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: 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!!!!!

Race Review: Sweet Home Milwaukee 5K

This would be what I would consider an entry level 5K for beginner runners. Or, as in my case this year, a very good opportunity to PR your 5K time if you’re in the market to do so. The weather this year was quite chilly. How chilly you ask? Low 30s and later that day it snowed. On April 27. Gotta love Wisconsin weather, haha! So here are the details of this year’s Sweet Home Milwaukee 5K!

Expo Quality: Not really an expo per se. You pick up your packet at a local running store, Performance Running Outfitters. They give you your bib and some fillers in your bag along with your t-shirt. The one cool benefit of having packet pickup there is if you need or want to check out some new sneakers, you’ll be set.

Race Management: Lots of contact leading up to the race, even a final email on the Thursday before the race informing runners that a decision would be made early if inclement weather were to arrive sooner than predicted. Great atmosphere at the race with music and the emcee keeping everyone awake and chuckling before the race and after the race.

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Parking/Access: The race is held on the Milwaukee Lakefront at Veterans Park, which has a decent amount of parking spaces and then street parking is also available in the area. I had no trouble getting a spot and it seemed a lot of people had no trouble with the street parking.

Course Scenery: The race runs along the lakefront so you have plenty to gaze out at as you complete the 5K. Also, you’re running through the park so all spectators can cheer you on from all the picnic tables that are spread about.

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Aid Stations: One water station a little beyond the one mile marker point (via your own tracking since there were no actual mile markers on the course). Both sides of the course had tables with volunteers handing out water.

Elevation Difficulty: None. There is zero elevation hence why it makes for a nice starter 5K for someone.

T-Shirts/Swag: You receive a long-sleeve cotton t-shirt and a pretty sweet medal that doubles as a bottle opener. You also receive a free beer ticket which this year got you a brew from local brewery Third Space Brewing. You also get a ticket for a free Bloody Mary at local restaurant Stubby’s Gastropub. At the finish line there was water, a banana and apples.

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Overall: The weather notwithstanding I enjoyed the race. Yes, I have some bias since I set a PR for myself in the 5K distance but the communication was good, the swag was good for the price and course was nice to run on. Also, they had a food drive being put on by the Hunger Task Force that was connected to a raffle. You could donate items of food or a monetary donation. I would definitely consider doing this race next year. The weather has to be better, right? Haha!

 

Hope you have enjoyed this review and happy running!

I Signed Up for the Milwaukee Marathon!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Milwaukee Marathon 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!

OK, I’m  not gonna throw any bunk your way and tell you lies or make you think I’m ignorant. I truly am excited for the Milwaukee Marathon in April, 2019. And the biggest reason I’m excited? It will be my fourth marathon but it will also be my first in the state I now call home. I feel like it should have been the first but, alas, it was not. But here I am now with the opportunity to run this race as a BibRavePro (and I did choose the distance; I could have picked the half or the 5K if I wanted), and I want others to join me and see all that Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs have to offer to the visiting public. I will also freely admit that I picked this race because it is near where I live and, honestly, it will  be nice to sleep in my own bed the night before a marathon. No surprises, just wake up and head on down to the start line. That’s going to feel real good come race morning. Then there is the fact that I can train in some of the same neighborhood’s where the course takes place. I like knowing what to expect or at least have a general idea of what type of elevation I can expect to encounter out there.

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I plan to keep you updated (and myself accountable) with a training log this time around. I won’t be crazy in depth but will include everything I am doing as the race gets closer and closer. But I won’t be punctual…since training has already started so I owe you two blogs to cover the last two weeks. I will only be getting in 16 weeks of training due to my erred judgment in how much time there was until April 6. Oh well. I am putting more effort and concentration into it this time.

Another reason you should think about joining me for the Milwaukee Marathon on April 6? Well, how about that swag that comes with this race. If you do the half marathon or the full (with me) you will receive a sweet quarter zip fleece and a tech tee! If you do just the 5K, you will receive only the tech tee.

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What about a medal you ask? They have never disappointed in the past and I don’t see that happening this year. It really is a nice one!

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And of course, there will be…..

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The post race party might be what I am looking forward to the most and not because of the free beer you receive at the finish. No, this year the party will be held at the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena’s, the Fiserv Forum, outdoor gathering place! Screen Shot 2018-12-31 at 10.26.55 PM

So, lots of exciting aspects to the Milwaukee Marathon in Milwaukee on April 6, 2019! And, most importantly, when you sign up for your preferred distance be sure to use code “RUN15” to save 15% on your entry!!! Don’t miss out and be sure to follow my blog not only for my training updates but to see what else the Milwaukee Marathon can offer you!

Happy Running!!