Overview:  A friendly, fun and uniquely Los Angeles race.

The fun twist to We Run the City is that you raise money for either Team UCLA or Team USC. For those who don't live in Los Angeles, these two colleges have a bit of a rivalry, to put it very, very mildly. When you sign up, you're given an opportunity to choose which school you'd like to represent. It's not necessary to be an alumn or student; you just pick a side. Whichever school raises the most money for the Special Olympics gets to keep a trophy for the year.

Both schools' colors are represented on the bibs, logos and medals. The race switches campuses every year. In 2016 it was UCLA's turn to host.

When: November 20, 2016

The UCLA campus in Westwood (West LA).

Course access: Many bus lines go past UCLA or use the campus as a terminus, including Big Blue Bus 1, Metro 20 and 720 (which stop down on Wilshire) and 2, and Culver City 6. 

Why: The race raises money for Special Olympics Southern California. Runners are able to fundraise above their race registration fee, if they wish. In 2016 the race raised over 200K - and UCLA won the school fundraising challenge.


Number of Participants:  My best guess would be 2000 - 2500.

Pre-race: Packet pickup was available before the race. Packet pickup on race morning was fast and stress-free, however. There were enough volunteers to handle everyone. 

Course: Totally within UCLA's lovely, leafy campus. It was hilly at points but not overwhelmingly so. There were some cheerleaders and volunteers cheering runners on at a few points. 

Chip timing: Yes, on the bib.

Post-course food:  Water and bananas were provided to the runners, and several vendors gave out samples, such as Hubert's Lemonade and Coca-Cola.

Shirt: The shirt you receive at this race depends on whether you've aligned yourself with Team UCLA or Team USC. This year's shirts are among the nicest I've ever seen at a race. The tech shirts feature the school colors - blue for UCLA and red for USC - with yellow side panels. The center of the shirt featured USC/UCLA mascots.

Swag: Once again, the medal featured a cut-out design that incorporated both UCLA and USC's colors and mascots. The Special Olympics' motto and event date were engraved on the back.

Expo:  More booths than there were at USC last year. Sponsor Coca-Cola was back, as were some local businesses, such as University Credit Union (also a major race sponsor). The coolest thing at the expo was a display with three real Olympic torches from the last three games held in America: Los Angeles (Summer Games, 1984), Atlanta (Summer Games, 1996) and Salt Lake City (Winter Games, 2002). Their owner was very gracious and even allowed visitors to hold the torches. 

Grade: A!

Would I Run this Race Again: Absolutely! I'm looking forward to it, in fact.
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.


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