Latest reviews by Andrey Ablamunets

(2017)
"Best Way to Start Your Food Eating Marathon"
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Thanksgiving equals Food, Family/Friends, Football. Well it is time to add an Run to the mix! I have always wanted to run a Turkey Day race but never got the actual motivation to do it. This year was very different. I am very happy that I bit the bullet and signed up for the Century Link Turkey Day 5k in Minneapolis.

Take this with a grain of salt, but this race is perfectly located in Minneapolis. I realize that I live downtown so for me anything in downtown is perfectly located but the race start and finish is located near Target Center which has plenty of parking all over the place. Also, downtown clears out around the holidays, so there is a ton of on street parking.

*RACE HACK ALERT* - On holidays, street parking and meter parking is free in Minneapolis!

The Bib Pick-Up process is done very well. Up to a week prior to the race you can pick up you bib at multiple running store locations around the Minneapolis area. On race day, they open the bib pick-up 2 hours before the race so that you have no issues picking up your bib and shirt beforehand. The pick-up area is inside of Target Center, so you can keep warm while you are in there. Really fast and seamless, do not need more than 15-20min to pick up the bib.

*RACE HACK ALERT* - You get your race shirt before the race, so be ready to wear it or run it back to your car or have your spectators hold on to it.

Before the start of the race, there is a mini-expo/activities area set up across the street from Target Center in the parking lot. They had vendors that were giving out free stuff, they had giant turkeys to take pictures with, there were lawn games set up, and they were serving FREE COFFEE AND COCOA!

*RACE HACK ALERT* - Drink coffee then go do your porter-potty business!

The race course was very well set up through downtown Minneapolis. You started out by Target Center (a couple blocks away), then ran down to US Bank Stadium. It is a wicked view of the sun rising over the Bank (The People's Stadium as we call it here in MPLS). Once you got close to the stadium you took a hard left and turned toward the river. Once reaching the river, you take another left and head back towards North Loop. The finish of the race is kind of great because it is a four block straight-away. Turn on the boosters and power through to the finish!

*RACE HACK ALERT* - Although they separate you based on your anticipated mile pace, once the gun goes off they drop the ropes and everyone takes off running. Kind of a cluster at the beginning.

Surprisingly, there are a lot of spectators on the 5K course. There is also an aid station around the two mile mark. There were three different areas where there were photographers snapping pictures. Also, once you were making it through the finish line they had a DJ playing and the announcers were calling people's names out. That's always pretty cool. Most importantly, they had the Vikings SKOL LINE in the middle of the course. (Where my Vikings fans at?!)

*RACE HACK ALERT* - By yelling "SKOL VIKES" as you run past the drumline will award you with a shout out.

After finishing the race you are cleared through the finish line area. From there you are able to go back to the activity area to meet up with people. The unfortunate thing is that you have to go around the other side of Target Center to pick-up your after race food. You have to have your bib or medal to walk through that area.

*RACE HACK ALERT* - the food is setup right next to the legendary 1st Ave Theater. Make sure you find your favorite artist and take a pic with their star!

Overall, this is a pretty fun race. There is definitely a ton of energy and excitement at the event. You get great views, awesome course, and a bunch of sweep swag. Start your Turkey Day feast with a bomb 5k. That way you can have an extra piece of pie at the end of the day!

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(2017)
"Be Ready To Rock"
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Be ready to rock to the music. I am not a headphone wearer, and I suggest that you leave the headphones at home for this one as well.

The race Expo is the day before the race. The expo is setup in a super unique way. You walk in, get your bib, follow the flow and pick up your shirt, and then you enter the first part of the general expo. This is the Brooks area. It is like a pop-up store. They were doing running style evaluations and they had everything on sale. After the Brooks store, you entered the general expo. Here there were about 15-25 vendors but they were all the ones that you need. It was a new layout that I haven't experienced because you were forced to walk through the whole expo.

Denver is a chilly place so be ready for that in the morning. We were able to find street parking about 5 blocks away so i definitely suggestion going that route rather than paying a bunch for parking. They had everything you need prior to the race. There was a bag check area, a lot of toilets, area to warm up, and a medic center. The starting chute gets packed quickly, but they allow you to jump into your corral as the race starts.

The race was ass fun as can be. There was a band or DJ pretty much every mile. There was plenty of entertainment through out the entire race. There were multiple cheer sections and there was plenty of spectators through out the entire race. There was at least 6 water stops and they had a station around mile 8 that was giving away fuel gummies. The course was not as hilly as people would expect, and most hills were fairly low grade so I wouldn't worry too much about it. You get great views of the city, mountains and the park. You finish where you started and it is a pretty energetic finish line.

The finish village is pretty great. There was plenty of food to grab after the race. The medic tent was right at the finish line so if you were a little banged up, you were able to pop in there. In the finishing area, there were food trucks, free beer, great band, and a handful of vendors as well. This is definitely a post race area that you want to hang out in.

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(2017)
"Mid-Week, Night Time, Downtown, Awesome Run"
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This race was a fun one! I run in Minneapolis every day and all the time I wish that i can run down the street to avoid all of the pedestrians. Well this race makes that wish come true. The race closes down one of the main roads in Downtown Minneapolis. Running down Hennepin Ave is pretty much awesome!

The race runs through downtown Minneapolis and ends in the iconic St Anthony Main area. Starting at the Basilica near Loring Park, making its way through downtown via Hennepin Avenue, taking a loop through North Loop, and finally crossing the Stone Arch Bridge. The finish line is right on Main St, in St Anthony Main area.

The starting line is a bit of a cluster. There are a lot of people shoved in a corral that does not span the entire street. Also, the pace groups were divided via a rope that volunteers were holding but there were no instructions on what to do when the gun went off. There was an aid station about half way through the race. There were plenty of volunteers to make sure your are going the right way and cheering you on. At the finish line, there were a ton of photographers and there was water, sports drink, pretzels, bananas, and an ice cold towel.

The swag was just a finisher T, but there was an after party with FREE BEER FOR RUNNERS, food, a live band, and a bunch of awesome vendors. The entire race was a PRO but here are two things to consider: 1. the starting line nonsense, 2. the course was about .20 - .25 mils long.

I would say that this was a fun mid-week, night time race!

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(2017)
"The Iconic Grandma's Marathon"
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Overall: My general overall impression and view of this race is amazing. Small city (even though Duluth is not that small) vibe, with a large marathon attitude. It could not have been more well organized. Everything that you want from a marathon can be found at Grandma’s Marathon. From the expo, to the aid stations, everything ran smooth.

Marathon Sign-Up: Make sure to do this early. Registration for 2018 opens on October 1st, 2017. Do not wait around for the winter to decide. The race is limited in registration, it always fills up, and you do not want to miss it. Also, do not miss out on the lodging accommodations. Duluth, MN is limited when it comes to lodging. Make sure you have it early.

Expo: The expo is good, not great. It is in the big convention center in Canal Park. There is parking but it can get very busy. The expo has the essentials but it won’t take you longer than 10-15 minutes to walk the whole thing. Attached to the expo is the bib pick-up and the pasta feed. The volunteers are very helpful.

Pre-Race: I stayed in a hotel just outside of Duluth and it had shuttles that brought me to the starting line. I believe that every hotel, motel, campsite, and dorms have shuttles that will bring the runners to the start. The starting line had plenty of bathrooms, but they were not organized very well. The lines were huge and took forever. I suggest getting there earlier than later. There were no corrals, but there were pacers starting with 3:05:00. Race started exactly at 7:45am.

The Course: You start out in Two Harbors and run end-to-end into Duluth’s Canal Park. The course runs down Lake Superior on a paved road. The views are absolutely beautiful. There is little shade, so if it is a warm sunny day, you must prepare for that. Running down the lake, you make your way into the city of Duluth. The spectator crowds are scattered and slim until you get into the city. The course is definitely fast and favor those who are looking to PR.

Post-Race: You finish in Canal Park. There are a ton of spectators there, and the finish line is very energetic. Once you finish, you are given a medal and a bottle of water. You walk through the finish line and get a T-Shirt and walk into an area with a ton of food. After the food, you make your way to an alphabetized meeting area to find your friends and family. From there you make your way to the after party. In the tents, there is food, beer and live music. It is filled with all the runners and their supporters. There is crazy awesome energy there and it feels great to celebrate with all the finishers.

I highly suggest this race. It was on my bucket list for many years and I am very happy that I was able to get it done. Now I am waiting for 2018 registration to open because I will be signing up for it again!

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(2017)
"Want A PR? Run Illinois Marathon"
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I ran this marathon with a huge desire to PR. I trained for it, worked hard for it and mentally prepped for it. But I knew that the course can make or break that. This race did not disappoint! The course is extremely flat and speed friendly. There are plenty of water stops and volunteers are everywhere you look. The pacers are spread out by 5min so it is easy to find who you want to run with. The expo before the race is alright. Very well organized and has all the essentials but it will not blow you away. You run through the University of Illinois and the surrounding areas.

Pre-Race Weekend: One of the great things about this race is the pre-race communication. they get you from all angles. Their social media is on point and they do a great job send emails with relevant information rather than sponsorship spam. Right before the weekend, they emailed out the race weekend guides. Those were the absolute best. Everything you could ever think of was in there.

Race Weekend Expo: The expo was kind of what you would expect from a race in a non-metropolitan area. Small but everything you could think of was there. All the last minute gear and gels and food was there for purchase. There are a ton of volunteers that pointed you in the right direction and everyone of them had an answer to my questions. Personally, I would skip the pasta party. I am never a big fan of those and I can be a pretty picky eater when it comes race time.

Marathon: The marathon started at the University of Illinois. Once again, the volunteers killed it! They were very helpful and informative. Before the race there was free bagels and coffee. There were plenty of portable bathrooms and a large parking lot to warm up in. Also, the bag drop was close to the starting line so that you didn't have to run around. Like I mentioned, the course is super flat and it runs through the University of Illinois and the surrounding neighborhoods. There is one part in the first half of the marathon where it gets really packed because you run on a park trail, so just keep an eye out for it. There are plenty of water stations, about every 2 miles, but they were lacking on the bathroom situation on the course. Also, I did not see too many aid stations, but I was not looking for them. You end the race by running into the University of Illinois football stadium and out of the tunnel on to the field. It is a cool experience.

After The Race: After you finish you are given an awesome medal, a water, and a blanket. From the field you make your way into the concourse where there is a ton of food. From pizza to pasta to fruit and sports drinks. Load up on food, pick up your gear, and head outside to enjoy an awesome block party and a nice cold beer.

Overall Thoughts: I think that this was a great race and weekend. Everything is organized very well and the course is so fast! Circle the date for next year and write PR right next to it!

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