Latest reviews by Mark Davidhizar
“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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
The northern Indiana area really struggles with its Christmas theme races. I ran a couple of them in 2015, but neither race really stood out as a well organized/memorable race. There was one other Christmas race that I have yet to try until 2016, the Saint Nick 6. The race is held in South Bend at the St. Joseph Parish.
Packet pick up was held at the Parish office from 3:30-6:00 the day before the race. The process itself is quick and easy. You were given your race shirt, bib number, and fliers. Registration fees for the 6k was $20, 3k was $15 and the Run Run Rudolph was free. Very reasonable. If you register for the 6k and 3k, you got a white long sleeve tech shirt.
The race offers a 6k and 3k distance. There is also a kinds .06k run as well for the kids called the Run Run Rudolph. The Run Run Rudolph began at 9:30.
The 6k and 3k started at 10:00 so the family went back inside the school gym to get warm. Temps were very cold outside and the snow we received the day before made the course very slippery. The course was mainly along the South Bend river walk which the city does a poor job of keeping clear in the winter.
Runners were called back outside for the start at about 9:50, given final race instructions, a prayer, and the race began. The roads were really slippery, and these were roads which had been plowed. Every step was a slippery one. The 3k and 6k started at the same time so it was difficulf to tell who was in which race.
After the 3k turned right off of the path and returned down another road, the 6k continued down the path. The course was an out and back course. So the whole course was snow covered.
The family was in a little bit of a hurry to leave for another event and if I wasn’t getting an award, I didn’t want to stick around long. It took a little bit to find someone who knew, but I finally found out that the top runner in each division gets a medal. It looked like they had ribbons for 2nd and 3rd but I just didn’t care to stick around for a ribbon so we took off.
This race was ok. I am not sure I will run it again next year. The price is good, but nothing about the race really stood out. Plus, if the weather is as it was this year, it’s not worth the risk of injury if the city won’t clear the river walk path. The race benefits Saint Joseph Grade School which I have no connections with and don’t feel the need to support, so it’s not something I feel the need to run in again. But we will see.
On December 3, the Elkhart Education Foundation hosted its second annual Ugly Sweater Run. All proceeds went to the Elkhart Education Foundation (donations are made by the EEF to Elkhart Community Schools) and to the Tucson Center (an after school program). While my kids do not attend school in the Elkhart Community School district, Amy wife is a teacher at Elkhart Memorial High School. That was probably the main reason why we decided to run this race again. Last year I would say was less than impressive. The course was well short, and I would say was more geared to the non-runner.
Registration for the 2016 race, I believe opened in October at an eye opening registration fee of $35. I should mention that for each adult that enters the race, you get to register a child (14 and under) for free. For a family, not a bad deal, but for a single person, this is just way to high. Then around Thanksgiving, they started advertising 25% discount codes for registration. A good rule of thumb is that you never offer a lower price than what those who registered early have already paid. It’s frustrating to those who have already committed.
One thing I don’t care for about this race is that it is an afternoon race. I prefer morning races, but that’s just me. The race began at 4:00PM with packet pickup starting at 2:00. There were opportunities to listen to the high school choir groups sing before the race or for you and your kids to get a picture with Santa.
The swag at this race, for the second year in a row was a toboggan hat. With the race being called the “Ugly Sweater Run,” I think they are missing a real opportunity here in not making an ugly sweater race shirt. I think it would drawl more attention from people wearing it in the community than a hat. Also advertised was that you received a ticket for free ice skating. What was not clear was that it could only be used that day and ice skating was free to anyone, not just those who ran, so this wasn’t a perk at all to running the race.
The race started on time. The course was changed this year but did feature much of the same areas. It used a few roads, but mostly bike paths. Only 2 complaints about the course: there are a lot of turns and it was a little long this year. I will, however take a course that is a little long rather than way short. Some of the other highlights of the course include carolers from Elkhart middle schools at a few locations along the course. The course was very well marked. There were no aid stations, but with it being a December race, it really isn’t needed.
The age divisions are weird though. They were 14 and unde, 15-29, 30-44, and 45-over. There were 170 who finished the 5k (even more who finished the 1 mile walk). With a race that size, it seems that the age divisions should be pretty standard. The awards were the same as in 2015.
Obviously it’s too early to plan my winter races for 2017 but I am on the fence on this one. I am just not sure it’s worth it. I would say it’s not worth $35 to enter. I think anything over $20 for early registration is too much for what you get. Probably the only reason why I did run this race was because of where the proceeds went.
The 2016 Columbus Hot Chocolate Race was my first Hot Chocolate Race. I had heard about them but it never worked into my schedule.
Expo: The expo was at the convention center in downtown Columbus. Construction was going on around the building but it really didn't effect how easy it was to get in and find the room. Parking was also located right beside the center. Before walking into the expo, you were handed Chocolate right away. The first stop when entering the expo was to pick up your bib number then move over to the next table to get your jacket. Loved the jackets as they are very thick and warm. If you wanted to, you can be in and out of the expo in 5 minutes. There were several other vendors as well. Also, dont miss the chocolate dipped marshmallows, cookies, and of course hot chocolate.
Race Day: the race started and finished The McFerson Center. Parking could be found at several parking garages. Gear check was right beside the starting line. There were several signs pointing you in the direction of the starting line. Also at the starting line, the corrals were well labeled and volunteers were checking bins to make sure you were entering in the right area.
The race started promptly at 7:30. Corral A started first. A couple minutes later, corral B started and so on. Every corral got its own start.
The course was very well marked and impossible to miss a turn. The mile markers were accurate and where the 5k and 15k races split, there were plenty of volunteers and signs pointing you in the right direction. The 15k course ran through downtown Columbus and out to Ohio State Campus and back. The first half of the race featured steady uphill s. The second half was more downhill to flat. The aid station featured water, Nuun, and of course, chocolate.
Finish: after crossing the finishline, you are handed a medal shaped like a chocolate bar and a bottle of water. You can also take your bib, which has a tab on it to redeem for your mug of hot chocolate, fondue chocolate, and banana, pretzels, and other items to did into your chocolate. It was really good. In the park, a DJ was present as was Hot Chocolate Merchandise for sale.
Overall, this was a great race experience and recommend it for new runners and experienced runners.