Latest reviews by Chadd

(2014)
"Innaugural Yuengling Oktoberfest 5K"
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For those who live on the east coast you probably know Yuengling beer. It is known as America’s oldest brewery. And this year was their first ever Oktoberfest 5K.

First the packet pick up: I did not pick up the packet the day before, instead I chose day of. I picked my bib up about 20 minutes before the race. I’ve run tons of 5K’s before and picking up that close to the race is usually never an issue. This time it was a simple pick up, got my bib and pre race swag (mug and shirts). However they ran out of pins. Not a major issue, but annoying none the less. The pre race swag was nice. They gave away a beer stein and tech shirt.

Rating: B-

Race start: The start of the race was tough. They really had no separation between the spectators and the runners. So it felt like a lot of the spectators were standing in the same line as runners waiting to go. There were 4,500 people running so you can imagine the cluster this caused.

Rating: C-

Course: The course was good. The area it was held in is very hilly so it was expected to be that way on the course. The roads were pretty open and for 4,500 people running it never really felt too crowded. There was also an area where runners passed each other so it was fun to cheer on the sub 20 minute runners. The location was also in an area that used to be a steel mining area and the buildings are all still there. So it was cool to see all of the old buildings as you ran by.

Rating: A

Post race: The biggest marketing push from this run was the free 2 beers after the run. It was Oktoberfest after all. And the beers were difficult to get to. I get it. I’ve run a lot of races with beer after and you always wait in a line. But in this case they really only had one tent to hand out beer. Obviously not all 4,500 people got beer, but still a good amount did. Some people after complained of an hour and half wait. Others complained about them running out. I cut the line so I got there no issue (oops!). But I did wait a while. I wasn’t as bothered by this because beer is just a cherry on the top. So it is what it is. However this race made a big marketing push on this so they should have been better prepared. My main issue post race was getting water. No one was handing it out at the end of the race. You had to walk about 50 yards to a tent and stand in line for about 20 minutes to get some. Water is needed after a run. This was very poorly handled.

Rating: D

All and all the race was fun. I like a good Oktoberfest as well as running. So I did enjoy myself. However I also feel like the people who planned this run could have done a lot better. No one is perfect and I understand that, however there were some basic things (no pins, difficulty getting water) that should have gone off with no issue. Also this was a 5K that cost $55. Nothing about this race justified it being that expensive. I guess you could say the stein (pictured below) and free beer. But the beer was limited and the stein was smaller for a usual Oktoberfest mug, so I don’t see it. Saying all that, I would not run this race again.

Overall Grade: C

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(2014)
"The First Ever Philly 10K"
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This past weekend was The Philly 10K. It was the first annual race. Let me tell you why this is a big deal to Philadelphians. Overall Philadelphia has great running scenery. However unfortunately a major part of that is not used in large runs like this because the cost of shutting down the city is too high. So a majority of races in Philadelphia are held in one specific area (referred to as the River Loop). The River Loop is beautiful but if you have been running for a while in Philly it all starts to become the same.

The Philly 10K was a big deal because, from what I understand, to date this is the first race to be held in a historic part of Philadelphia. Specifically, South Philadelphia. For as large as Philadelphia is nationally, South Philadelphia has always had a home town feel to it. Blocks are known by their neighborhood names and everyone seems to know everyone. So this run felt like you were truly connected to the spirit of Philadelphia (for locals, no the ship was not there).

If you have seen the movie Rocky you will know what I am talking about. The Italian Market, South St, Pats & Geno’s and more historic areas were all a part of the scenery. Again, areas that major Philadelphia runs do not take place. Because of this, The Philly 10K was a big deal to local runners.

Along with all of this, the race itself was also pretty exclusive. I believe the organizers capped the race to only 3,000 people. As someone who was a part of the race day sign up frenzy (server crashes, website crashes, people not being able to get in, etc.) I can tell you getting a bib to this run was hard. So it had a bit of an exclusivity feel to it.

Overall the race was great. As I mentioned earlier the sights and sounds were brand new to large, organized runs in Philadelphia. From Pats and Genos, to Isgro’s Bakery, Sabrina’s Cafe, The Italian Market, South Street, Broad street and so much more! You really got a truly different view of running through the city.

The race was hosted by Philadelphia Runner (the premire running company in Philadelphia) and they did a great job with organization of the event. Unfortunately I did not make it to the race expo so I cannot comment on that, however the race day itself was very easy and seamless. My group was expected to start running at 7:45 (about 15 minutes after the start) and I believe we officially left 5 minutes early. So there was no delay in getting 3,000 runners going at the right time.

The swag itself was great as well. Instead of a medal for this race you were given a hand drawn map of the course as well as notable Philadelphia business along the course. It is a very well done race prize (pictured below) that can be framed and hung for display. The shirt itself is also very nice with a list of all the surrounding neighborhoods around the logo.

After the race you could get a free treat from two Philadelphia staples, Shake Shack and a beer made just specifically for this event by Philadelphia Brewing. As someone who enjoyed the beer I can tell you it was a perfect treat after the finish.

Now for what could have been better…..

The weather was tough. It was about 85 degrees at the 7:30 AM start time. Nothing the organizers could do about it, but it made for a very difficult run. And unfortunately they only had 2 water stops on the course. I am not sure if they made this decision with the heat in mind, but 2 more stops would have been nice.

Transportation was also a bit of a problem. Since South Philly is packed with tight streets parking for large events is next to impossible. So for runners who were coming from outside of the city it was up to them to make arrangements on how to get down there. Now the good thing is Philly has a subway that runs the entire length of the city with trains departing about every 15 minutes. However to get to them you had to drive down early to make it on time. Anytime a run is done in an area that is difficult to get to, the race organizers usually work with the public transportation company to plan logistics. The Philly 10K did not do this. probably something to think about for next year.

Overall it was a fantastic run. If you are a runner in Philadelphia and you did not run this you really did miss out. Of course the good thing is I believe they will do it again next year (although this has not officially been announced). So if you run in Philadelphia, or have ever wanted to run in Philadelphia, this race should jump right up to the top of the list.

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(2014)
"What a way to see the Ball Park!"
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Run a spartan race if you can. It is an awesome test of not just cardiac endurance but physical as well. This is a run that will test you physically more than any other road race will.

What I liked most about this run is that you got to explore Citizens Bank Park like you never thought possible. You are tested by running up each level of the park. When you reach a new level you are asked to do a physically demanding challenge. You eventually make it out to Pattison, Ave and are forced to carry heavy concrete blocks, jumping a very thick and heavy rope and don't forget all the Burpees! Towards the end you run through the players dugout and have a push up challenge right where most of the Phillies players prepare for games. Then you make your way the field itself! There are box jumps in left field, cargo net climbs at second base and a rope climb at third base.

Immediately after the race I knew I would want to do another. It is a true test of athleticism and just overall a great time. I think the fact that I got to run through a baseball stadium made it that much better. At one point I got to carry two 50 pound jugs of water through a suite. I can't say how many times in my life I will be able to get to do that again. And at the end you get a very nice shirt and two finishing medals to hang proudly.

Do a spartan race, you won't regret it.

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(2014)
" ODDyssey Half Marathon "
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The ODDyssey Half Marathon was by far the hardest run I have run to date (that didn’t involve some sort of cycling portion, just run). The run was the traditional Half Marathon course in Philadelphia. Which is running around the Schuylkill river (a pretty site for running). Although this one was a little different in the sense that you ran a portion through Fairmount Park. One of the largest parks the city of Philadelphia has to offer.

What made this one so difficult were the hills. There were 3 hills in particular. One right before mile 5, the second was about a minute after that one ended and the 3rd (probably the steepest) was at mile 13. The first two hills weren’t awful. They were steep for sure, but a lot of my training has been uphill so I ran up them without a problem. The problems started after the first 2 hills. I was worn out so I was still running, but at a much slower pace. The 3rd hill was a monster and at the very end of the race. If there were 40 people within my line of site at that hill, maybe 2 were actually running it (not this guy). So I walked that hill for the most part. It was very steep and after running 12 miles it just wasn’t in the cards to be running up that monster.

The course itself was fun. The tagline for the run is “Serious Run + Serious Fun”. And I could see what they meant. Throughout the course they had a few stops where you could play a quick tailgating game. They had Cornhole, Can Jam and a few others. Personal note- Cornhole is my game. I don’t know why but I absolutely love it. I was passing the cornhole set up they had at mile 5 and I thought “wow isn’t that cool”. But initially didn’t want to stop for it because I was trying to PR. Then I remembered the 10 mile race I had last month. It was the Broad Street Run where Center City Philadelphia clears out for all the runners. I kept thinking how cool it would have been to get a picture at a point in the road where it is usually littered with traffic. It was a once in a lifetime kind of moment that I passed up. All for what? I am not placing top 3 in these races. Sure I want to get the best time, but looking back on these races I won’t remember my times I will remember the races themselves. So this time I decided to stop and play a little cornhole. For those who don’t know the point of the game is to throw a bean bag onto a board set up about 8 feet away, or even better into the hole in the middle of the board. Each runner who played got 1 throw. So I stopped, threw the bag, and put it inches from the hole. Not bad for having just run 5 miles.

Outside of that the run was a lot of fun and really hard. And now I am a 2x Half Marathon runner!

It was hot out for as early as it was, and I think they have less hills on the Rocky Mountains. I didn’t PR like I wanted to (which that idea flew out the window after the first two hills) but I did have a lot of fun while doing it. ODDyssey did a pretty good job with everything. The bib pick up was pretty easy, they made getting to the starting line pretty simple (given that the starting line was off the beaten path as far as Philly is concerned) and overall it was a great experience. The only critique I would make was they were giving away a souvenir drinking glass for this run. However they only gave it out after the run while you were standing in line for a beer. I enjoy my beer, but after a Half Marathon I don’t want to do anything but get in the car and get home to rest. In the future it would make sense to give this away at the bib pick up. A lot of people complained they didn’t get theirs for that same reason. None the less it didn’t take away from the event.

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(2014)
"My First Ever Broad Street Run"
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This weekend was the Blue Cross Broad Street Run held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is labeled as one of the most popular 10 mile runs in the country. And they aren’t kidding. This year there was 40,000 people who flooded the streets of Philadelphia for the run. If you aren’t too familiar with the city of Philadelphia, Broad Street runs right down the middle in a straight line throughout the entire city. So carving out a 10 mile stretch to run isn’t too difficult. And the majority of the road is 4 lanes so it doesn’t get too overcrowded.

First let’s talk about the pre-race details. You could pick up your race packet in the city of Philadelphia or get it mailed to you if going down there was too difficult. I chose to go into the city to get mine because I like race expo’s. I like going down there and getting to see everything being offered and just getting myself involved with the race community. If you have read previous posts of mine, you will know I have never really felt like a runner, regardless of all the runs I have done. So to go to the pre-race expo’s makes me feel more a part of the community.

I picked up my race packet and it had my race bib, t-shirt, a booklet on the history of the race and your standard ad’s promoting future races in the area. Overall I wasn’t very impressed with the race packet. Broad Street prides itself as being the premier 10 mile race in the country. I felt like if you are going to make that claim than you should be held to higher standards. So as such I judged the pre-race packet to some other runs I have done (rock and roll half marathon, hot chocolate 15K and others). And overall the packet didn’t compare. The bag was just a clear plastic bag with a draw string on the top. Since the bombings at the Boston Marathon clear bags have essentially been made mandatory, and for good reasons. But, for example, the Philadelphia Half marathon was able to accomplish this by making it back pack style. Whereas the bag for broad street was essentially a clear grocery bag with a draw string at the top. So the bag got thrown away once I got home.

The official T-Shirt wasn’t as impressive either. The cotton style looked like one of the cheaper options the t-shirt company who made them was offering. There was no print on the back, so they crammed the logo and the sponsors on the front of the shirt. It didn’t look awful, just a bit cluttered. Again, you are branding yourself as the premier 10 miler, higher expectations are going to be placed on these things. I wouldn’t say the pre-race packet was awful. If I had to give it a grade out of 1-10, with 10 being the best, I would give it a 6.

Now onto the race….

When you have 40,000 people (plus probably a quarter of that in spectators) heading into a city, logistics can be a nightmare. But I can say the city of Philadelphia handled this well. Public transportation was made available at no cost to everyone running. So getting down there didn’t cost a dime. And once you got to the main starting area there was enough room to move around. Except of course in the bathroom section. They made sure to have multiple areas for portable toilets, but again we are talking about 40,000 people, so the lines were long. And the tough part of the bathroom section I used was the entrance. Hundreds of people were trying to get in while hundreds were trying to exit out of the same area. You could imagine the nightmare.

A few posts ago I made a comment about how the running community was so tight nit. People cheering others on and supporting complete strangers, it is refreshing. Well that goes all out the window when you are trying to shove through a crowd of people. Basic human instinct kicks in and we all revert back to our animalistic natures of pushing and shoving. Nothing awful, just funny to see when the running community is branded as so close nit.

So the race started really without a hitch. The course was great. Broad Street is a straight flat road with little to no hills at all. I’ve only been running for a year so I don’t know how much I can compare it to, but as far as I was concerned the course was perfect. And the city of Philadelphia knows how to come out for a party. This race easily had the most spectators I have ever seen. It almost felt at one point like there were more spectators than racers. But again, this is a big deal for Philadelphia. Local celebrities come out and run and the city essentially shuts down for it.

So I have to say the city did a really good job accommodating 40,000 people the way they did. There wasn’t any issues on the course (as far as I saw) everyone seemed to get their post race goodies at the end, and there was enough room at the finish line to meet up with your group and get pictures and what not.

I would probably give the race day experience an 8 out of 10 overall.

If you are a runner I would put this run on the bucket list. Or if you are ever thinking of doing a half marathon, but are nervous this is great to break you in. It is mostly flat so you won’t struggle as much and it’s only a 5K away from a half so you can get the feeling of what that distance is like. I don’t know how popular the 10 mile format is, but it is definitely a great experience. The city of Philadelphia shuts down and it is like, for a brief moment, you feel like you own the city. Philadelphia can get a bad reputation for being a bit tougher, and rightfully so, but on this day, for at least a few hours, the city bonds together and you really learn what the “City of Brotherly Love” really means.

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