Latest reviews by Mark Davidhizar

(2017)
"Small City Race with Big City Feel"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2017 Vermont city Marathon was held on May 28, 2017. The weather on race day was temperatures in the upper 50s and climbing into the 70s by the time the race ended, and sunny skies. The race consists of a marathon, two person really, or a five person relay team. The event is held every year, the day before Memorial Day.

I will start off with my overall thoughts on the race itself. If you would like to know who my race won’t continue reading to the second half of this blog entry.

Registration and everything else leading up to race weekend.

Registration opens on October 10, 2016 at $99. Prices would rise to $110 and $135 leading up to the race. If you waited to register on race day it would’ve cost you $135.

Leading up to the race, the promotion team use social media in a way that I have never seen Avery still before. Every Thursday afternoon they would do Facebook live on different areas of the race from nutrition to what to expect on race day. These were great source of information to get you ready for your 26.2 mile run. Along with that, email reminders were sent out frequently as well.

Expo

The expo is held at the Sheraton Hotel. Expo hours were from 1 PM to 8 PM on Friday and 9 AM to 7 PM on Saturday. The hotel was real easy to find as it was right off the highway when driving into Burlington. I arrived at the expo on Saturday at around 10 AM. As you can imagine most of the vendors were local from local businesses to local races. I did also stop by the official race merchandise table as well. They had some nice looking shirts there but I was disappointed that they were all cotton. I would have liked to see more of a selection with some shirts and sweatshirts being polyester.

The Race

I am not sure I can say enough about this race. Everything was great from start to finishline. First off, I found that getting into the prefered corral was easy. There were also volunteers making sure you belonged In the preffered corral. This was easy to tell by your bib number.

Next, the crowd support. For a smaller city marathon, the support was second to none. Fans were out with signs and cowbells at key locations on the course, especially the large hill. In the neighborhoods, there were families out on their lawns, garage bands playing, and some with sprinklers. The finish line was the best. So many people lined up, ringing their bells.
The Course was great as well. Some complain about the Beltline from miles 4-8 because it is boring but I think every course has that one boring stretch. At least at Vermont City Marathon, its early in the race when you are in more of a pack and not hurting. My favorite parts of the course was Church Street, the last 4 mile stretch on the bike path, and the hill by Battery Park. Yes, the guy who hates hills includes it as part of his favorites. Probably only because I ran it perfectly. This was also a great spectator course. You could stay in one place and see your favorite runner go by 4 times without moving.

The aid stations were great, filled with awesome volunteers. Aid stations were operated as a Gatoraid sandwhich, water, then Gatoraid, then water again. So easy and the same at every station. There were also aid stations with gels, fruit, and candy. An unofficial aid station at mile 18 had Maple Syrup shots.

Swag

The shirt was a nice short sleeve maroon colored shirt. The finishers medal was nice as well with the race logo on the front, showing the runners running down Church Street. Also, free race photos!
Post race

After crossing the finishline, you are given your medal, a bottle of water, a reusable grocery bag for post race food. The food was fruit, granola bars, yogurt, chips, and pizza. Oh yes, of course chocolate milk.
There was also a results tentwhere you could go and print off your results. Also you could type your number in on a key pad and your name and finishing time would be displayed on a sign.

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(2017)
"Needs work"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2017 race was run on May 1. The temperatures at the start of the race were in the mid 50s and climbed up in the air and into the 80s by the time the back of the pack finished.

Registration: I believe registration was done on active.com. If you are lucky like I was you could register for the race for $26.20. This option was offered early on the registration process and at some race expo is where the race was present.

Expo: the expo was difficult to find. On the race website and all emails that we received the race expo was listed as being at a local high school. However a specific address was not given. We enter the high school into MapQuest and it took us to the wrong school. We went to One other school before finding the right school. Once you arrived at the high school finding a parking spot was difficult. There were no clear instructions on where to park and people were just park wherever they wanted to. It was a mess. We finally found street parking and we had to pay a dollar into the meter to park. Once inside the expo we were directed to packet pick up. Despite giving them our shirt sizes when we registered they asked for shirt sizes when we got there. Hopefully they did not run out of shirts for all the runners. Once we were done there we went inside the main expo in the gymnasium. There were about 20 to 30 vendors present. First stop was the official race merchandise. It was sad that you could buy a race shirt that was better than the race shirt that you got for free with your packet. Also at the expo Bill Rogers former Boston Marathon champion was present. However we arrive too late to see him.

Race morning parking: do you have two options for parking on race day. You could pay extra and park close by and get VIP parking or you could park at the county fairgrounds for free. Once you park at the county fairgrounds though you had to pay five dollars per runner to take the shuttle bus to the start. The start was about 2 miles away. We had problems buying the right entrance to the fairgrounds however others had a lot more difficulty getting into the parking lots as race time approached. Runners were instructed to arrive early which most did but still had a lot of problems parking in time. The race started 15 minutes late because of this issue. Following the race we wait in the line for 45 minutes to an hour to get onto a shuttle bus to go back to our car. After the race they only had three shuttle buses running and not all of them we're going back to the parking lot. They were either going to the football Hall of Fame or to the relay exchange zones. Parking is something that the race needs to work on in the future.

The race: One of the big positives about the race was that they were plenty of Porta potty's set up at the start area. The longest we had some weight was about 5 to 10 minutes. There was also gear check available right by the starting area.
As mentioned earlier the race did start in 15 to 20 minutes late because of parking issues. This probably would not have been such a big deal if the weather wasn't going to get so warm.
As mentioned earlier the race did start in 15 to 20 minutes late because of parking issues. This probably would not have been such a big deal if the weather wasn't going to get so warm.
The Course: The website stated prior to the race that the course was going to be flatter than in years past. If this was flatter I would hate to see what it was like before. I am from northern Indiana and nothing in my area could've prepared me for the hills on the scores. Total elevation change was over 500 feet which for some may not be bad. The marathon course was basically the half marathon course. After you completed the first half marathon you turned around and did all again in reverse. There were a couple of great sites to see on the course but most of it was in rundown neighborhoods. It was nice to see, however, kids in these neighborhoods out cheering runners on.
Aid stations: four as hot as it got there were not enough aid stations. The aid stations were about 2 miles apart. With how hot it got it they should have been 1 mile apart. Early on in the race there was one aid station that they were just setting up as we were running by. They did not have water or Gatorade ready. Plus some stations also did not have enough volunteers. There were also gels available at A couple of the aid stations.
Swag: if there was a redeeming quality behind this race it was the swag. The race had a great finishers models that were shaped like a football ticket and had a spinner on the inside where the logo was. Also instead of a heat sheet blanket you got a nice fleece blanket at the finish. Had this been a colder day this blanket would've been much appreciated. I felt that the shirts could have been better however. I like the design of the shirts and the logo on the front but I did not like the 50-50 cotton and polyester style shirt.

Post race: they really didn't seem to be much going on after the race. If you appreciate a cold beer after you finish you were out of luck. After you got your metal and blanket you could walk over to the food tent and get a banana there are some bags of chips and you could get a hotdog. there was no real post race atmosphere.

Extras: each participant got a free entry into the Pro football Hall of Fame. However due to how long it took us to get to our car because of the shuttle buses we did not have time to go. The voucher was good all weekend long.

I cannot recommend this race at this time. The course was not very scenic. Also I think the race organizers have a lot of work to do on their logistics.

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(2017)
"See Glass City"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The price: For a half marathon, and marathon, I felt the price was real reasonable. The marathon fees start at $70 and goes up to $95. The half starts at $60 and moves up to $85 leading up to the race. There is also a relay option that starts at $40 per person and goes up to $55. The only Race that I thought was over priced was the 5k. The fees started off at $30 and went up to $45. Given that they got a cotton shirt seemed to be a little high. The steal of the weekend was the kids fun run. For $10 ($15 on race day), your kids got a shirt, medal, teddy bear, and Chic-Fil-A kids meal.
Race day parking: while not right by the start line r, it really wasn’t that bad. We walked about a mile from our car to the start. We managed that with 2 kids. If they can handle the walk, so can you. Haha

The Expo: the expo was easy to navigate and if you were just wanting to get in and out quickly, you could do so. There was a wide range of vendors as well as other races represented. The kids expo is also a great touch with a lot of activities for the little ones.

First Time Marathoners: One of the great things that the Glass City Marathon has to offer is special perks to first time marathoners. This is not for those who this is their first Glass City Marathon, but rather for runners who have decided to make Glass City their first ever full marathon. Includes for these runners were:

Personal Concierge Service at Expo
Elite Athlete Escort at Expo
Special Recognition Package
VIP Status at Post-race Party
More…

Kids Fun Run: just awesome. That’s about all I can say. It would be worth the 2 hour drive alone for our family. Well done!
Start line: the starting line is on the north end of campus. Very nice location. It was a little confussing on where gear check was at. Maybe just a little more signage is needed in this area.

The course (half marathon): I loved the course. There are a few hills but nothing big and scary. This course is FAST!!! It also goes around the outside of the college campus and through some very nice neighborhoods with quiet a bit of crowd support. My one complaint about the course is out of race managements hands, and that’s the road surface. Some roads were rough and need repaving.

Finish Area: the race finishes with you entering the gates at the North East corner of the Glass Bowl stadium and you run to the finishline at the 50 yard line. The field turf so it were raining, it wouldn’t be muddy. It was a pretty sweet finish.

After race party: following your finish you could get your finishers photo taken and then head out to the party outside the north end of the stadium. First you got your glass finishers mug to be used for your post race beer, then onto the food line with fruit, pretzels, and pizza. Tables were set up in the post race party area to stand at and east. The party was also right by the last stretch of the race so you were able to cheer on other runners as they finished. There was also a cover band playing at the party that would also take requests (play “Free Bird!”). But seriously, they were good and played a variety of music.

Swag: I like the race shirt. Nice simple design and not cluttered with sponsors. The medals were cool and in the shape of Ohio. The glass mug at the finish was a nice touch.
Overall, this was a great race. Will I come back? Well, my wife has already registered to run the half marathon. They are running a special for the 10th anniversary of the Half by allowing the first 500 runners register for $35! Even before she decided to do that, I wanted to come back and run the full marathon and get another BQ.

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(2017)
"Fun, Food, Festive"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Back On My Feet Mardi Gras Chaser 10k race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
The 2017 Mardi Gras Chaser 10k/5k was a cold morning with temps in the mid 20s and wind chills at around 10 degrees. Winds were over 20mph out of the WNW and there was also some snow flurries during the race. The weather wouldn’t have been so bad if temps weren’t in the 60s the day before. The date of the race was February 27th at 10:00am CST.

Proceeds from this race went to Back on My Feet Chicago. BOMF is an organization which helps the homeless get back on their feet through running. Please, if you are in Chicago, or any other major city with a BOMF program, check them out and consider volunteering.

Registration

There were different registration prices. The first was on the first day and first hour of registration. If you registered during that hour, you could register for $10! Tina took advantage of the $10 registration price. From there the price went up. Race day registration was available for $55.

Packet Pickup

You had a couple of options for packet pickup. First one was held the day before the race at Fleet Feet Sports Old Town. This was from 10AM till 8PM. This is a great option for those who live in Chicago. Truthfully, if I did live in Chicago, I would have taken advantage of this. The other option was great for out of towners who was just coming in for the race. Race day packet pick up was open at the race location from 8:00-9:30AM. And to make it even better, unlike other Chicago races, race day packet pickup was free!

Swag

Everyone who registered, including race day registrations receive a long sleeve, quarter zip jacket. I would maybe suggest another color other than white but the blue stitching does make it look nicer.

Also, for the 10k finishers there was a finishers medal on a beaded necklace in true Mardi Gras fashion. Added bonus, if you completed the F3 Half 4 weeks earlier, you received a Frozen Feet Frost Bitten Challenge medal.

Each participant also received a free beer at the post race party. More on the post race party later.

Parking

For once, a Chicago race that was located in an area with free parking! Hallelujah!!! For me, I hate paying $20 to pay to park for a race. Parking was located right on the road right by the start/finish area. The sooner you arrived, the closer your parking.

Other Amenities

There were port a potties lined up on the south end of the field. Pre race lines were about 5-10 people long and were moving fairly quickly so I believe there were enough. They also had a couple hand washing stations. Gear check was available to all runners. Since our car was fairly close to the starting line, I just left my gear in the car but it’s a nice option to have. After you finished, you were given a heat sheet blanket simevwater, banana and an array of goodies from Bimbo Bakery. Also, there was a photographer at the finish for finishing photos.

Course

The course was a flat, out and back route along the Lake Front Path. I have done a few races now on the LFP but this was on a different section than I have ran on before so it was nice to see a new area. The race starts and Finishes at Montrose Harbor. There were 4 or 5 aid stations on the course with water and Gatorade. Atvthe turn around, you could also grab a Clif bar. Despite the cold weather, the volunteers were very loud and encouraging. They seemed very excited to be out there. The race also had every mile marked accurately.

Race

Prior to the race, corrals were opened up for self seeding. There were volunteers holding up large signs with pace per mile on them so that runners knew were to start. The national anthem was played and the 10k race was on! The 5k started 5 minutes after. The race, as mentioned earlier was on the LFP which offered plenty of room to run from start until the 5k turn around at around mile 4.75. At this point the 5k walkers were approaching the turn around and made for a crowded finish. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they weren’t walking 3 or 4 across. I really don’t have much of a recommendation on how to correct this issue.

Awards

Awards were to the top male and female of each distance. There were no age group awards but with the 1/4 zip jacket, I think you get your money’s worth. I wouldn’t have been disappointed if they didn’t do finishers medals. I would be ok if they would have kept that money for Back on My Feet.

Post race party

The post race party was held at Fat Cats about a mile from the race location. On a warmer day, it wouldn’t be a bad walk, but we drove. There you can redeem you tab on your bib for your free beer. You could also indulge in their New Orleans theme buffet for $15. The best thing on the buffet hands down had to be the banana foster frech toast.other items included eggs, bacon, biscuits, jams, beans and rice, Greek yogurt bar and more! So good! Great post race atmosphere to just hang out with friends.

Overall I think this is a very well organized race, plus the cause is very important. We will see what my schedule is like next year, maybe I will come back.

To read about my race and more photos, ready my blog post. http://www.bibrave.com/races/back-on-my-feet-mardi-gras-chaser#.WLdcpjw8KEc

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(2017)
"Only the Brave Run Chicago in the Winter "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the F^3 Lake Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro(ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Registering for a race in Chicago, in January, can be intimidating. You never know what you are in for until possibly a few days or even a few hours until the race starts. If you are not from the area, winters here can be nasty one day, and beautiful the next. A week before the race, the weather was sunny and temps reached the mid 50s. Why couldn't this race be a week earlier? Because that wouldn't be the F^3 Lake Half Marathon way! Race day, the forcast was temps in the upper 20s with winds out of the WNW at 16-22mph. In other words, it would feel like 16 degrees. Not as nice as the week prior, but let's face it, it could be a lot worse.

Packet Pickup

The F^3, like other Chicago races, had several locations to pick up your bib number and shirt the week leading up to the race. If one of these locations did not work for you, you could pay an extra $15 and pick it up on race day. I am cheap and really don't want to pay an extra $15 for race day packet pickup. Luckily for me, fellow BibRave Pro, Heather, was willing to pick mine up when she got hers. She has become my designated person when it comes to picking up my packet, for which I am greatful for. I understand not wanting to have packet pickup at the race location, but it's tough for us coming from outside of Chicago (and out of state) to get to a packet pickup location and having to pay $15 to get it race day.

Parking

My rural American side of me is about to come out. I hate paying for parking. Parking for the race was $19! I know for Chicago this isn't a lot, but man, to me, that's a lot. The positive thing about parking was that it was on the North Side of Soldier Field in the parking garage which is connected to the stadium.

Pre Race

The great thing about pre race for the F^3 was that you could wait inside the United Club inside of Soldier Field and didn't have to go outside (unless you did a warmup like me) until 10 minutes before the race. There was plenty of room to stretch if needed and there was even a group streatch before the race. Also gear check was provided inside of the United Club. For gear check, you can use your own bag or one provided to you by the race.

With about 10 minutes before the race, runners move outside to the South Side of Soldier Field. Last announcements are made, the national anthem is sung followed by the start. It is a wave start where 2 corrals are sent at a time every 2 minutes.

Course

The Course for the F^3 Half was simple. You start out from the South Side of Soldier Field and run around the west side of the stadium until you get to the north side. Once there, you head west to the Lake Front Path. From there, the rest of the course is on the Lake Front Path (LFP). The course was fairly flat with a couple small hills. It is an out and back course. I like our and back courses because nothing should surprise you on the way back and also you can see your friends running for encouragement or for you to encourage them.

There were plenty of aid stations on the course, just about at every mile. There were also plenty of volunteers out there. My favorite aid station was the one volunteered by Back on My Feet. No matter what race you run at that BOMF volunteers at, they seem to always have the loudest and most supportive volunteers out there.

The finish line was well marked and an announcer was announcing some of the finishers coming in. After you finished you were given your medal and some food. Good items included bananas, bagels, chips with humis, water, and muscle milk. A sponsor of the race was out there with small reusable grocery bags for runners to put their food in.

Post race

After the race, runners were able to head back inside the United Club to get warm, get your gear, check results, and talk to a few vendors as well. One of the sponsors had mats out for stretching as well as foam rollers. Also if you placed in your age group, you could pick up your award right away, no waiting.

On your bib, there was a tab attached for one free beer at Krolls, where the after party was located. Because of having to drive home and Indiana being one hour behind Chicago, I did not go to the after party.

Things that were great:
Pacers were provided by Chicago Endurance Sports starting at 1:30 and increased every 10 minutes
Pretty nice medal
Free race photos
Nice course with great views of the lake
Parking location is great
United Club was great for both pre and post race
Gear check
Love the quarter zip jacket. Nice change from short sleeve or long sleeve shirts.
Many choices during the week before the race for packet pickup.
Aid stations had a lot of volunteers.
Free race photo downloads
Age group awards were gift certificates of the runners choice. What's. Enter than another medal or trophy? A gift certificate!!!

Changes I would make:
$19 for parking. Ouch
$15 race day packet pickup. Maybe wave the fee for out of state runners

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