Latest reviews by Jessica Murphy

(2018)
"My 6-star Finish!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb screen shot 2018 03 04 at 5.51.33 am

I was very excited to run Tokyo and 1) get my six-star medal but also 2) experience a marathon in a country where running is the national sport! I know running is a serious sport in Japan, so experiencing the marathon and running culture there was something fun to look forward to.

Overall, it felt big and well-organized. On par with the other majors in terms of size, experience, etc. There were a few quirks I'll call out below for those serious marathoners that need all the details! If you can get in - I highly recommend it! I got in via Marathon Tours, some others in my group got in via lottery, and others via the Run as One program (for the crazy speedy runners out there).

THE PROS
Mostly flat course! It has a few out and backs so prepare for that, but mostly it's fun to see other runners out on the course.

Entertainment - the city does an amazing job getting numerous dance/singing troupes on the course performing. It made for a lot of run things to look for. Sometimes the crowds paid more attention to the performances than the runners...but I still enjoyed it!

The start is VERY accessible from Shinjuku hotels. BUT the gate system is complicated because of the up-down road system in that area. They will be strict about having to enter your specific gate.

Aid stations - were some of the most organized i've seen!!! People there do not throw their food/trash on the ground so if you are farther back you don't have to worry about trampling over cups (US majors) or bottles (London!). Past the aid station there are volunteers every few years holding out trash bags for you to throw trash if you missed the bins in the aid station. I really loved that it kept the roads so clean.

EXPO - HUGE and also very spacious! Lots to see so definitely go Friday if you can. You'll want to check out all the fun stuff :) It's part of the experience!

BE AWARE
Aid stations are only every 2-3 miles or so. It was on par with Berlin, but less than the US majors offer. So plan accordingly. Also because the course has out and backs, and Japan cars drive on the LEFT side of the road (somehow I didn't realize that until this trip), you run out on the left side and turn RIGHT to come back. That means all the aid stations were mostly on the LEFT side since they did not set-up aid stations in the median. Cups were spaced out on the tables which made them easier to grab, but be prepared to grab (vs have a volunteer handing it to you) if you are in a less speedy crew.

FOOD stations were more plentiful than other races BUT the selection was varied. Also in my groups (around 4:00 pace) the food was in bins (not being held out by volunteers) so runners were flat out stopping to grab food which made it hard to grab and go. I tried the jelly pouch which was not bad. I liked the texture more than gus! I also grabbed some bananas and oranges. But some of the other packaged foods were hard to open and also one was a dissolvable tablet which I was not expecting :) BUT I highly reco trying a tomato! It was surprisingly refreshing And. Electrolytes!

Port-a-Potties - I found western toilets pre-race, but at mile 21 i stopped to use the port-a-pottie and didn't think about the fact that it would be Japanese style! Squatting to pee at Mile 21 was VERY HARD and there was nothing to hold onto...haha!! So...keep that in mind :) And maybe practice peeing in a japanese toilet before hand so you aren't left trying to figure out how to do it on race day. I have used one before but still had challenges.

Post-race Transport -
If you are with MT you get a coach bus back to Shinjuku and that was amazing. Its one of the only reasons I warmed-up. Others had to train back (a la NYC) and I imagine that was a challenge!! So just be sure to pack lots of warm layers in your bag to prepare.

THE CONS
It was a VERY long finish and it took a while to get your space blanket. So I got cold quickly and didn't warm-up for a while. I swear I thought we signed-up for ponchos post race but couldn't find the details. In the future a sticker to keep the blanket on (a la Chicago marathon) would be nice. You also walk a while before you get your medal vs the US majors that give you your medal right away. The walk though got very challenging. Then when you got you back (at least 1 mile away) you couldn't change right away. I didn't even want to change I wanted to put layers on but they were scooting us away. I'm sure this is culturally-related but having walked in the cold for at least 30 min I was dying to warm-up.

SWAG - shirts were unisex! So the unisex Small doesn't fit quite the way I'd want. There was plenty of other race gear so i got something in my size but sad I won't be able to wear my race shirt.

Overall, it was such a fun city to experience. The weather was great.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"Mickey Ears FTW!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb screen shot 2018 04 04 at 2.09.21 pm

This was my second time running the Disney Marathon, and my 3rd Disney race weekend experience. What a delight!

If you stay on property transportation to and from the expo and the race is a breeze. It's so nice to have that part of logistics figured out for you.

The start/finish areas and aid stations are so well organized. The volunteers are some of the best! Always so happy and cheerful! The ability to run through the parks and see the characters makes this race unforgettable.

This year since it was the 25th anniversary all the runners got special edition Mickey Ears as well.

And, one of the unsung heroes of this race is the speed in which you finish and can get on a bus to head back to your hotel. For a race this size, to not have to walk a full mile+ to find transportation back is soooo nice after running a full Marathon.

I cannot recommend this race enough!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2017)
"My Honolulu Obsession"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb img 4882

I clearly love Honolulu and Hawaii in general, but who doesn't!! This race has been on my bucket list and I was excited to finally cross it off. It was a perfect trip and race to cap off a busy fall before heading into the holiday craziness. If you sign-up early you can get a good deal on this race and stalk flight sales! We were able to get flights from the W. Coast under $400 and there are some surprisingly affordable places to stay in Waikiki if you look in the right places. AND, you can also eat/drink more reasonably than you would think (hit me up for tips if you need them!).

The Start:
It's an early 5am start but for us mainlanders it's not bad with the time change. They have shuttles from Waikiki if you are staying there but we stayed near the start so popped down there just 30-min before race-time. Similar to my tip on Merrie Mile if you are on the speedier side I recommend seeding up front. My corral was blue (2nd corral) of 3:30-5:00 finishers so it was a wide range so i made sure to stick to the front.

The start kicks-off with a bang and lots of fireworks. It's not just one boom and you start. The fireworks continue for like 5-10 minutes! So...beware those trying to watch or take video :) Be alert of your surroundings and runners in front fo you.

The Course:
It's quite manageable with only 2 hills around 8 and 24 up and over Diamond Head, but with only approx 100 ft of gain they weren't too bad (just make sure you save enough at the end for that mile 24 climb). The rest was fairly flat.

Aid stations and volunteers were amazing!!! Lots of aid stations, LONG aid stations with color-coordinated cups (green Gatorade, then white for water). There were cheering dead zones but when you did hit cheer zones the Japanese tour groups were a delight! There were also at least 2 sponge stations that I remember which was also much needed.

The Finish:
Nice flat straightaway...it seemed like it was going on forever =D But once you cross the finish the finish chute is a very quick exit, which is a nice change of pace to other large marathons that make you walk a mile post-finish. Here, you immediately get your medal and go through sprinkler showers which feel amazing in the Hawaii weather. Then you walk to the finish area and it's festival style. So you don't walk through lines/congestion to get all your stuff, you walk to the finish area in the park.

At first I wondered why they didn't have the lines to hand you your stuff as you move through. But afterwards I liked the set-up because I could sit down (aka lay down exhausted) and recuperate a bit before mobilizing to go get food/drink (malasadas!!! and the most amazing coconut water I've ever had!! also bananas, etc) and your finisher shirt, or stand in line to take pics (vs. back-up in the finisher chute due to pics, etc.). I'm always dying to sit for a bit right after I finish so I liked this style because I could do that immediately! And you aren't caught in that awkward "i'm trying to carry everything all at once but don't have enough hands" situation. I also got to just lay there and hangout for almost an hour post-finish and never felt overly crowded which was also nice for a race this size.

Post-race we walked down the street to lay on the beach, which has to be one of the best non-official perks of this race! Everyone in Waikiki has their medal or finisher medal on so it makes for a fun atmosphere.

Other:
The expo had a mix of US and Japanese brands which I found interesting to explore. You can get in and out fairly fast. Monday there's also an option to get a finisher certificate and meet the winners. We didn't stop by but saw a lot of people that did.

I also love that this race gives you a feeling of a semi-international race experience (40% of the field is Japanese) without having to travel out of the country, etc. I'm thinking we'll be coming back again for this one :)

Loading Comments... Ajax loader

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2017)
"Merrie Mile warm-up"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb img 4803

This was a great way to warm-up for the Honolulu Marathon. It's fun to get the spectacle for a distance that isn't going to destroy you the way 26.2 miles will (and is over much faster!!). The start is super close to all the Waikiki hotels (less than .5 mi). We stayed near Ala Moana center so got a nice 2-mile jog/warm-up to the start.

Runners are given color-coded corrals based on their estimated pace, but if you are fairly competitive I would make sure you are at the front of the corral because there are still a fair number of "fun-runners" in the early corrals.

Course is nice and flat and wide on the main drag in Waikiki. It's a hairpin turn with tons of people watching/taking pics at the turn-around which is fun.

I also love that they start the elites after the last runner finishes so everyone gets a chance to cheer them on. You never get a chance to watch the elites during a marathon if you are also participating, so this was a fun perk. I also loved being able to watch the other corrals finish - tons of fun costumes, and a few of the last finishers were 80+ runners crushing it OR toddlers toddling across the finish. It was pretty damn cute!

At the finish line you get a medal, an amazing cold-pressed juice (I got pineapple and my husband got orange), and a Moon Pie! A band plays on the beach post-race and you feel quite accomplished being done with your race and partying by 8am :). Participants also get a nice shirt (same quality as the full marathon).

So, for your entry fee you do get a really full race experience - quality shirt, medal, juice/food, and band/beach party!

Loading Comments... Ajax loader

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2017)
"Back for more"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Thumb 24296464 10154900802900124 1592042522336539805 n

Did this race as my first trail race 7 years ago and wanted another go at it when we knew we were coming back to Honolulu in December. This race is everything I remembered and more.

The course is unlike anything I've experienced on the Mainland. Most of it is quite runnable. But the downhill mud mile was WAY more intense than I remember. I think this year there was more rain the week leading up so it was at least 6 inches of steep downhill mud that you were sliding through (or in my case slowly trying to maneuver through).

The scenery is unlike anything else Beautiful views at multiple points.

There we were may aid stations this time (8 vs I believe 3 when we did it a few years back). Volunteers were great, super helpful.

Also the t-shirt is now a gender-specific sized shirt which I appreciate. It's a soft material and fits great!

Post-race is just beautiful. The setting is gorgeous. Tons of snacks/fruit etc.

I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a trail race in Hawaii. If the super technical mud section doesn't interest you sign-up for the 5K and 10K which don't include that part of the course.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.