Latest reviews by Meridith Daniel

(2018)
"Chocolate and running? Count me in!"
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In 2017 I ran the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k on my 40th birthday. This year I had the opportunity to run the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 5k representing BibRave!

I chose to have my packet sent to me rather than going to the expo for an additional fee. My purple pullover and bib arrived a week and a half prior to the race. It was worth the additional cost for me to save time traveling into the city prior to race day. There is no race day pickup.

The weather this year as brisk but not uncomfortable. As I headed out the door I made a last minute decision to ditch my gloves. I later came to regret that decision but otherwise I was comfortable.

My friend and I took the train into the city from S. Jersey. It was packed with other Hot Chocolate runners. I don't know the amount of people who run both races but in the 5k there were 3,406 runners. I think that the 15k is the bigger of the two races. Both races get the same pullover and finisher's mug at the end of the race, but the 15k also gets a finishers medal, which I think is a big draw for many people.

Before the race I got to see fellow BibRavePro, Joe, which was awesome! The orange definitely helps find each other easily.

It was my friend's first road race/5k ever so I was more than happy to stick with her and run. The course is similar to others in Philadelphia. Starts at the Art Museum and then winds down along the river and back again. Boathouse Row is always fun to look at, the traffic on the other side: not as much.

On the course they handed out chocolate and marshmallows, along with water and nuun. My friend and I had so much fun throughout the race - we started in the last corral and did intervals the entire time.

There are huge tents where you can get your mug filled with all sorts of goodies: hot chocolate, chocolate dipping sauce, pretzels, cookies, banana, and rice krispy treat. We sat in front of the Art Museum, enjoying our treats and then, because we were there, we ran up the steps!

Communication coming from the organizers is always great via email. They send out a training plan once a week, photos were uploaded nearly immediately after the race, along with result. I did have a few questions for them that I used Twitter for and didn't hear a response there. I figured out the answer myself but it's always nice to hear back from race management.

Overall, a really fun race. My friend is already talking about signing up again next year so I think the running bug has bitten her!

For more pictures and words, feel free to swing by: http://www.scootadoot.org/2018/04/11/race-recap-2018-philadelphia-allstate-hot-chocolate-5k/

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(2018)
"Are You Feeling Lucky?"
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Good Day for a Run and Mean Guy Running are the hosts of The Lucky Run. These folks are runners themselves and know how to put on a quality event.

Packet pickup was held at two breweries on the days leading up to the race, along with race day packet pickup for added convenience. They had a spinner wheel at the pickup and I won a growler!

Communication from Good Day for a Run and Mean Guy Running was stellar, as is their way. They send out emails with details leading up to the event and use Facebook to their advantage to disseminate information.

Race day weather was cool but dry. We’ve seen our share of snow and general yuckiness the last couple of weeks so we were all happy that the sun shining on the day of the race.

Prior to running we learned a bit about the charity that the race supports, Collette Paying it Forward. We also got the chance to chat with a few of the charity’s volunteers while they were selling 50/50 raffle tickets. I like races that give back to the community.

This race was very laid back. After a few announcements, we lined up for the 10am start. We fed through the start line and then self-seeded where we thought we should be. I put myself toward the very back of the pack – in hindsight I might have wanted to find a place a bit further up. The park paths are narrow and it’s hard to maneuver in a large crowd. Lesson learned – I’ll keep it in mind for next time.

After the Star Spangled Banner, we were off to the sounds of a bagpiper!

There are a few areas of the park that tend to flood when there’s been a lot of rain. Being familiar with the park and knowing where to step for that portion definitely helped me out, but I could tell there were a few runners around me that ended up with wet socks.

The course had a double loop so the lead runners met up with the back of the pack around mile 2. No skin off my back but I could see that being a bit of a challenge for them.

The first mile was crowded but once we got past that, it spread out a bit. There was a water station around mile 1.25, which you passed again in the second mile. Neither my running buddy nor I needed to stop but it’s nice that they have the option! We joked that we were holding out for the beer at the after-party.

After the second loop we veered off to go through the flooded area again. This time is was less critical to know where to step because it wasn’t as dense with runners.

We looped by the amphitheater once again and went through what started at the start line and became the finish line. Results were immediately emailed to my phone.

The after-party was held at a nearby sports bar, The Village Pub. Included with the price of the race was complimentary snacks (fries, tator tots, and pretzel bites) and a beer. Additional food and beverage was available for purchase (which we did since it was near lunch time).

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(2018)
"Running, Chili, Beer (with a side of rain)"
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My second time participating in The Chili Run and the weather gods were not working in our favor. It was steady rain for the entirety of this event - which wasn't exactly the best weather, but hey - I'd much rather it for a 2 mile race than a longer event.

Packet pickup was quick and easy, as is always the case with the Good Day for a Run events. They had two pickups scheduled ahead of time at our local RunningCo., as well as race day pickup. They really make it easy for runners of their races and that's something we all appreciate.

The race began at 10am - hooray for a late start time! Because of the rain we stayed in our car until the very last second, which you're able to do because parking is right next to the start/finish of the race.

I have an injury (broken arm) so rather than racing, it became an event that I planned to run and finish. My husband and I stuck together for the hilly two mile out and back. The first male finisher crossed the finish line in 11:13 and the first female finisher at 13:19.

The real fun comes after the race, where you get a bowl of chili (with a vegetarian option), and a beer. The after party takes place at Carolina Blue and winners are announced then. I believe that there was an ugly sweater contest as well!

Due to the space of the restaurant, they have to cap the race so it's fairly small. Good Day for a Run has two of these races, one in January and the other a few weeks later and they always sell out.

It's a fun local event. Every year they do something new and different for the swag - this year it was The Chili Run beanie hat. It's a well run race that's always a good time!

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(2017)
"DeLIGHTful"
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The Light Run is a fun run co-sponsored by local running pals Good Day for a Run and MEAN GUY Running. The run is not timed and winds through the streets of Pitman, New Jersey. The course is not closed and runners have to obey pedestrian laws. Every turn was clearly marked with a sign and cones and there were a few volunteers out on the course to wave runners in the right direction as well.

The swag was an ornament (this year's is pictured) and a really great experience with a fun after-party at nearby restaurant, Carolina Blue.

No aid stations, per se, but there was water available at the check in table. The volunteers were also visible, so if anyone needed help, they were available.

We circled around the streets of Pitman, oohing and ahhing at the houses we saw along the way. There were so many pretty ones! It's a great way to go "sight seeing" and the scenery can't be beat.

During the second half of the run, we went to the piece de resistance, the Hagerty Family Christmas Lights. In its 32nd year, a family sets up an entire yard (and a few neighboring houses) with movable dolls, sheds filled with Christmas magic, reindeers, and even a Santa stop! I wasn’t expecting to see Santa there since it was a Wednesday but I guess there was a bit of magic in the air because he was there. Naturally we grabbed a selfie!

The cost for The Light Run? A mere $12 and if you’d like to, a donation of a toy at check-in that goes to local charities: the Robin’s Nest and The Kids Caring Foundation. I’m pretty sure it sells out every year because who could resist a deal like that?

For more pictures/video, please feel free to visit my blog post: http://www.scootadoot.org/2017/12/15/the-light-run/

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(2017)
"Challenging and wonderful"
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If I had to sum up this race in a few words I'd say: gorgeous and hilly!

Thankfully, I get to be more wordy here because there's really so much more to be said about the Run Inspired 10k.

The 2nd annual Run Inspired 10k in Winterthur, Delaware was held on October 15, 2017. The race benefits Operation Warm, which provides winter coats for children living in poverty. It's a great cause and one that I was happy to support.

The start and finish were in the same location, and was surrounded by the "race village" which is where the Finishers Party was held. Bib Pickup could be done on Friday or Saturday at the Delaware Running Company or (as I opted to do) day of at the Registration tent.

At the bib pickup I was given my race bib, a long sleeved poly-blend women's cut shirt, and a drawstring bag.

Parking was in a field, on a hill, overlooking the race village. There was also premium parking available a bit closer to the race village. It didn't look that much closer to me so I don't know if I'd opt in for that in the future. The only issue was this year's weather was rainy prior to the race, leaving the grass wet... which made for wet socks and shoes. Not ideal, but thankfully I prepared ahead of time.

There were 747 runners/walkers during this race (the 2016 inaugural race hosted 1,397 participants) and the management encourages both runners and walkers to participate.

Corrals are self-seeded with paces up to 10 minutes and then a "walkers" corral. A suggestion would be to extent the running corrals even further, as I know many (such as myself) employ the run/walk/run technique. The course was a bit tight at the beginning of the race and spreading paces out a bit further might assist with that.

As for the course, it was absolutely gorgeous! Hosted at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, there was beautiful fall foliage and many things to look at along the way. From reading a previous review here on BibRave, I knew that the course would be hilly (something that those from the area wouldn't automatically assume because most of Delaware is flat as a pancake). It was definitely a challenging course! I took advantage of the flat portions and the downhills as much as possible.

The volunteers stationed along the course and at the water stations were fantastic and encouraging. There were smiling faces everywhere. A portion of the course (1.5 miles) is along the road and it was clearly marked off with police officers directing traffic. I felt very safe.

The last push of the race is uphill (I wasn't at all surprised!). It would have been very easy to be disheartened but my family was waiting for me and I could see them cheering. I usually don't bring my family along to races because I fear they'll be bored but there was a great Finishers Party set up and things for them to do while they waited. I returned to find my younger son's face painted and my older son "tattooed". They also loved winning prizes at the Operation Warm tent.

As I crossed the finish line, I was given a medal and then walked through the chute to grab water and get a good amount of snacks! They had popcorn, chips, soft pretzels, cheese curls, lemonade, and iced tea. It was a great spread, especially for a 10k!

Each finisher also got a drink ticket on their bib with their choice of either beer or wine. I opted for the Dogfish Head Namaste.

The Finishers Party had food trucks, a musician, beer garden, vendors, and more. It's unfortunate that the weather was overcast because had it not been, I think we would have stayed longer. After sipping my beer and enjoying a few songs from the musician, we decided to pack it up and head back to the car.

Emails and communication were great leading up to the race. I saw many posts of Facebook; I would have loved to see more on Instagram and Twitter too.

Overall, it was a great morning and a race I'd consider returning to in the future! It was most certainly inspiring and Operation Warm is a worthy cause!

For more pictures, feel free to swing by my blog post: http://www.scootadoot.org/2017/10/18/race-recap-run-inspired-10k/

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