[personal profile] runthisway
Oveview: The Rose Bowl 5K would have been lovely, but it was overshadowed by a lot of logistical and organizational issues. Hopefully they can clean these up in future years.

When: January 22, 2012

Where: the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena.

Course access: They run shuttles to the Rose Bowl for games...but not for races, apparently. Pasadena Transit doesn't run in the mornings, either. The closest bus was the 267 on Lincoln and Orange Grove. To get to the race I ended up taking the Gold Line to Memorial Park and then grabbing a taxi for about $12.
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Number of Participants: 309 in the 5K; 330 in the 10K; 716 in the half-marathon (all sharing the same facilities)

Pre-race: NO NO NO. They had the most disorganized, inefficient setup I'd ever seen at a race. Packet pickup took close to an hour. The volunteers who were working in the booth seemed to be a bit clueless--some weren't handing out goody bags; some neglected to tell the racers where they'd stashed the timing chips; some were mumbling and contradicting themselves.

There was a kerfluffle with the T-shirts, too: they ran out of certain sizes, and then the shirts altogether, in the booth. All they could offer me was a small, and with my Dolly Parton build, that wasn't going to work. I asked if they had men's shirts. They didn't. They offered to send me a shirt later, but given the gross incompetency I'd seen, I wasn't sure I trusted them to actually do it. I took the small shirt, figured I could give it away, and moved on.

Just to the left of the booth was a table with a stack of shirts, both men's and women's, in various sizes. Why exactly didn't they have these shirts in the booth? It will forever be a mystery. At any rate, I was able to exchange my small shirt for a larger size on the spot.

Course: Around the Rose Bowl, in a loop. Flat and fast, for the most part. However, the race organizers did absolutely nothing to keep the course clear of non-registered runners. As a result, runners had to dodge joggers with dogs, random people dipping in and out of the course, and at one point, an asshat running backward.

The race did not have a gun start or any sort of countdown: when people started moving across the start line, a lot of runners were bewildered and taken off-guard.

The saving graces of the Rose Bowl 5K were the finish, which took runners right into the stadium and onto the football field; and the other participants. The 5K, 10K and Half-Marathon shared the same finish line, and the announcer did a great job of congratulating everyone as they came in. There was a lot of support: as runners went through the chute at the end of the race, those who had already finished shouted encouraging words and cheered for them. I was buoyed up by a man who yelled "FINISH STRONG!" Runners were allowed to sit in the Rose Bowl seats, walk across the field and take photos, all of which were really cool.

Runners: A very diverse cross-section of adults and youth. There was a lot of camaraderie and there were also a lot of runners who stood around complaining and commiserating with each other. They cheered for random strangers at the finish line!

Shirt: The shirt was just gorgeous. It was the prettiest one I've ever received at a race: a shiny, technical short sleeved shirt in a women's cut in a very dark maroon color. Additionally, the back had the Rose Bowl and Pacific Sports emblems, and that was it. It was nice to get a shirt that did not have a zillion and one advertising logos plastered across the back. I know they're necessary to fund the races, but it was still nice to get a respite from them. Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Swag: A gift bag with some coupons and energy bars. They had a very pretty Half-Marathon medal but nothing for the 5K. *shrug* They didn't advertise a medal, so no worries there.

Expo: Very, very small.

Would I Run This Race Again? No...not for a little while, anyway. The disorganization at the start, plus the issues on the course, really detracted from the race. However, I'm hopefully going to check in with this event again in a few years to see if things have improved. Once everything is in order, the Rose Bowl 5K is going to rock.

Note: my review of the Rose Bowl 5K was also posted on Race Grader in an edited form.

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