Oakland Running Festival: Recap

For the first time in 25 years, Oakland was host to a Marathon. The Oakland Running Festival was a weekend full of races organized by CSE. The course goes included running through downtown to Temescal, circling Lake Merrit, Jack London Square and sweeping views from Montclair and the industrial west side on Mandela Parkway. As a part of the Pure Fit Radio team, I received a complimentary entry into the full marathon from event director Gene Brtalik to help promote the race.

The morning of the event, I felt really good. I woke up with some great energy and considering I set the alarm for 3:30 a.m., this was good. As I made my way to the start line to meet Larry, who was also running, I couldn't help but notice how good I felt. I'm typically anxious, but I felt at ease and ready to see what the day would bring.

At the start line, Mark Curry, an Oakland native and star of Hangin' with Mr. Cooper was going through the crowd taking photos and wishing runners luck. In a few minutes he would be doing the countdown to start the race. As I took one last photo with Larry, the race started and we were on our way. As I crossed the start line, Mark Curry was on my side of the road high-fiving runners, so I put up my hand, but he didn't see me and I didn't get a high-five... Yes, Mr. Cooper left me hanging. LOL. I think that joke almost makes it better than actually getting one, but it still would have been cool.

I ran the first mile with Larry, but since he is much faster, that is where we separated. The morning was perfect race weather and I was moving along nicely. The first 10 miles were an uphill climb over rolling hills to 700 ft. Although the incline may have intimidated some runners, it was by far my favorite section of the course. My goal was to stay as close as I could to 10 min. miles without straining my legs on any uphill or downhill sections.

At Mile 10, I was at 1:38:41 (a 9:48 avg.), and feeling fairly successful for that challenging portion. The hills came and went, but the weather was great and the scenery wonderful. After mile 10 we were ready for a steep downhill, that is challenging even in a car (near the Oakland Temple - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  The choice here was to fly down and risk the quads screaming later in the race or maintain pace. I went somewhere in the middle picking up a few seconds for the bank but going down close to pace. The next three downhill miles were at 9:33, 9:24, 9:35.

Now I knew it was a race against the clock. With over half the course behind me and the most difficult section done, it was a matter of racing time. Literally. At the halfway point I was at 2:07:14 (with 3 mins. in the bank for a 4:20 finish). Throughout the course, I couldn't help but notice members of the community cheering the runners on. People standing along the course, sitting outside their house, local businesses, BART stations, simply clapping and rooting us on. I found myself running by and saying 'thank you' more than I typically do, which is a lot considering I thank plenty of people along the way typically. We, as runners, should always show our appreciation to those that come and root us on. Oakland came out to support all of us. It was a great thing to see.

Around mile 17, I could feel the sun starting to beat down on us. I was still moving along, but I could tell that it was going to take it's toll. I stayed well hydrated, but could feel my legs start to tighten up (from what I believe to be a lack of sodium, from the salt residue building up from my sweat). From mile 18 to mile 22, I just bonk'd... for those 4 miles, I averaged just under a 12 min. pace. I was beat and could feel my pace significantly slow. I saw other runners stretching along the course and several suffering from cramps. Although my legs never officially cramped up, they were feeling  mighty tight. I would walk it out or stop and stretch if I ever felt it getting close to tightening up.

I came across Sherlin at mile 21 and she had salt packets with her. As I dumped them into my water bottle and refilled with Gatorade, I went on my way with a feeling of rejuvenation. She really knows how to make me feel better and stronger as a runner. I couldn't do this without her.

As the salt packets kicked in and I ate a couple 2x caffeine GUs, I felt my pace quicken. It was make or break time, if I picked up the pace and ran strong the rest of the way, I had a chance at a PR. 4:20, was out of the question awhile back, but maybe I could shave a couple minutes off 4:29. As I kept the legs turning, hoping to come in before that time, it wasn't meant to be. I crossed the finish line at 4:30:03, less than a minute away from my Arizona time. Considering AZ was totally flat and Oakland had challenging hills, I was pretty proud of the result. But at the moment I was TIRED. I emptied the tank on the last 4 miles (with a couple sub 10 min. miles) reaching for a PR and fell short, but I'm glad I tried. As I say: Run Strong, Finish Stronger.

Thank you to everyone on Facebook and Twitter that wished me luck and send strong running vibes. I definitely tried to channel you guys down the stretch.

Also,a huge thank you to Gene and the Oakland Running Festival for making this event happen. Everyone I have talked to loved the race and was touched by the support of the community. The inaugural event was a success.

Also a big shout out to Pure Fit Radio for promoting the race and teaming up to share complimentary race entries. We gave away three entries through this blog and our Facebook pages. Be sure to check out PureFitRadio.com for information on upcoming races and ways to win entries.


Race Expectations

With the Oakland Running Festival this weekend, and me attempting to complete my 4th marathon in the last 4 months (10th overall), some expectations come into play. I feel like I am on a good pace to continue improving my marathon time. here are my last 3 finish times:

Dec. 4:40:41 (5 min. PR)
Jan. 4: 29:13 (11 min. PR)
Feb. (50k Ultra) 7:19:34 (14 min PR)

As you can see, improving each time I go out is a goal of mine and has been a pattern as I continue to train harder and get faster. But am I setting myself up for disappointment by trying to finish faster EVERY time? I did have a fun run last October dressed as Michael Jackson finishing a half marathon 13 or so minutes slower than my PR, but I was in costume so it was easy to slow my pace and have fun.

This race is more challenging (in terms of topography) than my last two marathons (Sac. CIM and PHX Rock n Roll) so it will be an uphill battle for the first 10 miles. Over the last month, I have definitely worked in some more hill training so I feel prepared, but it will still be a factor none-the-less.

So, what is the time goal for the Oakland Running Festival? 4:20 — with a more realistic approach being 4:25.

I'm pretty good at judging what my body is ready for, but I tend to set the goal a few minutes faster to motivate me to reach beyond what is expected. I'll keep you posted with status updates via Facebook.

An extra thank you to the Oakalnd Running Festival Race Director Gene Brtalik for inviting me to participate and promote the race through Pure Fit Radio.


Part 2: Race Day Tips

Four days until the Oakland Running Festival and whether it is your first or your 100th, it's always nice to run a checklist of things to expect. Part 1 was posted Monday, which means Part 2 is here:

During Race Fuel
I can only speak from personal experience and advice I have received as it pertains to me. That is a long was of saying, you need to find out what works for you. If you have a sensitive stomach this may take some trial and error. Either way, be sure to try it out on your training runs. What works on a 5 mile run, may cause you to crash and burn at mile 20. I try to get some form of fuel in my body every 45 mins. Whether it is a energy gel (Chocolate Outrage Gu is my favorite), trail mix, pretzels, banana or sport beans. As you can guess, some of those are going to be difficult to find during an event, so make sure what ever you are trying during your run, you can carry or have access to during your event.
Tip: Again, I eat something every 45 mins. I carry Gu and sport beans in my water belt and that seems to hold me over. On training runs, I'll also eat trail mix or bananas if they can be stashed in the car. If you haven't tried energy gels, then don't go out and buy a box of a single flavor or brand. You are going to have to try and fail. LOL. Sorry. I love chocolate GU because I think it tastes like frosting. But here is a perfect example: I also like Vanilla by Cytomax, but don't care for GU's vanilla. So go to your local sports store and buy a couple to sample. Good luck.

Race Pace
The energy is inspiring. Everyone is stretching and anxiety is reaching it's peak. You give final hugs to your friends and cheers to the people around you. As the crowd starts to shift forward, the race begins and you are off. Here is the best advice you will ever receive for a long distance endurance run: DON'T GO OUT TOO FAST! It's an endurance run, not a sprint and unless you are clocking sub 5 min. miles, you most likely aren't going to win. But if you are used to running 10 min. miles and you get swept up with the crowd in the first 5 miles and have been running 9 min. miles you may fatigue your legs right out the gate.
Tip: The first 3 miles are going to be crowded and you are going to want to break away from the crowd by speeding up. Resist it. Stay on your pace. You are going to be out there for hours, so you can open it up later. I try to stay on my projected pace for the first half, regardless of how I feel. At the halfway point of any distance you can reevaluate and decide whether you want to pick up the pace. If it's a full marathon, this is how I break it down: stay on pace for the first 13.1 miles. If it means making a conscious effort to slow down my energy, so be it. I also stay on pace until 18 but may try to pick up 5-10 seconds for those 5 miles to put some time in the bank for the final stretch. Miles 18-20 is where the inevitable "WALL" comes into play. Run through it and move on. :) At mile 22 you should be able to tell if your pace is slowing or holding strong. If you are holding your pace and think you can pick it up, go for it.

Course Photos
They line the course with giant cameras and click away. If you see them in advance, straighten up, suck in the gut and either smile and wave, or look straight ahead "focused runner" style. I do a little bit of everything. I'll smile, wave, throw up a peace sign, open my mouth wide and point, whatever. I rarely buy the pictures, so i think it is great to capture how you feel at that moment. Of course the fun pictures for me are usually during the beginning of the course and the slow and lazy photos come later.
Tip: Have fun with it. If you see a camera, smile. Friends and family enjoy seeing you have a good time. You've trained hard for it, so enjoy it. Before the race, while you are in your start corrals, there will also be photographers getting before shots. These are great because you aren't sweaty, you are happy, and full of excitement for what is coming in the near future. Group with friends and get that "before" shot. You will be able to look up the photos based on your bib number online, so make sure it can be seen, otherwise you won't be able to find it. There will also be finish line photos, so when you cross that finish line, stand tall and proud. You crossed the finish line and completed what you set out to do. Way to go.

Finish Line Fun
You did it! Cool, huh? Check to see what the event will have at the finish line. Most should have a food area where you can grab fruit, bagels, water, etc. Grab them. You may not feel like eating or drinking them two minutes after you cross the line, but 20 mins. after they may be the best thing ever. If they have a place for you take a photo with your medal, stand in line and go for it. You dint have to buy the photo, but they are fun to at least look at online. If there are family reunion areas, you'll want to coordinate with your family and friends to meet up. Recently, beer gardens have become popular at events and if you are into it, it's great to partake in the fun. Some races also hold concerts with live music which is great to listen to while you bask in the glory of what you've accomplished.
Tip: None. You did it... well, I guess I have to say something. If you are feeling tight or sore, be sure to walk it out and stretch. Sitting down may be what you want to do, but you'll get even tighter if you stop moving, so take a few steps and allow your heart rate to calm down and catch your breath. If you are feeling pain in area or need to tend to an injury, visit the medical tent and they can help you out. Again, it's free, so swing by and get some ice or advice. Sorry, i guess that isn't "finish line fun" that more like "finish line pain," but I have a feeling you don't need tips on fun.


Part 1: Race Day Tips

Awhile back, a friend asked me what she could expect to face on race day besides the running aspect. It's an excellent question. We spend months training for completing the distance, but there are outside factors that we should be prepared for. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Start Time
Most races start early in the morning, often when the sun is rising (or before). If you are not used to waking up early and running in the morning, you should include it in your training. Running in the mid-afternoon or evening is vastly different from running in the early morning. Your body can still be "tight" from the night before and your brain may still be on sleep mode at the start.
Tip: Try to get in runs at the same time as the start time. It will get your body used to running at that hour. This may require extra sleep the night before and watching what you eat for dinner and breakfast... both are things you should keep in mind on race day (and practice). It may be a case of trial and error and race day is not when you want to discover what could be an "error."

Morning Fuel
If you aren't used to running in the morning, fuel can be an issue. Both too much and too little. If you had a heavy dinner, you could wake up full and not want to eat breakfast, leaving you without energy mid-run. Breakfast may have to be eaten earlier, so keep that in mind. For me, I wake up an hour or two before a long run. It allows me to get out of sleep mode, eat a small breakfast (cereal and toast) and stretch.
Tip: On race day, you should eat what you are used to eating before your training runs. Race day is not the day to try new things. Stick to your formula that you know works. It's one less thing you should have to worry about if it is habit.

Potty Fun
Something that most runners should be used to during runs. On training runs, you may not be worried about the few minutes you spend "not running." But on race day, those few minutes can be longer and costly if you have a goal time. During the race, expect lines at every port-a-potty. Every one! There are thousands of runners all on the same schedule as you. Boys have it "easier" if they are going number one and don't mind going on a tree, so ladies feel free to pass them and pick up a few seconds as they rudely mark their territory.
Tip: Go early and often. When you get to the start line, leave enough time to make a pit stop at the port-a-potty. The lines will be three times as long as they are on the course, but the time doesn't count against you before the gun. Wake up a bit early at home too, so you don't have to face the lines. During the race, it's your call. If you can hold it and run comfortably at pace, hold it. If you need to stop, stop. Make line and move on. You may loose 3-5 minutes but you'll race more comfortably for the next X miles.

Water Stops
These can be a nightmare on race day. The people in front of you stop all of sudden, people cross in front of you without warning, and the ground is wet and covered in used cups. If you don't plan on stopping to get water, try to stay in the middle of the road and be aware of people around you. If you are getting water, be aware of those behind you and remember that the water stops are normally a few tables long. Water is typically available on the right and left, so merge to the side you are currently on. Most people stop at the first table and a crowd gathers... you can pass them with confidence that a few feet ahead there is more water with no crowd.
Tip: If you can run with a water bottle (and have trained with it) you can bypass most water stations and fill up when needed... volunteers will have pitchers that can fill up your bottle. If you don't run with a bottle and need to stop, be conscious of those around you. Jumping to the side or suddenly stopping can be dangerous. Use common sense if you are getting water or running through. Note: the ground may be slippery from water and leftover cups. If you can hold onto your cup for a few seconds, try to aim for a garbage can. They'll be lined on the sides and volunteers (and fellow runners behind you) will appreciate it. If you don't drink the whole cup, don't dump it out on the road... you could get another runner wet and it poses the risk of potentially causing someone to slip later on. Again, try for a garbage can.

Be sure to check back this week for Part 2: during race fuel, race pace, course photos and finish line fun. If you have race day tips, feel free to share in the comments below or join the fun on my Facebook page.


Green Tips

Seems appropriate for today... here are some friendly tips to be more "green."

Water Bottle
I run with a water bottle for any distance over 10 miles. It works out perfect especially in training runs where water fountains may be few and far in between. It also is helpful during events. As you can imagine, all those paper cups cannot be good for the environment. Running with a water bottle allows me to bypass the people slowing down to wait for a cup or grab it off the table. It's also easier to drink, since I can do it while I run without spilling all over myself (most times). Water stations at road races also typically have pitchers and volunteers are glad to fill up your water bottle if you ask nicely — a thank you afterwards is also always appreciated. It may take a few seconds to fill up the water bottle, but you've already passed several water stations where you didn't slow down, so you've banked a couple minutes to re-fill.

Running Shoes
My recent poll on "the number of running shoes in your household" on facebook was very surprising. The average was around 7. Considering we are told that the miles are limited per shoe to drive us to buy more, our shoes can be very "ungreen." But if we use them properly, we can get longer use out of them. In my house, there are 4 pairs of running shoes. One is in heavy rotation, what I consider my "marathon" pair. These are the ones that carry the bulk of the miles and are used in longer runs and events. I have a second pair that has some "wear" on them, but are still usable. These can be used on mid mile runs and short runs. I also recently bought a "lighter" pair of shoes, that I save for 10ks and speed work. The final pair is an older version of the "lighter" shoes that are no longer used to run in. (I'm wearing them now) I use these for day to day things and have been retired from running, but can still be used daily. Overtime, the ones in heavy rotation will be bumped down and the ones with "wear" will be donated to the Nike Town in San Francisco to be recycled. The shoes is broken into three parts and used in tracks, tennis courts and basketball gyms. (see Nike's Re-use a Shoe website for more info).

Car Pool
If you happen to run with friends and plan to race an event together, see if you can organize a car pool. Meet up at a local Starbucks or McDonald's (but don't eat a burger) and pile into a car to ride together. I'm fortunate enough to train with great friends and often we register for events that several of us would like to do. This allows us not only to train together, but we can organize before so that we limit the number of cars making the drive. This works for us runners and for our support crew. If you've been part of a support crew, you know how difficult it can be to try to find parking.

Those are just a few tips we can keep in mind while we are running and training. Also, check to see if your local event is taking steps to be more green and how you can take part in helping the cause. Enjoy the rest of St. Patrick's Day and if you have Nike Free's on, i think you are covered for your green... but you still might get pinched.


The Day Before Twenty

I was reading this month's Runner's World on the way to work and came across an article on preparation the day before a race, so it got me thinking... what am I doing today? (the day before a 20 miler)

Breakfast: A skinny hazelnut latte and a plain old fashioned doughnut — not the best breakfast, but it's a Friday and it will get me through my morning at work. Typically it would be a bowl of cereal and maybe some toast.

Lunch: Meeting a couple fellow runners to catch up and enjoy a mid-day break. Not sure where we are eating, but a sandwich sounds pretty good. I'll most likely eat something light and nothing to heavy. Salad would be perfect, but I don't like lettuce so that kind of scratches out that option. Soup is also a good option (again, nothing too heavy).

Dinner: Mini-turkey burgers! LOL. Definitely not a pre-race or long run meal, but it is turkey meat —  bonus! And they are mini burgers — second bonus! I'll only have one since I have an early wake up call (4:30 a.m.) it needs to be a light meal. Everyone knows the pasta pre-race meal, but I would also like to suggest a baked potato (with some extra salt). Also good on sodium and carbs and a different option than the typical pasta.

Early Bed Time: Eight hours will be ideal, but that means an 8:30 bed time, so that's not gonna happen... as i write this blog, it is quickly turning into a "Do what I say, not what I do." type post, sorry about that.

Hydrate: Here we go. This I am following. I will be staying up on my water intake throughout the day. Before long runs 20 and above, I keep water easily accessible a few days before, but do not chug water or over-drink. I keep it to my normal amounts and intake maybe slightly more than usual. There's one where I practice what I preach.

Since this is a twenty mile training run, my day-before rituals are less strict. If this were a 22-24 or a marathon, the above would be drastically different. For some BETTER TIPS and GOOD PRACTICES the day before long runs, check out Runner's World's tips:

Routine Matters (Day Before and Race Day tips)
A Jump Start (Refuel after a morning run)
What to Drink and When (Hydration tips)

Does that help recover my post from a "what not to do list?"


>1 Run Club

I began my marathon training over three years with The San Francisco AIDS Foundation training to finish my first marathon in Florence, Italy (quite a destination to start with) and have never stopped. So it is with great pleasure that I welcome a friend of mine, Cal, to share in the next evolution of the Foundation:

>1, the endurance program of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, is excited to be launching our >1 Run Club in 2010. All members also have the option to fund raise anytime in order to help the San Francisco AIDS Foundation prevent new HIV infections. There is no fundraising minimum and yearly membership is only $35.

In addition to the weekly 3-5 mile group runs we’ve been doing, soon you will also have the option to participate in longer runs which build each week leading to the events below. Each of you can choose to run in none, one, two or all of the 2010 events ... or choose your own. In addition, you’ll have access to a full training plan in your Participant Center. Here are the events for which you’ll be race-ready if you decide on the longer runs.

2010 Events:

ING Bay to Breakers — May 16, 2010

San Francisco Marathon and Half Marathon — July 25th, 2010

Wine Country Marathon and Half Marathon — October 30, 2010

* * *

Thanks Cal. I'll be keeping you up to date with several announcements and inspirational stories from Greater Than One. If you have any questions, be sure to visit their official run club page in the events section — you can also help the cause by donating on behalf of a participant. If you would like to share your current (or past experiences) with Greater than One or the SF Aids Foundation, we'd love to hear it in the comments below.


A Tale of Two Runs

Recently I have been trying to increase my weekly mileage by increasing the distance of my mid-week runs. My long runs are usually done Saturday mornings in San Francisco with my training group; while my mid-week runs are typically 3-5 miles a couple times a week.

The last month or so, I have been increasing those to 8-10 miles. It has taken some getting used to, or should I say IS STILL taking some getting used to. But I did find something interesting on my last two runs which were a week apart. Let me know what you see:

Distance: 10.09 mi.
Time: 1:34:51
Calories Burned: 1388

Distance: 10.01 mi.
Time: 1:33:58
Calories Burned: 1395

Those are pretty much identical. Here is the weird thing, this is how I ran it and how I felt:

Pace: run a mile, walk a minute, repeat.
I felt o.k. the whole way until around mile 7 when my legs started to feel heavy. I walked more the last few miles and felt fatigued.

Pace: run 2 miles, walk a minute, repeat.
I felt really good the entire way and although I was starting to get tired, it didn't come until late in mile 8 and I was able to run through it finishing strong and feeling good.

After I finished the run on 3/4, I was thinking I was easily 4-5 minutes faster than last week and anxious to check my times on the Garmin and see how much I had improved... I was shocked to see that they were almost identical considering how different each run felt.

My race pace is typically 10 min. miles and I've been working hard to bring that down, so having sub 9:30 min miles for 10 miles is a plus, which both were. Even though the latter run felt much better, it still remained almost identical. I guess there are points for consistency, right?


Raffle Winners

First, I'd like to thank everyone for joining in the fun. The raffle was held three weeks before race day, which means that everyone that entered is capable of running a full marathon or a half in short notice. That is a testament to what we do. Want to run a race in less than month? Sure, sign me up.

I'd also like to thank Gene Brtalik, the Oakland Running Festival Event Director, for taking the time to be interviewed and for donating complimentary entries to this wonderful event. We look forward to celebrating (and finishing) the Inaugural Oakland Running Festival.

And of course, we have to thank Pure Fit Radio for making this happen. I am the Endurance State Reporter for the state of California and it is always a pleasure to keep you up to date on events happening within our lovely state. The weekly podcast (discussing training, upcoming events, nutrition, injury prevention) is available for free download at iTunes and is hosted by Bart Yasso and "Marathon Junkie" Chuck Engle.

Without another moment, here are the results. We had just under 20 entrants (not bad for a 4 day raffle with an event in three weeks) and the winners are:

1. Mike Kezsely
2. Sandra Kirschner
3. Jessica Clemons

If you could each email me or contact me on facebook (links to the right), I will give you further instructions to claim you complimentary entry.

For more information, please feel free to visit the official Oakland Running Festival website. Registration is still open for all events and we look forward to seeing you out there.


25 Years in the Making

Oakland Running Festival
March 27-28, 2010
Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 4-person Marathon Relay, 5k, Kids Fun Run
$105 (Full), $90 (Half), $250 (Relay), $40 (5k), $15 (Fun Run) — Register Online Here
Course Map:

Event Participation Shirts:
Full Marathon — 1/4 zip jacket (men & women's)

Half Marathon — Technical Shirt (men & women's)

4-person Relay — Technical Shirt (men & women's)

Weekend Activities:
Saturday, March 27th
9am-6pm: Packet Pick-Up, Sports Expo, and Late Registration
6-8pm: Kick-Off Party with Live Music and more! (at Lake Merritt)
6:30pm: Twilight 5K Race at Lake Merritt
8pm: Twilight 5K Awards Ceremony

Sunday, March 28th
7:15am: Opening Remarks and National Anthem
7:30am: Marathon and Team Relay Races Start
8am: Kids' Fun Run Start
9am: Half Marathon Start
9am-2pm: Sports Expo and Celebration Village Activities
10am-2pm: Live Music on the Stage
12:00pm: Awards Ceremony

If you are interested in being placed into a drawing to win a complimentary race entry into the Oakland Full or Half Marathon, simply leave a comment below. The FREE random drawing will be held Thursday at 8 pm. (PST)

Drawings are also being held on my official facebook page along with the fan page for Pure Fit Radio (and additional facebook group pages).


Oakland Running Festival

On March 28, the city of Oakland will be hosting it's first marathon in 25 years. The inaugural Oakland Running Festival includes a full and half-marathon, a four-person relay, a 5k and a Kids Fun Run. I was fortunate enough to be in contact with Gene Brtalik, the Event Director and asked if I could interview him and share some insight into this exciting event:

There hasn't been a marathon in Oakland for 25 years. How important was it to bring a Marathon back to the city of Oakland?
(GB) Oakland was the largest major city without a marathon and since 2001, has been without a major road race of any distance. We felt that Oakland is a thriving market and it is the right time to bring this type of event to the city. Oakland has a little bit of a negative reputation and when runners see all the great sights and what Oakland has to offer, they will leave with a great impression of the city. Our events in Baltimore and Frederick, MD have generated millions of dollars in revenue for the city and local charities, and we feel this event will do the same for Oakland.

There are a total of 5 events happening on race weekend, a full and half-marathon, a four-person relay, a Twilight 5k, and a Kids Fun Run. Was getting the entire running community involved through multiple distances an initial thought or something that developed in the planning process?
(GB) This is the formula we use for our events in Baltimore and Frederick and it has been a highly successful model. We want as many runners to participate as possible and not everyone is ready to take on a marathon or a half-marathon. The additions of the team relay and 5k make the event much more appealing to those weekend runners who want to be apart of the event but not run major distances. The Kids Fun Run is a way for the children of the runners to experience the same thrills as their parents do on race day and also promote healthy and physical activity for all children.

Your company, Corrigan Sports Enterprises, is responsible for organizing the Baltimore Running Festival and over time, that race has grown significantly to over 22,000 participants in 2009 Are you using a similar blueprint to make The Oakland Running Festival that successful or with a different location are there different factors that come in to play?
(GB) We are using the exact same blueprint that has made the Baltimore Running Festival successful. What makes our event so successful in Baltimore is the organization of the race and the celebration village at the end of the race . Our goal is to make sure they have an enjoyable time and hopefully tell two or three more friends about the event and they'll want to run the following year. We do a runner survey after the Baltimore race each year and we have had 97% of the participants say they would recommend it to a friend. If we can duplicate the success of Baltimore, registration numbers will grow rapidly.

Runners absolutely love the perks of race weekend. Typically shirts are given to each participant and as of late technical shirts have become the trend. For the full marathon, participants will receive a quarter zip long sleeve jacket, has that (or are you anticipating) played a factor into the number of people registering?
(GB) The technical shirts obviously help, but what I think is driving registration to this point is not only our reputation as a good race company, but also the runners in Oakland are looking forward to running a big race in their hometown for the first time in nearly a decade. The city is looking forward to being in the spotlight and showing off what a great city it is to runners across the Bay Area and the United States. Technical apparel for each race is a great perk.

With a month to go before race weekend, does the excitement grow as the day gets closer for the event director? And at what point do you get to take a breath and look back at what you have brought to the city?
(GB) The excitement grows each day. With San Francisco and San Jose each having successful races, runners are always going to compare the Inaugural Oakland event with those established races. As we get closer and closer to race day, hundreds of questions run through my head — Will people like the event? Will they tell a friend? Will there be fan support along the course? Do we have enough post race activities for the runners? Have we done a good job of spreading the word? It's funny everyone I meet keeps praising me for the job I am doing, but I keep wondering have I done everything I could to make this event a success. I'm confident with the experience CSE has, we will do a great job and runners will have a great experience. We will finally get to take a deep breath and get some sleep on March 30... Then starts preparations for next year.

What do you hope all the participants take away from the Oakland Running Festival?
(GB) I hope all the runners finish the event, and not only love the course and the atmosphere, but also tell all their friends, co-workers, relatives about how there is a new must-run race in the Bay Area.

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I'd like to thank Gene for taking the time to answer some questions and allowing us to take a peak behind the curtain. I will be participating in the Oakland Running Festival in three weeks and would like you to join me. Gene has donated a few complimentary race entries to this blog and Pure Fit Radio.

There are several easy ways for you to enter a raffle drawing:

1. Simply leave a comment on this blog post.
2. Visit Pure Fit Radio's Facebook page for contest links.
3. Visit my Facebook page for contest links.

There will be links throughout the week posted daily and the drawing will be held at Thursday, March 4th at 8 p.m. (PST). All you have to do is leave a comment on any of the three above and you are entered to win a complimentary entry into the Full or Half Marathon. Good Luck!