Latest reviews by Chadd Balbi

(2017)
"Hustle For Henne 5K"
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The Hustle For Henne is an inaugural race put on in 2017. It is a 5K that is in support of addiction awareness, so a race to help a great cause.

It is held at Andrew Evans Park in Chester Springs, PA. Not being familiar with the location it was very new for me. Overall the 5K was a lot of fun as it was held for a good cause, but also because of the course. With only being 3.1 miles 5K courses tend to not offer a lot. But not only did the Hustle For Henne 5K course offer great sites and sounds (the course winded back and forth through active farms) it also allowed for a few challenging hills. At times during the course the elevation changed pretty steadily to offer runners a challenge versus a flatter course.

The organizers also mapped out the course to finish on a grassy trail area. This wasn't a long stretch of path, but it did break up the course from being 100% on the road which I found interesting. Post race every runner was greeted with water, pretzels, home made cookies, bananas and so much more. While this race was put on to support a good cause, it was great to see the organizers make sure runners (and walkers) were taken care of post race.

Overall there are a lot of 5K's to choose from. However the fact that the Hustle For Henne went to a good cause, while also offering a unique course, makes this race a great one to choose to run. This was a walker friendly race as well, so a great event for the family. I hope they put it on again in 2018.

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(2017)
"Mad Marathon Half"
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The Mad Marathon is dubbed the "Worlds Most Beautiful Marathon" due to all of the sights and sounds along the course. And it did not disappoint. 

Bib pick up for the race was at the Waitsfield Inn. This was not your normal race expo. There were three tents set up. One to find your bib number, another to collect your bib and the third was for the half fanatics. So needless to say you aren't going to spend a lot of time here, in and out really. The set up was also a bit odd, the opening for the pick up was through the trees. Because of where they had you park you had to walk through the opening to get there. Definitely different from what I am used to. I would recommend them relocating bib pick up to a more easily accessible area, but it's a small set up so the space isn't really needed.

Even though the race was small, the swag was still excellent. The race shirt was basic from the standpoint that the only image was the race logo, which I like because sometimes races clutter shirts with their sponsors. It was also made of tech material and not just standard cotton. And the race bag was a nice cloth drawstring bag. Which was a nice add, considering there are large corporate funded races that even went away from this and offer you cheap plastic bags. So it was nice to see a small hometown race not cut costs here.

This race is dubbed as the "Worlds Most Beautiful Marathon". After running the course it is obvious why. However lets get this out of the way first, the hills on this course are possibly some of the worst I have faced.

Don't get me wrong, there was a very enjoyable downhill stretch between mile 2 and 3. However climbing back up to the finish line was brutal. This was honestly the first race I ever ran where I questioned if I would finish. (Including 2 marathons). No wonder the scenery was so amazing, they had to trick you away from the hills.
 
I very much enjoyed this race. If you are not used to small, hometown races like I am, this is definitely one for the bucket list. You will be hard pressed to find another race with the views this one could offer. 
If I had to make one suggestion to the race organizers it would be more communication. I did appreciate this race didn't flood my inbox, however I also felt like I had to seek out information anytime I needed it. There were no updates sent out on schedule of events, or what was going on in the area. Instead if you wanted to find information, you had to look for it yourself. Also they were very quiet on social media. This is just a pet peeve of mine, however I like when races are very active on social because it make the runners feel more connected. But that's just my 2 cents.

Overall I would recommend this race. It's extremely challenging, but at the same time you are bound to get some sights that make the hills bearable. Plus visiting the town of Waitsfield was an interesting experience so in total I had an amazing experience.  

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(2017)
"2017 Fox Trot 5K"
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The Fox Trot 5K begins and ends at the Sly Fox Brewery. It is a part of the Great American Brewery Race Series. As a beer running fanatic I was beyond excited to run this race.

Not only is it at the brewery but Sly Fox puts on a food truck festival as well as tailgating games on after the race.

The course itself is enjoyable. It runs out and back through Pottstown. So you enjoy a lot of scenery in such a short time. Runners pass by the neighborhoods of Pottstown while also running through more rural areas as well. The elevation also allows for a few hills so challenges you at the same time. Overall the course is enjoyable for a 5K. While some 5K courses can be boring because of how short they are, this is not the case with this run.

While the race is why all runners are there, it may not even be the best part of the day. As mentioned above the host brewery puts on a food truck festival with a bunch of tailgating games. So after the race each runner is welcomed to a free 16 ounce can glass filled with a beer. Along with this each runner also receives a free Yeti style koozie with the race name and information on it. Forget about the standard race t-shirt, the race swag for this run is on a whole other level!

After you get your free beer and koozie you can head into the brewery for more beers at their tap room or take it outside and play kan jam, cornhole or life size yard pong (think beer pong with soccer balls and trash cans). The party goes on all day. So while the race starts in the morning, prepare to stay out all day and have fun.

This is a must for any local runner!

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(2017)
"My 4th BSR!"
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The 2017 Broad Street Run was my 4th year running. As I posted on social media, every year I think will be my last and then I am sucked back in (more on that later). The Broad Street Run is not only the largest race Philadelphia has to offer, but it is also the largest 10 miler in the entire country. The race gets over 40,000 registered runners. So it’s kind of a big deal.

The course is the same every year. Starts in North Philly and is a 10 mile straight shot down broad street until you get to the Navy yard. You pass through almost every section Philadelphia has to offer. And the course elevation is primarily flat with a good portion being slightly downhill. This is the only course of it’s kind in Philadelphia, so if you’re an out of towner with only one chance to run Philly, this is the race you must choose.

Not only is the course a lot of fun, with a lot to see, there are also tons of spectators. If you’re looking for a course where it feels like you are in a legit parade, this is the one for you.

Unfortunately this race does have a few drawbacks. The start and finish line are 10 miles apart, so you need to plan for that. The most popular route to get to the start line is the Septa Broad Street Subway line. Unfortunately it feels as if every runner chooses this option. This year I had to wait an hour for a subway car. Not because they weren’t coming, but because every time a car came, it was so full I couldn’t get on. I ended up getting one that got me to the start line 5 minutes late, and I began looking for a subway car a full hour and a half before the starting time.

The finish line is just as packed. Since 40,000 runners are all converging on the same spot getting through the finish area is difficult. It takes a long time and you do not get any cell service to link back up with your loved ones.

I understand the logistic nightmare. It’s 40,000 runners trying to get through the same areas. I do not blame the race management on this because there’s not much they can do about it. But at the same time it is still an issue and part of the reason I tell myself I won’t be back. But then I run the course, experience the atmosphere and I am right back to signing up the next year.

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(2017)
"My 4th Hot Chocolate 15K"
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This year was my 4th year running this race. Also the 4th year the race has ever been held in Philly. My streak stays alive!

Expo:

Complete honesty, I really wish the race directors would put more effort into the expo for this race. I say this every year I run it, but the expo is in serious need of some help. Don't get me wrong, they have a lot going on there. You can buy gear, it's a smooth pick up process and they even have a DJ playing music. However it's small and always held in what feels like a boiler room. They hold the expo in the Philly Convention Hall. This is a huge building that stretches across multiple blocks of Philadelphia. And since all major races host their expo in one of the halls, I know they can do better. It feels like this race takes the smallest, cheapest room available to host the expo in. Instead of one of the many large halls that are well lit, carpeted and spacious they hold it in the room that has a concrete floor, dark and looks like a boiler room.

None the less the expo is still enjoyable. As I mentioned you can make last minute purchases of course support gear or even buy official race merchandise. They have a DJ playing music and even are giving away chocolate. Plus bib pick up is always top notch. Instead of lining up for your specific bib number you can go up to any line and they print your information for your bib right there. I like that because it is using technology to their advantage to make for an easier process.

Regardless, I hope out of towners don't get a bad impression of Philly race expos, trust me they can be better.

Swag:

The one thing that makes this race stand out is the swag. Instead of offering a traditional t-shirt runners can enjoy an official race jacket. Each runner gets one whether you run the 15K or 5K. Having run 4 years in a row I can confirm this is something they give every year. And truth be told they get better year after year.

Course:

For out of towners or first time Philly runners the course is a lot of fun. You get a taste of the city, plus get to see some famous views. The course begins at the art museum (the famous rocky steps) runs into the city for about a mile, turns around and heads back up MLK Drive. Then you turn back around at mile 5 and head back to the art museum steps. On the way back runners run along the Schuylkill river and get a first hand look at Boathouse Row. (A beautiful site every time).

I say this is awesome for out of towners or first time Philly runners, because unfortunately this is the same course that a majority of runs in Philly offer. Sadly while Philly is a major metropolitan area, running in the actual city rarely ever happens. I have blogged about this many times, but it is my belief that the cost to close off Philly streets is too high to justify. So as a result most (if not all) Philly races run the same course: 1 mile in the city, the remainder on the MLK loop. So to be honest the course for this race is really no different than any other race the city has to offer.

However it is one of the few 15K distance races Philly has to offer, and rarely do you get a 5K to run this course. So while the course itself is very common the distances for the area are not. Perfect for the runner who isn't quite ready for the Half Marathon distance but wants to get a taste of Philly running.

Overall

While there are some things I would change, this is still a very fun race. It's family themed, while also being a challenging enough distance. Also with the jacket and post run chocolate (as well as chocolate on the course) it is worth putting on your race schedule.

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