Apr. 20th, 2015

Overview:  A friendly, low-key event in El Segundo, which has a well-deserved reputation for being the "Mayberry" of Los Angeles. It's a slice of small-town America that happens to be in Southern California! Unfortunately, this race was not as well executed in 2015 as it was in 2014.

When: March 26, 2015.

Where:
El Segundo, starting in front of the High School on Main Street.

Course access: Beach Cities Transit bus #109 came close to the start line. The Green Line El Segundo and Mariposa stations were also about 1.5 miles away.

Why: The race is a major fundraiser for El Segundo's public schools.
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Number of Participants: 1223 finishers in the 5K; 134 finishers in the 10K. These numbers were slightly down from last year.

Pre-race:  Packet Pickup was held on Thursday and Friday at a local athletic club; runners and walkers could also pick up their stuff on the morning of the race. PPU was fast, friendly and efficient.

Course: The race started and ended on Main Street in front of the High School and park. The course led runners through both residential and industrial areas in El Segundo.

The major con on this year's course: the students. Schools in El Segundo encourage their students to participate in this race, and they do, in droves. Unfortunately, many of them have not yet learned race etiquette, and being on the course with the kids was a bit of a nightmare at times. I was behind a group of preteen girls who were throwing water on each other, and thus making the course slippery for anyone behind them. Not cool at all.

Post-Race Food: Unfortunately, the race followed the unacceptable trend of not feeding the runners. Nothing. No bananas, no bagels, nada.

Expo: There was an expo in the park next to the library, and across from the El Segundo High School, which featured mostly local businesses and organizations.

Chip timing: Yes, with chips on the bib, by Racewire. The snafu this year was that the chip timing didn't seem to work - the time reported was the clock time.

Shirt: A retro logo on a hunter green t-shirt, very similar to 2014's design.

Swag: Unlike last year, there weren't any goodie bags. Runners received a drawstring bag and a finisher medal. Unfortunately the medal wasn't quite as nice as the 2014 edition, but was still appreciated.



Would I Run this Race Again: Yes, but I hope that they return to their 2014 form.
Overview:  A race themed to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim major league baseball team, endorsed by the Angels. This year's event was marred by subpar customer service, but was still wonderful.

When: April 11, 2015

Where:
In and around Angels Stadium in Anaheim.

Course access: Luckily, the Amtrak/Metrolink station for Anaheim is in the stadium parking lot. Just as luckily, Amtrak ran a 6:15 train from Union Station, and I believe there was a very early train coming up from San Diego, as well.

Why:The race provides funds for the Angels Baseball Foundation, which does community outreach.

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Number of Participants: 4461 finishers; almost one thousand more than last year!

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available on either Friday or on Saturday morning before the race. I don't know if they had the ushers or the Angels booster club working packet pickup on race morning, but whoever it was, they were incredibly nasty and rude. The older woman who helped me actually raised her voice at me. It was not a good way to start the morning, and it was a reminder that the Angels quite desperately need to get better customer service professionals working for them.

The T-shirt drop and voucher exchange lines were staffed by regular volunteers, and they were sweet and polite.

Angels pitcher Hector Santiago was on hand to do a short Q&A before the race and to present medals to the top finishers. Considering that he had pitched 6.1 innings the night before, it was incredibly nice of him to show up so early in the morning!

Course: The course was flat and fast, winding through the streets around the stadium. There were some cutouts of current Angels players around the parking lot for photo ops. The big draw with this race was that the course also went into the stadium and onto the field. Runners got to go all the way around the warning track from the 3rd base line, past home plate and the dugouts, and out again through the 1st base side. Runners were allowed to explore the visitors' dugout and were shown on the scoreboard video screen.

This year the ushers guarding the field were somewhat unpleasant, and did not allow runners to take photos in front of home plate. They also tried to keep prodding runners along at other points. I wasn't happy about that. Surely they understand that being on the warning track is the highlight of the event and a major thing for Angels fans, and that they will want photos, right? 

Chip timing: Yes, with a souvenir shoe tag.

Post-course food:  *sigh* I'm really not liking this whole trend of not feeding the runners. They did appear to have bananas, but not enough to last.

Shirt: Very similar to last year's: a shiny red tech shirt with the Angels Fun Run logo in one corner.



Swag: A voucher for an Angels game and an awesome spinner medal. Pre-registered runners got a ticket to that night's game, but were able to exchange it for a coupon for a future game without any hassle at all.


Expo: Large, with a lot of swag. Items available at the Expo included Body Armour drink samples (the official sports drink of the Angels, championed by Mike Trout), dental kits, lymphoma awareness wristbands, pens,

Grade: B, due to rude ushers and staff and lack of food for the runners. 

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes! It was well organized and lots of fun. Next year just use regular volunteers and drop the rude Angels ushers/boosters, though, please.

Overview: The inaugural music-themed Sunset Strip Half-Marathon/5K gave runners an opportunity to run along --as the name would suggest -- the Sunset Strip in the heart of West Hollywood. The race was impressive, particularly for an inaugural event.

When: April 19, 2015

Where:
West Hollywood, starting and ending in the park next to the Library.

Course access: Bus service around WeHo was a bit screwed up by the street closures; the closest ones were the Metro 4 and 16, both of which were re-routed to go along 3rd St. 

Why:The race provides funds for the House of Blues Music Forward Foundation.

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Number of Participants: 575 5K finishers; 1729 Half-Marathon finishers.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available on either Saturday or on race morning. One confusing thing was that the informational email indicated was that the packet pickup would close at 6:45am -- but the 5K didn't start until 7:30. A second disappointment was that they seemed to be running out of various sizes of race t-shirts early on. Despite these two issues, packet pickup was smooth, and the volunteers were nice as can be. 

Course: For the 5K, the course was an out and back from San Vincente to Sunset. The hill on San Vicente was extremely challenging, but as the race announcer said, at least it was at the start, and not the finish! The course went past numerous Sunset Strip landmarks, including the Whisky-a-Go-Go, the Viper Room, the House of Blues, Saddleback Ranch and Book Soup. There were numerous informational placards along the course that gave fun facts about various hotels and other buildings.

The course was well staffed with volunteers, who made sure the 5Kers knew where their course split from the Half-Marathon and turned around; and there were two fluid stations with water and Gatorade.

Timing: By Westtime, with disposable shoe D-tags. Finish line clock. Mile markers for Half; none for 5K.

Post-course food:  Yay! Runners were offered Gatorade cans, water, Kind bars, bananas, and bagels. There was also a beer garden and runners were entitled to a free drink. I didn't take advantage of that.

Shirt: A lovely long-sleeved, two-toned tech shirt. No logos! Whoo!

Swag: Great medals for both the 5K and Half.



Expo: Just a few things here and there, mostly sporting goods companies.

Would I Run this Race Again: Absolutely! I was very impressed by how organized, efficient, friendly and well-run this event was. This is what a race should be like!

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