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Mohammad Schultz

Zombie Run   (2013)

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The course meanders through shaded and full-sun areas with gentle up and down slopes. There are no steep grades. I took my little girls tot his and it was a blast. My wife ran too and it was just all around fun for the family. Good food and great shirts and bags.

Logan Boon

Marine Corps 17.75K   (2013)

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Why the random distance? The Marine Corps was founded in 1775 – hence the 17.75k. The distance ends up being 11.03 miles.

I can't say anything about packet pick-up, because my sister picked ours up. I know it was a pain because she had to go all the way out to Quantico to get them. That being said, they did allow you to pick up others' bibs, so that made it a little better.

The race was in Prince William Forrest Park and was a point to point, so there were shuttles both from the parking lot to the start as well as from the finish back to the parking lots.

The race was small is very small for a road race (~2500 participants) and the main perk of the race was early registration for the Marine Corps Marathon in October. In 2013, the race sold out in about 2 hours - in 2014, now that they have started the lottery system for MCM, the race sold out in 9 minutes. But the best perk of this race is it's price point, which is less than $60.

We spent the first 2-3 miles running along the side of a road, which I wasn't a huge fan of. The road was still open to traffic and we were on a shoulder and the side walk. They have changed this for the 2014 race, which runs almost entirely within the park itself. Around mile 3, the course turned onto a gravel road and hit a steep decline and at mile 3.5 you get to the first hill. It starts out steep from miles 4-4.5(ish) and then tapers out to a gradual climb until about mile 6. The hill plateaus a bit before heading into a STEEP downhill at mile 7.5. Someone next to me going down the hill joked “what goes down, must come up” and sure thing, at the bottom of the hill was a STEEP uphill this time. Once you go to what you thought was the top of the hill (it leveled out), you turned a corner and realized you were not done and the hill continued. After that it was some more steep downhills, another short uphill/downhill and then it was an uphill finish. I firmly believe that uphill finishes are mean, but it was after all a Marine Corps race. Fair enough.

There was a total of about 850 elevation gain for the entire course, which isn’t HUGE but the hills that were there were so sharply up and down that they definitely wore on your legs by the end!

When you get to the finish line, there’s no water, no medals, and no capes to keep you warm (at least when I crossed..other people ended up having them but I’m not sure how/where…). You have to walk about a quarter of a mile (and up another small hill, ha) to where the finish line festival is. First you walk through the water/food line – and there were lots of tasty treats, including a fruit and nut mix that I chowed down on – then you can go get your access pass for the MCM. I headed there first since there wasn’t a line. Then I hit up a foam roller station! This has got to be the BEST idea post-race EVER!! There were about 12 foam rollers set up on mats for everyone to use.

After that, we waited in the bus line for a few minutes, and then took the 10 or so minute bus ride back to our cars.

I LOVED this race!! Seriously. I would run it every year (I'm in it for 2014!) even if I didn't want a MCM entry - it's a good race all on it's own. The course was beautiful and the support staff were incredible. I also found that the runners on the course were all incredibly friendly and supportive of one another. There were signs all throughout the course and instead of the usual “you can do it” motivation phrases, they were filled with things I feel like a drill sergeant would yell at you like “Is that all you’ve got”… “You’re NOT even close yet!”…and “Move it, twinkle toes!”

There were service men and women, as well as forest rangers, spread out throughout the course just there to cheer us on in between aid stations. Some of them had music playing (my personal favorite was when they starting blaring “I Feel Good” and I did indeed do a little boogie as I passed), others gave you high fives, but all of them were cheering us on and had huge smiles on their faces. I also noticed in this race more than any other I’ve been in, that the runners were all saying such nice “Thank you’s” to all of the support staff (both for their military service as well as for their help out on the course). I just thought it was a really feel-good race overall!! Even the hills couldn’t damper my spirit!

The one downside of this race that might deter people (who for whatever reason aren't already convinced by the guaranteed entry to MCM), is that there is little to no crowd support other than the volunteers along the course. I'm used to small races, so it didn't both me, but for people who are used to R&R races or the MCM, it's definitely got a different vibe.

You can read my full race report with more details here: http://www.mtnsandmiles.com/2013/03/race-report-marine-corps-17-75k/

John Niedzwiecki

Manassass Runway 10K/5K   (2014)

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I have to say, my overall opinion with this 5K was really good. The fee was on par or better with other 5Ks in this area, even at the last minute prices of $35. The return on the fee was fantastic. Normally, with a 5K, usually at most you get a screen printed cotton t-shirt. For this race, we got a printed, nice quality tech shirt. If that's not enough, the race also included some bling: a nice, colored metal medal. Even a Disney 5K only lands you a cotton shirt and rubber medal.

Registration was easy through ImAthlete. Parking was pretty good. There was a bottleneck getting into the airfield, as there was just one small gate for all the cars to go through. Once we were parked, it was a little bit of a walk over to the main area for packet pickup and the starting line, but not too bad. Packet pickup was incredibly fast and efficient. One person would get your name and give your number to a second person. They would get your bib and hand it to a third. The third person would find your shirt then hand it to you, a red tech shirt with the race logo on it. They had 3 sets of people operating in this manner, so getting your stuff took no time at all.

The course was fast and flat (as a runway would be), though with a head wind in one direction. The start / finish line had several planes on hand from an air show to add a little to the environment. The 5K course included 1 water stop, about half way through. At the end, there were the obligatory bananas and water but also granola and peanut bars.

The only hiccup in the race was the problem with the results. There were some issue with getting the times exported to print the results and announce age group winners, which included small trophies. As a programmer, I understand you can't always control that fact, and then did their best to try and get them out, but in the end we waited a while for nothing which was a bit of a downer. They did have all the times, which were posted later that night.

As all is said and done, this was a great course, a great value for my money, and I'll definitely be doing it again.

Mohammad Schultz

Frozen 5K   (2014)

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The course is flat and fast and takes runners through the streets of GMU-Manassas at the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center and the surrounding roads. Not bad at all and many people attend this short distance race.

Runaway Wonk

George Washington Parkway Classic   (2014)

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Follow my running adventures at http://runawaywonk.blogspot.com/.

The expo.

Well, this is a Pacers event, so there wasn't an expo. Pacers did provide packet pickup at their stores last weekend and this weekend as well as midweek pickup in Alexandria. I picked my bib and shirt up last weekend at the Logan Circle store. If I hadn't stopped and chatted, the whole pickup process would have taken three minutes. Pacers assigns bib number at pickup which means they don't have to rummage through zip lock bags or boxes to find your number. So easy.

The premiums.

Gender-specific technical race tee and medal (first time for this race to celebrate the 30th running).

The shirt was a dark gray with a design on the front. It fits well, but I am not sure how much I will wear it. While the design is cute, there is a lot of it.

The medal was pretty nice. The zero was a spinner. Overall, I am very happy with the race premiums.

The weather.

The sun was definitely out for this race. At the finish it was 70+ degrees with full sun and a slight cross wind. There was a little shade on the route, but not a lot. I am not much of a warm weather running and today reaffirmed that for me.

The start.

Nikki and I carpooled to Old Town Alexandria this morning. We arrived at 6:30am for an 8am start, and barely made it to the start line. The race is a point-to-point from Mount Vernon to Old Town. Pacers provides bus services from Old Town, Pentagon City, and Eisenhower Avenue.

Buses started at 5:30am and the last bus was leaving at 7am. We waited in line to board the bus for about an hour and 10 minutes. Besides the waiting, the bus ride out was uneventful. Nikki did meet a very chatty line stander that kept the waiting in line interesting.

If we would have planned appropriately, we could have gotten to Mount Vernon in time to go to the bathroom and get some of the goodies. Pacers provided heat sheets, bagels, and fruit. Unfortunately, Nikki and I arrived in Mount Vernon at 7:55am. I bolted to the port-a-potties. Nikki and I, then, navigated through the mass of people to the starting corral. It was very hectic! People everywhere. The starting area was confusing. We weren't sure which way to go for anything. Nikki had done the race before so she knew the corral set up. Nikki and I got into a self-seeded corral, not the right one, but close enough considering we were running so late.

Next time, we will get to Old Town for the bus no later than 6am.

The course.

The course is amazing! It is a net loss in elevation. From Mount Vernon, the first mile is downhill, then you get into about four miles of gentle rolling hills, and then more downhills. There are two short climbs in the last miles once you get into Old Town.

The course is almost completely on GW Parkway. Lots of trees and a run along the river. It is a beautiful course and would be great for a PR, just not my PR on this particular day. Curse the spring weather! (Only on a race day when I am not yet acclimated to the heat, any of day, yes and please.)

The support.

Since it was on GW Parkway, there were limited access points for spectators. Everywhere a road met up with the parkway, there was a small group cheering on family and friends. Water and electrolyte drink were available about every two miles on the course along with some port-a-potties. I don't mind running a race with little crowd support.

The finish.

Like many Pacers events, this was a well-oiled machine until the end. Crossing the finish line, I was immediately handed a bottle of water and my finisher medal. Runners proceeded to the food boxes that included chips, a granola bar, craisins, Nuun tablet, chocolate square, and some blueberry cracker things. I would have taken a photo, but I ate it. Immediately.

Nikki and I met at the medical tent, just because it is easy to spot. We went to get a bagel and banana. Bagel obtained. Bananas gone. I was surprised that there were no bananas left. I am slow, but not that slow.

There was music and a beer tent to cash in the ticket from the bib. I don't drink beer, so Nikki and I avoided that line. But, we did hang out at the park and watched the sail boats while I devoured the food we were given.

My take.

Despite being my "A" race and a plan to PR, it didn't happen. I am blaming the weather. This was the course to do it and I trust my training. I would do the race again, but definitely would get there much earlier so I wouldn't be rushed at the start line.

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