Oakland Running Festival 2015 Recap and Review

Happy Monday, everyone!

I had the privilege of pacing another half marathon yesterday! The Oakland Running Festival offers the full marathon and relay (start time 7:30am), 5K (start time 7:45 am), half marathon (start time 9:15am), and kids fun run (start time 9:20am). They also have a “Run This Town” challenge where you can run the 5K and then run the half marathon afterwards. How cool is that?

Okay, so with all of these distances, it was certainly a huge event! Let me take you through the pacing and course before doing the review 🙂

Got to Oakland with Linh and Amy nice and early for the full marathon start:

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After they took off, Amy and I chilled for a while until it was time for the pacers to meet before we went off for the half marathon.

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On the pace team were Modesto Marathon RD (Vickie) and Ambassador (Liz)!

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^We will be running the Modesto Marathon/Half next week! I’ll be the 2:00 half marathon pacer again 😀 [use code ‘MICHELLEK’ to get $5 off the entry if you are looking for a last-minute super-flat course!].

My co-pacer was Dan from my running group!

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We dropped off our gear at sweat check and lined up for the start:

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As you can see, there were a LOT of people getting ready to race. Some of them had already done the 5K that morning and were getting ready to complete the “Run This Town” challenge!

After the National Anthem, we took off, right at 9:15am!

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This course is somewhat like a snail pattern… little loop with lots of turns in the first couple of miles, a bigger loop in the middle miles, and a final huge loop for the later miles. Luckily, the roads were closed off so that we had enough space to run without stepping on other people’s feet or elbowing each other!

I always like to wait until around mile 2 or 3 before looking around and seeing who we have with us. There were a couple of folks running their very first half marathon, and I was so excited for them!

This picture is around mile 7 and a lot of them stuck with us the whole time and then took off ahead of us around mile 8!

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We had a huge group for the most part because a lot of people want to break 2 hours in the half. In addition, by mile 4, we were running together with the full marathoners.

There was this cool archway that was on fire!

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There was also a pixelated cloud that had raindrops… but my huge happy face got in the way:

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Unflattering angle, yeah? HAHAhaha.

Around mile 10 is when we came up toward Lake Merritt.

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It was warm and sunny by this point, but luckily, we had a beautiful lake to look at and plenty of water stations:

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^In the final mile, we got a big boost from this water station!

The finish ends on an uphill (about one or two blocks long… unless you are racing, in which case, it probably feels like 15 blocks).

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Dan and I crossed the finish line holding the pacing stick together!

Official finish: 1:59:49 (11 seconds under! If you can get anywhere about 30 seconds under pace time, that is considered awesomeness :D).

I waited for some of our other RunningAddicts pacers to come in. It was amazing how our full marathon pacers did! With all of the hills on the full, as well as joining with the half marathoners from mile 17, this is not an easy course to pace!

We hung out for a bit at the finish line festival:

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I chugged some of that nonalcoholic beer because it was nice and cold… and the sun was out and keeping all of the finishers nice and warm.

It was a great morning for people to race and complete the various distances. Thanks, Oakland, for such a great pacing experience! [pc; Linh]

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Review time!

Course: For the half marathon, it is pretty much flat (in my opinion). For some who do not run ANY hills (not even a highway overpass or something), then maybe there could be some “rolling” hills… but if it is a hill, it is very short and not too steep. Then again, the finish is perhaps around 0.2 mile long and a bit of an uphill, so just be ready for that!

The full marathon is quite hilly, and it eventually converges with the half marathon course at mile 17 (for the full). By this time, some of the fast marathoners will have to get around the half marathoners/pass them on the side. It will take some effort and there is a lot less of running the tangents because there are so many people on the course. In addition, the relay teams take off from various locations and will have to pass on the side or weave around the half and full marathoners (with their fresh legs and all).

Volunteers/Aid Stations: There were more than 500 volunteers out on the course! I think a lot of them came from the local schools. Always, much appreciation to anyone who volunteered. I was so happy to see so many young ones along the course, cheering us on, serving water, cleaning up cups, etc.

There seemed to be plenty of volunteers on the course and at the start/finish, but there could have been slight improvements in what tasks they were assigned. For example, the sweat check took quite a bit of time because the volunteers were asked to write the bib number and racer initials on stickers and put it on the bag (even though we pinned our race numbers on the bag already). They did not end up asking for my initials when I picked up my gear, so I feel it was unnecessary to ask the volunteers to do that, especially on race morning. Maybe if they did the sticker when we picked up the bibs, gear check on race morning could have been a lot faster.

Another improvement (again, not really about the volunteers but just what they were assigned/how things were organized) along the course would have been to have water station tables on both sides of the road. It was much too crowded at every station, and I missed a couple of stations because of overcrowding (luckily, I wasn’t racing so I didn’t need to have it at every station).

In any case, none of this would have been possible without the wonderful volunteers. Be sure to give back to the running community by volunteering for at least one racing event throughout the year! 🙂

Spectators: Along the course, there were so many locals, as well as friends/family of racers who were spectating. The most memorable was some kind of community center where a bunch of super cute Chinese elderly women were cheering for us, smiling, and waving! SO awesome 😀

There were several locations where locals had signs and cheered, showing their pride for the city of Oakland. They were extremely supportive and friendly!

Expo/Post-race: The expo had quite a number of vendors. I mostly hung out at the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders (LMJS, a local running club) pace booth. There were definitely a LOT of people coming through, and we got to speak with so many of them. It was great to see a couple of familiar faces on race morning!

After the race, we were given a bottle of water, fruit (bananas and delicious oranges), granola bars, and bags of chips as we exited the finish chute. Finishers got to chill on the grass, enjoy beer or nonalcoholic beer, and celebrate with family/friends. It was a nice location for the finish line festival!

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What a great race with a huge turnout! Congratulations to all of the finishers, and much appreciation to the volunteers.

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I can’t wait for this Sunday when I get to pace 2:00 again at the Modesto Marathon!

Have you ever done a race challenge where you run more than one distance on the same day? [I’ve done the Double Road Race where you run a 10K, have a half time, and then the 5K. I got pwned on the 5K because I ran too hard on the 10K, haha].

Would you rather run the last 200m of a race on a slight uphill or on the sand? [The Santa Cruz Half, which I will pace in a few weeks, as the last 100m on the sand!]

7 responses to “Oakland Running Festival 2015 Recap and Review

    • So excited for you! Will you have a co-pacer? It helped us to check in with each other about pace.
      You’re going in with the right attitude (to run even paces). Not sure about the course, but you don’t want to bank too much time… because that would mean you took the racers out too fast! Just be encouraging, smile, and I’m sure you will do a wonderful job! Hope it will be the first of many pacing experiences!

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