Latest reviews by Dyenna

(2018)
"Great road race"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Disclaimer ~ I'm a trail runner. But I've run plenty of road races before so I feel I can be objective in reviewing this race :)

Expo: Trying to find parking right across from the expo was insane. I highly recommend the large parking lot across the street and then walking over the bridge to get to the expo. Getting my bib and shirt was quick and simple. The line started as soon as you walked in and then you could enjoy checking out all the vendors.

Race day parking: We parked in the large parking lot by the expo again and took the shuttle to the race start. I wish every race did that! The communication once there was a bit lacking (on where to catch the ride for the relay runners?). My family were nervous about being stranded so they headed back right away.

Pre race: Tons of port-a-potties. That's what we all want to know about, right? I never had to wait more than a few minutes - there were never more than 2 people in front of me. (And they were bright BibRave orange!). Music was blaring, people were taking photos, some pacing or running laps... great energy.

Race course: Beautiful start at the park. Again, there was massive confusion regarding the relay. I saw more than one person pull to the side to figure out if they were supposed to be starting or not.
For the rest of us, it was a well-organized course. Plenty of volunteers to steer us to the right direction and the energy from the city residents, runners' friends and families were phenomenal. The residents had their own water and snack stations up along with sprinklers out for us to run through.

Post-race: I stood in line to get some food right away since I wasn't sure I would be allowed back in once I left the runner area. It was a huge party ~ there were people everywhere but it was simple enough to track down my family. The food trucks -- LOVE!!! I skipped the beer tent and went back to the shuttle pick-up. It was well-organized despite the long line ~ we didn't have to wait long.

I received an email with my race update that day and one with a link to my FREE photos later that week.

It's a beautiful course ~ awesome energy. I would recommend this race.

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(2018)
"Run where the Olympians train!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Indoor marathon ~ 95 laps around the track.

Pros:
It's a well-organized race. There were updated emails as the race day drew near. Packet pick-up was a breeze ~ it's up on the 2nd floor of the building, can be done the day before or the morning of and it took maybe a minute or two to grab my bib, shirt and ankle tracker. You do receive a long-sleeve tech shirt.

Set-up is simple. There are two tables downstairs along the track. One is self-serve and the other has volunteers. If you choose to leave your bottles at the "full-service" table, you just call out your number and they'll have it ready for you on the next lap. I used self-serve table except once when I needed a bottle refilled and it was awesome just knowing I can hand it over and they'd take care of it until I'm ready to pick it up.

There is zero elevation. Many runners love that but I personally don't but not having to worry about slipping/falling on ice and snow made this bearable.

There is that will post your finished laps once you cross the mat (each time) and also a screen that posts your remaining laps. This may fall under "cons" too, depending on how you see it! :)

They do have GU available about halfway through the race. There are 2 sets of porta potties - a pair on each end of the track.

CONS
My biggest issue is not having any personal listening device. I almost emailed the race director to say I have AfterShokz but figured the answer would be no anyway. I completely understand needing to hear runners around you. But I hated having to listen to everyone else's music choices the entire time (I never heard my own music request)

The fastest runners were able to use the innermost track... that meant the rest of us ran more than a marathon and a longer distance than them. How about having the fastest runners on the outermost track? Just a thought :)

I would recommend it because it's an experience. This is where Olympic athletes come to train!! There are hockey games playing in the inner two rinks while speed skaters practice on the ice tracks.

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(2017)
"North Face never disappoints!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

It's my 4th year going back and the North Face crew and volunteers have yet again put on a great race experience.

PACKET PICK-UP: I went the night before the race at the North Face store in Brookfield. I was expecting to see Dean Karnazes as it was mentioned on the website but he was not there again (2nd year in a row). That was the only disappointment that night. The race director had some great stories from his racing experience and also plenty of warning and advice on the next day's high temps.

SWAG/T-shit: Dri-fit shirt but that is all. The North Face store does provide discount on their items if you show them your bib!

RACE DAY....
Parking: For some reason, the 50M have to park the furthest away from the Start/Finish!! I've made note of it on their survey but nothing's changed yet. I'm sure logistically, it's easier for them but after 50M, it's torture. Despite that, getting in the park is easy and there are plenty of volunteers directing you to the correct parking areas.

Race course: I've heard that the North Face WI course is the easiest, especially for the 50M distance. For most of us flatlanders, it still has its challenges. The hills are manageable but there seem to be more towards the end! It's a mix of trail, sand, prairie and road (after start/getting to finish).

Aid stations: THE BEST aid stations of many ultras I've run. North Face crew and volunteers are on it. I've had them grab my handheld and fill it up, even adding ice without asking. I've been instructed to fill up on food and rest while they take care of it. This year had additional challenges due to the heat that they had cold, wet towels and buffs waiting for us. Twice, I had crew and paramedic just come up and place it across my shoulders.
The aid stations have plenty of everything. This year, they partnered with Skratch Labs so there weren't any gels as they did previous years with Cliff but they did have yummy gummies!

It's a well-organized race and the post-race environment is just as awesome. Many runners (strangers, mostly) catch up on their war stories and celebrate with each other. It's a great community atmostphere at the finish line. I highly recommend this race!!

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(2017)
"Scenic course, great spectators included"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

PACKET PICK UP/EXPO: Parking was a breeze. Tons of space so there was no need to wait for a spot or to get out of the area. There were free socks and buffs available when we first walked in. The expo itself was pretty small but had quality items. Packet pick up was a breeze -- listed alphabetically so if it were crowded, the lines wouldn't have been a big issue. But I there were only a few people there for the packets so it didn't take long.

SWAG: The swag was just the tank but it's a nice, fitted dry fit tank. I definitely will be getting some use out of it! I'd much prefer this than a shirt with a bunch of little knick knacks.

PRE RACE: We were only about 6 blocks from the event so we didn't have to drive. Gear check, VIP, etc weren't clearly marked from what I could see so I followed the crowd. They did have an information booth near the building so it would've been a quick fix, if needed.
VIP was great - coffee, nice table settings (with candy), free breakfast items (bagels, muffins, gatorade, water) and separate gear check. We also had our own bathrooms to use as well.

AID STATIONS: The longest distance between them was about 2 miles so many went without their own hydration packs/handhelds. I carried my own just so I can drink when I wanted to. The aid stations were organized and several had cheer groups as a competition. Most were water and gatorade; I don't remember anything else being offered.

COURSE: Bucky was at the start with part of the marching band! Loved that. It is Madison so expect hills! I enjoyed them but I personally like running hills. I loved running through the city sights and in most areas, there were people cheering us on! I believe the only part where it was quieter was around the Arboretum.

POST: The PR bell is right past the finish so you can ring it right away as soon as you receive your medal Or before, depending on your priorities! ;) The post-race handouts included water bottles, cups of gatorade, bananas, popcorn and gatorade. The spectators are AMAZING near the finish - and you will see a lot of finishers walking back to cheer on fellow runners on the course.

14th mile post-race party: This was the place to be. With VIP, we had unlimited beer and food (chicken, brats, potato salad, muffins, cookies, gatorade and water) and our separate area on the terrace. We went out to the area where most of the runners were - band was playing and the big chair on the terrace was a popular photo op spot!

The positives outweigh cons: confusion over VIP. There was a separate booth that had these stickers and not sure if there was miscommunication that caused us to not have them already on the bibs. But all that was needed was going to the help booth and they placed it on our bibs.

They ran out of medals towards the end, though they did have notes for the runners apologizing for this and that the medals will be mailed out as soon as they get them in.

Overall, awesome race. I would definitely recommend this - and run it - again.

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(2017)
"Well-organized race but ran out of beer again!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I went back for my 2nd Trailbreaker marathon and for the most part, it did not disappoint!

PROS:
Packet Pick up was simple. You had the choice to pick it up the night before or the morning of the race. You receive a long sleeve dri-tech shirt only,
The course is well marked and usually have 2-3 police officers out there in the busier areas. The course is mostly flat and on paved trails. You do have about 5 miles of trails and a climb to the tower as a turn around.
The police offers and volunteers were awesome! Full of energy and eager to help. Even when there are non-racers out on the course, they are very courteous and respectful of those who are racing. They will even cheer the runners on. Love from the community is greatly appreciated!
For marathon runners, they do have a drop bag available around mile 11 (?). They also have another drop bag for all runners they keep for you at the recreation center (where the start/end is) for post-race necessities.

CONS:
I do wish they had the course map available on the website. If it was, I have no idea where it was. It mentioned the drop bag at Aid station #4 but didn't mention at what mile (nor could I remember).
The aid stations were still minimal. I did see GU at one of the aid stations and took advantage but it was one box and I didn't feel comfortable taking more than one. (I usually take a few just in case).
I finished my race 4:23:xx -- not a BQ by any means but definitely not the last runner. Yet when I walked into the recreation center for post-race refreshments and awards, the area was pretty much cleared out exept the food and drop bag retrieval. They also ran out of beer shortly I had mine -- I ran into a few runners who were pretty disappointed about not having their refreshment after running 26.2!
I had placed 3rd in my age group but they had already done the awards.

I'm not sure if I'll return next year. I did have a great time meeting new runners as usual but it is a very small race with limited resources when it comes to fuel and post-race celebrations, it seems.

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