Latest reviews by Christine Guenther

(2019)
"Portland Shamrock 5K"
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First time doing the Shamrock Portland Race and I had a blast! I ended up registering for 2 races due to how spread out they were and the 5K was the first of the morning.

The expo: at the Oregon Convention Center with pick up Friday and Saturday. Easy to get to (I walked from my hotel), but can't speak from a parking stand point. Bit of a walk around some interior construction this year, but plenty of space once you were in the expo. Bib pick up was painless, just remember to have your QR code pulled up, as they scan it and assign your bib based off your distance there at the expo. Shirt pick up just as easy. I would bring your own bag though, there weren't bags passed out. Plenty of vendors and races to visit and if you're looking to buy stuff, keep in mind no sales tax in Oregon!

Race Start Time 8 AM

Location: downtown Portland along the river

The course: the 5k is out and back for the most part, though you due a bit of an outpouch by turning onto Taylor, then SW 2nd, followed by W Salmon before getting back on SW Naito Parkway Drive. A little bit of a hill, but nothing compared to what the 15K and half marathon deal with. 1 water stop that I saw on course, miles were marked and it's a fairly quick race!

Post Race: be ready to join in a morning long party. Plenty of food trucks, music, post race refreshments, beer garden, soup, etc. Medals for the 5K this year as well, that was new this year.

Overall, a fun race and an easy way to get the entire family involved if you didn't want to get in on the longer distances.

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(2019)
"Inaugural Napa Valley Half Marathon"
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I ran the half marathon this year for the NVM, and it was the first year that a half marathon has been associated with this race (this year was the 41st running of the full marathon). I got in the Thursday night before the race to explore Napa before the race and enjoy some wine beforehand.

Travel: options include flying into San Francisco or Sacramento. I’d do Sacramento in order to avoid the hassle of SFO. I rented a car and drove in and it was about the same amount of time from Sacramento airport as it was from SFO.

Expo/Packet Pick Up: Happens the Saturday before the race. This year, pick up was at the Marriott Spa and Suites in Napa. Pre race shake out run before the expo for anyone interested and then the expo is open from 9 am to 6 pm, with bib pick up extended from 6-8 pm with no expo. I think there was also an option for having your bib mailed to you. If you got the VIP upgrade, after you picked up your bib, there was a hospitality room on the first room with some extra goodies (Nuun water bottle, a bottle of wine, treats, etc). I’m bummed that I had literally no room in my suitcase to take my wine home with me. The expo had presentations/demos and speakers through out the day, which was pretty nice to have. Small expo, but I think it was pretty local, which is always good to see.

Pasta Dinner: $45, essentially all you can eat with pasta, salad and desserts. I heard some people with issues that there was only 1 gluten free pasta. My biggest thing was there was really no protein involved. I would have loved to see some chicken or meatballs or fish, something to balance out the carbs. Speakers as well, but they didn’t start until 6 (dinner started at 5:30). I had to find the pasta ticket station. Maybe a better idea, especially if you pre purchased tickets up until a certain point, would be to staple them or include them with your bib so it’s one less stop to make.

Pre Race Transportation: the half and the full started at different places along the Silverado trail. The Half started at 7 AM and the full at 730 AM, which I think threw some people for a loop, as the half marathon buses left at 510 (ish) AM and the full at 5:40 (ish) AM. I heard of at least a few people missing the half marathon busses. I stayed next to the Marriott and took the shuttles out first thing in the morning.

The course itself: essentially all downhill, which for California is a win/win situation. A little bit of a hill close to the start of the half marathon, but nothing to get too bent out of shape over. The half started about 1/4 a mile from the Conn Creek Winery and the first 10 miles or so went along the Silverado trail. We passed at least 7-10 wineries that I could see, all different set ups and in different stages of getting prepped for their season it seemed. Mile 10-11 takes you past Oak Knoll before having you turn once more and head towards Vintage HS, where the finish was at. Very scenic course with intermittent people cheering, but it was kind of nice to not have spectators from start to finish.

Post Race: seemed like a lot of HS students were volunteering and having fun with it, which was cool. Water at the finish with some bananas and nutrigrain type bars. Soup was being served in the cafeteria, PT was also available. There was an area to check your results as well.

Post Race Shuttles: probably the one thing that needs looked at for next year. There were shuttles going to one of the other area high schools and a second set going back to the hotels (Marriott, Embassy Suites, the Hilton Garden Inn, etc). I’m not exactly sure what happened, but the buses to the other HS came and went twice and we saw no hotel shuttle. More than a few of us ended up Ubering/Lyfting back to our hotels because even though weather was perfect in the 50s, I was sweaty and getting cold. By the time my Uber got to the HS, the first hotel shuttle arrived, but that was after a good 30-40 min. One of the race officials was looking into it and it seemed like a communication issue, but something to fix for next year for sure

Overall, however, a great race. One of the few in California that’s all downhill and doesn’t throw hills at you at every turn. If you’re in need of a good long weekend and fun race, take a look at this, especially with the addition of the half marathon!

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(2019)
"2019 Cholatathon 10K "
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Came to Portland for the weekend to escape the foot of snow that’s encased Eastern Washington. Found the Chocolatathon and figured it sound fun enough to do and 10Ks are hard enough to find.

Race distance: 5K/10K/kids fun run

Packet pick up: day of the race, with race registration available

Location: Cook Park in Tigard. Some in park parking, some of us parked up by the school, a little bit of a walk (? Half a mile).

Course itself: mainly on paved running path with one or two spots that were trail. The 5K did 1 loop, the 10 K did 2 loops. One hill about 2 miles in (and at 5 miles if you did the 10K). We were sent out in waves 1-2 min apart since the path was narrow, but it worked out. Personally, I finished just before the rain started. Good quick race for sure.

Swag: no shirts, which I’m ok with because I have so many shirts that I don’t wear anyways. Good medal though (think ice cream sundae like.

Post race: all things chocolate available: chocolate chip pancakes (chocolate syrup if you want it), cheesecake (chocolate chip, swirled, chocolate in general), hot chocolate, you name it.

Fun race for sure, sign up if you’re in the neighborhood (or visiting)!

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(2019)
"Hearbreaker Half marathon: Not lying about the hills"
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On the fence about this race. Went to PDX for the weekend to get out of the Spokane Snow and to keep my endurance up over the winter and found the Heartbreaker Half in Hillsboro.

Race Distances: 5K, 10K and Half Marathon

Bib Pick up: Though the race is in Hillsboro, packet pick up was at a Portland running store closer to PDX airport. Email said pick up wasn’t available race day, so I made the treck to get my bib. Easy enough as they scanned your QR code from your registration email and assigned you a bib there. Other area races were also there. Showed up race morning to packet pick up being offered. What the what?

Location: start/Finish at Liberty HS

Start times: 8 am (half), 810 am (10k), 815 am (5K)

The course: be prepared for rolling hills. Did not realize how many hills there were. It’s also never good when you’re at the start and the announcer comments that the course was changed and there are more hills than last year. Would have been beneficial to have an elevation map on the website. Course was a loop for the half marathon and met up with the 10K on two separate occasions, so you had to pay attention to splits. There were some water stops, but not nearly enough, I don’t think. The first one I saw was at least 4 miles in. The other issue I had was it was on active road with no real area marked off for runners. I don’t want to be snapped at by volunteers, when there’s no marked area for me to run inside. Though the leaders may not have seen much traffic, more than a few cars didn’t slow down on course for us.

Post race: not a whole lot in terms of post race food. I couldn’t even identify some of the things they had left over.

Overall, wouldn’t come back for this one

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(2019)
"Surf City Half Marathon, Legacy Status!"
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So this is my fourth year doing Surf City and third in a row (2013, 2017-2019), partially because I like to get out of the inland NW of Washington State in January and February. The past 2 years, I’ve flown into John Wayne Airport (Orange County), which if you can, please do because it’s closer and less stressful than LAX.

Hotels: I stayed at the Waterfront Hotel the past 2 years (right at the race start/finish), though it’s a bit more pricey. I’ve had same day flights out, so it’s one of those gotta get a shower and to the airport sort of things. I’ve also stayed at the Double Tree in Santa Ana with family in the past, they do shuttles and pre race/post race stuff and do a great race.

Expo: typically from 1-7 on Friday and 10-4 Saturday before the race. If you want to packet pick up day of, it’s an additional $25 (and you typically have to sign up for it at registration). I wish it would open an hour or so earlier on Saturday, just for crowds. You can also pick up for friends/family. This year bib pick up was by QR code and your bib was assigned to you at pick up. If you’re picking up for people, you can only pick up for 2 additional, need their ID and QR code. I picked up for a friend and it was painless and simple. The downside though of numbers assigned at the expo is you can’t personalize your bib, which I’ve done the last 3 times I’ve done Surf City. Always a big expo, outside and under a tent. Tons of vendors, an area for legacy status runners where you get an additional shirt, plenty of photo ops, etc.

Race time: 630 AM for the marathon, 7 AM for the 5K, 745 AM for the half marathon. I always wish they’d do the half at like 715 and and the 5K at 745, especially this year where the weather was sketchy and rain anticipated.

The course: primarily on the Pacific Coast highway. There’s a few mile portion where you go through the neighborhoods of Huntington Beach from miles 3-6, but the rest is on Route 1. It does get a little mundane and there’s not a whole lot of crowd support the further out you get, but there is some. Be ready for a hill heading into the neighborhoods and around mile 10. The biggest crowd support is the first 1-1.5 miles and the last 1-1.5 miles. The marathon splits from the half about 4 miles again before rejoining somewhere on Route 1, though they leave us again just over 12 miles in for the half marathon.

Aid Stations: plenty of stations every 1-1.5 miles depending on where you’re at. I tried some Nuun and nearly puked so I went without any electrolytes and could feel it. Though I appreciate Nuun, I wish a Gatorade/Powerade option was available.

Post race: medals, food baggies, some vendors from the expo were still up and running pre and post race. Chocolate milk by TruMoo too! Beer garden, area for legacy runners as well (Run the half or full 3 years in a row) is also there.

Pros: decent course, plenty of aid stations, typically good weather, though this year cloudy and nearly poured down rain on us, good atmosphere. They did go to Bib timing this year (about time!)

Cons: lots of first time runners going 4-5 runners across or people walking in the middle of the road. Wish there was more crowd support. Also wish they didn’t get rid of bib personalization. Additionally, it seemed like they were packing up some of the water stations early despite runners still on the out portion of the course (I was coming back in after the turn around).

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