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!

UPDATE: Air Force Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry to 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, my training for the Air Force Marathon half marathon has not been for naught! It just wasn’t utilized the way I expected it to. A few weeks back, the race went to an all virtual format. So…..that meant no traveling to Dayton, Ohio anymore since the race couldn’t take place in its normal course, the Wright-Patterson Air Force base. Federal regulations being stricter than normal city ordinances and whatnot made the race impossible to take place. So, I’ll be running my virtual half marathon sometime in the near future. But that doesn’t mean I sat on my butt this past Saturday, September 18, what would have been race day.

No, I chose to do a monster training run of 20+ miles to really tire out these legs, ha ha ha. The weather was nice and perfect for this type of run. My pace was right where I wanted it and my legs never died on me. It makes me extremely optimistic for when I take the plunge on my half marathon for the Air Force Marathon!

Stay tuned as I do my best to earn this medal!

Happy running!

Air Force Marathon Training

Disclaimer: I received a race entry to 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!

The month of August has begun and my training runs for the Air Force Marathon continue each day. I will be running the half marathon distance in the race that takes place on September 18, 2021 in Dayton Ohio. I’ve been really looking forward to this race for a number of reasons, including the fact that it will be a travel race for me and it’s always exciting to visit somewhere new.

Now, as for my training…well, it’s been going up and down for the majority of the summer. I’ve been doing my best in keeping a variety of methods with preparing my body for the half distance. These include yoga, strength training, and, of course, runs of various distances. One thing I have NOT been doing a good job with: stretching and foam rolling. I can’t say that that has led to my issues in this cycle but I am confident that it didn’t help my situation. I had hoped performing yoga (and even that ended up getting missed for a few weeks) and doing more core strength work would help, but it only does so much.

So, on Father’s Day I ended up suffering a left hamstring pull or strain. Not sure how since I am very very good on being hydrated but I guess that day I just wasn’t enough. Maybe it was because I was rushing the run, I don’t know. What I do know is that my left hammy nagged and nagged for 10-12 days following where it limited my activity and none of my runs were in that time frame. Once it started feeling better (and that coincided with increased foam rolling…shocking, I know, haha) I picked up my miles for a week. Why just a week you ask? Well, because that’s when my RIGHT hamstring acted up, also for no real reason. It wasn’t as bad the left leg and I was able to smooth it over sooner. But then there was a camping vacation that took me away from training in general. I did get a couple long runs in there but it was still a pretty decent amount of time off.

So, as August starts to hit its stride, my hope is that I can get into a better flow of running and getting in those miles. But, even as I type that, I am cognizant of both my right and left toes hurting for an unknown reason. Not blister-hurt. More like they don’t want to flex and offer up some pain to the touch. Ugh….Anyway, I shall persevere and be ready to at least enjoy my time in Dayton.

Would you like to join me? Visit the Air Force Marathon website and register for your preferred distance! It isn’t too late and it you have already been training for a longer distance, you’re ready. If not, they offer up a 5K and 10K as well! Use code AFMBR21 to save 10% on your registration! I would love to see you there! And if you have any questions, please ask me and I will do my best to answer them.

Happy Running!

Race Review: National Sweetest Day Run

So after running my first trail race in 3+ years in September, I thought why wait to do another one? I knew a friend who had signed up for this race, which had 5K and 10K options as well, and was doing the half marathon, so I was excited to sign up and run a race with her. This trail race, like the one I ran in September, did not disappoint. No Killer Hill’s this time but everything about it was pretty good. I’ll outline it all right here.

Course Scenery: The trails were beautiful to run on. This course was more dirt trail than grass field running, which I prefer. Many trees were in full fall foliage colors while the several pines had dropped needles throughout the trail making feel softer, if only to the imagination. There was some water that we ran around but it wasn’t easy to see much of through the trees. I also liked that this course stayed on trails and never crossed over any park roads. There were also some rustic old barns and sheds (probably used as county park facilities now) scattered along the course. Just gave it a nice feel.

Elevation Difficulty: Like I said above, no Killer Hill’s but, whoa, there were many ups and downs, several that were sharp inclines and steep declines where you had to be careful with your gait going down. And the one killer that did come, of course, was at the end of the half marathon portion of the course. No lie, it was a brutal, steep incline that led up to the final half mile remaining. My calves still remember it well, haha.

Aid Stations: Due to the COVID-19 virus and safety precautions, there were no water stations on the course and you were encouraged to bring your own water.

Expo Quality: No expo for the same safety reasons. Bib and packet pickup were accomplished one hour prior to the race at the race location itself.

Parking Access: Easy to find and right next to the starting point of the race. My only beef was that it was a county park but charged $5 for the parking. Not a fan of having to pay to park for a race.

T-Shirts/Swag: Nice long sleeve tech shirt and a cool looking medal for finishing. I COULD have gotten an age group medal too but I came up just short by one place. Boo!

Race Management: Another great job by Silver Circle Sports with organizing this race and keeping everyone safe with social distancing prior to the race. The packet pickup was quick and efficient. The race announcer had a lot of energy (and we needed it, so damp and chilly that morning) and made people laugh before their waves took off on the course. Great volunteers offering support and guidance on throughout the course as well. This group knows what they’re doing. I would recommend running any of the races they sponsor; they truly do a good job.

Any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line!

Happy running!

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!!

Race Review: National Procrastination Day Run & Walk

Let’s start with this: I signed up for National Procrastination Day Half Marathon very last minute and on a whim/desire to just run a real race for the first time since January. How crazy and desperate was I? This was my first trail race since 2017 and I never, ever train on trails. At all. Seriously, never. Add in the fact that the half marathon distance for this race had a loop of three times going up a hill labeled “Killer Hill” and it definitely earned that reputation; holy cow was it steep! Now, this being a race taking place during the pandemic, social distancing and all that jazz, I’ll explain why I give this race 4 stars.

T-Shirt/Swag: You receive a pretty sweet long-sleeve t-shirt with the race name on it and a fun slogan on the back: You put the ‘pro’ in procrastination….I thought that was too funny! And the finisher medal they provided was a pretty nice medal. Post race didn’t have the usual fanfare of tons of people (they discouraged spectators, obviously) but there was some edible treats like Gatorade, pretzels and a granola bar that you could have on request.

Course Scenery: It was great. The race took place in a beautiful state park with wonderful trails and view points to look at while running; not to mention looking out from the top of Killer Hill. It’s been so long since I’ve done anything lengthy like this on trails so, for me, it was an amazing change of pace and I loved it. I’ll throw the Elevation Difficulty category into this section since they go hand in hand. My Strava app listed it as 1,102 feet of gain. So, yeah, it was a lot, lol. Not just Killer Hill either; there were some other inclines that were just tough where they were laid out on the course, but, of course, thankfully there were some declines too. Just gotta look out for those roots and rocks!

Parking Access: Easy and simple, except it required a park sticker otherwise you needed to pay five dollars, cash. Of course I drove in the vehicle WITHOUT the sticker AND failed to go to the bank the day before so I had no cash on me. Oops. Besides that, once inside, it was easy to find where to park and to get out after the race as well. Nicely organized….which leads to….

Race Management: Great job by the Silver Circle group who put on the race. They had had all the precautions in place so that there was social distancing for all runners as we queued up for the race. There were staggered start times for each wave of runners so there was no bottling up at the start or even during the race itself. I never felt too close to anyone on the course. You were required to have a face mask while waiting in the start line and post race if you were waiting for another runner to cross or just needed to stretch out. Now, I gave low scores to Expo Quality and Aid Stations but not because they were horrible. They really deserve an N/A since they didn’t exist for the obvious reason of COVID-19 and the risks having them before the race and on the course.

I enjoyed this race and the, albeit brief, event around it. The course was great; it was a nice return for me to a trail race. The race organizers and all of their volunteers were absolutely wonderful. Friendly and encouraging when crossing the road in the park (where there was a person slowing/stopping cars) and the gentleman running at the back of the pack cheering on those runners to the random volunteers just monitoring mile marker points also offering up kudos. They all were just a great group of people at a real life racing event and they made it enjoyable when it easily could have been a hassle. Bravo! If ever in the mood to “procrastinate” you should run this race when in Wisconsin!

Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question!

Happy Running!!!!!

Sponsor Review: Raley’s Supermarkets, SPONSOR of the Napa Valley Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a $25 gift card to review Raley’s Supermarkets 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!

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Now, that the Napa Valley Marathon is over it is NOT the time to neglect your body and all you did to prepare for that race. It’s been a week since you ran, so you need to make sure you not only rest but keep putting fuel into your body. Specifically, recovery fuel. And, yes, Raley’s can help you in that department as well. Visit their website to see how simple it is to find exactly what you’re looking for and how to spot it in the store. They have every category for you from Clean Label to Gut Health to Organic to Keto-Friendly. And everything in between too!

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Post marathon is an important time for the body. There’s a lot of recovery going on so be sure to take advantage of Raley’s nutrition strategist who provides the necessary tips and information to make your marathon experience not only enjoyable on race day but afterwards as well. I mean, you need to prep for that next marathon!

I hope you take the time to visit Raley’s website and utilize all the free information, tips and advice they offer as well as visit the store and stock your pantry with some great products that fit whatever need you may have in your dietary lifestyle.

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!

Madison Mini Marathon Training Update

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Madison Mini Marathon race 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!

Well, this is going to be the most boring update you could ever possibly read. Ever since the wondrous month of April where I set personal bests in my marathon finish time and in my 5K finish time, I have done almost nothing in the last six weeks. I ran twice in the  month of May, accumulating just over 13 miles for the month and so far zero miles for the month of June. Why? Because of what is likely a sports hernia.

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No, I am not making a self-diagnosis here. I waited those first couple of weeks in May doing nothing and then attempted to run. After having pain and discomfort return almost immediately, I shelved myself again and made a doctor’s appointment. The doc did some tests and said it wasn’t a hernia as far as he could tell but that it was likely a sports hernia. I was also given the card of a hernia specialist if I wanted to be absolutely positive of the diagnosis. So, what have I been doing instead? Well, a lot more lifting with upper body (carefully) and some lower body (even more carefully), some bike riding at the gym and, finally, walking. Lots of walking.

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Lots and lots of walking….

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As you can see, I’ve tried to keep my humor up with these walks but it hasn’t been easy. It has been extremely frustrating and I am close to losing my mind. This is not how I envisioned my Madison Mini Marathon training taking place. I am not in the danger zone yet, but it is getting close to where I will not be prepared by mid-August for this half marathon (where I was greedily hoping to set another personal best.) It is Wednesday, June 12, today and I plan to run or attempt to run before the end of this week. This is mainly to see if I have healed enough. If I have not, then I plan to call the specialist to see what is going on and if I will be healed and ready to race by August. Worst case scenario then would be I could run it but it would be for fun and nothing else. Fingers will be crossed. I’m just really sick of walking at this point. And don’t let the smile fool you, haha.

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If you’ve been running and training out there, maybe you’d like to race the Madison Mini Marathon this August! It isn’t too late to sign up! And if you use code BIBRAVE5 at checkout you will save $5 on your entry! Hopefully we will run this together!

If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to ask or comment!!

Happy Running (or walking)!!

Race Recap: Milwaukee Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Milwaukee Marathon race 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!

The 2019 incarnation of the Milwaukee Marathon (under new management and sponsorship) was an a great success in my opinion! After taking 2018 off from the race schedule and retooling a ton, they chose to have the race in April instead of the previous years’ choice of October: smart move since early April is less busy race-wise than October. I ran the full marathon this time (2017 I ran the 10K and 2016 the half) and I really enjoyed myself; more than I expected to with this race. So, let’s get to the meat of this review!

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Expo Quality: Packet pickup was really easy (I arrived around 1:30pm so the crowd was light) and was held the day before the race. It was held at the Fiserv Forum’s (Milwaukee Bucks home, they were also a big sponsor) lobby area. You had to pick up on this day unless you chose to do day-of but that had an extra cost to it. The line was quick and the volunteers seemed to know that there must have been an issue with Wi-Fi and the Q-code since I couldn’t get my e-mail to pop up but they were more than ready to just look up my name and get me on my way. The rest of the expo was kind of blah and I hope that future years have it become bigger and have more vendors. I know this year was kind of a make-good year for the event so hopefully this will change. There were booths for a local running store, Performance Running Outfitters, Supernola (a granola company), and a couple of other local races had booths set up. That was it. And the table for you to pick up your t-shirt (I will cover this in the Swag category). Outside of the Fiserv, there was the opportunity to see where the Gear Check would be located and multiple areas where they had set up tons of Port-o-Potties (always important to know on race day).

 

Parking Access: I found it simple, but more expensive than I liked. You could have signed up ahead of time for the parking lot near the start of the race. I did not do this but I also knew there would be plenty of parking all around the area and had no problem finding a spot.

 

Course Scenery: The start of the race going through downtown was nice as was the early miles along the lakefront and back into downtown (only drag here was the day was dreary with no sun so a heavy fog was sitting all over the lake, not an exciting view, but there was one hell of an energetic spectator on a bridge cheering/roaring at all runners as they passed both times). After returning into downtown, for the full, you raced through Marquette University’s campus and into the suburbs and neighborhoods of Milwaukee. There were some very quiet moments in this, the largest, stretch of the race but there were also plenty of pleasant surprises. The Washington Park area was full of boisterous people and there were other spots along the course where the neighbors busted out speakers or their cars for blaring music. Good positive energy at the right time. And then the end of the race had you finish back where you started at the Fiserv Forum where a ton of screaming fans and event staff were waiting for you.

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One of the fun parts of this race was competing with other runners. Now, of course, during a marathon you are really only competing with yourself but you also set other runners as markers for how you are doing or as goals to reach. I was nicknamed “Orange” by a couple who were running together and were keeping me in their sites as they went along. I did manage to beat the husband but his wife blew past me around mile 24 1/2 to finish ahead of me. At the end we congratulated each other and she said all she needed to do was make sure “Orange” was within view to be sure she was running the race she wanted.

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Aid Stations: All had water at one end of them and Nuun hydration at the other end, easy to decipher which was which as volunteers were consistently shouting what they had. At some stops there were Honey Stinger gels to consume if need be. I thought the variety of volunteers at the stations was incredible! From Marquette students to kids that looked like they might have been in 3rd or 4th grade and all in between, everyone did a fabulous job!

Elevation Difficulty: There was one major hill in the early part of the race that was a winding path up to an area called the Water Tower along the lakefront. Of course, after going up that, you got to come back down on another hill. That wasn’t so bad at that point. There was a subtle but long hill that took you out of the city (if running the full) that went up Wisconsin Avenue. Positive part of this hill was this is where you were returning for the end of the race, so that was nice. But the killers (for me) were these little up and downs that were consistent for a bunch of the race between miles 17-21. Nothing major but you were going up a little bit, then down a little bit, then back up, etc. My legs were not enjoying that very much. And then as you rounded the last turn of the race to the finish line, you had one more minor incline as you go across a city bridge. That’s near mile 26 and I wasn’t a fan of that, haha.

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T-Shirt/Swag: OK, bear with me on this. So, everyone gets a “Finisher” shirt at pickup (should be handed to you at the end of the race but whatever) and anyone who was running the half or full also received a 1/4 zip fleece. It’s ok, nothing to write home about and not something I would run in. You receive a medal which isn’t too bad, showing a silhouette of the city on part of it and the ribbon around it says what distance you ran. Also, at the finish, there was more water, Nuun, a banana, some Supernola granola, Honey Stinger waffles and you received a free beer too (Miller Lite or Coors Light). Now, something else you received and I must include it is with your medal, you could go into the nearby Good City Brewing spot and order what you wanted and get 20% off your bill. I thought that was pretty cool.

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Race Management: They did a phenomenal job, for the most part. They had a tough crowd to not only impress but convince to come back from the 2017 debacle. So, this race was more a test run than the real deal, I think. I had heard of a lot of people staying away to first see how this “new” race was going to go. Well, they nailed it and hopefully will be back even bigger and better next year. From the gear check (which was quick and well-run with plenty of volunteers) to the pre-race energy to the post race party which had music and Bango (Bucks mascot) riding around taking pics on his Segway, they had stuff figured out.

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The area for pre race/post race was a little cramped but next year there will easily be more space available once the old arena is taken down. I also would have liked to see a PR bell to ring somewhere (if there was one, I didn’t see it or hear it) because many people, including myself, had great races and PR’d their distance. I would have loved this considering I smashed my race out of the park, but there hopefully will be a next time! But overall, they did a great job with pre-race communication and how race day would shake out. They provided a list of 8 or 9 other parking lots to go to aside from the main one they were promoting. This race had a low bar, for sure, to get to due to 2017, but they catapulted themselves well above that bar to a point that this can become a preeminent race for Milwaukee and Wisconsin if they keep up this support and dedication for it. I highly recommend participating in it next year, at any distance. You won’t be disappointed.

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Happy running all!! (Check me out on Instagram @pktirish to read the brief story about the picture above!)