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: 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 third annual Sean Brock Foundation's 5K/10K was a small race with major potential, but some significant organizational flaws.

When: May 16, 2015

Where: Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey.

Course access: Accessing Dockweiler by mass transit is ridiculous: by and large, you can't. Getting here requires ride share or taxi services and a walk.

Why: The race provides funds for the Sean Brock Foundation, which supports educational opportunities for children of military personnel killed in the line of duty, as well as the California CPA Association.

Number of Participants:
I'm not sure. I saw bib numbers going up to 300; that would be a good ballpark guess.

Pre-race: There was a distinct lack of communication before the race. The only course map that was posted was a tiny photo from 2014 that was buried on Facebook; packet pickup information was posted late. The race started almost a half hour late, and the timing of the children's race was shifted from 10:15 am to 9, without any real notice. However, packet pickup was quick and efficient and the volunteers manning the table were friendly.

Course: For the most part, the course went along the flat, fast Vista del Mar road, parallel to the ocean. It's super pretty. Water stations marked the turnaround points. HOWEVER: the major flaw here was that getting to the finish line required runners to leave Vista del Mar and dodge cars as they traversed a parking lot entrance/exit area. There were no cones marking the path until the very end. This was downright dangerous for the runners, as well as unfair for any motorists trying to leave the area. 

I also had a very disturbing incident with a volunteer at this race. When I crossed the finish line and got my medal, another volunteer -- a middle-aged man -- came up and started frantically pawing at my bib, as well as the area of my body to which the bib was pinned. I had to ask him to back off and stop touching me. It turned out that he wanted the small tag at the bottom of the bib. Okay, how about asking? Race volunteers and staff should never be putting their hands on a runner this way.

This race also had many, many dogs, which is a personal pet peeve of mine. I wouldn't mind them if their owners kept them under control, but a lot of people seem to think it's cute when their dog jumps at you. It's not!

Timing: None; times were recorded from bib numbers. However, I have been able to locate results anywhere. Finish line clock provided. No mile markers.

Post-course food: The goodie bag included a Quest protein bar and some coconut water. There were also cups of water near the finish line and runners were offered another coconut water as they received their medals. Other than that, the only food was provided by Fresh Brothers Pizza, who were giving out samples.

Shirt: Shirt-sleeved black cotton shirt. I wasn't a fan of the design so this one will probably not be worn.

Swag: Large, very pretty medal.

Expo: Just a few things here and there, but Fresh Brothers gave out free pizza samples, there was a free massage station and there was an energy drink company providing small cups of their beverage.

Would I Run this Race Again: Probably not. It was really disorganized. I'm going to chalk this up to the fact that the race seems to be a very small affair and does not seem to be run by any established sporting event company. There are a lot of mom and pop races around LA, and most of them are well organized and efficient, though. However, this race really needs to work on its logistics, as well as how it conveys information to participants.
Overview: A small, friendly race in its second year, the UCLA True Bruin 5K is finding its stride.

: March 8, 2015

The UCLA campus in Westwood.

Course access:  UCLA is very well hooked up to mass transit, with the Big Blue Bus lines 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and 12, the Culver CityBus 6 and Rapid 6, and Metro 2, 20 and 720 passing close to the school.

Why: Sponsored and run by the UCLA Staff Assembly, the race is intended to encourage UCLA students, staff and community members ot get out and exercise.

Number of Participants: 466 finishers. The runners included many UCLA students and staff members, but there were a lot of community members, too.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available on Friday at UCLA, on Saturday at a running goods store in Santa Monica, and on race morning. Everything seemed smooth, simple and well run.

Course:  The course was an out and back through the bucolic UCLA campus, with several hills. One water stop was offered at the turnaround point.

Post-Race:  The race suffered from the same condition that seems to be affecting a lot of events lately: an inability to feed the runners. Friendly volunteers handed out water and Clif bars, but that was all. I am never in favor of Clif bars simply because they have soy, peanuts and chocolate and are therefore are not feasible for all runners. I much prefer when races offer fruit. Some runners still might be allergic to fruit, but they are probably fewer than those with soy or peanut sensitivities.

Chip timing: Yes, by Gemini Timing, with chips on the bib. There was one clock, at the finish line.

Shirt:  A black cotton T-shirt with the UCLA Bear and a disco ball.

Swag: A cute medal and a drawstring bag, both with the same UCLA Bear logo.

Would I Run this Race Again: Absolutely. This was a very friendly, accessible race.


Overview: Another small, friendly race, this time with a soccer flair.

When: August 24, 2014.

The StubHub Center in Carson, on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills. 

Course access: Several Metro lines run along Avalon and Victoria near Cal State. Luckily, the 9am start time made commuting by mass transit possible!

Why: LA Galaxy's community programs.

Number of Participants: 254 participants in the 5K.

Pre-race:  Packet Pickup on race day was seamless; volunteers were friendly.

Course: The course wound around the StubHub Center, going through both parking lots and field areas. There was no running on the field, but the course did start and end in the soccer stadium. The course was well-marked and there were numerous water stops with ice-cold water, which was appreciated on a hot day.

Post-Race: LA Galaxy players cheered everyone on at the finish line and actually handed out the finishers' medals, then stuck around for autographs. Several key players were present, as was Chris Klein (who actually ran the 5K!), the Galaxy veteran and bigwig. The players were uniformly friendly and cheerful - considering they'd had to come in on a day off, that was especially nice of them. Cozmo was also on hand to take photos and interact with runners before, during and after the race.

Chip timing: Shoe tags. Clocks at start and finish line.

Shirt: A deep blue, generously cut tank top with Cozmo, the LA Galaxy's alien mascot.

Swag: WOW. Christmas in August, can we say? The medal was beautiful. The goodie bags, wisely given out at the race finish, included a full sized soccer ball, a water bottle, sunglasses, an LA Galaxy rally towel, and more. The race entry also came with tickets to both a night LA Galaxy game and the Galaxy II match that happened a few hours after the 5K . An artist was also on hand to do free sketches of participants. The generosity of LA Galaxy was amazing.

Would I Run this Race Again: Yes!

Karhu 5K

Mar. 25th, 2012 08:34 pm
Overview: The Karhu 5K was the sister race to the 13.1 Los Angeles half-marathon. It seemed that the race organizers treated the 5K as an afterthought, and it showed.

One of my major issues with this race was the lack of transparency and the inaccurate information. Changing the location to another zip code, and moving it from a busy municipal area to the hinterlands, really is a big deal. Runners often choose the race based on what they know about the course and their ability to get to the start line, after all.

My registration from active.com showed that the race was happening in Venice, going from the boardwalk to Windward Cicle. It wasn't. They showed really flashy medals on their website, but the 5Ks didn't get them. They didn't even have a chip mat at the start line. The indifference was apparent from start to finish.

When: January 15, 2012

Where: Dockweiler Beach, Playa del Rey

Course access: HA HA HA. Sorry, that was funny. The race was originally billed as being in Venice, which would have been easy to access. It was actually at Dockweiler Beach in El Segundo/Playa del Rey. There are exactly 0 buses that go to Dockweiler or anywhere within walking distance. I ended up taking a cab to the entrance and then walking a mile and a half to the start. There weren't any signs directing participants from either the path or the parking lot; I walked uneasily in the dark and looked for a crowd.

The race ended near Culver Boulevard in Playa del Rey. The Metro 115 ran there, but it was detoured significantly due to the race.
Number of Participants: 331

Pre-race: Packet pick-up was at an Equinox gym in Marina del Rey. Everything ran smoothly.

Course: Parallel to the ocean, from Dockweiler State Beach to Playa del Rey. The course looped by a sewage treatment plant at one point...ugh! Other than that, it was flat, fast and had gorgeous views of the Pacific.

Runners seemed to be mostly adults, but there was a diversity of ages, shapes and colors. Everyone seemed fairly subdued, and I had to wonder if they were annoyed about the race conditions too.

Chip timing: Yes, with a Chrono-track chip that was attached to the bib. However they did not have chip mats at the start line, which meant that finish times were by the clock, and therefore inaccurate. In addition, they had neither split times nor a clock at the end for 5K finishers.

Shirt: Yuck. It was a standard white T-shirt with an aqua "move and groove" logo. I never saw anything with the logo or slogan anywhere else on the course or website, so it seemed to be something they'd thrown in at the last minute.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Swag: None, except for a coupon for a free beer. After a race like that, a drink wasn't a bad idea. Despite advertising a very cool medal all over their website, nothing was given to 5K finishers.

Expo: So-so. The one shining asset was the kiosk where they were giving out free massages. There were a few interesting exhibitors, but there wasn't a huge variety. There were a few food trucks, and there was also a special private tent for runners who had trained with a specific charity team.

Would I Run this Race Again: Not in a million years.

Note: my review of the Karhu 5K was also posted on Race Grader in an edited form.


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