Latest reviews by Kayla Rutledge

(2020)
"Awesome Energy!!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Expo/Bib pick up- I went to the bib pick up (there was no expo) at Left Coast Brewing Company, which was super packed the night I went! I loved the atmosphere! The only problem I had here, and really the only thing I didn’t really love about this race was that both of the bib pick up options were from 5-7 p.m. and they were both located down the street from one another. I live all the way up in Redondo Beach, so trying to haul myself in LA traffic during rush hour on a week day to bib pick up made those times almost impossible to make. I left work early and still got there with only 15 minutes to pick up my stuff. I wish they had spread the pickups out into the northern area just a tad more, and had it run a little later for those of us with a long commute in traffic to get there!

Race morning- So much energy!! I got there about 45 minutes early and got one of the last spots in the nearest parking lot- those spots fill up fast, but they have several other lots that can accommodate more runners. It was a tad chilly but the race started at 8 a.m. which was super awesome because the sun came up before the start of the race and warmed everyone up perfectly- not too hot, not too cold! There was an awesome DJ at the start, and A Snail’s Pace running group did an amazing job setting up pacers. Both of my pacers were entertaining and encouraging throughout the race!

The course- The course was relatively flat, though there were a few stout, steep hills throughout. Even if you didn't train for elevation drop/gain you’d be okay on this course. The beginning of the race is on a narrow (almost the size of a sidewalk) path, so the runners are a little cramped, but as with most races, as time went on the crowd spread out and there was plenty of room to find your stride.

Aid stations- The volunteers at the aid stations and throughout the course were high school students, which were all so enthusiastic and encouraging!! It was great to have their spirit out on the course!!

Finish- Super great finish! You turn onto a bridge which is beautiful, and then turn the last corner to hear everyone cheering!! The excitement from more high school kids at the finish really brings the race home!

Bling- This race medal was super cute and representative of the Irvine area. I love the shirt as well, though it is pretty see through. All in all the bling was beautiful and functional- I love it!!

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(2020)
"20 Miles of HILLS!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Expo/Bib pick up- There was no expo for this event, but bib pick up was speedy and pretty lowkey. For some reason I didn’t get a shirt, but to my understanding not a lot of people did. No big deal though!

Race morning- very casual morning. Parking at the park was $7, and you want to triple check you have it in cash the night before. The ultra runners are already on the course by the time the 20 milers start, and their teams are all hanging out at their tents set up right at the start/ finish line. There are those standing portable heater things disbursed at the start line, which is AMAZING!!

The course- By far the most challenging course I’ve ever taken on. 1,387 feet of elevation gain, and on every downhill there are slippery/ unstable rocks you have to maneuver, and all of the flats outlined on the elevation profile are in deep wash sand. If you’re looking for a challenge, THIS IS IT! Because of the trail nature of course, there is no one out there cheering you on and there are sparse fueling stations. If you get injured, which I saw two brutal falls, you either have to walk to the nearest aid station or back to the start because no one can get to you to help you off the course. BUT the other runners and volunteers are INCREDIBLE!!!! You might be kind of alone out there, but you’d never know it. The runners all helped each other out when we saw someone trip or eat it completely. Everyone stopped their race to get injured runners to the next aid station.
Because of the washing machine-style of this course, the ultra marathoners loop back around and you see them pretty frequently after about mile 13 of the 20 mile race. It gets a little tight on the single-track portions of the course to squeeze everyone through, so there’s an unwritten rule that the shorter distances make room for those going further (absolutely fine with me. The breaks were amazing). You also have to cheer for each other!! This is NOT a solo race, it is very community oriented. So, full disclosure, if you’re into solitude on race day this may not be the best fit for you.

Aid stations- The volunteers at the aid stations and throughout the course were AMAZING. They had so much positive energy to share. The stations also had several forms of fuel (pickles, candied ginger, turkey wraps, trail mix, really, everything you could think of they had), they water and electrolytes in coolers, and were also stocked on sunscreen, salt tabs, vaseline, bandaids and alcohol wipes. The tents had chairs under them to take a break or adjust your shoes and pack, which I really appreciated. They really thought of everything! I had never been more hyped to see a big white tent in my life than during this race!

Finish- Great finish!! The teams for the ultra runners cheer you in, and really make you feel super loved!! Such an awesome community feeling at this race!

Bling- No medal for this one, but you do get a super cute glass cup instead!! I’ll be holding onto this one forever!!

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(2019)
"Great race for beginners and pros! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Registration- Super easy online registration. Santa Hustle almost always has a promo code floating around and hops on every opportunity to give discounts!

Race Communication- Just what’s necessary, which I really appreciated! An email confirmation of your registration and a few messages leading up to packet pick up and race day. I really appreciated that they didn’t overflow my inbox with unnecessary emails!

Expo- There wasn’t an expo for this one. I wasn’t disappointed by it actually! It kept people there for packet pickup moving quickly through the process!

Packet pick up- Awesome packet pickup! They had a HUGE setup with TONS of amazing volunteers so my boyfriend and I were in and out with all of our stuff in less than 5 minutes! The speed of packet pickup gave us more time to take pictures by the HUGE inflatables they had of Santa and his reindeer! I was super impressed with this pick up, they really had it together!! Also, as a side note, there's a ton of fun restaurants within walking distance to packet pick up- perfect for those who (like me) look forward to a big pre-race meal!

Race morning- Because of the race’s situation at the entertainment center, there was an abundance of free parking. We didn’t have to look more than 10 seconds for a spot, and no matter where you park you’re in walking distance to the start (which also isn’t hard to find because EVERYONE is dressed up as Santa). Usually I get to races pretty early, but we were running behind this race morning. Because parking was so easy and accessible, I ended up getting to the start line right on time!

There were more than enough porta potties and lines were pretty short, which was good because I didn’t know the race was taking off in waves depending on what your goal pace was (probably my fault for missing that!). The good news is that this race was relatively small for a half marathon, so catching up to your wave isn’t a big deal if you miss it.

The course- My only beef with this course was a little directional postage mishap right at the beginning. My boyfriend and I were just following the crowd and I’m pretty sure a HUGE chunk of us (like, more than half of the race participants) came up a quarter mile short because we made the first turn too early. This could’ve been our fault because we were distracted by all of the great santa costumes and festive outfits, but if you run this race be sure to keep an eye out on where to go!!

The rest of the course was spectacular. Unfortunately there is no elevation map on the website for this course, which made me pretty nervous to run it being i was unsure of what I was in for. But all in all the course was super flat. Looking back at my gps tracking, there was only 33 feet of incline/ decline over the course of the race (Min. 1,063ft Max 1,096ft). The course is an out-and-back, so the largest incline is in the beginning and the largest decline is towards the end. The course is mainly on packed dirt along the canal, there are large segments of concrete, and some asphalt, though not much. (I was going to post a photo of the medal, but I went with the elevation map instead because the race team does not have one. *Note* it is about a quarter mile off).

Aid stations- I carried a handheld, so I only used one aid station to refill, though I believe there were four aid stations in total (for an out-and-back course that totals 8 aid stations). The first and last stop had a table filled with cookies, which my boyfriend thoroughly enjoyed!

Finish- We were at the back of the pack going party pace, but even then the energy coming around the last corner and through to the finish was incredible! There were bananas and other snacks as well as water at the finish, and some booths for relevant gear and services. There was also a cute photo station to take pictures with your friends! All in all this was a wonderful race that I would happily do again!

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(2019)
"I rocked, and I rolled!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Registration- Super easy online registration. The site really walks you through each step, so there’s no confusion. I googled a promotion code, their ambassadors are chosen pretty early so there’s usually a code floating around.

Race Communication- A lot of promotional emails, but as the race date drew near the email became more informative and detailed. My started out in my spam box until I moved them, so it’s important to check!

Expo- The expo was held in the San Diego Convention Center, right in the downtown area. Parking for the expo was kind of a nightmare- be sure to bring cash for the garages and quarters or a card for the meters because there’s no free parking unless you’re willing to walk a ways and parallel park on a street spot downtown. The expo itself was really well organized, also, the merch is AMAZING! They sold shirts with each racer’s full name on them! Super fun, I’d never seen anything like it so I bought one!

Bib pick up- Bib pick up was at the entrance to the expo, just be sure to have your ID at the ready to keep the lines moving quickly.

Race morning- I ended up getting an AirBnB down the street from the race. I still drove and got there extra early to find free street parking (the race was on a Sunday, so most everywhere was free but it did fill up pretty quick). I’d say the earlier the better, for parking’s sake. The race started and ended a couple of blocks apart, so you have a choice to park on the street close to the finish or between the two points if you’re early!

This race did not go well in the beginning, because they gave up trying to send us off in waves. Marathoners and half marathoners start together (which makes the first six miles or so very hectic). Once the half-marathoners veer off onto their own course at about 9 miles, things finally settle down and there’s less people. But it really is a battle those first miles trying to find space.

The course- The course is advertised as relatively flat and fast, but I found it to be much more difficult than I had imagined. The hills (exits from the freeway) come pretty late in the race when you’re already beat. Nothing you can’t handle, even if you didn’t train specifically for a hilly race, just know they’re there, and they’re coming for you when you’re most tired.

Aid stations- There were aid stations about every mile, I didn’t carry any hydration and I don’t think I needed to. Some of the later stations also had food (the pretzels and bananas were AMAZING!!).

Finish- Several photographers are there to capture the moment you cross, you’re handed you medal and they move you very quickly away from the finish. You’re given a whole bunch of snacks and drinks, you can get you muscles wrapped in ice (a total game changer, I LOVED IT!) but you have to walk quite a ways to get past the barricades to your family or even away from the race.

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(2019)
"LOVE this race!!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Expo/Bib pick up- Packet pickup was a breeze! 131 events gives you the option to buy a race shirt or opt out. I found opting out saves time at the bib pick up which I’m all about!

Race morning- I did the donut challenge, so I ran with a big inflatable donut ring around my waist! Race morning I blew up my donut and got myself situated in the corral, which is a little tight because of all the inflated donuts!! Loved it!!

The course- The race started in waves because there were so many people, which was super well organised and really nice! They called out you estimated pace time, and it was done on the honor system. Everyone went in their appropriate wave and there were no hold-ups at the beginning of the race! The course is super flat, which is awesome because running with that inflatable donut is a little tricky!! Super great energy throughout the race! When the crowds got sparse, the cars sharing the street with you cheer you on!

Aid stations- Really enthusiastic aid stations along the course!! Water, power drinks, and of course, DONUTS!! I was surprised to see people actually eating the donuts on the course and still run at a great pace!

Finish- Super great finish!! They hand you your medal (medals if you did the inflatable challenge) and move things along pretty quickly considering how many people there are!

Bling- The medals are SUPER cute!!! I loved how both medals were different, but still donut-themed!!

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