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Review: Athlinks

Disclaimer: I am promoting Athlinks as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


I am a stats nerd. I’m not even a little shy about that.

This is incredibly evident when watching the registrations roll in for my collegiate alma mater’s annual alumni band at Homecoming. Where are people from? How far do they have to travel to come home? What instrument are they playing? How many times have they been back? These questions and more are usually answered through an elaborate spreadsheet, detailing the event. Naturally when I got serious about my running again in 2014, this system made sense to track my progress, specifically my races. However, in 2017 – after listening to a handful of episodes of the BibRave Podcast – I found Athlinks.

What is Athlinks?

Simply put, Athlinks is a massive online database for athletes all over the world. Notice I said “athletes” and not just “runners”. This is because Athlinks pulls results from triathlon, swimming, cycling, mountain biking, and many other events. If they can find results lingering out in the online world, they’ll add it to their database. Athlinks is all about results.

But it’s more than just that – Athlinks is about sharing and connecting with other athletes (for the rest of this post, we’ll focus on runners). Through their site/app, runners can track their progress, share their results, compete with other runners simply by typing their name into a search box.

What does this mean for ME? Ultimately, it means I don’t necessarily need to track my races on a spreadsheet anymore!

How does it work?

Athlinks makes it VERY easy to get started and one can have their account completely set up in roughly 5 minutes (or less!). Personally, I was sitting at a bar, scrolling through Twitter when I made the decision to download the Athlinks app. It took no time at all to set up and before I knew it I was searching for races. That’s pretty much all you have to do: sign-up, set-up, search, and claim your results.

Regardless if you use the app or the website, you’ll find that – as with any online based service – you have a landing or profile page. Here’s mine:

As you can see, Athlinks will show ME, where I’m from, my age – which comes into play if you’re focusing on age group competition, any upcoming races (usually shown on the “timeline” tab), and then the bread and butter – past race results.

The other tabs along the top include Statistics (all-time), Following (think like Twitter or Facebook), and Rivals. As you probably guessed, the Statistics tab is definitely where I live and is my 2nd favorite feature in the entire app. Why? It shows me the overall result of all the running I’ve done through mileage and personal records (PRs). I don’t have to rely on my spreadsheet or even my medal rack (which has spots to log PR’s) for this information. But I said this was my 2nd favorite part of the whole app…what is my favorite?

RIVALS. So not only can you follow your fellow runners, you can also see how you stack up against them in the races you both have run. For example, in the photos below you can see that I follow Jessica on Athlinks and we are listed as rivals because we both ran the 2017 New York City Marathon. The reason I am 1-0 against her is because I finished the race before she did. 🙂 This takes tracking results to another level because it adds the spirit of friendly competition to the mix. Speaking of competition, coming up short by 18 seconds isn’t something I’m okay with – I’m comin’ for you, Matt! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Limitations

Like with anything, there are limitations when it comes to Athlinks. The most glaring is missing results. Right now, Athlinks believes my half marathon PR to be 1:56:30 from a race I ran in August of 2017. Since then, I’ve run TWO faster times (currently a 1:45:23 as of this post!), but because those results have not been posted online by the race director OR not made accessible to Athlinks, my 1:56 stands.

The second limitation, which falls mainly on the user, is racing. If you have not participated in a race and only run for personal fitness, then this is not the app for you. But why not take the next step and tackle that local 5k? Who knows – maybe you’ll like it! 🙂

Overall

Honestly, I really like Athlinks and the simplicity of the service they provide a stats nerd like me. I can find my past results, declare what races I intend on running, see all my records, follow fellow runners and compete with them all in one place. The ability to search for results could not be easier and the overall user experience is very friendly. You can get started with Athlinks by downloading the app via Google Play or the App Store, or by visiting athlinks.com.

As always, keep striving.


Check out Athlinks on Social:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/athlinks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/athlinks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Athlinks/

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Facebook: @presramsey
Twitter: @presramsey
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Don’t forget to hop on Twitter for #bibchat every Tuesday evening at 9pm EST. Chat with me and my fellow BibRave Pros about upcoming races, running gear, running in general, and more!

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Review: 2017 Akron Marathon

Originally shared over at BibRave.com, the following is my review of the 2017 Akron Marathon – with some slight alterations here and there. Enjoy!

***

OVERALL: First and foremost, this race – nay, the entire Akron Marathon Race Series – is incredibly well organized. I can not express how amazing the organizers were at communicating information, updating their web presence, ensuring that the race series app was ready to go – the list goes on and on. It seemed like every little thing you could think of was thought of and planned for.

EXPO: The expo was a streamlined event for sure. Runners collected their bibs and “swag bag” in the first of two large convention halls, before moving on to take the obligatory photo with their bib & the race backdrop. After this, participants moved on to the vendor side of the expo. SO MANY VENDORS! Great showing from a TON of upcoming races, local universities, non-profit organizations, and so on. Near the end of the serpentine path that wound through the expo was where runners collected their official race gear, which included a 1/4 zip finisher pullover and lightweight running hat for the marathoners. Just being honest, I’ve worn my pullover every chance I had since race day!

BONUS: Three words: KARAFREAKIN‘ – GOUCHER. I had the opportunity to meet and chat with one of my favorite runners of all time. She’s incredibly humble and does so much for the sport. Hands down, one of the absolute highlights of the weekend!

RACE DAY: 
Parking – There’s a fair amount of parking, set up by which event you are running (full, half, or relay). My wife and I drove past the first marathon-specific garage (a block from my corral) and had no problem accessing the next one, only two blocks from the start line. Easy in, easy out.

Start Line Area – Unlike the two prior events in the race series, the Akron Marathon holds to a strict corral system. This ensures that runners start where their ability level dictates! Minus some minor bottlenecking getting INTO the corrals, moving around the start area was very easy. Lots of music and (thankfully) an abundance of porta-potties! Race started on time without incident and we headed out!

The Course – thriving with spectators at all points, offering boundless encouragement, cheers, smiles, and hi-fives! However, the course is also a challenging one, with varying elevation changes throughout – especially in the second half. There are definitely more significant hills on this course than what I am used to in the relative flatness that is the Columbus, OH metro area. This fact alone had me quite nervous about how this marathon was going to pan out! Thankfully, coming around a corner at just before mile 24, I realized that the 16-weeks of training had put me in unfamiliar territory – coming VERY close to cracking 4 hours. Ultimately, I finished in 4:06 – setting a nearly 40 minute PR. I think it’s safe to say I was ZIPPING (nod to the Univ. of Akron there) through Akron!

The Finish – First off, you finish the race on the home field of the Akron Rubber Ducks – a minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians – which is pretty darn awesome.

Canal Park in Akron, OH on race day

Echoing my previous statements about the crowd support – there is an AMAZING crowd to cheer you in at the end! Always makes for a great feeling. Navigate away from the finish line, snag up your medal, and head over to the post-race party – or Finisher’s Festival – which was AWESOME. Live music on stage, beer, pizza & other food all out on the outfield. Can’t ask for too much more than that. On your way OFF the field, you can snag your SERIES FINISHER medal (and medal hanger) if you’ve completed all three events (1-National Interstate 8k & 1 Mile, 2-Goodyear Half Marathon & 10K, 3-Akron Marathon, Half Marathon, & Team Relay).

Walking away from the finish with my wife, I was racking my brain to identify anything I could critique about this race – and I couldn’t! Almost two weeks removed from the race, I still can’t. If you’re looking for a well-organized, friendly, and challenging event – come check out the Akron Marathon. I truly believe that you will NOT be disappointed. Thank you, Akron Marathon, for a great event and an even better race series!

 

Review: Spring ShokzBox

It feels as if it was just yesterday that I began participating in #bibchat – a weekly Twitter-based discussion group focused on running, hosted by the folks over at BibRave.com. Over the course of my interaction, I’ve had the opportunity to converse with some really awesome runners, learn about new running opportunities, and become aware of some amazing running gear I knew nothing about.

One particular piece of gear (er, brand) that had been popping up on accounts I’ve followed recently is something called AfterShokz. This company makes a different take on the wireless headphone, sitting the main sound output OUTSIDE of the ear – rather than in it – enabling the user to still hear what is going on around them. I got a chance to see a few pairs of these headphones in person a few weeks back when I ran into a few of the BibRave Pros (@daddydidyouwin and @mmaynard551) before the start of the Glass City Marathon in Toledo. Their positive take on these only helped fuel my curiosity.

Naturally, when it was announced that AfterShokz was going to put out their Spring ShokzBox, I was interested. This box is essentially a grouping of some very popular running gear at a very good price. So, I jumped at the opportunity and splurged on a box for myself.

It arrived about two weeks ago. Having now had an opportunity to put the items inside to use, here’s my review of the Spring ShokzBox.

Overall

The biggest and overarching big win of this box, without a doubt, is the value. Anyone who says that running is an inexpensive experience is a liar. Adding up the approximate retail prices of the products reviewed below, the total cost to buy these products individually (before any taxes & shipping) comes to right around $280. The Spring ShokzBox itself with all these items inside is $199.95 – with no shipping cost. Even someone who got an F in Algebra can figure out that the ShokzBox this is a great deal.

Products

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium Headphones (retail $129.95)

I genuinely cannot say enough good things about these headphones. After finally getting to see them in person in Toledo before the GCM, I was sold on the idea. They sit VERY comfortably over the ears and they stay in place – no bouncing, no movement of any kind.The sound output is fantastic and I really can hear everything going on around me. I run primarily outdoors, so being aware of what is going on around me is crucial. An added bonus with these headphones is that I don’t feel as I’m yelling when I still have them on – as is the case with most in-ear or over-ear configurations. If you don’t already have these, get them NOW.

AfterShokz Buff (retail ~$18)

This one I’ve been skeptical about for a while, but was also very eager to see what all the fuss is about. Turns out, it’s pretty darn handy. First off, it’s made from moisture-managing microfiber fabric – the closest thing I can compare it to would be a DriFit-esque type material – which means it is very lightweight and keeps you dry. It is also wind resistant which can keep you protected from windburns during your workouts. The big takeaway here is that it can be worn more than 12 different ways, making it very easy to create your own look while still being comfortable. I prefer the traditional headband look, but I’m sure that will evolve. The only downside to THIS particular Buff (if there actually is one at all) is that it is not available for individual purchase and is just part of this ShokzBox. However, there are PLENTY of traditional Buffs in a variety of designs over at Buff’s website.

BibRave Trucker Hat (retail $22.95)

I’m not one for hats on a daily basis, nor when I run, so this is actually the one thing in the box that I can honestly say I have not used when running. However, if I did wear it while running, I’m pretty sure that I’d comfortable. This trucker style hat boasts a wicking headband on the inside and generous mesh panels around the side and back, which would keep me both cool and shaded. If I’m being completely honest, I like it because it’s orange – sue me. Perhaps it’ll make it out on one of my runs in the future, just not yet.

Orange Mud Transition Seat Wrap (retail $39.95)

Since I drove to my running location today, I actually put this one to use (finally!). There really isn’t a whole lot of fanfare to this one besides the fact that it is multifunction – it can be used as a car seat cover, a towel, and/or as a cover/wrap for an impromptu wardrobe change. If you are using it for the latter, it does have a built-in “belt” of sorts to keep it in place. Comes in a variety of colors (mine is blue) and is fairly soft to the touch. Sure beats a regular beach towel for the driver’s seat and it fits better too.

Brilliant Reflective Safety Strips (retail $9.95)

No fanfare here. Simply put, these are removable and reusable reflective strips, designed to enhance visibility of the wearer in lower-light conditions. Incredibly smart idea and I wish EVERYONE who goes for a run/bike ride/etc after the sun goes down had these.

Knuckle Lights (retail $59.99)

On that same note about nighttime safety, carrying some kind of light source during a night run is essential. Using a traditional flashlight or even the light on a smartphone isn’t very efficient for one’s activity, as one would have to hold the light source at an uncomfortable angle. A headlamp is a great solution, but the down side is an often itchy or uncomfortable headband. Solution? Knuckle Lights. These handheld lights wrap around the base of the fingers with a flexible strap. This ultimately utilizes the natural way the hands close when we run to A) hold the lights and B) put the light exactly where it is needed. The lights themselves are INCREDIBLY bright and has three modes (high beam, low beam, and strobe). If you’re running at night and you don’t have these yet – GET THEM.

***

When looking at the items in this particular ShokzBox, I’m hit with a trifecta of themes: comfortable, convenient, and safe. Everything in this box has value and will absolutely have a place in my plethora of running gear (well, maybe not the hat right away, but it’s still cool). Thank you AfterShokz for putting together such a great deal!


Get your ShokzBox while they are still available over at AfterShokz.