Latest reviews by Mark Davidhizar

(2015)
"I Look Forward To This Marathon Every Year!"
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
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This is the third straight year that I have ran in the Monumental Marathon and I truly believe it is one of the best, non-marathon major in the country. This year featured course changes, while at first I was disappointed, proved to be great! The start now features a .75 mile stretch before the first turn, unlike in past years when you only had 3-4 blocks until you first turned. The finish was also another major change. I used to love finishing facing the state house, but moving the finish to another street allowed larger and louder crowd support. It felt like more of a true celebration.
Aid stations were placed at every mile, minus the first mile which allowed the pack to spread out a little first. There were also 3 aid stations with CarbBoom energy gels. The course is mostly flat with a few hills around miles 10-12 and 14-16 but nothing that should prove to be too difficult for a trained marathon runner. The volunteers were great as well along the course as were the law enforcement on making sure the runners stay safe.
The SWAG was good as well this year. The race shirt gets better every year and at the finish, not only are you given a finishers medals (which is on year 2 of a 4 piece set) but also a beanie to wear right away to keep your head warm along with a space blanket.
The expo is what I would describe as a midsize expo. It's not Chicago or Boston, but it isn't held in a small room with a handful of vendors either. I believe there were probably a little more than 50 booths. The race also brought in Bart Yasso to speak and hang out with the runners during the expo or maybe even a shakeout run the day before.
There are also a lot of down town hotels, many within a couple blocks of the downtown start/finish line. Can be pricy but it is very convenient.
Overall, this is a very fast course, and it seems to have gotten faster with a couple of course changes this year. This race is starting to also drawl some runners looking to make the Olympic trials (this may not be the case for the next couple years since the qualifying window won't be open for the 2020 trials yet).

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(2015)
"Not so "Terrible 10k""
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The Haunted Hilly Half/Terrible 10k/ and Frightening 5k are run starting in beautiful Bonneyville Mill County Park in Bristol, IN. The races boast some tough hills to run on. The 5k course has a couple hills that aren't that bad, the 10k course has some more challenging hills. I did not see the half marathon course but heard from others that there are more hills similar to that of the 10kcourse. The race is run out in the country roads. For me, I will take country roads over city streets any day. Plus the race is always the weekend of or before Halloween.
You have your option of picking up your packet the night before from 5:00-6:45 (park closes at 7:00) or race morning. I chose the night before so that I could drive the course.
With this being a Halloween themed race, there were a lot of costumed runners and there was also a costume parade as well as contest with a few different categories held before the race.
The Half Marathon race got started at 8:45 with the 5k and 10k starting together at 10k. This is a smaller local race so the roads were not closed off to cars. Runners were asked to follow the rules of the road, which, from I saw, they did. The 5k and 10k course was out and back with the toughest hills on the 10k course coming after the 5k turnaround. With this being a country run, don't expect too many people cheering you on. However, this race was very well volunteered as well as very well marked on which way to go. Basically, if you got lost, then you really messed up.
Awards were nice. All runners got a necklace with vampire teeth on them. Vampires aren't really my thing but it goes with the theme. Awards were given to top 3 overall and top 3 in each age division.
The shirts were good. Nothing too high quality, just a good tech shirt. The race director is also very well organized. The only negative is parking. With this being a county park, parking is spread out a little. The half marathon runners get to park right by the start. The 5k and 10k runners park in parking lots about a quarter mile to a half mile from the start. But let's face it, we are runners. That shouldn't bother us too much.
For more info on how I did personally in this race, visit my blog at: ‘Terrible 10k’ Not So Terrible | Daddy, Did You Win?
https://daddydidyouwin.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/terrible-10k-not-so-terrible/

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(2015)
"Tough/Challening Course and a great workout"
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The Mash The Creek trail race offers a 10k and 5.5k race at Potato Creek State Park just outside of North Liberty, IN. Packet pickup is from 7:30-8:30 right outside the nature center and the 10k started at 9:00 with the 5.5k starts about 10 minutes later.
The race is very well organized but is also low key. There were probably around 100 runners for this event and all proceeds benefited the Northern Indiana Food Bank. The course is very well staffed with volunteers at every questionable turn to make sure you go the right way and you pass a total of three aid stations along the course with water.
The course itself is a challenge with a lot of rolling hills and very few straight areas. It also includes running up stairs (74 steps). The stairs on this day were slick because the heavy rain from the night before as was a short section of board walk that is on the trail. In most places, the trails are wide enough for passing as well.
The shirts were a purple tech shirt with the race logo on it. The awards were given to the overall winners and top 3 in each age group (10 years). The medals had the name of the race and on the back was once again the name of the race and your place along with the date.
Overall, I would recommend this race to any trail runner or to anyone looking to experience a trail race who doesn't usually get to. Trail races are rare in this part of Indiana so it made for something different.
To read more info on how I ran, and to see more pictures of the race, visit my blog post at:
https://daddydidyouwin.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/mash-the-creek-10k-2/

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(2015)
"Beautiful Race Around the Lake"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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The Grand Lake Marathon is on the smaller size as far as Marathons go, but don't let that keep you away. The day before is packet pickup at the county fairgrounds about a mile away from the starting line. They state there is no race day pick up, but I think if you got in contact with them, they will help you out. I did think that closing packet pick up at 7:00 PM made it hard for people traveling from out of town. Also, consider the pasta dinner the race puts on. There really are no local places to carboload and we traveled 30 minutes to find a good place to eat.
The marathon, half marathon, and 5k all start right at the lake in Celina, OH. You could not park by the start/finish line. They ask that you park at the fairgrounds and they provide bus transportation to the start before and after the race. Busses kept coming and going so there wasn't much wait time throughout the day.
The race started on time as there was a clock counting down to the start that was started an hour before the race. The race does being in Marathon Maniacs as pacers as well if that is your thing. I talked to a couple following the race. Great people and had a lot of experience pacing in the past.
The course starts off the first mile along the lake but then you don't see the lake again until mile 8. There are also a few rolling hills in this section.
For the next few miles you run along the lake until the half and full splits. The half marathon finishes in St. Mary's and buses transports you back to Celina after the race. After roughly 11 miles, it flattens out and you are mainly running in the country surrounded by corn fields, which reminds me of where I do most of my long runs. Miles 14-20 are kind of a grind, not because of hills, but because you continually run straight. After 20, the roads start pounding on you. The bad thing about country roads is that they are typically crowned. My feet started to go numb. After mile 20, the roads started to turn more and the turns were banked causing a little more discomfort.
The last mile of the course you get a beautiful view of the finish as you run along the lake. Once you get to the lighthouse, it's one turn to go and you are finished.
This is not a truly fast course, but if you run conservatively early, you can run a good time.
Aid stations were well staffed with water and electrolytes. Be sure to say what drink you want. I thought I got water, dumped it on my head and found out it wasn't water. Also there were several aid stations with gels as well.

Pros:
Nice shirts with a map of the lake and the course highlited in orange. Different but thought it turned out nice.
Nice finishers medals with part of it being stained glass.
Packet pickup was easy
Well marked course
Great volunteers.
I can't remember the entry fee, but it was t bad especially if you register early.

If your in the Indiana/Michigan/Kentucky/Ohio area, give this race a shot. It's small but they make it a great atmosphere.
To read more on my race experience and see more pictures, go to my blog at:
https://daddydidyouwin.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/grand-lake-marathon/

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(2015)
"Challenging Course With A Little Bit of Heat"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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The 42nd annual Blueberry Stomp in Plymouth Indiana was a challenging race. The Stomp offers a kids 1 mile fun run, a 5k, and a 15k. There are only a couple 15k races in northern Indiana so this is not a common race distance for most area runners. The kids run starts at 8:30 and 5k and 15k starts at 9:00. This years race was a little warmer than usual with race time temps being around 75 degrees and humid.
The first mile and a half is straight out through town and into the country before the first turn, not much congestion to worry about dispite over 600 runners. Once out in country, starting at mile 2 and going till mile 7, the rolling hills really begin to hit. The hills are not anything huge, just constant until really the last mile and a half.
Also, the first half mile and the last half mile are along the festival parade route. So as you start and finish you are cheered on by the crowds.

Pros:
-This is a challenging course. It will test your training.
-Great race management. Started on time,
-5 or 6 aid stations, and on the last one, there are high school girls willing to throw water on you if you ask.
-while not a completely closed course, most of the race is in the country so there is very little car traffic.

Cons:
-cotton Tshirts and kind of ugly
-awards were lacking. They went 5 deep on age group awards but the awards were can koozies. Would expect that in your race bag.

If you want to read about how my race went, go to:
42nd Annual Blueberry Stomp.  | Daddy, Did You Win?
https://daddydidyouwin.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/42nd-annual-blueberry-stomp/

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