Chicago Marathon: 2021 Experience

The 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon…where to begin? Of course, it was incredible but I think that would be an expectation. I ran this once before, in 2017, but I was so in awe back then since it was my first ever marathon and I just wanted to finish the race. This time, I was determined to pay attention and enjoy the nuances more all while still running competitively in order to achieve some goals I set for myself.

I arrived into Chicago in the early afternoon on Friday, driving in from Milwaukee, but I didn’t hit the expo that day. I did pay a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry and had the opportunity to enjoy their Marvel Comics special exhibit. That really was a treat and I highly recommend checking that out if you have the chance before the exhibit closes.

After a later than anticipated start on Saturday and a visit to the Shedd Aquarium, I made my way over the the marathon expo, waited in a forever long line to check vaccination status, and then picked up my bib and shirt, etc. I roamed around the various vendors for a little bit, not too long, grabbed some KT Tape, drank a Goose Island sample, and made my way out to make sure I got to my 5pm dinner reservation on time. After eating a fabulous meal at Volare Ristorante Italiano, it was back to the hotel to lay out flat me and hope to get a good night’s rest. (Full disclosure: I slept horribly, unfortunately)

RACE DAY!! It finally arrived! Felt like forever since I began the training cycle for this moment and yet it was time. After not sleeping well, I made another “error” by setting my alarm too early so I was up at 4:45am. For some reason, I thought it would take me longer to get to the start line since I was staying a little farther away than I did in 2017. So, I got dressed, had my protein shake and overnight oats, drank some water, and headed downstairs to the hotel lobby hoping to either catch an Uber or be able to utilize the hotel ride service, even though I didn’t call in time the day before to schedule myself on it. After half a cup of coffee, I secured a ride down to Grant Park and made my way, very very ahead of schedule, to gear check. Let the day begin with some dark pics and a selfie!

Thankfully, I came across a fellow BibRave runner and we chatted until the start time, getting some water from the Gatorade booth and making a final visit to the Porto’s. We also managed to find another BibRave runner and got to chat it up with her for awhile, which was really nice meeting them in person after so many social media exchanges. Now the time for stretches and breathing exercises before starting the slow, long walk to the starting line!

I’d like to say that this was a race where it all came together for me and the goals I had set were all reached and there were smiles all around…but, are you crazy?! It’s a marathon! Ha ha, and it knows how to humble you and make you respect it like no other race I’ve done. The race started in a yellow alert status meaning less than ideal race conditions but be careful and you’ll be ok. I personally started really well, maybe too well. My body felt good and I had a good pace but I wasn’t pushing it. I could feel it getting warmer and took my first water at the Mile 3 aid station, something I usually don’t do until Mile 6 on long runs. At Mile 5, a hearty shoutout from a fellow BibRaver, who was volunteering, gave me a very early energy boost. I mean, I literally felt the excitement rise up in me. And then there were all the spectators along the route. I feel I should address them all right here because they were amazing! So much support, so many funny and motivation signs, so many cheers and shouts, just an incredible feeling/moment/image for 26.2 miles throughout the city of Chicago. They truly know how to make you feel good even when things may not go right.

Above is a rare photo of me actually smiling while on the course and running. I never do this. One of the things I told myself heading into this race was to make sure I was smiling more and enjoying the experience and giving those on-course photographers smiles and not look-like-I’m-dying faces in their photos.

Now, back to the race. Somewhere in the early teen mile markers, the race went into a red alert status which meant dangerous weather conditions (the humidity had increased) and be extremely wary of dehydration and cramping and your body, in general. But I was still doing OK. I wasn’t feeling the humidity, I felt hydrated enough, and my legs were still holding strong. It wasn’t until Mile 18 where I started to feel soreness in my feet and my left lower back extending into my glute starting to talk to me. I’d say it was here where my race goals began to lean in the direction of harder to reach. But I kept plugging along. There were more stops for water and I began taking in Gatorade. I had had some pickle juice at Mile 8 (a decision I later felt was incorrect timing by me) and my Honey Stinger waffle.

Weird side note here: on long runs, I find that I don’t get hungry or I don’t feel like ingesting food even though every rational thought says I should and would need food.

Back to the race and my pursuit of glory, haha. The struggle started to hit at Mile 21, especially with my left side. And then I had some side cramps, something I never ever get when running, so that was just bizarre. Mile 23 led to some right quad spasms which slowed me some. But I managed another smile at the photo stop!

As I hit Mile 25, there was one more, last second energy boost provide by yet another BibRaver who was volunteering his time! Thank you so much! And then it was the finish! I’m proud to say I crossed the finish line in a time of 4:03:35! I had three goals going into this marathon but only achieved one of them. Goal #1 was to better my 2017 Chicago Marathon time which I did and by a very decent margin. Goal #2 was to get a sub-4 hour time. To be so close and not get it will sting for a while, for sure. A couple less walking water stops and I might have hit that goal. Goal #3 was to set a marathon PR which I knew coming in would be a long shot but sometimes that’s what your goals are supposed to be, otherwise they wouldn’t be special. But, bottom line, I’m a Chicago Marathon finisher for the second time!

A lot of good feelings finishing this race and some great photos as well to document it. So happy to have met some of my fellow BibRave members and gotten to talk to them. Happy that I came out of this marathon without any major injuries and my health intact. Just happy in general. And I made sure to celebrate that night after driving home.

Happy running everyone!!

Virtual Race Review: Air Force Marathon Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Air Force Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

So this year I was supposed to run the half marathon distance of the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio on the Wright-Patterson base BUT, of course, thanks to the ongoing pandemic issue, the race sadly was moved to a virtual format. I appreciate everything the Air Force Marathon race organizers did and attempted to do to hold the race as scheduled even if in the end it wasn’t to be. They were very communicative throughout the entire process. I never felt like this was a surprise thanks to their constant updates. I hope to have another opportunity to run their race some day since it was looking to be quite the event!

I chose to run my virtual half marathon a week after the actual race would have taken place. It just worked out better for me that way. My run went well and I paced myself relatively well without stressing too much about time. Now, it certainly would have been a different scenario if it was live person race but it wasn’t. The organizers will be sending out race packets next month so I will look forward to my swag including the race medal to arrive then.

I think the socks would have been a hit at the actual race, lol.

Now it’s on to other challenges and other goals to chase. But I will be looking at the Air Force Marathon race in the future again. You can count on it!

Happy running!

Race Review: The Non Cancelled Marathon

On May 1, I ran the Non Cancelled Marathon put on by Silver Circle Sports Entertainment. I’ve had the pleasure of running several of their races during the last year during the pandemic and they have done an excellent job abiding by safety protocols and providing a friendly and secure racing environment. The weather lined up nicely on race day, for the most part. There was a nasty 16-20mph wind that gusted frequently in one direction which not only gave resistance but made it slightly more chilly than it should have felt with the temperatures that day.

Aid Stations: I have to give this zero stars since this is the only thing to not return to normal yet. No aid stations and you were responsible for your own hydration and fuel for the race.

Expo Quality: Again, zero stars since there was no expo. Packet pickup was before the race (or the day before if you drove out to the organization’s headquarters in a 3 hour time window. Packet pickup was smooth and simple though; wear you mask while in line and grab your bib and pins if needed. Your verification was sent via email in the form of a Q-code. Nice and easy, just scan.

Course Scenery: This was an out and back course so the scenery didn’t change and if you did the marathon, like me, you got to run this out and back FOUR times. Yeah, four times. Buuuuut, the race was out on a paved trail and there were a lot of birds to look at while running. I even saw a sandhill crane attempting to camouflage itself in a marsh area off the course. That was pretty cool to see so close. Also, this race allowed for spectators and was that awesome to hear! Even if they were cheering for others or just cheering in general, it was really great to hear! It made what could have been a drag of a race into a more splendid experience.

Elevation Access: Minimal. Slight incline going in one direction and one or two very small up and downs just before the turn point.

Parking Access: There was some parking lots near the race start/finish but those filled up quickly. But there were plenty of side streets to park on so everything was good.

T-Shirt/SWAG: A bright red t-shirt with the race name and sponsors on it and a medal were the items provided for all race participants. I like the shirt; it has a nice feel to it and red is always a winning color in my book. And the medal, well, they didn’t like about it, lol. They promised the largest medal ever and it is gigantic! It announces you finished and in a big way.

The Silver Circle Sports group does a great job with these events and, in the last year especially, have been incredible having races that actually took place. They communicate very well, constantly sending out updates and they answer your direct question within one day of you submitting a query. I can’t say enough about how good of a group they are. I know when I sign up for a race by them, it will take place and I will have a good time, no matter what type of race it is.

Happy running!!!

BRP Summit Review

This pandemic marches on but so do we all. And that’s why this year’s BibRave Pro Summit was a welcome reprieve from the same old weekend routines. Even if it was done virtually, it was still a blast connecting with the many runners and creative producers of our group as well as the management team. Many of these individuals are people I’ve never met in real life but some of the interactions you have make it seem like you run with them every week. It truly is one of the best reasons to be a BibRave Pro.

The summit took place from March 26-28 with various Zoom events and discussions taking place. I’ve included a screenshot above just to show the wide variety of discussions and “meetings” that took place. And this doesn’t even include the DEI session, which was extremely engaging and informative or the Saturday night trivia game that had everyone on teams and conversing in breakout rooms to come up with answers. There was also a Saturday morning runners scavenger hunt supported with audio clues that guided you on your quest. Simply a fun and interactive weekend.

I would be remiss to not mention the wonderful sponsors of the BibRave Pro Summit including Knockaround Sunglasses and Science in Sports Endurance Sports Nutrition. And I have been happily wearing the specially designed for the summit Blue Light Blockers that Knockaround created for us.

Now, the next time you see me or one of my awesome BRP’s sending out the all call that BibRave is looking for new Pros to represent the brand, fill out an application and see if you make it in. There is just so much fun to be had and with a great group of people. And these are just the virtual gatherings. Wait until things get back to normal and we are together in person again…woo, look out!

Happy running everyone!

BUFF DryFlx+ Product Review

Disclaimer: I received an BUFF DryFlx+ Hat and Neckwarmer to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

What can I say? I love love love BUFF products and am a believer in how effective they are for all my outdoor activities. The new DryFlx+ collection is no different. Its tech specifications are really impressive for wearable technology and the colors mesh really well.

So let’s begin with the great technology the hat contains. It’s extremely light, just over an ounce in weight, so it doesn’t feel heavy on your head during a run. Also, it uses 4-way ULTRA STRETCH material which adds to the comfort; it never feels tight or constrictive. There is a seamless woven design so nothing is scratching at your scalp when in movement. The hat has thermal insulation to keep your head warm but also moisture management so you’re not sweating buckets down your face. (I’ll get more into that down in the review) And one of the most important features is it contains reflective elements so if you’re running at dusk or dawn, you be sure you’ll be spotted by any motorists or bicyclists.

Now let’s talk neckwarmer features! As you can see in the previous two photos, it can be worn up to cover the nose or just below it and it doesn’t wiggle or shake down your face; it stays pretty snug. Similar to the hat, this also has the 4-way ULTRA STRETCH and seamless woven design for comfort and flexibility so constrictions are not a problem. It only weight two ounces so, once again, it isn’t weighing down on your body. Along with the reflective elements, the BUFF DryFlx+ neckwarmer provides thermal insulation and moisture management. Now to explain how both items manage to perform this great feature.

The above photos show exactly how they provide breathability. The hat and neckwarmer both have engineered holes, marked on my gear with the lime green lines, to allow air to flow through and out, allowing you to not sweat but still keep warm for the hat and allowing you to breathe through your mouth and nose with the neckwarmer all the way up on your face. It really is the best feature of this product! It just makes wearing them outside in nasty cold temperatures a whole lot better. I’ve already worn them in 25 degree weather with a wind chill factor that brought it down to 16 degrees. And, since I live in Wisconsin, you can bet that I will be wearing this when I head out in those below 10 degree days!

Another good reason to love this product, and BUFF in general, is that as an engaged partner of UNICEF, the company has committed to donating 2% of their global yearly profits to projects helping combat COVID-19.

I invite you to take a look at some other reviews from my BibRavePro companions to see what they thought of the BUFF DryFlx+ collection! As always, any comments or questions can be left below if you like and Happy Running!

OTHER REVIEWS

http://www.fitxbrit.com/on-the-run/2020/12/31/cover-your-head-running-in-the-cold

https://www.runningonpixiedust.com/2020/12/buffdryflx.html

https://funsizeathlete.com/2020/12/30/bibrave-product-review-running-winter-warmer-with-buff-dryflx-collection/

The Race That Never Happened: The Kansas City Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Kansas City Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

What to do when the race you train for and prepare to travel to simply gets canceled and all of it’s out of your control? Well, 2020 made that a reality for just about all races across the country. Many returned entry fees or deferred entries to their 2021 race but the Kansas City Marathon chose to do something different, something special and that stuck to their goal and mission of why they put on the race in the first place. They gave options. You could defer your entry to next year’s race. You could outright donate your fee to the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation, a non-profit group that not only organizes the Kansas City Marathon but also takes the lead in maintaining and selectively acquiring a diversity of amateur and professional sporting events for the city. Or you could transfer your registration over to their One Million Mile Challenge, a contest for all runners to participate in and collectively run one million miles all while reaching benchmark distances where the group would hand out prizes to random participants.

Yeah, it isn’t the same as running the streets of Kansas City, especially if you were planning a trip to the area for this monumental race. But, it’s a great way to keep your running base engaged and interested as well as planning to come back the next year for the race. This challenge allowed you to “race against” fellow runners to see who can get the most mileage, depending on the distance you selected. I say “get” because the challenge is still going on and you can still register for it if you want and gain a chance to win one of remaining benchmark prizes by being randomly selected. The extension for the One Million Mile Challenge runs through December 15 and costs $40 to register. There’s a mile tracker and you receive a race-branded t-shirt, a finisher’s medal, race bib, a digital finisher’s certificate, a Challenge finisher item and more!

I know I was disappointed by the Kansas City Marathon being canceled this year. I had very much looked forward to this destination race and exploring the city and surrounding areas for a few days. I hope the opportunity presents itself for 2021, because I almost certainly will be there. Until then though, this was a nice option put on by the race organizers who have been in constant communication through all of this and continue to do so while the Challenge has been going on.

I hope to see you as well on this course next year for an amazing experience in an amazing city with some very deep culture. Happy running!!

Product Review: Extreme Fit Compression Socks

Disclaimer: I received a selection of Extreme Fit compression socks to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

I’m going to come right out and say from the start that I liked these socks. They performed for me the way I expected them to perform. I know that may seem like something that should be obvious with a product like this, but it isn’t a guarantee, ever. Let me begin my saying I thought the level of compression in their running-orientated socks was on the mark. The sock never felt too tight and hugged against my legs and feet the way I wanted it to do. They are also a very soft sock in the feel and it’s as if you don’t even have anything on your feet. Now, Extreme Fit does offer two levels of compression in their socks. They have socks with 15-20 mmHg compression and socks with 20-30 mmHg. Now, what those numbers represent is how much compression the sock will provide for your legs and feet; a tightness level, if you will. So, for runners you would go higher and if you were wearing the sock for traveling or standing at your job all day, the lower number would work for you.

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As someone who runs both long and short distances, I found their runner socks to be topnotch and on par, if not better than some other brands out there. Another great option in the runner’s line of socks were ones that had extra amounts of reflective marks on them. Perfect if you are the early riser runner or the dusk runner where it may not be as easy to spot you. And I’m talking some seriously good reflective material.

I’m also a big fan of how many styles Extreme Fit offers on their website. And how they package some of their socks into solo options, 3-packs and even 6-packs! So many options with colors and designs; they even offer some socks with copper-infused fibers inside of them. You would be hard pressed to NOT find a style or color of sock on their site.

And who says that their socks are only for running or walking? Do you work in a hospital? Hair salon? Travel frequently on airplanes or train for work? Do you need compression socks for grocery shopping? Daily chores? Extreme Fit can benefit you with their product. I’ve used them myself when riding my bike, and I’m just relearning how to do that after over 30 years of not riding one.

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And don’t think you’re limited to just socks with Extreme Fit. No way, no chance. They have calf sleeves. Arm sleeves. Ankle sleeves. Knee sleeves. Even specialized sleeves if you suffer from plantar fasciitis. They truly are in the business of helping their clientele feel better and perform better.

(Photo credit to https://www.extremefitusa.com/)

Extreme Fit is out to help you with their graduated compression options. Wouldn’t you like to reduce swelling and pain while energizing your feet and legs? All that and you’ll be supporting muscle recovery later. It’s worth it for your body and these socks are definitely a good option to try. And if you decide to TRY NOW, please use code BRP20 to receive 20% off your order of $50 or more. And they currently have a ton of options on sale so you will be making off like a bandit if you order now! Don’t hesitate, these are a great option if you require compression socks on your athletic journey. I’ve loved the pairs I’ve tested and have felt very comfortable in them as well as comfortable AFTER my runs or bike rides.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send them to me. I’ll be happy to answer them for you!

As always, Happy Running!

The Journey to the 2020 Milwaukee Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Milwaukee Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

So, let’s start at where I’ve been and then move onto where I’m headed in my running life. Below you’ll see a pic of me just before entering double sports hernia surgery (with a faux fear face) and then a pic of me when it was all finished and I had awoken from the anesthesia. This all came about from over training throughout most of 2019 for various races, the final one taking place in November. Three days after that race, I was under the knife and being repaired.

 

The recovery stage was and has been difficult. I am not a patient man and the main restriction of no running was brutal. All I was allowed to do for the first two weeks was walk on a treadmill with zero incline. After the two weeks, I was allowed to lift weight restrictions (which were to stay under 25 lbs. total, so I didn’t lift at all) and do what was comfortable except when it came to legs. The remaining restrictions included no squats, no lunges, no core work at all and no planking. So I did a lot of upper body work and kept up with the walking on the treadmill and added slow bike riding at the gym.

 

Then after a month and half, I was allowed to run finally. No speed work but at least it was something other than walking. My goodness, was it ever a breath of fresh air to be able to run again. I started simple, on the treadmill and then slowly stretched it to the outdoors where the terrain obviously is less predictable. It was just nice to move the legs again and begin to think about training for specific goals as long as there were no setbacks with this new lifted restriction.

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Now here we are, two plus months from surgery. All restrictions have been lifted for both running and lifting. Yoga is back in my practice as is leg presses, etc. for leg day at the gym. Happiness is not enough of a word to express my feelings towards being back in the groove. It hasn’t been forever, but, I also know that this is just the beginning of a new runner version of me. I need to change my running gait to prevent this from occurring again. I need to build back up my endurance and stamina. The challenge has been presented and I am not ready to tackle it.

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So, how does that relate to the Milwaukee Marathon being held on April 11 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin? I wasn’t sure where I’d be at this point in time but I said if I was ready, I would at least make a go at a half marathon knowing I wouldn’t be ready for a full. So Milwaukee it is! Training has been going well so far as I’ve started to extend my distances in runs from 6 miles to 8 miles to 11 as a high so far. Nothing too strenuous and I haven’t pushed myself too far at this point. I can say I’m excited to be training for this half. I ran the same race last year but did the full marathon and set a personal PR by over twelve minutes! I’m really hoping to improve my half PR this time! I’m excited to race the streets of Milwaukee again at an event that was really topnotch last year. The improvements that the new group running the race implemented were huge in making it a success. Everything from packet pickup to the race to the post race party were ideal. A really great time so I’m looking for round two of fun. And you should join me if you’re looking for a half marathon or a full where you too could PR your time. If I can do it, so can you! Visit the site, pick a distance (they also offer a 5K) and sign up! Use code “RUN15” to save 15% off your entry fee! And you have time because the next price increase isn’t until March 7, 2020. Need another reason to sign up. If you do the half or full distances, here is what you will get:

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A tech t-shirt, an awesome medal, a quarter zip fleece and a beer following the race. Not to mention a great post race party atmosphere that takes place right at the Fiserv Forum, the Milwaukee Bucks new arena. I hope to see you there!

Happy running!

Race Review: Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon

What a race, what an event and what a city! OK, I knew the city was badass already before the race but this was my first visit to Las Vegas that wasn’t just for gambling and drinking. This had purpose and, therefore, I needed to behave and not get too involved with the excess that is Vegas. This is a race I’ve been excited to do for a while; a destination race that had been on my bucket list. And it did not disappoint! Running down the Strip with various bands playing all types of music from rock n roll to old Vegas crooners to Elvis classics, all with the bright neon lights brightening up the course was simply magical. The crowds on the Strip were lively with their cheers and the starting line was electric as each wave was released onto the course with a giant fire display pulsing up from the start line overhang.

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EXPO QUALITY: The expo was easy to get to; just had to jump on the monorail and it dropped you off right by the Las Vegas Convention Center. I went on Friday afternoon and there was no line to get my bib so that was really quick. After that, I perused several rows of race merchandise and Brooks shoes too. Bought the special race designed Brooks Launch and a pair of the new Adrenaline GTS 20s since they were 15% off; couldn’t pass that up! I also grabbed a couple of other items in the merchandise area before heading out to the vendors. I need to make a racing list from this point forward as I realized at the expo I had forgotten a couple of items at home, so a new running belt for storage was needed as well as some fuel for the race. The forgetting of the fuel was more frustrating than anything since I had just restocked at home, but, oh well. Lots of vendors to go through, from Honey Stinger to Geico to Knockaround to many others. Lots of photo options as well in front of signs such as #StripatNight and Vegas Strong.

T-shirts/SWAG: A fun race shirt that was made to match whatever distance you were running for the race. The medal for the race was also pretty cool with a Strip design and at the top a spinning wheel that has the date of the race and the distance you competed at.

Parking Access: No parking really. But most people stayed on the Strip or nearby. And if you lived in the area, Uber/Lyft/taxis were suggested to use to get to the start line.

Aid Stations: The volunteers at the aid stations were 1005 awesome! Shouting out cheers and support at every one. Full of enthusiasm. They were one of the best parts of the entire race. Loud enough to know where water was, where Gatorade was, when there were gels or bananas., just so helpful.

Course Scenery: The Strip was awesome to run down and through, and even heading towards downtown Las Vegas was pretty nice, going past wedding chapels and some smaller casinos. There were some quiet parts on the course as well, not well-lit and more residential, but, where they could, the organizers put bands out in those places as well to keep you grooving.

Elevation Difficulty: Moderate if you did ran the marathon, none at all if you ran shorter distances. The marathon was the only distance that had elevation. When you headed away from the Strip the course had you run over the freeway system and circle back a few times so there were a couple of going uphill, but nothing too strenuous.

Race Management: Plenty of communication in the months leading up to the race. A lot of help at the expo answering questions. As I previously stated, the volunteers were amazing and prepped excellently. The starting line was smooth as was the Start Village, where all runners congregated prior to going into the corrals. The finish line was perfect with not every handout right next to one another; they provided space for you to collect yourself and your free items as you walked along to the exit point.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon was a great race, plain and simple. I had a blast and I would highly suggest that this be the race you aim to run in this series if only for the opportunity to run the Strip at night.

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Product Review: Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro

Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Call me a believer in a product I didn’t think I needed and certainly never had a want for before having the opportunity to test it out. It’s a hydration vest. “Why would I want one of those?” “I can map out running routes to come across water fountains.” “I can bring a sport belt with water bottles attached to it if I want.” “This vest thing is going to be cumbersome and annoying bouncing around my body.” These are all phrases and questions I said at one time or another. This product review will explain why I was wrong and, to be frank, an idiot thinking that this was a piece of gear I didn’t need.

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I will address each of my questions above to answer why an Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro is a great item to own. Yes, I can map out running routes that take me past multiple water fountains, but wouldn’t it be nice to venture down new paths without being concerned about where necessary hydration will come from. And this vest makes it possible to carry plenty of water for marathon training runs. The included bladder fits 35oz of liquid and you can add a 500mL bottle and a 600mL bottle to the front pockets on the vest.

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Why wear this when I can wear a sports belt that hold water bottle as well as everything else I may need: driver’s license/ID, energy chews, reserve battery charger for phone, energy waffles, etc. If you check out the picture above here, you will see the answer for my ID and charger. A zippered pouch right in the middle that is out of the way but completely secure leaving me no worries of anything falling out or being in the way if I am trying to pull out energy chews/waffles. And where am I putting those items? The two pictures below show the front access pockets that can be used for those items. In the first photo, I am using one of the extra water bottle pockets to store my energy waffle. The second picture shows one of two over the shoulder velcro pouches that held my energy chews. Both easily accessible and my fuel remained intact and not mushed down.

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ADDED BONUS MOMENT: On the top clip in the front of the Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro is a whistle. Yes, I said whistle. When using this vest in the early mornings or late evenings, what better option to include in the makeup of the vest itself. Scare away coyotes (or other aggressive animals) while using your pocket space for pepper spray if desired.

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The final question/concern was why would I want something bulky filled with water bouncing around as I ran? The fact is that it IS NOT bulky and bouncing around your back. Honestly, every time I have worn the hydration pack, I haven’t even noticed it being there. It isn’t on too tight but it also doesn’t flop around when running or when trying to get a sip of water. It has been the perfect complement to my runs and other gear options I take with me on long runs. I truly do love this product and am glad I had the opportunity to test it out.

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Still on the fence about trying out the Gear Vest Pro? Give them a try while saving some of your money by using code “BIBRAVEGVPRO” to get 15% off any Orange Mud product! And have faith in what you are buying! Orange Mud provides great customer service and backs their products. Manufacturing defect? Lifetime replacement. Have an accident with your pack? Leave it on the top of the car and take off? They understand and will offer a replacement at a “fair charge.” Also on their website are guidelines and suggestions for proper care and cleaning of their packs and bladders.

I hope you have found this product review of the Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro to be helpful and useful in guiding you to getting your own hydration pack if you were in the market for one. Solid product, solid company!

Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

As always, happy running!