Latest reviews by Tim Murphy

(2020)
"Super fun trot! "
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Beautiful race through the OR countryside, well marked and fun vibe. Post race party and food was outstanding! Great value, top drawer race name, would definitely run again!! I ran the Half. which followed a scenic course and doubled back on some of the other distances so you got to feed off the energy from some of the other races.

Pic isn't from the race but it seems related and is just way too good not to share.

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(2020)
"Stoke, CHOCOLATE, and all the hills!"
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You guys. This race was so fun!
I'll start by sharing that I got a free entry into this race because we've worked with Hot Chocolate for like 100 years now and they are definitely part of the BibRave fam. That being said, I was not given an entry with any expectation of reviewing the race. But...

This race really is so fun - expo and check in were a breeze (dynamic bib assignment FTW!), and the expo space was perfect. Spacious enough to feel like a serious expo, but not so big that it felt empty. Some great vendors from both the race and brand side. Even got to see the awesome folks at Knockaround sunglasses, who are new sponsors to the race series!

The race is hard, y'all, but I really liked it. Yes, there's like 1,100 feet of gain over 15K, and that's pretty serious. But the hills are pretty long and gradual so it never feels like you just run into a wall. The course is spacious and is an out-and-back, which I like because I love the energy of seeing people in front of me and behind me throughout the race. Makes you feel more connected to both ends of the field!

Post race is just silly - I'm told they recently reformulated their hot chocolate and it is just the most rich, decadent chocolate goodness you can find. Honeystinger waffle dipped in chocolate fondue? Just stop. It's so, so good. And the volunteers on and off the course - including in the finisher area - were like nothing I've ever seen. Stoke level midnight for sure!

The weather was sunny and cool and beautiful - honestly perfect race day weather. If you're considering a fun, laid back race or a tune-up race during a faster training cycle - you should definitely check this race. And - maybe best of all - free finisher pics delivered right away (see attached).

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(2019)
"10 out of 10 race weekend!"
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Not even sure where to begin with this race! The 2019 Shamrock Run was basically perfect. I ran the Half, which is definitely challenging to with all the hills, but it's a very fair course meaning for all the up you are treated to lots of long downhill sections. So while you do slow down going up, you get a lot of that back on the downs. Weather was blue skies, sunny and about 50 degrees at the race start. Perfect!

Expo and packet pick up were a breeze - they have dynamic bib assignment so they just scan your QR code and assign you a bib in real time - no lining up according to numbers. I was worried about corral assignments because with this method the race can't really assign corrals, but self seeding was totally painless and I was able to walk up to the front of the race about 5 minutes before the start.

Race merch was SOOO good - I never, every buy race stuff (it never fits or just doesn't look good) but the gear store for Shamrock Run was so fly. Jess and I spent $75 just on the race gear!! Medal and t-shirt were also outstanding (pic below for the medal).

Post race party was off the charts. The headliner is one of my favorite bands - Coming Up Threes - a local Irish band that just jams, and they kept the party going from 8am until 1pm. The beer was flowing, free (and tasty) lentil soup from Bob's Redmill, people were dancing, the sun was shining, venders were offering a ton of giveaways (so many nutrition bars!) - it was just a blast.

Portland Shamrock Run definitely lived up to it's reputation as the city's marquee event and it's clearly a well-earned moniker. Anyone considering this race should give it a try - challenging, rewarding, beautiful, and FUN!

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(2018)
"Such a challenging/rewarding race!"
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The Under Armour Mountain Running Series - Copper Mountain was easily one of my favorite trail races... ever. I don't make that claim lightly, but they just checked SO many boxes (I did the 25K).

Spectacular setting? Check.
You run up the Copper Mountain ski hills on exquisite single track trails, climbing steeply right out of the gate and enjoying phenomenal views of the massive Colorado mountains. There is a ton of climbing, and you go from about 9,500 to about 12,300 at the high point, so there is a lot of climbing and at VERY challenging elevation. But this was a high effort/high return situation, so I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Ease of access? Um - outstanding!
Copper Mountain was the perfect place to host this event. It's about 90-120 minutes from the Denver Airport, and the entire village sort of encircles the event, so packet pick up, shake out runs, start/finish line, tons of restaurants/bars/shops, post-race party, and everyone's lodging is all within a 5 minute walk. That created this very comfortable but concentrated experience where you kind of spend the weekend with everyone who's there for the race, and you get to walk 5 minutes to just about anywhere you want to go.
The post-race party also had a cool DJ, beer cart, and recovery area with a ton of vibrating massage tools that erased the damage I'd done to my legs and shoulders (due to my poor running form). And again, everyone's there because it's right in the middle of the resort.

Tons of BibRave Pros?
Haha - yes! See my attached pic - was so good to see so many BibRave Pros!

The medals and shirts were awesome - the guys' shirt was a super high-quality, somewhat heavy material in a long-sleeved hooded shirt (not a sweatshirt). Women's was similar.

Aid stations were about every 3-4 miles, and they were very well stocked. Course markings were probably the best I've ever seen - one thing they did that was really helpful was to use colored tape, weighed down with rocks to create a curve in the path whenever there was a turn that might be easily confused. As someone who regularly goes off course and blows past cones and hanging tape, this was a super obvious sign to turn this way or that. Would love to see other trail races adopt this method.

Under Armour also did a great job of bringing in people from all different parts of the country and from all different running backgrounds. There were city people, new trail runners, elite trail runners, weekend warriors and locals - all represented. It created a very lively atmosphere before, during, and after the race!

My race was just brutal - it took me 2:50 to run 15 miles, which for me is really not moving very well. I felt terrible on the ups, pretty solid on the downs, but in the end just couldn't move very well. I was carrying an intentionally overloaded pack to practice for an upcoming trail race, but even without that I don't think I would have moved very well.

I run a lot of trail races and this event simply had it all. I'd highly recommend it, and I hope to be back next year!

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(2018)
"Hang on tight!"
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Holy cow - 5,000 feet of loss! If you're looking for a fast race, they don't get much faster than just bombing down a volcano for 26.2 miles!
This race was tough to review because there was a lot of really well-done aspects but also some fairly significant misses. But that means there's a lot to talk about so let's dive in.

The Good:
Race Comms - This race was a bit complicated because it's a point-to-point race that starts on top of a volcano (correct, that's pretty badass). But because of that, we had to start early. Very early. I'm talking a 2am alarm time, drive to Sandy High School to be on the bus by 3:30, hour long bus, then wait at the start to stretch/warm up/relax for an hour before gun time at 5:30. Personally, I liked having that much time to chill and eat/use the bathroom before the start. With all those complicating factors, the race management did an expert job with communication beforehand. It would have been so easy for me to screw up the start, but the race comms were so good you couldn't help but know what was going on.

Starting area - Relaxing, calm, laid-back and BEAUTIFUL. Again, top of a snow-covered volcano (we were just below the snow line), basically a full moon and temps in the 50s. So pleasant. Also plenty of porto-potties, so that's always a plus. And we got to drop our bags right before the race started, so it was really have everything we needed to wait and be comfortable.

Scenery the first 5 miles - Absolutely incredible. Clear morning, sun coming up but we're still getting a ton of light from the super bright moon and you're just descending into the Mt. Hood National Forest area. One of the prettiest race starts I've ever seen.

T-Shirt and Medals - Really nice! Like my shirt a lot - nice cotton/poly blend, fits well, good looking - and the medals were great! They also added little charms to adorn age group winners, of which I was not one, but I did get to admire other people's charms!

The Not-so-Good:
I really had two significant criticisms - most of the course scenery and the aid stations.
Basically you run on Hwy 26 for ab out 20 miles of the race. This is a heavily-trafficked road, and we were basically buzzed by semis and other trucks the whole time because you just run on the shoulder. I don't think there's anything the race can do to fix this, and I think people who are running this insane downhill course are doing it to PR and/or BQ, so they might just view the Hwy 26 route as an acceptable downside to logging their fastest time. I didn't like it, but to each their own.

The aid stations were just a mess - no way around that. Biggest thing was a lack of uniformity with what was in what cup or where water and powerade were positioned. At every aid station, water and powerade were just randomly scattered around, so you could never tell what was where. Often times the last thing a runner could grab was powerade, which is a cardinal sin of aid station set ups (you don't want the runner to have to taste powerade for 3-5 miles until the next aid station - always gotta have water last in line to be grabbed). And the last aid station was just not handing stuff out at all (I heard this from the Half Marathon runners too). I don't fault the volunteers - they're always trying their best, but it was pretty clear that they didn't get effective direction in how to set up water/gatorate, where, and why.

The post-race area was OK - there was only a trough of coke products with water/powerade isolated in the finisher area, so getting water while we hung out post race wasn't really an option. When we tried to leave, we had to wait in line for about 30 minutes while the busses ferried people back to Sandy High School where the cars were parked. They were walking through with Papa John's pizza and giving that out to runners as we waited (which was VERY appreciated!), but it was a bit of a bummer to have to sit there for 30 minutes before getting on a 15 minute bus ride back to the cars.

In the end - if you're in the PNW and looking to BQ or PR, you should absolutely consider this race. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, and it's not a great course overall. Bu23t the first 5 miles are just beautiful, and if you're just trying to put your head down and PR, you probably don't care about the scenery either way. If you're looking to do a casual marathon, this one's a bit maintenance with all the transport issues. Also it should be noted that this was the first time they put on this race, and so for an inaugural event they really did a fine job.

My race went well - I was pacing my buddy Dave and he had a very solid day. He battled through some hip issues and still reached his goal of between 3:05 and 3:10 (we ended up at 3:07:20).

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