Latest reviews by Chadd Balbi

(2016)
"2016 RW Half 10K"
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The 10K was the third race of the Runners World Half and Festival weekend and second race on Saturday. Since I had run the grand slam of races (all four runs) I had my bib from running the trail and 5K race already. So there was no need for me to pick up a bib for the 10K.

However it is important to note that since the expo was open all weekend bib pick up was super easy. You could go as early as 12:00 Friday afternoon to pick up your bib for any of the runs of the weekend. And since this was a whole weekend of races the expo was second to none. You could visit vendors selling traditional running gear, taste the fluids being offered on the course, or even try an alcoholic sample (if you were of age of course).

The 10K course was a standard course for Bethlehem. However if you have never run that city you should know it is pretty hilly. Overall runners experienced a change in elevation of about three hundred feet in total. Since this was a whole weekend of races the city came out for this race and the course was still filled with spectators and even some on course entertainment. The course ran through the business areas of Bethlehem as well as a good amount of residential neighborhood areas. It only followed the 5K course for about a mile, so if you ran both races it wasn’t like running the same course twice, you got to see a lot of Bethlehem if you ran 15K in total on Saturday.

Post race was a continued party (this was a weekend festival after all). Runners could go back to the expo and hang out there or visit the many visitor areas that the steel stacks (race location) has to offer. You could go back into the expo or check out a few of the seminars being held post race. With this being a weekend of running there was never a shortage of things to do or see. I would highly recommend running this 10K (as well as all the other runs of the weekend).

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(2016)
"The Inaugural Run Inspired 10K"
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This past weekend I ran the Run Inspired 10K. The race was hosted at the at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Winterthur, DE and my first official race in Delaware! Oddly enough even though I live so close to the state I have never crossed state lines when it comes to running.

A quick back story on this run: this is an inaugural race that benefits and supports Operation Warm, a group whose mission is to provide brand new coats to children living in poverty. They have been giving out coats to children ever since founder Dick Sanford donated the first 58 coats back in 1998. To date they have donated over 2 million coats and were able to donate over an additional 1,500 coats thanks to this race.

As I mentioned above the race was held at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. This was an absolutely beautiful location for a race course. The location is a 1,000 acre preserve with miles and miles of running paths. Since the race was held at a local preserve everything was in one specific location. Parking, pre/ post race festivities and all other activities were held on site. This made logistics relatively easy.

However once I was in everything was relatively easy. Since it was so far away from home I didn't pick up by bib ahead of time. Instead I opted for race day bib pick up. Once I got parked it was pretty easy to locate the race. Since this was the only event in the park it was not very hard to miss.

This bib pick up process went very smooth. I received my bib, some pins and a race day shirt. Since I don't wear race shirts before I complete the race (superstition) and didn't want to carry it with me, I headed back to my car to drop off the shirt. Once I got myself pinned, took care of pre race dooties (see what I did there) it was time to start the race.

The course was very beautiful however very difficult. The park is known for it's hills and they were not kidding. Overall runners experienced an elevation change of around 700 feet. The hills were rolling and it wasn't about until mile 4.5 that they seemed to level off. So a difficult course for sure. However the park is also a museum so the 6.2 miles were filled with a lot of beautiful sites to distract you from how hilly the course got. Since it was a public museum it was also nice to have real restroom buildings along the course. I saw at least 3 during the run.

Because it was a paved course through a park at times the course did get tight. I think the race management group factored this in because they released us in anticipated time groups. As with most runs the race had large signs to group everyone by pace per mile. However instead of releasing all of us at once there was about a minute between when your pace per mile group went. This helped because at the beginning the course got tight due to so many people out at once (probably about 4 people wide could fit on the path). However after the first mile it started to thin out and become more roomy.

The post race festival was excellent. They advertised a beer tent as well as live bands. Runners would cross the finish line and receive a race bag full of food and other goodies. I like this because it meant you didn't need to find something to do with your race bag before the run. You could collect the official race bag afterwards with no issue. Side note: I received my race bag from Ms. Delaware.....no big deal.

I enjoyed the post race festival, most importantly because the beer line went so quick. One of my passions outside of running is craft beer. So anytime a race advertises post run beer my ears perk up. However more times than not I am disappointed because the beer line is longer than the wait to begin the race and ultimately I end up leaving before enjoying a post run beer. However this time was different. You got a check mark on your bib and could walk into a beer tent where you could just pick up a beer from the table and go. No single file line waiting for 45 minutes for one drink. I appreciated how they did this.

One more surprise to me was this race offered a medal. Maybe I did a bad job of reading up on the race beforehand but I did not see this as an option. As a medal chaser I was happy to receive one. And on top of that the medal doubled as a bottle opener. Always a plus in my book!

Overall I would highly recommend this race. Not only is it in a beautiful location with a fun after party, but more importantly it supports a good cause. If you are looking for a challenging and enjoyable 10K to put on your race schedule, look no further.

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(2016)
"2016 RW Half Half Marathon"
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The half marathon was the fourth and final race of the Runners World Half and Festival weekend. Since I had run the grand slam of races (all four runs) I had my bib from running the the races prior to this (all races used the same bib). So there was no need for me to pick up a bib for the half marathon.

However it is important to note that since the expo was open all weekend bib pick up was super easy. You could go as early as 12:00 Friday afternoon to pick up your bib for any of the runs of the weekend. And since this was a whole weekend of races the expo was second to none. You could visit vendors selling traditional running gear, taste the fluids being offered on the course, or even try an alcoholic sample (if you were of age of course).

The half marathon course was a beautiful way to see Bethlehem. It started at the steel stacks, made its way through the residential neighborhoods, then through the downtown business area, back through the neighborhoods and finally ending back at the steel stacks. If you have never run that city you should know it can be pretty hilly. Overall runners experienced a change in elevation of about eight hundred feet in total. Since this was a whole weekend of races the city came out for this race and the course was still filled with spectators and even some on course entertainment. Because of the various parts of Bethlehem runners ran through it is a great way to see the city.

Post race was a continued party (this was a weekend festival after all). Runners could go back to the expo and hang out there or visit the many visitor areas that the steel stacks (race location) has to offer. You could go back into the expo or check out a few of the seminars being held post race. With this being a weekend of running there was never a shortage of things to do or see. I would highly recommend running this race (as well as all the other runs of the weekend).

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(2016)
"The Inaugural Yards Dash"
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The 2016 5,000 Yards Dash was the first ever of its kind, and I hope to see it come back. The run was hosted by the Great American Brewery Run series, a group who is known for hosting beer focused runs and Yards Brewing was the primary sponsor of this run (hence the name).

The pre-race swag was top notch. If you didn’t chose to get your bib on the race day you could stop the day before at the local Dave and Busters to pick up all race swag. You received a bib, finishing coaster (instead of medal) and a pint glass with the race logo on it. If you got there early enough you could even buy a growler with the race logo on it (they had a limited amount so you needed to get there early). All great swag for a beer themed run. Bib pick up was a seamless process. You got in line, gave them your name and bib number and got your swag. No fuss, no hassle.

The run started at Yards Brewing and ran down Columbus Blvd. If you aren’t very familiar with the area it is a unique race course for Philadelphia. Unique because to date no races in Philly have run this course before. Since the race was only 2.8 miles long there wasn’t much to the course. A straight run down Columbus Blvd. for about a mile and a half, a left turn into Penns Landing and exited back onto Columbus Blvd. to head back to the brewery.

However just because the course sounds simple there was still a lot to see. The race was lucky because that same weekend a naval ship was being commissioned in the harbor. As a result every runner got to run past an active ship, a unique scene for sure. You also ran through the tourist section of Penns Landing. Passing by restaurants, a visitor center and folks taking in the sites for the day.

The race unfortunately did not luck out with the weather. At the start of the race and all throughout the course the rain pounded. However this did not prevent the race from being a success. Especially those runners who ran the Broad Street Run earlier this year; Philadelphians usually prepare well for rain when it comes to race day.

The post-race after party was just as a success. Even though the rain kept pounding, people still hung out to enjoy a Yards Brewing beer and some post-race snacks. My only comment here would be for the race directors to try and speed up the beer line next year. They had over 1,400 runners so I know this isn’t easy. However the beer lines were very long and my thought would be to try and split the lines up into two separate lines to try and shorten them. Either way the post-race activities were a lot of fun.

2016 was the first time for the 5,000 Yards Dash and it is my hope they bring it back in 2017. It was a very unique race course that no other runs in Philadelphia covers. Yards Brewing is also one of Philadelphia’s most iconic breweries, and with the growth of beer running they deserve a race to themselves. And at 2.8 miles long this is a perfect race for new runners and veterans alike.

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(2016)
"2016 RW Half 5K"
Overall
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Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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The 5K was the second race of the Runners World Half and Festival weekend and first race on Saturday. Since I had run the grand slam of races (all four runs) I had my bib from the trail race the day before. So there was no need for me to pick up a bib for the 5K.

However it is important to note that since the expo was open all weekend bib pick up was super easy. You could go as early as 12:00 Friday afternoon to pick up your bib for any of the runs of the weekend. And since this was a whole weekend of races the expo was second to none. You could visit vendors selling traditional running gear, taste the fluids being offered on the course, or even try an alcoholic sample (if you were of age of course).

The 5K course was a standard course for Bethlehem. However if you have never run that city you should know it is pretty hilly. Overall runners went through a few hundred feet of elevation just for the 5K. Even though it was only 3.1 miles the course was still filled with spectators and even some on course entertainment. The course ran through the business areas of Bethlehem as well as some parts of the residential neighborhoods.

Post race was a continued party (this was a weekend festival after all). Runners could go back to the expo and hang out there or visit the many visitor areas that the steel stacks (race location) has to offer. So as far as a 5K goes this may be one of the better ones out there since it is in the middle of a weekend long festival. A must run for sure.

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