Latest reviews by Heather C

(2014)
"Fun Spring Time Race"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was a fun race in the middle of May. This was my first year racing this one, and mainly registered because it was included in the 39.3 Challenge (complete this race, Michelob 13.1, and Chicago Half Marathon and receive a 39.9 Challenge medal) — I was already registered for the other two, so figured why not add this one as well.

This race had easy packet pickup at Fleet Feet Old Town, as usual. The weather was in the low 50s and cloudy around 7 and then was upper 60s and sunny at the finish (for me, anyway). Parking was available at the Millennium Park Garages, though it would have been nice to get a discount for it ($19, ouch!). People who live in the city could have easily taken Public Transit to get there.

The race set-up and finish line were in the Lakeshore East Park, which I knew to be near Universal Sole, so it wasn't a problem finding it. The start, however, was a couple minutes away near the Lakefront Path. The port-o-let situation was a little strange – some of the placements made it hard to form lines, so there was some issues with people cutting or deciding to form their own lines elsewhere, and the lines that formed were pretty long.

The race started at 7, with the final corral started around 7:35, and the 10K starting closely behind.

Also, towards the finish, the course was a bit odd (kept wondering how you got to the line that we saw in the morning), but I felt there was enough direction via either volunteers, other runners, or cones, so I didn't see that as a problem.

Things I liked about this race:
• Great shirt - liked the material, color (which was unusual and so nice to have something other than the usual!), and fit
• Easy packet pickup
• Plenty of aid stations on course (8 total) with water and Gatorade
• Great medal
• Pace groups
• Lakefront Path course, but started farther north than usual, which was a nice change of pace
• Post-race picnic with Goose Island catered buffet (hash browns, watermelon, sausage, egg whites, and pancakes)
• Plant your own flowers
• Great finish line enthusiasm by volunteers and race announcers (my mom and I were able to get our names called out together when we finished, that was fun)

Things I disliked:
• Long lines for port-o-lets
• Parking cost

Here's my blog recap, if you're interested in more details: http://heatherrunsthirteenpointone.blogspot.com/2014/06/chicago-spring-half-marathon-recap.html

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(2014)
"Large, but fun, race"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was my second year running the Shamrock Shuffle, and felt it to be a better experience than the first (back in 2012). They got rid of the weird bottlenecking that happened on Lake Street, so that was a major bonus. The Corrals were also split up into lots of smaller groups, which helped with the overcrowding (though let's face it – with a race this large, there's always going to be some issues with crowding, you just have to get over it).

Things I like about this race:
• Great expo with a lot of vendors – you can find everything you might need here... I always end up with a lighter wallet and heavy bags ;)
• Fun course – with a start and finish near Grant Park, you get a chance to run the streets of Chicago instead of the usual courses on the Lakefront Path (but watch out for potholes, especially after that winter we had), plus getting to run down State Street
• Great after party
• Plenty of on course support and aid stations – never saw a line at the toilets, 2 stations on course had water and Gatorade
• Lots of toilets at the start and finish – with that many people you'd expect lines, but I never waited in one.

Things I didn't like:
• The shirt... I'm not a big fan of white (though happy it was dry-tech at least). Also, thanks to experience, I knew to order a size up, as my usual size with them was snug
• Crowded, but I think they did a great job of managing that many people with corral sizes and wave starts, but just a warning if you hate crowds. I'm not sure many people would be able to PR this race, unless you had a great corral start (A or B maybe), so go in to it with the idea of having fun!

I enjoy this race and plan on running it again each year, if I'm able. It's a nice way to get out and enjoy some not-so-wintery weather (though who knows what it'll be like each year! I remember it being unusually warm for 2012).

You can read more about my recap here, if you'd like: http://heatherrunsthirteenpointone.blogspot.com/2014/04/bank-of-america-shamrock-shuffle-8k.html

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