Latest reviews by Patrick O’Hagan

(2020)
"Turkey Trot Tradition Continues "
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Thanksgiving Turkey Trot races are an annual tradition for many runners across the nation. With the COVID-19 pandemic still wreaking havoc on many IRL (in real life) race opportunities, the good folks at Ram Racing provided a solution to keep the tradition alive.

America’s Turkey Trot Virtual Run was able to bring the feeling of Thanksgiving racing to everyone through the virtual race format. A really cool feature of the event was the ability for racers to choose their local or regional Turkey Trot during registration, adding an additional feeling of community to the virtual process.

In keeping with the season of thanks and giving, the race also featured Feeding America as their official race charity partner. Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization and has food banks, pantries, and meal programs all across the U.S. It’s always nice to see race organizers partnering with worthy causes.

Once you register for the race online, your race kit is mailed directly to you. It’s a great Thanksgiving-themed package that includes your personalized race bib, finisher’s medal, full-length zipper jacket with detachable hood, and a beanie. All of the included swag was of high quality and a really nice touch for this race. They also provide extra products that you can upgrade your order with for an additional fee.

While I opted for the half marathon option, there were many options to fit everyone’s running tastes. From 1 mile to 5k, 10k, and half marathon there was something for everyone to get out and moving.

I ended up traveling south to Florida for the holiday and was able to run my race down there on Thanksgiving morning. I made use of the Pensacola Beach Run half marathon course and treated it like a long training run. The temps were high (lower 80s) for late November. Even though the heat zapped me by the end, it was a great virtual race experience. I had my finisher’s medal waiting back at the car for me when I completed my 13.1 and crossed that virtual finish line.

Once completed you can easily report your race time and see where you place in the standings. The race also provides downloadable finisher’s certificates. While virtual races may not be everyone’s choice of preference, this one was a great opportunity to keep the Turkey Trot tradition alive. Plus, who doesn’t love great race swag?

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(2020)
"Scenic Tour of Pensacola"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was my first race at the Pensacola Half Marathon. I believe 2020 was the second running of the event. Of course with 2020 and COVID-19 things looked a little different.

I registered a couple weeks before the race and had an easy process. Packet pickup was held the day before at a local running store. On race day, parking was extremely easy since the start line is at a baseball stadium. The runners were corralled and allowed to start in small controlled groups. Chip timing was used so everyone got their actual time upon finishing.

The course itself is pretty flat. There is one large bridge that you have to go over twice near the half way turnaround point. Overall it's a great running tour of Pensacola and very scenic. The swag was okay. All runners got a cotton t-shirt with the race name on it. "Medals" were slightly disappointing because they were actually just spray-painted pieces of wood that were cut with a saw. Each piece differed in size, etc., and were not that exciting. However, Pensacola did just survive a hurricane recently before the race, so they have to get a pass on that one. Overall, it was a fun race experience and worth checking out in the future.

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(2020)
"One of the Prettiest Half Marathons"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2020 Fall Royale was the first annual event of a new race expansion of the Run The Bluegrass series. I was originally scheduled to race the Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon scheduled to be held in March. However, like most races in 2020, this race was canceled and I was given the option to transfer to the Fall Royale in October.

I jumped at the chance for a real-life race and signed up. The Fall Royale had a 5k and 7 mile option in addition to the half distance. The race was held on a different course than the Run The Bluegrass. The Royale started and finished at the Kentucky Castle, which was a great backdrop for the race. My only complaint was that racers could not enter the walls of the castle. This is understandable though, as it is a functioning hotel.

Two of the reasons I signed up for the race in the first place were the great swag and the promise of "America's Prettiest Half Marathon." First the swag: you get several choices upon registration between a singlet, long, or short-sleeve technical shirt from Headsweats. The medals were also great quality and design.

The race was well organized and the course was well marked. Aid stations were somewhat sparse, but the race was held during a pandemic. I thought the logistics were handled really well considering. The course itself is hilly (small, but countless rolling hills). However, it is a beautiful course. The entire race is held on two-lane country roads that run through gorgeous horse country. You can't beat it and I have to say the tagline lives up to the hype. I highly recommend this race!

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(2020)
"Awesome Super Hero Race and Swag"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

The DC Batman Virtual Run 5K/10K was my first ever virtual race. At first I was hesitant to do any virtual “racing,' but was pleasantly surprised by the entire process!

Let’s start with registration. The DC Batman Virtual Run 5k/10k registration was identical to any other race I’ve signed up for online in the past. It was quick and easy. To make things more realistic, the race organizers put together a great swag bag that was mailed directly to me.

The race swag actually had a lot to do with the decision to register, to be perfectly honest. All participants who signed up for the race received their own race bib, technical racing hat, quarter-zip jacket, and finisher’s medal. Not a bad deal! And if you’re a Batman fan, you’ll love it.

All racers had the choice of selecting their distance between the two options – 5k and 10k. For this race, I decided on the 5K option. This was the perfect way for me to get back into racing after coming back from a long injury.

I received my race swag in plenty of time before I planned on running the actual event. That’s another beauty of the virtual race scene – you can choose when and where you do the race. The quarter zip and technical racing hat are high-quality and were great for my training runs.

I chose my local park for the race location and hat a lot of fun doing it. When I crossed the virtual finish line (i.e. stopped my Garmin at the 3.1 mile distance) I officially become a virtual racer. I even took a “finish line” photo with my cool Batman Run medal. While I was hesitant about the virtual race experience, I can now say it’s definitely worth trying! And the DC Batman Run Series is the perfect one to do!

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(2020)
"Great Hometown Marathon"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Chattanooga Marathon has become an annual event for me and I highly recommend it. It was the very first full marathon I completed, and later became my first marathon to run as a pacer too! I know the race has a bad name for some due to their distance being short several years ago. I started running the race after that issue, so can't speak to that. I can say that for the last few years that I've participated, it has been a highlight of my spring racing season.

The expo of the race is held in a covered pavilion next to the football stadium and always has some great vendors. For those that go to larger races, the number of vendors is fairly small. But, they have everything you could want or need at a race expo. It's laid out well and easy to get through packet pickup, etc. The race shirts that come with your registration are really nice as well. Parking for the expo and race day are very easy and convenient to the start/finish line.

The full marathon route is a double loop. This could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. There are a few really steep hills along the course that make it challenging. The worst part is having to tackle these a second time during the last half of the race. On the bright side, you get a good lay of the land and know what to expect for the second half of the race. The course is well marked and the volunteers at the aid stations are great. You can expect water and sports drinks at each station. There are also several spots along the course with live music and entertainment.

The race finishes at the same place it starts and there is always a nice after race celebration with drinks and snacks. You also get a beer ticket with your bib. Friends and family have several places along the course to cheer you on and to hangout as well. The VIP viewing area is another great option that has extra amenities. The race also provides free race photos which is a nice plus. Overall, this is a fun race experience that is sure to challenge you, but leave you with good memories.

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