Latest reviews by Julia Montag

(2016)
"One of the Best Post-Race Events"
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I had a blast at this race. I'll walk through what made this event so special from packet pick up to post-race party!

Packet pick-up - the nicest volunteers were working the packet pick up. I have never had such nice people give me my bib and shirt, it was such a treat, and really started the race off on a good note. They also had really nice things in the bag - snacks that I was actually interested in AND discounts for the wineries near the race! The pick-up was at Foot Traffic, a running store in Portland. There wasn't much to it, but i'm totally ok with that. It was also nice that the race took place in Washington, but they offered a pick up in Portland, very convenient.

Race day - The race gave really detailed instructions a few days before the event. They took everyone to park about a half mile from the race start at a school that was providing free parking. The race then shuttled everyone to Rusty Grape Vineyards. I needed to warm up, so I just ran to the start.

Race area - the race started and finished at the vineyard. There were a good amount of port-o-potties, and lots of volunteers giving all sort of info you'd need. I'm pretty sure you could also pick-up your packet on race day. The day started out really foggy, and the vineyard was beautiful.

Race - The race was self-seeded and everyone was pretty respectful of where they should start. We started right on time, going down a 2 lane highway. Roads were closed off, so traffic was coming in both directions. It threw me off at first, but once I knew to expect it, it wasn't a huge deal. There were 4 waters stations, 2 of which were at other vineyards in the area and they offered gatorade, water, and wine! That was a really cool touch. They water and gatorade was in the same cups, which made it kinda hard to know what you were grabbing, but that's an easy fix. This race was hilly - lots of rolling hills, rarely were you running on flat, but I'm also kind of a baby when it comes to hills. It was about 800ft of elevation.

Post-race - We got AWESOME medals - it was a wine stopper/pourer but in the shape of a bull's head - so cool! The race director, Elby was at the finish line welcoming everyone in. He was so energetic and really made each runner feel special. All runners also got a North County Wine Run stemless wine glass, and free wine from Rusty Vineyards. They also had pasta, dinner rolls, and salad for everyone - it was super tasty! The vineyard had super cool out door areas with fire pits. It was a blast to hang out, enjoy the nice day, and have fun with everyone who ran.

I definitely recommend doing this race - bring your friends and make a day of it. We checked out another vineyard about a mile away, and it was also tasty. We got FREE tastings, thanks to a coupon in the race packet. The volunteers of this race def love the event. From runners, to staff, to volunteers, everyone was incredibly nice, and there to have a great time to together.

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(2016)
"Never a Disapointment"
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I'm a HUGE Abe Lincoln fan, so it really doesn't get better than a Lincoln road race for me. That said, they do a fantastic job putting on this event, year after year. If you can travel to Springfield for this race , you must go!

I was late for the expo, but stopped in about 15min after it ended and the crew was packing up. The race director was still there, and we chatted for a bit. He was incredibly friendly, excited about the event, and excited for us to be there. It was a great touch meeting him, and pretty cool that he was willing to chat even after the expo had ended.

The race starts right in front of the Old Capital. Springfield is small so parking was easy, and most hotels are in walking distance. The race director got the runners ready, then Abe Lincoln gave a speak, and THEN the race starts with Civil War re-enactors shooting off musket guns. YES! They shoot off musket guns to start the race!!

The course is really pretty. You run past Lincoln's home, the old & new Capital, Lincoln's tomb and through a ton of really pretty neighborhoods and parks. For a small race, so many people were on course cheering us on, I loved it! The volunteers were also awesome, and cops did a fantastic job keep cars off course.

Abe Lincoln was at the finish running everyone in, it was awesome - holding hands with Abe as I crossed the finish line? Come on! We were then handed a big shiny penny medal, on a really nice red ribbon. Easily my favorite medal ever, but again, I love everything Abe Lincoln.

The post-race party takes places on the lawn of the Old Capital. There was chocolate milk, granola bars, donuts, and beer from a local brewery. All the volunteers again were super friendly, and let you take as much as you wanted. There weren't even beer tickets, you could just kinda help yourself! There was also a live folk band playing. It was really just an awesome post-race event. Very low key, and a ton of fun.

Around mile 7 I dropped my gel. A few minutes later, a runner came up to hand it to mel! He pushed ahead just to give it to me. I think that experience really embodies everything about this event. From the race director to the volunteers, and even the participants, everyone was easy going, super friendly, and really just there for a good time.

Any opportunity I have I will run this race. I highly recommend it for every single runner.

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(2016)
"Solid local 5K"
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I live a block away from this race, so for me, the accessibility and ease to run this race was huge. I've ran the 10 miler a few times, and enjoyed that a lot more. They added the 5K for the first time this year, and it felt like a last minute add-on.

I had a not-so-great registration experience. I registered late, and ended up paying $55. This seemed very high to me for a 5K. There are a lot of different price tiers. For example, the price increases as the race date draws closer, but you also pay more if you're not a CARA member, which I get. To sign up, you have to use the CARA website. If you've ever registered on this site before, you needed to use your email log in, which for me meant resetting my log in info. I hadn't signed on to this site in along time, so this look me more time than I would like to sign up for a race. Once I got in, selected 5K, and put in my information, there was no confirmation page to tell me how much I'd end up paying before I submitted. This bothered me. I entered a $10 discount code, but it did not take, and I didn't know this until it was too late. With all the different price tiers, I would like to see my total before my card is charged.

Packet pick up was around the city at different fitness stores. Pretty quick and easy. We got a nice long-sleeve tech quarter-zip, both 10 mile and 5K got the same shirt I think. Nice quality.

The race took place at Montrose Harbor. I walked over, so can't report on parking. They had a nice race area set up with tents, vendors, etc. They led warm up stretches, and the announcer was really good about giving updates. Lots of port-to-potties, and just a good vibe.

The 10 mile and 5K went off together. I liked this because I was able to use some of the fast 10 milers to pace a few miles of my 5K. We split around mile 1.5 or 2. The course ran through Montrose park. The pavement was super uneven, with a lot of potholes to jump around. This wouldn't normally bothered me, but I was having a bad racing day. Def not a knock against the race, just a note.

There was a nice "finish" banner and they gave medals to the 5K-ers. I think they also had water and bananas, maybe even bagels for the finishers. I didn't check this area out, or grab anything so I can't report more. When I was done, I was able to go cheer on the 10 milers, which was a lot of fun.

The 10 miler finishers get cash for winning - 1st male & female ($350), 2nd male & female ($250), 3rd ($150). I came in first female for the 5K. The awards weren't until 11:30ish, and I finished around 930 or before so couldn't wait around. I reached out to CARA to ask if I won anything, and I was informed it was a button and I could pick it up from the CARA office. I def didn't expect as much money as the 10 miler placers, but thought I'd get more than a button. Seemed a little unfair to me.

Again, this race is well organized, and a great local option. The 10 mile has been around for awhile, and the 5K seemed like an afterthought, in my oppinion. I'd def run this race again, and just had small gripes about the award and registration process.

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(2015)
"My Fav Turkey Trot"
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I'm a little bias because I LOVE racing on Thanksgiving, but Ram Racing has done a fantastic job putting on this quality event year after year. This is the only Thanksgiving Day 10K I can find close to the city, so I keep coming back.

The race starts in the center of downtown Highland Park. It's about a 40min drive from the city, but traffic wasn't too bad, and parking was incredibly easy. The race has a really nice small-town feel to it, and I welcome the opportunity to run somewhere other than the lake front path.

Gear check was a breeze, and all the volunteers were amazing. They might have been as excited to be there as the runners! There was also ample port-o-potties. The 5K kicked off first, and then came the 10K. The MC did an awesome job, sharing random turkey and Thanksgiving facts as we waited in the corrals. The race was small, but they still had corral letters, which was nice for traffic flow.

The race: the course was open, and not crowded at all near me. We ran through the neighborhoods of Highland Park, and lots of people were outside cheering us on. It was a really beautiful course! There were rolling hills, but nothing too major. Every small incline was met with a nice straightaway, or slight downhill. The final stretch was a little hilly, and the wind was nuts. That was challenging, but obviously not the race's fault. They also did a kickass job having clocks on course. I think we passed 3-4, for a 10K, which was awesome. The MC at the finish was announcing names, and everyone received a mini pie, water, and gatorade at the finish.

Overall, this race was a ton of fun, and Ram does not skip on any of the details. The only downside is you have to travel to Deerfield to grab your packet, and there is no race-day pick up. This was kind of a pain, having to travel to the suburbs twice that week. I did have a friend grab mine, so it wasn't a huge deal. Having someone grab your bib was easy.

Anyways - I 100% recommend this race if you're anywhere near Chicago on Thanksgiving Day!

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(2015)
"Such a well-run Trail Race!"
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This race was amazing. The level of detail the race organizers went through to ensure that every single part of the race experience ran smoothy, showed!
1. Packet pick up - There were a TON of options for grabbing your race bag, including day-of packet pick up. It was also super easy to have someone else grab your bib, which I did, so can't say too much more about how packet pick up went.
2. Race day - The parking lot had a ton of people directing traffic, which was really helpful. It was quick to get in, and no one had to park SO far, that you couldn't walk back and grab things if needed. The race area was awesome. So many fun, interactive booths to talk with cool people, check out past event pics, drink beer, etc. They had FREE COFFEE for anyone, and big fire pits for everyone to stay warm around. I think I had more fun spectating and hanging out than actually racing! They really did a great job. They also had boy scouts walking around and picking up the trash all day, it was awesome to see them involve a cool org like that, and also make sure the park stayed clean.
3. The Race! I did the relay, and had so much fun. I loved running as part of a team, and loved the handouts, etc. The course was hilly, but incredibly beautiful. The trails were clean, and the whole park was starting to change colors for fall - it was amazing! There was one water station for my one loop (each relay member would run the same course, about 6mi) You passed them on the way out, and the way back, and all the volunteers were encouraging and friendly, and helpful!
4. Post race party - Back to the fun! They had medals for everyone, bananas and snack to grab, and you could hang out and stay warm and wait for your team.

This was an amazing race, and I had such a blast. I loved watching all the 50K and 50milers finish as now. I need to go back and tackle that long distance!

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