When: September 25, 2011

Where: Near Sepulveda Boulevard and La Tijera Boulevard, a stone's throw from LAX.

Why: Alive & Running raises money for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, which runs a leading Suicide Prevention Center and hotline.

Course access: The start/finish area was close to Sepulveda and Manchester Avenue, where several major bus lines were represented. Big Blue Bus 3, Culver CityBus 6 and Metro locals 42 and 115 all stopped on the corner.
Number of Participants: 912

Pre-race: Fast check-in, but somewhat rude volunteers. They had several special memorials for victims of suicide.

Runners: Lots of families. I think some of the children who disrupted the Race for Success in May returned for this race. This was another event where kids were weaving in and out of the course and generally acting awful.

Course: A flat, fast, out and back run parallel to LAX. Since the airport was literally right next door, there were up close and personal views of landing planes, but there weren't a lot of other things to see.

Chip timing: Yes, with shoe tags. There were clocks at the turnaround and finish.

Shirt: A periwinkle blue short-sleeved T-shirt with the Alive & Running logo. I thought it was very nice looking.
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Swag: Alive & Running bracelets.

Expo: Very small, but included free Jamba Juice and snow cones. Quality over quantity? :)

Would I Do This Race Again? Maybe. It was nothing special; it was nothing awful. I really like the idea of supporting Didi Hirsch, but I think I'd do so without participating in this event again. Or maybe I'd volunteer instead of running. It was honestly kind of boring.

Overview: One of the largest walks for women's cancer research and awareness, this event, held in both New York and Los Angeles, draws crowds in the 40,000 range. Despite the hordes of people, it's reasonably smoothly run, friendly, and enjoyable.

When: May 7, 2011.

Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, venue for the 1932 and 1984 Olympics.

Why: The walk raises money for the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The EIF is nearly 70 years old and funds major initiatives for cancer and diabetes treatment, awareness and research, among other projects.

Course access: The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was served by numerous Metro bus lines. Metro 40 and 42 ran along MLK Jr. Boulevard; the local 204, the Rapid 740 and 754 and two different DASH lines traveled along Vermont. When the Expo line opens, the Coliseum will be within walking distance of the Exposition Park stop.
Number of Participants: About 30,000. Yes, you read that correctly.

Pre-race: EIF had a number of packet pick-up locations off site, so the crunch at the event wasn't severe. One thing I noticed, and thought was ridiculous: the check-in volunteers did not have rosters, so they needed the registration emails before they would issue bibs. I saw a lot of runners and walkers frantically scrambling to find copies of the registration emails on their smart phones.

While it is a really good idea to print out your confirmation email and bring it with you, it's a bad idea to make it the only proof of registration. There should have been a list to check names against, as there has been at every other race I've ever attended. How did they even know who showed up and who didn't, without a list?

Runners: Women of all ages, shapes and sizes were well represented, as were cancer survivors. Men, families and older individuals and friends were also present. There were large contingents of fundraising and company groups, tribute groups, etc. While there are a handful of serious runners, this is really an event for walkers. The course was very crowded and everyone moved at a leisurely pace. It was a day to have fun, not to try to beat the clock.

Chip Timing: None. This was really a fun run/walk, with the majority of participants choosing to do the latter.

Shirt: A white shirt with red EIF/Revlon logo and lettering. Nothing to write home about, in all honesty. They're having a shirt artwork contest this year, so hopefully the 2012 offering will be an improvement.

Swag: A goody bag with some coupons, little giveaways and a full sized pink Revlon lip gloss or lipstick. Every finisher got a gold medal on a red ribbon. Now, being in the Olympic stadium and getting a gold could enjoy that. :) There were also special gifts for cancer survivors, including colorful hats at the start line, roses at the finish, and a photo tent.

Expo: Lots of health awareness companies, hospitals and cancer foundations came to the Revlon Walk, as well as some other fun and interesting vendors. There was a pink fire truck, too. :)

Would I Run this Race Again? Yes!

Overview: Run for Her is a mega-event that supports ovarian cancer awareness and treatment. Unlike the EIF Revlon Walk or Komen, Run for Her is a homegrown Los Angeles affair that raises money specifically for a major LA hospital, Cedars Sinai. This endears me to Run for Her in a major way. It is efficiently organized, has a very friendly, laid-back vibe, and is extremely enjoyable.

When: November 13, 2011

Where: Pan Pacific Park, near the Grove.

Why: Run for Her raises money for Cedars-Sinai Women's Cancer Program at The Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute--specifically for ovarian cancer research, awareness and treatment.

Course Access: Metro buses that ran along or stopped near Fairfax and Beverly included the local 14, 217 and 218, the Rapid 780 and the DASH Fairfax. The DASH and the Metro local 16/316 also ran along 3rd St. at the bottom of Pan Pacific Park. The bottom line was that even with the street closures in place for the race, there was some accessible mass transit both before and after the event.
Number of Participants: 1155. Not all participants chose to be timed. They participated in the Friendship Walk. In fact, a majority probably did not.

Pre-Race: In addition to the regular race numbers, Run for Her offered special tribute bibs. Participants could write their loved ones' names on these bibs and carry them through the race.

Course: Surface streets from the Pan Pacific Park (near The Grove) to Cedars-Sinai Hospital and back. Mostly flat, lots of views of urban Los Angeles, and perhaps one of the fun things was being able to cavort down the street without cars!

Runners: This was a huge, huge race with participants of every shape, size, gender and age. As there was a focus on ovarian cancer awareness and treatment with RfH, there were a lot of cancer survivors and patients. There were also many teams, banners, signs and custom shirts on display. Run for Her is called a run, but most participants were in it to walk; not to achieve PRs. There were thousands and thousands of participants, so the course was incredibly crowded. Everyone was good natured and seemed to be having fun.

Shirt: They had two: teal with white lettering and the Run for Her logo; and the reverse--white with teal lettering. The teal shirts seemed to be much more popular, and for good reason.
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Swag: There was a lovely drawstring bag full of goodies, including socks. :)

Expo: Run for Her had a very lively finish line festival with vendors, freebies, entertainment (including a flash mob!) and areas to sit and chat. There was a wall where you could write tributes for your loved ones. The finish line festival was so popular that the race offered a special category called "Sleepwalkers" for those who didn't want to walk the 5K but wanted to donate. They got special shirts and goody bags and were able to come to the Festival. I saw many of them walking around!

Would I Do This Race Again? Without a doubt, yes!
Overview: A popular race in Westchester/Playa del Rey, Race for Success draws a strong local crowd. It was organized well enough, but the rude runners detracted from the event for me.

When: May 21, 2011

Where: The campus of Loyola Marymount University in Westchester, near LAX.

Course access: The Big Blue Bus #3 stopped outside Loyola Marymount; from there it was a 15 minute walk to the start area. There weren't any signs marking the path for pedestrians.

Why: Race for Success is a fundraiser for area schools.
Number of Participants: 668

Pre-race: The packet pickup was held at the Howard Hughes Promenade near Culver City.

Course:A loop around LMU. The campus was lush and green and fairly pretty; at one point the course took us onto a bluff overlooking Playa Vista and Playa del Rey, and the views were spectacular.

Runners: Race for Success attracted a crowd that is primarily comprised of families with children. The race raised money for Westchester and Playa del Rey schools, and many of the students turned out to participate. The problem was that the kids didn't have any manners, and their parents weren't much better. The kids were shoving other runners out of the way, cutting people off and basically acting horribly. It was annoying at best and unsafe for everyone at worst. There wasn't a lot of camaraderie, nor was there a lot of support for the runners.

Chip timing: Yes, with a shoe tag. I don't remember seeing split times, but there was a clock at the finish line.

Shirt: A white cotton shirt with a colorful Race for Success logo. Nice enough.

Swag: The gift bag looked nice, but I didn't get one. They only had 500; if you didn't get to packet pickup early enough, you were SoL. At the race they did have a large number of cobalt blue mugs from the Howard Hughes Promenade on a table, free for the taking.

Expo: The expo was the nicest feature of the race. They had a lot of local Westchester-PdR-Marina del Rey businesses, which made them different from the usual generic race expo. Goodies abounded.

Would I Run this Race Again: No. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great, either. The unruly kids on the course were a problem, and the overall race was kind of bland.

Overview: One of the largest 5K/10K events in Los Angeles is also, thankfully, one of the friendliest and best organized. It's hard not to have fun at this race.

When: October 30, 2011

Where: The Veterans Administration grounds near Westwood and Wilshire (West Side).

Course access: the VA grounds are very easy to access. The Big Blue Bus 2, 3 and 4 stop on or near the VA on Wilshire and Bonsall; so do Metro 20 and Metro Rapid 720. It's only a five minute walk or so from the bus stop to the start/finish line.

Why: LA Cancer Challenge raises money for the Hirschberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer.

Number of Participants: 1963 in the 5K; 508 in the 10K.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was at the VA the day before the race. This made it easy to do a "dry run" and make sure I knew how to get to the course. Everyone was friendly and they seemed to have the bib and T-shirt pickup stations organized well.

Course: Winding loop around the VA grounds. There were some interesting old buildings; otherwise, it was leafy, cool and pleasant. The course had one stop for traffic; otherwise, it was clear all the way through. There were a few hills, a lot of curves and some stretches of flat, open road. A band played near Mile 3.

Runners ran the gamut from serious runners to families with children who did a leisurely stroll through the course. Since the race was held just before Halloween, there were a lot of participants--both adults and children--who came in costume, but there were also a lot of folks dressed in regular running garb. In addition, there were also a lot of fundraising/memorial teams with banners who participated. Everyone was fairly laid back, and despite the huge crowds, politeness was the order of the day.

Chip timing: Yes, with a standard shoe tag. Split times were given.

Shirt: White with the LA Cancer Challenge logo in the corner. They had both men's and women's cut shirts, and they were made out of a wicking fabric. I liked my shirt enough to wear it at the race.
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Swag: All finishers were given adorable pumpkin medals on purple ribbons. The LACC had what was possibly one of the nicest gift bags I'd ever seen, too. It was a reusable bag filled with all sorts of goodies, including Under-Armor wristbands, snack bars and hair gel.
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Expo: Lots of freebies and fun activities from companies ranging from Coca-Cola to the LA Kings.

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes, hands-down.


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