Latest reviews by Mark

(2018)
"Improvements are being made. "
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This is the the I believe 5th year in a row (Maybe its more than 5, I am not sure any more) that I have run the Elkhart County Fair Parade 5000. Typically on race day, it is a bright sunny day with temps in the 90’s. Which typically is my go to excuse for why I never run well in this race. But this year was different. Temps were in the mid 70s, with some sun and a threat of rain. Now mid 70s isn’t exactly cool for running, but it does lessen the impact of my excuse and for this race, is really great weather.
This race is run along the parade rout for the Elkhart County 4H fair so there are a lot of people along the course watching. The race is limited to 400 people, and this year, the number of registered runners did not hit that number. I am not sure as to why as the weather was as good as it will ever be. The race is also held on the first Sunday of the fair and starts roughly at 1:20pm (notice I said roughly, more on that later). You have to go to the fair grounds before the race, pick up your bib and shirt, and then either do a warm up to the start line which is probably a 2-2.5 mile run from the fair grounds, or you can take the shuttle bus.
As I mentioned, the race is scheduled to start at 1:20, or as soon as the roads are clear, and this includes trains. We are allowed to line up about 5-10 minutes before the race starts. And we wait, and wait, and wait. Finally we get word that we are waiting for a train to pass by. The race route crosses 2 sets of railroad tracks. I have been stopped at both sets of tracks in races in the past. The train we were waiting on was on the first set of tracks. So once that one goes by, we should be all set to go. Once they get the all clear, the race begins.
At about the 3/4 of a mile point, I heard the dreaded noise none of us wants to hear at this race, the train horn. Yep, another train. Goshen, where this race is held, is known for its trains. They just built a overpass to get over these tracks, but the course does not go on the overpass for whatever reason. It would be a nasty hill for a 5k race, but still better than having to stop.
Once we entered the Horse track, we had to run passed the finish line and then run a full lap around. By the time we were passed the finish line, it felt like my shoes weighed 5 pounds heavier. it was getting tough. I ran the third mile in 6:41. There was just no traction on the track.
Overall, the race was handled well. They have tried many times over the years to work with the trains to get them not to cross during the race, but they simply don’t care and just carry on with their business. Maybe the fair will decide to use the over pass in the future but I kind of doubt that will happen.

The race, for the second year in a row, gave out tech shirts to all participants. This is an improvement from the cotton shirts of the passed and the logos are looking better than in the past as well.
The one thing they need to work on is the awards. I now have the same small, cheap medal for the past 3 years. very generic. But for $25 registration fee, I cant complaint too much. Also, if you want to run this race in the future, pre register for the race. there is no race day registration.
One other thing they did differently this year was pull bandits off the starting line and off the course. This years bib was plain white with black numbers. First time they actually went with this. I did witness the race director kicking out a group of 5 or 6 runners who had what looked like past years bibs with the timing company logo on it. Some other runners told me they witnessed more of this before the race started. Nice to see races taking action.

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(2018)
"5th time running this race. Will keep coming back"
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I have run the Randy Miner Memorial Run in all 5 years of its existence since being brought back after probably 20 years of it being away.  Back in the days of me being in middle school (Yes, it has been that long ago), the Etna Green County Run was held on the morning of the 4th of July every year.  The race was organized by a distant relative of mine, Randy Miner (I believe he was my mom's cousin, not sure what the correct relationship is to me). Then, in 2014 (I Think), my friend Todd Hoffer, who has always looked up to Randy Miner, brought the run back a few years after Randy passed away.
Since Todd has brought the race back, the race has been held on the second Saturday of June in the afternoon (as much as I continue to try to convince him to move it to the mornings).  His reasoning is sound, as there are quiet a few other local races in the morning, and it gives runners the rare opportunity to do 2 races in one day.  But man, the heat can be a killer.  He have seen the heat index near 100 degrees in past years.  This year, on the way to the race is the small town of Etna Green (Can you even call it a town?) I thought maybe for a change we were going to catch a break in the weather.  It was over cast the whole drive there and the temps were in the low 70s.
The four mile run started at 5:00.  There was a nice breeze coming out of the west, so the wind would be in our face for the first half, which in with the summer heat, I didn't mind at all. 
The course is 4 mile loop in the country, so don’t expect any shade but it is s true Indiana country run.
If you need a reason at this race to stick around for all the awards to be handed out, its for the door prizes.  The grand prize every year has been a 50 inch flat screen TV.
While this race is hot every year, the local running community shows up for it.  Probably becasue of the man who puts it together.  Basically the money that comes in from the race, goes right back into the race.  Todd is always trying to build the running community in whatever way he can while remembering his friend Randy Miner.  Its not the biggest race you will ever run in, but it is the biggest little race you will run in. Todd also spends a lot of time creating his own overall awards for all races.

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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 "
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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)
"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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