Latest reviews by Angie Maske-Berka

(2017)
"Excellent way to end the year"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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The even took place on Dec 31, 2016 at 10 am. It was sunny and around 65-70 degrees. It was run on the beach (it's why it's marked as a trail race)

Registration: Available online for around $25. Had to register before a certain date to get the race sweatshirt. Included was chip timing, bib a beer and wings. If you finished you got a medal.

Expo/Packet pickup: There was no expo. Packet pickup was before the race near the start at the pavilion. Just needed to tell a volunteer your name and they got you a bib and your beer and wing coupons. There was parking nearby in pay lots.

Pre-Race: There was a one mile swim held before the 5k. Participants were lined up for the start and could watch the swimmers. There were no pace corrals, but for the most part self seeding worked out fine. There were announcements and music over the loud speaker. The National Anthem was sung live. The toilets were open in a bath house for the beach.

Race/Course: The course was out and back on the sand at Clearwater Beach.
-Scenery - it doesn't get any better running along the water
-Terrain - the sand was all packed, but it was banked in spots and the finish was in the dry, loose sand
-Elevation - FLAT!
-Spectators - There were quite a few, but mostly because there were many people just out for their walk along the beach
-Aid Stations - one water only stop at the turnaround, with plastic cups. The Turnaround guy was holding a trash bag for the cups.
-Course markings- miles marked with signs in the sand
-No photographers
-Volunteers - everyone was so friendly, no need for many on the course, but the RD and all involved made you feel at home

Finish: The RD was greeting runners to the finish line, a volunteer gave you a medal, a bottle of water, and if you were the top 25 (male and female) finisher you received a card.

Post Race: The event was sponsored by Hooters, which was just across the street from the beach. It opened at 10:30 on the 3rd floor. This is where you redeemed your free beer (Michelob Ultra) and boneless wings. The RD gave out the top 25 finisher awards, and in handing out each one she did a small interview. While the wings and beer weren't the best, it was a fun event.

My race: I hadn't ran a 5k in forever, and my last race was a 50k at the beginning of the month. I just wanted to finish sub 30. I really like running on the packed beach, so I gave it my best, it was hard to run on the banked portions, but I finished in 29:14 and claimed a top 25 finisher award.

Overall: This is a great event. It's low cost, laid back and fun.....plus you get to run on the beach the last day of the year. I hope I get to do this again.

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(2017)
""Warm Fest""
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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The 2017 even took place Saturday, February 18. It was unseasonably warm, highs would reach near 60 degrees. It was a sunny day. The race start is 11 am.

Registration: This event is capped at 350 runners due to restricted parking around the race start, so register early for the best rate ($25.) Also by registering early you get an option to get a long sleeve tech shirt and a personalized bib. The price increases to $30 ish and will sell out.

Expo/ packet pick up: There is no expo for the event. However, there is packet pick up inside the lodge starting at 8:30. This process is easy, just look your bib number up first, grab a pre-filled envelope with your shirt and bib and then grab the timing chip that goes on your shoe. During this time there is also a table set up with information about the running club - memberships, upcoming races, and gear.

Inside the lodge are real flushing toilets, however due to the high traffic use, they back up. There are additional port-o-potties set up outside, which are very clean.

As mentioned before there is limited parking for the event. If you come early there is parking near the start, by the lodge. If you arrive a little later, there is a lot nearby and shuttle is provided to get you to the lodge. It's also not that far away, great distance for a short warm up.

Pre-race: There were some announcements and the National Anthem was sung and the race started. There was no sound system at the start, so those that were lined up in the back may not have heard any of that. People self seeded at the start by pace, there were no signs, it seemed to work out fine.

Race/Course: The course is through the Squaw Creek park.
-Terrain: paved or asphalt. As will conditions this time of the year in Iowa, asphalt becomes more hazardous, so just watch your footing for potholes and loose rocks.
-Elevation: There race isn't pancake flat, a few inclines, but nothing steep. The finish is uphill.
-Spectators: There are not many out cheering people on, however the race has out and back sections, so you are cheering and getting cheered on by other runners. Once near the finish, there are many energetic finishers cheering on others.
-Volunteers: The course is in the park area, so there aren't busy intersections for volunteers to keep an eye on. The local area college manned the water station, complete with the mascot.
-Medical: there was an ambulance at the finish area
-Aid Station: One water stop, with paper cups, just after the one mile mark. You could stop here just before you finish too.
-Course Markings: each mile was marked with a flag. There were signs posted "race in progress"

Finish: The finish line was easy to spot with an inflatable arch and timing mats. Once crossing the line, a volunteer snapped the chip from your shoe, and you could grab a bottle of water from a pool of ice. The timing company was giving out printed sheets with finisher information.

Post Race: Inside the lodge is where the post race events were happening. There was a line for the finisher food, which was chili, sandwiches, and lots of cookies! There were pools outside with beer, more water, and soda. The race advertised this as a "social." It appeared that many people stuck around to hang out.

There was an awards ceremony when everyone had finished. If you couldn't stick around, once official results were available, you could grab your medal. During this time there was also random door prizes, there was a board posted with bib numbers and you could claim your prize.

Also during the awards, the running club gave out it's annual circuit prizes.

Overall: This is a great priced race with an excellent community feel. It kicks of the Corridor Running season. If you are in the area, try to get in before it sells out.

My Race: I was so happy to have a race on my schedule. I run so many races, I was in a rut from not having any races to do. I am also on the Corridor Running board, so I was helping with race day things. I was taking pictures for the event, this meant I would be running with a Go Pro and my phone. I always try for a sub 30 at the 5k distance, and I am happy to report that I was able to finish just under 28 minutes, while taking all the video and photos.

-Also a side note, this was probably the warmest temp for this race ever. It's usually around 25 degrees this time of year in Iowa.

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(2017)
"13.1 flat miles in the heat"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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The 2017 event took place on Jan 1 at 8 am. There was a wheelchair start, then the full marathon, and the half and 10k at the same time. It was sunny and temps would warm to 80 degrees.

Registration: This was available online, there was a promoted $10 discount as well. You could register on race day too. Register quick for the best price. I know this race is open for next year and started at $30, but close to race day it's $100. Included is a bib and timing, and a cotton short sleeve t-shirt. ( registered late and had option to get a shirt mailed or take a $25 discount code to an online compression company)

Race management was great with emails. Plenty of information sent out the week before the race.

Expo/Packet Pickup: There was no expo for this race. There was a packet pick up the day before as well as on race day. The packet pick up was held at the race start area, in a pavilion. It was easy to just tell them your name and they gave you a bib. There was a volunteer check in area too.

Pre-Race: As mentioned there was packet pick and volunteer check in before the race. The location had plenty of free parking, it was a sport complex. There were real flushing toilets. When the race start time neared there were some announcements made about the course. No National Anthem.

Race/Course: The race was an out and back, hosting multiple events.
-Scenery: the course was along the 589 toll road, nothing exciting to see
-Terrain: on a paved, asphalt bike path
-Elevation: FLAT, this is Florida
-Spectators: There was no one on the course specifically cheering on runners. The path was open and bikers would pass and cheer us on, and since it was out and back, other runners were cheering.
-Aid Stations: The half marathon had 4 AS, there were 2 I would pass twice. They were at about the 2 and 5 mile marks. They had water and Gatorade only in small plastic cups. No food. (Not sure if there were offerings for the marathoners)
-Course Markings: The miles were spray painted on the bike path for the marathon. There were turn around signs staked in the ground for each race.
-Volunteers: There were friendly people at the start/finish and the aid stations. There were highways to cross, there were no law enforcement officials at these places.
-no shade, or protection from weather

Finish/Post Race: There was a finisher's arch set up, so easy to find the finish line. A Volunteer handed you a medal and a bottle of water. You could get official results printed out by typing in your race number.

Back at the pavilion was the post race festivities. There were Krispy Kreme donuts, homemade breads, bananas and Gatorade. There was someone cooking something, which I assumed was the advertised pancakes and/or, but I was never offered them or no one acknowledged me standing there. The awards were presented after I left.

My Race: I was running this as a training run for another Florida race 2 weeks after this, I needed the experience in the heat, which I got. I finished in a time around 2:28, which for me lately is decent.

Overall: I wouldn't not recommend this race, as it's super flat...but the price I paid didn't reflect what I received. First, I have paid less for full marathons and received more course support, more post race food, and more swag. Second, I chose the gift card with my registration - I can't order anything for $25, so I would pay more. The race management is great, but this race isn't on my list to do it again.

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(2017)
"a nice run towards 35 kegs of beer!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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The 2017 Key West Half Marathon took place on Sunday, January 15. The 7 am start was partly cloudy and humid. The sun eventually came out and warmed to 80 degrees.

Registration: This was available online, and started around a price of $80. You could also register at packet pick up before the race. Included with registration, a multi colored short sleeve uni sex tech shirt, a bib with timing chip and you could grab a drawstring bag at the expo.

Expo /Packet Pick up: The expo was held Friday evening and all day Saturday before the race at the Waterfront Brewery / restaurant. There was enough room in the place to have the expo, although it was a bit crowded when I arrived. The packet pick up was simple, just get in the line that corresponded with the beginning letter of your last name. I handed the volunteer my ID just to get my name right, they handed me my bib and shirt. There were a few tables set up with things to buy - sponsors and race branded merchandise.

Pre-race: Things seems to be lacking as far as logistics go before the race. Although there were emails that advised coming early to find parking and that there was gear check...those things didn't seem easy to find on race day. I did get a shuttle to the start, but I saw no parking near the start. Also, we walked around a bit to find the gear check that was "just a block from the start." I can't remember, but I believe this gear check area also had port-o-potties.

Once it was close to starting the race, participants were encouraged to line up. There were no corrals, but there were pacers. Most seemed to do a great job self seeding.

Race/course:
-Scenery: The race goes by many of the touristy things to see in Key West, the southernmost point, through Mallory square as well as running through neighborhoods, on a pier, by the beach, and along the water.
-Elevation: FLAT, this is Florida. I think my Garmin had an overall gain of like 25 feet. There was a short bridge at the turn around, that was a small hill.
-Terrain: paved, all on road or path, small section of bricks near the finish.
-Aid Stations: There were lots of stops, all with water and Orange Ultima (this was announced on the FB page, however all volunteers called it Gatorade, there is a difference, it has stevia or some sweetener) The liquids were in paper and plastic cups, but there were 2 different kinds of cups and not always same liquid in same cup, and the Ulitma was always the center table. The course was out and back, and some stops were out or had less cups on the back portion. There were some Honey Stinger products sitting on the tables, but I never saw them offered. There were port-o-potties here too.
-Course Markings: Each mile was marked with a teardrop flag, volunteers at intersections, never any confusion as to which way to go. Spray painted spots too.
-Spectators: There were a few on the course, even some chickens.
-Photographers: These were scattered about, but some didn't have any markings, so wasn't sure if they were official. A few days after the race, received an email to purchase photos.
-Volunteers: They were so energetic, nice to see them on the course.

Finish: The finish line was hidden around a corner, but once you crossed the finish line, a volunteer handed you the wine stopper medal and a bottle of water. There were tables of food set up, but the line was long. There were oranges, bananas, pastries, cornbread and bagels. Tubs of iced down water bottles were stationed around.

Post Race: PARTY!!!!! There was a live band playing that was very active with the crowd, at one point they stopped to mix margaritas with an outboard motor to share with everyone. The beer was flowing! There were 35 kegs of craft beer, 2 choices from the Waterfront Brewery and IPA and a pilsner, there was no limit on the amount of beers you could drink at no cost. In fact, when there was no line at the beer tent, they encouraged you to get another beer. While dancing around at the party, in between songs, there were raffles and giveaways. Everyone was having a great time. There wasn't too much shade, but you could find it if you needed it. The food wasn't really close to the band and beer, but there were restaurants nearby.

My race: I wanted to do my best. I had been training at my gym to simulate the heat, and I had run a half in FL 2 weeks before. I was prepared for the hot, but I forgot about the humidity. I carried my own water too. I did run the best I could, with a time around 2:21. I really enjoyed running alongside the water, very peaceful in a way.

Overall: The post race party makes this a must run! The race organization is more "island style" meaning it's very laid back, but they know how to treat you to a great time. If you need to escape winter, I would recommend getting away to Key West.

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(2016)
"I didn't "croak""
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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The 2016 event took place on Saturday, December 3 at 8 am in Independence Grove. It was a cool, cloudy day, topping off near 30 degrees.

Registration: Available online until Nov 27th, and just under $100. Included with registration was free admittance into Independence Grove (no $5 parking fee) a long sleeve unisex tech shirt, a sticker, and a Curate bar.

Expo/Packet pickup: There was no expo. Packet pick up was Friday the night before the race at a bar and grill in Waukegan. If you were out of town you could grab your stuff before the race start.

Pre race: There was free parking and plenty of it. A building was open with heated, real bathrooms. I picked up my packet without hassle. There were some pre-race announcements about the course, there was some mention about getting a medal or not having enough, but it was hard to hear. Then everyone lined up behind a starting arch, and then it was time to run.

Race/ Course: The course was run in a forest preserve.
-Terrain: mostly trail, but easy to navigate crushed limestone or packed dirt. There were paved sections too near the buildings on the grounds and underpasses.
-The course was 2 "loops" however each loop was not a circle, but rather 3 out and backs with a loop.
-Spectators - there were no spectators
-Aid Stations - these were top notch. Information was posted online about the location of these, so you could plan ahead. These were basically a buffet in the woods. They had everything you needed and more - water, Gatorade, sodas, broth, coffee, green olives, pickles, m & m's, jelly beans, pretzels, snack mix, clementines, bananas, muffin strudel bites, oreos, shortbread cookies.... I think I have named them all. There were always friendly and chatty volunteers at the aid stations making sure you were feeling alright.
-Photographers- There was a roaming photographer on a fat tire bike for the first loop. Available for free on the race Facebook page
-Elevation - while there were hills on the course, they weren't too steep
- Course markings - while most corners were marked with tape or marked off with cones, there was a volunteer on course during the first loop telling you which way to go. If you didn't pay attention you could have missed a turn on the second loop. There were no mile markers or timing mats. The trails were not closed to other users, or people on horses.
-Scenery: the course was in a forest preserve and given the time of year, there wasn't much to look at, but it was a beautiful area, wooded, near the Des Plaines River.

Finish/Post Race: There was a timing clock at the finish line. A volunteer shouted your bib number as you came across. Then you proceeded to a food table that doubled as an aid station to collect a belt buckle. The Aid station table was also the post race food. There was a nearby tent set up with a heater for finishers to celebrate.

My race: This was my last race of the year, If I finished I would accomplish my 2016 goal of a marathon (or longer) a month. I had to finish the first loop in 4 hours to make sure I didn't get cut, I did that in 3:13 and picked up a new friend on that lap too. We carried on until about mile 17, and I continued on by myself until the end. There was some walking, and about mile 28 the sun came out. I came across the finish line when the clock struck 7:01, which would be a PR for me in the 50k, except my watch registered it at 30.54 miles. (My watch also said I had a total of 6:40 moving time, so I wasted 20 minutes at aid stations and using the bathroom) So maybe if the math was done, I set a PR?!? I know that I will run another 50k, so it's not a big deal, and in longer events with trail, distances are off. I also overheard someone say they measured the course twice.

Overall: While the price may seem high, it's comparable to long distances in the area. It's a great beginner 50k and an easy laid back event. I would run this again.

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