Latest reviews by Beth Nixon

(2019)
"Pretty course!"
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The Santa Rosa marathon takes place in wine country during August. Since I paid to have my bib mailed to me, I didn’t attend the expo. I drove to Santa Rosa (about an 80 mile drive) early race morning and had no problem finding the start area or parking. There were only short lines at the portapotties and the runners gathered in a square field until lining up to start. The weather was cool and the race had an early start so as to beat the August heat that was sure to come later. Management did a great job with everything from registration to timing. The first ten miles have a slight decline. It was quite foggy and the wet air felt great (although my hair had never been so knotted lol). Most of the race takes place on a bike path with the exception of running through a winery and a few miles on back roads. I remember there being hills around mile 12-14, then a slight incline on the last 8-10 miles. It got pretty hot by mile 16-17 and by mile 20 I’m pretty sure a volunteer handing me a ice pop saved my life! :) The volunteers were great and the aid stations were fully stocked. In addition, locals set up there own tables in front of their houses with refreshments and fuel!! One had cold water with lemon that was sooo good! Photographers were at various places on course, especially at the winery. The finish area was festive with all kinds of snacks (watermelon was the best), drinks, pancakes, beer, etc... I collected my free beer glass to sample libations from the beer festival that coincided with finishing. I also loved all the swag from this race! Customized wine bottle, running jacket (rather than another shirt), and beautiful medal. I recommend this race if you don’t mind a little heat. The course and swag definitely make it worth a little sweat.

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(2019)
"This Race Rocks!"
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I love this half marathon! It was my first ever half back in 2016 and I've run it every year since. Let's just say choosing this race as my first probably contributed to my love for racing. Registration, race website, information, and race management is all top notch! Side note: the RD is also the mayor of South Lake Tahoe. I can't say enough about the organizers, from their speedy feedback on SM comments, runners support via YouTube videos, and even a rocking music playlist, they always surpass my expectations!
Pick up your bib at the super fun expo where they have a DJ and live band playing on the concourse in front of the Hard Rock Hotel/Casino (the race recommended/discounted stay hotel)! Don't forget to pose for your free computerized photo in front of the Rock Tahoe sign. Sample all types of freebies from beer, nuun, protein bars, jerky, coffee, and even vodka from one of the many expo booths. Plus, shop for all your running needs and Rock Tahoe Half swag. They have so much merch, I love it!
Race morning take the bus to the start or have someone drop you off (there's no parking at the start) at the point to point race. Plenty of portapotties, more live music and DJ to hype you up, usually free coffee and cliff bars are available too. Wave to the drone as you start, they do a new video each year. Easy does it during the first 4 miles which drop from 7,100 down to 6,400 and expect rolling hills from mile 5 to the finish. There are many aid stations that are well stocked and very lively as each one is competing in a charity contest. (don't forget to vote for your favorite post-race). The scenery? Well, it's Tahoe, the views are to die for! The closed to traffic course is mainly on highway 50, but bears off onto a beautiful bike path around mile 10 before finishing back at the Hard Rock parking lot. The swag is gorgeous! Great prizes for AG winners/overall winners. Well organized, fun, loud, exciting finish area complete with more photo opps, tons of booths with free or for-purchase items, massage tent, food tents, and music. Pick up your free drink cup (with Rock Tahoe logo) and head straight to the pool party! That's right, hundreds of runners attend and hang out in the pool drinking their libations, listening to the live band under the shadow of the snow capped Sierra mountains! Did I mention that you'll be receiving your free race photos almost instantaneously while you're recovering in the pool?!
Such a fun event! If you ever get the chance, do not hesitate to sign up to run this event!

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(2019)
"Speedy and scenic!"
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I loved this inaugural event in downtown Napa! Race morning I drove into Napa, parked without issue, and proceeded to pick up my bib. The volunteers were well-organized, there were plenty of portapotties, and the race started right on time. This was a women's event but I believe there were a few men running as well. The course starts off in downtown Napa, then heads off through local neighborhoods. It's scenic and interesting, with rolling hills. Aid stations every few miles offered water and Gatorade and volunteers were great cheer squads too! Local spectators kept popping up on corners to encourage runners which was appreciated. The weather was chilly and sunny, perfect for racing. There were race photographers on course to capture the excitement and you could purchase phots a few days after the event concluded. Finish line festivities were lively, offering snacks, water, wine (a free commemorative glass was included), entertainment, photo opps, and a printout of your finishing time. I PR'd at this race and felt that the combination of chilly weather and rolling hills helped me earn a fast time. The medal wasn't fabulous and the shirt they provided was cotton but the other race details by far made up for the meh swag. I'd highly recommend this half marathon.

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(2019)
"Most Magical race on Earth!"
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I flew into Orlando from CA on Tuesday of race week and stayed at my parents’ house about 10 minutes from the Magic Kingdom. On Wednesday, we headed to bib pickup at Wide World of Sports. With so many helpful volunteers, it’s easy to get directions to your correct pickup location and then continue to the expo. In addition to the expo booths there’s also Disney Marathon merchandise in a separate building. We had such a wonderful time meandering through and stopping for photo opportunities. The next few days I participated in the 5k, 10k, and half marathon as part of the Dopey Challenge. Sunday was the big day, marathon day! My husband drove me to the Epcot parking lot and dropped me off by 3am, before they close the parking lots. It was super cold this year so I brought my Mylar blanket and throwaway clothes. 2018 was the same weather wise. It’s around 30 degrees but feels colder because of the humidity and breeze. There’s an entertainment stage, coffee to purchase, and character photo opps if you arrive early. I take advantage of the porta-a-potties at this area since there’s a lot. Next, head through bag check and walk (about .5 mile) to the corrals. Everything is well organized and the start waves were continuously moving so before you know it you’re crossing the timing mat. I was in corral C and started 7 minutes after the elites/corral A. The first several miles are dark but still fun! I stopped at all the character stops and they were fast, just enough to catch my breath. I like to run down Main Street USA while it’s still dark (mile 5ish), the lights and castle are a real sight! There’s nothing like running through the Magic Kingdom! By mile 7 you’re out of the park, it feels colder but the sun is rising so enjoy that cool air. Not much to see until Animal Kingdom around mile 12-13. Fun but short. In 2018, I used a real restroom at this point! By mile 15 your in the back roads of Disney. Lots of aid stations with water, Gatorade, bananas and sports beans around mile 17. Once you reach miles 19-22 it’s hot! 80 degrees. You can find sponges of cold water in WWOS. Lots of fun characters, bands, and “chear” squads during the whole race. When you get to mile 23, indulge in some chocolate treats as you run through Hollywood Studios and down the boardwalk towards the finish line! So much excitement at the finish, crowds of runners, families, volunteers... Pick up your Mylar blanket (if needed), Mickey ears, boxed snack, challenge medals and head towards gear check in the .25 mile chute. You can meet family at this point, take more character photos, and purchase champagne! Hubby parked close in the Epcot lot and we headed toward the exit with minimal traffic considering the crowds. I love running Disney and would definitely recommend it for beginners as well as experienced runners. The courses are very flat. The price tag is hefty but you get what you pay for. The hardest part of the weekend is the early morning start times (5:30am) which means you’ll be waking up at 2:30. If you’re doing a challenge, that could be four early mornings! Add in the jet lag and tourism and you’ll need a rest when it’s all over. Also, get creative and wear a costume, most people do! Enjoy the happiest race on Earth!

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(2018)
"Rock n Roll Las Vegas, baby!"
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It's Vegas! Nothing like running down the strip! I stayed at the Cosmopolitan and it allowed for somewhat easy access to both the start and finish lines. Let's face it, this is a huge event. There's lots of walking involved before you even start running. Simply getting your bib at the expo requires half a day. We took the metro to the expo site, which worked out fine. The expo is expansive which tons of vendors, photo opportunities, and race souvenirs. The weather in November is quite cool which was perfect for race day. Take your pick of restaurants on the strip to get your pasta dinner the night before. Keep in mind that Vegas is in the desert and the air is dry so remember to drink plenty of water prior to the start line. This race started in the early evening which really affected me. I felt tired from all the travel, walking, and well, Vegas lifestyle before I even set foot near the starting corrals. The year I ran, Capitol Cities was the featured band. They did a good job ramping up the crowd but my corral was called before they played any songs I knew. Even though there were thousands of runners packed into the corrals, it was a happy environment and well organized. We started on time and headed out to the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. It felt effortless running towards the sunset and exciting to round the turn and head up the strip. It was dark by mile 4 and the lights of the strip were brilliant. What fun, what excitement! The crowds lined the streets cheering us on, bands played, Elvis gave "high fives", and Frank Sinatra belted out the hits somewhere in the distance. Runners dressed in costumes and wore lighted belts, hats, and shoelaces. The first half is where it's at!! Then, the excitement faded on the back half, where it was needed most. Several sections of the full marathon course were dark and winding. There were several aid stations throughout but they were crowded. By mile 17 or so, I was near a highway and just wanted to be done. The last few miles got back to the strip and the excitement was back. Lots of music and refreshments at the finish along with foil blankets to keep you warm. The finish chute is about a quarter mile long so you'll need to continue through it until you can meet up with family/friends. I did the marathon as part of the Remix challenge, so I needed to find the tent for my challenge medal, a free beanie hat in a different tent, and get my medal engraved in still another location. Each spot was easy to find, with plenty of volunteers to point you in the right direction. My marathon medal was engraved while I waited and it was finished quickly-maybe 10 min. By this time it was around 9:45 pm and my family and I went to Paris for a late dinner. It was a short walk to get there from the finish area. This race seemed a little challenging to me because of the dry air, late start, and dark course, not to mention the overall elevation gain of around 1,000 ft. It was still fun and I consequently added a new state to race resume but I'd probably do the half marathon next time.

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