Overview: Los Angeles's January night race returns for its third year.

When
: January 3, 2015.

Where:
Downtown LA.

Course access:  DTLA is very well hooked up to mass transit. The race start was close to the 7th St/Metro Center stop on the Red, Purple, Blue and Expo subway lines. The finish line was close to the Civic Center stop on the Red and Purple lines.

Why: A Place Called Home.
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Number of Participants: 1218 finishers in the 5K; 997 in the 10K; 2979 in the Half-Marathon.

Pre-race: Once again at the Milennium Biltmore Hotel. They still haven't figured out the expo; it was small, too cramped to even consider navigating, and didn't have any really appealing exhibitors.

Worse, the packet pickup once again closed at 4pm, so runners had to arrive at least two and a half hours before the race to get their bibs and t-shirts. This seemed to be unclear on the instructions and apparently some runners arrived after 4pm, were denied their bibs, and were understandably very upset.

Another issue: some of the volunteers working the corrals were completely rude. The assignments were bizarre, with walkers in the first five corrals. In addition, the way the corrals were enclosed made it impossible for some runners to even access them.

Course: The 5K course differed from the map that was posted online. The turnaround did not seem to be clearly marked, either.

The highlights of last year's race were running down Broadway, where all the theatre marquees were turned on, and then finishing at L.A. Live. This year, the course was boring. Instead of Broadway, runners went up Hill Street, went through the 2nd Street Tunnel, and ended by looping around a bunch of courthouses and municipal buildings, a freeway exit and a truly sad homeless encampment. The only recognizable landmarks on the course were Angels Flight and City Hall.

The race finished at Grand Park. I know this is fast becoming the hangout du jour for all types of events, but LA Live was better.

Post-Race:  Water, Nuun electrolytes, bananas, apples, Clif bites and moonpies were offered. Mylar blankets were also provided.

Chip timing: Shoe tags by Gemini Timing.

Shirt:  For the 5/10K: a black tech shirt. This was a vast improvement over last year's see-through white one.

Swag: Finisher medals with a baseball theme and drawstring backpacks (the same one from last year). Legacy runners also received special clip medals. The medals were very different, and not as nice, as the ones advertised on the race's Facebook page.

Would I Run this Race Again: I guess. The only reasons I'm hanging on with this race after my 2015 experience
are because of the Legacy status and because I can't find another race I'd like to do in January. They have a lot of work to do.





Overview:  A night race through Downtown Los Angeles, the New Year's Race featured a half-marathon, a 5K, and various children's races. Presented by Jive Live, who also put on the Venice Christmas Run and the LA Marathon, this was a well designed, enjoyable event with dedicated, friendly volunteers. Participants had a rare opportunity to run through the streets of DTLA without cars.

What is also impressive about this race: last year there were complaints on Facebook about various aspects of the race...and the race directors listened. This year's event was sleeker, more organized and better! Way to go, guys!

When: January 4, 2014.

Where:
Downtown Los Angeles, starting at 7th and Grand and ending at Pico and 11th, by the L.A. Live complex and the Staples Center.

Course access: Downtown L.A. is probably the best-connected area in the city, and public transportation was a breeze. The buses were re-routed due to the street closures, but the trains, which run underground at that point, were absolutely fine. The course start was right by the 7th Street Metro Center station for the Expo and Blue line trains; the finish line was a five minute walk to the Pico station (again, Expo and Blue lines). I heard through the grapevine that traffic was a nightmare for those who chose to come by car.

Why: Officially, none, but A Place Called Home had some involvement with the race.
_____________

Number of Participants: About 1350 in the 5K; about 4500 in the half-marathon.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was at the Expo at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. The RDs extended the Expo hours from 2013 and the race also started earlier, but there were still two hours or so to kill between the close of the Expo and race time.

Course: The 5K went through Downtown LA, mostly along Broadway (near the historic cinemas). Many of the historic theaters on Broadway, including the Los Angeles, were all lit up. The 5K course this year differed in that runners stayed on Broadway for a longer stretch, instead of veering off down abandoned streets. The race finish was also closer to the Pico Metro station. I greatly preferred that, yes I did.

In response to last year's complaints there were also many, many signs advising 5K runners as to their turnaround point.

Chip timing: Yes, by Gemini, with a chronotrack tag on the bib.

Shirt: 5Kers received a nice tech shirt. I liked it a lot, except for the fact that the tech fabric, combined with the white color, make it very see-through. I preferred the black shirt in 2013. Maybe they will use alternate colors on alternate years?

Swag: A backpack. Unfortunately it wasn't as nice as last year's, since it just had a hashtag on it. Runners also received a reusable glow bracelet. Unfortunately there was nothing else in the bag; the race was using those useless and annoying "virtual gift bags." The medal was lovely, however, and had a touching tribute to the Boston Marathon bombing victims.

Expo: At the Millennium Biltmore. It was fairly small, and they did have vendors selling glow items this year. However, it was also very heavy on the timeshare/vacation club folks, and they tend to be very aggressive. I didn't enjoy the Expo.

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes!
Overview:  A night race through Downtown Los Angeles, the New Year's Race featured a half-marathon, a 5K, and various children's races. Presented by Jive Live, who also put on the Venice Christmas Run and the LA Marathon, this was a well designed, enjoyable event with dedicated, friendly volunteers. Participants had a rare opportunity to run through the streets of DTLA without cars.

What is also impressive about this race: the race directors have followed up on feedback left on Facebook and have promised specific improvements for next year's event. No excuses, no explanations - just promises to do better. It's refreshing! 

When: January 5, 2013.

Where:
Downtown Los Angeles, starting at 7th and Grand and ending at Pico and 11th, by the L.A. Live complex and the Staples Center.

Course access: Downtown L.A. is probably the best-connected area in the city, and public transportation was a breeze. The buses were re-routed due to the street closures, but the trains, which run underground at that point, were absolutely fine. The course start was right by the 7th Street Metro Center station for the Expo and Blue line trains; the finish line was a five minute walk to the Pico station (again, Expo and Blue lines). I heard through the grapevine that traffic was a nightmare for those who chose to come by car.

Why: Officially, none, but A Place Called Home had some involvement with the race.
_____________

Number of Participants: About 1350 in the 5K; about 4500 in the half-marathon.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was at the Expo at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. This was one of my few complaints about this race. While the Biltmore setup was fine, packet pickup closed at 5pm on Saturday. Race time wasn't until 9. That meant that if you wanted to pick up your packet on race day, you had to kill four hours. It would have been nicer to have the expo time extended to, say, 7 or 8pm. This is one of the things the RDs have promised to try to fix for 2014.

Course: The 5K went through Downtown LA, mostly along Broadway (near the historic cinemas) and 11th Street (past Santee Alley). Many of the historic theaters on Broadway, including the Los Angeles, were all lit up. Some of the other areas, such as 11th Street, were totally deserted, which made for an eerie run. There was sizable police presence along the route, so it never felt unsafe.

After the race, there were a number of complaints on the NYR Facebook page. A few Downtown residents were angered by the race and the street closures. However, again, most, if not all, of the race course went down commercial streets that were closed for the night, so I am not sure where the residents are coming from with this. Also, another DTLA resident pointed out that Jive Live had sent notices about street closures and detours to all of the residential buildings well in advance of the race, so nobody should have been ambushed by the course.

Another complaint: some 5Kers claimed they didn't see signage, got lost and ended up on the half-marathon course. Others said that they ran an extra mile.

I'm sorry, I have zero sympathy for that. I have absolutely no trouble roasting race directors when I feel they've dropped the ball - my  blog pulls no punches there - but in this case the race directors did everything short of assigning each runner a personal guide to lead them by the hand. They had SO much detailed information out there before the race, they had the course totally marked off and cordoned off, and they had cops and race volunteers on just about every corner.

When there was a split in the course, and the 5K and half-marathon runners had to go in different directions, they had huge, well-illuminated signs. There was also a guy with a megaphone standing at the fork in the road, and there were volunteers repeatedly telling people which side to take for the 5K, just in case you didn't understand the signs with arrows. I was in one of the last corrals so I can vouch for the fact that there were still people on the course giving directions to the stragglers and slow runners/walkers.

Also, they had the race course online for months before the race. If these runners had taken five seconds to look at it - and the course is always online specifically so you can study it - they'd have known in an instant they were off-course. It showed where all of the turnaround points were. Another thing: why didn't they check their watches? You usually know how long it takes you to do each mile, more or less. Now, a first time 5Ker might not know about personal timekeeping, but the people complaining were claiming that they were experienced runners...um, no, honey.

Chip timing: Yes, by Gemini, with a chronotrack tag on the bib.

Shirt: A black tech t-shirt with the race logo. Really nice.

Swag: A backpack with a few freebies, including Clif bars and magnets. The race medal was also lovely. The 5K and the half-marathon medals had the same basic design, but different ribbons and sizes.

Expo: At the Millennium Biltmore. It was fairly small and light on the freebies but overall, it was fine. I was disappointed that there weren't any vendors selling glow sticks/other night accessories.

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes!
http://www.lamarathon.com/event/la-5k/

Overview:If you've ever wanted to partake in the excitement of the Los Angeles Marathon--without actually doing those 26 miles--the LA Big 5K might be for you. This race, considered a warm-up for the Marathon, is run by the same organizers and uses the same start line. It is a shining example of how to piggyback a 5K on a larger event and make everyone happy. The organizers clearly did their best to make sure that the Big 5K was a singular, special race, rather than something that was just tacked on to the Marathon. For instance, the 5K had its own special logo and design scheme.

When: March 17, 2012

Where: Dodger Stadium

Why: The L.A. Marathon's official charities in 2012 were ThinkCure! which fosters innovative cancer research, and Students Run L.A., an empowerment and running program for at-risk middle and high school students in Los Angeles. The Marathon also had many official charities, ranging from Girls on the Run to the American Cancer Society to Kitten Rescue. Runners were allowed to join these charities' official teams to fundraise for them.

Course access: The Metro 2 and 4 buses stopped at Sunset and Innes, and from there it was about a 10 minute walk to the stadium. They did not have good signs directing people to the packet pickup or expo, and a number of us ended up wandering around the stadium for considerable periods of time, trying to figure out where to go.
____
Number of Participants: 2650

Pre-race: Packet pickup was at Dodger Stadium--not the most convenient place to access--so I opted to collect my bib and chip on the morning of the race. Lines were long, but seemed to be moving. Food and drinks were available both before and after the race, so runners could grab some water or a banana before they started.

Course: A loop around Elysian Park and back to Dodgers Stadium. There were a few challenging hills, a really beautiful lane lined with palm trees and a lot of wide open roads. Since it was raining there wasn't much to see, but on a sunny day, I'd guess that this would be a lovely course with nice views.

The 5K used the same start line as the LA Marathon (just a day earlier!).

Runners: A very diverse group with lots of serious runners, families, young children, and novices. Some folks were there with fundraising teams and wore matching shirts. A lot of runners were using the 5K as a warmup for the Los Angeles Marathon the next day, so they were all business. Since the race was held on St. Patrick's Day, there were many people in green, including some who went whole hog with costumes, shamrock socks, leprechaun hats and bright wigs.

Everyone was fairly polite and easygoing, with a few exceptions. For instance, at the start line, I was standing near a woman with a dog. Since I'm allergic to dogs, I moved. She moved next to me again. I moved again. So did she. I finally ended up walking all the way to the other side of the path to get away from her (I got further toward the front, so perhaps I should have thanked her).

Chip timing: Yes, via chronotrack chip attached to the bib. They did have split times, but due to the rain, the clocks at miles 2 and 3 were covered up when I passed them. The one at the finish line was running.

Shirt: Grey short-sleeved T-shirt. Very thin fabric, but nicely designed.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Swag: Finishers received a square medal on a blue ribbon. The medal was specifically designed for the 5K and had the LA Marathon logo on the bottom, indicated the latter's involvement with the former. There weren't any goody bags, but I picked up an LA Marathon bracelet from Big 5 Sports at the Expo.

Expo: The Marathon expo was fairly extensive, with vendors, photo op stations, food trucks and freebie distributors. Due to the rain, it was fairly empty. I loved the table which offered free gourmet cupcakes. 5K runners could go into the packet pickup area for the Marathon and take pictures with the Marathon photo ops, pick up a Marathon program, buy gear and escape the rain.

Would I Do this Race Again? Yes. I just hope it's not raining next time.

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