Latest reviews by Beth Nixon

(2021)
"Sweet Race!"
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What a way to start off the new year! I ran the Allstate Hot Chocolate San Francisco 5k virtually in the beginning of January. I've always admired the swag from others who have run it so I decided this was my year to join in on the fun. Race management was extremely professional which made for an easy registration process. My race packet including bib, running jacket, medal, 2 packets of hot chocolate, a few chocolate pieces, a waffle, some nuun, and a packet of pain relief ointment arrived well before race day. To make the virtual experience exciting, my husband and I drove to the Golden Gate bridge so that I could do my "race" there. The bridge spans 1.6 miles so I did an out and back with views of the sunrise over San Francisco. It was gorgeous! I celebrated with the hot chocolate from my registration packet and took pictures of the finisher's medal on the bridge. Later, I uploaded my results to the live leaderboard with no issues and downloaded a few of my pictures to the live results page. Their web page was so cute offering "stickers" and overlays for photos! It was a memorable way to jazz up the virtual finish line. Since this was a virtual race there was no expo, parking, or course descriptions to address. The race, however, is all about the swag! The jacket is warm and comfortable and the medal actually contains real chocolate inside! I'd definitely recommend the HC series and I look forward to running in person next year!

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(2020)
"Beautiful, fast course!"
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Race this course if you want a PR! I arrived in Rapid City, SD a few days before the race and ventured to the bib pickup the day before the marathon. Since this was a COVID approved event, there was no expo the year I attended. However, Elaine, the race director was at packet pickup and was genuinely thankful for each runner that traveled from far and wide to run. She did an absolutely fabulous job of managing the event under the restrictive circumstances. We received a cute shirt, lip gloss, a few pins, and a runner's gel pack in our pickup bag, along with our bibs. I believe most years this race is a women's only event, however, this year exceptions were made to allow men the opportunity to run. We stayed at the Marriott in Deadwood the night before and had zero issues making the drive to the start line. There was plenty of parking for my husband so he didn't need to just drop me off, he stayed for the start. Leave it to 2020, there was a hiccup with the timing mat company and they actually didn't start setting up the start line until the time we were due to race. Usually, I wouldn't care but this year they were calling for record high heat, so I wanted to start as soon as possible in an attempt to beat the heat. The course starts on a packed gravel road on an incline for the first mile and then drops about 300 feet for miles 2-3. After that, it's easy running on a slight downhill, turning to black top around mile 5. The scenery is GORGEOUS-babbling brooks, wildflowers, deer, waterfalls! To my surprise the temps were quite cool too, but I knew as I dropped from 6,000 ft elevation into the canyon, the heat would be an issue. There were plenty of aid stations however, again because of COVID, they were not stocked. They offered only water and gatorade which was fine by me. There was one more hill at mile 12, but it didn't seem too bad. Around mile 17, I could feel the affects of the downhill on my quads but my main concern was that it was starting to warm up. Still, the views of rock formations in the Black Hills and the occasional cheers from the bikers (possibly stragglers from Sturgis the week before) kept me distracted. By mile 20, the heat was a definite factor. The forcasted high was 99 degrees which was totally usual and it reached into the eighties when we were running. The race management and volunteers offered to mist us frequently on course which helped slightly. Another point to mention was that they did not allow headphones this year. My legs were completely depleted by the finish line but I was just so happy to have run this marathon when so many had been canceled in 2020. I PR'd by 3 minutes even with the heat challenges. The medal was super cute and there were plenty of snacks provided in the brown bag lunch you received at the end. I loved the beauty of this course! I'd definitely run it again if I lived closer!

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(2020)
"Beautiful running in the heart of wine country!"
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The first weekend in March is for racing in wine country! This was my first year running in this event and everything was wonderful! Hubby and I attended the expo the day before the race to pick up my bib. The expo wasn't large but had plenty of merchanise, other local race booths, and free wine tasting!
The next morning I drove to Napa and parked without issue at the high school. Before stepping onto one of the many available school busses to the start line of the point to point course, I took advantage of the real public restrooms which were clean and well lit in the dark morning hours. It was quite cold this year and they were forcasting wind so we were happy to hang out on the bus for an extra 30 min when we got to the start line. There were plenty of portapotties at the start. Bag drop was super easy and you could wait to drop your bag until minutes before the start. It was drizzling rain, cold, and windy during the first few miles but the gorgeous views were a great distraction. There were pockets of crowd support throughout the entire course. Running the Silverado Trail from Calistoga to Napa is such a beautiful, scenic treat. There are a few hills (my Garmin calculated (700 ft of elevation gain) but nothing major. Aid stations are well-stocked and are plentiful. The half marathon starts at the halfway point of the marathon but I didn't notice any extra foot traffic as the field size for both races is small. Race photos are available for purchase so smile for the many photographers! Finish line festivities offer plenty of food, snacks, water, hot soup, not to mention photo opps. The medal is heavy and one of my favorites, featuring a purple ribbon with a hot air balloon! So cute! I'd highly recommend this well organized race!

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(2019)
"Fast and Festive!"
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I trained for CIM with the Fleet Feet training program which included VIP treatment at the start line in 2019. Race morning our group gathered at one of the specified hotels to await the start line bus. I didn't stay in Sacramento the night before but drove in early morning with no problems. Upon arrival at the start line of the point to point course, we headed to the heated VIP tent which I thought was quite crowded and used the portapotties allocated for our tent. It wasn't cold in 2019 so we would've been fine standing outside and there were plenty of portapotties for those without the VIP access. Bag drop was a little chaotic and I'd recommend heading there sooner rather than later. Waves are self appointed, stand by your pace sign until they release all the runners. With over 10,000 runners the excitement can really be felt! Also, there is quite an elite field at CIM, this year accounting for many Olympic trial qualifiers! The course is described as fast with a net downhill but be aware that there are plenty of rolling hills. Race day weather is usually cold mornings followed by 50-60 degrees mid-morning. It is rainy season in early December, so it could be quite wet. In 2019, it rained lightly for the first 6 miles, then got warm. There's no shortage of well-stocked aid stations along the route. And no shortage of cheering spectators either! Plus, being just a few weeks before Christmas, a lot of spectators dress in festive attire-a real sight! There are people cheering basically on the entire course, with the grand finale in the final mile. Finish line festivities are great. Plenty of photo opps (don't forget to take a picture in front of the state capital Christmas tree!), snacks, hot soup, and music. The medal is always fabulous. I ran the challenge, doing the 5k the day before, and had no problem finding the tent to pick up my challenge medal. Walked back to my car which was a few blocks away at the hotel parking garage.
Race management is very professional and respond to email questions right away. The expo is a great place for photos, last minute running supplies, and a variety of CIM related merchandise.
I'd definitely recommend this marathon to any level runner.

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(2019)
"Lake Tahoe Marathon, my favorite!"
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Lake Tahoe Marathon weekend is my favorite weekend of the year! It was my first ever marathon in 2016, making 2019 the fourth time I ran this beautiful course. Weeks before heading to Tahoe, you’ll receive email notices from the race director (aka “nags from the ring leader”) in which you become well informed not only about the weekend events but also what’s happening in the area, such as the best spots to see the fall foliage, where to witness salmon spawning, etc. Race weekend itself is full of events starting Thursday with another marathon as well as shorter distance races and ultras. Although there are many races to choose from, each has an intimate feel. Lake Tahoe Marathon has about 200 finishers from year to year, although you may meet up with other runners from the half marathon or the ultra marathon depending on the timing. Since, the weekend consists of boutique races, the expo is quite small. In fact, it has gotten smaller over the years. But the size of the expo is canceled out by the amazing swag you receive-usually a duffle bag, long sleeved shirt, large, beautiful medal, and license plate holder! Plus, more goodies if you place in the top 25 or place in the top 3 of your age group. I usually grab some chicken and pasta the night before at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel. But the RD will also send a list of other restaurant options. I recommend lodging at the Grand Residence (Marriott) or Timber Lodge (Marriott), both located within walking distance of the finish line and the busses to the start. In 2019, I took the bus to the start without issue. Remember to bring throwaway clothes with you as it is very chilly at the start especially if it’s windy since there’s not much to block the wind coming across the lake. There’s a bag drop and port-a-potties at the start but no timing mat. The RD shoots a gun to officially get the race underway. Once you start (did I mention the lake is at 6,200 ft elevation?) , you’ll begin to climb about 100 feet right off the bat. You’ll be running on roads, sidewalks, and bike trails. The first 8 miles are rolling hills, then the work begins. Over a mile of steep grade incline takes you to 6,800 ft before you head down into Emerald Bay. As you marvel it’s the gorgeous vistas you’ll be distracted until you climb another steep grade to mile 12.75. Reach the halfway mark and the “worst” is over! You’re now rewarded with a run down the most scenic course in the west. By mile 17 you’ll back at lake level and will run small hills just to keep it interesting until the finish. The crystal clear, blue lake water beckons your legs at the beach finish. And a fabulous finish line celebration is in full swing! Lots of refreshing drinks, beers, wine, snacks, hot dogs, granola bars, etc. Photo opts, free pictures of runners crossing the finish await, music, and awards. Aid stations on course are fully stocked every few miles, first aid tents at the halfway point, along with assistance from bike volunteers. On course photography is included with registration. Total elevation gain/loss is around 2,500 ft. With the elevation and hills I’d add about 15 minutes to your flat course, marathon time. I highly recommend this race for its beauty!

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