Latest reviews by Megan Vickery

(2023)
"America’s Friendliest Marathon"
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The Richmond Half Marathon was a great intro to autumn racing on the east coast. The temps at the start were brisk, in the upper 30’s, and I found my hands to be frozen for about the first two miles. Nothing I have not experienced before, it’s just been awhile. Once my hands defrosted, I was eager to snap a few pics to share as the race course was scattered with beautiful fall colors.

Logistically, the race is easy to get to, however having to pay $10 for a parking garage was a little annoying. It’s a quick walk to the start area and there were plenty of portapotties.

This race begins in downtown Richmond and runs the first few miles in the city before transitioning to the surrounding neighborhoods. Even though they utilized a corral wave start, the first mile was very congested.

The transition point from city to the suburbs is a loop through Bryan Park, which takes you out of the hustle and into nature for a while. The course is mostly flat, with some small rolling hills throughout. The course is designed to finish on a downhill for the last ~1/2 mile of the race. This downhill is absolutely appreciated, but is steep at times, so I found myself having to pull back a little to make sure I didn’t lose my footing.

This race was named “America’s Friendliest Marathon” and I can definitely see why, there was crowd support along the entire half marathon course. There was rarely a gap where there was not someone cheering us on, which was really cool and much appreciated.

After crossing the finish line, we were greeted with a beautiful medal and bottle of water before heading to gear check. I usually take awhile to cool down after a run, however the lines for gear check were massive and took about 20 minutes to get through. By the end of that, I was starting to get really chilled, which is something I try to avoid as it’s really hard for me to warm up after that. I’ve never had to wait more than a couple minutes for my bag, so that was unexpected. In overhearing other runners who have ran this race before, it sounds like this year was an anomaly, so hopefully they figure it out for next year!

After throwing in my jacket, I headed over to the finish festival on Brown’s Island. The half and full finishers were gifted a blanket and hat, which I thought was unique and cool! We were given a slice of pizza, banana and some yummy trail mix along with the option of either a beer or Tito’s vodka drink. Kudos to the race for offering a non-beer option! The finish area was not large enough to comfortably host all of the finishers and their supporters, it was very crowded!

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this race for someone looking for a PR or to check Virginia off their list.

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(2023)
"The perfect way to kickoff the weekend"
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They changed up the course a bit this year, but it was still beautiful! We started on the bridge across the Clark Fork River before weaving through tree lined streets of Missoula and past the University of Montana campus before finishing in Caras Park. They do not provide any finish food/refreshments, which after a 5k you don’t really need, but it’s always nice to receive something. The medal and finisher shirts are always top notch!

The expo is held in the same venue as the 5k, so it makes it super convenient to pick up your packet after! All of the volunteers were incredibly friendly and excited to be there. As always, the finisher shirts are amazing- can’t wait to rock those after my races!! I had to buy some extra Missoula Marathon branded swag because they really do have the best designs. I wear my Missoula Marathon swag more than any other race.

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(2023)
"My Favorite 13.1 miles"
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My weekend kicked off with the free Beer Run (5kish) that isn’t timed, but it’s a great warm up and you get a free beer/hard seltzer from Big Sky Brewery after! This year they also gave finishers a cool bottle opener (they always have some fun item). I ran the 5k the next morning (see separate review) and then did my annual hike up the “M” before grabbing huckleberry ice cream from the Big Dipper. This weekend is about more than just racing for me, it’s about the beautiful scenery and community of Missoula!

The expo is held in the same venue as the Beer Run & 5k, so it makes it super convenient to pick up your packet after! All of the volunteers were incredibly friendly and excited to be there. As always, the finisher shirts are amazing- can’t wait to rock those after my races!! I had to buy some extra Missoula Marathon branded swag because they really do have the best designs. I wear my Missoula Marathon swag more than any other race.

It was gorgeous day for a the half marathon. It was slightly warmer than usual, but a nice layer of clouds kept me shielded a bit from the sun the majority of the race. We were treated to a stunning sunrise over the mountains, which was capped off by the traditional fireworks at the start.

The course begins in the beautiful countryside of Missoula, running amongst pastures and the Blue Mountain forest as we wind along the Bitterroot River. I was a bit sad as there are usually horses that run along the fence line about 1/4 mile after the start, but this was the first year I didn’t see them. I also noticed the pianist that was usually setup with a baby grand piano on a property around mile 3 was absent this year. That being said, the rest of the course remained as beautiful and majestic as always.

After crossing a bridge over the Bitterroot River, the course begins to weave through the beautiful neighborhoods of Missoula. The final stretch takes runners across the Higgins Street Bridge over the Clark Fork River toward the finish line. Runners are cheered on by spectators lined on both sides of the bridge, giving us the final push we need to finish strong!

The volunteer and community support for this race is exceptional! I really cannot capture how special the Missoula Marathon weekend is, you have to experience it to feel the magic of this beautiful town and amazing races. I’m already counting down the days until next year! This is the one race I will continue running annually ✨

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(2023)
"Welcome to Miami"
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Disclaimer: I received entry to the 305 Half Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Ambassador.

Wow, what an amazing race for my 75th half marathon! I admittedly did not train properly for the heat and humidity of this race, so the 83 degree temps and 62% humidity definitely impacted my performance. That being said, the course was so beautiful! The race started in South Beach along Ocean Drive with a stunning sunrise over the ocean. We ran through downtown South Beach and across the Julia Tuttle Cswy bridge into downtown Miami. Thankfully I was given a heads up on the climb up the bridges, so I was prepared to tackle them. The backdrop of downtown Miami definitely helped to distract from the climb as the sun starting to beat down on me. Downtown Miami provided a brief reprieve from the sun as the buildings shaded us for a couple miles. We then turned back to head towards South Beach again, crossing over another the MacArthur Cswy bridge and alongside the massive cruise ships. As we were back in direct sunlight, with some occasional shade from the palm trees, I focused on the cruise ships and scenery to push through. After crossing the bridge, we weaved along a gorgeous beachside paved trail that was lined with palm trees and other foliage for the last few miles before finishing in Lummus Park. Although this was a decent sized race, I never experienced any bottlenecking or had extensive weaving through other runners, which was a welcomed change.

There were plenty of aid stations, some of which had a hose and volunteers offering to cool runners down if they wanted. I rarely use aid stations anymore during half marathons, however I took advantage of 4 of the aid stations on this race for a sip of water and then dumped the rest on my head to cool me down. The humidity prevented the water from absorbing though, so I was pretty soaked by the time I finished the race. All of the volunteers were friendly and energetic, the spectators along the course did a great job of keeping us motivated as well.

Upon crossing the finish line, we were presented with a stunning medal that highlighted some of the main areas and notable aspects of Miami. We also received water, Gatorade, Dole fruit cups and there was a rice dish offered but I declined as I can't eat directly after a race. The finisher festival in Lummus Park had a super fun and upbeat vibe as a DJ was keeping the energy going. The beer garden had a few options for runners over 21, however I am not a beer fan so it would have been great to have a seltzer or cider option.

Rewinding back to the expo, they had a variety of options on different days/times to accommodate runner's schedules. I opted for the Saturday packet pickup that was held at Nike as it was the closest to my hotel. The packet pick-up was busy, however it was very well organized so the line went fast. We received our bib, finisher shirt, and a 20% discount at Nike (since they were hosting this expo day) that I took advantage of. Speaking of the finisher shirt, this finisher tank is perhaps one of my all-time favorite finisher shirts I've received from a race. Not only does it fit great (many finisher shirts are baggy and not flattering) but it has a vibrant 305 design on the front and down the back. This is a shirt I will definitely be rocking often on runs and just around town.

Overall, Run Miami did a phenomenal job on the 305 Half Marathon, it was so well organized from start to finish. If you are looking for a race in Florida, I cannot recommend this one enough!

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(2022)
"The Chocolate is Hotter in Phoenix"
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This is my second year running the HC Phoenix 15k and is one of the race weekends I look forward to the most every year. Starting with the expo, you immediately get into the festive spirit as everyone is in a great mood, most likely because they are handing out as much free chocolate as you can eat! The chocolate fondue with marshmallow dippers and delectable hot chocolate are the perfect way to get a kick-start on carb loading! The streak of awesome finisher swag continued this year with a super comfy hoodie that has two separate zipper pockets, which is super handy to store pre-run items! There were plenty of port-a-potties at the start line, so you didn't have to worry about standing in long lines and missing the start. This is a mostly flat course that winds through the streets of downtown Phoenix before the 15k splits off for an up and over on a bridge around mile 6.5. It can be an unexpected surprise for first timers, but thankfully I remembered what to expect from last year. There is another uphill right at mile 9, uphill finishes are not my fave but this one isn’t bad as long as you keep some gas in the tank. After crossing the finish line you get to collect a sweet medal and the prized chocolate fondue and dippers- yum! The hot chocolate is seriously some of the best I’ve had, I could drink mugs of it! They have a DJ playing to keep the vibe up and plenty of backdrops to snap a quick picture. Special call out to the spectators and volunteers, they are all super friendly and energized. I will definitely be back in 2023!

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