Latest reviews by Julia Montag

(2017)
"One of My Favs"
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I absolutely LOVED the Eugene Half Marathon. The entire race was so well executed, and the town of Eugene is perfect for a little weekend getaway.

The race expo, start, finish all take place on or near Hayward Field. It was cool to scope out the campus, and race on such a historic track.

The expo takes place in the soccer field next to Hayward. There were a ton of vendors handing out free food or selling cool gear. It was a really nice day, so the outdoor expo was really nice. All the volunteers were helpful, and motivating. Everyone I talked to wished me good luck. :)

Race morning, parking was easy, and getting to the start line was super easy. There was a nice blocked off area to do strides/warm up on. The marathon and half marathon starts together, which I ended up enjoying. I was able to use some of the faster marathoners to help with pacing in the first half. Alexi Pappas was there too, and kicked us off.

The course ran through Eugene, and was beautiful. There were a lot of spectators, I was really impressed with all the support throughout the whole course. The course is fairly flat, but there is a hill around mile 8. The race does a great job of setting up a spectator area at the top of the hill with huge balloons which provided a nice push to the top. All the volunteers and police were amazing, and we ran through the city, and through parks, so it was really a perfect balance.

The finish was the best. the last .1 of the half you run on Hayward track, and finish there. There is a huge screen broadcasting the finish line, and the announcer called everyone's name. Spectators sat in the stands, so you kinda felt like a rockstar coming in.

Once you cross the finish line, they had you metal, and court you through to the finish. You're handed chocolate milk, a reusable water bottle filled with water with the races' branding on it, and a reusable bag filled with protein bars, banana, a bagel, etc.

You then walk out into the post-race area, which takes place in the same area as packet pick up was. There's a ton of sponsors handing out free food (Krusteaz Pancakes, Clif bars, beer, some trendy chip brand, Polar sparking water, and Franz grilled cheese), along with tables to sit and relax outside, and live music.

It was super easy to jump over to the finish on Hayward, so I got food and ate, and then spectated my friends finishing the 26.2

I absolutely loved this race. It's green, it's flat, everyone is super nice, and Eugene is a great town to check out. I highly recommend this one!

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(2017)
"Perfect Introduction Ultra"
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This race was my first official ultra, and it was pretty ideal for someone's first 50K. Go Beyond puts on a ton of trail races in the PNW and all of them are highly reviewed, so I was really looking forward to experiencing this event. As per trail races, everything was laid back, but still incredibly organized.

The 50K was on Sunday and started 8am. We spectated the 50 mile the day before, so we knew where the start was, which was nice and put race-day nerves at ease. No one want to get lost in the forest on race day! Parking was easy, and bib pickup happened on race day. There's no race shirt, which I'm totally fine with. I rarely keep race shirts anyway. At start time, the race directors, Renee & Todd gave instructions to make sure everyone stayed on course then sent us on our way.

The race starts near Timothy Lake and we run halfway around the lake before heading onto the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). There were aid stations every 3-6 miles, and they were STOCKED with everything you'd need. Honestly, I can't tell you what exactly because all I grabbed was water, salt tabs, and Pringles, but the volunteers at every aid stations were incredibly attentive and helpful.

The race is relatively flat in comparison to other ultras (around 2700ft gain total for this one) and the biggest climb takes place around mile 7. There was an aid station at mile 9 where I had friends spectating, and it was good motivation to make it up the climb, knowing I'd see them soon. After that mile 9 aid station, you continue on the PCT and run past the most incredible views of Mt. Hood. Seriously, it was insane! You then turn and come back on the same trail you ran out. Although it took a little balancing to not fall or run over other runners on their way out, it was nice to have a little out and back to pass other runners. I got to see so many friendly faces.

With 10 miles left, you run around the other side of Timothy Lake, again with views of Mt. Hood. There were also of ton of families biking, camping and just hanging by the lake. It was a really cool area, and people were super friendly, cheering me on along the way. There's a final aid station with 4.7 miles left, to give runners a final boost.

You then finish the race at the same place you start. Todd and Renee welcome in ALL the runners, which is super cool, and everyone gets a finisher tumbler glass. They had BBQ and beer for all the finishers, and a ton of chairs and tents to hang out and watch others finish. A lot of the 50 milers from Sat came back Sunday to cheer on the 50k-ers, which really speaks to the ultra-culture. Everyone is so friendly and supportive. I'd also suggest going for a swim in Timothy Lake after finishing this race. :)

Personally, I went in with low exceptions and wanted to just have fun. I had a great race and a TON of fun. I can't wait to do this race again, although it'll be pretty hard to exceed this year's performance.

Do this race if you ever have the opportunity to!!

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(2017)
"Must Run!"
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I've heard about how great of a race Grandma's is for awhile, and it lives up to the reputation! Grandma's is hands down one of my favorite races I've ever done, and I highly recommend adding this one to your list!

Let's start with the expo:
It takes place in the convention center right by the finish line, right on the lake. Packet pick up, keynote speakers, and the Pasta Party all take place there so it's super easy to get around. We walked and saw the finish line and the Grandma's Marathon office after grabbing my bib and that got me excited for the race. kara Goucher and Dick Beardsley were the speakers this year. There's also a woman who dresses as Grandma there to take pics with - I loved that!

Race Day (Start line) - the race is point to point and the race provides seamless transportation from multiple pick up locations in Duluth to Two Harbors. I stayed in the UMD Dorms (which I highly recommend if you can't get a hotel) and the bus picked up right on campus. At the start, they have a lot of port-o-potties, water, and bins to drop your finish-line gear. There are pacers lined up, helping people start based on expected finish time. There are no corrals, which I was a bit concerned about, but everyone is really respectful and seemed to line up where they belong.

The Course - The course goes from Two Harbors to Duluth along Lake Superior. I really enjoyed being able to see Lake Superior for most of the race, it kinda helped take my mind off the running. The best part in my opinion about the course, was the water stations every other mile. It helped break up the race mentally and this year was a tad hot, so it was nice to have the extra water. The crowds aren't huge, but still present. Once you get closer to Duluth and run through some neighborhoods, a lot of people are out cheering. The final 3 miles or so run through downtown. It was a slight downhill, with some small inclines, including one towards the end where you go over the express way. You then run through the harbor area, and have a nice straight finish.

Post race - Once you cross the finish line, volunteers hand you water, a medal and your shirt. Yes! You have to FINISH the race, to get your race shirt. I loved that. They had chocolate milk, bananas, and other snacks in the runner finish area. I also really enjoyed the layout. The area you finish in only allows runners. Family and Friends can spectate along the course, but you have to exit the runner area and meet them in the post-race party area. It was nice to have this area clear to collect yourself, grab your gear, etc. before seeing friends. You also have to jump in Lake Superior. :)

The post-race party was awesome! There's beer, food, vendors, and live music that goes all day and night. It's right by the finish, and there's bars and restaurants near by so you could easily grab food, watch your friends finish, and then celebrate in the post-race.

This race is so well organized. Everything flowed so well, and the people of Duluth were a treat. I flew in to Minneapolis from Portland, drove the 2 hrs up to Duluth, and came home all within 4 days - it was super easy. Flights weren't expensive, and the drive up to Duluth was really scenic. Duluth has a pretty big craft beer scene too, so we had a lot of fun checking out the town and drinking good beer on the great lake superior.

For real - run this race if you can!

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(2017)
"Great Local Series"
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The 2017 Portland Spring Trail Series is the first time I signed up to run the entire series (5 races, once every other Wednesday). Cost isn't bad, maybe $70-$80, but you can also drop in to single races for $20. I ended up making 3 of the races this season, and every one served an ass-kicking, but a really great time.

Each week, the races take place in Forest Park on a weekday evening. They have bib pick up, water, glukos, bathrooms ready for runners, but otherwise it's pretty low key. Each week, they also have different sponsors present giving out pretty nice gear, like headlamps, shoes, etc.

The route changes every week and they post the upcoming route for the week on their Facebook page. It typically involves some soul-crushing climbing with some nice downhill to finish on. It's a pretty competitive series, but you can also run for fun. I rarely push myself hard on trails, so it was nice to have these races to force me to run a little faster - these are definitely some of the best workouts I've had all Spring!

After the last race of the series, Go Beyond puts on a really fun post-series party at the local brewery, Lucky Labrador. They have all their sponsors present, announce the female and male series winners, and give out prizes. It's a ton of fun.

I highly recommend these races. Go Beyond does a fabulous job as always, and it's a great way to be a little social and get your run in mid-week.

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(2017)
"Love This Race!"
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This race was a blast. It's put on by the amazing race director, Elby who pours his heart into the race.

1) pre-race - super active on social media and sent out a great pre-race email with important information. They mentioned expo, gear check, post-race, if other people could grab your bib, AND most importantly they mentioned the course, and this .75mi long gravel patch that would come up around mile 8. It was so nice knowing that beforehand.

2) The expo was Fri & Sat night, and ran until 8pm on Friday which was nice. We drove up from Portland (about a 30min drive), but were able to avoid rush hour traffic due to the later expo time. Everyone handing out the packets were so nice, and I was able to register my friend for the marathon very easily.

3) Race - Parking at the race was a breeze. It was 20 feet from the start/finish, and lots of room for cars, I appreciated this since we had drove up from Portland and it was a cooler day, so nice to wait in the car until the start. The relay and marathon start first, then the half, then 10K. I was running the half, and came up on the relay & marathon runners, but it wasn't a huge deal, everyone moved aside for each other. The course was flat, well marked, and beautiful. For a nice strip, you were able to see mt hood in the distance. Normally a ton of tulips are in bloom, but because this year was so rainy, they hadn't really sprouted up yet. There was that gravel patch I mentioned around mile 8. It was pretty tough to run on, but knowing I could expect it, made it so much better. All the volunteers were so nice on course, and there was water stations about every 3 miles.

4) The finish was awesome. They have a great finish arch, and the race director welcomes every runner in. There were people handing out medals, water, bananas, and chocolate milk. There was also a big finish area with tents, heaters, free beer, food, and swag if you wanted to purchase. It was a really nice atmosphere, and you could hang and drink your beer while watching the other runners come in.

A few of my fav things about this race were:
1) The course! It was so nice to run somewhere different in PNW, but flat. It was beautiful, and flowed well. I don't love straight aways and this course had a good balance and straight aways and turns
2) The BEER! The race partners with a local brewery to make a race specific craft beer. They had the brewery at the post-race are handing out the Bold IPA, along with other beers they make normally. There were so many options! Definitely a craft beer-lover's heaven
3) The race does an awesome award ceremony, not only for the top finishers, but ALL age group winners too. I loved watching so many runners from the day hop on the podium and be congratulated for their awesome race.

I can't wait to run this again.

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