Latest reviews by Emily White

(2017)
"Perfect small town race experience"
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I run this race every year if possible and it never disappoints. So many positives here:
1) Incredible scenery
2) Small race, no crowds
3) tons of free parking
4) fantastic bling
5) pizza and fudge at the finish!
6) did I mention great scenery?

The race has a few small rolling hills, but overall flat and fast with plenty of great scenery to look at. There is also a 5k, 10k and full marathon. Great aid stations with water, gatorade, gu and even pickle juice! It is also walker friendly, with an early start for walkers.

I can't recommend this more! If you like quaint small towns with all the perks of the big races, consider this race! Make a long weekend out of it though. There are plenty of breweries, wineries and adorable shops to lure you in - oh, and the beach is a block away!

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(2017)
"Fun, girly 5k"
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I was excited that the She Power race was coming to my town. It's put on by the same company (13.1 productions) that did the Caribbean Christmas 5k in December, and I knew there was going to be great bling!

I chose to do the 5k instead of the half. There was good communication ahead of time regarding the race logistics. The expo was only open for a few hours the day before, which I thought was a bit limiting. However, they decided to offer same day packet pickup as well, which was nice for those who live farther away. Expo was small but in a very nice facility.

The 5k started 15 min after the half. Same course as the Caribbean Christmas 5k. Luckily it was a little cooler that race morning, so the 7:15am start wasn't too bad. A weird sharp u turn at the finish, but at the finish was where things really got good!

Let's talk swag! A huge, heavy dragonfly medal, that opens and holds a photo - For the 5k! A swag bag with a pair of Balega socks! Cake! Donuts! And a rose! Really, how could you go wrong? You were left feeling celebrated and there was a ton of girl power, with all the women's running groups from all over the valley participating in either the 5k or half.

The shirts were really nice as well, or could opt out of the shirt and spend less, which is always a great option to have. This was well worth the money!

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(2017)
"Crowded Feel-good community event"
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This was my first time running in this classic community event honoring Arizona's Pat Tillman. I have hesitated in the past due to the large crowds. Last year it sold out before I got the chance to register.

I heard that there was a medal for the first time this year, so I decided to give it a shot. I took light rail to get there which cut down on all the stress of parking.

There was great pre-race communication, and there was a full 3 days of packet pickup before this very large race with 28,000 participants. Packet pickup was surprisingly small. I was in and out in 5 minutes, very efficient. There only a handful of booths..

Race morning, there is a large expo. I walked around but didn't want to pick anything up before the race and have to carry it. I was lucky enough to be in one of the first corrals (there were 28!), so after a moving national anthem, I was off!

It was very crowded the whole way. There are a number of wheelchair participants, being pushed by volunteers. Personally I feel that these people should get either an earlier start, or have them in the last corral with the other strollers. I did not enjoy trying to get around them.

The course is all the best of downtown Tempe - the big hill on curry, coming down mill avenue, over the bridge at Tempe Town Lake and finishing inside Sun Devil Stadium on the 42 yard line! Now that is unique. I even heard my name announced in the stadium, which was suprising for so many participants.

Post race is where my disappointment begins. I only saw water, bananas and oranges at the finish area. I felt like there was zero signage pointing folks in the direction of the expo, or the beer garden. We had to stop and ask volunteers, and it was not set up very efficiently. The volunteers were great, though, and it was a nice touch that the beer served was from Dog Tag Brewing, a nod to Pat's military service.

I did not bother going back to the expo after the race, it just seemed like a hassle. Overall, if you can handle crowds, I recommend this race. For $40 I got a quality commemorative tech shirt, a medal, post race beer, and was able to contribute to the Pat Tillman Foundation.

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(2017)
"Ideal racecation race!"
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This has become one of my favorite races. I ran the 10k in 2016, and since I was coming back from injury I chose to do that distance again this year. I choose this race in part because it serves as the perfect weekend getaway.

Pre-race communication was good, they kept me informed of all the logistics associated with the race.

The expo/packet pickup is small, but there were a ton of friendly volunteers to keep things moving along. I was able to score a Sedona Marathon Event tank top.

The race offers free shuttle pickup at area hotels, but I chose a hotel I could walk from. The race has a later start (yay!), starting at 9 am with the full marathon, and each race staggered 10minutes apart. Mine started at 9:20.

Yes, it is hilly. I don't know anyone who runs a PR on this course. The red rocks provide a scenic distraction from the hilly terrain.
The start is fairly crowded, but we all spread out pretty quickly. I noticed a few aid stations, but spectators are only at the finish area. The last hill before the turnaround is a killer. But overall I find the second half easier to run.

Medals - It's a "collect a piece of the pie" type of medal - but unfortunately all race distances get the same thing (except 5k which is a totally different medal altogether). I wish they would diversify a little.

T-shirts - we all got nice tech shirts, which is always a plus

Finish area -there were bananas and cookies, plus a ton of different items for sale from vendors. There is a long walk from the finish line uphill to the medal and refreshment area.

Overall, this is a well managed race. We took advantage of other activities in the area after the race and made a weekend out of it. The scenery is 200% worth doing this race. Period. I hope to make this an annual event!

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(2017)
"Sweetest race in Las Vegas"
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I ran this race last year (its inaugural run) and I have to say it ran much more smoothly this year.

Leading up to the race, there was still good race communication and weekly training plans. I had hoped to make this a weekend girls getaway like last year, but my friend backed out and I was left to go solo. It still makes for a great racecation!

I adjusted my plans to come to town just for one night (from Phoenix so it's easy). Packet pickup was at the Linq again. I still did not see any signage for the expo. If I hadn't done it last year, it would have been very hard to find. I was happy to see that once I got to the room, it was actually kind of busy! Unlike last year which was a ghost town. This had good music, actual vendors, a couple of backdrops for photos, a mascot, race route info, hot chocolate and chocolate dipped cookies. Volunteers were quick and efficient with handing everything out. There is no race day pickup.

The 5k folks started at 715am and the 15k runners started at 8. This year, they were much more organized. It started on time, the announcer did a great job with the crowd and even had a Ronald McDonald House family speak just before the race started. Some of the proceeds support Ronald McDonald House charities. The group seemed a tiny bit bigger than last year, but still quite small, compared to other hot chocolate cities.

The route is not much to look at. We're on the Las Vegas Strip for maybe a block and then we head out onto some very uninspiring highway roads. At least there are some mountain views to look at. There was plenty of water and Nuun hydration on course. I only saw one sweet station - marshmallows - maybe I missed seeing m&ms this year. Basically an out and back course, with a few detours.

Finish line - there were our cool chocolate bar medals and the famous chocolate finishers mugs with dippers. My only real complaint about the finish area is that they desperately need seating - or highboy tables. Nobody wants to eat on the ground, especially after running all that way. I hope they take it into consideration for next year! They did offer free digital finisher photos, that is always a nice perk.

Overall, I love coming to this race, as it is an excuse to come to Vegas. However, if you are expecting the typical Hot Chocolate experience like in other cities with large crowds and a bustling atmosphere, this is not it! It is still worthwhile, and I hope it continues to grow.

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