Latest reviews by Lorri
A couple of weeks ago Louisville played host to one of the newest "fun run 5ks" that seem to be gaining in popularity lately. Using our love of wine, beer, chocolate, cinnamon buns, or any other number of typically non-running related hooks these events tend to bring the more casual "racers" out to stroll the course in their own time, fashion (some of the costumes are awesome and crazy), and often times drinking along the way. So when a friend offered me her bib for The Ultimate Wine Run I expected a pretty casual fun run. But for me it was too casual and combined with some very poor execution by the event organizers would have been pretty bad had it not been for the wonderful ladies I was there with.
Packet Pickup/ Expo: The packet pick up for the race was held at Academy Sports. They only had a couple of people working the tables and I got there pretty close to the start of the first day of packet pickup - and there was a line. Part of the downfall here was that they only had one person pulling the bibs and they hadn't pre-made and of the swag bags. So each one had to be pulled and made right there. I can only imagine how long the line got as the after 5p crowd showed up.
In addition to the packet pickup they did have a table set up for the presenting winery, Old 502 Winery, with race merchandise, winery merchandise, and a place to purchase pre-paid parking which was $10 ahead of time or $15 at the venue. Note - the event was held at Waterfront Park, a public park. There was plenty of available (free) parking so I didn't really see the need or value in the paid parking for participants.
T-Shirts/Swag/Medal: The swag you received pre-race was dependent upon which race entry you purchased - either regular or V.I.P. for the 1k (yes 1 kilometer) or 5k. For the basic registration you received the following:
Ultimate Wine Run T-Shirt
Ultimate Wine Run Glass (both 1k & 5k)
Customized Medal (5k only)
Finish Line Wine (5k only)
4 Wine Tasting Stations (1k only)
If you purchased the V.I.P. experience you received the following in addition to the premiums received by all runners:
V.I.P (Upgraded) Ultimate Wine Run T-Shirt
V.I.P Ultimate Wine Run Tumbler- With Free 5oz Pour Of Wine
V.I.P Ultimate Wine Run Drawstring Bag
In addition to the swag they also tout the pre- and post run party atmosphere complete with wine tastings, food trucks, a mechanical bull, and DJ with dance floor. By the time I got to the pre-run party the line for the wine was pretty long so I decided to run a little faster to hopefully beat the line on post race side. While this was a successful plan on my part the organizers had run out of white wine at the wine bar before I could get any (and that was only at about 5:05p) with about 2-3 hours left for their post race event. As I was standing there drinking my post race wine they also lost power to the generator ending the music and sending the inflatable finish line arch down onto incoming racers which was amusing, but they quickly fixed that issue and had it all back up and running within a couple of moments.
On the race website it mentioned that there were supposed to be photographers on course and that the organizers would be uploading the photos for participants to download but I have yet to see or find those and I don't recall any photographers on course.
The medal was a nice touch and the wine glass we received was also a nice momento.
Aid Stations: There was one aid station at about the halfway mark giving out bottles of water. It was staffed with just a couple of people and worked out well for me as I was one of the few runners for the race.
Scenery & Course: The course itself was very narrow and actually ended up only being 2.58 miles instead of 3.1... If you look at the map of the course above versus what we actually ran you can see where the error lies. When they marked the course they mis-marked the halfway turn around so instead of running the square along the river we ended up running the sidewalk under the highway, we also mismarked the route along the river and ended up cutting back into oncoming racers and actually had to cross through the walkers as the course intersected and then we had to weave through them in the opposite direction as we were all on the same sidewalk.We also started and finished in an entirely different spot than indicated on the map above.
The route execution could and should have been given more care. The planning seems to have been fine but follow through was seriously lacking. I just have to keep reminding myself that this isn't really a race, it's a fun run, but even so better course execution makes the experience better for both those who choose to run or those who don't! At the very least properly mark your course!.
At least it was pretty.
Elevation: This is a mostly flat route with only a 29ft change in elevation from it's lowest to highest point.
Parking/Access: There was plenty of parking within a comfortable walking distance that was free. However, race organizers did offer pre-paid or day of paid parking within a few hundred meters of the start. ($10/$15)
Dates 5K 1K Both 5K & 1K
Pre- Sale $35 $35 $45
1/28/2016 $45 $45 $55
2/15/2016 $55 $55 $65
3/5/2016 $60 $60 $70
4/23/2016 $65 $65 $75
5/17/2016 $70 $70 $85
So here's the thing. I had a good time at this event because I was there with great friends and there was wine. But I'm not sure that I would spend the kind of money some people paid ($75 day of) to do this "race." The good time was made by the people I was there with and not the race itself but for something like this and at this price I would expect the event to be just as fun as the company.
In the moment I wasn't disappointed with The Ultimate Wine Run but as I started to write the review and really think about the race I was less and less satisfied with the value versus the expectations. I don't think that this is a race that I would recommend based on all the cons I came up with as i planned out this post and in doing research it seems like the organizers have been plagued by similar issues in a lot of the other cities they've been in.
Thanksgiving Day races have certainly grown in popularity over the years but perhaps one of the longest held Turkey Day traditions here is Louisville is the Iroquois Hill Runners Thanksgiving Day 5 Miler. For the past 37 years runners have been showing up early on Thanksgiving morning to run 5 miles through Iroquois Park in everything from sunny and mild temperatures, rain, snow, to bitter cold. It's worth it though - with a challenging course, great giveaways, and being part of one of the longer standing traditions in town - it's always a blast!
Pricing: The pricing for this race is very reasonable for what you get and the experience. It's $25 to pre-register online or by mail or $35 race day.
Packet Pickup: The packet pickup for the race is held a Swag's Sports Shoes southend location and is a pretty simple shindig. held over two days runners can head to the stpre to pick up their bibs and shirts along with any last minute necessities. The folks at Swag's are nice and helpful (I'm still partial to my home store at Fleet Feet though.) It's a pretty small store so I generally find that I'm in and out within about 10 minutes. There is also day-of registration and packet pickup available at the race which I've never done but always seems to run very smoothly and efficiently.
T-Shirts: The shirt for this race is always one of my favorites because they always offer a long-sleeved technical shirt. I don't get too many of those here as the majority of our races are warm weather runs so it's a nice change and pretty handy to get us through the winter months. IHR also usually offers one or two colors of the shirts but they are generally unisex sizing.
They did have a small snafu with their order this year so only half of the shirts were ordered on time meaning that there were only one color available at the pre-race pickup in the pumpkin color which is what we got. If you picked up your packet on race day you had a choice of that color or a pretty royal blue. They were letting runners swap if they wanted but we opted to keep what we'd already gotten.
Parking/Access: There is parking available at the Iroquois Amphitheater and the lower park parking lots as well as across the street from the park at many of the businesses, closed for the holiday, and neighborhood streets. Finding parking has never been an issue for us.
Scenery & Course: Many races we do here take us through Iroquois Park and it's always gorgeous in all seasons. This year was no exception, though overcast, the leaves made up for the lack of sunshine with their bright reds, oranges, and yellows! Add to this the bagpipers that sing you up the first turn and portion of the hill and then the band that sends you off the steepest incline plus the cheerleaders, a couple of whom were dressed as pilgrims and a foil-wrapped turkey, it makes for a wonderful experience.
Another reason that this race is one of our yearly traditions is that it really is a challenge! You start out on a flat straightaway on the lower ring of the running loop, but pretty quickly in (about .3 miles) you turn up "the hill" and for the next 2 miles or so you're running uphill. At that point you traverse the Outlook loop, which is just under 1 mile, at the top of Iroquois hill then it's time to head back downhill to the finish line for a massive negative split! :)
Elevation: The start/finish of the race are at the lowest elevation at 520ft. At the peak height you climb approximately 230ft in elevation to 750ft. It's definitely a tough climb but I always feel like I've earned a second piece (or third) of pumpkin pie at the end!
Aid Stations: There is one aid station that you hit twice in the race. First at just about the 1.75 mile mark and then again on the back side of the top loop at about 3.25 miles in. The volunteers are wonderful and very encouraging.
Finish Line/ Post Race Experience: Once you've crossed the finish line and head into the post race area you're treated to self-serve tables with chocolate milk, water, fresh muffins, granola bars, trail mix, and various other goodies. As part of your race registration you're also automatically registered in several post-race drawings that start at about 10:30a after most everyone has had a chance to finish the race. With prizes ranging from free socks, running watches, two $50 cash prizes, two $100 cash prizes, and the grand prize of $500! You do have to be present to win though and lots of people hang around every year!
We always have a group of friends who treat it like a tail-gate with lots of hot coffee and goodies to keep warm after the run is over.
I love this race and have done it 4 of the last five years that we've been running regularly, we skipped out on it last year to try a new race and instantly regretted it! I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a longer more challenging race than most of the other Thanksgiving Day races in town.
Each year, on the first Saturday in November, thousands of runners, walkers, wheelchair athletes, and spectators take to the streets of Indianapolis for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon. The course is fast and flat for Marathoners, Half Marathoners, and 5k runners alike and has seen its fair share of Olympians, Boston Qualifiers, Elites, and beginners!
Expo: The Monumental Health and Wellness Expo has changed a little over the 4 years that I have participated, for better and for worse. The expo is a two day affair as is common with many of the larger races. This years expo was held, as it has been for the past few years, at the Indiana Convention Center and generally features about 40 vendors, race organizers for other regional and national races, and packet pickup.
In addition to the vendors they also have a pretty robust speaker series featuring current and former Olympians, the race management team, national brand reps, sports health professionals and many more. If you’ve got time to spare and you can attend some of the speakers it’s certainly informative and interesting.
My biggest gripe with the expo is that the packet pickup is hidden in the back of all of the vendors and with more of a square vendor layout it can make getting in and out quickly, say on your lunch break, a challenge. Once you do make it to the packet pickup area there are more than enough friendly and helpful volunteers at the ready to get your packet and bib to you.
T-Shirts/Swag: As many other races have done in the last few years, the Indianapolis Monumental has switched over to a virtual goodie bag for runners in an effort to be more green and save few dollars in printing costs for their sponsors. The race organizers do a good job of making the content relevant but I’ll admit that I miss the days of a physical bag with a couple of freebies inside. But this is where the expo vendors can shine as there are more than a few who have things to give away at their tables.
The t-shirt is a technical fabric, short-sleeved shirt with gender specific sizing from Alanic. Designed to be colorful and eye-catching the shirts are blue for the Marathoner and red for the Half Marathon. Their only downfall, in my opinion, is that they sew multiple panels of fabrics together leading to more than a few seams on the interior of the shirt. I haven’t worn mine yet but I’ll let you know more of whether or not those extra seams lead to uncomfortable rubbing or chafing when I do.
After you’ve finished your race and cross that finish line you’re given your medal, bronze for the 5k, silver, for the Half, and gold for the Full and a knit toboggan in your respective color for the Half and Full.
For the last three years the medal for the Half and full have had a small semi-circular notch missing from one of the corners of the medal. The reason being, if you run all four races from 2014 – 2017 you will be able to put the medals together and add a special medallion to the middle.
Parking/Access: One of the most convenient and innovative partnerships that the Monumental race organizers have had for the last few years is with a company called ParkWhiz. Using ParkWhiz.com enables you to search, find and book guaranteed parking before you leave home. You’ll know exactly where you’re going and how much you’re paying ahead of time, so you won’t have to worry about it. Your guaranteed spot will be waiting for you. The service is available for both days of the expo as well as race day.
I’ve used the service two of the four times I’ve run this race and it makes your race morning commute so much less stressful!! If you do choose to try and find your own spot on race day there are plenty of parking garages within a half mile radius of the start line.
Scenery & Course: Runners will follow an out-and-back loop course through the streets of what has come to be known as the “Crossroads of America,” thanks to its easy access from all sides as well as the fact that roughly half of the nation’s population lives within a day’s drive of the city.
imhmThe race, aptly named as it takes runners and walkers on a tour past the city’s Indiana State Capitol, Monument Circle and other federal monuments, begins on Washington Street near the Indiana State Museum taking participants all the way through to the finish line just off North West Street, not far from the starting line.
The course follows what is largely a north-south route through the city, passing by Monument Circle and University and Veterans Memorial Parks on the way to North Meridian Street, which participants will follow for the next several miles.
The turn back toward the finish occurs at East 37th Street, where runners begin making their way back along North Talbot and North Pennsylvania Streets. Along the way, participants will also see many of Indianapolis’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods, including Fall Creek Place, Old Northside, Butler-Tarkington and Broad Ripple.
The one section of the Half Marathon route that I complain about every year is from the turn at mile 7 through until you turn on to Meridian just before mile 10. The pavement is uneven and pretty craggy and always hurts my feet. The problem rises from years of harsh Indiana winters causing pot holes, then those pot holes being patched instead of repaved. Just a word of caution – this is always the toughest part of the race for me to get through.
The course will close after 6 1/2 hours, which means that half-marathon participants will be required to keep a roughly 15-minute-per-mile pace for the first half of the race.
Elevation: One thing I can say for sure about this course is that is is definitely fast and flat. There are no real hills, more like slight inclines. The lowest elevation of the race is 696ft and rises to 732ft at the highest point, for a max gain of 36ft. Easy peasy.
I actually find the race to be a little boring as far as terrain goes. The more races and longer distance runs I do the more I find that I prefer the variation for a number of reasons, it keeps my brain and body engaged in the run, it gives me something to look forward to conquering, and it breaks up the monotony of an even, steady stride cadence. While that last one may seem a bit surprising I actually find the my hips and knees are more sore after a straight flat run than one with hills.
Aid Stations: There are 7 aid stations along the Half Marathon course. All are stocked with water and Gatorade (some of those stops had red Gatorade which was awesome to see.) There were a few stations that were pretty narrow which caused some bottlenecking in places but other than that these were very well staffed with some pretty awesome volunteers. The stops are spaced about 1.5 – 2 miles apart with the last one at mile marker 11.
Race Experience: The crowd support along the course can be hit or miss depending on the weather. Being a November race in central Indiana we’ve experienced everything from 8F and sunny to 48F and drizzling and everything inbetween. On the sunny days the course is generously sprinkled with residents, family members, and friends out to support the runners.
With the out and back nature of the race it makes it spectator friendly too – just cut over a couple of blocks and you’ll catch more runners! There are also no shortage of awesome signs and power-boosting high fives along your way. I’ve pulled some of the best signs that I or my friends were able to capture along the way!
The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon holds a special place in my heart. This was the first Half Marathon that I ran after my recovery from being hit by a car while running. It was the race that told me that my running days were just getting started and that nothing could hold me back when given my full dedication, hard work, and determination.
It’s a race I’ve done several times and will continue to do despite the shortcomings that I’ve mentioned. Could it be better, yes. Would I recommend it, yes. If you’re looking to PR or if it’s your first half or full the Indianapolis Monumental is a great race to do!
The Brew Ha Ha Halloween 5k is part of a larger Brew Ha Ha Craft Run series put on my 131 Event Productions in Indianapolis, Indiana. This was the 2nd annual Halloween 5k and they more than doubled their participation from the first race which was both good and bad.
I have a special spot in my heart for this race as it was my bestie Jessica’s first 5k last year and in a few days she will be running her first half marathon. It’s pretty special to get to share both of those with her. (And it was really awesome to see how far she’s come in the last year!)
T-Shirts/Swag: The shirt for the race this year was a long-sleeved, cotton t-shirt hoodie in gray with the medal design/race logo on both the front and back of the shirt. halloween-hoodieI really appreciate it when race organizer let you choose whether or not to get the race shirt. I’ve mentioned it before, but when I get race shirts that are either straight up cotton or are a dark colored technical shirt, the likelihood of me ever wearing them is slim to none. For this race the organizers give you the option of adding the shirt to your packet when you register! Get the shirt pay $10 extra, that simple. This option was especially nice because while I loved the race shirt.
The finish line swag is the real standout of this race. Last year’s medal was pretty awesome but the medal this made that first medal pale in comparison. With flashing LED eyes, an awesome sugar skull design, and a size nearly as big as my head it was nothing to sniff at!
Lastly, after you cross the finish line and you’ve received your medal you are given a drink ticket good for one brew from Metazoa Brewing Co. or a cuppa coffee from The Well Coffeehouse and a delicious square donut… yes square… from the aptly named Square Donuts.
Last but not least on the race swag, 131 Events offers free downloads of all of the race day photos they take at the Brew Ha Ha! Pretty cool! I’m sure this won’t last forever but it’s awesome while it lasts!
Aid Stations: There is one water stop just past the halfway mark as you come around a corner. This is pretty simple with cups of water and gatorade and a few volunteers manning the table.
Scenery & Course: The course is a USATF Certified course that runs through scenic downtown Carmel, along the Monon Trail and past the Palladium and Center Green. It’s mostly flat with a few smaller hills and is mostly along residential streets until you get to the monon trail. There were course monitors/ Carmel Police Officers at most if not all intersections who were all very polite and did let some cars pass through the course at appropriate times.
Elevation: As I mentioned before this route is pretty flat with a few hills right in the middle of the course.
Race Experience: I’ve done this both times that it has been offered and I’ve had a blast at both events. It’s always fun to run in costume and with a costume contest prior to the race start there are plenty of other runners in costume to keep you company.
My only real negative for the race is that the finish line area was still set up as if there were only 500 runners (like last year) when there were actually over 1200 this year so the finish line beer line was incredibly long with most people waiting an average of 20 minutes from lining up to sipping their post race beer. The other problem that this caused was that the actual finish line then became clogged with both runners finishing and runners trying to get in line for their beer. It’s a simple logistical fix but one that should have been caught and corrected by the race officials on site.
Parking/Access: Parking for the race is widely available once you get to the lots. There is a lot of construction going on in the Carmel area right now so just leave a few extra minutes to get where you’re going and it will be fine.
This race is well organized and, other than some growing pains from more than doubling their entries, very well pulled off. With the great race premiums and fun addition of the costumes and costume contest this is definitely a race I would recommend!
The Norton Sports Health Great Pumpkin 10k is the second leg of the Louisville Sports Commission Fall Runathon. Started in 2013 this 10k race was the first held in the newly developed Parklands of Floyds Fork - now in it's 4th year the race has done well and continues to grow each year.
Packet Pick-up/ Expo: The packet pick up for the race was held at Academy Sports this year. It was a very simple affair with just the bib and shirt pickup and not much else. Being in a sporting goods store was pretty convenient though if you needed to pick up any last minute race provisions.
T-Shirts/Swag/Medal: The shirt for this race are technical material but they are only offered in men's sizes so I generally get a larger size so I can give it to the hubs or my dad. I did appreciate the bright yellow color though; if it had come in women's cut I would totally have worked it in to my regular running clothes!
The medal for this race has improved each year and I was definitely impressed this year. It was a very nice sized, spinner, with the city and date on the outer ring and the pumpkin spinning on the inner circle.
Aid Stations: Being an out-and-back 10k the course only had one aid station however it was placed so that you hit it twice. First at the 2 mile point and on your way back in at the 4 mile mark. The volunteers were friendly and paid close attention to getting as many cups cleared from the course as they could in between runners. Otherwise it was a pretty standard water stop.
Scenery & Course: The scenery of this course is definitely one of the highlights of the race. Running through the Parklands of Floyds Fork the course it nature-filled and if the weather cooperates, gorgeous at this time of year. I've done this run three times and though it's been everything from rainy and cold to sunny and perfectly "fall" I've always thought the course was pretty.
The course is an out and back course that runs on a combination of roadway and paved trails. The course feels a little narrow at first since you start out on a two lane roadway but once the runners hit their strides it thins out and is easily navigable.
Elevation: Though the course is mostly flat it does have a couple of pretty significant hills and a few bridges that you cross along the way. As you can see in the elevation chart there is a pretty dramatic incline right at the halfway point and then another right after.
Parking/Access: How well the parking goes for this race is VERY much determined by the weather. Since the race takes place in a park there aren't too many straight up parking lots that would be large enough to accommodate a couple thousand runners. So what the race directors and park management do is use two large fields for onsite parking. The lower field is within walking distance of the start and the upper area shuttles racers to the start. The problem is that when the weather has been or is wet the field can become pretty boggy from car tires, slick grass, and otherwise muddy conditions. I've seen people get stuck in mud in the worst case. This is definitely an area that could be improved upon but with limited access to paved parking I don't have any idea of a solution. I just cross my fingers that it doesn't rain and go about my running.
Race Experience: This race has been going on for 4 years now and the race director and staff have learned from each one and improved a bit each year. It's a wonderful way to kick off the fall Halloween season and get out an experience a gorgeous piece of park land we have here in our city. If the race organizers could just figure out a way to work out the parking and perhaps improve upon the t-shirt I would definitely be 100% satisfied with the race!
I really have enjoyed the Great Pumpkin 10k each time I've run it and I would absolutely recommend the race. Whether you're looking for an excuse to dress up a little early for Halloween or just looking for a longer fall race I would suggest checking it out.