Latest reviews by Autumn Nguyen

(2022)
"The Perfect Beer Lover Run"
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Early morning for my friend and I. We left Sacramento, CA at 5 am and arrived in Sebastopol, CA at 7 am. Parking was not a problem for us since we got there an hour before the start.

We picked up our bibs at the Marketplace Expo on the morning of the race. FYI, there’s a $12 for race day pick up. The Marketplace Expo had about ½ a dozen vendors, including Fleet Feet Sports and AVID coffee. It was small, but intimate. People were super friendly and helpful.

The race started with a Beer Toast and we were off by 8 am. There were plenty of beers and cider in dixie cups for anyone who wanted it for the toast.

The race itself was lovely, mainly because I love running through small towns. Got the feel of a small town charm. We ran by the local high school, some vineyards, local shops, and the green belt. I was surprised at the hills for the first couple of miles, but in retrospect, they weren’t that bad. It warmed up way quicker than I anticipated so the layers came off fairly quickly. Those six miles went by fairly quickly.

Once we finished, we picked up our Beer Festival ticket and headed off to sample local brews. I am not much of a beer drinker, but I did enjoy a few of the local brews. Everyone was super friendly, and were all happy to give you as many samples as you wanted.

The Team Beer Relay was by far my favorite! Six times of two competed for the title of Beer Relay Champion. Each person had to drink two bees and run two laps (0.25 mile/lap). It was a hoot to watch – I was kind of in awe at their ability to hold down the alcohol and run fast!

The women and men beer run took place after the relay. We didn't stay for it because we needed food in our tank at that point.

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(2022)
"All The Feels!"
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The Oakland Running Festival gave me all the feels.

I got to Oakland on Saturday - a day before the race. I went to the Expo to pick up my race packet and did a little shopping. It wasn't crowded -- maybe because of the potential rain -- but it was fun and entertaining.

I ran the half marathon which started at 9 am. Late start to give all the challenge participants (5k and 10K) runners a chance to get back and join the half marathon distance. The race started in waves and as a back of the pack runner, I hung out with the wave 3 group with the 2:30 pacer.

The race started at Snow Park and the first three miles was around Lake Merritt. The pacer was a little fast so I hung back and enjoyed the views of the lake and the surrounding area. The course meandered through Downtown Oakland, then out toward West Oakland, and then back to Downtown Oakland with a finish at Snow Park. I worried about the hills but there weren't any major hills along this course. The elevation gain in some areas was noticeable but it was nothing to worry about.

The course is a fun one! There's so much to see -- especially the amazing art scattered throughout the city. The streets were lined with enthusiastic spectators and I felt their energy and support throughout the entire race. The course entertainment was fun and lively - especially the taiko drums and lion dancers. I am Vietnamese and was so happy to see the "Little Saigon" group out there cheering folks on. There was an incredible flame arch at 6.5 miles that was awesome to run through. It was totally unexpected and oh so awesome!

The aid stations were stocked with plenty of water and Gatorade. Some stops had extra snacks, including bananas, electrolyte tablets, and chips.

At mile 9 (along Broadway), I slowed down a bit because I felt the gradual incline that seemed like it went on forever. Luckily, you turn around shortly after 10 miles and the rest of the course was downhill -- except for the last 0.2 miles where you head uphill to the finish!

What made this race stand out was the sense of community. The Oakland community really came out to support the runners. They brought their energy, enthusiasm, and plenty of noisemakers. Their words of encouragement made me, an out of town runner, feel the love and support of a community I didn't even know. The on-course entertainment was spot on and was so encouraging of all runners. And the race announcer was superb! He pronounced my name correctly and his commentary was on point.

The Oakland Marathon published an online handbook that proved to be extremely helpful! I read it twice to make sure I didn't miss any details and felt prepared for the expo and race morning. I love that the handbook had a section describing spectator suggestions - what to do and what not to say.

I stayed overnight at the Marriott (hotel partner) and it was the perfect location. Website said that parking is $45 but because I was a race participant, I got a discounted rate of $25. Also, the hotel had a complimentary check out of 2 pm for race participants so I was able to return to the hotel to shower before heading home.

The Oakland Marathon had a fun course, awesome swag, and beautiful medals. I look forward to coming back in 2023!

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(2021)
"A Super Fun Run"
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I live in the neighborhood where this run starts and ends so it’s always a ‘must’ on my list. In addition, it’s for a GREAT cause!

This fun run is the largest Thanksgiving Day race in the country and draws over 27k participants. My son and I signed up for the timed event so we were near the front. There was a special corral for the times vs. untimed. We liked this because we started running seconds after the race start vs walking a ways before you have space to run.

I love the energy of this entire event — from the participants to the volunteers and spectators. The live music along the route is super + the unofficial “donuts + mimosa” breaks along the 10K were a hoot!

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(2021)
"Let's get Moo-ving!"
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This is a great race in my hometown! The Sacramento Running Association puts this event together and their attention to detail is on point. You run through the beautiful neighborhood of Land Park, make your way into downtown to see the iconic tower bridge, and then make your way back to the finish along the river. Love having an aid station every two miles. There's a ton of volunteers out to cheer you on and make sure you don't get lost. And what's not to love about free race photos and cow bells?!?!? I'm a sucker for cowbells!

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(2021)
"Rolling Hills + Scenic"
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I took the bus to the start line an hour before the race. It was pitch black out there at 6:30 am. I warmed up by doing a couple of miles and got in a long bathroom line to empty everything before the start.

The race takes you along the American River Bike from Folsom Crossing down to the Fish Hatchery. At the Hatchery, you turn to head back up toward the finish in Old Town Folsom. The start and finish are not at the same place. This felt like a fast course for me — perhaps because of the scenery. This is a great training run for CIM!

I wish there were more water stations along the way. And there was no event photographer — even at the finish.

Overall, this was a fun course! I had a great time … even with the huge climb at the end to the finish.

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