Race Review: The Elf Virtual Run

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Elf Virtual Run 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!

SANTA!!!!
Ok, I didn’t actually see him on my Elf Virtual Run but the bling I received for running this virtual race was pretty dang sweet! Before getting to that, though, let’s talk about the race itself. It was a 100% virtual race that could be run anytime and anywhere. So all you had to do was register and wait for your running kit to arrive and ready, set, go!

Race Management/Virtual Support: The RAM Racing team was really great with communication pertaining to when they were mailing out bibs and shirts and when to expect them. They were also extremely apologetic when an issue arose with the medals, informing all that they would be coming later than the other items. Consistent email updates and always ready and quick to respond to questions, should you have them. I can’t say how impressed I was and always am for RAM Racing events and their team.

SWAG: One of the best races I’ve run when it comes to the swag! First, you get a themed customized bib! next, you get a sweet forest green winter beanie with the Elf logo on the front. Third, a quite warm red zip-up hooded Elf sweatshirt, logo on the left breast. And last, you get a very sweet snow globe style Elf medal! The day these items arrived, it really was like yelling out, “Santa came!” Easily a virtual race you should consider running next year or sometime in the future because it is worth it.

My Race Experience: I hate to admit it but I copped out with this run and ran it on a track where I could better keep track and calculate my distance without going over or miscalculating out somewhere random. So, it wasn’t the most interesting with views aside from the train that came by near the end of my race. That was about the only interesting thing, visually. But I did enjoy running a race on a softer surface than the roads I normally run on when I’ve done previous virtual races. So I’ll chalk up my run as fun in the sense that I had control and I came close to setting a 10K PR for myself.

So that’s my Elf Virtual Run wrapped up in a nutshell! Oh, and yes, I did watch the movie later that night after the run! Definitely consider it for next year!

Race Review: Milwaukee Monster Fore Miler presented by Silver Circle Sports Entertainment group

This was a fun run that I signed up for very late in the game and close to the race date. Wasn’t sure if I wanted to drive to the location but it ended up being a fun time as I had signed my two sons up as well. I couldn’t get them to dress in costume for the run (full disclosure, I didn’t either) but there were plenty of others who did dress up which made for a festive atmosphere. It was a very chilly Halloween morning but at least the sun was out shining so that helped. The race was called the Fore Miler because it’s original location in Milwaukee County allowed it to have that distance but when it moved to this location, there was only room to safely make it a 5K distance.

Expo Quality/Aid Stations: I am including both of these in the same column since, due to COVID-19 restrictions and precautions, there was not an expo nor any aid stations. Packet pickup was done the morning of the race, just aside from the starting line. Very efficient.

Parking Access: Pretty easy to find a spot. Ample free public parking around the area and was close by to the starting line and downtown Oconomowoc.

Course Scenery: I give this four stars but the start and finish of the race really earn all of that. The mid point of the race you find yourself running through a suburban neighborhood that wasn’t blocked off (we were told it would be that way) so there were a couple of drivers looking perplexed at all these runners, lol. But the start and finish point had you run across a bridge in between Lake Fowler and Lake Lac La Belle; just some beautiful looking scenery going across that bridge. The water was so blue and calm. Some of the trees in the area still had their colorful leaves. Just a nice sight to run through.

T-Shirt/Swag: Fun looking orange t-shirt with Milwaukee Monster Fore Miler written across the front in a design but just above the loop where it says “Fore Miler” was the actual location of Oconomowoc listed, so I thought that was cool. The medal has a runner running away from a spooky tree a and there are bats on it with an orange background; nicely done. They also threw in some Halloween candy with the packets. Yum! Also a free beer from SteelTank Brewing! Free beer is always good, lol.

So, overall, I liked this race; it was fun and if it returns next year, I will be happy to run it again. They say they will return to the original location so it can be four miles again but I’d almost say that this was a much more beautiful area to run through, just my opinion. The Silver Circle Sports Entertainment group did a fabulous job putting this race together. They have been excellent taking care of social distancing for these races and making sure people follow the rules so that they can keep putting on races. Bravo to them!!

Any questions or comments, feel free to give a shout!! As always, happy running!!

Race Review: Samson Stomp n Romp 5K

It’s a little late but here it is, my review of the Samson Stomp n Romp 5K held at the Milwaukee County Zoo on January 19, 2020.

What can I say about another year of running the Milwaukee County Zoo’s Samson Stomp n Romp 5K? Well, this was the 40th year of the event and it remains one of the most popular events at the zoo even though it takes place in January, in Wisconsin. This year provided some challenges though and that’s why I will review it again. I am giving the race an overall grade of five stars for overcoming weather and construction challenges while still putting on a fun event for adults and kids.

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T-shirt/SWAG: The race always does a long sleeve t-shirt and while that may not seem exciting, this year’s version had a nice touch for the 40 year anniversary. On the back were the temperatures for the every year of the race leading up to this year. Just really cool and fascinating to see how many years have been in single digits and how many were above 30 degrees (not many, lol).

Aid Stations: There is only one station and it always has water but I have to give it at least three stars because the volunteers are out there suffering in the cold to hand out that water.

Course Scenery: Five stars, of course! You get to run through the zoo, checking out the polar bear, elk, macaques, penguins and more. You get to listen to the sea lions barking from their enclosure. And this year, due to construction making a larger hippo exhibit, the course had to be altered and it was a welcome change in my opinion. I loved that the course provided a new way to traverse the race. Great job working with what they had to work with.

Expo Quality: Not really an expo, per se. Just a packet pickup at the zoo. But the staff on hand are nice and friendly and ready to answer any and all questions you may have. Or just banter with you about how cold it will be on race morning, haha.

Elevation Difficulty: There was still the tough incline that the race always has but where it once was before you passed the first mile, not it was in between the 2nd and 3rd mile, so a little more challenging at the point in the race. There were also the same two steep declines that the course always has but, similar to the incline, their location in the race was not the same as year’s past.

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Parking: Your bib and race confirmation is your parking pass into the zoo. Easy access and easy departure. No problems.

Race Management: They did a phenomenal job with this race. The overcoming of the construction to create a fun course that still reached the right distance was impressive. But even more impressive was that the city and zoo were hit with a nasty ice and snow storm a day before and the zoo had the entire course cleared off of both. There were very few spots that had ice that was dangerous and there was zero snow on the course itself. Bravo again for the zoo’s maintenance staff for having a safe event. Packet pickup was smooth. And the post race party/spread was just as nice as always. Apples, Gatorade, water, coffee, granola bars, strawberry milk, blueberry milk, a restaurant’s homemade tomato soup and another restaurant’s chicken and rice sample dish were all part of the post race spread that led to the handing out of awards. And, no, I didn’t age place this year. There’s always next year though….

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Happy running!

Race Review: Great Milwaukee Pi Run

The Great Milwaukee Pi Run was a race that I thought looked like a fun run, something to break my quiet streak of not running an actual race since January. I’ve also been looking for more 5K’s to run in order for more opportunities to break my PR in the distance. (Full disclosure: I did not succeed with this race). The race takes place in a park with a botanical garden as the centerpiece (although that wasn’t part of the course and it’s winter) but it was nice to be away from the sounds of traffic and only the noise of other runners and nature. Let me tell you now about the pros and, unfortunately, some cons of the Great Milwaukee Pi Run.

T-Shirt/Swag: Have to be honest, this race for the cost of it, does pretty well with the swag. You receive a race t-shirt that has a cute message referring to Pi. This year’s colors were a fun maroon shirt and gold lettering. You also get a pretty sweet medal that shows a cow (not sure why) holding some pie. And to cap off the cups of water available at the end of the race (indoors, which was nice) you get your choice of a personal 4″ apple or cherry pie!

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Aid Stations: There was one. Mid way through the course, which was good placement, sort of. Since the course had a point of out and back you passed the water station a second time, but it was only on the one side. So, great if you wanted water before hitting the 2 mile mark, but kind of out of luck if you wanted it on the way after the 2 mile marker.

Course Scenery: Pretty nice. It’s winter, so the trees are bare but the park itself was nice. There has been some crazy weather so there were some small patches on the course that had some ice but it was avoidable.

Expo Quality: No expo and packet pickup was the morning of the race. I am not really a fan of that because it makes me feel like I need to rush to get there and check in and then attach the bib, etc.

Elevation Difficulty: A rolling hills type course but the majority of those were small up and downs. EXCEPT, haha, the one hill heading up to the 2 mile marker. Whoa, was that a beast! The plus side of that hill was after getting to the top, you ran about 100 yards to turn around and head back. And was it ever great to scoot back DOWN that hill!

Parking/Access: Easy access to a free parking lot right where the start line and packet pickup was.

Race Management: I gave this three stars because I emailed the organizers twice questions that I had and never received any response. I thought that was irresponsible and unacceptable. I was disappointed and was angry. I will say the staff at the event were excellent and had a lot of energy. I can’t think of the last time I was at a 5K race where at the finish there were multiple people (along with the emcee) not only cheering you on and encouraging you, but running along side of you to the finish if they thought you were struggling. That was top-notch!

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Happy Running!

Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Nashville Race Review

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K in Nashville 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 believe I lucked out in choosing Nashville as my city of choice for running in one of the Hot Chocolate series of races. I had never been there before and I definitely plan to return because of the hospitality and the overall fun atmosphere of the city. And that all started with the flight into Nashville. The flight attendants were having fun with a group of people who were celebrating someone’s birthday party and had the whole plane sing “Happy Birthday” to her. It was a fun way to wake up since the flight was at 5:25am and that is not my strong time of day. I only mention this in a race review because it really set the tone for my overall experience of the race and the city in what could have been a really crappy brief trip. And that would have been because of the weather. I flew in on a Friday and left on Satuday evening. Both days, low 40s with intermittent pouring rain. Not pleasant at all. The day before I arrvied: 75 and sunny. The day after I left: 55 and sunny. So, bad luck with weather but I didn’t let that damper my race trip and my feelings about the city. Now onto the review portion of this blog.

After settling in at my hotel, I took the hotel shuttle over to the entertainment district of Nashville, where a short walk of five blocks led me to the Musician’s Hall of Fame and the race expo. The expo are was relatively spread out well with the bib pickup off to the right past several vendors and your pullover on the other side of the room to the left from where you entered. Everything was labeled easily to locate your stuff. The largest vendor table belonged to Nuun Hydration, who were the race hydration sponsor. In the middle of the space was several rounders of Hot Chocolate merchandise from shirts to vests to headbands to water bottles. Some of it was on sale, some of it were newer items. In the back of the space was a spot for you to make a donation to Make-a-Wish and take a picture in front of their background. After picking up my bag and having an early hot chocolate treat, I took a necessary selfie in front of one of the many giant poster board options they had there.

(Sorry I look so awkward…)

After that I checked out some of Nashville (while ducking raindrops) and made my way back to the hotel to prepare for dinner and then a restful night of sleep before the race. I had everything laid out and ready to rock for the next day.

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The next day (race day) started poorly because it was pouring. Cats and dogs pouring. One thing I despise is running in the rain. Freezing temps? Fine. Humid weather? Not ideal but fine. Rain is a killer. You just get cold and damp and slowly start to freeze. I had hoped the weather was taper off and it did for part of the race but not all of it. I took a ride service to the start line since the hotel shuttle wasn’t operating that early yet. I quickly found the bag check but made sure to snap a selfie with the big guy before checking my BibRave hooded sweatshirt.

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Soon it was time to mosey over to the corrals and do some stretching. Just before they did the national anthem, they brought on a young Make-a-Wish child to ramp up the crowd. It definitely stirred me up and I was pumped to run.

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The horn went off and so did we. I had set a goal in my head that I wouldn’t push myself because of an injury I have been trying to heal buuuuut I didn’t listen. I started out at a nice steady pace but then my competitive spirit kicked into gear and I started racing. The course was nice, but I will say it would probably been nicer had it not been intermittently raining/pouring. That’s also why I was probably going faster than I had planned myself to go. There were several minor inclines and declines but a lot of flat ground for the course. I must give a massive shout out to all the volunteers on the course, and two in particular. One, not really a volunteer I guess, but he was a police officer working the race. Coming down a straight stretch, there he was standing in the middle of the road, yelling like he had a bullhorn, cheering on runners and dishing out high fives to everyone. It was awesome and gave me some serious momentum! Second, with about two plus miles remaining in the race, one girl manning a water station by herself in a poncho while it poured was screaming and cheering all runners on to keep going and that the finish was near! Seriously uplifting! Way to go Nashville volunteers for the enthusiasm and tolerance of the weather!

A tempered finish line was to be expected since it was raining and many people were crossing and looking for cover right after or getting their coats from gear check. I was happy to finish the race so I could get to some warmth. They had water and Nuun at the end, as well as some chocolates that were being handed out. I received my finisher’s medal and got my hot chocolate bowl. Man, was that delicious and good!

I have to say, without the nasty weather, this would easily top my favorite race list by far. And even with the weather, I want to go back and plan to go back. For running and for more fun. If you are a runner, I would highly recommend this race in this city and make a long weekend out of it. So worth it with so much to do around your race.

And finally, about a week or so after the race I was able to claim my results for my race on the Athlinks website. Have you checked it out? Because if not, you should invest your time in doing so. Here’s a peek at what it does below.

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Pretty cool! Check it out!

If you have any questions about the Hot Chocolate 15K in Nashville, please send them my way. I would love to share more if you like!

Happy Running!