Latest reviews by Jessica

(2017)
"Great First Half Marathon"
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This was my first half marathon, and it was a great race! I had heard mixed things about this race; some of my running friends were psychologically scarred from the crazy winds in 2016, but I was pleasantly surprised! Packet pickup was either in Wisconsin or in Deerfield, IL, so that was really convenient! The course route was beautiful; I loved running through the neighborhoods in Kenosha and seeing the gorgeous views of Lake Michigan. The size, for me, was perfect. Not too big, not too small. And, there were a lot of locals that came out to watch and cheer runners on. Compared to Chicago, parking was an absolute dream! There was plentiful parking very close to the start line, so that definitely helped my stress level on race morning. I think, however, my favorite thing about this race was the cheese selection at the finish line. Volunteers offered different types of cheeses to try, and you really can't beat that. The medals were not bad either! :)

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(2016)
"Turkey Day Run"
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Overall, I thought this race was OK. It was nice to have a Thanksgiving run that I didn't have to go all the way downtown for, and the race helped to raise money for a great cause. However, there are definitely things that can be improved.
The packet pick up took way longer than it should have. The volunteers running pick-up weren't ready when it started. A lot of the computers weren't working, so there were a ton if volunteers sitting around waiting for something to do, and this led to very long lines. Also, I picked up packets for a handful of family members, and the shirt sizes weren't linked to the bib numbers, so I had to text my family to see what size shirts they signed up for.
The race shirts were advertised as "technical", but they were long sleeve cotton shirts. They are super comfortable to wear around the house, but they are cotton, so not great for running.
I did think the race itself was well organized. The course was beautiful, and it wasn't super crowded. However, part of the course was on Lake Shore Drive, which definitely made me nervous. Cars were too close for comfort for about a mile or so. The hot apple cider was a major bonus at the finish line. Overall, I'm not sure I would recommend this race to others. I will probably try another turkey day race next year.

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(2016)
"The sweetest race of 2016"
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I can't recommend this race enough! This was my first Hot Chocolate race, and everything I have heard from friends was 100% spot on: This is probably one of the most enjoyable races i have ever done!
Packet Pick-up: As much as I hate going to McCormick Place for packet pick up, I am glad I did. They gave out lots of chocolate and chocolate covered goodies, and there was much excitement in the air. Picking up packets was very organized and pleasant. They definitely have that process nailed down to a science. There also loads of great vendors. It was also nice that they offered packet pickup on Friday and Saturday.
Race Day: Everything about this race is so buttoned down and smooth. The corrals and gear check were organized and pleasant. Even with TONS of runners, it didn't feel too crowded or hectic. There were also two start times, so that was very helpful for crowd control. The first couple of miles were pretty crowded, but once the 5K runners split off, the rest of the race was perfect. Volunteers gave out chocolate and flavored marshmallows on the course, so that was super fun! There were also tons of aid stations. At the finish line, there are snacks and water, and the finishers medals were absolutely beautiful! To get to the post-race hot chocolate and goodie station required about a 5-7 minute walk, but it was worth it. Hot chocolate has never tasted so good, and the snacks to dip into the fondue totally hit the spot.
I will definitely do this race again next year!

A note on parking: I used ParkWhiz to book a cheap parking spot, but the parking garage I picked turned out to be a Valet only lot, and this was the WORST IDEA EVER! There was one valet attendant attempting to park 50 cars, and it was a disaster. We waited in our car at the lot for about 45 minutes and we almost missed our start time. Note to self: Always make sure you avoid valet parking on race day.

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(2016)
"Rock & Roll 10K"
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This was my first 10K, and it was a great experience! It was a hot day, but volunteers provided cold sponges and lots of water on the race route. I would have expected a little bit more music along the course, but the view of the lake front made up for it. I give the race shirt 2 thumbs up; and the 10K finishers medal is my favorite medal of any race to date. :) I will likely run this race again, but i will likely go for the half marathon distance!

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(2016)
"2016 Run for the Zoo"
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Overall, this was a really great race! The people working at the packet pickup were very nice and helpful, but I wish it was held in a more convenient location. I had to take buses to get there. I also wished that there were more opportunities to pick-up packets. I had to race from work on Friday evening to get there on time.
As for the race itself, I really enjoyed running around the Lincoln Park Zoo and by the lakefront. It was really cool to run past the animals. Although, I wish more of the race was through the zoo itself. At times, the course got crowded (especially around corners), and I kept having to dodge runners with strollers. The pizza, beer and popsicles at the finish line were nice touches. I also really liked the technical tees! Despite a few drawbacks, I really enjoyed myself, and I feel great supporting the zoo!

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