Future Races – Third Quarter 2017

We are so excited to get back into the swing of things!  We are reading to start our running season!  Here are the races we are most excited for in July, August, and September.

Track Shack’s Celebration of Running 5K

August 19th, 2017 – Orlando, FL

This year we are Track Shack Fanatics!  This allowed us to get 6 Races at a package price, a bonus shirt, and personalized bibs.  We love supporting the local race community and all of the races intrigued us.  This is the first race in that series.  Katie is most excited for the mini cupcakes on the course and Spencer is looking forward to an awesome medal!  Join us at the Track Shack Celebration of Running 5K.

Emerald City Half Marathon

August 27th, 2017 – Dublin, OH

We selected this race as part of our 50 State Challenge!  It is a smaller race with a flat and fast course.  The city is close to the Columbus Airport, has great hotel deals, and a really cute Irish theme.  We are planning on bringing extra water for this race, because even though we are traveling North it should be toasty.  The only downside was the women’s shirt is a tank top, so Katie switched to a men’s cut.  Will we see you at the Emerald City Half Marathon?

Swanzey Covered Bridges Half Marathon

September 3rd, 2017 – Swanzey, NH

For Labor Day Weekend, we decided to try two back to back Half Marathons.  This is a 13.1 mile loop that goes through 4 different Covered Bridges.  We are both excited to see beautiful scenery from the end of summer in New Hampshire.  This will be one of the smallest races we decide to do, but the Race Director has been really responsive to our questions.  We are proud to support the students of Monadnock Regional High School at the Swanzey Covered Bridges Half Marathon.

Faxon Law New Haven Road Race

September 4th, 2017 – New Haven, CT

This will be the second half of our back to back races over Labor Day Weekend.  Even though this race is known for its 20K, we are choosing to run the Half Marathon distance.  They have a whole section of their website for “Course Excitement” and that is always a big factor to us when choosing a race.  This is also the 40th annual running of this race, so we feel confident it will run smoothly.  Have you ever run the Faxon Law New Haven Road Race?

Track Shack’s Battle of the Bands 5K

September 16th, 2017 – Casselberry, FL

This is the second race in Track Shack’s Fanatic Series.  It was originally branded as a Rock N Roll 5K, but we think a Battle of the Bands 5K is even better!  Each mile will have band battling it out.  As big music lovers, we are thrilled to reach each mile.  We are also hoping for some great outfits out on the course.  There is no medal at the end of this run, but there is a Craft Beer Festival!  Grab a drink with us at the Track Shack Battle of the Bands 5K!

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon

September 23-24, 2017 – Paris, France

Okay, we would be lying if we said we weren’t the most excited for this race.  Last year we were unable to make it to Paris for the Inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon and we’ve been kicking ourselves!  This year they are adding a 10K so we will be completing the 10K and Half Marathon Challenge.  We are staying on property and adding an extra day to our trip to explore Paris.  Our first Half Marathon out of the country will be the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon.

New Smyrna Beach Sundae 5K

Review of New Smyrna Beach Sundae 5k

For our second year in a row we have celebrated a belated Father’s Day by running the New Smyrna Beach Sundae 5K.  The event is run by Southern Stone events, who specialize in not only running events, but also highly themed activities.

Gorgeous morning on New Smyrna Beach!

Weekend Events Prior To New Smyrna Beach Sundae 5k

Even though the race is close to us, we like to make a weekend out of it and stay over Saturday night.  Sunday races are great for local getaways!  We drove over Saturday and found a Groupon for a Dolphin and Manatee viewing Boat Tour.  Turtle Mound River Tours was fantastic.  The tour lasted 2 hours and we saw a handful of Dolphins and a bunch of Manatees.

Our big complaint for the weekend was our hotel.  We stayed at the Edgewater Best Western.  While we absolutely the Best Western brand, this location didn’t live up to the name.  We wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, and we will be booking early to try the Best Western New Smyrna next year!

Beach 5k Finish Line!

Details Of New Smyrna Beach Sundae 5k

The race starts at 8AM Sunday morning.  That’s enough time to sleep in a little, drive over, and find parking.  Packet pickup is on the beach and participation has definitely increased.  The course is an easy out and back on the hard packed sand with one water stop that you can visit twice.  We still brought bottles of water since its super hot in Florida.

The best part of the race is the after party.  This year they had a new bar venue and it was even better than last years!  We walked a short distance to the bar, had our bibs marked, and got in line for delicious ice cream.  Runners get a nice sized bowl of vanilla ice cream and then pile on the toppings.

The big bonus are the drink coupons.  Runners are given 5 one-dollar drink coupons to be used for food or drinks at the bar.  Katie’s parents graciously shared theirs (and drove) so we had Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas!  Service at the bar is speedy and friendly and there was nice outdoor seating with big fans.

After the event there is still enough time to head back to the hotel, shower, and pack up the car for the trek home.  We love that this race continues to improve every year and we will definitely be back again.  If you want to see more about last years race, check out our review of the 2016 New Smyrna Beach Sundae 5k!

Free drink coupons for a local bar are always a great perk!

runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon Review

This was our final race in our quest to run all of the Disney Race Series in a year.  It was a little bittersweet to step off on what could be our last Disneyland race for a while.  The Tinker Bell Half Marathon never sold out.  It was surprising to have only 6 corrals for the Half Marathon!

Security was still a nightmare.  There were still only two Security Cast Members wanding runners at the entrance closest to Katella Ave.  We opted to go around that, walk all the way past Earl of Sandwich and enter Downtown Disney by the Disneyland Hotel.  Security was only checking bags at that point and since we had none, we were waved through.  The backup at security was severe enough to delay the race start by over 10 minutes!

As for the course, it stayed true to a Disneyland Half Marathon.  There was ample park time in the beginning and then you ran around the streets of Anaheim. We felt like there was a strong Anaheim Police presence for this race to block off side streets and maintain safety.  The downside was the serious lack of on course entertainment.  There was only one Marching Band, no Cheerleading or Dance Groups, and no Red Had Society Ladies.

The highlight of Tinker Bell Half Marathon is the time of year and weather.  It is easy for us, and many families to travel in May because there are not a lot of other obligations.  If we do go back for a Disneyland race in 2018, it will likely be Tinker Bell Half Marathon because it doesn’t conflict with any of our other planned races!

runDisney Tinker Bell 10K Review

Our Lost Boys costumes were perfect for this race, since it ended up being the Lost Boys 10K!  We ran this race with Katie’s parents.  Spectators loved our costumes!  They even shipped over the Festival of Fantasy Lost Boy costumes to Disneyland for photo ops during the race!

Our first challenge was getting to the race.  We typically leave our hotel room one hour prior to race start to have plenty of time to walk over, go through security, and find our corral.  The entrance for security closest to Katella Ave had hundreds of people funneled into a tiny path with two Security Guards wanding everyone.  This process took at least 20 minutes for us to go through.  After security, race staff directed us straight to our Corral and never visiting the pre-race area with the DJ.

The course for the actual 10K was different than normal, but still had plenty of in-park time.  Our only complaint was that it seemed really confusing to weave in and out of the park so many times, but Katie’s parents (who had nothing to compare it to) loved the course!  Even though the 5K had no character stops, there were opportunities to take photos on the course.  Aside from the Lost Boys selfie stops, there was Pirate Donald and Chip & Dale, and Captain Hook and Smee.  Wendy and Peter Pan also made an appearance as a hybrid Selfie Stop/Character Stop.

We were a little nervous going into this race that there would be challenges.  Disney recently switched from Volunteers for water stops, gear check, and the expo to Temporary Hires. They were all still extremely motivating and had water ready!  The shirt and medal were both fantastic, especially since the characters we ran as were featured!  Overall, we had a great time and are actually considering making the trek to California again for 2018.

Orlando Lung Force 5K Review

This weekend we participated in the Lung Force 5K at Baldwin Park.  For us, this was a no-brainer because Katie actually suffers from chronic asthma.  We made a team with us and Katie’s parents back in October and received lots of awesome communication up until race day.

We originally thought this would be a low-key Run & Walk for charity.  It was shocking when we learned this was actually a chipped race.  Before the race started they had volunteers with signs for self seeded corrals based on time.  The volunteers provided ample space for runners pacing a 6 Minute Mile and left everyone after a 10 Minute Mile scrunched together.  To add to the confusion, there was no Walker division so somewhere around an 8 Minute Mile were families in jeans holding Starbucks Cups.

The course itself was a standard loop around Lake Baldwin with a little neighborhood time in the beginning.  The race touted two water stops, but the first one wasn’t set up until about 25 minutes into the race.  Luckily, we had a freak cold front, but this left runners disappointed.  Volunteers quickly handed us a sweat towel at the finish line.

Katie’s mom placed 2nd in her age division so we stuck around for awards.  There were plenty of vendors at the expo, so that made the time pass by quickly.  We got lots of nice swag like water bottles, back packs, and pens.  The award ceremony moved very slowly and only 1st place in each Age Division got an award.  That was a little disappointing because typically races give Top 3 Finishers a medal.

For us to do this race again next year, they will have to fix their identity crisis.  Are they a Walker Friendly race with no medals and no strict rules or are they a certified chipped race with the focus on elite runners?  Either they focus on the running and give everyone medals, ban strollers, and have better corral areas or they encourage walking and give up awards completely.

 

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Review

This race is very special to both of us.  The inaugural Dark Side Half Marathon was Katie’s first and Spencer loves Star Wars.  The big changes for this year were the course and the corrals.  They made no change to the character stops and only lessened the on course entertainment.  The thing that remained constant was the heat!

The course remained a point to point race, but the starting point changed to the Magic Kingdom Parking Lot (TTC) and ended at EPCOT.  Runners parked at EPCOT and bused over to the start line.  The course ran on roads for the first major portion of the race and then entered Animal Kingdom.  This is always a great part of the course and has nice Photo Pass opportunities.  We then traveled again on the road into Hollywood Studios and through the Boardwalk into EPCOT.

We enjoyed the course and thought it had an ample amount of in-park running.  There were some challenges like how dark the first 5K portion was.  The first water stop around Mile 2 was in total darkness and the volunteers were struggling to poor drinks.  This caused most of the runners to stop and hunt for water and cross back and forth across the path.  We hope Disney addresses this major safety issue.

Another major change was the Corral structure.  There were only 7 Corrals, with the last 2 being saved for runners with no Proof of Time.  Because of this, the bottom two Corrals were massive with hundreds more runners than usual.  We started in Corral F and stayed near the front of the gate as usual.  We chose to wait near the left side and they opened two small gates on the right side to let all of us attempt to get through.  Each corral was then sectioned off into smaller waves, which we like the idea of.  The issue was our friend who was in the back of Corral F was two waves in front of us because of how they opened a tiny gate.

The goal of this new system was to alleviate congestion on the course.  Did it help? Absolutely not!!  First, the congestion in the Corral was stressful and hard to move in.  That set the tone for the rest of the race.  As a result, we were surrounded by people the the entire time on the course until the last half mile through Future World in EPCOT.  This meant if we wanted to run we had to weave through throngs of people and waste tons of energy to move forward a few tenths of a mile.

After as many Disney races as we have done, we have never felt defeated during a race.  There were portions where we gave up and walked for long distances because there was no where to go.  We are hoping that moving forward, runDisney learns from their mistakes and organizes the corrals a little better.  It looks like they are trying the same system for Tinker Bell Weekend so we will be updating you shortly on how that goes!

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 10K Review

We were so excited to return for the Second runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Challenge.  This year they updated the course to start at the Magic Kingdom Parking Lot (TTC) and finish at EPCOT!  Last year was a point to point race as well, but thank goodness the bus transportation was at the beginning.  Last year, there was a huge fiasco with runners having to take the bus AFTER they ran!  Living locally, it did mean we had to park at EPCOT and wait for a bus to take us to the start line.  Our only complaint with that was having to wake up earlier and spending a much longer time waiting in the corral.

We found these amazing Football jerseys and though they would be perfect for a Dark Side theme!  The crowd loved them and they were easy to run in.  A great tip is looking for Sports materiel to wear in a run, its already breathable!  We added some eye black to make the outfit pop (and hopefully help with the sun)!

It was a nice course that was about half out of park and then half in the park and resort area.  We ran into Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.  We enjoyed being able to run in two parks.  The big downside of the course is the narrow pathways between Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.  It is almost impossible to run through there because everyone slows down and bunches together.

Our only other complaint was how dark the course was in the beginning.  There were a few times where bright lights were shining at us, which made it harder to see the people around us and the ground.  Safety is a high priority for Disney and I hope they make this change in the future.  Next year, Spencer will run both races for the Dark Side Challenge and Katie plans on completing the Half Marathon.

Pig Run of Lake Nona 5K Review

This is our second year running the Pig Run of Lake Nona 5K!  It is a great race with a lot of participation that sells out quickly.  The unique part of the race is halfway through, you have to stop in the “Pig Pen” and eat donuts!  We loved themed races and especially ones for a great cause.  This is a must-do for anyone in the Central Florida Area.

The course is paved trail running and blocked off streets.  It starts out extremely congested, but opens as soon as everyone makes it to the road.  This is strictly a fun run and has no chip timing.  The course is three big loops that don’t overlap so it has nice variety.  There are also tons of residents in the neighborhood out on their front lawns cheering!

Every year they change up their donut challenges.  Last year, Spencer competed in the “Hog” division and ate a dozen donuts!  This year he did the “Surprised Swine” and ate 6 different flavors of donuts.  He recommends this level to runners because it was enough to be a challenge without feeling sick at the end.  Katie maintains her two year streak of eating just one donut.

The race comes with a nice tech shirt and a fantastic huge sparkly medal!  Before the race, there is an expo with lots of great vendors and giveaways.  Our only complaint is parking, which is far away from the actual event.  This is largely out of the Race Directors hands and they do a great job communicating to runners ahead of time.  This race is on our list for next year for sure!

If you’re wondering why most of our photos have the border, it’s because we actually made a custom Snapchat Geo-Filter! Spencer is super tech-savvy! It was available for everyone at the race to use it, so let us know if you see it on social media anywhere and we’ll give you a shout-out!

Storm the Campus UCF 10 Miler Review

The University of Central Florida boasts some unique views and a great 10 miler course!  Ten miles is a great distance!  UCF’s circular shape led to confusing paths and intersecting with other runners often.  The mile markers ended up being very confusing, with some up to a quarter mile off or missing completely.  In the end, the finish line was perfectly accurate at 10.0 miles according to our watches.

We were lucky to have a beautiful morning in April and the first half of the race was pure bliss with cool breezes. As expected, the sun was in our eyes for the second half of the course.  Water was available every mile after Mile 4.  Volunteers were helpful with filling water bottles and pointing runners in the right direction.

The course had a variety of terrain with bricks,sidewalk, and road running.  Unfortunately, not all of the roads were closed. Hopefully next year the race director can cone off half of the two-lane roads for runners.

Post race refreshments were the best part of this race.  There were small smoothies, full bottles of lemonade, and pickle juice.  For food, we could have Domino’s Pizza, Jimmy John’s Subs, and two different Protein Bars.  We took full advantage of all the food! Spencer even won a Corkcicle insulated bottle from the raffle! They had several raffle prizes that all runners were entered in, including a couple of Fit2Run Gift Cards.

The price point for this race was high for us, with the lowest rate at $60. We were disappointed to see the shirt was 100% cotton and it immediately went into the back of the closet.  The giant medal was a great touch!  We really appreciated the large Florida shape too!  Overall, we would consider this race next year if it lined up with our training schedule. It isn’t a must-do for us with all the confusion in the beginning and no tech shirt.