Latest reviews by Elaina C

(2021)
"First marathon! Best medal I have and race directors did a great job adjusting with the pandemic"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Oak Island Marathon takes place in Oak Island, NC, and is held by Coastal Race Productions
as a part of their BAM! race series. This race happened during the COVID-19 pandemic so I'm not sure if this would apply to how the races normally are. I was super impressed with all of the precautions race directors took to have a safe race.

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T-Shirts/SWAG
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For being a small, relatively inexpensive race, it had some awesome swag. One of the gimmicks of the BAM! race series is the gargantuan medal you get. The longer the race distance, the bigger the medal, and this one did not disappoint. It was a 3-D locket in the shape of a sea turtle with a picture of a lighthouse on the inside! Not only that, but all participants got a fleece blanket and marathon finishers got a finisher jacket.

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Aid Stations
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Due to COVID-19 the aid stations were every 3 miles (I think usually it's every mile) and still had volunteers but it was strongly suggested you bring your own method of carrying hydration so the volunteers could pour water/gatorade into it instead of handing you water. You could also grab some single use cups already filled on the table.

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Course Scenery
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It was a pretty course for the most part and for a good stretch you actually get to see the beach! Unfortunately with the weather, the views were kind of tainted. I wouldn't travel super far for the scenery, but it was worth the 3 hour drive. Unfortunately, due to the weather and COVID, there weren't any spectators really but the race directors had a bunch of fun and motivational signs along the course! I will say, if it rains, make sure your socks and shoes can handle some deep puddles.

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Expo Quality
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No expo just a basic bib pickup

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Elevation Difficulty
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The whole race is flat... except miles 20-23! What is it with race directors putting .the only elevation at the end of the race? Haha! Even then, the bridge wasn't too bad.

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Parking/Access
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It's a small race but that doesn't mean you can stroll up at the last minute, which we learned the hard way. They do have the entire lot behind the Middleton Park amphitheater booked for that day. HINT: If you see a sign in that lot that says "Town Bus Parking Only," you can park there.

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Race Management
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Besides the medal, probably the best thing about this race was the communication from the directors. Every week they would let us know the status of their permit approval and made sure everyone was clear on the COVID-19 safety guidelines: masks required in start/finish area and for spectators, less aid stations, carrying own hydration encouraged, rolling starts, less runners, etc.
They also changed the course last minute because of flooding in one section instead of leaving it there for us to suffer through. They organized a fun socially distant/masks-on after party area at the finish line with free beer and BBQ! All in all, I was super impressed.

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Overall
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I thought this race was awesome for anyone nearby looking for a marathon or half marathon. I will definitely consider their races in the future due to the awesome race directors.

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(2020)
"Non-challenger - Just there for moral support haha"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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Overall
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It felt great to be a part of a race that is a tradition of so many NC State students. Although not a student myself, I got to tag along with my friends who used to go there. The atmosphere is fun with lots of people in costume and non-serious runners abound. I love a challenge type race because I don't do those usually, but if you expect the donuts to be "hot and fresh" prepare to be disappointed. I almost broke a tooth on a rock hard cold piece of glaze haha! The mood for the second half of the race is definitely a lot more depressing than the first half with so many dreams crushed by those donuts.

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T-Shirts/SWAG
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The shirts are okay. Nothing special. The medal you have to purchase but the proceeds go toward the charity. I already gave my shirt away so I don't have a picture... oops!

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Aid Stations
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So there is only one aid station and that is where the donuts are. This is where dreams go to die! It's definitely the most interesting part of the course, but unfortunately there was not enough water for participants. They ran out very quickly. But, all of the volunteers were very nice. I was there to help my boyfriend get through eating all the donuts and they were encouraging even though we were the last people to leave the station.

I highly recommend buying gloves ahead of time so you can smash the donuts with your hands without them getting sticky because there isn't a place to wash your hands at the aid station.

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Course Scenery
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The course goes through the area of Raleigh near NC State's campus, so you see lots of campus buildings but also some pretty Victorian homes.

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Expo Quality
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We were too late to get to the expo so no comment here.

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Elevation Difficulty
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Pretty flat. Maybe one gradual hill but nothing to write home about.

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Parking/Access
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I lucked out because I went with some friends who have done the race every year so they knew the good spots to park, but I can say there was no communication about where to park. If there was, I missed it and it might've been at the expo.

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Race Management
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I was kind of disappointed in how quickly the aid stations ran out of water. Also, I paid for a medal and there was a lot of confusion about where to pick that up. I didn't get an email about it until the day of the race (which I didn't check my email until the next day), and it basically was saying they weren't mailling medals. I was kinda sad because I was going to give it to my boyfriend for being a challenger but I don't mind since the money at least goes to charity.

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Conclusion
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I would recommend this race to a friend mainly because it's a tradition and a fun/interesting challenge. There's some improvements that could be made, but I had a fun time and that's the most important thing. There's so much crowd support, it's hard not to feel like a winner!

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(2020)
"First Half Marathon Success!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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Overall consensus
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This was my first half marathon so I wanted to make sure it was unintimidating, fun, and memorable on the off-chance I never wanted to do one again. Well, this race made me want to do even more, which I think is the true mark of a good race! It's hard to say though if I would have loved it as much if I wasn't a Disney fan or incorporating it into a Disney vacation since the price is high.

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Course scenery
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It's unique in that not only are there Disney characters along the way, but you get to run through Magic Kingdom and Cinderella's castle with the finish line in Epcot. Other than that, it's mostly boring highway which can be disheartening and boring if you're running the race alone. The race does a pretty good job though of making these parts bearable with the character stops as well as large screens showing old Disney cartoon shorts. I thought the latter was a unique idea and I enjoyed them more than I thought I would. The only thing I wish there was more of in these parts was music. There are some DJs and high school bands/choirs along the way, but not enough at the boring parts. My boyfriend did the full marathon and that route seems more exciting just because you get to go through all 4 parks and more people come out to cheer for the full marathoners. I would say that was the only "con" of the experience (well besides the price).

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T-Shirts/SWAG
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I LOOOVEEDDD the medal for this race. It was a sleek design but also fun with its Disney theming. I also really like the design of the shirt. I'll attach a picture, but the front kinda looks like the medal of the race and the sleeve has icons of the parks you run through. So mine has the Epcot "golf ball" and Magic Kingdom's Cinderella Castle while my boyfriend's has those along with Tower of Terror and the Tree of Life. It's long sleeve which I like, but the material is like fake-tech. It's really itchy and not moisture wicking. I use it as a warmup on runs and tie it around my waste when I feel warm, but would never run longer than like 5 minutes in it. It also ran pretty big. I got a medium because I like my stuff a little bigger but it was a little too big. Your swag pack also includes a see-through gear bag for gear check and some free Jelly Belly energy beans. Other than that though, there isn't any free swag and considering the high price of the event, I wish there was a little more, even something small like a button or patch :(

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Aid Stations
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Aid stations almost every 1.5 miles with powerade and water. Around mile 11 I believe there's an aid station with Jelly Belly energy beans which I was nervous to use because I hadn't fueled with them before, but I saved them for runs later and like them. I didn't have to use the medic tent but many had to use it for the marathon because of the extreme heat and people spoke highly of their work with that. The volunteers are so sweet and encouraging! I don't know how they stay peppy and on their feet for so long!! Definitely felt spoiled with these aid stations :)

At the end of the race you get a bottle of water, a bottle of powerade, a beer, banana, rice snacks, fruit bar, fake cheese + tortilla chips, and a banana, so no need to worry about feeling too dehydrated/hungry after! I definitely felt well congratulated at the end.

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Expo
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So I went to the expo the day before the half marathon and I wasn't looking to buy any merch so keep that in mind. According to others, the expo opening is like a merch war and lots of long lines. We got our bibs so quickly going later though! The volunteers again were very nice and informative. The merchandise part of the expo is in a separate building which is nice. Lots of cool vendors for everything from fuel to running shoes to even upping your costume game. However, if there is an item you like that is available for pre-order... PRE-ORDER IT! Most likely it will sellout within the first day. There's also finisher merch at the finishers area after your race so if you are superstitious about ordering those ahead of time, you can definitely wait until the end of the race to get those.

There's also lots of events at the expo from yoga to beer tasting to drawing with a Disney artist. I didn't partake in any because we had such a short weekend, we wanted to get the most out of the parks, but it's cool that there are free events celebrating the main event and get you pumped about the weekend :)

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Elevation difficulty
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Okay so I grew up in New Orleans and now live in the South Carolina lowcountry. Needless to say, I'm a huge baby when it comes to elevation. People kept saying this course was so flat and for the most part it is but most of it is on highway so you deal with a lot of onramps especially toward the end of the race when you're tired. I didn't train on any hills and I regretted that.

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Parking/Access
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I did not stay at a WDW resort so I didn't get to take the buses to the starting line. I drove over there but there was surprisingly lots of parking. We got there about an hour before start time. Directions were kind of confusing however. There was redirection of traffic due to construction and there just wasn't enough signage telling you where to go in my opinion.

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Race Management
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It's Disney, so it's a pretty well-oiled machine at this point as you could imagine. Everything runs very efficiently. There were a few things that I felt were a bit mismanaged. For example, I didn't think the starting location was communicated very well for someone who is bad with map direction. There were a lot of streets shutdown that didn't show up on Google Maps and it would've been nice to have more signage on which way to go. There wasn't much traffic for the half though so we eventually found it with plenty of time to spare. Now, I dropped my boyfriend off at the marathon and that was a different story. We left even earlier that morning to get to the full and he was almost late. In fact they had to push the start time back because so many people were late. That could've been better accounted for I think. With that, I will say if you know you are bad with direction like my boyfriend and I, ask a volunteer for help at the expo! I'm sure they would've been more than happy to help :)

I also heard horror stories about people who took the provided transportation getting dropped off at the wrong resort after the race, bus drivers getting lost on the way to the race, and getting yelled at by said drivers. It's important to note that these are not Disney employees but I believe they are transportation companies hired specifically for this event. As far as I know those who contacted runDisney customer services about these incidents were greeted with lots of professionalism and swift action, which is good. This was also the experience of a handful of people so I don't think it's the norm.

Besides all that, I wish the race had more social media engagement. I felt like everything was communicated effectively via email, but it would be nice to have more engagement leading up to the race.

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Conclusion
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Overall, as big Disney fan I would recommend this race. You get to run through the castle and meet rare characters and be in a big space of supportive runers who also LOVE Disney :) If that's not your thing, probably not worth the price, but if you are on the fence, get a group together, come up with a fun costume and just have fun with it! It's a great race for that and if you are a beginning runner like myself, it will get you hooked on running!

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(2020)
"A great race for a PR!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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Overall
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I signed up for this race, not really knowing much about it and now it's one of my favorite races! It's local so not too crowded and a perfect distance if you're training for or recovering from a half marathon.

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T-Shirts/SWAG
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I don't think you get swag or a medal for the 5K, but with the 15K you get a lightweight hoodie which I wear all the time and a cute medal. I always get compliments on the hoodie, and it's super comfortable which is usually I combo I don't get with race shirts.

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Aid Stations
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I thought there were ample aid stations throughout the course and the volunteers cheered everyone on :) I was the back of the pack and there was still water aplenty.

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Course Scenery
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Sullivan's Island is beautiful! You don't run on or see the beach. It's all road but even then there's enough beach houses, palm trees, sand, and salty air to put you at ease.

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expo Quality
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There's no expo so I can't really judge it, but the packet pickup was easy and had a big window. It's at a Fleet Feet so if you need to pick anything up for your run, they got it!

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elevation Difficulty
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The course is completely flat! It's great for a PR or your first long run back after a longer race!

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Parking Access
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There's not much parking as it's Sullivan's Island but nothing is crazy far.

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Race Management
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The race was managed extremely well. Packet pickup was a breeze. All instructions were communicated well. The course itself was not closed off to traffic but big signs were put out so that cars would have to slow down and stop for you. It's also pretty early on a weekend so there weren't many cars anyway. The course was clearly marked and even then there were volunteers to direct you. The snacks and beer you get afterwards are amazing! Some of the best I've had at a race. Usually I feel jilted when it comes to the free beer but it was a local craft tall boy *chef's kiss*

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Conclusion
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I've been recommending this race to so many people. The 5K sold out pretty fast but there were still some 15K spots open a few weeks before. It is the perfect distance with a fun after party area. The course is flat so perfect for a PR or hitting that distance for the first time. The race has a great sense of community around it too, and I felt encouraged by fellow runners and volunteers along the way. Not to mention... you get some quality swag!

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(2019)
"Charleston's most difficult bridge run"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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Overall
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So as most of you probably know... Charleston is very flat. We have a couple of other bridge runs like the IOP Connector and the famous Cooper River Bridge Run. This one is way harder in my opinion than both of those. If you are looking for a challenging 10K in the Charleston area, this is your best bet. It's not impossible though! I'm not the best runner by a long shot and I was able to get through it. There's just no shade so bring sunglasses! The sun will be staring at you in the face. The after party makes the challenge soooo worth it. One of my favorite post-race parties.

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T-Shirts/SWAG
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So I didn't like the shirt because it ran too small especially in the armpit area, but I liked the color. The material is not good for running though in my opinion. Something that is awesome though is how inclusive the design is representing those who are differently abled. The medal has the same design as the shirt and I like it a lot more on the medal than the shirt. Pictures attached.

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Aid Stations
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I think there weren't enough aid stations or rather I didn't train for that number of aid stations. It was fewer than I was used to. The volunteers were great though! There's also a portapotty halfway which is awesome!!

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Course Scenery
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The scenery is pretty nice but nothing compared to IOP Connector and the Cooper River Bridge Run. It ends in Cannon Park which is a great area for an after party.

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Expo Quality
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No expo.

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Elevation Difficulty
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I think elevation-wise, it is the most difficult you will encounter in Charleston.

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Parking/Access
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There's a few garages nearby you can park at, but I would try to find a meter on Rutledge instead. Parking downtown is no fun haha.

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Race Management
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I thought the race was managed very well especially for starting and finishing in downtown Charleston. That must've been hard to pull off. The after party was very well organized. Despite lots of runners, the beer line wasn't long and they had more than enough hot dogs to scarf down!! The only thing that wasn't very organized was the check-in process. That's when you get your shirt and bib and the lines were confusing. They didn't have signs saying which line you should be in for which bib number. Instead one volunteer just yelled it out every so often. Also, you'll have to walk all the way back to where you parked to put your stuff away.

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Conclusion
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I would recommend this race for anyone looking for a good challenge and medal that really feels like you earned it. The after party was filled with fantastic food and drink and we met a lot of new people in the running community.

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