Latest reviews by Mark Davidhizar

(2019)
"I have a Love/Hate Relationship with this race"
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Over the years, I have had a love/hate relationship with the Sunburst Half Marathon. I loved to hate it. Then a couple years ago, a new race director took over, made some changes, and the race was showing improvements. Then this year, s new race director took over and it seems to be back to where it was, maybe even worse. I had seriously considered not running this event at all this year. Then I won a free race entry at our running club awards banquet for 2018.
This years race was held on June 1st and followed the same course as the last couple of years. There are 3 race options: the half marathon, a 10k, and the 5k. Race weekend kicks off the day before the race with the expo held at the Century Center in down town South Bend. The expo is pretty easy to get around. When you enter the expo area, you pick up your packet along with your shirt at the same table. For the first time in recent years, they didn't give you a bag for gear check. That's because there was no gear check on race day. Apparently runners had not been using it enough, so it wasn't offered.
The rest of the expo was mostly small with a few races present, along with local businesses. Fleet Feet Mishawaka had a huge presence at the expo bringing most of their store. The expo was open from noon until 8:00. If you paid extra, you could pick up your packet on race day.
This years shirt was a "poly/cotton blend." This was the worst poly/cotton blend shirt I had ever seen. 90% cotton, 10% polyester. From what I have heard there has been a lot of complaints about the shirts, so I guess I will pile onto that. If I had paid the astronomical race entry for this race, I would be even more upset.
All races start at Four Winds Field (home of the low A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, the South Bend Cubs) and finish at the 50 yard line of Notre Dame Stadium. The finish is probably what brings most people to this race and is probably the only thing that keeps this race alive. There have been some years where the race did not finish in the stadium and registration numbers were down.

The half marathon starts at 6:30am followed by the 10k and 5k throughout the morning. We will get I to the timing of other race starting later in the review.

The half marathon course starts outside the baseball stadium in down town South Bend and then starts heading west and basically makes its way to the neighboring town of Mishawaka. The part of the course in Mishawaka is actually my favorite part of the race. There is about a 2.5 mile section of the race that is along the river walk. It is probably the most scenic portion of the race.
It's amazing to me though, with as many neighborhoods as you run through, there really isn't much crowd support along the course. It is really kind of dead which continues to be a disappointment to me.

There are a couple of sections of the course I do not like. One is where the 10k and half marathon join. The half marathon runners are coming from the south and heading north while the 10k runners are coming from the west and making a left turn to join the Half course to head north. This meant the course became very congested fast. To make matters worse, they put an aid station right after that turn in the middle of the road. As I was getting my water at this aid station, 10k runners were cutting completely over onto the other side of the road cutting me off. Took everything in me not to trip over them.
Another section is about and back section at I believe around mile 8 that is probably about 50 meters out and 50 meters back. Just move the start line back 100 meters so we don't have to do this. Plus it's after the 10k joins the half marathon course making it very crowded hairpin turn.

The last section was where the half marathon/10k course is joined by the 5k course. This really didn't effect me at all but it did the back of the packers. By the time the back of the half marathon pack got to this point (11.5 miles), the 5k walkers were coming through and the half runners had to zigzag through them. I was walking back to find my wife after I finished and noticed all of this going on. I was telling any half runner I saw to run on the sidewalk so they didn't have to zigzag through all the walkers taking up the whole road. They would be doing this until they finished at the stadium.

All of these things of the course can be corrected by a few simple changes. It's as easy as moving the starting line back and adjusting start times or enforcing runners/walkers or the shorter races stay to one side of the road.

I don't know where I stand on running this race again next year. It seems that as registration prices seem to creep higher and higher, the value goes lower and lower. The great thing is that all my running friends are typically running and it's always great to see them.

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(2019)
"Needs A Runner As A Race Director"
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This is the first time that I have ran the Red Regiment 5k. This is a race that has been going on for a quiet a few years now and it is at the high school I graduated from back in 2000. But, now that my wife is a teacher at this school, we try to do more of the high school events that we can to support the students at NortWood High School. The Red Regiment 5K supports the Red Regiment Marching Band.
Registration was pretty cheap. Preregistration costs $20 for adults, $15 for students, and $60 for a family of 4 or more. After April 30th, registration is $25. With the lower registration fees, you do get what you pay for. There was no chip timing, after race food and drinks was a bottle of water, bananas and apples. Also, you did get a cotton t-shirt.
This race was real small and I got to believe that it is due to poor advertisement. Obviously the band is trying to do it as a fundraiser, but I don't thank that many runners are a part of the planning comity. Therefore, I don't think they are going about things the right way to get the word out. I am pretty sure that there were less than 50 participants in this race. Which is ok, but I think they could do better. The only way I heard about the race though is because some band members knew my wife runs, and they were handing out a flyer at the Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival parade the week before. You also could only register the old fashion way, paper registration and mail it in.4
There were two options for this race, and this part actually confused me some. They had a 5k run and a 5k fun-walk. The part that confused me was that if you are just doing the walk, you can just walk around the high school track while everyone else is running the course. But I guess when you don't have chip timing to mess up by doing lap after lap, its not really a big deal.

Anyways, onto the race. The race started on the high school track. you actually do about 3/4 of a lap (in the opposite direction of what you would traditionally run) before exiting the track. Then you run out of the high school parking lot, through a neighborhood, onto a bike path, turn around, and come back. It was a simple course to follow. And pretty flat too.
So how small was this race? well, my 12 year old daughter Emma was first in her division and first overall female. Yeah, a 12 year old, who ran a 28:25 (a new PR for her) won the female race. I am not knocking her at all, I am proud of the hard work that she put in, but that shouldn't win a 5k race. But we are not complaining. She won $50 work of gift certificates to a business in Nappanee that is part of the chamber of commerce. So, she has so far spent $25 of it on gourmet popcorn. More than likely she will use the rest of her winnings on more popcorn once she finishes what she has now. Not a bad day for a 12 year old.

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(2019)
"Very Warm and Hilly "
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This is the second time that I have run the Kalamazoo Marathon. I last time I ran in Kalamazoo was in 2016 after running the Wisconsin Marathon, completing the Mitten Challenge. This time I would be running on mostly rested legs and hoping for a better result than to just finish.
The expo was held at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. The expo seemed smaller than it did in 2016 and a lot less that I was interested in. I did pick up a Run MI Boco hat from Gazelle Sports but that was it. You had to walk through the whole expo to get to your packet and shirt. That was kind of annoying, but I get it. We were out of the expo probably within 10 minutes of entering.
The shirts are disappointing to me. The shirt is more of a 50/50 blend which I am not a big fan of, as well as a really small logo on it. The women's shirt was pink also, which makes it even more difficult to see the logo. To me, I don't care about the logo and how visible it is, I want something comfortable that I can run in. This shirt just doesn't do it for me.
One thing that happened on the course, I believe on mile 11 was that a woman driver, who apparently decided to ignore the street closures, was driving on the course. When she saw that she could not get out one way because of the closures, she turned around and eventually ended up right on my heals. Now, I could have been a nice guy, and maybe I should have let her go by. But she was the one who ignored all the signs and was driving on the marathon course. She honked, I waved and kept running in the middle of the lane. Eventually she got on the shoulder and sped by. Oh the fun of running marathons.
Overall, I like this race, its a good test of your body. It is not a fast course and you shouldn't run it if you are looking for a PR or a BQ. However, if you are looking to test your body and see what it can go through, give the Kalamazoo marathon a try. The course support along the course is actually great and top notch. You run through so many neighborhoods, especially early in the race that are real supportive of the runners. There are just a lot of hills on this course and they just keep coming and coming. The temps can also be an issue. On this day, it got pretty warm and dehydration started to kick in.

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(2019)
"Great run for Autism "
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The 5th Annual David's Run for Autism was held on May 4th, 2019 in Nappanee, IN. Race Day weather was really nice with cloudy skies and temps right at about 50 degrees. This is not a large race, but it is for a good cause. All proceeds go to benefit Autism Charities. There were 48 participants in the 3k, and 105 in the 5k.
Packet pickup was easy with two options. You could pick up your packet the night before at Nappanee Elementary School (Race location) or you could get it race morning. We elected to get ours the evening before, just to get it out of the way. Race shirts were a bright orange cotton shirt with the colorful logo on the front and sponsors on the back. You also got a nice David's Run for Autism pen as well. Very nice for office use at work.
Prior to the race, there was a couple of people who spoke, basically thanking everyone who came out to the race and came to Nappanee. Speakers included the mayor as well as race director, Noah Price (David's Brother). David started this race back when he was in high school and has continued to do well with it ever since, even with him now going to school in Fort Wayne. Prior to the race, there was also a firetruck that kids could go up and see and ask the firemen questions. I think my son Derek spent about an hour asking the firemen about every question that he could think of. God bless them.

The race is a flat course with no real rise of elevation. The course is also very well marked and volunteers at every turn. The course stays on neighborhood streets and does run through one park where the only aid station is located on the course. It is a flat course but has a lot of turns so it isn't the fastest course. Really, it was a good race though and wish that more local runners ran. I do know that there are a couple of other races in bigger towns that same day that brings in more runners that I am sure causes issues with the attendance at this race.

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(2019)
"New and Improved Course"
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The Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival 5k was held on April 27th, 2019 in downtown Wakarusa. Race day temps were cool but sunny with temps in the mid 40s with no wind. For this years race, the location had a slight change. The start/finish was located at NorthWood Middle School which allows for runners to stay warm inside the school gym before or after the race.
There were two options for packet pickup. You could come to the middle school gym between 6pm and 8pm the day before the race, or race morning. By the looks of things, most elected to come on race morning. Overall, there were just over 200 participants for this small town race.
Paul Kern, the race director, did a great job of creating a race course that was friendly to runners, but also did not interfere with the festival being held in town. The new course eliminated 2 out and back sections with 180 degree turns. There is still an out and back section to start the race but to turn around, the course went around the block, making for a smoother/faster turn around. Following the initial out and back section, the course then goes behind Wakarusa Elementary School to Memorial Park (where the race had started the last few years). It did a loop around the park before returning to the middle school for the finish.
The 1k course was a simple out and back loop for the kids that was well marked as long as they looked down on the ground for the race arrows. It was obvious that a lot of kids did not do so. But that's how kids races go sometimes. Derek and I did the 1k together. He has been fighting off a cough so he didn't do as well as he usually does, but he finished it anyways and enjoyed his maple syrup sucker that all finishers of the 1k received.
One of the best parts about this race is the awards. Paul does not give out medals or trophies. This is the Maple Syrup Festival after all. Paul gives out maple Syrup. I was fortunate enough to finish in 3rd place in my division. The top 3 overall also won a larger bottle of maple syrup and a gift card to Fleet Feet Sports in Mishawaka.
I have not missed a year of this race since Paul Kern brought it back and I don't plan to do so any time soon. This is a great small town race that I look forward to every year. Plus it helps us replenish our maple syrup supply for the year.

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