Latest reviews by John Kinnicutt

(2015)
"Dopey once again"
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This was my 7th Disney Marathon. My first year I only ran the marathon, then I did the Goofy Challenge 4 times, and finally the "Dopey" the past two years. This is the only race that I do every year, and it keeps getting better and better.

Some things never change. The shirts are nice and the Expo is adequate. But the Expo is actually pretty small for a race of this size, and it's very crowded. And, aside from the shirts, there isn't much in the way of SWAG.

Aid Station -- there are almost too many! The first water stop is about a mile into the race, and then every two miles or so the rest of the way. But they are very organized and it's always easy to get whatever you want.

Course Scenery -- If you're a Disney Junkie like I am, then you'll love it. If not, it's just a regular marathon course. You are only in the 4 Disney parks for about 4 miles total, and the rest of the time you're on roads. This isn't bad, but just just surprises some people. But you will be hard pressed to find a flatter course. There are a few bumps along the way, but nothing I'd actually call a hill.

Race Management/Parking -- This is truly a world class race. They've thought of everything, including parking. Not many major marathon have parking for 50,000 cars on any given day :) But I would recommend staying in a Disney Resort and taking the provided transportation. They designed the transportation around their buses, with cars being secondary.

This really should be a bucket list race for any marathoner!

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(2014)
"Nice low-key race"
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Madision
I flew in for this race and stayed at a hotel listed on the Race's webpage (Best Western). I got a really great rate booking directly through the Madison Chamber of Commerce at a hotel that was less than 100 yards from the start and finish. I really liked that this was so easy for me. Plus, the airport is only about 10 minutes from downtown and the hotel ran a free shuttle. Once I checked in I headed to the Expo, which was only about 1/4 mile walk from the hotel.

The Expo itself was tiny, but this doesn't bother me since I've been to way too many expos. This did, however, have everything that an expo needs to have. Packet pickup was a breeze and getting my shirt was also super easy. The expo did have a few vendors to pick up any last minute supplies, or things you might have forgotten (GUs, Body Glide, etc.) but not really too much else. The shirt itself was a very good quality long-sleeve technical shirt. The graphic was the race course, so it's not exceedingly good looking. And there are quite a few ads on the back. My shirt fit me okay, but I know that they did allow you to swap shirts if the size was wrong.

After the expo I took a short walk around the State Capital, where there was a really nice Farmers Market going on. This gave me the opportunity to buy some goodies for race morning!

Since I was staying very close to the start line, getting there wasn't an issue. The only problem was convincing myself that I didn't need to leave really early like I do for other races. But I did get outside with plenty of time to leave some clothes in a bag for after the race, and to get into the starting corral.

This was a very manageable sized race. So getting lined up where I wanted wasn't a problem at all. In fact, I was able to very easily move around within the starting area. It never felt too crowded.

The race started right around on time, and we were underway. There were a few 90 degree turns right near the start, but these weren't too bad, because they happened right away. And after those couple of turns the road opened up nicely and there was plenty of room on the road.

The course was not super difficult, but it seemed like there weren't any parts that were actually flat. The course rolled the entire way! There were quite a few real hills though. Running though the College around mile 8-9 had some serious hills! They seemed to be the worst, and thankfully they were fairly early. There were some other significant hills around mile 17 and then the last 1/2 mile or so is uphill. But I do think that it's possible to run very fast on this course.

The one thing about the course I was a little disappointed with was the scenery. Looking at the course map, I figured that we would be running along the banks of lakes for much of the race. That wasn't the case at all. In fact, it was rare that you could even see the lakes. It wasn't an ugly course, just not what I was expecting.

Along the way were many well stocked aid stations. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there were more than were advertised. The stations weren't too big, but they had plenty of very enthusiastic workers that really were fun!

I did have a couple problems with the waterstops though. 1. Many of the stops used plastic cups. That's just not as nice a paper. 2. The stops weren't consistent. Some had water first, and some had energy drinks first. 3. The water and energy drinks were in the same cups. I really prefer when you can visibly see what you're getting. Volunteers were shouting out what they had, but they were on top of each other and it got confusing a couple times. 4. There wasn't a lot at the stations. I think two had GUs and one had fruit. But that's all I remember seeing.

That being said, the aid stations were still great! There were quite a few that were theme based, which I always like! One station all had Hawaiian shirts on, one was dressed up like the 60's etc.

The finish area itself was nicely laid out. Mylar blankets, then medals, then photos, then water, etc. There was a lot of very good free food available after the race: sandwiches, potato ships, cookies, chocolate milk. Ummm. There was also free Micholob beer for runners, but that's usually the last thing I want after a race! And they had about 20 tables with plenty of chairs set up to eat, which was really nice. I sat around for about 45 minutes, just talking to people and trying to relax a bit, before walking back to my hotel.

This was a very nice, low-key race. Not a lot of perks, but I don't always want that. I think it would really be a nice destination race, or a nice local race. It sort of felt like both to me. But they did offer one perk that I really like -- free race day photos! I saw at least 10 photographers along the course, and I was able to legally, download high-res pictures from the race. (There is also an option to purchase prints)

Overall, I had a great time!

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(2014)
"Worth a trip to Savannah"
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This is a typical Rock & Roll race. If you've been to any one then you've seen the exact same expo already.

Not the most scenic course I've ever done, but parts were beautiful! The ugly parts were near the beginning so you will forget most of them by the end of the race.

Mostly flat, but lots of turns. And one really annoying highway section that had us in full sun for about 6 miles!

Savannah is a wonderful city, but I don't need to do this race again.

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(2014)
"Fun, but not very challenging"
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I'm not really a huge fan of mud/obstacle races, but they are fun from time to time. So when a friend asked me to join her team, I jumped at the opportunity. The race was very well organized, and a lot of fun. But it really wasn't very difficult at all.

Getting to the race was really easy. Since it's at a major medical center, it's very easy to follow signs to get there. Parking was also really easy, and packet pickup was a snap.

The race started in multiple waves, which was good since the first obstacle was only about 100 yards into the race. This was a mud pit under some ropes, so you had to crawl through. Then there were a few small walls to climb over, and we climbed up a fire tower (2 stories). After that there was about 1/2 mile of just trail running, no man-made obstacles at all. This section was really nice!

The only obstacles that really even slowed me down were some pipes that we had to crawl through. Being as tall as I am really hurt me here. I wasn't able to use my arms at all. I did sort of a worm through :) Then just before the finish there they had tires hanging on ropes. And you needed to cross about 20 feet without touching the ground. I was one of the few people that I saw that was able to do this without assistance.

Overall, I had a wonderful time, and will do this again if asked. But I was really expecting something more like a spartan race. With a high degree of difficulty.

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(2014)
"A world class race!"
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This is one of the best half marathon you will find anywhere!

The course isn't easy, but it's possible to run VERY fast here. The worst hill is in the first mile, and the course has an overall net downhill. The scenery is amazing, much of the race running through Saratoga Springs State Park. There are plenty of aid stations along the route and great post race festivities: good food, entertainment, etc.

I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a really world class race, without the cost or the crowds!

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