Latest reviews by Jessica Murphy

(2018)
"25K - hard, but worth it!"
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I did the 25K but there is also a 50K, 5K, and 10K option.

This is a great race weekend getaway for a group of friends looking to enjoy a weekend in the mountains! We flew in Friday to Denver. Copper Mountain is about 1.5-2 hrs away from DEN pending traffic :)

Once you arrive on-property everything is seamless because it's right there! The start/finish, also where packet pick-up, gear check etc is located, is centrally-located so if you are staying on-property it's an extremely convenient experience all weekend. We ate a few places on property and had great meals.

Now to the race...

Unless you live at elevation, the climb is going to be a challenge so you have to prepare for it! But as with all things mountain-related it's all worth it when you get to the top:

Course - Very well marked! Lots of mile markers (more than most trail runs I've done). The one thing that got to me is I didn't research the course enough so when we had to go back-up a hill around mile 11/12-ish I was a little demoralized. I should've looked at the course in advance to know there was more climbing at the end. I did a good power hike up most of the climbs (did some jog/walking up the less steep inclines) and then I was able to get some good running in on the flats and downhills. I negative split by 37 minutes!

Aid Stations - Great volunteers and well stocked w/ lots of hydration/fuel options (Powerade, Coke, Red Bull, gels, chews, pretzels, and more!)

The best part is post-race the finish festival is right there. There are two restaurants just steps away from the finish area and other food being sold as well. Under Armour has a huge recovery area built out with HyperIce vibrating rollers and other mat/recovery tools. With gorgeous weather and the mountains in the background it made a perfect scene to just hang out all day!

AND, another star is that this race is on a Saturday! So you can fully enjoy the day vs hurrying back home like many other Sunday races.

Such a fun weekend!

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(2018)
"Fun in the Sun!"
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I've been wanting to do this race forever since it's the OG Rock 'n' Roll. San Diego is such a delightful city to visit. Our entire weekend was pleasant, and to wake up on race morning and be able to walk to the start (we stayed in the Gaslamp District so it was just under 2 miles - we walked and warm-up jogged in the morning) was such a nice treat.

I was VERY happy to be doing the half though because it was warming up throughout the morning.

EXPO - this expo was happening! Lots of activity and lots to see

COURSE - I really liked exploring the neighborhoods and seeing the people of SD really get into the race. Loved seeing the neighborhood lawn bars I've heard so much about as well. There are hills, but I do think there's enough downhill to make up for the uphill. So if you pace yourself ok and save enough to push on the down you can run strong.

AID STATIONS - These were all great! Well stocked and volunteers were great

POST-RACE - Finishing right by the water and enjoying the post-race in the sunshine was the best! Afterwards we were able to walk right back to the Gaslamp district. I loved the convenience.

Overall, great race. Would definitely go back and do it again!

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(2018)
"My 6-star Finish!"
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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.

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(2018)
"Mickey Ears FTW!"
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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!

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(2017)
"Back for more"
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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.

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