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!

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/

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!

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!!!!!

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: 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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Race Review: Lucky Leprechaun 7K

This is the fourth year I’ve run this race and this year had the best weather, by far! Sunny skies and upper 30s – low 40s temps made for a pleasant race. Afterwards though, the wind picked up a little bit and that made post race socializing last about as long as the free beer lasted, lol! And for the third straight year, I was able to lower my time, so that was pretty cool.

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The overall feeling I have about this race is that it is pretty good with great management, but it could be better. One of the biggest reason I run it (and best reason, really) is that it supports the MACC Fund, an organization that benefits children fighting cancer. Great cause to run for! Now I’ll get into the rest of my review which will give the explanation why I give this race 4 stars and not five.

T-shirts/Swag: You get a free cotton t-shirt which has looked the same for every year of the race. Ot needs a change; something, I don’t know. But something to mix it up. The end of the race provides you with free coffee/hot chocolate, a local company’s chips, water, banana and two free beer from Miller Lite (and, yes, you can choose green beer if you like), but that’s all. And I consider post race food items to not really be swag. There’s no medal. No glasses. They do hand out green beads as well as chocolate coins, but come on. This race needs a medal. It could be great!

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Aid stations: There is one water aid station on the course approximately in the middle of the course and that’s appropriate for this distance.

Course Scenery: I like it. Some of it takes place in a park; some of it on a main street in the city’s village area; and the rest of it takes place through residential neighborhoods. The trees aren’t in bloom yet obviously, but I still enjoy where we run.

Expo Quality: Not much to write about here. I give it some stars because you pick up your packet at a local running store so there is opportunity to shop if you like, but otherwise that’s it.

Elevation Difficulty: This course has some slight inclines and declines throughout it and then one major incline you have to run up before circling around a bit and then heading down the same path on the way back, so that’s nice.

Parking/Access: Parking is easy as long as you know what you’re doing, get there early and know the side streets where parking is simple and allowed.

Race Management: They are great. Yes, they send a ton of reminders to sign up even after you have already signed up but they include plenty of updates to any possible changes in course or weather as well. They keep you up to date with the packet pickup and provide a cool countdown to race day.

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One last thing that I most assuredly should mention is the post race party. There is a DJ at the finish line blasting away and the emcee is full of energy as he yells out cheers for the finishers. Then, across the street is the main sponsor of the race, Leff’s Lucky Town, a local restaurant/bar that invites all to come over and eat, drink and listen to a band set up in an outdoor tent. The after party is pretty fun to chill out and hang with friends.

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If you should be in the Milwaukee area around St. Patrick’s Day I would suggest signing up for this fun run with a festive atmosphere. It is a good time!

Orange Mud Transition Towel and Seat Wrap Product Review

Disclaimer: I received an Orange Mud Transition Towel and Seat Wrap 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 have to start out by saying that I’ve seen people use these before at races and I was very excited at the opportunity to test it and review it. With high expectations, it has not disappointed me at all. 100% has served its purpose for me, with still more chances to be used in the future. I’ll start with the basics first. It’s 30″ by 60″ in size and made form Terry cloth, cotton. So soft. It uses an impact resistant polymer clip that attaches to laser cut belt when you are using it as the transition towel. And if you think about getting one for yourself, it comes with a 1-year warranty. Now for the awesome uses of the Orange Mud Transition Towel and Seat Wrap.

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Nothing worse than the post race or post workout changing towel falling or constantly slipping off your body as you attempt to get out of sweaty clothes into something more comfortable. The transition towel makes this easy and risk-free. Simply wrap it around you and use the clip to attach to the belt loops and you’re all set. And don’t feel scared that it will fall off even if it doesn’t feel like it attached properly; I double and triple checked after wrapping it around me the first time because it seemed like I hadn’t gotten it to be secure. Such a great product, I even fooled myself! Makes changing a piece of cake.

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(photo courtesy of Orange Mud’s website)

The best use, for me so far, has been the seat wrap option that it provides. Wow. Awesome. Perfect. Much needed! This probably got me more excited than it should have but I hate hate hate dealing with sweaty workout clothes, especially after going hard at the gym, and then sitting in my car and bringing the smell into the seat. Ugh! Sure, just put a regular towel in there but then you need to change it out over and over. I found that the Orange Mud Transition Towel and Seat Wrap lasts longer and the smell fades as long as you air it out some. This is been a great addition to all the running gear I own. It’s simple but so useful and needed.

And it was relatively easy to attach to the car seat. Simply zip it up and wrap it around the headrest of the seat, drape it down and over the chair and when you sit down, it stays put.

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(photo courtesy of Orange Mud)

One more benefit to the transition towel/seat wrap: it’s most simplest use of all. When in a bind or if  you’re just forgetful, it can be used as a….surprise, towel! Soft material and very effective at drying you off, as you would imagine it would be. No fibers are left behind on your skin and after you use it for that you can still wrap your seat in it if need be.

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Washing it was no problem either. Wash in cold water and dry cool. Boom. Done. Simple. You shouldn’t wait to have one of these yourself. And I have a code right now for you to use. Go to the site for Orange Mud, place your order and use code “OMTRX” to save 15% off. Don’t wait!

Any questions, please feel free to ask! And happy running as always!