I've created a new tag for races that are no longer happening, for one reason or another. Currently on this list: 

Culver City 5K
EIF/Revlon Walk
Karhu 5K
Live Ultimate 5K
Sunset Strip 5K
Rose Bowl 5K 
Run for Her

* RnR LA continues as a half-marathon, but at least for now, the 5K is gone.

For the most part, I hate adding this tag to events. The Karhu 5K was a disaster, but some of these other races were amazing. Particularly, the Culver City 5K and Sunset Strip 5K were two of my favorite races ever.

The race director for Culver City was in contact last year, explaining why the 2015 event would not happen. At that time, there was apparently some hope that the race would be rescheduled in the fall of 2016. However, as of September 2016, there's been no word on it. It's a real shame, since it was a fun, friendly and well-organized race.

The Sunset Strip 5K is just confusing, truth be told. It was a phenomenal race in every way; well-organized and run from start to finish, with a great theme, wonderful medals and shirts, and strong course support. It ran once, in 2015...and then poof, nothing. The organizers stopped posting on the event's Facebook page in August 2015. Earlier this year, someone commented that the race will return in 2017 - apparently this person had gone out of his way to track down some answers - but as of now, there's no word.

The Live Ultimate 5K was not as good, but was another "one (or two) and done." At the time, the Live Ultimate race organizers seemed to be ambitiously planning a series of races. They had some other events in Florida, and in 2014 they had one more Los Angeles race in Downtown LA, but then they faded out.

I did not add Firefly Run to the list, but I was on the fence about it. The race is still active, just not in Los Angeles. It "tours" to different cities, and LA has not been on the schedule for a while. There have been recent stops in Seattle and San Francisco, but for whatever reason, the race has not come south to LA in a while.

The Rose Bowl 5K  (which also had, IIRC, a 10K and half or full marathon) seems to have quietly faded out and been replaced with a new-for-2017 Pasadena Half and 5K, also at the Rose Bowl.

EIF/Revlon and Run for Her were both mega-races that had many similarities. Both had tens of thousands of participants. They both focused on fundraising for cancer-related hospitals and organizations, as well as awareness. They both had huge sponsors. Both races attracted many people who might not have ordinarily been interested in doing a 5K, and it was, for a large number of participants, a very leisurely walk.

In 2014 Run for Her branched out to New York City, and by all accounts, that race was successful. In 2015 it was gone, with a note from organizers at Cedars-Sinai Hospital noting that the race had "outgrown" its environment. There were promises that it might come back, but as of now, nothing has materialized.

No promises were made about recalling EIF/Revlon to life. The run/walk was held in numerous cities, including both LA and New York, in major venues. The New York walk went through Times Square to Central Park; the Los Angeles one used the LA Coliseum, where the Olympic torch was lit for participants to see as they finished the race. In 2014 it seemed to be moving right along, but in 2015 it was gone. Very little was said about it.

What caused the demise of these mega-races? 

In a city like Los Angeles, there are so many races almost every week that when one goes under, there's always another to replace it on the schedule. However, for runners and walkers who appreciated certain races, their absence is acutely felt.

There's been a lot said online about women's shirts for conventions and races. I'd like to chime in on that.

Not every woman likes to wear, work out in, or walk in form-fitting clothes. I personally like things that are on the loose side, and I will happily wear unisex shirts. I personally cringe whenever I hear that a race will be offering "women's cut" shirts, because I know it's probably going to mean that I'm going to be making a trip to the T-Shirt Exchange booth. I just don't fit them.

One of the issues with "women's cut" shirts is that they aren't actually cut to fit, well, a lot of women. I am not going to get into the "real women have curves" cliche because "real women" come in all shapes and sizes, but the point remains that many of us have passed puberty and do have breasts, hips and buttocks. A lot of women's cut shirts are way too small to allow them. They typically cling to the bust area, cut into the arms because they're too tight across the chest, ride up around the hips, and generally look ghastly and unflattering. It's not about weight as much as it's about the way the t-shirt is cut, and the fact that the garment isn't made to accommodate the chest or hip areas. It's like trying to put on a pair of jeans that aren't designed for humans with butts, or shoes that aren't made for people with toes. I suppose the logic is that women are naturally shorter and weigh less than men. Well, yes, statistically, but they also usually have larger chest and hip measurements than men, and their clothes need to reflect that.

Sizing is all over the place, too, so when you see one of these "women's cut" shirts at a race you have no idea what you're in for. What usually is clear, though, is that if it's for the ladies it will be smaller than the men's stuff.

Both of these shirts (2012 LA Big 5K unisex and 2012 Rose Bowl 5K) are marked "Large."

These two are marked XL (2013 LA Marathon official merch and Firefly Run 2013).

So are these (LA Cancer Challenge Ladies' shirt 2012; LACC unisex shirt 2013).

Here's the XL LACC shirt next to the L Rose Bowl shirt. Both are "women's cut." The Rose Bowl shirt is supposedly one size smaller, but is larger.

Confused yet?

What you can see pretty clearly in these photos is that the "women's shirts" are far smaller than the men's or unisex shirts in their respective sizes. This isn't uncommon. One article about this gave an example of how women's cut shirts do not actually accommodate larger chest measurements.

ThinkGeek's sizing info as an example: men's tshirts are sized from 36" chest measurement (size S) to 56" chest measurement (size XXXL). Women's tshirts are sized from 32" (S) to 42" (2X). The largest available women's size has a chest measurement between men's M (40") and L (44"). A woman whose bust measurement (including her breasts, which obviously protrude to an extent not seen on cis men) is equivalent to a men's XL (48") will find that a woman's 2X is 6" too small for her.

In case you're curious, the average bra size in the United States is now a 34DD - which aint' gonna fit into a shirt that only accommodates a 42" chest size.

The only company I've ever found that makes "women's cut" shirts that actually accommodate breasts and hips is Old Navy. Old Navy's shirts actually fit over the chest and hip area and are flattering. Here's an Old Navy XL shirt next to the XL LACC 2012 shirt. That orange shirt is not at all baggy, mind you. It simply fits well, it's neither too tight nor too loose, and it provides ample room in the bust and hip departments.

This is a dilemma that isn't going to go away. Every race and event orders their shirts from different vendors, and there are many variables involved there - distance, price, ability of the vendor to meet the race's needs. However, I'd put in a desperate plea for race directors to truly look at the sizing when they order "women's cut" shirts, to allow female runners and walkers to choose whether they want a women's cut or  unisex shirt and to respect that their racers come in all shapes and sizes.

Children and 5Ks: are they a good match?

As far as I am concerned, the answer is yes - as long as they are ready to play in the big people's race. Physical activity is good for kids. Learning to be persistent, follow through and finish the race can be powerful lessons for children. There's always that sense of accomplishment when they cross the finish line, and if they're doing a race that hands out finisher medals, it's likely that they will treasure theirs.

However, unfortunately, all too many parents let their kids into 5 and 10Ks without ensuring that they're ready and able to handle it. Doing an organized race isn't the same as taking a walk through your neighborhood or running on your own. You're co-existing with a lot of other runners, and it's important to understand how to do that. 

Kids who are poorly behaved at races can really ruin the experience. There's one race in particular I am thinking of - Race for Success- that I will absolutely never do again, because the kids on the course made it almost impossible to run.

1. If they can't mind their manners, keep them in the kids' race.

I can't count the number of times I've seen kids behaving completely rudely on race courses: weaving in and out of the other runners; pushing and shoving other people; trying to cut right in front of other runners; et al. These are generally kids old enough to know better, too.

These things are more than rude: they're dangerous to both your child and other runners. I can't count the number of times I've seen kids get stepped on or involved in collisions at races. You can't blame the runners; if a kid darts in front of them quickly and the course is crowded, they may or may not have the time or ability to stop or veer to the side. If they are, they might be risking injury. Nobody deserves an ACL tear because they had to quickly pivot to avoid your kid.

The bottom line is that if your kids can't understand basic manners, they don't belong in the adult race. There's no shame at all in letting your kid do the children's race instead.

2. You are responsible for your child. Not me. Keep them close to you and supervise them. You, as a parent or guardian, have full responsibility for your child. I, as a random stranger, do not, and should not. It's not my job to watch your kid. If you must take your 3 or 5 year old to an adult race, for God's sake, keep them under your control and don't let them wander alone through the throngs of runners. This will also help you with point #1.

3. Teach your kid how the race works. A lot of kids at races seem to think they have to get in front of everyone. They don't get that times are recorded individually, and they're not even in the same age category as the people they are trying to cut off. Letting your kid know that they are just competing against other children for their times and placement might help with points #1 and #2.

4. Know your kid and don't overwork him/her. Not every 5 or 7 year old is going to be up to doing a 5 or 10K race. That's exactly why they have the shorter distances at the kids' events.

5. Keep your kid away from the front-of-the-pack runners. No, I'm not one myself. However, in talking to friends, they have told me that it's very frustrating - and again, dangerous for all involved - when they're starting a race and trying to get themselves into a good pace, and they end up dodging all the kids who ignored the pacing signs and insisted on being at the very front of the line.

6. Your stroller is not a battering ram. Your stroller is there to transport your child. It is not there as a weapon to ram into other people's feet and shins. Don't tailgate other runners and you won't have to worry about this one. Also, when you're coming through a crowd in a stroller, it's polite to say "excuse me" instead of barging through the crowd, using your stroller to clear the way for you. The fact that you are a mom, dad, aunt, uncle or grandparent doesn't mean that you can't be an asshole.

7. Consider getting your child involved with a running group. There are many on both the local and national levels. these clubs will give your child valuable race training, teach her/him the rules and etiquette they are expected to follow on the course, and get him/her involved in special races. Girls on the Run is a good one and is open to everyone; Students Run LA is another, and is geared toward at-risk kids. A lot of Ys and community centers also have road running or track clubs open to kids. 


Back in April, I participated in Superhero Events' first race in Los Angeles, the 5K associated with the Hollywood Half. I didn't have a great time, the event didn't leave me with a positive impression of Superhero, and when I received an email that invited me to their new "Awesome 80's Run" in Pasadena, I hit "unsubscribe" and deleted the email without comment.

I did, however, keep my eyes open, and after the Awesome 80's race I was very curious to see what the comments from runners would be like. Had Superhero learn from their mistakes? Their 80s theming was very cute, and the medal they were offering was very innovative. It would have been nice to read that they'd shaped up.

Unfortunately, it looks as though the Awesome 80's event suffered from even more issues than the Hollywood Half. Notably:

1. Both the 5K and 10K were delayed significantly, and didn't finally kick off until 9 or 10 in the morning. The race director claimed they were not allowed to use amplification (so?), that the Pasadena Police Department was responsible, that they were trying to clear the course (it wasn't a closed course) and more.

I call BS on this one. There are lots of races that happen around the Rose Bowl every single year, notably the Rose Bowl Half/5K/10K that I ran in January; the Pasadena Marathon, the 2011 Gladiator Rock N' Run, the Pasadena Tri, Race for the Rescues, and more. The Pasadena PD is very accustomed to handling races around the Rose Bowl; they know what they're doing, and if the proper permits are in place, there's really no reason why the race course shouldn't be cleared. As for the amplification, you don't need it at the start, and that's something that should have been researched in advance.

2. Again with the water! Apparently, just as they did in the Hollywood Half, they didn't have enough water for the runners. Also, runners discovered that there wasn't any food or water at the end of the race.

Just to recap: they started the race late, in Pasadena summer heat, the runners were exercising in 90+ degree weather...and they didn't have hydration. I'm trying to get my head around this. I'm also trying to get my head around how they could have allowed this to happen a second time.

At the Hollywood Half, the excuse was that they didn't anticipate the runners' needs; apparently the same excuse was used this time. How is it that all of these other summer races are able to supply their runners with water and anticipate the runners' needs accurately?!

Every time this is brought up, there's always some self-righteous runner who chimes in with "REAL runners know to bring their own water!" Yup, on their own runs, they do. When you're racing in the heat, you can very easily require more water than you can carry. At races, where water stations are an accepted convention, it's not unreasonable to expect their presence.

3. Parking: Apparently the parking was in the middle of the course, so the runners couldn't even get out at the end.

4. No closed course: this makes the above claim that the "course was being cleared" even more ridiculous. When I ran the Rose Bowl 5K, the course wasn't closed either, but there were volunteers and ropes, and apparently I hadn't realized how many outsiders were being kept off the track. This is another reason it's important to get the race going on time--ie, early--and why it's important to have a strong volunteer corps. Considering that at the Hollywood Half the volunteers couldn't even get their parking comped, which is standard practice, it's no wonder that people weren't lining up to donate their time.

5. Excuses R' Us: Apparently the race director is actually deleting negative comments on the Facebook page this time. That's bad form. It doesn't matter, though, because the myriad review sites, blogs and Yelp will make up for it.

It's kind of discouraging to see all the excusesthe RD keeps making:

a) It's the inaugural race. How many times will he use that one? It's not the first race Superhero has ever done, but shhhh about that!.

b) It's the police's fault. The police work WITH most races, not against them. If you give them a heads up and have the proper permits in place this should never be an issue.

c) It's the city's fault. See b

d) There were too many runners. You knew how many people signed up. Why weren't you prepared for them?.

e) The runners went through more water than we thought they would. So why didn't someone run out and get more water or cups? Why weren't you able to look at the number of runners and predicted temperatures and make a better guess as to how much water/how many cups would be needed? Moreover, why would this ever happen at two races in a row?! This also doesn't account for the complete LACK OF WATER at the end of the 80's race.

f) You should bring your own water. When you're paying for a race, you expect it as a perk. Also, in very warm temperatures you might very well need more water than you can carry on a belt.

At this point, I am not sure what is up with this organizer and management company. It seems as though they spend a lot more time on the image than the actual execution and logistics. I would never run one of their races again.

Reviews at Racegrader: http://racegrader.com/race/awesome-80s-run/
Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/awesome-80s-run-pasadena
It's a few days before the race, and the email pops up in my Inbox: "RunThisWay, here is the link to your virtual gift bag!" *sigh*

I've now run in three races that have used "virtual gift bags." I haven't liked them. Are they the wave of the future? I surely hope not. Some races seem to be gravitating toward them--RunDisney, for instance, now lists them as a race perk instead of traditional tangible goody bags.

In general, I'd prefer to receive a real bag with real products. The pros and cons of virtual bags, as I see them, are such:


1. Environmentally friendly.
There's no way around this one. Letting people browse online doesn't waste paper. In addition, since runners will only take the offers they want, they won't have to discard or dispose of the rest of the goodie bag's contents.

2. Marketing help. This one isn't a pro for the runners as much as it is for the sponsors. They can get clear numbers that tell them how many people use each offer in the goody bag.


1. The goodies aren't nearly as good.
Instead of free samples, the online goody bags generally contain discount coupons.

2. They're not as exclusive. In the age of Groupon, RetailMeNot and other discount code sources, there usually isn't anything in the virtual race bags that the runners can't find elsewhere.

3. They are privacy risks. Often, using the offers in the goodie bags requires handing over personal information to companies, who in turn can turn the data over to marketers. No thanks.

4. They deny runners the chance to try new things, which in turn denies companies the chance to get new customers. I didn't like Under Armor products until I got a free set of wristbands in a goodie bag. Now they're a company I patronize. I started using Clif Shot Bloks after trying a sample. And so on. I always passed the samples I didn't want to friends or colleagues, which gave them the chance to become customers, too.

5. They aren't as fun. "Fun" is an entirely subjective concept, but for me, a lot of the appeal of the goody bag is the appeal of getting a surprise. You never know what will be there. It's like opening your Halloween bag after trick or treating to see what you've been given. Looking at a lineup of marketing banners just doesn't have the same thrill.

Is it greed? Probably.


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