Latest reviews by Amy Will

(2019)
"This race is a BLAST!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Wonder Woman Half Marathon in Fargo was blazing hot this year and an absolute blast! This was the first year for the Wonder Woman Run Series to come to the northern Midwest and I am SO glad to have them here - it’s just what our area needed!

Race day itself was extremely hot and humid for a typical Fargo, ND day. You just never know what you’re going to get up here - besides wind. Wind is always a guarantee.

First things first, lets start at the beginning:

Registration & Race Swag: I registered online and selected the Kit #1 option (included a tech tank, tote bag, wrist cuffs) along with a Kit Upgrade (official visor, cape socks, tattoos, car magnet). The race offered a t-shirt kit option and youth kit as well. I love my Wonder Woman tank and it’s a nice quality. The cape socks material is very thin but the cape concept is cool! I broke rule #1 of racing (don’t try anything new on race day) and wore the Wonder Woman golden visor. How could I resist?!

Expo: The expo was fairly quiet but presented numerous Wonder Woman background photo opps! The real Wonder Woman wasn’t present at that time but she was on race morning! My sister-in-law and I picked up our numbers and packets which took very little time. The process was very streamlined. The expo included music and a dance floor set up along with assorted Wonder Woman merchandise available for sale and an Orange Theory booth (one of the sponsors).

Course: Overall the course was great to run and it kept things interesting. I ran solo for much of the race and some inclines/declines, running along the river, quiet trails and then some residential and city running made for a nice change of scenery. I did have trouble with seeing the course markers at two locations. I’m not sure if it was just the size or infrequency of the direction arrows or what it was. There was one turn around the mile 3-5 area where I just had to guess and hope it was right. This wouldn’t have been an issue if other runners had been around - I was just in a gap between the #1 girl and #3 runner and there were no spectators at that point. It made me a little anxious but I ended up going the correct direction!

Aid Stations: The aid stations were fine though on this unusually hot day more is always better. Both Gatorade and water were offered. .

Awards: The Wonder Woman finisher’s medals are AWESOME! They are pretty big, nice quality and the center spins. So fun :) One huge perk of this race is that your race pictures are FREE and they are super nice quality. I love that you can choose to have your finishing time on the pictures even.

Post-Race Refreshments: The finisher’s table included M&M’s in a cup, cookies, tortilla chips, mini protein bars, bananas, water bottles and likely a few more things that I had missed.

Logistics: Making our way to the Expo and then to the race itself was so easy. The Fargo Marathon that happened in May is known for making the town super congested but the Wonder Woman Run was much more low key. We were able to park downtown and walk to the vehicle afterwards. Of course, that was after fully enjoying the Finisher’s party with LIVE MUSIC and fun pictures with Wonder Woman.

For more race day details and photos, check out my blog post:
http://www.sherunsbyfaith.com/2019/06/i-am-wonder-woman-dc-ww-run-series.html

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2019)
"I Love FARGO!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Fargo Marathon is one of the BEST in the Midwest. Running Fargo is a tradition for many and it’s a race that I look forward to attending whenever I can. When I come to Fargo, I know it’s going to be good.

This year was my third time running their full marathon and, in true midwest style, you never know what the weather will bring. 2011 had perfect racing weather. 2016 was more hot than usual. 2019 was rainy, windy and COLD. Yep, you just never know!

In spite of the drenching rain and cold winds, did I still love Fargo? Of course I did. Here are the deets:

Registration: I registered early online before the price increases began. Picking up my packet was a quick process on the Friday of race weekend and everything was ready to go.

Expo: The expo took place around the circumference of the Fargodome this year instead of in the middle of the building. Maybe it’s been this way for the past couple years; I’m not sure as my last time there was 2016. The Friday night 5k was in progress while we were picking up my packet and there was a lot of activity going on. My husband and I walked around to pick up some freebies and snacks. I was thankful to find a pair of free thin gloves to use and then throw away during the race!

Race Swag: Fargo had really cute shirts this year. They are a neutral and blue color scheme and super cozy for a cold, wet weekend.

Course: The race started and finished in the Fargodome. This totally messes up my Garmin watch but I certainly am not complaining. The 1,360 marathon runners (and that’s not counting the half and 10k runners there too) were able to stay dry before jumping into the steady rain. A wedding even took place while we were waiting to line up. It was pretty awesome!

The course itself was fine. Honestly I didn’t notice much besides the rain and wind. We weaved through residential areas, parks and some business areas. The elevation is mostly flat with a little incline/decline here and there. The Fargo fans are SO faithful. Even in terrible volunteer and spectator conditions, they were along much of the course. Thank you hardcore fans and volunteers!

Aid Stations: The aid stations offered water and sports drinks with GU gels available later in the race.

Awards: Fargo’s 15th Anniversary medal this year was a big one! Fargo never disappoints.

Post-Race Refreshments: I know I grabbed a banana and chocolate milk after the race but can’t remember much else. I’m thinking I saw pizza and cookie dough there too. My stomach struggles at the end of long races! They definitely had an assortment and a streamlined set up to handle the flood of runners crossing the finish.

Logistics: Fargo does get congested on race weekend but they plan accordingly. My husband and I stayed at the hotel by Cash Wise where a shuttle picks up runners on race morning. Finding a hotel with nearby shuttle is so worth it. The hotel offered early morning granola bars and bananas so I grabbed some and headed out the door and straight to my shuttle. We were dropped off at the Fargodome and ready to go. Bag drop is available at the race. These details make a full race day very easy to navigate.

For more race day details and photos, check out my blog post:
http://www.sherunsbyfaith.com/2019/05/fargomarathon-2019.html

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"Grandma's: My Bucket List Race!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

As a lifelong Minnesotan, Grandma's Marathon has been sitting on my bucket list for quite a while and, finally, I was able to make it there this year. It just so happened to be the PERFECT year to race there with amazing weather and storms in the forecast that never showed!

Registration: For registering online before January 1st, I received a high quality, zip-up Grandma's Marathon training jacket. This was the perfect motivator to get me through those cold Minnesota winter training runs.

Expo: I wasn't able to make it to the expo on Friday for packet pickup but opted to have my packet mailed to me instead. For $25 my packet was mailed to my doorstep a week or two before race day. That was so helpful as we have small children and quite a way to travel that day.

Race Swag: The training jacket for early registrants was definitely some “bonus swag”! Along with the amazing race medal (more on that below), the marathoners received nice quality dark green “finisher’s shirts” upon completing the race.

Course: This is the highest point of Grandma’s Marathon. I absolutely LOVED the course! The first half of the course is mainly scenic rolling highway lined with trees and an overlook of Lake Superior in spots. Race morning was cool this year and a mist covered the lake. It was really refreshing to run through!

The next half of the race was moved into the more spectator-filled areas as we neared Duluth. We ran by the Glensheen Mansion and the “Troll Mile” was really cool too. The spectators were wonderful and I enjoyed their enthusiasm and the rolling hills. There was never a dull moment in this race.

Finishing down a road lined with cheering fans was so awesome! The energy was high and the noise grew as we neared the finish. Upon finishing the race, the finish area was also quite scenic. It’s just such a beautiful area.

Aid Stations: The aid stations are located on the odd number miles up to mile 20, where they increased to being every mile. Stations offered water and Powerade with a selection of gels (numerous flavors!) available at mile 17. Occasionally there were bananas or oranges being handed out too.

Awards: The race medal is beautifully designed and a perfect fit for the race. Plus, it’s free-standing and easy to display.

Post-Race Refreshments: Water bottles were given out immediately after crossing the finish and the post-race refreshment table offered potato chips, CLIF bars, strawberries, orange juice and more. A drink of choice was available in the finisher’s tent when runners presented their designated ticket.

Logistics: Smooth! I was nervous about navigating a bigger race like Grandma’s Marathon but the shuttles made it a breeze. We decided to stay at the AmericInn in Carlton (about 20 minutes away) to save on hotel cost. They didn’t have a shuttle leaving from that location on race day but my husband dropped me off at the Proctor AmericInn to board that shuttle. A return bus brought me back after the race as well. Overall that plan went smoothly and taking the shuttle was much easier than finding parking in all the busyness of the day!

Grandma’s Marathon was an absolutely AMAZING experience! It may be my new favorite race and I can’t wait to go back.

For more race day details and photos, check out my blog post:
http://www.livinglifetruth.com/2018/06/race-report-grandmas-marathon-2018.html

Loading Comments...

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"Frozen Feat 10k: New race swag this year!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

2018 was the 11th year that runners have lined up to conquer the cold in the Frozen Feat 5k/10k. Weather in the northern Midwest's winter is a gamble and, unlike the previous weekend with a -12°F windchill at the peak of the day, race day showed up as a sunny +18°F!

This was my second year running the race and it is becoming my favorite way to break up the cold months and kick off training for spring races.

Registration: I registered online in December for the Frozen Feat 10k (a February race). Just before a price increase, registration was $30 and very reasonable for a 10k of this quality.

Expo: There isn't an official expo for this race but packet pick-up was available on Friday evening and on race morning. I pre-registered and picked up my number with ease on the morning of the race. They had booths set up for pre-registered runners and those registering that morning. I made it to pick-up at 9:00 am, took maybe 5 minutes to pick up my packet and then prepped for the race start at 9:30!

Race Swag: The race swag got even better than last year! Along with a race number, a pen and some local business discounts, each runner received a hooded long-sleeve shirt with the race logo and a comfy pair of Frozen Feat Fitsoks (new this year!) in their race bag. I was very excited to add another pair to my Fitsok collection!

Course: The course consisted of a small stretch of street and then it was mostly a running/bike path. The 10k and 5k runners had a slightly different race route (~288 runners total). There were no traffic issues with vehicles or congested runner traffic.

Aid Stations: There was one station with water for the 10k around mile 4 or 5. That was plenty for this race distance.

Awards: The snowflake design this year is beautiful and all runners received a medal after crossing the finish. With the 10k starting at 9:30 am, runners were able to grab post-race refreshments and relax while listening for their Bib # to win a door prize. The awards started at 11:00 am.

The Top 3 Male & Female runners and Top AG'ers received Frozen Feat mugs. Top 3 Males/Females also received plaques and a Scheels gift card.

Post-Race Refreshments: There were tables lined with huge doughnuts, beer cheese soup with popcorn (and possibly chili, too?), hot chocolate, coffee, bananas and bottled water for runners to enjoy. The Frozen Feat really rocked the post-race refreshments this year!

Logistics: This race is very well organized! We found 2-hour parking a couple blocks away last year but this year there was public parking ramp access just across the road. The race informed all participants of that before race day and it made everything go smoothly on race morning.

The Frozen Feat was a great experience once again this year and I hope to make it there as a yearly tradition!

For more race day details and photos, check out my blog post: http://www.livinglifetruth.com/2018/02/race-report-frozen-feat-2018.html

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2017)
"Hot Chocolate 15k - Making the Best of a Rainy Race Day"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Hot Chocolate 5k/15k Minneapolis took place on April 15, 2017 at Boom Island Park. The weather on race day proved to be a rainy one in the 60's and thankfully the rain let up near the end of the morning.

This was my first experience running the Hot Chocolate race series and my second time racing in the Twin Cities area.

Expo/Packet Pick Up: My family and I drove 5.5 hours to the race on Friday (4/14) and thanks to the packet mailing option, we didn't have to worry about making it to the expo on time. No packet pick up was allowed on race day. Packet mailing was a lifesaver for me and, for only a $15 additional cost, my race packet arrived about a week prior to race day. It was worth it for us.

Race Swag: The race packet that was mailed to my house included my race number, a Hot Chocolate 5k/15k participants' guide and the cozy Hot Chocolate full-zip hooded sweatshirt. It said safety pins were included but mine must have gotten lost! I managed to find some on race morning though :)

Race Day: I walked to the race from the Westin Hotel (about 1.5 miles from Boom Island Park) and the rain was coming down, not a torrential downpour, but enough to thoroughly soak and allow for plenty of puddles. I walked with three 5k runners and the walk over felt safe and was actually fun, minus the rain.

Upon arriving to the race, we all checked our gear right away and the process was very smooth. The gear check and the porta potties were not crowded and waiting in lines wasn't an issue. Boom Island Park was a beautiful area but the rain that morning had well-saturated the grass, making it impossible to stay dry. The 5k'ers started at 8:10 and 15k'ers were set to start at 8:50. By the time I headed to my race corral, I had accepted that being soaked was inevitable!

At the starting line, the runners were lined up according to the corrals noted their race bibs. Line up went smoothly and, aside from the soaking rain, waiting for the start was enjoyable. After some conversation and the national anthem, it was go time!

The course was an out-and-back with a decent amount of hills. We ran beside the river and I thought the view was quite scenic - a nice way to explore the city. There were some puddles to dodge but that you can blame that on the weather!

Aid Stations: There were plenty of aid stations offering water and Nuun. I was disappointed that there were no "sweet stations" with candy along the way. I was looking forward to those!

Post-Race: After crossing the finish, we received our medals immediately and continued on to the finisher's area. The Hot Chocolate medals are VERY nice quality and I like the design. Each runner had a voucher for a finisher's plastic "mug" full of treats after the race. The mug included delicious hot chocolate, a banana, apples, pretzels, cookies, marshmallows and a Rice Krispie to dip in a chocolate sauce and a wet wipe for clean up. It was SO good (and messy)!

Hanging out after the race would have been fun if the weather was more favorable. Two fellow Bibrave Pro's and I took a picture in front of a blow-up Hot Chocolate mug & marshmallows. With more pleasant weather, I would have enjoyed hanging out at the park with my family and letting the kids play on the playground. It was a beautiful place to have a race and the open grassy area would have been perfect for picnics or what-not after the race.

One huge perk of this race is that they take FREE race photos and then send them to your email post-race. I was thankful to have pictures from the race, especially since my family didn't come with to cheer me on in the rain - not to say I blame them!

Logistics: Parking was said to be hard to find at this race, so we opted to stay at the Westin Hotel in downtown Minneapolis so I could walk to and from the race (1.5 miles each way). This approach worked though we may opt for a different hotel and ride the light rail or something next time. The Westin was gorgeous and it did have a pool for the kiddos though they didn't offer continental breakfast (bummer!). Overall, dealing with the traffic downtown and finding public parking was a zoo and I would rather stay farther away from the race site next time and use Uber or the light rail to get there.

**Check out my full report & pictures here: http://www.livinglifetruth.com/2017/04/race-report-hotchocolate15k.html

Login or sign up to leave a comment.