Latest reviews by Amy Penokie
This was the second time I ran this event, the 1st being 3 years ago. We had so much fun, we had to come back, and brought 2 teams with us this time!
The course starts on the northern tip of Door County in Gills Rock and meanders south through quiet residential areas, quaint little tourist towns as well as peaceful countryside, there is however, no shortage of hills! This race is mainly known as a relay (pairs or teams of 5) but it also has a solo option for those brave enough to tackle all 50 miles on their own. The course is broken up into 10 legs, in which relay teams can break up as they choose. We has some people that wanted to run consecutive legs, while others wanted to switch legs each time. Not matter how you break it up, you are guaranteed to have fun!
Registration: I generally don't put a section in my reviews about race registration, but this is one that I feel needs it. The relay option for this race generally sells out quickly - as in usually in less than an hour!
(I have heard that some years it's as quick as 15 minutes!) If you want to get in, you need to make sure that someone on your team is at the computer with fast fingers when registration opens up - usually at need on April 1st!
Packet pick up on Friday night is simply that - packet pickup. One of the gals on our team actually lives in Sturgeon Bay, so she picked up our teams packet and shirts, so I really have no knowledge of what it is like, aside from being told that it was quick and easy.
Race Day! All runners converge on Gills Rock for the start of this adventure! All of the solo runners start at 7am to give them the most time available to complete the course. Once the solo runners are on their way, they have 3 waves of relay runners (7:45, 8:30 and 9am). Which wave a team starts in, is based on the team average pace. They try to stagger teams out so that everyone finishes between 3 and 6pm. The course closes at 6pm)
Exchange Zones/Aid stations: Are awesome! All aid stations have oranges, bananas, chocolate chip cookies and a variety of other snacks. there is also medical aid available at all station. Depending on the time of day, Aid stations can get a little busy, and is some of the small towns, parking is at a premium! The one in Fish Creek especially! This is a small touristy town, which on the weekends can get very busy. The relay exchange is right in town, next to a small park. Unfortunately, the only parking area available to runners includes about a 1/4 mile walk from your car - so be sure to plan accordingly to get your runner to the exchange on time!
The Course: Beautiful! The fall colors are usually at (or close to) prime and one can get lost in the vast beauty around you! this race is the perfect way to experience the foliage up close! The course is mainly on quiet roads, but there are some areas through towns where you end up running on sidewalks. Around a few of the exchanges, there are small areas of grass or gravel so please be sure to take caution when you hit these areas!
Finish line: All runners finish at the park in Sturgeon Bay, right along the water. There is a relay team reunite area .1 miles from the finish line for teams to meet up and run into the finish chute together. From there its a matter of gather up your medal (usually on a chain instead of a ribbon!), grab a few team finishers photos and head to the party!
Post Race: All runners are treated to a tent full of beer, wine, pizza, breadsticks, a DJ, dancefloor and a ton of shenanigans! We stuck around long enough to grab a glass of wine and a few pieces of pizza before we hit the road. After a long day of running we were ready to get back home and crash... but had almost and hour drive to go, so we headed out early!
Will I do it again? Let's just say, our teams are ready to go with fast fingers on April 1st 2018!
For my full recap of this day full of shenanigans, you can find that here: http://crazyhamster.run/2017/10/door-county-fall-50-2017-running-against-the-wind.html
As a runner who is always looking for new races, I decided to give this one a try. It was the first time it was being run here, so I figured it might be a nice change, plus it was inexpensive.
Packet Pickup: was the day before the race, at one of the local sporting goods stores and was pretty seamless. The crew that was working were very organized, meaning we were able to get packets for your entire crew in about 10 minutes!
Race Day: Go figure, it was the coldest day that we had seen in Green Bay, since last winter! Time to break out the Toasty tights and extra layers! I guess since we were running for hot cider, it is only fitting that it was cold outside!
This was a small(ish) race (780 running the half marathon and about 1200 doing the 5k) but I am glad we got downtown early to park. With 2 parking ramps within a few blocks of the start line, there was plenty of parking, but traffic did get backed up with people trying to get into these ramps!
The first huge disappointment with this race for me was that they have the 5k and half marathon starting at the same time. This made for a very congested start. Also, there were many people walking the 5k that were starting right along side of those running the half marathon. For those of use running, it made it very difficult to hit, and maintain, any sort of regular pace, as we were constantly running around those walking.
After about 2 miles, the half and 5k courses finally split. The 5k'ers headed back to the finish line area, while the half marathoners turned to head out onto the trail. I love running on this trail as it is a nice (relatively flat) trail that winds right along the river. We headed south for about 5 miles and then turned around and headed back along the same trail. One thing I do line about an out and back course is that you have the opportunity to actually see the lead runners. I give these guys credit. It was cold (32 degrees) and they were still running in shorts and tanks.... no thanks!
Unfortunately, the out and back course along the trail also meant limited places for spectator support. There are a few parks along the trail, which were the only places that we had any cheering etc.
Post Race: Upon crossing the finish line, runners were rewarded with a race medal, coffee mug (for cider which was waiting!), a caramel apple and water. That's a lot of stuff to start handing to people as soon as they finish running! I had several people tell me that they heard several instances of breaking glass... mugs were being dropped on the pavement and didn't survive. Thankfully, they had extra mugs available, so most people were able to get their mugs replaced.
Overall, I was less than thrilled with the swag from this race. The 3/4 zip pullover was cute, but generic. No mention of the day or city. The race medal and mug was more of the same. No date, not city. Part of getting race swag for me is to be able to create that memory of WHERE and WHEN the race was. Remember that caramel apple I mentioned? Yeah, neither do I. I'll be honest, I was hoping for a GOOD caramel apple! We have several places in town that make caramel apples but instead we received the same caramel apples that I could go to wal-mart and but for a few bucks. Now, the hot cider that I was able to fill the mug with was good - it really hit the spot after running in the cold for over 2.5 hours.
Will I run this one again? Probably not. I don't think that I ask for a lot in terms of race swag, but not even putting the location or date on it is a real downer for me.
While over all, it was a good day to run for me (finished within my goal), the race itself left me a little underwhelmed.
You can read my full recap of the race here: http://crazyhamster.run/2017/10/a-cold-day-for-hot-cider.html
The 2017 Run with the Flamingo’s 5k – the Worlds Longest 5k!
Yup, it’s a 5k… and then a little bit more!
Now that you have stopped laughing… let me explain!
Purposely measured a little long, The Pink Flamingo Classic is not a true 5k (3.1 miles). The official course length is 3.15 miles. It’s all part of the Pink Flamingo Classic tournament weekend in DePere WI. The morning of the 5k, there is also a parade! Coolest part? The 5k finish along the parade route, so if you don’t get to the the point along the course where the parade stars (at the DePere High School) you will become part of the parade as you finish your 5k!
As I mentioned, this is a very small, now key event. No online registration even! You actually need to mail in your registration and payment! Since this was a last minute decision for me, I waited until race day to register. When I went to the registration tent with my form and money, I received my t-shirt and a pink tag to pin onto the bottom of my shirt with my name and age. No race bib. Just a pink address label size tag indicating who I was and what age group I was in. This was a first! How small is this race? I think I heard that they had 150 registered, and this was the largest crowd ever for the event.
I was running my friend Kerri, who runs this event every year - this year her husband was one of the organizers. We were ready to push the pace, have some fun and enjoy the morning. Just after the 2 mile marker, I lost Kerri. I pushed those 2 miles and had to walk part way up the next hill. But I wasn’t done! At this point, I was passing the school and saw where all the floats for the parade were getting ready to start. I was still ahead of them! (in reality you have about 30 minutes to get to this point in order to stay ahead of the parade). It was really cool running through here as people were already lining the street for the parade, so they were cheering on runners as they passed! This really was motivating! I charged on and ended up finishing strong.
After the race, I grabbed a snack and headed over to find everyone else at the parade. The parade reminded me of some of the small town parades from up north but it was still fun! Floats, candy and water fights!
yes, this was a small race, but it was a lot of run, well organized and a run course! Thank you Kerri for telling me about this fun morning! Will I run this one again? You better believe it! As long as I am in town next year, you will see me out there tackling another Pink Flamingo Classic 5k!
You can find the full review and more photos here: http://crazyhamster.run/2017/07/surviving-the-worlds-longest-5k-a-true-story.html
Last year was the first year I ran this event and loved it so much I had to come back and do it again! This year marked the 7th annual running of this awesome little race. I say little because race reached capacity and this year, that was about 130 runners! Most runners come from Wisconsin, but this year, 9 other states, plus New Zealand were represented! So excited that this race is going popularity! Can’t wait to see what the future holds!
The Titletown Ultra Series is not a distance event. It is a time event. You don't sign up for you far you want to run, but rather how long you want to go. It gives runners the opportunity to push themselves to new limits, new distances and so much more. Last year I signed up for the 8 hour event and covered 26.8 miles in 7.5 hours. This year, I wanted to hit that 50k mark, so I signed up for the 15.5 hour solstice event so that I had as much time as I needed to get in my miles. Best part was, I had friends that decided to join me on the adventure and we made it a day of fun!
Packet Pick up: You can either pick up your packet the evening before or the morning of the race. A few tents are set up in the grass at the golf course. This is the central hub for the event. The race directors and their small crew are there ready to help you out, answer any questions and make sure you are ready to run!
Race day – A day like no other!
When the alarm is set for 3am, you try to get to sleep early. But the excitement, nerves and everything else about race morning usually keep that good nights sleep from happening! This time was no different. Headed to bed by 8:30pm on Friday night, only to toss and turn for a few hours, waking up several time and then realizing at 2am, I can’t fall back asleep. I finally turned off the alarm off just before it is set to go off and crawled out of bed.
I really couldn’t have asked for a better day (ok, yes I could have done without the knee issues, more on that later). I started the race surrounded by friends. My tribe.
Running 31+ miles is never going to be an easy task. No matter how you slice it! But when you have good friends along, it really does make the time and miles go by faster! At one point I looked at Renee and commented that it really didn’t’ seem like we had already covered over 10 miles. We were 1/3 of the way to our goal!
One of the highlights for this race is the local massage therapists who spends the day at Race Central to help work on any aches, pains or tweaks that runners encounter. After about 15 miles, I made a stop to see her! My knee was not happy and I knew that I needed her to take a look at it. Once Christine got done man-handling my knee and taping it up, I was on my way again. This time, I had my posse with me! They all joined me for the next loop, which ended up being more walking that running, since I was trying to figure out how my knee was going to react.
We walked, we laughed, we got wet. Yup, it was about 1.5 miles into this loop that is started to rain! And not just a little bit! But we didn’t let it stop us. Best quote from the loop came from 11 year old Aurbee! “Mom, she’s already run over 20 miles and she is still walking faster than us… we really should keep up!” was not stopping.
when I reached the Race Central, before heading out to finish my last partial loop to hit my 50k, I stopped briefly to talk to Ann (co-race director) for a few minutes, band knew that I just needed to keep going. I headed down the trail to make it around to where our tent was to refill my water. Then I heard Ann yelling to me to wait. She turned and said something to the gal that was near her. Little did I know that this was my Guardian Angel for the day. Ann introduced me to Wanda, and told her that I just needed to make it to aid station two. Wanda looked at me and said “ok, let's go! Time to get you that 50k!). I really didn’t know what to say!
Wanda waited for me while I refilled my tailwind and we headed out. Before long, Aid station 2 was right around the corner! I finished my first 50k! Wanda, I am eternally grateful for the selfless thing that you did for me! One day, I hope that I can return the favor to another runner!
I have always been a firm believer that nothing happens by chance. There was a reason why Wanda and I were at the Main Aid station at the same time. I am truly blessed for the amazing running community and how everyone is so willing to help a fellow runner out. Not only did she help me finish, but I finished in under 9 hours!
It was my first 50k, so I was ringing the PR gong! I may have taken me 9 hours, but I finished. I have nothing to complain about! In fact, I might celebrate all week!
Love this race, love the enviroment and love the crew that puts in all together! Not sure if I'll be back next year (other race challenges might have me traveling) but I will guarantee, I have not run my last TItletown Ultra!
For the full recap and photo's, click here: http://crazyhamster.run/2017/06/it-takes-a-tribe-to-run-50k-titletown-race-series-2017.html
The Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. I have run this event for 8 out of the last 9 years, either running the 5k or the half marathon. This time, it was game on, all the way. My first Full Marathon. 26.2 miles. When I finished my first half marathon back in 2010, I said there was no way that I was going to run a full marathon… but this year, I ate those words.
Expo and packet pickup:
Held in the atrium of Lambeau Field, runners, family and friends have the chance to experience at least a small part of the great football history in Green Bay. This year I opted to not jump into line right away when they opened at 3pm, instead I wandered the expo to do a little shopping. Everyone else was heading to packet pick up so it was nice to shop early, without the crowds. I have noticed that, over the years this expo has gotten smaller. There is not quite as many vendors as there used to be, but it is still a nice expo for the size. Packet Pick-up is up on the 3rd level and as you take the escalators up, if you look quick, you can actually catch a glimpse inside the stadium to the field! Getting your packet is usually pretty quick and easy, as they have things very well organized. think I was in and out in 15 minutes, only because I stopped to talk to a friend of mine for 10 minutes! :)
When race day arrived, we were blessed with some beautiful spring rain showers. Thankfully, it was still warm enough that I didn’t have to worry about making any changes to what I was wearing, just added the windbreaker to wear at the start.
The Atrium at Lambeau Field was full of activity with runners getting themselves ready to run and groups gathering for photos before the start. Usually most of this activity takes place outside on the plaza, but with the pouring rain, everyone gathered inside. We also were waiting for the official announcement to see if we would actually be starting on time! Don’t worry tho! I was not alone! I had several friends that were running the marathon relay, so they were all hanging out inside with us! We had some laughs, shared some photos and helped motivate each other!
Finally it was time to face the rain and head to the start corrals! Running in a rain poncho is not really my idea of of fun, but when you have 26.2 miles in front of you, getting wet before you even start is usually not the best option. Thank You Cellcom for giving away rain ponchos at the expo… and thanks to the new friend I made that morning that gave me her extra one… since I left mine at home on the kitchen counter!
I decided to join up with the 5:30 pace group for the start of the race. I knew that they were running at the same run/walk interval that I had been training at, but I wasn’t completely sure how their planned pace was going to work for me. I knew that I needed to make sure I kept this as my race and my pace if I was going to prevail.
Before I knew it, I was at mile 8.5, which was aid station #1 for me! My family was hanging out at a friend's house waiting for me to run by. This also was my first personal aid station! I had packed a cooler with refills on my Tailwind, Honey Stinger Waffles, chews and Kwik Trip Pickles! I never know what I am going to want to be hungry for when I run, so I decided I’d rather be over prepared! A quick stop to refill my Tailwind and grab a bag of pickles and I was off! I'd see the boys again just past the halfway point.
Now I could sit here and go into all the details of the 26.2 miles from the start line to the finish, but that’s not what we are here for… and that could be enough to write a book. There are some key things that I will forever cherish about my first marathon.
Every so often I would see John and Darrin along the course and was excited to see that our friends Holly and Caitlyn had joined the party. I had my own personal buffet on a lawn chair each time that I saw them, but usually only needed a refill of my tailwind. I did have snacks tucked into the pockets on my tank, so I was set on food!
I went into this race with two goals. 1. To finish on my own two feet 2. Finish in under 6 hours. I made a promise to myself that I was going to run my race and taper back my pace when and if I needed to. Today, that was about mile 16. I let the pace group travel on ahead without me, as I changed up my intervals a bit. I still had quite a few miles to go and needed to make sure I could finish.
Somewhere between miles 16 and 17 I met Carol. Carol was also running her first marathon… and had decided that it was going to be her last. She was going to finish, but this was a one and done, check it off the bucket list and move on. We shared a few laughs about ice, and places to stuff it during a race and then proceeded to cover the remaining 8 miles together. We kept each other moving forward, motivating each other to reach that goal of finishing in under 6 hours.
When we heard the 6 hour pace group a few blocks behind us, we tried to pick up the pace a bit, but between my blister and her legs, we could only do so much. We ran when we could, but did end up walking a good portion of the second half of the course. But we kept moving forward. finally, the inevitable happened. At mile 24.5, the 6 hour pace group caught up to us. But they didn’t just pass us up and move on. Paul, who was leading that group commented that he heard that we wanted to finish in under 6 hours. He was going to make sure we got there. He wasn’t going to leave us behind.
Run a minute, walk a minute. That was the current plan of attack.
I walked, I ran, I pushed forward.
One of the fun parts of being a slow marathoner for this race is that when you are running through the stadium, there are only a handful of runners there with you. You can just get lost in yourself and soak in the moment, as you run through legendary Lambeau Field. It also means that you can get some pretty sweet race pictures from the photographers since you are not surrounded my tons of other runners! (which I still need to order!)
Finishing this race 6 hours after the start means a quiet finish line area. Most spectators are gone, the crowd of runners is diminished, so you can savor that finish for yourself!
Paul and the rest of his crew were also right on our tails! There were high 5’s all around as we had to stop quick for a group photo at the finish line. I say quick photo because none of us wanted to stand still for too long, the legs were stiffening up quick… and we still had to get our medals and then walk to find our cars… wherever they were parked!
The jury is still out on if I will run another marathon. Don’t get me wrong, the experience was amazing, but part of me really enjoys the trails. There is nothing that beats running through the trees, pounding the mud and dirt instead of the pavement. No matter what, I have no intention of slowing down!
Overall, I enjoy this race because it is so close to home for me (the start line is less than 5 miles from my house) but after running this event for 8 years, and now completing the trifecta of medals from the series they did over the last 3 years, I think this MIGHT have been my last Cellcom Marathon. There are other races that have been on my bucket list that need to be explored! But overall, I love this race, I love the environment and I love the people that I have met because of it!
You can catch my complete recap with photos here: http://crazyhamster.run/2017/05/one-of-the-toughest-things-i-ever-did-cellcom-marathon-recap.html