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Featured Review

Jeremy Heath

Rock N Roll Denver   (2014)

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Thumb 2014 10 19 11.43.21

I've done a lot of Rock and Roll Races. Denver is now one of my favorites! The course is rolling, so there ARE some hills, but nothing horrible. The scenery was fantastic! Fall colors throughout the entire race, city skylines... and the weather couldn't be beat! It was chilly at the start, but I had a long sleeve shirt to throw away at the beginning. It quickly warmed up to a comfortable race temp.

The best part of this race course was that it was a big loop. Not and out and back, so you got different views, but you started and finished at the same spot. And it was within a five minute walk to the host hotel. I was also "mid-pack" with my sister, and never had any issues at the aide stations. Although, I never saw the GU station. I guess I missed it. But fortunately I brought plenty with me.

As far as the expo goes, the Rock and Roll Races always have the largest expos. However, I was surprised to find booths for PETS! So I got swag not just for me, but for my pup too! Pretty great.

Also, I decided to take a selfie at every mile! For all the selfie fun and more pics from the race, check out my full Race Review HERE: http://confessionsofanamateurathlete.blogspot.com/2014/10/131-miles-131-selfies-rock-n-roll.html

All in all, Denver RnR exceeded my expectations and I highly recommend it! I also took 13 selfies for

Emily White

Detroit Freepress   (2014)

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This was a well-organized marathon/half marathon event. Plenty of pre-race communication regarding logistics for race day. The organizers are very involved in social media, which was fun. The expo was decent, but crowded.

This race gives you the unique opportunity to run into another country! We start off in downtown Detroit near the river. Unfortunately the half and full start at the same time so it is quite crowded, event with the wave start. The route takes you over the Ambassador Bridge into Canda, along the water, and then back through the tunnel into the US. Then you continue through neighborhoods and onto Belle Isle.

The shirt was a great tech shirt with the course outline on it. We share the course with half marathoners for the entire first 13.1 miles of the race, so the crowds don't thin out until after that. I was surprised to see that there weren't any time clocks except for the half way point and the finish. There were plenty of aid stations, water, gatorade and gels given out. Also the opportunities for beer, bourbon and bacon along the way! Parking was also a real challenge. Practically every major road coming into downtown was closed, and we had the added challenge of a home game for the Detroit Lions at Ford Field near the finish line, so it made getting out that much worse.

Detroit gets a really bad rap, but this race is worth doing! Nice scenery and check out this beautiful medal! They change the car on the medal every year.

Carolyn Gardner

Nike Women's SF   (2014)

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If you are a women who loves distance running, this should be something you experience at least once.
Nike definitely knows how to host a running event and this race is amazing. It is a weekend experience that caterers to women at all types of running levels.
The weekend includes a race expo that is actually called an "expotique". This event doesn't have the typical trade show feel, but instead is a place where you can try out sponsored products (such as Nuun and Luna) while also getting your hair done, or capture that perfect photo opportunity. You also can walk across the street to Nike San Francisco to see the wall of runners names which is a yearly tradition.
The course this year was alot different. Since they only offered the half marathon option (previous years had a marathon route as well) the course was completely overhauled. I really loved the changes. The hills were manageable (other than the monster hill to the Presidio at Mile 10). The aid stations were incredible and stocked with tons of hydration and some had additional options such as Luna bars, oranges, and Clif shots. A good portion of the course runs through the Golden Gate Park, which offers a beautiful scenery. Even though the crowd support is a bit spread out, the race organizers brought in huge cheer stations to keep you moving (cheerleaders, a gospel choir, the November Project, etc).
The finish area was in a park on the Marina and offered a variety of race day events for both runners and spectators. Your race medal was once again the infamous Tiffany s necklace which is a very wearable design this year. After you leave the finishers chute you have numerous photo opportunities, a huge area to stretch, a massage, a boutique of finishers gear to purchase, and a shuttle back to the start line. There is also plenty of room to sit, relax and hang out for a bit before you leave.
One of my favorite features was the race day photos. This year Nike gave them to the runners for free, which is an awesome perk as those pics can be a bit pricey. (Thanks to the awesome Nike photographers I even had a few that turned out great, which never happens).
If you are looking for a destination race, grab your running girlfriends and get to one of these events.

Carolyn Gardner

The Chicago Marathon   (2014)

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I have run this race 6 times and every year it gets better. Definitely one to add to your race list if you are looking for a well supported marathon. The entire city comes alive for the entire weekend of this event.
Race weekend begins with the expo at McCormick Center. The organizers make it very easy to get to the location with various shuttles as well as discounted parking. The expo is huge and can be a bit overwhelming to a first timer. There are tons of vendors showcasing the latest running products as well as the leaders in running gear selling shoes, and Chicago Marathon themed apparel. (Nike is the corporate sponsor and offers a HUGE pop-up experience at the expo). There are quiet a few elites who run this course and the race organizers usually offer some sort of personal appearance by some of them at the expo. (Keep your eye on the expo schedule to find out info on great speakers)
Race day is very organized, but make sure you allow enough time to get through security and get to your corral. Corrals and the wave start make the start of the race very smooth, but the corrals are packed, so get there early if you want to meet friends or find a comfortable spot.
The course was well stocked with aid stations and amazing volunteers. You pay alot for this race, but once you see how well it is supported by the organizers you realize it is worth it.
The weather was perfect for the 2014 race which always means amazing crowd support. Since this course runs through the city neighborhoods it makes it easy for locals to come out and cheer runners. This year was no exception, the crowds were every where and sooo energetic.
The finish line chute is the perfect size, not too long, but enough room to not feel crowded. There is a ton of room near packet pick up for runners to stretch and relax a bit before meeting up with family/friends.
If you run this race, keep a few points in mind.
*Don't expect a fabulous race day shirt, they tend to be a good quality but nothing special.
*Don't expect to get cell service after the race, the lines are always jammed.
*Awesome course to run a PR, but weather is unpredictable.

Overall the best marathon in the Midwest, maybe in the USA.

Angie Maske-Berka

Iowa City Run For the Schools   (2014)

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The race hosts many distances. At 8 am there is a half mile fun run, at 8:15 there is a mile run and then at 9 am the 5k, 10k and half marathon all start at the same time.

It’s hard for me to truly enjoy this race as a running event. I run a lot of races, which are more fun, more scenic, with better medals, (if you didn’t run the first part of the “longest marathon” the medal doesn’t mean much, except you finished) but it’s hard to give up on a race in your back yard.

Registration: Was available online until the Wednesday before the race, you could also mail in your entry form. Registration was also open at the expo and on race day. Competitive race pricing, money went to the Iowa City Community School District and Regina Catholic Schools. Included with the fees were chip timing (first year), white cotton shirt, race bib, and many promo flyers.

Expo. The expo was held in the Rec Center the day before the race. Many exhibitors backed out, but there were still plenty of things happening. Running Wild, the local running store had deals on shoes, you could create race signs, or enter a poster contest, sign up for a free week at a cycling studio, learn about the schools, buy some head bands, learn about the Rival Game Relay, and learn about Medals 4 Mettle. I also brought information about Mile 22 bags and BibRave.

Pre-Race: There was on street parking around the downtown area for free. If you are not from the area you might have trouble finding a spot. Many announcements before the race including a message to line up according to pace, very crowded start with three races at once and no corrals. National anthem was sung.

Race / Course: All the courses are on the streets of Iowa City. Which can be a challenge in itself as many drivers aren’t always aware, but the course was marked well and I didn’t see any mad drivers this year.

Each mile was marked, most had a volunteer shouting times based on their clocks – not official
Where each course split was well marked and manned with a volunteer
Water and Gatorade stops, but in same paper cups; volunteers shouted which drink they had
Not many spectators, but the ones on the course were very encouraging
There was a bathroom on the course
Cement and asphalt surfaces, many crack and potholes, need to be alert
A Volunteer took photos
All major intersections had a law enforcement official, all intersections had a volunteer
No food or gel stops
No course entertainment
Hills, but nothing steep

Finish: Clearly marked with a banner over the street and the timing mats, names were announced. Chips were promptly removed from shoes, and the medal was hung around your neck. There were bottles of water, but I had to back track to grab one. On the next block was the post race food: bananas, oranges, cookies, bagels, sandwiches, water and chocolate milk. There was also free post race massage. Same amount of food for the first finishers as the last.

Overall: Not my favorite course to run, but I know the course and it’s in my back yard, so if I am around I will run it. However this race always falls on the same weekend as many other races, so we’ll see if I am back next year. I only recommend as it's a great fundraiser for the schools.

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