Latest reviews by Jessica Lyons

(2021)
"Virtual comes through! "
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The 2021 Oakland Marathon Running Festival was a fantastic example of how races are creating premium experiences for runners even in a virtual world.

As the race's 12th year running, you could tell they were trying to optimize this experience for everyone as much as possible. They offered a brand new 10K and Marathon Challenge (fun idea!), as well as their 5k, half and full marathon.

They offered a Facebook group that made runners feel connected as much as possible so they could share training and race days together. Speaking of race days - you could either run on March 21st to align with the race, OR you could run anytime, anywhere.

The race shirts were Under Armour brand and a nice quality. I love the look of them. The medal was super unique and inspired by the art of a local Oakland muralist.

I hope to one day get the chance to run in Oakland and experience the true awesomeness of the city!

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(2021)
"Virtually flawless! "
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I had the pleasure of running the Houston virtual 1/2 marathon this year in Seattle, WA. We mapped out a beautiful course new Seward Park. While it wasn't the same as being at the starting line in Houston, the race did a fantastic job of making runners feel as hype as you can leading up to it.

For starters, communication was really well done. They emailed frequently enough to keep you excited and to make sure you started informed. The SWAG for this was so well done and should be something other race directors learn from. The box that it arrived in was beautiful and it had everything from partner items in it to a "RUNHOU" mask and a finish line. Since Brooks Running was their partner they included a SUPER COOL card with Des Linden's voice on it - a Brooks athlete - which to me was MONEY!

They also had an app that seemed to work leading up to race day, but it somehow failed mid-run for me. Thank goodness they had an option to submit times easily through their website.

The race gear for purchase was also really amazing!! Again, Brooks hit it out of the park, especially with the Texas flag Launch!

Can't wait to get my medal!

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(2020)
"Great local half"
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Of the half marathons that run through Seattle, this one is more of the “local fav” for me. It’s smaller in numbers and easier logistically.

It’s also right around Thanksgiving every year which means The weather can be unpredictable, although this years race was BEAUTIFUL and the perfect temperature.

The packet pickup is simple, and over the years the expo has gotten better, but it’s a smaller expo that doesn’t get the big brands at it. (That’s not necessarily a bad thing!) It’s a simple in and out and you can run into a lot of local running store and running group pals.

This year they changed the course. There’s a lot of construction and changes that were happening all over the city, so I don’t think it was necessarily their fault. Logistically this city is challenging. However, both this race and the Seattle RNR run a similar course and it’s getting pretty boring. I think as the more local of the races they could try and find different areas to route us through!

The finish line is another one that’s easy to get through. They offer great post-race items, but again, it’s smaller so don’t expect the “big race” experience.

Would I do it again? Yes!

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(2020)
"Virtual Swag FTW! "
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Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

I had mixed feelings about running the virtual Pittsburgh Marathon because running one of the reasons I run races in other cities is to experience them. But, since I had the opportunity I thought I’d give it a go!

The virtual support and hype leading up to the race was fun. It gave me the opportunity to get excited about what I was wearing (black and gold!), the most epic course to keep me rolling along, and to plan the perfect spot for a finish line.

The SWAG from this race was super cool!! The medal is now one of my favs, the race shirt was quality, and I LOVED the sunglasses (thanks Knockaround!).

While I’d much rather run the Burgh in person, this was still a great experience and one that made for a solid COVID memory.

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(2020)
"Go for the run, stay for the after party! "
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This was my first experience at a Rainshadow Running event and it DID NOT disappoint! I've always wanted to run the Orcas Island 25K, and I knew that the weather could go any which direction. Sunny. Snowy. Muddy. Hailing. You name it, it's possible at that time of year in Seattle.

What's unique about this race.... well, everything is unique. But for starters it's on a small island outside of Seattle. The race is up Mount Constitution on Orcas Island. Most people make a weekend out of it, or at least a day or two because of the trek out there. There are hotels, Air BNBs, camping, and other accommodations on the island. It's really whatever makes you comfortable.

The "expo" is essentially a log cabin where you check in. that's all. And it's perfect! Very low key. Once you check in you can grab a cup of coffee and hang around. Then at some point they'll gather folx outside and determine a starting line location (so official!), give the rules, and you're off and running.

It's rolling hills to start but then it quickly becomes an uphill and switchback heaven, or hell, depending on how much you love elevation. BUT IT'S BEAUTIFUL!! There isn't much to speak of in the way of on-course aid stations (small checkins), but at the top of the mountain you'll find all you need to fuel up and head back down. If you're lucky and it's a clear day out, take the stairs to the top of the tower. You won't be disappointed.

Once you cross the finish line, grab and beer and hang around. James, the race director, is the most amazing person to meet. He always has a bluegrass band and brings food out for folx to enjoy. And the longer you stay, the more fun it gets!!

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