Latest reviews by Tim Murphy

(2018)
"Tokyo Marathon Review - new PR on a fast course!"
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Summary - TL;DR
Very fast course overall, in a country where running is serious business. Great energy, great aid stations, and a fast course definitely make this race worthy of a spot on your bucket list!

Expo
Pure. Madness. It was well organized and wasn't a mess or anything - but in true Japanese fashion everything was big, bright, loud and ENERGETIC. There was a ton to be seen and I managed to walk out with several items - and I rarely buy stuff at expos!!

Parking
N/A - stayed in Shinjuku which made access to the start SUPER easy. Highly recommend.

The Start
A very slow start with thousands of slower runners at the front made this race feel like less of a "Major" IMHO (there was a serious log jam through mile 2 that led to almost a complete stop at times). Not a ton of signage to show people to the start, but the flow of people was such that it was pretty easy to figure out.

The Course
The Tokyo Marathon is mostly flat - a few bridges and small hills here and there, but overall pretty darn flat. There are a few 180 degree turns which would probably rule out this being a "super fast" course, but that those few seconds might not matter to you. Even vying for a PR, I still wasn't bothered by the 180 turns. I actually liked that the turns created out and back sections, where I could check in with and cheer on my buddies who were also running. In fact, during my darkest hour, I was rooted on by one of my buddies who was seeing me running back as he ran out, and that encouragement was HUGE at that stage of the race!

Aid Stations
I thought the aid stations were clearly marked and well-organized. They were only every 2-3 miles, so if you didn't plan or saw a hot day, it might have been on the thin side (tho if temps rose they might have added stations). But for my needs, there were plenty and they were well organized and SUPER clean. In some races the trash from runners at the front really builds up on course (I'm looking at you, London Marathon!), but this was the total opposite. As soon as a cup went down, there were like 5 volunteers on it with rakes and bags. No trash made it more than 5 seconds on the ground!

Port-a-Potties
I didn't use any of these, actually. Sounds like they were adequate from others in my group though.

Swag
Oh man - overall some of the best SWAG for me. 1) I liked the shirt, design, and fit - gotta love being a small guy in Japan! Seriously though, big fan of the shirt - but they only had unisex sizes which means a ton of ladies had ill-fitting shirts. Can't believe a major marathon would only have unisex sizes!
2) The medal was definitely my favorite of all time, and definitely one of the nicest I've seen (pic below). Totally unique design and aesthetic, and everyone agreed that it was just gorgeous.

Post-race Transport
Our tour group provided a coach bus back to Shinjuku, which was amazing. After a VERY long walk to our bag pick up, it was critical to get on a warm bus rather than have to take the train. Not sure I ever would have warmed up without that bus. (the post-finish line walk was 30 minutes at least, and by the time I got to the bag pickup I was FREEZING. Was supposed to have a race poncho for the walk but must have missed the pick up. Didn't see anyone around me with one either though)

Conclusion
I really liked this race, but I was put off a bit by the start. I lost at least 30-60 seconds on the front end (30 on my watch and another 30 or so in lost energy expended trying to weave through thousands of slower runners who were somehow put in Corral A). When trying to PR - that definitely makes a difference! (I still PR'd but missed my goal by 75 seconds...).
Overall though, Tokyo is just a magical place, Japanese people love running like few places in the world, and this is still a super flat course with a HUGE feel to it. Not perfect, but definitely worth doing.

My Race
Was trying for a 2:43 and was on track for most of the race despite having my Garmin off by about 30 seconds per mile for each mile (it just seemed to struggle in the city). Thank gosh I memorized my average goal 5K split because all the markers are in Ks. I lost that 30 seconds in the first mile despite trying to move through the crowd as best I could, and then was back on track through 30K where I started to fall off. Slipped until 37K where I got that shout of encouragement from my buddy and was able to dig deep and claw my way back into PR contention. Ended up with a really hard-fought 2:44:13 (2 min PR) which I was really proud of. Hard day but so much fun!!!!

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(2017)
"Kalakaua Merrie Mile - such an exciting event!"
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Kalakaua Merrie Mile was my first ever 1-mile race and it was extremely cool. First - a mile-long race is such a fun event and fitness test. Whether you are there to really throw down and give it your all, you're out there to do your best and try not to embarrass yourself (this guy), or you're out for the loudest one-mile walk of your life, this race is absolutely worth your while.

Super fun out and back right into Waikiki, with tons of cheering fans and breathtaking ocean views to keep you pushing until the end. I don't remember the name of the company (gah!) but the freshly-squeezed juice that they handed out at the end was insanely good. And a very high-end finisher shirt by the Honolulu Marathon's new sponsor, Descente, rounded out some of the perks of running this race.

Ah, but there's more benefits for runners and non-runners alike! Kalakaua Merrie Mile also had a killer elite field with a time-handicapped start, where the men start after the women based on projected finish times. Basically the differential between when the men will cross and when the women will cross, and the first runner (male or female) across the line wins. And it was an awesome prize purse of $3,500 this year! Super exciting race to watch, and it was close until the very end when Edward Cheserek overtook Mirriam Cherop to get the win. So exciting and the perfect race format from a spectator's perspective.

Huge fan of this race, if you're in town for the Honolulu Marathon or the Start-to-Park 10K, the Kalakaua Merrie Mile is a must.

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(2017)
"Turns out, I like 10Ks! "
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The Honolulu Marathon's Start to Park 10K is the perfect way to experience the incredible start line of the HNL Marathon without committing to the full 26.2 miles. You get the insane fireworks display at the beginning (this was nuts - they were still going off 10 minutes into my race!), the awesome run through Honolulu, and the finish line right in Kapiolani Park where the Marathon finishes. And for the first time this year, it was timed!

Expo and medal were really good - expo had plenty of space, easy access, and a lot of interesting vendors. The medal was outstanding (pic below) cool design, good size, weight, coloring. Definitely a worthy reward.

Scenery - I mean, come on. OK, some of this race (and the Marathon) are run in the dark due to the early start. But seeing the sun come up while running through Waikiki (or immediately after the race depending on your finish) was just awesome.

No complaints - the HNL Marathon crew knows how to put on a great event and adding the 10K to the overall event was a good move. If you can't (yet) commit to the full Honolulu Marathon, the 10K is a great option.

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(2017)
"Well, that was fun"
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After so many years of hearing from runners of all experience and speed levels how great the TCS NYC Marathon is, I finally got to experience it first hand. Have to say, it didn't disappoint.

My experience will be skewed a bit because I was lucky enough to be on a VIP bus for transportation to Staten Island, so a lot of what many people cite as a downside of this race was really easy. Even still, it was almost a 2 hour ride to the start which is pretty intense by any measure. I was definitely thankful to be on a coach bus for this ride.

Starting area was very large but extremely well-marked and I had no trouble finding my corral with plenty of time to spare. Start line was a bit weird - I was in A Corral, and though we did enter the corrals according to our letter, at the front they simply combined A and B to all mix and start as one. Usually the point of lettered corrals is to avoid having faster runners stuck behind less fast runners and cause a lot of congestion. But by starting A and B together, that's what happened. Didn't affect my race at all because I was not gunning it from the start, so I wasn't bothered. But logistically it seemed strange. And I'll readily admit that this could be due to some unavoidable logistical constraints given the start on Staten Island, etc. that I'm just not aware of.

Everything else about the race was great - aid stations were top notch and managed beautifully. Crowds were a lot of fun although a bit subdued at times (most likely due to the misty/rainy conditions). Course elevation and difficulty were actually a lot easier than expected, but that's only because I was expecting it to be an absolutely BEAST of a course, given so many cautionary tales.

Make no mistake, it's hilly, and some of them are long climbs. But the downhill finish in Central Park was long and luxurious, and I felt like I was flying by then. Again, but not racing the course outright, I know I didn't have the full experience of how hard it can be. But I definitely pushed for the last half and found the course to be interesting, challenging but reasonable, beautiful and exciting! I really loved the finish in Central Park - SOOO much energy and just a cool setting.

Fleece-lined poncho with a hood at the finish line was so, so clutch! It's a long walk out of the park and if you don't have dry clothes (ahem, this guy), that poncho is a life-saver. I walked a few blocks west of the park (1-2) and easily caught a Lyft back to my hotel.

Medal and T-shirt were both top drawer - really nice long sleeve top with lots of sizing options, and the medal is big but not gaudy with a really sharp design.

My race was great, didn't think I'd have much fitness but was able to run conservatively for the first half and push harder and harder the second half. Misty and rainy off and on, but with temps around 60 that mist was perfect to bring down temps but not soak you through and invite chafing.

This race is worth the hype. Everything about it felt BIG and well-run. Highly recommend!

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(2017)
"O.M.G. - So hard, such a rough day, so rewarding!"
Overall
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There really are no words.

First, I'd be remiss if I didn't include a link to our special episode of The BibRave Podcast all about my and my crew/pacers' race-day experience. There were a lot of highs and lows, and this is definitely worth a listen 😉 https://blog.bibrave.com/2017/10/03/bibrave-podcast-leadville-special/

Registration: I signed up for their training camp in order to lock in a spot for the 100 with my friend and cousin. This was SO valuable. The camp was eye-opening, very educational, so much fun, and I felt offered a lot of value. Highly recommend.

Aid Stations: Stop it. The aid stations at Leadville are SO well done. I had some stomach issues at mile 50 and they were able to assist or help my pacer get everything we needed to (eventually) keep moving. So well stocked, so full of expert volunteers, can't say enough.

Course: I mean, again, what can you say? Views on this course are everything you'd expect from a race of this stature. Views of Turquoise Lake, up and down Powerline, coming down into Twin Lakes, up and over and back up Hope Pass - all of it simply (and actually) breath-taking. Weather was amazing and I don't think the course could have been more favorable.

Race management: World-class. From safety and support to energy and fun, the Leadville Team is as good as it comes. To pull off a race this long, and of this size, with such grace is just crazy. Hat's off to the management.

Overall: Leadville is truly a special place and a special race. The town fully embraces the runners and spectators, showing incredible support and enthusiasm to have everyone in town doing epic shit. It's a commitment both from time and money, but the rewards easily outweigh any expense. If you're into the ultra scene, and you're feeling a "hundo" coming on, Leadville deserves a place at the top.

Pic: Pizza Steve, Me, Matt at the start of the Leadville 100

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