Latest reviews by Aubrene (Bree) F

(2018)
"Rock & Roll Good In The Rain"
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Registration was super easy. Once you are registered communication comes almost weekly with training plan info and race day information.
The expo was easy to get to via public transportation or ride sharing services. They had parking onsite but it was $$. The expo had some new vendors this year which I really enjoyed. It is a mid sized expo but never disappoints in the samples and new products.

Race day starts early and is easy to navigate via public transportation. Parking is available but is limited right around the race start areas. Bathroom lines were a little long but moved fast. They were out of hand sanitizer in most of the toilets which was gross but luckily everyone was great about sharing what they had to clean your hands.
My corral was easy to get into and was not over crowded. It started raining while we were waiting but had been dry until that point. The course for the half was nice but with the rain the bridges were very slippery. It would have been nice to have sections of carpet to avoid slipping. The course was well supported with volunteers even with the rain. There was plenty of hydration on the course. The new gels on course I was not a fan of but others said they liked them. I loved that Race Guards was out supporting the course as there were many people I saw off to the sides of the course and with significant chafing issues due to the race day conditions. My least favorite part of the course was the tunnel under McCormick Place. It was very dangerous with pot holes and puddles and minimal lighting. The Achilles guides had to mostly walk with their partners due to the conditions. I think more lighting in this area or routing around it is necessary to improve safety.
The end swag was chocolate milk, granola bars, PB crackers, bananas, boxed water, and Gatorade endurance. They even gave us a bag to carry everything in. The medals did not disappoint and the post race band was playing even in the rain. Overall this is a very fun race with great course support.

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(2017)
"Pumpkins in the Park"
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Pumpkins in the Park 5k was held on Saturday October 21st at 4 in the afternoon. A side note kids races are held before the 5k where the kids get medals and swag as well.

Packet pick up was a breeze at Fleet Feet on Friday from 10-7pm which is what I took advantage of to avoid the lines on Saturday. If you do not live in the city or have Friday night plans there was packet pick up starting at 1:30-3:30 onsite at the Lincoln Park south fieldhouse.

Parking the day of was street, the Chicago History Museum or Lincoln Park Zoo (make sure if you are in the zoo lot you are far enough south to avoid extra walking.

This course due to the congestion for the first 1-1.5 miles and varied surfaces makes it hard to achieve a PR unless you are at the front of the first corral (there are only 2 corrals) the congestion the course is fairly scenic taking you in and around the park.

Post race there was Revolution Brewing beer, sprinkled covered apples, Eli's mini pumpkin pies, bottled water, Nuun, mini Cliff bars. There was also entertainment onstage, a pie eating contest, costume contest, popcorn and pumpkin painting.

By the evening of the race the free race photos were already available which is such a quick turnaround.

The only cons were the varied surfaces and congestion early on. Otherwise the race was very well organized with plenty for the whole family to do pre and post race.

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(2017)
"Rock N Roll Chicago"
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This was my 3rd Rock N Roll 1/2 marathon in Chicago. Usually I do this as part of the Remix challenge but this year I let my husband experience the challenge and I sat back to enjoy one race day.

Registration is easy, register early to take advantage of the best pricing as prices increase fast. Rock N Roll Marathon Series is great with communication, each week, we received some important details or motivation in the emails or training tips. There were plenty of notices on the packet pickup process at the Health and Fitness Expo.
The Health and Fitness Expo is always great. It was held on the far side of McCormick place. It was well organized with plenty of volunteers to guide you through the process. First you picked up your bib(s) or registered then your shirts and then off to the main expo event. Besides the usual trademark gear from the Rock N Roll series, there were plenty of vendors my kids enjoyed Geico and the posters. We took advantage of many of the vendors including Brooks, Garmin, and Sport hooks.
I typically take public transit to the race and get there a bit early. The corrals started filling up early. There were lines for the port-a-potties but they went quickly. The announcer was cheerful and energetic with great music to start off the race.
The corrals were well labeled and though I was corral 11 my pacer was not in my group and was instead in corral 10. I was fine with it as I have learned to self pace.
The course itself is very similar to portions of the Shamrock Shuffle and many of the other Chicago races around Grant Park. The best part of experience was the addition of the the wear blue to remember mile. The photos of soldiers sacrifices and the tons of American Flags being held by volunteers was was very emotional and inspiring! The course and course entertainment gets sparse going south and could be beefed up in future races. It was great to have a cowbell corner of friends at 16th street. I also like the down and back around 31st where you may see some of your friends or at least high five someone. While I like the lights of McCormick Place tunnel it is very unsafe and dark. The surface is not flat with multiple pot holes that I saw people get injured on. I did not see on the course medical support except at aid stations which one would hope you could get to if you needed it.
The finish line had tons of crowd support which was a great way to end a half marathon. The post race goodies were plentiful like cold towels (RNR labeled), chocolate milk, Gatorade, bananas, were great. You can also take a picture right away if you do not want to head to the main stage. In the main stage area you can get beer and enjoy the entertainment. The medal was a great addition of the bean!
I am happy with this race but would love more entertainment south on the course. I think I may register for one of the other races in the series to see how it compares. Overall I would do this race again.

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(2017)
"Best All Female Sprint Triathlon"
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This race is a great starter race for a triathlon distance. This year the sign up was much later than anticipated due to trying to obtain permits (or so I heard from race staff). The swag in the past has been fantastic with bike tank jerseys and possible skirts (for early registration). This year it was cotton tanks and tech tanks from last year's 5k/10k Chicago race. I wish the swag was like previous years. I am confident that the swag and race registration for next year will be better as the race was already open for early registration. The one nice option for this race is relay. If you are not a swimmer, biker or runner you can find someone that is and form an awesome team.

The expo is nice but not large and is held outdoors at the Naperville Settlement which is fun to stroll through. Dave Kappas does an excellent job as a race announcer. He keeps everyone calm as there are many first time athletes at this event. He is able to get the information you need to know in a timely fashion.

Race day parking is easy and free. To score the best lots you have to arrive early (5:30ish) but there are still open spots up until closing of the transition area. The volunteers and race staff do an excellent job of answering any questions and making sure you know where to go.

The swim is in the quarry and varies from the August triathlon with a longer distance and more down and back turns. The past two years the cancer survivors and relay teams go first followed by youngest to oldest age groups. Fearful of the swim? There are swim angels if you want extra support along the way. You can swim any stroke and even use the lanes (if you really need to rest). Snorkels are also approved for use during the swim. The shallow portions of the swim turns most people stand and run until they cannot touch again. This is one of the most swim friendly triathlons if you are fearful of this portion.

The bike seems like it would be easy but every year that I have done the bike it seems like there are small hills that feel giant and wind, lots of wind. You do the loop twice and many families come out to cheer. Doing the loop you can also see friends or the top athletes going by. There are groups that can assist you if something happens to your bike during the race. This year it was Livegrit. You do need to have at least one tube with you if you were to get a flat so they can help you out.

The run is partially through the river walk shaded and beautiful. The other portion is around homes with families out to cheer or provide sprinklers to help cool you off. Race Guards are also present along the course in case you need medial assist which could be as simple as help with chafing, fuel or a muscle cramp.

The after party is a highlight with great food, free samples, music and free race pictures. The medals are nice with a charm you could put onto a necklace or key-chain if you wanted.
Overall I plan on doing this race again next year and anticipate it will be even better than this year.

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(2017)
"Great Charity Race"
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I had never heard about this race but it came across my email feed and a few things stood out to me. The proceeds go to families of fallen either police or firefighters. It was family run with family and neighborhood support. This race is very family friendly, and walker friendly with a nice post meal brunch at the end. There are also prizes for top male and female runners (though I do not fall into this category). You can do this race as a virtual runner as well. The key to closing the deal was swag. Not only is the race very comparable in price to other 5k's with most of the money going to charity but it also has great bling. For my registration I not only got a 3/4 tech blend zip long sleeved shirt (with the Chicago stars on the arms) but our medal was a fire fighter badge; this year the medal was honoring Lt. Patrick Hannon.
For packet pick up there was an option to pick up at the local Running Excels store or same day packet pick up. We thought we were going to have to pick up the day of the race but my husband was able to get to the running store and had a super easy time with packet pick up and parking. On race day I was nervous about parking since there was not much information in regards to parking on the website. One of the event directors assured us that there would be ample street parking near the church which was the start and finish of the race and she was correct. We were able to park less than 1/4 block from the start/finish line. There was great music to start us off and very emotional tributes by the family benefiting from this year's proceeds.
This 5 k is great if you are looking for a PR since there are not many people running it, as of now. The younger male category was pretty stacked so you might be in for a challenge in that category. I was pacing a first time 5k runner who was 6 years old and my husband paced our son so no PR's for us. This route does have some hills and turns but beautiful historic homes with lots of old trees (think summer shade). I only saw one aid station with water only but this is a very small race so I was not anticipating the aid support of larger races.
The finish was great there was a stand to take your pictures at and post race free goodies to go along with the brunch. My son and his friend loved this race and our friends who came with us also said they will be doing this race again. We cannot wait to sign up for next year.

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