Sep. 11th, 2016

Overview:  A friendly, fun and uniquely Los Angeles race.

The cool twist to We Run the City is that you raise money for either Team UCLA or Team USC. For those who don't live in Los Angeles, these two colleges have a bit of a rivalry, to put it very, very mildly. When you sign up, you're given an opportunity to choose which school you'd like to represent. It's not necessary to be an alumn or student; you just pick a side.Whichever school raises the most money for the Special Olympics gets to keep a trophy for the year.

Both schools' colors are represented on the bibs, logos and medals. The race switches campuses every year; in 2015 it was hosted by USC so 2016 will be UCLA's turn.

When: November 22, 2015

Exposition Park, right across the street from the USC campus.

Course access: Among other lines, Metro's Rapid 754 runs on Vermont Avenue and the local Metro 102 runs along Exposition.  There's also a DASH line alone Exposition. However, the easiest course access for most is the Expo Line Metro train, which has stops at Expo Park/USC and Expo/Vermont, both of which are right across the street from Exposition Park.

Why:The race raises money for Special Olympics Southern California. Runners are able to fundraise above their race registration fee, if they wish.


Number of Participants: A lot! USC won the prize for the most registrants. _

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available for two days before the race at Sport Chalet locations. Packet pickup on race morning was fast and stress-free, however. There were enough volunteers to handle everyone. 

Course: Totally contained within Exposition Park, which had to be a relief for local drivers and bus routes. Participants took a winding path through Expo Park, going past all the museums and venues therein. It was flat and fast, with several water stops and on-course entertainment from cheerleaders. 

Chip timing: Yes, on the bib.

Post-course food:  Yes, water and food were provided to the runners.

Shirt: The shirt you received depended on whether you signed on` with Team UCLA or Team USC. The design was identical for both, but shirts were in their respective schools' colors: crimson and gold for USC; light blue and gold for UCLA. Many people came to the race showing their school pride with shirts, hats, signs, and even Bruin and Tommy Trojan gear.

Note: Yes, I chose Team USC. When I run this race again I intend to choose UCLA. I'm Switzerland over here; totally neutral.

Swag: A lovely cut-out medal which again incorporated both schools' logos and colors.

Expo: Small, but with some interesting booths. Most awesome: Coca-Cola, who was not only giving out free soda, but was also giving participants leftover swag from the Special Olympics World Games, which took place in LA in summer 2015. Runners could spin the wheel and walk away with a World Games pin, backpack or other goodies.

Grade: A!

Would I Run this Race Again: Absolutely! I'm looking forward to it, in fact.

Overview:  A race themed to Dia de los Muertos in Downtown Los Angeles.

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a huge tradition in Mexico as well as many parts of the Southwestern USA, including Los Angeles. It's a time to remember and pay respect to one's deceased loved ones with altars that not only pay tribute, but share life stories, among other traditions. In Los Angeles, people of all ethnic backgrounds and religions honor Dia de los Muertos in one way or another or attend events.

When: October 31, 2015

Olvera Street, El Pueblo de Los Angeles National Monument, and numerous museums and historic sites and many Mexican shops and restaurants. Olvera Street hosts Mexican cultural events throughout the year, such as altars for Dia de los Muertos, multi-night processions for Dia de Los Muertos and Christmas, and Aztec dancers. 

Course access: Olvera Street is across Alameda St. from Union Station. One can't ask for it to be any easier than this. The Metro Rail Gold, Red and Purple lines stop at Union Station; so do Metrolink and Amtrak trains; BoltBus and Megabus, the Silver Line, and numerous bus lines from Metro, BIg Blue Bus and other carriers. Major lines that stop at Union Station include the Silver Line, Metro Rapid 704 and 733; Big Blue Bus's Rapid 10 (during the week only) and Foothill Transit's Silver Streak.

Why: Proceeds to the Olvera Street Merchants Association Foundation.

Number of Participants: Unclear, but roughly 4000. Chip timing was optional, so there wasn't any final count of participants.

Pre-race: Aztec dancers performed before the race began. There was also a runners' altar, and participants were invited to bring items for it.

Packet pickup was available for several days at a festival, but was also open on race morning. It was fast and painless.

Course: An out and back course down Main Street into Chinatown, and then over one of the bridges. Along the way there were Mexican dancers and mariachi bands performing.

Chip timing: Totally optional, and available with an extra charge.

Post-course food:  Yes, water and food were provided to the runners.They had animal crackers in cups, which was ridiculously fun. I was hoping for some Dia de Los Muertos food...something with sugar skulls, perhaps; or Pan de los Muertos, but alas, no. I suppose it's not totally necessary; Olvera Street is right there and they have fantastic Mexican restaurants and bakeries. 

Shirt: Blue cotton Day of the Dead-themed shirt with calacas (skeletons) running down Olvera Street. NO ads!! :D 

Swag: GORGEOUS finishers' medal with a calavera with gems. 

Expo:  Not really. There were a handful of booths in the square, but not a lot.

Grade: A!

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes! 

Overview: One of Los Angeles's mega-races returned for another Halloween event. Sadly, while Rock N' Roll is doing another half-marathon in 2016, as of right now, the 5K appears to be gone. I'm disappointed by that, but I'm glad I had a chance to participate in the 5K in 2014 and 2015.

When: October 25, 2015.

Downtown LA. The race began and ended in the LA Live/Staples Center area. .

Course access:  Easy as pie. The Pico station on the Blue/Expo lines was a two-minute walk. There were also a lot of buses in the area, since it was Downtown LA and all. 

Why: The ASPCA.

Number of Participants: 1561 finishers in the 5K; 7797 in the half-marathon.

Pre-race:  This race had one of the things I hate most; a mandatory packet pickup the day before. The PPU was at the expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and it ran both Friday and Saturday. There wasn't a line and it was fast and seamless. The expo had some interesting booths, and the ASPCA had a huge, and very welcome, presence.

Course: Through Downtown LA, along Figueroa toward USC and the Coliseum, and back. 

Post-Race:  Runners picked up their medals and then walked through a "sterile area" where they could get food and drink. Water, Powerade and chocolate milk were all available, as were energy bars, chips and fruit. The area was set up in such a way that only runners had access to the food, which was very welcome. After leaving the finishing area, runners could cross over to the LA Live area where there were several booths with freebies, a shop, and a stage for the concert. There was also a beer garden for those who wanted to indulge at 9am. Each runner received a ticket for a free beer with their bib. I passed on this.

2015's cute freebie was a little custom-printed 45 record with your name on it.

Chip timing: A disposable shoe tag. There were mile markers and a finish line clock.

Shirt:  5K participants got a green Brooks tech shirt with Frankenstein's monster, bats, a vampire and some other ghoulish figures. The half-marathon version was black. 

Swag: A cute 'lil jack-o'lantern with "LA " cutouts for his eyes. The half-marathon medal was the same design, but was larger and had a green ribbon. There were all sorts of complaints online about this medal; I don't understand why because I thought it was adorable.

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes!

Overview: One of Los Angeles's oldest and most beloved races, the Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run celebrated its 38th year in 2015, with a new course.

: December 5, 2015.

As the race name would suggest, Santa Monica and Venice. 

Course access:  The start line was accessible from the Big Blue Bus #1 down Main Street or the BBB #3 to Pico and 4th. The finish line at Windward Circle was close to the BB #1 again.

Why: Harvest Home for women and babies.

Number of Participants: 1977 finishers in the 5K; 2363 in the 10K.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available before the race; everything was fast and painless.

Course: The 2015 race had a brand-new course. As before, both the 5K and 10K started at Barnard Way in Santa Monica, adjacent to the beach. However, instead of being an out-and-back, the course wound through local streets, went on the Venice Boardwalk for a bit, and then went back through Venice before finishing at the Venice Pavilion/Windward Circle.

My pet peeve from 2014 remained the same: the section on the Venice Boardwalk was not closed. This meant that runners had to dodge street vendors, vagrants, tourists, skateboarders and cyclists as they were trying to complete the race. I know it's unrealistic to expect the Boardwalk to be closed, but the opposite isn't fair, either. If a runner had been at the back of the pack, they would have been totally confused about where to go, since nothing was closed or marked off.

However, thankfully, there was less boardwalk in 2015, and we seemed to hit it earlier in the day.

Post-Race:  Water and fruit; better than last year.

Chip timing: Shoe tags by Gemini Timing.

Shirt:  Once again, the SMVCR had the best shirt in racing: a long-sleeved red tech shirt with Santa Claus running under the famous VENICE sign.

Swag: A lovely, glittery medal that was shaped like a snow globe, with the same "Santa in Venice" art as the shirt.

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes!!

Overview: A Memorial Day race benefiting veterans.

: May 30, 2016.

West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Campus. This race is actually one of only a few still permitted to take place at WLAVAC. About a year and a half ago, the campus was closed to all activities except those that directly benefit veterans. As a result, some races that had taken place on the campus for many years, such as the LA Cancer Challenge, were forced to find new courses.

Course access:  Walking distance from buses on Wilshire Blvd, including the Metro Rapid 720.

Why: New Directions for Veterans, which assists homeless veterans in the Los Angeles area with several different programs designed to address their needs.

Number of Participants: 321 finishers in the 5K.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available before the race; everything was fast and painless.

Course: Around the older part of the WLAVC, past the administrative buildings and parkland. Unlike other races I've done at the campus, this one did not cross Wilshire to the more "modern" and active part of the facility; it stayed in the older section. Participants did the same loop twice. It was slightly hilly, but not too bad.

Post-Race:  Water and fruit.

Chip timing: Bib tags by Chronotrack.

Shirt:  Dark blue cotton t-shirts. Unfortunately, they seemed to fun out of sizes very quickly.

Swag: A medal with a satin Stars-and-Stripes motif and a pair of black combat boots.

Expo: This 5K actually had an expo that outdid some much larger races' events. Among the most welcome booths were one giving away lots of free coffee and another giving away whimsical plastic ducks. There were several booths advertising products and services for veterans.

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes.

Overview: The Angels' official 5K returned for another strong year. Special props to Angels' starting pitcher Hector Santiago, who not only got up at the crack of dawn for a Q&A before the race, but stuck around for over an hour afterward to give out medals and pose for photos with fans. Hector's wonderful! The Angels traded him to the Twins over the summer (BOOOOOO) and I'm sure I am not the only fan who thinks that his gracious, kind spirit will be sorely missed around Angels Stadium.

When: April 9, 2016

In and around Angels Stadium in Anaheim.

Course access: Was a bit wonky this year. Technically, the Amtrak/Metrolink station is right at the edge of the Angels Stadium parking lot, so it should have conceivably been easy to access the 5K, as it was in 2014 and 2015. Alas, Metrolink decided to do track work this weekend, and as a result, there were no trains at all to or from Anaheim. Amtrak did not replace the 6:15 am train with a shuttle bus, so if one didn't have access to a car or rideshare, they were not going to get to the race. I ended up taking an Uber.

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

Number of Participants: 3677 finishers.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available on either Friday or on Saturday morning before the race. It was painless; the issues they had with rude staff last year were nonexistent this time around.

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.

What made this better than last year is that the ushers did not try to rush or shoo participants out of the stadium, as they did in 2015. That's important. Most people are not going to have many chances to walk on the warning track and past home plate in a Major League Baseball stadium...that moment is important.

Chip timing: Yes, with chips on the bib.

Shirt: The 5K shirt has not varied from year to year, for the most part. It's still an awesome tech fabric t-shirt with the race logo in the upper left.

Swag: A voucher for a ticket for a future Angels game (participants could choose among several dates) and a wonderful medal. For the second year in a row, the medal was a spinner! This time, the spinning component was an Angels baseball jersey that had the team name on the front, as per usual, and "5K" on the back.

Expo: Once again, the Angels 5K has a pretty sweet expo, with lots of stuff. :) 

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes! I am glad they worked out the issues from 2015.

Overview: A small, friendly 5K sponsored by Pepperdine University's 

When: January 23. 2016

Dockweiler State Beach near LAX.

Course access: Dockweiler is one of those places that seems as though it should be very easy to access, but is not. There's no direct bus to the beach, and the nearest mass transit stops several miles away. Rideshares, bikes or cars rule the day here.

Why: The race races money for Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology's initiatives to help foster care youth in Los Angeles County.

Number of Participants: I cannot find results anywhere, but this seemed to be a smaller race. I'd estimate it at 500 participants or less.

Pre-race: Painless packet pickup on race morning.

Course: An out and back along the flat, fast Vista del Mar. The course ran parallel to the Pacific Ocean, so runners and walkers were treated to wonderful ocean views and breezes for the entire race. There were ample water stops and the course was clearly delineated, with no problems crossing the parking lot. However, I did not notice mile markers or clocks along the route.


Chip timing: This is going to sound awful, but I honestly don't recall.

Shirt: Cotton t-shirt with the race name.

Swag: A great medal.

Expo: They had a small but mighty expo, with some really interesting booths from disparate companies, like Equinox gyms and US Bank. 

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes! This small, friendly race was a great way to start 2016.

Overview: The Santa Monica Classic returned for another strong year. The race was sold out for 2016!

The Santa Monica Classic now appears to be affiliated/run by Conqur Endurance Group. There was a "Triple 5K Tour of LA" challenge being offered: if participants complete the Santa Monica Classic, the Pasadena Rose Bowl 5K in January and the Big LA 5K in March, they can earn a special medal. There also seemed to be a special challenge/division for high school athletes.

When: September 11, 2016.

Where: Santa Monica.

Course access: The start line was on Barnard Way between Pico and Ocean Park Boulevards, close to several Big Blue Bus lines, including the 1 on Main Street and the 3 (Pico and 4th stop) and Rapid 3 (Pico and Lincoln stop).

Why: This year the race raised funds for Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica, the YMCA, Malibu High School Booster Club, and Santa Monica High School's Viking Fund Athletic Booster Club.

Number of Participants: 1288 finishers in the 5K; 2600 + in the 10K.

Pre-race: Good communication and final race instructions from the race directors answered all questions. There was packet pickup available at the Buy Local Festival in Santa Monica on Saturday, but pickup on race day was fine. They had plenty of volunteers and lines were short.

Course: The course did not change from 2015. Runners started at the beach but quickly made a few turns and ended up on Main Street. They continued on Main Street to Colorado, turned left, and completed the last mile or so on Ocean. The finish line for both the 5 and 10K was adjacent to the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier.

There was one water station, toward Mile 2.

My beef with the course was that the 10K started only a half hour after the 5K, and the back of the 5K pack was shunted all the way over to one side to make way for the 10K leaders. In two cases this was especially problematic: the side of the street that the 5Ks were expected to stay on was opposite both the water station and the 5K turnaround. In order to make the turnaround, 5Kers actually had to cut through the stream of 10K runners.

Timing: Tag on the bib with timing by Spectrum. Individual results were emailed shortly after the end of the race.

Post-course food: Bagels, bananas and water. Kaiser Permanente had an additional table at the Pier and was providing more fruit; Clif was handing out Clif bars and there were other beverages available from vendors.

Shirt: The Santa Monica Classic likes to keep things simple and, yes, classic, with clean lines and designs. The 2016 tech shirt lived up to previous years, with a deep teal color and stylized waves. The race considers these to be "finishers' shirts," and you can only pick them up at the expo on the Pier after the race. That means that yes, after your 5K or 10K, you get to schlep all the way down to the Pier and back...

Swag: A well-designed medal with palm trees, a wave, Ferris wheel and the Santa Monica Pier sign.

Expo: Pretty small, but had some nice tables. Kaiser Permanente had a large presence this year, and handed out reusable bags to runners as they entered the Expo. Best of all, for me, were the numerous tables for other local races, including the Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run. Signing up at the Expo saved quite a bit off the online price with processing.

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes.


Run This Way: A Blog

December 2016

2526 2728293031

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags