Latest reviews by Mike Dill

(2018)
"Crushing PRs Miami Style - DALE BRO"
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From start to finish this was a great race. Kudos to race crew and volunteers.

EXPO: What I like about smaller races is there isn't always a huge expo. Yes huge expos are great, but I love what smaller races like the 305 Half Marathon do. Packet pick-up was over three days and in three different locations - local run stores. This brings more people to these stores and shows why they are better than big department store. I was able to pick up my packet at Go Run Kendall - 2 miles from my house. I love this store, the people there and I hope everyone else does now too. The shirt was very Miami - a pastel purple. It's unique and thats what Miami is. I love the concept for the medal - splitting it over three years to bring runners back. Also love the ribbon, which mimics the turnover chain made famous this year by Da U.

I stopped at two aid stations as the weather was perfect.There were more than enough on the course The volunteers were great and had everything ready for runners.

The course was fantastic. It covered all four major bridges connecting Miami to Miami Beach. It was fun and picturesque. The after party was just as fun from the celebration area to the Pots & Pans PR stations - another piece that shows the uniqueness of Miami

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(2018)
"Promised and Delivered"
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Coming off the 2017 Miami Marathon, race director Frankie Ruiz, told many of us to get ready for 2018 because there were many new things coming. Frankie and his team delivered everything and so much more. The pre-race communication was excellent. Emails got runners hyped, and our local news affiliates began running stories weeks before the race. Fitbit signed on as the main sponsor which excited all of us and the addition of Athlinks as a partner was perfect.

The expo - held at Mana Wynwood - was awesome. Everything in one place, packet pick-up was seamless, and it set the tone for the weekend. This was the first chance for Frankie to deliver on his promise and he nailed it. Live fitness classes from local trainers drew crowds. Plenty of running swag. The vibe was set.

The race itself was awesome. The course changed a little from years' past but it was a welcome change. The first half of the course around Miami Beach had great crowd support, amazing volunteers working hard to keep us hydrated, and was fun. The second half was a test of will power. It was a humid and windy day. Many runners struggled the second half but in true Miami fashion we helped each other out. This is one of the cool things about Miami. An international race we all may not speak the same language, but we all speak running. A hand on the shoulder, a pat on the back, runners were picking each other up and motivating each other to the finish line. The local crowd knew the weather was tough. There were kids running to and from their garages to hand us cold bottles of water. Dos o tres Abuelitas with hoses spraying us down to refresh us. Once at Mile 25 groups of runners started cheering each other as we pushed to the finish line. As we got to the finishing chute, the plethora of international flags and cacophony pushed us to the end.

This finisher's medal is always a favorite because it spins, but the star this year was the medal's ribbon that defines Miami perfectly.

Frankie Ruiz and his team put on an awesome experience this year. And with the new partnerships formed, its going to continue to get better.

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(2017)
"Sweetness All Around"
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I've never run a race on the west coast of Florida, even with being a Florida resident my whole life. After hearing many good things about the Hot Chocolate series, when the opportunity to run the Tampa leg of the series presented itself, I jumped on it. Coupled with what I had heard about the series, was the fact that my sister and nephews live in Tampa - so it was a good chance to visit them as well. With the race taking place in December, it fit in perfectly with my training for the Miami Marathon. And, I planned to use it as a barometer for my marathon training.

After registering for the race, the experience began great. Weekly emails were sent with a training calendar that really set the pace. These emails kept me honest and helped my overall training as they implemented a lot of speed training. Constant communications from the race included continued to the the bar high for the experience. I'm not going to keep you in suspense - the experience remained great through the finish line.

The expo at the Tampa Convention Center was a great location. Packet pick-up was simple. There were some great vendors on hand - including Nuun (a main sponsor). The lone setback was none of the vendors sold fuel - Gu, Honey Stinger, etc. Coming up from Miami, I didn't bring any expecting to buy at the expo because that is usually a tradition for me. Not a huge deal though as I found a great mom & pop running store - Fleet Feet - next to my sister's house. Another plus coming out of the expo was that it was close to a couple great restaurants for lunch. When I sat down for lunch with the family, I took a look at the first bit of swag. The HC pullover is unique and a great differentiator from other races.

On race day, traffic to the convention center - start line - was light. Parking was easy, with many spots available within a short walking distance. The atmosphere was set with great music and a superb vibe. Most importantly to any runner - there were enough porta-potties. Another positive was the chance to meet two other BibRave runners. Corrals at the beginning of the race were extremely organized as the 5K runners went off then the 15K.

The course was phenomenal. The race began with a small incline over a drawbridge then onto the flat and fast Bayshore Blvd. The course is wide open, with little shade. Luckily, the weather played nice with us. The sun did get hot at some portions, but a slight headwind was brisk at times. On course, there weren't many people cheering on save two or three people walking dogs. At the turnaround, my sister, brother-in-law and nephews were there which was a big boost. The aid stations were well manned by great volunteers and every intersection was guarded by kind law enforcement officers who cheered us on.

The finishers chute was great with and awesome, cheering crowd. After crossing the finish line we were greeted with out medals, a bottle of water, and a much needed cool rag. There was a short walk over the starting bridge to grab our finishers mug. The walk provided an excellent cool down for the runners.

Overall, I'm very happy with the race experience and will say Hot Chocolate lived up to its hype. I will recommend this race and any in the series to all runners. I'm also proud to say I set a 15K PR and finished in the top 15 in my age group. The race definitely built confidence heading into the heart of my racing season.

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(2017)
"Home Grown"
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Back in the late 1990's this was my first non-school 5K. I've run it many times and it never gets old. I love this race. Its fast, through beautiful South Miami neighborhoods, and run superbly. This race brings out the best of the best from the Miami run community, and everyone has a great time. The afterparty is great and a perfect time to make new friends and catch up with old ones.

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(2017)
"Running Over Water"
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If you've ever drove down to Key West, Fl., you've traveled over the 7 mile bridge. This point-to-point race traverses the bridge and is just amazing. The difficulty is getting in. The run accepts only 1500 registrants. Registration first opens to Florida Keys registrants and past participants. Then the few spots left are open to the world and usually sell out in hours. You can't beat the scenery - Atlantic Ocean on one side and Gulf of Mexico on the other. There is a incline and decline in the middle of the bridge that is difficult. It is also wide open with no shade. The best part next to the race is enjoying the Keys vibe before and after. Fresh seafood, great drinks, and a laid back atmosphere to celebrate in.

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