Latest reviews by Aubrene (Bree) F

(2018)
"Run The Mag Mile Fabulous Run"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

So I have Run the Mag Mile race once before right after having my daughter. I love this course and running along the magnificent mile. The race held up to my expectations of it again this year.
Packet pickup was easy at the Fleet Feet store location in Old Town.I gave the 3 star rating bc there is not really an expo but there is a full running store to browse products. I do wish there was a validated parking option like before but alas the new space does not have access to this. There is a divvy bike station across the street but it was pouring rain on the day I went. Anyone looking to pick up at this location should allow for extra time if you do drive. The swag was great a jacket that has a hood you can cinch and ZIP pockets!
Race day was super windy but with perfect temperatures (relief from the heat) and overcast sky’s. There were two sets of porta potties and the waits took about 5-7minutes to get through the line. I really loved the real water hand washing station. The corrals had plenty of room when people moved all the way into them. The spacing of the race was 1 minute between each corral which gave a nice space between all the racers. During the race there were some spectators but I think the weather kept some away. Running on the Magnificent Mile allowed for plenty of room between runners. I love the on course support with Nuun since that is my typical race training drink of choice. I also like that the Nuun was different flavors. The lakefront path was a bit congested for the front and mid pack mostly as marathon training runners were also on the path with bikers. I was mid to back of the pack since I used this race as a training run so my lakefront time was not very congested. Going under Columbus later in the race was also nice to stay on track with my GPS for longer. The medal is gorgeous and huge! I really do love my medals and ones that have city pictures on them even more. Post race there was hot breakfast brunch (yum!) beer and spirits as well as water, sports bars and bananas. There was also live music to enjoy while you were eating and socializing with other runners.
I would absolutely do this race again. I would love to see a half marathon course option again but maybe it was not popular. The 10K was a great distance option to have for those that want more then the 5K. The swag and post race goodies are amazing for a race.

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(2018)
"Rock & Roll Good In The Rain"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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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"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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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