Latest reviews by Emily

(2018)
"Scenic downhill small town marathon"
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I was using this race as a training run for a 50k. The full marathon sold out in February, but I got in off the waitlist just a few weeks later.

The race starts in the lovely small town of Ojai, in the mountains above Ventura. There are several choices of shuttle times from the downtown area. The race starts at 6am and the first shuttle is at 4am. They tell you to be there 30 min before your shuttle, and my 4am shuttle actually pulled out at 3:43, they are not kidding!

The expo was held at the county fairgrounds. There were about a dozen booths. No "goody bag" at all. Not even a gear check bag was handed out there. You had to get one at the start line.

There was a wave start for the marathon - just 3 waves. Many people choose this race to BQ. The first 6-7 miles are a loop around Ojai before heading down the mountain. From roughly miles 10-15, the course is along a shaded bike path where it meets up with the half marathoners. It was very scenic through the valley. There are TONS of water stations along the way, with a few of them handing out gels. From about mile 16-19 the course is back on roads, plenty of downhill, but I was actually hoping for more downhill. Miles 20-23 were back on the path again, but in a much more industrial and exposed setting. Not much in the way of spectators. The last few miles were through downtown Ventura, straight into the sun. The finish is at the beach, which is always rewarding.

The half and full participants get the same medal, which I do not like. The ribbons are different, but I wish we would have medals indicating our distinct distance. They were nice wooden medals though.

The race also offers free finishers pics! I would definitely recommend this race, especially if you are looking for a BQ.

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(2018)
"Well-run small town race"
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This was my 5th time doing the Lost Dutchman 10k. I continue to be drawn in by the cool backdrop of the superstition mountains, the small town feel and the great organization of the race.

This year they held packet pickup in Tempe on Thursday only, then out in Apache Junction near the race start on Friday and Saturday. I ended up driving all the way out there, but it is a small, simple packet pickup process. On race morning I chose to park at the rodeo fairgrounds and take the short (less than 5 minute) shuttle to the start. It's easier than looking for parking near the park. And the signage leading to the parking is fantastic.

There is a full, half, 10k, 8k trail run and 2 mile race. Unique medals for all races. kudos to that!

The course has gentle rolling hills, which are honestly pretty perfect. Plenty of aid stations throughout. I did not notice many mile markers though. And no clocks.

The one area where this race has gone downhill is their post race food. It used to be amazing. There used to be homemade breakfast burritos afterwards, and chips and salsa. Now it's very generic. Half a bagel, fruit, yogurt and a bag of chips.

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(2018)
"Crazy beautiful hilly half marathon"
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This was my 1st time running the half here in Sedona, although I have done the 10k the last 2 years.

The race itself makes for the perfect racecation. Sedona is approximately 2 hours North of Phoenix, but feels like a world away with its incredible red rock formations. If you plan a weekend, there are plenty of other things to do (hiking, pink jeep tours, wine tasting, shopping, etc.)

The expo was held on Friday only, from 12-8 pm. It's small, but has a ton of merchandise you can buy. It was held in a tent on some fairgrounds this year, and actually felt more spacious than in years past.

There are several hotels within walking distance, or you can take the free race shuttle. I would NOT recommend parking at the start/finish, it is very congested.

The race has a late start time, which is great. Marathon starts at 9am, Half at 9:10, 10k at 9:20 and 5k at 9:30. Even though it is a small race, the start area is VERY congested. You start on a narrow road, but it does thin out pretty quickly.

There was gear check available near the start. It was a warm (for Sedona) day, the warmest I have experienced for this race. Temps were in the mid 40s at the start and low 60s at the finish. I'm sure the full marathoners would have appreciated an earlier start time.

All courses are out and back. There were a TON of aid stations. Literally every step of the race had an amazing view. Ok, let's talk hills. YES it is a hilly course. It's nonstop rolling, which honestly keeps it interesting! I would not expect to PR here. Water and electrolytes were available at every aid station.

Every finisher gets a tech t-shirt and a medal. My ONLY negative feedback is that everyone receives the same medal, regardless of distance. Really hoping that changes in the future.

Finishers also receive a few snacks (cookie, clif bar) and water at the finish. There were food trucks and some local AZ breweries serving up cold brews.

I will do this again. I love the challenge of this race, and the excuse to get away for a family vacation in the middle of winter.

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(2017)
"Sweetest party in town"
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I've ran the 15k here in Scottsdale before, as well as the 5k. This is a huge event for the Phoenix area.

5k-ers get a really nice 3/4 zip jacket, plus an huge finishers mug that has hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and dippers.

15k-ers get all the above plus a custom medal.

Packet pickup was available for 2 days prior but not the day of the race. On race day, traffic and parking is CRAZY, so plan on arriving early and carpooling if you can! The races started on time and went smoothly using wave starts in corrals.

The course is super flat and BORING. They do hand out candy every 2 miles or so, if you're into that!

The mug is great but it is a real bummer that you have to sit on the ground to eat it. Not ideal.

This race is very popular, the local running community comes out in droves with family and friends to get their chocolate on!

And one last final nice touch - free downloadable race photos for everyone! Hooray!

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(2017)
"Small race with lots of distance options"
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This is my 3rd year in a row running the Girls Run Fast race, but my first time running the 10k distance. There are 5k, 10k and 15k options at this race, all done in loops around the lake at Kiwanis Park, plus a little on the canal path. This was a last minute decision to run this race. I don't feel like it was well publicized this year. Normally I have lots of friends doing this race, but this year, none of them were. The Gilbert Half Marathon & 10k was the same weekend, so I think that stole some of the runners away.

Startline racing does the timing and course management, and always does a fabulous job. They also managed to straighten out the parking confusion from previous years.

The race started on time, and there was plenty of water/gatorade/bagels/bananas on hand. The staff did a great job directing folks - with the multiple distances it can be confusing on a few of the turns.

The race swag is nice - every runner gets a pendant with the race distance they ran, plus a shirt, and a medal. The medal was extremely disappointing this year, they used to be really awesome and sparkly. This year it was basically a square frame, and was not unique to the distance you were running, which is always a big pet peeve of mine. I'm sad to see this race on the decline, I hope that they make some changes to get it back to the popular running event it was before.

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