Latest reviews by Chadd

(2015)
"My First Marathon!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This past weekend was the Chicago Marathon and I am happy to say that I earned my medal! For someone like me who just started running in 2013 and the most exciting race I have run is Philly's Half Marathon, it is hard for me to say anything bad about a World Marathon like Chicago. It was an overwhelming experience that I will never forget. Now onto my review....

Expo:

The expo was amazing. I didn't see exactly how many vendors were there, but if you couldn't find it at that running expo, it doesn't exist. The race management team made getting to the expo really easy. There were shuttles set up at different points throughout the city to take you there. I hopped on the one at Nike Running Chicago and got to the expo in no time.

Getting in and out of the expo was a breeze as well. You checked in with your pre-race packet and they assigned you a number. The number was where you had to go to get your bib. Since all of the workers were connected electronically, by the time you got to the bib pick up desk they knew you were coming and had it ready for you. From check in to pick up it may have been 3 minutes. I have run small town 5K's where this process takes 5 times as long. For a world marathon to be prepared to handle 45,000 runners this quickly was impressive.

The expo was filled with vendors. From running gear, accessories, running nutrition and more. Goose Island even had their Beer Bus out serving beer! The energy at the expo was so much fun.

Race Day Morning:

My race day experience was a little bit different from the average runners probably. Since I ran through the Organization For Autism Research (OAR), I had access to what was known as "Charity Village". This was an area where you could go to your charities tent before the race and drop off your gear. Along with that my charity had food and beverages out for all runners. Which was awesome for me because I didn't have much for breakfast when I woke up.

More importantly charity village had their own private bathrooms! If you are a runner of big races I do not need to tell you how awesome this is. There was easily 3 portable toilets to every 1 runner. I was in heaven.

I was able to drop off my gear, eat some breakfast and head to the starting line ready to go. We even took a team picture before we left.

Course:

I walked with my OAR team to the starting corrals and got situated. After waiting for the corrals in front of me to go it was my turn to take off! I set my watch, started my music and got through the start line.

For the most part the course was enjoyable. It was my first time in Chicago so I really got to see all of the city. We ran through Lincoln Park, Chinatown, along Lake Michigan and through so many more sites. The course itself was also very friendly. I had heard before a bunch of people talk about how flat Chicago is compared to the other World Marathons. I've never run those courses before but yes it was super flat. In fact I can rarely recall a time when I was struggling to get up a hill. There was a few hills here and there but nothing to be afraid of, or even nickname like Boston's Heartbreak Hill.

The course support was great as well. Every mile had the same set up. There was a medical tent, then a Gatorade stop then water. I forget now if they had that at every mile for sure, but it definitely felt that way. If you weren't feeling well, there is no way you wouldn't find the aid you needed. They even had a few stops with bananas and Powerade gels. Outside of the official support, the unofficial support from the spectators was amazing. There was really no time on the course where you couldn't find some sort of screaming fans. Whether it was at official cheering stations, or in small neighborhoods.

Overall:

It's tough to give an unbiased opinion of a race when it is your first marathon as well as a world Marathon. When you combine those two facts how can you not be excited? But I have to imagine even if I ran other marathons before I would be very excited about this marathon still. With 45,000 runners it is hard to not get swept up in the buzz of this run. This should be a bucket list run for every runner out there!

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(2015)
"My Second Philly 10K"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This past weekend was the second ever Philly 10K. This is a race that was started in 2014 and I am happy to say I am a two time runner of it. As I have said before about this race, it is truly the only race in Philly that embraces the soul of historic South Philly. If you've seen any "Rocky" movie you know what I am talking about. Most races in Philadelphia are run by the "River Loop". While the loop is a fun course, when most major races run this route it's fun to take a break from it. It's even better to run in such a historic area of Philly that no other race runs.

Now onto my review.....

Pre-Race:

The bib pick up for this race was a lot of fun and like no other bib pick up I have been a part of. It was called a "Bibs and Beers Pick Up Party" and it was just that. It was held outdoors and was more of a festival. It worked like a traditional pick up would in the sense that you get your bib and shirt, however had much more to offer. Philadelphia Runner (the premier running store in Philly) had a make shift store set up where you could buy gear made specifically for this race! Along with this they had a few food trucks and a beer stand set up. Like I said a true outdoor party. (Unfortunately I got there too early for the beer). A lot of people complained about the T-Shirt being too small. Truth be told I haven't tried mine on yet. However enough people have complained about this that I think race management needs to take it into consideration for next year.

The race was set up at a different starting location than it was last year. This year the start line ran along South Street. If you have visited Philadelphia you know South Street well. It is one of the more historic streets in Philly for restaurants and shops. The starting line started at 8th and South Street and ran all down the street until roughly 11th street.

The only criticism I have here is the portable toilets. I got to the starting line and started walking towards my corral and found the toilets. I counted 8 total. I thought that wasn't enough for thousands of people and was disappointed because as a result it was such a long line. I walked to my corral a few blocks up and found closer to 10 toilets with NO LINES! It was clear because people were told to show up to a certain starting point that no one knew there were other toilets. It would have been a lot better if the race management group had a sign pointing runners to these other (unused) toilets.

Race Course:

Like I said above, the race course is one that has not been run before. It runs in the heart of South Philly. Last year this race ran into center city, but this was clearly changed for 2015. This year the race ran further down South Philly and as a result didn't venture much into Center City, which truly made it a South Philly race. However it still passed all of the staples of South Philly: East Passayunk, Pat and Genos, the Italian Market, etc.

There was one deceiving part of the course. When you were running towards the finish line it was so straight that you could see it from about 10 blocks away. Mentally this was great for me because I thought of taking a walking break right after the 5 mile mark, but as soon as I saw the finish line so far away I got a boost of energy to get to it without walking. However when I got about 5 blocks away from the finish line the course took a left hand turn and ran away from the finish line. This took the wind right out of my sails. None the less I still ran the whole time and didn't get discouraged during that last mile.

Overall I really enjoyed the course. It was relatively flat with a lot of people cheering because you ran through neighborhoods rather than a more business oriented course like most Center City Philadelphia courses. So you had a lot of people cheering from their homes and you got a lot of historic sites along the way.

Post Race:

Just like the pre race bib pick up, post race was quite the party as well. You could collect your free commemorative race print, a free beer, post race snacks and a free custard from Shake Shack. I am personally not one for standing in long lines for one free beer or custard, so I left almost as soon as I got my race print, but based on everything I saw it looked like those who did stay had a fun time.

I do have a few criticism here as well. Last year I ended up standing in line for the free beer and I remember the line being at least 20 minutes long. At the end of this race it seemed just as long. I understand it's hard to get thousands of people through a line, but they do need to figure out how to move this quicker. Also, I don't know if I am a fan of continuing the race print. I understand the course changed this year so maybe that is why they did it. However eventually I feel they need to go to a race medal. Medal's are easy to hang and don't take up much space. The race print takes up a lot of space and if you run this race multiple times they will just pile up. I replaced my 2014 print with my 2015 print, but it would be nice to display both at one time. However they take up too much space.

Overall Impression:

My overall thoughts are that I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a run in Philly. There are definitely a few things I would love to talk to the race management group about that they could do better. But overall they do a great job making this race an enjoyable time. Also the race runs in a part of Philadelphia that no other race goes so if you are looking for a change from the normal race scene this race has it.

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(2015)
"Best 5K I've Ever Run!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Of all the 5K's I have ever run (somewhere close to 20 now) the Corner Store Country Run is by far the coolest. Mainly because of the after party carnival, but more on that later. Now onto the race review...

Course:

The course was 90% on a trail. I had no clue about this and wasn't informed of the fact until about 2 minutes before the start of the race. This is actually the 2nd time this year that I didn't find out about a run being on a trail until I was about to start. I'm not a trail runner so I like to know about these things beforehand. So my initial thought was "I should have read the website better.... way to go Chadd." However as I look back on the website there is no mention of this fact. So for all that I think the race management group did well, they fell short on this fact. If you are going to have a run that's 90% trail, you should mention that somewhere online.

Outside of that fact it was still a good course. More challenging than I expected, but good. They had a water stop right before every mile marker, so 3 in total. For a 5K that is a lot. I have run some 10K's with only 2 water stops. It was nice of them to be prepared like that. I did not stop at any of the water stops however. I had a time in my head I wanted to finish by and as soon as I knew the course was a trail run I knew I wouldn't have time to make any stops, so I ran through all 3. However I have been running at the very least 5 miles for Chicago Marathon training a few days a week with no water so I wasn't too worried.

Post Race Carnival:

This was probably what made the race so awesome. After you finished the race there was a carnival set up. I didn't count but if I had to guess there was probably 20 sponsor tents set up giving away free items, another 10 booths set up with carnival games, a stage with a band and most importantly every runner got 2 free beers! And the sponsors weren't just no names, I saw Monster Energy Drink, Rockstar Energy, Coke, Red Bull, Michelob Ultra and more! It was easily the greatest post race party I have ever been to.

I was able to fit easily 20 pounds of giveaways into the race bag and the bag stayed in tact. For me, I like a good race bag because I will use them to bring my clothes to the gym or if I am ever going anywhere on my motorcycle. And too many times the race bags are made so poorly that they break after a few uses. I can tell this race bag will hold up for the long haul.

Overall I enjoyed this race a lot. I know it is a national series and not just a PA thing, so if they have a race by you I highly recommend you sign up for it. Clearly since I signed up for free it's hard to say anything bad about it. But even if this race cost me money I would be just as happy.

Outside of my personal race experience, I also got to watch my sister finish the 5K just a few months after tearing her ACL. I know the severity of this injury so I was really happy to cheer her on as she crossed the finish line.

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(2015)
"Run With Hart: Philly"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Expo Quality
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Parking/Access
Race Management

As a part of Kevin Harts current USA comedy tour he is hosting pop up 5K runs in most of the towns he tours in. These are more commonly known as Run With Hart. It’s something he is doing to just get people out and active. This past weekend I participated in his Philly run. Since Kevin is originally from Philly, he was working on this being one of the biggest runs he has had to date, and he did not disappoint. I have not been to any other run he hosted, but the turn out for this run was incredible.

What Kevin is doing is awesome. Truth be told I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I got there. I had heard of the runs and seen them on social media, but didn’t know what the race day experience was like. Before I get into the actual run itself I think it’s important to talk about Kevin’s message.

I am a huge Kevin Hart fan so I know how funny he can be. And honestly that is what I expected. I thought he would get on the mic, tell a few jokes, make the crowd laugh and then we would be off. And while he definitely had his fair share of jokes, it wasn’t a comedy sketch. You could tell Kevin really believed in what he was doing. He referred to the day as a “run” not a “race”. Meaning he didn’t want people to look at this as beating the person next to you, but instead encouraging those next to you. He took it a step further and even asked everyone in the crowd that if they see someone struggling on the course to encourage them to finish strong. It wasn’t about getting the most laughs for him, it was about being the best you that you can be.

He went even further to ask the crowd how many first time runners were out there. He asked the crowd to cheer if it was their first official run. And I was impressed with how many people cheered. Here you have a celebrity using their public status to get tons of people who have never run an official run before out there for the first time.

Now onto the run itself….

Nike Running did an AMAZING job with this run. Like I said, I had no clue what to expect. Since this was a free “pop up” run I assumed it would be a very basic run. No bathrooms, no water on the course, no after run water/food. Wow was I wrong. This run was organized better than most runs I have paid good money for. Not only did it have all the usual running ammentities such as portable bathrooms, water on the course, post run water/ snacks they also gave every runner a t-shirt and special #RunWithHart bracelet. And this was a run that didn’t cost runners a dime!

There were volunteers with shirts that read “Pacers” everywhere to help with any issue you had. You walked into the check in line, gave them your info and were let into the race. Before the race I didn’t see what would stop people from just coming into the race and running without registering. But not only did they have official check in stations for registered runners, they even had a waiting line for people who didn’t sign up to see if they could get in. And the waiting line was easily 100 people deep!

For the actual run you weren’t given a bib, nor was it timed. You got a wristband when you checked in, and they marked your wristband when you got your free shirt. But once again, Kevin promotes this as a run and not a race. However for me I was so amped up with positivity that I told myself I was going out to PR the run. I was definitely on my way to a PR after the first mile. I knew I went out fast for my normal running pace and didn’t realize how fast until after the run was over. I looked at my GPS and my first mile was 8.40. For someone who normally runs a 10 minute mile I was very happy. Unfortunately around mile 2 my old hamstring injury re-appeared. As a result I had to slow down my pace. My 2nd mile finished at 9.55 and 3rd mile at 10.28 for a final time of 30.19. However I was still happy because despite the slight hamstring pull I came in just 2 minutes shy of my PR at 30 minutes! The run itself finished up the famous “Rocky Steps” and got very crowded to the point you had to slow down to a stop. Had it finished under normal circumstances I would have gotten in under 30 minutes and had my first sub 30 of the year. But once again this was a “run” not a “race” so I couldn’t help but be satisfied.

Overall this was such an awesome experience. Kevin Hart is a great comedian and because of his comedy there are times where you may not take him seriously. This run was not the case. I fed off his energy and could tell he cares about what he is doing. If he is running one of these runs in your city, you must get out there and register. Especially if you don’t have much running experience, these runs are definitely for all levels!

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(2015)
"Justice For All 5K"
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The Justice For All 5K was the final race of the in24 weekend. As the ultra marathoners were finishing their 50 mile, 24 hour race period (yes, 24 hours!) the 5K was happening as well. The majority of the races during this weekend took place on the same 8 mile loop. So the 5K did not run on the majority of that loop but it did cover a good amount of it.

What made this race fun was, as I said above. while the 5K was taking place the ultra marathoners were finishing a grueling 24 hour period. So the 5K itself was a standard race for Philadelphia but watching people work so hard towards completing such a hard fought goal made it extra special.

As far as pre race activities go I did not participate in the bib pick up before the race. I picked mine up as I got to the starting line. The bib pick up was held at Philadelphia Runner the day before. I have been a part of that process many times before so it was nothing new to me. You go into the Philadelphia Runner store and usually a table is set up in the back to get your bib. Pretty straight forward and easy process. Since I had plans Friday I chose to pick up mine at the race. This was a simple process. I walked up to a desk, signed a waiver and got my bib and shirt.

The course was your standard 5K course in Philly. Start by the art museum, run up MLK Drive turn around and head to the finish. Unlike other 5K's I have ran this one ran right in front of the art museum steps, if you have ever seen the move "Rocky" you know the steps I am talking about. Tourists refer to these steps as the Rocky Steps. (Hint: If you want to sound like a local they are actually called the Art Museum Steps).

There was only one aid station on the course; at the turn around. However at the station they were giving away full bottles of water instead of just a cup. The heat and humidity were high on this day so this was very much welcomed.

Overall I would recommend this race not for the race itself but everything happening around the race. You can find a 5K just about anywhere in Philadelphia. However I doubt you will ever find one where you are running along side runners who are finishing a 24 hour, 50 mile race.

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