Latest reviews by Jenn C

(2015)
"The NEW Stadium Challenge!"
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After taking 2014 off (due to scheduling I think), 1st Place Sports came back with a revamped version of the Stadium Challenge.

Maybe they read my previous review, or maybe Shad Khan decided to get involved, but the race was rebranded as the Jaguars 5K Stadium Challenge! Same course, same night start, but new swag. It's nice to be able to run on the practice fields and at the stadium without it being some kind of "secret" as to what team played there.

Here are the main points:

-Expo: Like most 1st Place Sports (1PS) races, you pick up your packet at the store. They have day-of registration also for slightly more.

-Parking: Each registrant got a parking pass for free parking at the stadium. Yay! There were a lot of people there, and it was nice to not fight anyone for a parking spot or have to stress over walking a mile to the start.

-Facilities: Again - the race is at the stadium. This means...REAL bathrooms.

-Swag: In previous years, you got a cotton t-shirt with the race logo. This year, it's a really nice tech shirt with the Jaguars logo on it. If you're like me and you don't own any Jags gear (I'm a Giants fan...ahem...), now you have something awesome to rock during the season. If you registered early, you got a nice bib with the logo on it also. The medal is also big, colorful, and way nicer than those from previous years!

-Course: This is not a PR course. I repeat - This. Is. Not. A. PR. Course. Well, unless you train on hills. You run around the stadium, practice fields, and then up and down the levels of the stadium. After a loop on EverBank's football field, where you see yourself on the HUGE video scoreboards, you finish up the tunnel. It's a tough course, but it keeps things interesting. Be ready for a lot of weaving - lots of people stop to walk (myself included this year) after about the 5th incline.

-Logistics: This is my only big complaint. Because there are so many runners, they offer several different start times (everything is chip timed, so awards are calculated correctly), with the "competitive" runners starting in the last wave. This prevents the awful bottleneck that happens in many races, and for the most part, all the waves started at the correct time (no standing around waiting). After I finished, I sat in the stadium with some friends to watch our other (speedy) friends finish. They had to weave in and out of the walkers, kids, and slower runners, which seemed a bit dangerous when you have runners going at a 5:30 pace. It seems like it would have been a lot better (and safer!) to have the faster runners start first, and the walkers/kids start last.

The OTHER big problem I noticed was at the first water stop. I carried my own water with me, and at around 1.2 miles I noticed a group of people who were just STOPPED. The water station hadn't refilled cups (probably from earlier runners) and people were crowded around trying to get a drink.

-Overall this is a really fun race that has been made even better by associating with the Jaguars. There were plenty of kids participating, and there's also a fun run option for the little ones.

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(2015)
"Beson Media Corporate Run"
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The Beson Media Corporate Run is billed as the "World's Largest Office Party" - it's a way for you to run (or walk) with your coworkers. Most of the major companies in Jacksonville participate, and there is a big BBQ with free beer after the 5K.

Course: The 5K starts and ends at Metropolitan Park. It follows a pretty similar route to most downtown 5Ks, which includes a trip near EverBank Field. The course is pancake flat, but the views are a little dull.

Swag: Participants got a t-shirt and a bib. There is a post-race BBQ with free food and beer, which is a nice touch and a fun way to hang out with your coworkers in a not-work environment.

Logistics: My biggest issue with this race was trying to get to the start. There was a LOT of traffic - the Main Street Bridge was closed, and there were several other events taking place downtown. Combine that with the 6:30 start time, and it was a mess to get to the start. The race had been pushed back to 6:45, and while they announced that we were all emailed about it, I didn't receive an email or see a post on the event's FB page. Parking was also a pain, so I would recommend getting there as early as you can.

Start & Finish: There were two start areas - one for the top runners per company (top runners received points for placing), and the general start area. Team leaders were given wristbands for the top runners in their group.

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(2015)
"Cupcake Run!"
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The Cupcake Run is a charity race in Jacksonville that benefits "Girls on the Run," which is a group that works with young girls to inspire them through running. Funds from this race go towards the program, as well as a 5K that they hold for the girls in the group. This year's race had more than a thousand runners. Here are the details!

Registration: Online registration + day of race. The price started at $25 and goes up to $45 the day of the race, which is high for a 5K.

Expo: There's no expo, but packet pickup is really easy. You have 3 days before the race to get your bib from the Athleta store in the St. John's Town Center, and there is also day-of pickup.

Logistics: The race started exactly on time (7:30). Because this is a big family event, anyone looking to PR or really "race" it should consider lining up towards the front of the pack.

Course: This was a simple 2X loop around the Town Center. It's really boring as far as views go, but it's pancake flat. There is also something oddly comforting about running through a typically crowded shopping center when there is no one around.

Aid Stations: There's one water station set up halfway through the course. I saw a bunch of volunteers on the course with cheer signs, so that was a nice touch.

Swag: It wouldn't be a cupcake race without cupcakes, right? Each finisher gets handed a cupcake medal (so cute!) and a container with one of the mini cupcakes from Sweet by Holly. You also get coupons for 2 free cupcakes from SBH. Your race packet contains a cotton t-shirt, GOTR sunscreen, and some coupons to places around town.

Overall Race: If you are looking for a race to do with the family, this is it! I saw many mothers and daughters on the course with matching outfits (so cute), and overall it was a very family-friendly atmosphere. Contest winners were named for best cupcake costume and most spirited group, so the theme is something you can really get behind. I recommend registering in advance, as $35 - $45 for a 5K is pretty high, even one that is designed for charity.

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(2015)
"March to Get Screened"
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Disclaimer: I was given a free entry (for me and a friend) to run this race. I wasn't compensated with anything else, and all opinions are my own!

This was the third year for this race - I've heard of it before, but I had never run it. I'm not a huge fan of running on the beach, but with the free entry I figured I'd make my way out. I ended up meeting up with 3 friends (one who got my other entry, and 2 who were running on their own)

The March to Get Screened is designed to promote getting screened for colon cancer. It is held by the Borland-Groover Clinic, a clinic in town that conducts colonoscopies and other similar screenings/procedures. Blue is the official color of the race!

-Packet Pick-Up: This was as easy as it could be. I got mine at the BG-C the day before the race, and it was very easy to pick up packets/numbers for my friends as well.
-Swag: Each participant gets a t-shirt and a drawstring backpack with information. The t-shirt is awesome! It's not a tech shirt, but it's made of softer material than normal cotton. They're also pretty true to size - a small fits me perfectly. I noticed that my packet also came with a Koozie, wristband, and chapstick, but the other three packs only came with the chapstick.
-Race Course: This is a simple out and back on the beach. The wind was brutal this year, but that's to be expected down by the water. As much as I hate running on sand, the scenery is always beautiful.
-Crowd Support: I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of spirit out on the course. When you got to the start area to pick up your timing chip, people were giving out blue Mardi Gras beads. I saw a lot of people in costumes who were really getting into it. That's always awesome to me, because I feel like the support on/off the course is what makes a race different than just a big training run with other people.
-Aid Stations: There was one water stop, located about halfway through the course. I had my own water, so I didn't grab any from them. I did see people giving out bottles of water to each runner. There were porta potties at the start, but I didn't need to use them.
-Post-Race: Unlike other races, where you get a banana and are sent on your way, this race had a big after party at Lynch's (the Irish pub at the beach). Each runner got two free beers, and you could order breakfast at the bar. I didn't see any free snacks (bananas, muffins, etc.) anywhere, but a 5K rarely leaves me hungry enough where I feel like I need a snack. There was also live music, and it was a lot of fun to just hang out with the other runners.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this race. It's a fun 5K for a great cause, and there is so much spirit on the course that it makes even a windy race a fun one!

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(2015)
"Best Damn Race"
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The Best Damn Race is "a race for runners, by runners." The gist is that you get a TON of perks and an amazing race day experience. With a 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon, there's a choice for every kind of runner. I went with the 5K for the inaugural Jacksonville event.

I'm still rehabbing an injury, so I didn't actually "race" this as much as I treated it as an easy run. This was great though, because I was able to actually enjoy the course. So, does this race live up to its name? Here are the facts:

Registration: One of the unique things about this race is that you really ARE rewarded for registering early. While other races may be $5 - $10 cheaper when registration first opens, you can really save a TON here. The first entries $1, then they go up to $5, then $10, etc. etc. until you get to your "day of race registration" costs.

Expo: This wasn't one of my favorite parts - the expo was outdoors at Metropolitan Park in downtown Jax. There were a few vendors there, but it felt like it would have just been easier to have the packet pickup at Jacksonville Running Company (JRC), which was one of the race sponsors.

Swag: The race bag includes a lot of the normal stuff that you get for registering for a race - a protein bar (in this case, a yummy Kind one that I had before the race), t-shirt (tech material with the race logo. I got a men's small and it fits great), and lots of coupons. Half marathon participants got a pint glass with the race logo and JRC's logo. One feature in this race? FREE race photography. If you like your shot, you don't have to pay $100 for it.

Race-Day Logistics/Parking: This went off without a hitch (for me at least). Since the race started/ended in Metropolitan Park, it made for a perfect parking situation at EverBank Field right across the road. Parking is free, and there's a ton of it. I gave myself extra time to get to the start, and I had a lot of time to spare.

The Course: If you've ever run in Downtown Jacksonville, you already know the course. The 5K/10K started 30 minutes before the half, which I loved because it prevented bottlenecking. Our race started maybe 3 minutes late, which is normal. The course follows basically the same way that the Marine Corps Half did (without the bridges), and took you along the riverwalk. It's flat, flat, flat, and I know a lot of people who PR'd (in every distance, not just the 5K). Since I wasn't racing, I was able to really soak in the views/sunrise. My only complaint is that for us locals, it's kind of the same old.

Aid Stations: I can only vouch for the 5K aid station, which came around Mile 2. The volunteers were really energetic, which I was impressed by since it was so cold out. I checked out the course map for the half, and it looks like there are several GU stations in good locations, plus some cheer spots set up. Again, I can't vouch for how these went, but the 5K station was great.

The Medal: This is the most important thing, right? I love the medal for this race, because you can really see the detail that went into it. Some races just give you a HUGE medal with the race logo, and that's boring. This one has the city skyline, with "Jacksonville" in an outline of the Main Street Bridge. Little details like that make the medal more special. I only wish they had separated the 5K and 10K, since the medal says "5K/10K" on it.

Finish Area: As I stated before, the race ends in Metropolitan Park. It's actually the same finish spot as the Marine Corps Half. One thing I LOVED about the finish area was the guy announcing the finishers - he was funny and paid attention to everyone while he encouraged us. At the finish area, there is also the "PR bell," which you can sound off if you set a PR. There was a Dunkin' Donuts station, plus free beer (at 8:00 am?) and massage tables. They also set up a screen so you could take your picture in front of the race logo. It was too cold for me to stick around, but I did get a look at all of the vendors, which were the same ones as from the expo.

So, is this really the "Best Damn Race?" I don't know that it lives up to THAT name, but it was still a great time. If you register early enough, you can have an amazing race for $10! I would definitely recommend it to any level runner!

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