So you guys have already heard how my race went on Saturday… PR CITY BABY! But I wanted to give you guys a quick review of the race too. As you know, I love to race but racing gets expensive. My expectations are high and I like to feel like I’m getting enough for my money. I also believe that, when offered correctly, constructive feedback can be really helpful. Races are hard events to put on and everyone can benefit from a little help! You can read examples of my other races reviews here, here, or here (just a sampling). Surf-n-Santa 10 Miler is put on by the racing company J&A Races. They put on a bunch of races in the VA Beach area including the Shamrock Marathon / Half, the Crawling Crab Half Marathon, the Wicked 10K, and the Virginia is for Lovers 14K. This was my second J&A race (I did the Shamrock Half Marathon in March 2012) so I will refer to that often too in my review. Let’s jump right in shall we?
PRICE: $50 (but we registered early last Spring)
Packet Pick Up / Parking / Pre-Race Set Up (A) : So unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it down on Friday night in time for the expo (it closed at 8 pm which is really standard). We had to go over in the AM to pick up our packets. I normally avoid race-day packet pick up like the plague, so we got there right when it opened at 6:30 am. This was the line.
SWEET. We were in and out (numbers, Tshirts, ID check for beer bracelets) within 5 minutes. Everyone was super friendly and helpful… way to go volunteers! The VA Beach Convention Center had plenty of parking, and there was other parking available near by too. No big traffic jams getting into the parking lot or anything. Bag check looked really seamless (we didn’t check a bag) and there were PLENTY of bathrooms. The bathrooms in the convention center got really crowded because people seemed to want to hang out indoors. I ventured out to the start line and didn’t have to wait in line at all for the port-o-potties. Score!
Swag (A-): Some people don’t like race swag… but I DO. I want to feel like I’m getting something I’m going to actually use (Cotton T-shirt? Probably going straight to Goodwill). J&A always comes up BIG with the swag. This race included an awesome long sleeved half zip that rocks. You also got a Santa hat and jingle bells for your shoes 🙂 Mike was kind enough to model the hat for me. They also give an awesome race medal (this one has a beer bottle opener on the back!) and a finisher’s item (at Shamrock it was a hat and a hoodie, at Surf-n-Santa it was a pint glass that I used just this morning for my iced coffee)
So why the A-? Well… there’s usually some kind of problem with the sizing of things. The shirts are never gender sized and I always forget that. I wear a medium in women’s apparel, but a small in unisex apparel. I always order a medium and it’s always huge on me. My half-zip isn’t as much of a problem because I wear something under it. It’s still loose but I can handle it (I actually wore it out running on Monday morning). Also… my Santa hat didn’t really fit on my massive dome.
Post Race Festivities (A++): J&A consistently brings the party. All of their races are sponsored by good beer companies (Shamrock is sponsored by Yuengling, Surf-n-Santa – Sam Adams, Wicked 10K – Blue Moon, etc.) and they give each finisher a BUNCH of beers. At Shamrock, I was entitled to FOUR beers with my race bib (they just have someone marking off your bib with a marker at the beer tables). Surf-n-Santa… THREE! I can never drink more than two beers after a race though, or I turn into a human raisin. But I appreciate the multi-beer option. We had the option of either Sam Adams Lager, Winter Lager, or Angry Orchard hard cider. I went with the Winter Lager because it is delicious and hard cider is like a one way ticket to hangover-town for me. They also have good music and GOOD food. For some reason, they always serve soup and it ROCKS. Shamrock had this delicious Irish beef stew and Surf-n-Santa had chicken tortilla.
While I loved the race, I did have one thought on how it could be improved next year!
The Indoor Finish: The finish line for the course was actually inside, which was a really nice touch. You ran into the convention center and were then able to walk through the post-race stuff without freezing your behind off. Here’s my one concern. The floor of the convention center was a slick concrete and it was wet outside. The previous finishers had tracked a bunch of wet footprints in and I was really afraid I was going to slip / fall (I had like ZERO traction on the floor). I think it would’ve been fine if it was dry outside, but perhaps they could’ve put some non-slip mats / carpets down? Just a suggestion!
I honestly can’t say enough about J&A races. I have thoroughly enjoyed both I’ve done and want to try and do more in the future! It is well worth the price (especially if you register early). If you are in the Virginia area I seriously recommend checking out theses races!!