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Jun 30, 2012

Attn: CA runners and anyone visiting CA!!! Race entry GIVEAWAY!

10 miles on the bike trainer today along with weights workout.  Welcome back cross training!!!

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Recently I was given an invitation from the race director, Keira Henninger(check out here site HERE), to run a couple trail races in California.  They are the Griffith Park Trail Half-Marathon and the Griffith Park Trail 10k.  The races are on November 17th and 18th, respectively.  As you would guess, both races are located in Griffith Park, aka the Central Park of Los Angeles.  The park is right near the Hollywood sign.  Take a look!  Awesome:
Photo take from Griffith Park Trail Half website
Of course, if I were living in California or visiting at the time, I would not be parting with these.  This looks like an incredible trail run.  How can you go wrong running by the Hollywood sign?  Packet pick up is either the day before the race or race morning prior to the start so you don't have to be really close and can still run this race.

The half marathon will have aid stations, a finishers medal and a nice tech shirt.  The race will be chip timed and you even get a free post race meal.  The course is not for the faint of heart.  This is described as a tough and rugged trail race but you've got plenty of time to train for this.  Last years race had over 325 finishers.  Check out the map and elevation for the half:
I'm pretty sure you are going to run some hills!!! Ha!
The map for the 10k is not up yet but I'd guess that it's also a challenging run.  All 10k runners received breakfast after the race, a tech shirt and a finishers medal.  This will also be a chip timed race along with course support along the race course.  You can't beat that!

What to learn more about it?  Please go to their website HERE for the half marathon or HERE for the 10k race.

So here's the rules to win the half marathon entry:

1) Go "like" the Griffith Park Half Facebook page HERE and leave a comment that "Detroit Runner Sent me"; let me know here too(1 entry)
2) Go follow Keira Henninger on her Twitter page HERE and leave a comment here(1 entry)
3) Leave a comment you want in here(1 entry)

AND here's the rules to win the 10k entry:

1) Go "like" the Griffith Park 10k Facebook page HERE and leave a comment that "Detroit Runner Sent me"; let me know here too(1 entry)
2) Go follow Keira Henninger on her Twitter page HERE and leave a comment here(1 entry)
3) Leave a comment you want in here(1 entry)

Three ways to win each race!  Good luck.  Contest will end Monday, July 9th at 5pm.

* I received two race entries to the races in exchange for a posting about the race.  All opinions are my own and I was not required to write anything positive about the race.  Frankly, though, I wish I could run them.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Jun 29, 2012

INKnBURN Shorts review and Iphone cover giveaway!

3 miles on the schedule.  Hot(almost 80), humid and sticky was the theme for today's run.  Probably the hottest run I've done, in the morning at least, all year.

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A couple weeks ago, INKnBURN sent me a pair of their "Run or Die" blue shorts for a review.  I have to say that first of all this is NOT my style at all and that is exactly why I had to try these.  Of course, I had a choice on what I wanted and I could have gone with one of the other awesome designs they have to be more conservative but why?  I always feel like a different person when I'm running and this related to the rebel in me.  You know, like I can kick some ass when I'm running?  And you sure will stand out in the crowd at a race.  In fact, at my last race, I saw a runner with an INKnBURN shirt.  They really are very unique.  Take a look at what I mean:
The skulls are fitting for a "Run or Die" short - Back
I chose the pair that is the farthest thing from my personality.  The design on these are very cool.  Come on!  Run or Die?  Yes, I think that many of us feel that way so why not wear it on your running shorts?  The company has some incredible designs on their website.

Now onto the actual usefulness of the shorts.  The length is a perfect length in my opinion.  They are not too short(I won't wear short shorts) and they are not too long - perfect for a good long run.  The material is made from a light weight, moisture-wicking poly with subtle texture and some stretch built in.  I've not seen another pair of shorts with this material.  Actually, I would compare it very similar to a bathing suit but they are certainly made for running.  What's amazing about the shorts is that the material does not get wet from sweat.  I ran in some very hot weather(80's) and they did not feel soaked at the end of my run like some of my running shorts do.

According to the company, they "apply the color and designs through a unique sublimation process that maintains the moisture-wicking capability and breath-ability of our high-performance running shorts.  This unique process enables us to produce beautiful, vibrant images on our shorts that you can see but not feel.  It also gives us the freedom to put designs on our men's running shorts that you won't find anywhere else on the planet.  You'll also never feel an annoying tag while wearing an INKnBURN running shorts.  That's because the"tag" is burned into the inside of the brief. "

Here's a couple more pictures so you get a better idea of the shorts:
Front with a couple small pockets for key/energy gel

Side picture with skull - great design

Interior brief - very functional
When I got the shorts initially, I was concerned about the material being too rough on the elastic band but after many runs in them, it has never been an issue at all.  These would look great with the matching tech shirt /singlet and the arm warmers to make a complete set but still look equally good without it.

In summary,

Positives:
1) The moisture wicking material is one of the best I've seen on shorts.
2) The unique design - for me, it's fun to have something different.
3) The little pockets in the front are convenient.
4) The quality of the shorts - certainly a high quality product

Issues:
1) While the design is great, it's difficult to see the "Run or Die" on the shorts.  I don't tuck in my shirts when running, so my shirt covers part of that.  I would have liked to see "Run or Die" down the side of the shorts or lower on the back.  You can still see the skulls which is cool.  Of course, if you are a shirtless guy, there's no issue here or you could combine it with the INKnBURN tech shirt for a complete outfit.
Skulls!
2) Cost $64.95 - These are a bit higher price that what I normally spend on running shorts.  I'd buy them but not sure I'd have more than just one in the wardrobe.  I would say that this would be an excellent gift for a runner looking for a great design.

Interested in learning more?

1)  Go to their website, HERE

2)  Go to their Facebook page, HERE

3)  Go to their Twitter page, HERE

In addition, INKnBURN also offered to give away one of their new iPhone covers.  Isn't that awesome?  These iPhone covers fit the iPhone 4 and 4S only.  They are the same great design as their clothing line.  For example, here the one for the "Run or Die" design that I just reviewed:

You can check out their website for a design you would prefer if you win.

So here's the rules:

1) Go to the INKnBURN Facebook page, "like" them and tell them "Detroit Runner sent me"(1 entry)
2) Go to the INKnBURN Twitter page, "follow" them and tweet about this contest.  Here's what you can say:  "@INKnBURN @detroitrunner1 Check out the giveaway going on at detroitrunner.com to win a free iPhone cover from INKnBURN"(1 entry)

2 ways to win.  Good luck!

Contest will end Monday, July 9th at 5pm.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Jun 28, 2012

Hydrapak Softflask Winner

5 miles on the schedule today.....done!  It's going to be hot the next few runs.  Warm run today - already 70's at 5am!

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We'll the chances of winning the Hydrapak Softflask were really good this time around.  There were only seven people with 18 comments that entered the giveaway.

I sure hope this is not an indicator of how my followers hydrate!!

So the lucky winner is.........

Comment nine was Erika.  Congratulations Erika.  For those of you that might now follow her, Erica runs a blog called This Spartan Will!  She's currently training for her first Ironman.  Yikes!

Erika - please send me an e-mail with your address and I'll get the Hydrapak Softflask out to you.  I think you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Thanks to Hydrapak for sponsoring this contest.  If you want to learn more about their products, please go HERE.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Jun 27, 2012

Body vs. Brain when running

3 miles on the schedule....done!  A nice cool run but the heat is on it's way back.

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As many of you know, endurance running can many times be a function of the body vs. brain.  How many times have you been in a race or training run and doubts start going through your mind?  I've been there many times.  You know the drill:

You are at the last six mile stretch of the marathon, or the last three of a half or even after one mile of a 5k and you start reasoning with yourself:

Brain
- Jeez, I'm so tired!
- Ouch, my body is hurting.
- I'm not sure I trained hard enough.
- I can't go this fast.
- Who's idea was it to run this far?
- Didn't I just run a race two weeks ago?
- I'm not going to make my time so why keep running?
- I'm just going to take a short break.
- I'll just walk this hill and then start running.
- Why didn't I register for the 10k or half?

Body
- I'm strong and I'm going to meet my goal.
- I will not quit.
- I've trained for this!
- I've been here before - keep going!
- I will succeed.
- Keep Running!!!!
- There is no hill here
- I will beat x:xx time
Sometimes, my body wins.  Sometimes, my brain wins.  In the end, I win overall because I'm out there doing something many people wouldn't even thing of doing.  Remember that as you are out there running on a daily basis - we are the minority.  Be proud of what you've accomplished and don't let your brain get in the way of exceeding your goals.  Your body can handle much more than your brain allows so make sure your brain doesn't get in the way.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Jun 26, 2012

My Solstice run volunteer experience

5 miles on the schedule today.  Had a really awesome run today.  Perfectly cool weather and so nice out.  I live for runs like today.  Check out the clouds on my run:
On my run - hard to believe this was taken on an iphone
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As I mentioned in my review of the Solstice Run this week(Click HERE to see the full review), I decided to help the race this year by volunteering for the race.  This was the first time that I've volunteered for any race and it was a great experience.  My biggest mistake was not doing this sooner.  While I have always recognized the importance of the volunteers for any race -- if you run races, you should volunteer for races.

My job was pretty simple.  The race called for volunteers to help with packet pick up the day before the race.  Of course, because I've been to many races in the past, I pretty much knew what needed to be done but it was nice to get the experience being there for four hours.  The Solstice Run also has experienced race staff that makes things even easier for the volunteers since the staff knows what is needed to be successful.

As a volunteer, you get to see how other people, especially people who have not raced before, work through the packet pickup process.  You get to see the smiling faces of the participants and the excitement of the kids getting their shirt.  You also get to see your competition.  Haha!  I really enjoyed helping the runners and answering their race questions.
The crew at packet pickup
You will see that some of the volunteers had on blue shirts and others, like me, had on yellow shirts.  The yellow shirts were the race shirts so I figured why not wear the race shirt instead of also taking a volunteer shirt - both were the same except the color with the race logo on the front.
Volunteers hard at work
I really enjoyed meeting many of the people that I'd also be racing with the next day at the race.  I even got to talk with a couple of people that had race shirts on from other races to ask their opinion of those races.  I was in my element for sure.  I loved it.
Looking for a race bib!
Not only did I help with packet pick up but the race also needed help setting up the medals so I got a preview.  Here a picture of them on a stand one of the race volunteers made to hold them.  What a great idea!

I also helped move some boxes from packet pickup to a truck as other volunteers were getting things in order so all the supplies could be placed out on the course, the start line or the finish line.  The truck was packed with all kinds of things that the race needed to make things run smoothly.  It was surely an eye opener to see what prep work is involved in a race this size(over 3,500).  That's why the race had over 225 volunteers this year.  I can only imagine the kind of help needed for a major marathon.

My four hour shift went really fast and before I knew it, I was on my way home ready to come back for the race itself the next day.
The end of my shift
I've always tried to thank the volunteers over the last few years during the racing but now I know more than ever the importance of the race volunteers.  And lots of volunteers are needed so there is always a place for you to help.  Everyone I worked with was very nice and did whatever they could to help.  It was great to see the many high school kids volunteering as well.  Our community has a bright future with kids like this.



Have you volunteered for a race?  How was your experience?



Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Jun 25, 2012

North Face Endurance Challenge Giveaway

Rest day on the schedule today....

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About a week ago, I was chosen as one of the bloggers to blog about the North Face Endurance Challenge.  As you know, this is a race that I would LOVE to do and is on my "to-do" list of races.  It's located in God's country - near Madison, WI and is a trail race.

This is really a weekend experience.  There's a talk at packet pickup the day before the race.  You have a chance to meet Dean Karanzes, get a photo/autograph with him on Saturday after the races - how cool is that!  You get an opportunity to run one of the many events - 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon, 50k or 50 miler!  The course looks incredible - and hilly.  The timing of the race is perfect for a marathon being September 15-16, 2012.  It should be a great time all around.  Check out this video to learn more and go HERE to see details of the race:


As part of being on the blogging team for this incredible race, I also received the opportunity to participate in the event.  I've made a decision and have decided not to attend this event this year.  The reason is that I already have a marathon planned and paid for in October.  Could I get through another marathon a month early? - probably.  However, the North Face marathon is a challenging run and I don't really want to just "get through" it.  I want to race it.  While I also have the option to run the half marathon, this event is about seven hours from Detroit, and for now, I cannot justify 14 hours of driving, hotel costs, etc for a half marathon.  It has to be the full marathon or longer.  Go big or go home so to speak.

Because of this, one of my lucky readers is going to get a chance to run this awesome event.  Since it's the kind of event that is world class, if you don't have any fall race planned yet, why not throw your name in for a chance to run this event?  Please be considerate of others wanting to race this event and only put your name in if you or someone going with you are really going to attend it.

So here's the rules:

1) "Like" Detroit Runner on Facebook and leave me a comment on my Facebook wall(1 entry)
2) "Follow" Detroit Runner on Twitter and send me a tweet(1 entry)
3) Go to the Endurance Challenge website(HERE) and read about the race and leave me a comment what you think of the race(1 entry)
4) Post about this contest on your blog, share this on Facebook or tweet about this contest "I registered to win a NorthFace Challenge entry in Madison, WI at www.detroitrunner.com; contest ends 7/2 #TheNorthFace #EnduranceChallenge" and let me know you did here.(2 entries)

That's all there is to it - up to five chances to win!  The winner will receive a promotion code good for one individual entry into one of the races at the North Face Endurance Challenge in Madison, WI.  I'm already jealous of you and wishing I didn't sign up for a marathon already.

Contest will end, Monday, July 2nd at 5pm.

Good luck!

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!





Jun 24, 2012

Solstice Run Race Review

Solstice Run Race Review


Short Version:

Finished in 1:21:07(chip time)
Overall Place:  152/692
AG(M40-44) Place:  20/71
No PR for me today although I was happy with a near even 5 mile split(20 seconds slow for second half)

Humid and hilly run.  It was hotter than I'd like it but very nice for an end of June day.  As you probably suspect, I had a great time at a very well run race.  As a bonus, it was my birthday as well so it made it extra special.  Bottom line:  Kona Running Company does not disappoint.

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As I've said in prior race reviews this year, there are many different areas of a races that the race director has to consider when organizing an event.  Since my race reviews are long enough as it is, I've been using the following eight categories which the majority of runners would rate when making a decision to come back to the race for the following year.

Registration/Packet Pickup
Registration is a very easy process with the Kona Running Company races.  All you do is go to their website which, in this case, was HERE, click register, add your information and pay.  A very simple process.  You also had the opportunity to register the day before the race at packet pickup and race morning if the race was not sold out.  Volunteers were requested to help with packet pickup on Friday evening so I decided to volunteer and help the race out this year.  I'm sorry to say that this was the first time that I have volunteered for a race but certainly will not be the last.  I'll do a detailed post of my experience in a later post but would like to say that I was very happy to help and all races need volunteers to make things run smoothly.  The Solstice Run had over 225 volunteers.

Packet pick up was also a very easy process.  It was located at Northville Square mall in Northville on the second floor.
Welcome - to enlarge any picture, click on it.
There was parking right behind the building making for easy access but there was an art fair going on at the same time so it might have been a little tricky to get a space next to the mall.  I was lucky and got one right there.  The race had a list of all bib numbers with names.  People could grab their number and then go up to the pickup.  The packet pickup was well organized(of course, since I helped.  Ha!) and the bibs were spread out over a 20 foot table.  You gave the volunteer your number, they found it, confirmed your name, and gave you your shirt and you were good to go for the race.  Bibs had the timing chip on the back so there was no need for a separate timing device on your shoe.
Packet Pickup
Start Area
I got to the start rather early at 6am.  There were already some runners there warming up and there was plenty of parking at Northville Downs - at least at that time.  If you were not early, there was a new option this year to take a shuttle from the local high school to get to the start so that there were no issues with parking.

The start of the Solstice Run is at Northville Downs horse track.  This is a really unique start for a race as you get to run around the horse track as you start your race.  I've never done that with any race I've been involved in so it makes for a very exciting start.  This is the third time I've run this race.  The 10k Aloha run was set to go at 7:15am, the 10 mile Kona run at 7:30am, the Maui mile at 8:15am and the 5k Honolulu run at 8:45 or 8:55am depending on your pace.

The race had plenty of port-o-potties at the start line and everything was already lined(course cones) up by the time I got there at 6am.  Here's a few pictures showing just outside the track and how prepared the race was for everyone:
Cones out showing race course
Plenty of porta potties
One of the biggest complaints I overhear for other races - not enough!
I also saw Coach Ken setting up the start area.  I bet Ken has volunteered at hundreds of races and he does a great job at the start.  Not only does he set up but he cheers on the runners at the start and helps tear everything down as well.  He's an important part to the starting area.  Also, in the picture below, you can get an idea of what the track looks like that you get to run around.
Start area


Here's an idea of the kind of crowd that was running these races - 3,500+ runners!  Most of the people in this picture are just for the 10k.  There were thousands of runners today.
Thousands of runners getting ready to run!
If you have read some of my past race reviews, my biggest pet peeve in a race is starting time.  If it says 7:15am start, then start at 7:15am!  I tend to pay attention to this at the beginning as I'm crazy like that.  I'm happy to say that the 10k and 10 mile started exactly on time.  This is why I love Kona Races so much - for this level of detail.

Last year there were some issues with the course upon exiting Northville Downs.  There were 10 mile people actually standing in the race path so 10k people had to run around people waiting for the next race.  Since I wanted to get some pictures, I decided to wait right at that spot and see how things were handled this year.  It was completely different this year.  There was a volunteer who was pushing people to the left of that path and then once the 10k started, he did an awesome job keeping people off the course.  This was a critical volunteer position because you really had to be stern with people to keep them off it.  It made for a much better experience for the 10k runners this year and I'm happy to see a big improvement in this regard.  Just before the 10k start, I got a shot of the race director, Alan Whitehead working hard to make things smooth.  Here he is running to get something completed prior to the race start:
Alan Whitehead, race director working hard to keep runners happy!
Because my race did not start for 15 minutes, I had an opportunity to get a couple pictures before it was time for the 10 mile race.  Take a look:
Pace car for 10k coming off the track
A few of the first 10k runners
Course
As I mentioned, the course starts on Northville Downs so you get to run one lap on the horse track.  After the track, you come out into the parking lot of the track and right away head up "Kona Hill".  This is the first tough hill of many in the race.  This is NOT a flat race course.  It is, however, a great layout, offering a nice challenge.  The course takes your through the beautiful neighborhoods of Northville, through downtown Northville and a superb finish on Ford Field(in Northville, not where the Lions play).

Extra special this year was Luke Humphrey and Clint Verran battling it out in the Solstice "Duel in the Sun"  Both gentleman are Olympic Trial qualifiers with 2:14 marathons.  It was the start of an exciting race for sure.  I was not there at the finish line to see it but Luke Humphrey won the race with a time of 52:27(clock time) vs. Clint Verran's time of 52:43.  Of course, it's all in friendly competition since both runners train with the Hanson's Group.
Alan Whitehead(race director), Clint Verran & Luke Humphrey post race
Photo used with permission of Carter Sherline Frog Prince Studios
This is a certified course so there's no need to worry about it being short.  My Garmin said I ran 10.13 miles which is just about perfect given most of us do not run all the tangents to the course.  It was humid and it was warm but not extremely warm.  I would have hoped for an overcast day as the sun did seem to bear down on you on parts of the course.  One of the nice things about it is that you get to run in parts of the older subdivisions where there is shade and, while it is still hilly, it's not as bad as in the first part of the race.  I also love that the neighborhoods really do support this race and there are many homeowners out in their front yard cheering on the runners.  I also love running in downtown Northville since you don't have any other opportunity to do that.  The finish is really great since you come down a hill and go around a track in Ford Field.  There are lots of spectators in this area and they really start lining up from near downtown all the way to the finish so you get lots of encouragement at the end of the race.

Here's a look at the course and elevation from my Garmin's perspective:
Solstice 10 mile course

Elevation - Solstice 10 mile course - ah, hills

Aid Stations
There were plenty of aid stations including water, GU brew and GU.  I'm not a huge fan of GU or GU brew, but my opinion is that it's great to have both out there for a 10 mile race.  The volunteers were everywhere and yelling out water or GU where appropriate.  There were over 225 volunteers for the race this year including yours truly.  All did a great job cheering people on and directing people.  I was especially impressed with the course marshals as they were yelling out directions frequently and it helps keep you in line of where you needed to go.

Finish Area
The finish area is one of the best things of the Solstice Run.  Since it finishes in Ford Field, there is plenty of room to set up for a race.  As you are close to the finish line, the announcer calls out your name - I love when races do that!  You come through the finish shoot, get your photo taken, a volunteer is giving out high-fives!, then you get your medal from a smiling volunteer, your finisher hat and some food.  You can eat your food and drink and watch the Hawaiian hula dancers or listen to the band.
Even the Photographer was into it with the Kona hat!
High five finish volunteer.  Sweet!  I want to volunteer for that job!
Medals - which are awesome(see below)
to all 10 mile and 10k runners
Handing out 10th anniversary
Kona hats to all 10 mile, 10k, 5k runners
Ready to hand out lots of hats!
Hawaiian Dancers
One of the really great things about this race is that you see people(both runners and their cheering section having fun everywhere you look.  Careful what you do when Detroit Runner is around - you might get your picture taken.  Haha!  Here's a great example:
A few runners having a great time
Ty from Ty Runs Blog(in orange)
Powerade
Volunteer continuing to prepare water for runners
More volunteers handing out water
One of the most unique things the Solstice run does is have their race sponsors at the end of the finish.  I really like this concept.  It allows the sponsors to showcase their products/services and also give away some freebies to the runners as well.  It's a very well planned finish area that is run quite smoothly.
Sponsor, food tents at finish
Sponsors
More sponsors/expo area
I put Renewal by Anderson of Detroit in here below specifically because they also sponsored runners for this race, along with past and future races this season.  A great contribution to the running community. If you are a runner and looking to run a race with them, click HERE for their Facebook page to look for future sponsored races.
Renewal by Andersen
In addition to the Hawaiian dancers, they also had a great band at the finish area.  I was one of the last to leave the area and they were still there.
Band at finish
The timing company, Everal Race Management also posted race results as runners were coming in.  You can also check their website for complete results or go to RunMichigan.
Results on site
Amenities
Wow.  There are so many amenities, it's unbelievable.  You got a shirt, a 10th anniversary hat, a medal which is an awesome surfboard shape.  You get food(and lots of it), there's water, GU on course, GU Brew, Powerade, entertainment(Hawaiian girls), a great band playing at the start and finish, photographers on course.  What more could you ask for in a race?
Shirt, hat, medal
Sweet medal shaped like a surfboard!
Organization
The organization of this years Solstice Run was excellent.  I've always felt that it's all in the details when making sure a race goes off without a hitch.  The Solstice Run has had 10 years to work through all the details and they continue to improve their race where most(well at least I) didn't even thing it needed improvements.  That's what makes these races run so well and keeps people coming back year after year.  Organization can surely make or break a race and it only takes one mistake for runners to become angry and find another race.  Alan Whitehead, the race director, and his staff, have done an incredible job.  Everyone knows what to do and when to do it and that makes for a great race.

Overall
This is an A++ race in my opinion.  It's the only race that I've ever ran three times in a row.  You can certainly see why I keep coming back year after year.  The Kona Running Company does a phenomenal job in every aspect to the race management in my humble opinion.  While I have not run hundreds of races, this was my 29th race in the last three years and I've been to all types of races and lengths.  This race continues to be of my favorites.  In addition, they are always looking for ways to make the experience that much better for the runners and they certainly did not disappoint this year.
Solstice #3 complete
Here's a look at the races I've done with them.  If I'm not mistaken, I believe these are all the medals they have given in their races over the last several years:

Wicked Halloween 2011, Shamrock N Roll 2012
Solstice Run 2010, 2011, 2012

Remember that the 2013 race will be the Kona Run.


Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

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