Latest reviews by Paul Merrigan

(2014)
"PEI Marathon - Half Marathon"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I had mixed emotions about this race, as I had been hoping to do the full marathon, but due to injury and lack of training, ultimately changed my registration to the half distance. That being said, I had heard a lot of positives about this event and it would be my first race in PEI - making it the last Atlantic Province in which I had raced.

I'll start with the areas I felt could be improved a bit - although to be clear, none of them are major, just things that could be addressed to make the event even better.

The race swag, particularly the t-shirt and gloves weren't the best. The quality of shirt was fine, but I think it's a little heavy to run in and it's quite "busy" - not something I would wear casually. The gloves were uni-sized, meaning that they were too big for me - naturally. Again, they seemed more like a gardening glove as opposed to something I would wear while running. Lastly, the course maps included looked a little slapped together and were confusing based on scale, clarity, etc.

On course, my only concern was the volunteers at some of the aid stations. Some of the volunteers weren't saying whether they had water or Gatorade and at times I saw them stepping in front of runners to pick up discarded cups. That being said, there were a LOT of volunteers, and the vast majority seemed to have an excellent handle.

The positives far outweighed any concerns and make this event a slam dunk to recommend. The on course direction and traffic control by volunteers was exceptional. Signage directing the runners of various distances was large, clear and well placed and any possible turns were manned by people.

The course is somewhat hilly, providing a decent challenge but not so much that it should scare off people. It is also pretty varied, going from residential streets to trail to larger, main roads. There are also some very scenic areas along the water early in the course which was quite nice.

Kit pick up was very simple and the expo, although small, had some interesting things there. Parking for both the expo and race day were fine and I had no issue parking close to the start line.

The finishing medal was very well done, with a gorgeous ribbon (uniform for 5, 10 and half finishers, unique for the full). There was also plenty of food and refreshments at the finish, always a welcome site when you've finished a race.

Overall, this was a well organized and enjoyable event. PEI is a beautiful province to visit and if you're a runner looking for an excuse to go there, the PEI Marathon weekend is an excellent choice.

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(2014)
"Legs for Literacy"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Having done the full last year, and having had a busy 2014 race wise, I decided to do the 5km at Legs this year with my wife as a nice way to cap off the year. I ran the same event and distance back in 2012, but this year the course had changed significantly - staying completely on the road rather than having even a small part of it on the trail.

Each of the four distances were staggered to start this year, which alleviated some of the congestion at the start. The 10 k started before the 5 k, however, which meant that a lot of runners from both distances actually finished together, which made for a noticeably more congested finish area.

As always with this event, it was well organized and the volunteers were amazing. There was no shortage of helpful people on course, which is nice to see in a 5k. Parking logistics were also a non-issue, as having experience this event before we knew where to find a relatively open parking lot not too far from the race start/finish.

This years medals were quite nice, with each distance having unique and gorgeous ribbons, signifying the distance. The tech shirts were similar to last years, and purple was a nice colour choice - something different at least. The expo seemed a little smaller than last years, but it was certainly no bigger.

With proceeds from this event supporting local literacy and educational initiatives, it is always a great race to support and participate in. Even with the course changes, it is a fast course and well supported by volunteers. If you haven't had a chance to get involved or run it yet, it still remains one which I would recommend.

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(2014)
"Fredericton Fall Classic 2014"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
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Elevation Difficulty
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Once again, one of my favourite races of the year. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to full out race it this year, but it was still an enjoyable event. A flat and beautiful course with well trained and plentiful volunteers, it is also ideally placed just a month before two major marathons in the area, making it a great test for those gearing up to tackle a longer race in October.

The course was unchanged from last year and runners still have the option of running 5k or 10k as well. A great fall race and definitely one I will be returning to next year, if all goes to plan!

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(2014)
"Marathon Race Weekend - Scenic Half-Marathon"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
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As the second part of the Tartan Twosome, I participated in the Scenic Half Marathon a little over 12 hours after the Sunset 5 k. Another big crowd for the Saturday morning race was on hand as runners were competing in distances ranging from 5k to a full marathon lined up together for an 8 am start.

The conditions were just perfect on race day as the morning was cool and the sky was clear. The course was well marked and a great mix of challenge with rolling hills and beautiful scenery. There were many aid stations along the course and all were filled with enthusiastic volunteers from various charities.

The route had a lot of hills and a lot of running in view of or alongside the ocean. I was glad to be doing the half as by the time I was finished, the day had certainly warmed up and there were no clouds to give runners much of a break from the heat.

The local support and organization of this event is super impressive, as is the pirate theming that covers the entire week and its festivities. The finishing medals are the most impressive ones I have seen to date, with a special third medal being given to runners who completed the Friday night 5 k as well as any distance on Saturday.

This is certainly a destination race for people, as I talked to many people from outside of Atlantic Canada, including quite a few runners from the states, some of whom had planned their entire trip around the Maritime Race Weekend. Although it seems pricey at first glance, the quality of the swag, course, organization and medals make it one of the better overall deals I've found.

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(2014)
"Maritime Race Weekend - Coastal 5k"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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I will have a more detailed review of the overall Maritime Race Weekend when I review the Scenic Half Marathon shortly.

The coastal 5k course is the only event that runs Friday night and is part of the amazing Tartan Twosome. The same course is used for the 5k run on the Saturday as well.

Considering the size of the town (small) and the event (large), it's very impressive how smoothly the Friday night 5 km run is for participants. The atmosphere is so energetic and the community is definitely one hundred percent behind the event.The organization for kit pickup, quality of the swag and pirate theming all make for a very good time for everyone.

The course itself is fairly flat and fast, although if you are planning a PB or a fast run of any sort, get in the corral early and get to the front. With so many bodies jammed in a small space, if you are in the middle of the pack or further back, it's going to take some time to get to the start line and even more to weave in and out of all of the runners.

The timing of the race, just before sundown, is quite nice as if you are just taking a nice, easy run you get a fantastic view as the sun is setting after the turnaround and the view of the water and Fisherman's Cove as you near the start/finish is excellent.

Even if you were not brave or foolish enough to do the Tartan Twosome, the Friday night 5k is definitely worth doing. There are plenty of things happening before and even more things afterwards as there is live music, plenty of food and even a fireworks display. A top notch event!

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