was tracking my little progress pin across the state. Almost immediately after every run, I'd log my miles to see how much farther I had gotten. It really was a motivator and I was able to complete the whole 814 miles in 5 months!!! No way I'd been able to cover all that distance without this challenge.

Additionally, the swag was just awesome. First, you received a starter package with sticker, patch, and a bandana (quickly claimed by my canines!) Every 1/4 marker they would send you a progress package with more stickers. And finally, a finisher shirt when you completed the challenge, with art done by a local Texan artist.

If you're a Texan, or just one at heart, I highly recommend this one!!!

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(2020)
"A Texas-Sized Race"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The corrals were so organized! About 5 separate corrals were laid out parallel to the start line, so the later corrals could see the first groups start out, and corrals were enforced. This meant you couldn’t bump yourself up to a faster corral, but could bump down to a slower one to run with friends. I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but its a safety issue. A runner in a too fast corral could very easily be ran over in the herd of runners leaving the very tight start line. The first half mile is always very crowded and it’s easy to run into other runners if your pace isn’t similar.

The first mile was compact and completely downhill. I am terrible about starting out too fast in these big hype, big races, but the downward slope of the first mile didn’t make it seem as fast. Really! The first 5 miles were relatively easy and mostly flat with a few rolling hills. We ran through some parks, and the crowd support was great. Lots of bands and cheering sections along the course.

The Stockyards are the highlight of the race. This area is SO COOL. You run down a hill, take a sharp right and the road becomes brick. Lots of businesses are out and waving. Women dressed as saloon girls, lots of music, and even a longhorn (who seemed very disinterested in the whole thing).

If you’re not from Texas, this is probably the MOST TEXAS you can get during a race. For a vacation race, this one should definitely be on the list. They really embrace the city’s highlights.

Mile 9 starts at the bottom of a bridge that is uphill for about a half mile into downtown. Its beautifully framed with the Tarrant Country Courthouse being directly across the bridge. BUT, you can see this hill FOREVEEEEER. I especially loved the music and the energy at the top of this hill.

After the race, I was pretty irked by the beer tent. They were refusing to serve any beers or seltzers for another hour according to one man at the tent. (And he was rude about it, so I’m guessing runners had been coming by for a bit asking.) It was unusual, and ended up leaving without the finisher’s beer. A first for me, but I’m definitely not letting it ruin an awesome race and and awesome PR.

In Summary
The Cowtown Marathon is definitely a race that I’ll be running again. The course is challenging, but has some awesome sights and a definitely a “Cowtown” feel. Water stops were plentiful and the crowd support was amazing. (And some great swag!)

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(2019)
"A Party worth the Hills!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Expo: Relatively good sized expo. Getting your bib is super fast, and you get a nice zip up fleece jacket for the half/full marathon. I had requested a size women's small, but they let you try one on and I downsized to an XS with no problem or hassel. Extra points because I never know how race shirts are gonna fit me.

Aid Stations: Gatorade and Water at every aid station and an aid station every mile. I didn't use them all, but it was nice to have the option so frequently.

The Course: The course winds through a lot of neighborhoods, parks, and the old Route 66 bridge. If you like fall foliage, this race is great for it! Additionally, this race has some of the best crowd support I've ever seen. Lots of "unofficial aid stations" throughout the neighborhoods, with music, beer, and JELLO SHOTS! (Some offered fireball, buuut that might be a bit too much for me trying to PR) However, this course is HILLY and one of the more difficult ones I've done. It's not flat and fast, but I did still PR!

Parking at both the race and the expo were easy. Having the start and finish on different sides of downtown helped alot.

The Swag! Awesome medal with a rotating center, and if you do the Center of the Universe Detour for an extra 0.3 miles you also get a coin for the "World's Shortest Ultra" AND FREE RACE PHOTOS!

Overall, the Route 66 Marathon was a fun race, and definitely worth the hills!

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