Latest reviews by Mark Davidhizar

(2018)
"Growing Race"
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My good friend, Paul Kern brought this race back a couple years ago and has done a great job expanding this race. There was just under 100 runners the first year, then last year there were 105 runners that competed in the race. This year, the race more than doubled in size with 225 runners.

The course was the same as last year with the start line being on the south end or Memorial Park behind Wakarusa Elementary School, made its way out for the first out and back down some less traveled roads in town, came back to the park, got onto the path around the park, hoped onto another road on the north side of the park for the second out and back, came back and finished back on the walking path in the park. It is really and easy course to follow and with all the volunteers that were on the course, it was impossible to get lost. Even with doubled the number of runners at this years race, it did not get too congested on the roads or the walking path.

Along with the higher numbers of registered runners came a lot more speed. Not that I had any chance of placing in the top 3 anyways (6 days post marathon), the larger numbers certainly did not help me at all. After winning the inaugural Maple Syrup 5k in 2016, I have come to the realization that I may never place in the top 3 again and win the big bottle of maple syrup. Also, the Fleet Feet gift cards I am sure helped entice the speed demons to run the race as well. The awards for this race cant be bear. The top 3 overall in both the male and female divisions won a large bottle of maple syrup. The top 3 in each age division won a small bottle of syrup. There is some pressure from some of the children for their parents to win the large bottle of syrup. Each runner also received a cotton t-shirt with their registration. I usually complain about this but for a cheaper race, its hard to complain about it. This year also, your tag was taken off of your race bib before the race and put into a raffle for free shirts from fleet feet, free race registrations for other races, and other great stuff related to the festival in town. Winners were drawn while everyone was running and you were able to come to the tables to see if you won after you finished.

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(2018)
"Great race through a great community "
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The Mercy Health Marathon was held on March 22, 2018 in Toledo Ohio.  I ran the half marathon last year and loved the race.  On race morning We parked on the south end of campus and had to walk to the west end of campus where this years starting line was located.   At the race start, there was plenty of port a potties for runners and I did not notice any lengthy lines.  Also, music was playing getting some good energy going.  Prior to the start of the race, you are also able to check your bags at the large Goodwill truck.  They would then be taken to the finish line party and ready for you to pick up after the race. 
The race was delayed for a few minutes as organizers were hoping to have a flyby with the Mercy Health helicopter.  Sadly, this did not happen because there were airplanes dragging banners behind them (advertisements ) circling around the starting line.  They never got enough room to do the flyby.  If I could remember the name of the insurance companies that were doing the advertisements, I would post them to encourage you not to purchase insurance from them.
I loved this race.  If you are looking for a great Midwest marathon in the spring, the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon should be at the top of your list.  They have a great expo with a great mix of races, products and other businesses represented.  Also, They have a great kids expo and run.
The shirt for the marathon was awesome and one that I plan to wear often.  The medals were also great.  All finishers, including for the 5k and half marathon received a medal for finishing.  Also, you received a finishers mug when you finished for your post race beverage of choice (Each runner did receive 2 free beers).
Maybe the one thing I would like to see added would be a larger slice a pizza after the race.  The piece we got this year was quiet small. Also would of loved to have had a nice ice cold bottle of chocolate milk ready for me at the finish line. Lastly, would be nice to have a pacer for 3:05 (very popular due to BQ standards) but realize the faster the pace goal, the harder it is to find a pacer who can easily keep the desired pace.
Overall, this is an awesome race and one I will come back to again (maybe in the next year or two). It's a fast course with 335ft of elevation gain. There is a special early registration fee going on right now for the 2019 race, so jump on it now!


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(2018)
"New Course, Faster times "
Overall
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This year, they moved the race back from mid April to late March to hope for cooler weather. In mid April in Indiana, the weather can get a little too warm. I ran the marathon in 2016 and I was able to run a course PR of 3:02:12 but it got warm that day and could have probably gone sub 3 on a better weather day. So for 2018, the race was moved to March 31st. To mark the occasion, registration fee for the first few days of registration was $31 for either the marathon or half marathon.
For the first year, the expo was held at Carmel High School Field House. There was enough space for bib pickup and the vendors who was present. It did seem bigger than at previous locations.
one of the interesting things that Carmel did this year was they took your goal time that you submitted when you registered, and made you a custom pace band that you could put on your wrist during the race. The swag for this years race featured a good looking race shirt as well as a sweet finishers medal.
This was also the first year of a new course for this race and I really liked it. I thought it was better than years past and if you avoided a lot of serious weaving, you should be able to run pretty close to the exact distance. Race date for next years race is March 30, 2019. Registration has not been opened yet but I look forward to seeing if they offer a similar discount as they did for this years race. If so, look for me to sign up for the full marathon in 2019. The earlier race date worked out well this year as temps were perfect for a marathon, cool but windy as well. Everything with the race went off without any problems and the changes that were made were awesome. Look forward to coming back in the future.

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(2018)
"Shortened race "
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This was a planned 15k race but due to a incoming snow storm, the race was shortened to a 5k race. This was announced the day before on social media, emails, and at the expo. There was no way that anyone registered to run did not get the message.
The expo was help at the Indianapolis Convention Center which is easy to get to. Due to a volleyball tournament going on in the convention center, parking was not as easy to find but after parking a couple blocks away, it wasn’t too bad. The expo was fairly small and at the time was somewhat dead. Not many people were there yet so getting my packet was quick and easy. There were a few vendors present as well as a couple races.
Race location was at American Legion Park. Parking was easy as you could either park on the street or in a garage a couple blocks away. I parked on the street right by the park. 3 hours of parking only cost me $2.75. A lot cheaper than other cities.
The race started at 7:15 and it was still dark but the streets were well lit and the streets were also mostly pothole free so it was good. The only issues was the snow that had started so it was getting a little slick. The course was nice at it featured a lot of sites of downtown Indy, especially Monument Circle. There was one aid station on the course that had water and Nuun. I passed it up due to the short race and cold temps.
With the weather being so poor, the post race party was pretty dead compared to other cities that I have been to.  I think most everyone was ready to get home before the roads became worse after the race.  But every runner who came out, got their hot chocolate and fondue.
One of the nice things that the Hot Chocolate Race has done for those who were registered for this years race is offer everyone a 20% discount for next years race due to the disappointment of the 15k race being shortened to a 5K. Not something that they had to do (remember, we all sign those forms saying that if a race is shortened or canceled there would be no refund) but its nice they have made the offer to get everyone to come back in 2019.
The date has already been set for the 2019 Indianapolis Hot Chocolate 15k.  It will once again be in late March.  Right now, registration is already open, so now is the time to sign up for the lowest registration fees.

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(2018)
"Great winter half marathon "
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For the second year in a row, I made the 2 hour drive from my home to Chicago for the F3 Half Marathon.  I really like this race because it is tough to find a good race, that is longer than a 5k in the winter.  This race offers a great opportunity to get out to do a longer race when they are just hard to come by and this race is a very well operated race.  If you were not up to running a half marathon, there was also a 5k option as well.  weather for the race this year was fantastic! It was in the mid 40s, light wind, and sunny.
Packet Pickup
To pick up your packet, you had several options in the Chicago area at local running stores.  If you were coming from out of town on race day, you could chose to pick up your packet on race day for an additional charge.  Lucky for me, I have great friends in Chicago who will pick up my packet for me.  Thanks for the help once again Heather.
Race Shirt
This years race shirt was, as I can best describe as a long sleeve t shirt that is a hoodie.  I like the look of it, but overall, I liked last years quarter zip better.  This years shirt was also 63% polyester, 35% cotton.  Its a nice shirt, but I just prefer last years better.
Pre Race
Parking was located right next to Soldier Field.  Price for parking was $20.  Lines to get into the parking garage was never long and was easy to get in quickly. On a really cold race day, the F3 Half Marathon has quiet a nice set up. Runners get to take advantage of the United Club located inside Soldier Field.  Inside was race day packet pickup, gear check, sponsors table, local races, and a place to use a foam roller pre race to get stretched out and ready to race.  There was also plenty of music being played.  About 10 minutes before the races, the announcer stated that it was time for runners to head outside and get into their corrals.the United Club
Race
Runners headed out to the corrals and were expect to line up according to their pace.  Pace signs and pacers were lined up to help runners know where to start.  From what I can tell, most runners were very respectful and lined up where they should.  The National Anthem was played prior to the start and the first wave was sent off with the sound of an air horn.  I am not sure how many waves there were but they were not too far apart.
The course is easy to follow, it is basically an out an back route with a short loop around Soldier Field added at the beginning.  Once you make it around Soldier Field, the rest of the course is on the Lake Front Path and you don't cross a single street after that.  There are a couple of hills on the course when it comes to going over or under local streets.  The only complaint I have about the course was where construction was being done on the Lake Front Path and we had to cross over to another path and went through the mud.  This was out of the race's hands and from what I understand, construction should be completed before the 2019 race.
There were 7 total aid stations, all with water, KRA sports drink and medical.  2 aid stations will have CLIF Shot Bloks (Miles 6 and 8).  Aid stations will be located at Mile 1, 2.5, 3.5, 6, 8, 10.5, and 11.5.  I didn't drink any of the sports drink as I had never had it before but maybe I should have given it a try.  The aid stations were very well staffed with plenty of volunteers.
When you crossed the finish line, a medal was placed around your neck.  Right as you are walking down the finish area, you are able to grab water, KRA energy drink, and granola bars.  I did grab a sports drink to try later since I did not have one during the race.  A sponsor was there handing out reusable bags to give to runners for all their food.  A nice touch especailly since runners had to walk a quarter mile from the finish back to the United Club following the race.
Post Race
Post race, you could go back into the United Club and get warm as well as stretch out.  There was no additional food in the United Club.  There was also a wall that results were projected on so you could check out your finishing time and place.  You could also make your way over to the result table to get a print out of the results.  The United Club was a great place to meet up with friends after the race.  One last thing is that you could get a finishers photo and it would be made into a magnet for free.the free magnet
Overall Thoughts
This is a race that I really enjoy.  Once again, its a great opportunity to get a longer race in during the winter months and the city of Chicago does a great job of keeping the Lake Front Path clear of snow and ice.  While it was warm, There had been recent snow fall and the paths were very clear.  The race always has great swag in the form of shirts and medals.  This is a race that I would recommend to any local Chicago or even Northern Indiana Runners.  As runners were finishing, I heard of runners coming from Central Indiana, so the word is getting out about this race.  This was the ninth running of this event and this year had record numbers of registered runners.

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