A shining example of how to run a large race. VfV is a fun, friendly and really well organized event!
On a personal note, it was really heartwarming to me to witness the turnout and supportive nature of the participants. Sexual abuse and rape are horrific experiences, there's a lot of victim-blaming out there, and it can all isolate a survivor. Seeing the community come together to not only acknowledge abuse but to actively support survivors, acknowledge their trauma and raise funds to help them, was inspiring and wonderful. When:
April 15, 2012.Where:
Lake Balboa Park in Encino in the San Fernando Valley.Why:
The event raises money for CATS, or the Center for Assault Treatment Services
at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. It is the Valley and Santa Clarita's only 24/7 program for sexual abuse victims. CATS provides supportive services ranging from offering victim advocates at forensic examinations to counseling and other outreach activities.Course Access:
The race was a five-minute walk--if that--from the Woodley station on Metro's Orange Line Busway. Extra points: CATS mentioned this on their website's "directions" page! :)
_________Number of Participants:
1786 in total. There were 1225 participants in the 5K and 561 in the 10K. The announcer mentioned that the 2012 event broke previous attendance records.Pre-race:
VfV had a lot of tables set up for packet pickup. Here, again, were really good examples of how to troubleshoot and manage a huge race. The check-in was next to the help desk was next to the goodie bag/shirt pickup was next to the bag check. You could float from one table to the next in order, instead of wandering around, trying to find each thing you needed.
For some reason my bib was not there. No problem. They had me fill out a bubble scan sheet, they handed me a new bib and chip, and by the end of the race, they'd matched it up to my existing registration information and verified me. Smooth, painless and stress-free. A representative from Prime Time was waiting by the Finish Line to verify information. That, my friends, is how the pros handle problems...bravo CATS and Prime Time.
Another nice thing was that the Expo and the food tent were open before
the race. This made it possible for us early risers and long commuters to get some nourishment before setting off on our run. Runners:
The runners and walkers were very diverse. Men, women, children; people with dogs (boooo. I am not in favor of dogs on race courses for various reasons), women with jogging strollers, hardcore runners, leisurely walkers. A fair majority of people were walking.Course:
This was perhaps one of the most picturesque courses I'd ever run. It wound around bucolic Lake Balboa park, so the scenery included the lake, waterfalls, a stream, ducks, and beautiful park.
My only issue with the course was that in a lot of places, it was way too narrow. There was at least one point where there was a significant bottleneck, and runners who were trying to do a competitive race ended up actually running in the mud to get around the walkers. Any time you needed to pass someone, you had to do that. This might be remedied in the future by making sure runners and fast walkers are in corrals at the front.Chip Timing:
Yes, with a standard shoe tag. At the end of the race they even had buckets you could stand on so a volunteer could cut your tag off for you. Mile markers were present; split times were not. There was a clock at the finish.Shirt:
A white shirt with the CATS logo and purple ribbon. A little cluttered, but cute. The CATS' logo is a child's drawing of a cat. For this event, they give the cat some red running shoes. Adorable.Swag:
I was somewhat stunned--in a good way--by the amount of truly useful stuff I brought home from this race. There were two goody bags
which included things ranging from a band-aid holder (still in my purse, and very handy) to a can of healthy cream soda a really high quality pair of gloves.
The race also offered a very cute finishers' medal with a border of bronze stars and a center with the sneakered CATS cat on a purple background. The purple medal ribbon can be detached from the medal for use as a lanyard, if desired.Expo:
The Expo was especially interesting because it included a lot of businesses and groups that were local to the Valley. Some had to do with counseling and other health services; some were food companies I'd never seen at any other race. Everest College, in Reseda, sent out an entire team of massage therapists to offer free table massages. And let me tell you, those MTs were good
at what they did; in less than five minutes they'd worked out the kinks in my legs. In less than 15 I was feeling much more relaxed and pain free. There were tons and tons of freebies ranging from bracelets to orange juice. Panera, El Toro and Ben & Jerry's, among others, were on hand to give out free snacks. Would I Run this Race Again? Yes, in a hot second. This was a fantastic event for a worthwhile cause. I am already looking forward to the 2013 race.