When I’m puttering around the Internet, planning out my upcoming races (which is a fair bit of the time), my decisions start with looking at a calendar and a map. (Running in the USA‘s map view changed my life!!) Then, once I find a suitable candidate, I google the medal. And yes, I have 100% vetoed potential races because they had crappy medals. I want the evidence of my triumph over sanity to sparkle!
Increasingly in recent years, races have started adding extra challenges to earn more bling. I first noticed this when I ran the Disney World Half with a friend in 2014 and learned about the insane 2, 3, and 4 day challenges they offer. I remember waiting in zany-long TSA lines on our way out of Florida and seeing people rocking like 5 medals simultaneously. At the time, I was both awestruck and a little envious.
Running 48.6 miles over 4 days absolutely deserves extra acknowledgement! That is a truly impressive accomplishment (to me). And/but… running a 5k the day before a half marathon? Well, I learned with this race that for me, it’s not that big a deal.
I was attracted to the Holiday Half Marathon & Ugly Sweater 5k by its date and location but also by the prospect of a big, shiny, extra medal! I mean, it’s dang pretty! And I’d been wanting to try one of these back to back challenges for quite some time. In this case, signing up for the Golden Snowflake Challenge meant I got to run the 5k on Saturday with a dear friend who is getting herself back into running. And that was awesome! Running the half by myself the next day? Less awesome. But that was mostly ’cause it was waaaaay more hilly than I’d expected and kinda sunny and hot for December.
I will own up to my mistake: I didn’t actually look very closely at the course map. I just looked at the picture and figured it wouldn’t be that bad. I’m 86% certain last year’s map didn’t include elevation numbers… so imagine just looking at the picture. Safe to assume it won’t be all that hilly, right? HA.
Running these hills by myself, mostly in direct sun, when the temperature was in the 60s… was not my favorite thing. The track starts on the fair grounds, so there’s a couple of miles of parking lot, which isn’t great scenery. Then it winds around a fairly pretty lake/park area, which is pretty but hilly.
The one upshot of the course is that because much of it is in a public park, there were a lot of real restrooms on the course. Similarly, beforehand, the fair grounds have ample facilities for a horde of people. Thus, I wasn’t subjected to a single port-o-potty on this race! A greater consolation than you might think.
Also of note, the race plays host to Students Run LA – a nonprofit organization that gets middle and high school students into running. It’s an awesome cause, and it was cool to see all the kids and their families excited about the race. They have a later start time, though, which meant that about 45 minutes in, I started getting passed by a never-ending wave of teenagers.
So. Would I run this race again? Meh. Maybe? I wouldn’t go out of my way to do it, but if I happened to be in the area and wanted to get a race in… sure. Though I now know that I’m semi-indifferent to medals that don’t signify a real challenge (for me), which is good information to have!
Overall Assessment: Didn’t Love It, Didn’t Hate It
Time of Year: Early December (12/9/2018)
Start Time: 8:00 am (with an 8:30 start for the giant group of students running the race)
Temperature: 52° at the start, 66° by the finish
Size of Field: 5,000
Elevation Gain: 760 ft (according to race map)
- So many bathrooms!!!
- Good bling and shirt.
- Plenty of parking.
- Temperate weather (if you’re into that).
- Hillier than expected.
- Parking costs $12 (though that covers both days).
- Packet pick up starts Saturday morning (before the 5k).
- Mostly in direct sun.
- Basically no crowd support aside from the SRLA families.