Voltion America was held on Saturday, June 4 at Busse Woods. Location: Ned Busse Preserve E. Higgins Rd. and N. Arlington Heights Rd. Busse Woods, Elk Grove, IL 60007. Temps were in the 60s and 70s, high humidity, and some raining on and off. I've never run through Busse Woods, but thought it was a great change of scenery from the LFP. There was a lot of shade, so even though the majority of the morning was cloudy, it was nice to be under trees. 7am start for the half, 7:15 for 5k. For me, this was my first half of the weekend with another Sunday morning, so my plan was to take it easier and run slower with my mom, and save some energy for Sunday. Here are my thoughts on Pros and Cons, in my opinion.
+ Three Packet Pickup Options: Thursday, June 2 2–7 at Road Runner Sports in Naperville; Friday, June 3rd 2–7pm at Road Runner Sports Kildee; Saturday, June 4th 6:00am at Race Site
+ I went to pickup on Friday, as I wasn't too far for another pickup in Deerfield, so figured why not get it out of the way and have less stress Saturday morning (I stress when it's a new-to-me race and don't know where I'm going) - pickup was quick and easy, and I even met someone that was helping organize the race. She was super sweet and helped me figure out the parking situation (that it was plentiful!)
+ Though no official address was given for where in Busse Woods it would be starting, it was pretty easy to find on my Google Map app, drop a pin, and then get directions that way. They provided a general address on the website, plus there was a map of the race site and an email was sent with directions.
+ Race week included a few emails with information and updates. This was very helpful.
+ Parking was plentiful, and I think the farthest you'd be is about a mile. We were about .5 mile back, but the walk was nice. We were also near an indoor bathroom, so used that before heading over.
+ A nice touch - they had busses to take you from the parking to the start, if you didn't want to walk.
+ Race started about 8 minutes late (which was good for me, because I decided to use the bathroom again and had enough time to do so once the line was nonexistent, hence why I put it in the pros haha).
+ DJ at the start/finish line (they were the same) and announcer (Dave if you know him - he's at a TON of Chicago races)
+ Plenty of aid stations (I think about every 1.5 miles) that included a portapottie. Also, in Busse Woods, there were a lot of indoor bathrooms that were near the aid stations, if you wanted plumbing.
+ Aid stations were well stocked with different flavors of Gatorade (orange, blue, and yellow) and water. If I didn't know what volunteers were holding, I would just ask 'Water?' and someone with water would give me a cup.
+ Great volunteers and SO many friendly runners offering each other encouragement.
+ I never saw anything about time limit, but just looked at the website FAQ and saw it was 3 hours. However, there were quite a few people out there over the 3 hour limit and the finish line was still set up. I thought I overheard someone say that they weren't sticking with the limit, which is good since I was over it too.
+ SWAG included a white/grey camo-like shirt, finisher medal, and a blue drawstring bag with Volition America logo on it.
+ Nice course through Busse Woods. Though there were a good amount of non-racers out there (runners, walkers, cyclists) - everyone was polite. Unlike the LFP when most cyclists run you down, even when you are as far right as you can go, without warning, the cyclists here were all super nice, let you know they were coming, and thanked you (I also thank them when they shout out their warning, so they know it's appreciated).
+ Post race snacks included a cup of pretzels, cup of animal crackers, bananas, apples, bottled water, and cups of gatorade.
+ Free race photo downloads.
- I think my only con was the beer selection. It was Lakeshore Beverage (a distributor that has lots of craft beers), but unfortunately, I think you know which two beer options they had. Honestly it was fine as I had to get home to shower & go to parties, but I feel maybe if I complain enough some races might change their options ;)
- The race shirt was a bit small. I was unsure when registering if they were unisex or would have women's cuts, since it didn't specify, which led me to choose my shirt size as a unisex size. I feel like it fits like a women's cut though, and could have gone up a size. I'm sure I could have exchanged it, but figured since I'm running the same race (different location) in September, I'd email and try and change my shirt size for that race. Maybe if I lose that weight I'm supposed to the other size will fit eventually haha.
OTHER (neither PROS or CONS in my opinion):
• Before the start we had the pledge of allegiance and the National Anthem. As a background, the RD (Major Dan Rooney, USAFR F-16 Fighter Pilot) for this race is the man who founded Folds of Honor, which provides scholarships and assistance to the spouses and children of of those killed or disabled in service to America. I think that's a great cause to help benefit with the race costs and to bring awareness to the foundation itself.
• Miles were marked with flags, along with major K marks (5k, 15k, etc). Clocks at a few of the miles, but not all.
• Smaller field of runners than I'm used to (tops 500), but was good since Busse Woods trail isn't super wide. I liked the feel of the smaller race, plus there was no need for waves.
Honestly, the nit-picky cons don't have any weight here. It was a great race, well organized, and the entire thing was surrounded but great folks. Definitely adding this to my race list for 2017, and I'm looking forward to another weekend of back-to-back half in September, when Volition will be on Sunday, September 11.
You can read a longer, personal recap here: http://www.heatherrunsthirteenpointone.com/2016/06/volition-elk-grove-half-marathon.html