Latest reviews by Eric Blasius

(2016)
"New NYE tradition!"
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I loved getting the chance to be part of the first year of a new Chicago NYE tradition! It was a 5k course starting and finishing in Millenium Park.
Registration opened in November and prices increased every few weeks up until race week. I did feel like the peak pricing was steeper than I would normally pay for a 5k. I also feel like lots of people don't make their NYE plans until much closer to the actual day than they might plan for any other race.
Packet pick-up was offered the day before at Fleet Feet - Old Town. Since I couldn't make that, I was pleasantly surprised that race day packet pick-up was offered. It was very quick and I only waited in line less than five minutes.
Instead of a shirt, the swag item was a hat and gloves with the race logo on them. They were exceptional quality for an otherwise giveaway item. They were really warm and cozy! I have so many race shirts, so I'm happy to get something I know I will get a lot of use out of!

Before the race began at 9:00 am, there was a stretching session lead by an instructor from a local gym. Then, when we lined up, the emcee was very energetic and did a good job at getting everyone psyched up to start! The corrals were organized by pace, which helped keep this small (1,025 runners this year) organized quickly and efficiently. The race started down Randolph and lead to the #ChiLFT (lakefront trail). It was a sunny day, so it was nice to be able to enjoy the view along the lake. The course eventually found its way past an aid station (water and Nuun were offered) and then into the relatively new Maggie Daley Park. Beautiful park to run in! The finish line was back in Millenium Park and was very energetic. Some snacks and bottled water and Nuun were handed out.

All in all, I really enjoyed this 5k. It was light and fun-spirited. I would definitely do this race again!!

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(2016)
"Great way to celebrate Thanksgiving!"
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A fun local Turkey Trot on the grounds of Miller Park (which is pretty darn cool!). Love how family-oriented this race is and how they organize the corrals accordingly (Run, Run w/ Stroller, Walk, Walk w/ Stroller) which is an improvement over prior years, I'm told.
Course winds around grounds of Miller Park, with a pretty steep uphill in the first mile. An aid station right before the 2 mile mark with just water (which is totally fine for a 5k!). The course eventually makes its way back to the stadium, and when you think you're within ~400m of the finish, the course takes a sharp turn away for an added .2 miles. I really found that frustrating, because it was so deceiving. After the finish, you are handed a bottle of water, a cookie and a banana.
Shirts are long-sleeve cotton, and they're cute!

Would do this race again. Great to do with family and just have fun with it!

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(2016)
"Classy hometown MKE race!"
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This race, in its second year, is a must-do for midwesterners! I'm from the Milwaukee suburbs and live in Chicago now, so it was fun to run a race in my "hometown"!

Expo: What better Milwaukee venue for the expo than the Harley Davidson museum. Parking here was a slight challenge, as there wasn't any direction in the Runner Guide sent out the week before, and there wasn't any signage or people directing. I came right at the expo opening, and found parking in a small lot across the street, which was fine, but kept looking around for more parking, wondering where the masses were going to park as the surge of runners would be coming shortly.
The expo itself was moderate in size, but perhaps they've already outgrown the room in which it was held. Lots of great vendors, but that forced the actual packet pickup area to be a little congested. They moved people through the line very quickly, and were very accommodating as I was also picking up a bib for a friend.
The shirt is a long-sleeved tech tee with thumb holes! Really nice, too! Also included was a cloth tote bag, which is another nice touch. Inside the cloth bag was the clear bag to use for gear check on race day.

Race day: Parking was listed on the Runner Guide to be $5 right near the race start, but since I had forgotten cash (whoops!) used the listed alternative option and parked at the O'Connell parking garage about a half mile away (for $8, but allowed me to pay with a credit card!)
Once over in the start area, the first thing I noticed was incredibly long lines at the port-o-potties. This was a bigger issue than I think the management might have realized. It was minutes before the race was to start and the lines were 20+ minutes long still. I know renting port-o-potties can be pricey, but they need to at least double the number next year.
The next note is about the three races (Full marathon, half marathon, and 5k) all starting within ~20 minutes of one another. I don't necessarily think they need to have separated corrals, but perhaps a staging area behind the corrals to line up the Half and 5k runners while we waited for the Full runners to go through. It was a bit confusing trying to figure out where I should stand until it was time for me to line up. A minor complaint, but one worth considering.
The race announcer was awesome, did such a great job getting everyone the information they needed and keeping the runners energized! We did start a few minutes late, but it wasn't a huge deal.
The 5k course pretty much circles the outskirts of the beautiful lakefront Veterans Park. It was very flat and easy terrain, with very minimal turns. I felt this was a good course to PR on! There was one aid station at around the halfway point, but I was confused at which cups were water and which were Gatorade. They seemed to interchange the cups. This is just a 5k, but I hope in the future this will be addressed.
The finish line was the same place as the start, and runners were greeted with the announcer shouting names of finishers, and then a GORGEOUS medal and post-race snacks and goodies.
The post-race area had free beer and a number of food trucks, along with music and good vibes.

Overall, I had a really great experience, and would seriously recommend this race to anyone. It it's second year, they've done an awesome job of providing a top-notch experience and soliciting feedback on how they can continue to improve. My only regret was not signing up for the Full or the Half so that I could've gotten an extra dose of the beautiful city! I can't wait to see how big this race gets in the next ~5 years!

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(2016)
"Best tour of Door County in fall colors!"
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The Fall 50 is really the best way to enjoy the peak of the fall colors. If you like relay-style runs, this race is for you. It's casual and fun, and not overly competitive. That helps make it fun for runners of all paces/abilities. The race is from the north end of Door County (Gills Rock) and winds its way down the west side of the peninsula to the southern end in Sturgeon Bay.
Pre-Race: This race sells out the same day it opens, generally in less than an hour. If you're interested in running this race, go to their website and get on their email list so you can stay aware of the registration date. (in 2016, it was April 1st) Various communication is sent out in advance in how to put together your teams, etc.
Expo: There is no big expo, but rather a packet pick-up the day before the race. I had a friend pick up my team's packets, so I can't speak much to this other than knowing he said it is always quick, efficient, and organized.
Race day: The race operates relay-format. So, teams of 5 break up the 10 legs of the race however they would like. Some runners want two legs back-to-back, while others may prefer splitting them up. My team had a mixture of the two. Since the race supports runners of all paces, there are 2-3 start times in order to make sure everyone finishes as close to the same time as possible.
Course: Since it goes through 50 miles, the terrain changes constantly. There are some pretty steep hills, but also quite a few flat areas. I would simply call it "rolling" most of the time. The course stays on roads and sidewalks 98% of the time, but there is at least one small section on a gravel path, and one on some grass. WIth this, keep in mind the race goes on rain or shine.
Finish: as you anticipate your finishing runner approaching the finish line, teams generally run the last .1 with their finishing runner to all enjoy the feeling of finishing together. Everyone wears a time-chipped bib, so team time is calculated from the first runner on your team crossing the start line to the first runner on your team crossing the finish.
Finish Line Party: Once you finish and get your medal (this year was a medal chain again, which I don't really love, but it's still cool), you head into the post-race party where there is a DJ and entertainment, plus unlimited pizza, beer and wine! This is unheard of! I love this part!
Swag: Long-sleved thin hoodie. Two-toned and pretty awesome! Fits a little big, unfortunately.

Overall, I love love this race! It is so fun and they have thought of everything. I've done this race two years in a row and will be back. They also announced that they will be expanding to add three more locations, which is pretty cool! I will be back.

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(2016)
"Fun neighborhood race!"
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This year I got the opportunity to run a race I had been trying to run for years- the Bucktown 5k! This race seems to have a sizable following and is known for being a great alternative to the many lakefront races. This race is also known for having above-average swag items. This year, the swag item was a hooded technical fabric hoodie with the Chicago flag as the design. It looked great, but myself and many other runners found the material to be cheap.

I signed up for the race about 90 days out and found there to be a moderate amount of communication via email. Most emails referred you to their website, which is a little annoying for me. I'd rather they occasionally give me updates right in the email, but not a big deal. One major thing I noticed and heard about from other runners was the lack of instruction about how to get to the race start, where to park, how much parking was going to cost, etc.

The start line utilized corrals A-K, with runners placed based on projected pace (except for corral A, which required submitting a previous race time). The corrals were then released every 2 minutes.
The race course is one of the best parts- it's through very quaint and cute neighborhoods in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood. That meant most of the streets were shaded and had quite a few families out in front of their homes cheering for the race. That was so fun to see!
Around 1.5 miles, an aid station that had Nuun then water was available. I'm very strongly against Nuun on race courses, but that's not a huge deal for a 5k.

The finish line was lively with lots of spectators cheering and fun music playing.

Overall, I had a really good time! I run my fair share of races, most in Chicago, and really cannot say I've had this much fun in a while! I would recommend this race to anyone.

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