Latest reviews by Erica

(2016)
"Double Bling!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was my first time to run the 2015/2016 New Years Double race. As with all of the races of the Active Joe series it's very simple, family friendly, and fun.
Registration was easy, it's held online through a major race registration company and this race sells out months before race date every year. However, due to awesome race management they have a refund policy as well as a wait list. So even if it's sold out, there's still hope.
Communication: Leading up to the race there are plenty of email sent to remind everyone of the little details such as a physical address for the race, packet pickup details, course maps, and race distance specific details.
Pre-Race: I had volunteered the morning of so I got there well before the other runners and easily found a spot to park at. It seems as if there's plenty of parking as it held at a local park.There wasn't much going on before the race, it was dark, cold, and runners had access to race day packet pickup as well as real park bathrooms. Due to the small starting area runners are sent off in corrals, each corral went off on time and worked seamlessly.
Race: This race loops around the park goes through a tunnel to a local neighborhood trail where you hit the first and only water station at about mile 1.5. The first day (new years eve), the volunteer sent us the wrong way, instead of to the tunnel, we were sent back around the park making the race longer at almost 3.5 miles, and zero aid stations. With the faster runners, and earlier corrals, coming through, this made the sidewalks quite crowded as they began their second loop. On the day race we were sent the proper way and got to use the aid station and all was well.
Post Race: Basic bottle water, bananas, and bagels. It was cold so I didn't stick around long, but the race bling was amazing. For running both days I got the challenge plate to attach my two medals to, it's truly what makes this race unique.
Overall: Do this race, it's a unique opportunity and you're guaranteed to have a fun and well organized race.

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(2016)
"Nice Tour of Aggie Land! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Overall: It was a good race. It provided a great tour of the A&M campus and the organization and communication for the race is top notch. This is truly a race that cares about the entire experience for their runners from start to finish and I respect that 120%. Everything about this race was well organized and I would happily run this race, or any other race from these race directors.

Communication: leading up to the race was amazing, email were sent out about every other day with each one having new information. In addition they sent one final email with links to all the previous emails so there was no way you could miss anything.

Packet pickup: It was held at Nutrabolt Headquarters, a major title sponsor of the race, in one of their cross fit competition. There had been a mention of an expo that would take place up and until 6:00 and you could do late packet pick up until 8:00. I rushed down to College Station to make it on time, only to be disappointed with the “expo” it was a quick packet pickup arrange by your bib number which was made available beforehand, a I only saw one local running store with a small area selling items. I can honestly say that I did expect a little bit more from the expo. But it is what it is and parking was free and close so that's why it got two stars from me.

Pre-Race: Parking was easy and maps were provided in the emails sent out and it was a short walk to the start line. One of things that I will never forget about this race was how it started. Of course with this being Aggie Land the fight song was played and Sarah participated in some odd what I would call “Aggie Lines” and they said a prayer. Races that pray before the start have a special place in my heart. In a time in which everyone is offended by everything, I respect this race director’s choice to remain in his faith and to speak freely.

Race: The race started on time and took us through a scenic route of the campus. The 10k stayed within the campus, and the half marathon headed out of the campus maybe a mile or so after the 10k/half split. The half continued on through a local neighborhood that definitely had a bunch of college residents, as well as a neighborhood that a fellow runner as I nicknamed as professor island. Overall, it was a nice looking course. There were some hills here and there but I wouldn’t describe this as a hilly course. But just know, around mile 10 there is a hill that will make you question life a little bit. All of the water stations were well stocked and the volunteers were amazing.

Post Race: After finishing inside of the famous Kyle Field ( yes I was bummed I didn’t get to actually finish ON the field) you were given your medal, water, and a chance to see if a medic if needed. The post race party was held just outside and you were given your finishers shirt, and stein for your beer. In addition to beer, sticking true to the Oktoberfest theme, they had pretzels, and brats, and a cute cutout to take a German bar maid style of picture.

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(2016)
"Food & Fun! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Registration was quick and easy and was online via the race’s website. As most races the longer you waited, the higher price you pay your entry. This race has a distance for everyone ranging from a 2k to a 15k. They were very good about announcing rate increases on social media channels as well as other updates regarding the race. Days leading into the race I received a series of emails with more details about the race such as street closures, expo hours and requirements, start times, updates for the weather (more medial stops were added), etc.

Packet Pickup was held during their expo that I could not attend so Angie picked up my packet with a copy of my ID and written permission. Out of towers do have the option for race day packet pick up as well.

The 15k was the last race to start. There’s so many races and categories that the first race, 5k, started at 7:50. With this being such a warm day, it would’ve been so much better for the 15k runners to start at 7:50 instead of 9:00. By that time, it was already warm and it would only continue to get warmer as the race progressed. Also, with there being such a good chunk of time between the 5k and 15k it would’ve been awesome to have a challenge to run both to earn an extra challenge medal.

The start was a self-seeding corral by pace, or pacer, and at 9:00 we were off, I love a race that starts on time. The race takes you through downtown for a bit and past some beautiful churches, Cherry St. and up a hill into a residential area.

Going into this race, I didn’t expect much as far as course scenery, but I found it to be quite fantastic and a great distraction from the hills. Speaking of hills, this is a hilly course. There aren’t major hills, it’s just seemed to be a bit of a constant roll which is something I personally was not ready for.

Since this race was so close to Halloween there were lots of runners and spectators dressed up, including this guy dressed up as eleven who had his own beer stop. Across the street there was another unofficial stop with other beverages. It's always great to see the local community come out to support runners and this race had plenty of that.

We came to the last official water stop, which like all of the others had water first and gatorade second, which I will forever argue is backwards, and each station had a different flavor of gatorade.

The course loops back towards where it started at and the next thing you know, you’re crossing the finish line. You’re immediately given your medal and a nice ICE COLD towel which was perfect for this day. Followed by that you get a full size candy bar, sandwich lunch pack from McCalisters, a reusable ice pack, and a tote bag. But that’s not all, there was also a beer garden and a ticket to score some cute mini donuts which were warm and perfect.

Overall, I really enjoyed running the Tulsa Run and the race goes above and beyond to provide their runners with the best swag possible. I would love to see a 5k/15k challenge added on as well as more race photographers. I didn't get a single picture of me which was a bit disappointing, but not the end of the world.

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(2016)
"Amazing Aid Stations"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
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Elevation Difficulty
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The Ventura Marathon offers several races, a 5k/Half/Full, as well as a Bike rides, an adventure obstacle course race, kids run and a K9 run as well.

Expo: The expo was easy to find as you can’t miss a giant finish sign as well as tents set up on the beach. The website stated that there were free parking garages around town, but I didn’t bother to search. We opted for the parking garage nearby which wasn’t the best idea. The parking garage used a ticket system and honestly it had no idea when the lot was full. There simply were not enough spots. I got lucky with and was able to fit a spot that just opened up.It was a nice expo along the beach and it had your typical vendor tents, merchandise tents, as well as a beautiful view of the pier. Now. I will say that more signage was needed to show were you actually get your packet from. If you came from the parking garage like I did, you only saw the first set of vendors and one sign saying “packing pick up” and arrow pointing in a direction. Following said arrow made you believe that you were leaving the expo, not going to the other side. Another sign on the chain link fence there would’ve been helpful. I circled around several times and ended up asking someone for help.

Packet Pick Up: Packet pick up was a breeze. You get in the line according to your bib number, there were no lines by the way, show you ID and get your bag of goodies. The end. If you were unable to make it you had two options. Send a friend with a copy of your ID, or pay extra for same day pick up. Each packet included snacks, bib, pins, local race flyers, shirt, and a hat all in a giant reusable Ventura Marathon bag.

Race Day Parking: The race had information posted well in advance on their website regarding which streets to take to access the free parking areas in the city. If you followed the directions on the website there we no issues, and no long lines to find a spot. Probably the best parking I've had a race. It was a short walk to the start, maybe a ¼ of a mile, maybe more, and there were plenty of runners to keep you company.

Race: You lined up according to your pace group and it was a wave start to avoid congestion. It was a beautiful dark start and at some point I managed to miss the sunrise over the ocean. Oh well, you can’t win them all. The beginning mile was along a paved road that was right next to the coast, but did not provide a coastal view. At about mile two you enter in a residential neighborhood which I LOVED. I imagine that to natives that this isn’t a big deal, but for me I though the neighborhood was adorable was exactly how I pictured a California beach town. At about mile 2 you turn out of the neighborhood and you will spend a good chunk of your time on one road. It’s an out an back course so one you hit 6.55 miles your turned around.

Finish Line: ALL THE SNACKS. Not food, but SNACKS. I LOVE snacks. I was happy and stuffed my face. It was well organized, clean, and efficient. Vendors were back at their tents and the beer garden was open offering a local brew. I personally don’t drink beer so I skipped out on this. Instead I drank my Go-go squeeze and took pictures of my medal and called my facetimed my mama.

Overall: It was a well-organized race with free pictures. The course was accurate, clearly marked, and it did have a beautiful start and finish. The race let the runners choose swag via facebook voting so it was nice to feel as if I had a hand in the picking the swag I received. I will be 100% honest and say that I did expect to see more of the beach/water while running due to the location of the race. Especially with this being an out and back course it would’ve been nice to have more active scenery versus grass. Oh, there's also free race photos which just sends the swag level through the roof for this race.

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(2016)
"Great Concept"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I ran on the Blue Route for a group stage in Dallas, TX on a Thursday evening. I really feel as if the key to fully understanding this race to acknowledge that this isn't really a race, but a relay with the ultimate goal of having a chain of runners from coast to coast and to raise money for amazing charities. With that being said, there aren't any expos, parking varies from location to location, and there's only so much control race management can have. Runners do have an option of ordering a cotton shirt for free and only paying the cost for shipping.

Registration is all online and you can pick which route(s) you would like to run and it will list a location and a time, and the distance for $50. The individual legs are point to point runs so you are asked to try and provide your own course support and transportation to and from these access points. In major cities they had group stages, for $25, which were looped courses so yo would start and finish at the same spot so you don't need to worry about being dropped off or picked up somewhere. However, United Relay was willing to help in whatever way they possibly could.

My personal stage was looped around Bachman Park in Dallas, probably the least prettiest place as it sits right behind Dallas Love Field Airport. Not the best choice of showing off the beauty of Dallas, but whatever. Three days out an email was sent with everyone's contact information and the coordinates of where to meet. After using the coordinates we were able to easily locate Joel and Sarah who were the blue team support crew and we were off, and that was it.

Compared to big brand races that offer medals, tech shirts, bibs, and other stuff this race does not have it. It's more about the experience of meeting new people and just being part of something great. I would definitely run a leg in the relay again.

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