Latest reviews by Matt Maynard

(2017)
"Run Akron and Enjoy Beer Tasting - 8k"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was my first time running the National Interstate 8k Akron Marathon race installment. I was a last minute entry and felt that the communication provided by Race Management leading up to the event was fantastic. I have run in other races from the Akron Marathon race series so the emails leading up, ultimately had me registering.
The event hosts two different race lengths being the 8k & 1 mile race, which is run in downtown Akron, OH on the campus of Akron University. The start is just outside the InfoCision Stadium, with the finish being on the 50 yard line. The post race party was fabulous and provided various local breweries and root beer. The 8k was a new distance for me and would definitely recommend this race to those in the future.

Expo: There is no expo for this event. Packet pick-up is offered all day the day before the race and once again beginning at 7am on race day.
Swag: Included with your race entry you receive a race t-shirt, pint glass and medal for completing the race. The medal itself can serve as a bottle opener. In addition to your entry you receive three drink tickets to enjoy at the post race party, a banana and Chick-fil-a sandwich! SCORE!
Aid Stations: There were two aid stations on the course and to be honest I didn't even realize them. With the distance being only 5 miles, I ran right past them.
Course Scenery: The typical scenery one can expect when running through the city. I have run this route in other races so I was familiar with what to expect. Not much crowd support out on the course, but for those out there it was appreciated.
Elevation Difficulty: The overall elevation gain over 5 miles was 220 ft. I definitely did not expect that and overall my performance was affected as I started out and race this way too fast. The hills that were on the course were gradually climbing.
Parking/Access: Free, close parking is always a win!
Race Management: Exceptional and what I have learned to expect from the Akron Race Series group. Knew exactly where to be and when. The announcements pre race could be heard across the venue.

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(2017)
"Run With The Buffalo's "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Buffalo Marathon

The Buffalo Marathon was my first destination race and one that I had marked on my calendar for quite sometime. Buffalo was a 3.5 hour drive and provided many options for additional sightseeing if that is your thing. How could you not want to partake in seeing one of the seven wonders of the world, Niagara Falls? The race falls on Memorial Day so allows for families or runners to make a long weekend out of it and enjoy all that Buffalo has to offer. I will dive into the extras that all races offer, which sometimes can be the deciding factor when registering. Therefore stealing from The Buffalo Marathon, "The Race Awaits!!!"

Expo: I felt that the expo was very well organized and provided an equal amount of race gear and race promoters. The packet pick up was easily identified, where awesome volunteers were handing out your race swag. This is where you picked up your token to the Pasta Party if optioned. Throughout the expo you could find several photo ops were with the Buffalo Marathon logo to show off that race bib. This was the first time that I spent an extra amount of time at an expo and was mainly in part to the star studded line up of speakers. Anywhere from self motivators to past olympians!
• Bart Yasso
• Melissa Kahn
• Fitz Koehler
• Jeff Galloway
• Tim Kaufman
Unfortunately due to a late start in my travels I missed fellow BibRavePro Melissa Kahn speaking, bummer. The higlights of the day where listening to Bart Yasso speak about running the Bare Buns 5k!!! Joking aside Bart has been an inspiration to many runners, including myself! Next it was to listen to Fitz speak about strength training for runners. Talk about a segment that I needed to hear, as strength training is one aspect of my running that is non existent! I look forward to embarking on a new journey that will have me looking at faster times and a BQ. I finished up the evening at the Pasta party where we were treated to Pasta, with a variety of sauces, meatballs or chicken, rolls or fresh bread, and a salad that was better than any salad bar I've seen. A wide variety of beverages were served, including Mile 27 the beer and brewed for the marathon. To finish it off coffee and desserts were on hand! Great way to spend pre-race day!

Swag:
The swag in my opinion was top notch. I particularly like the 1/4 zip race shirt. The colors just stood out and one that I could find myself wearing outside of racing. The medals across the board were amazing looking and featured a Buffalo holding an American Flag (see picture). An additional swag item for those running the marathon was a key chain (Buffalo head) symbolizing your achievement of conquering 26.2 miles.

Parking Access:
Parking was not an issue for the Expo or on Race Day from what I could tell. I purchased a race weekend parking pass for $25, as my hotel was about 1.5 miles from the start and finish lines. I definitely did not feel like having to walk after running the full. I was a bit concerned as race guide mentioned roads closing down at 5am, but arrived at my parking spot, less than a .25 mile and was surprised to see the lot not full. Free parking was also offered in a parking deck about .5 miles away. No issues here.

Race Management:
Talk about knocking your socks off. Race Management by far was the most organized I've seen in a while. Greg Weber and team seemed to have all the details planned out for any surprises that possibly could have been encountered. Additionally I felt informed over the five months while waiting for race day. The social media team was very engaging and posted about the race frequently!

Now on to what you all have been waiting to hear about....The Race!

Another thing I like about the race is the start time...6:30am! Allows a start with cooler weather and most of all me finishing without feeling it took a good part of the day. Even only with starting 30 mins prior to most races. I arrived as runners started converging on downtown Buffalo for a Sunday morning race. Cool temps and sunny skies. The music was rocking and race announced Fitz Koehler was interacting with the crowd! 6:30 approached and the corrals started to fill. Sooner before you knew it the National Anthem was being sang and ended with a firework display! Racers were off...

Course Scenery:
I truly enjoyed this course as you started off leaving downtown Buffalo into a residential area. Crowd support lined the streets and were very energetic. You made a turn at mile 3 and headed back downtown to once again a large crowd. Around mile 6 you headed out towards the run along the lake. A cool breeze and if you didn't pay attention could catch yourself gazing off into the water. Once again around mile 11 you headed back towards the downtown area, running by Key Bank arena, home of the Buffalo Sabers. Next you headed back towards the half marathon finish, where is marathoners headed back out towards Delaware Park. Finally finishing up you turned and made your way back to the finish downtown. The scenery was a variety of landmarks in Buffalo, upscale residential areas and the Lakefront. The crowd support was wild and one that I expected after reading previous reviews and know why this race sells out on a regular basis!

Aid Stations:
The aid stations were staffed by volunteers who were amazing. For me volunteers can give you an added lift when you are struggling and needing a pick me up. Water stations for the first 13 miles were spaced out every two miles and offered water and Gatorade. You knew exactly what you were getting as a volunteer was positioned before you hit the station providing instructions for what to expect first. Multiple volunteers were staffing each stations and don't believe I ever had to slow down or wait for liquids. Energy gels were offered at mile 8, 12, 15, 18 if my memory serves me correctly. Hands down awesome job on the aid stations. After mile 13, aid stations were stationed every mile. I saw medical staff at several of the stations just in case there was a need for it.

Elevation Difficulty:
Looking for a fast race??? This is it...the elevation was non existent. Well not really. There were a few hills but nothing that would bring you to your knees. Total elevation gain was 473 feet. Definitely a course I enjoyed running.

Overall:
If you haven't registered for 2018, something is wrong. Hands down this race is a must run. The crowds alone have me registering for next year. A well laid out race providing something for every distance! The expo was great, especially the speakers as I felt I left an more educated runner! So don't hesitate any longer and Run Buffalo in 2018!!!

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(2017)
"HOF Marathon - What happened???"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2017 Pro Football HOF Marathon installation of the event was run on April 30th, 2017. The event location and course was changed from last year's race. Temperatures were extremely hot and humid which made the running brutal.

The race offered a huge deal on the marathon entry after the race last year. You could run the entire full marathon for ONLY $26.20. I am not sure if this was to increase participation, which in fact I believe it did, as the numbers increased from 2500+ to 7000+ for the entire races (5k, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, and Marathon Relay).

The course was revamped last year to limit the turns and construction taking place on the HOF Stadium and was moved to downtown Canton. The elevation for the course seemed to be a lot more than I recall from last year. The route was basically starting and turning around at the finish line and rerunning the route you just came from. So you knew the rolling hills you just went through would be encountered again. For the most part the race was run through neighborhoods and the city of Canton. You did get to run by President McKinnley's memorial...twice.

Aid Stations: I felt that with the heat and the humidity there should have been more aid stations out on the course. They had them spaced out every 2 miles, where on most marathon courses after the half you will have them every mile. They did have gels out on the course at two stops. Flavors were Vanilla Bean and Strawberry Banana.

Expo Quality: The location of the expo was not definitively documented to which high school the expo was to be at. The parking was limited and a line extended out the front doors on Friday. The expo indoors consisted of about 20 vendors with race swag and various other running products for purchase. There were also a few race vendors there promoting upcoming races.

Parking/Access: Parking as mentioned above could have been organized much better. There were two parking options offered, VIP - which provided close to race start/finish, and the second option being at the county fairgrounds. When I arrived at 5:45 and saw a line of cars extending back to the freeway I knew there would be a delay to the start. They had only one entrance open causing the back-up and each person had to pay $5.00 to take the shuttle to the start (2 miles). After finishing the race there was a line waiting for transport back to the county fairgrounds which took me 30 mins. Not something I was looking forward to after just running 26.2 miles. I felt last year's set up was much better.

Swag: The swag was probably the best part of the race. The medals looked just like a football ticket that had the center piece that spun. Each finisher received a fleece blanket which on a hot day wasn't needed, but anytime it is cold can be pulled out. The shirt design was much better than last year, however the material was just okay. Each participant received free admission to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well.

Finisher Party: Thumbs down on this, after finishing you received a banana, a bag of chips, a granola bar and a sports drink. Where was that cold refreshing beer or warm slice of pizza at the finish? Additionally there wasn't a localized area where the finishers could hang out.

Overall I was disappointed with the race this year. I had high hopes coming in as last year the HOF Marathon was my first race ever. I know several things affected the overall intentions of the race organizers, with the construction around the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but at this time would not recommend this race.

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(2017)
"It's All About Running The Glass"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I have always had my eye on running the Mercy Health Glass City Marathon after meeting with the race promoters at various expo's. Well I had my chance in 2017 at to say the hype hype for the bill would be an understatement.

Leading up to the event the communication about various promotions, race notification and overall instructions was fantastic. The buzz about the event was evident across all social media outlets by the event organizers.

I was not able to attend the Expo due to family obligations, but know from word of mouth that it Expo was a hit. The number of brands in attendance was great and the set up made bib packet pick up seamless. In addition to the various brands, The University of Toledo put on various events for the little ones! The turnout for the Kids Mini Marathon was great to see.

Race Day: Bib pick was available race day morning and allowed for enough time to make it to the start line. The race started at 7am and the runners were buzzing around the start line. Plenty of porta-potty's were available near the start line. Music bumping and racers intermingled with one another. Announcements were timely and on point to get the race started. A special flyover was provided by the Mercy Children's lifeflight filming from high above.

Course: The Course was set up to take you around the campus for the first few miles then head into a residential area. The first few miles were very congested with the number of races, which prevented those overly fast starts. Around mile 3 the street started to thin out. I was very surprised by the spectators out on the course cheering on runners. This carried through until the half marathon / full marathon split. The first half of the course was very flat, with the latter half being mainly up hill. Total elevation gain from the course was only 211 ft and that made for a fast course...as advertised. Around mile 12.5 you entered back onto the campus and made your way to the Glass Bowl, where you finished on the 50 yard line! The announcers did a great job with announcing each finisher by name and location when they came into the stadium.

Aid Stations: The aid stations were abundant and well stocked with volunteers announcing the choice of drink they were passing out. Both water and Gatorade were provided. Thank you volunteers!!!

Swag: If this was your first marathon GCM rolled out the red carpet treatment for you. VIP packet pick up, extra shirt calling out your first marathon, and extra medal and additional goodies! The finisher medal was by huge for a half marathon and fantastic looking. Additionally each finisher received a Owens-Corning beer mug and tech race shirt.

The after party provided various craft beer, food, water and music. For those wanting a massage those were offered complimentary. How do I always forget about these? The atmosphere was energetic and racers could be found mingling!

Overall the race was well managed and offered many perks for runners. The course was well laid out and finishing on the 50' yard line added an extra bonus. This is definitely a race I will look forward to running again and would offer to a friend or another runner! Well done Glass City Marathon and see you next year!

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(2016)
"Spirit of the Seasons 5k"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I decided to run the Spirit of the Seasons 5k race to keep myself engaged and active in the winter months of the north. The race is hosted by a local running group and put on at the Glen Oak High School in Canton, Ohio. The race also supported the Stark County Hunger Task Force and asked for participants to bring a non-perishable food item to donate.

Race Organization:
Communication from the race organization team and website was very limited. The website provided location and start time, but outside of that I wasn't quite sure on packet pick up times. On Friday I received an email with additional information for the race.

Packet pick-up and swag was very simple and completed in a timely manner, as this was a smaller sized race (150ish participants). Not to mention the free Dunkin Donuts and Hot Chocolate for those interested!!! Calorie loading before the race for some.

Bio availability consisted of three port-a-potties which was more than enough for the amount of participants.

Race Course:
The course consisted of a mixture of track running (1 lap), road running, and packed stone running. I was actually surprised of the elevation changes for such a short distance, which caught me on that last mile. Volunteers lined all turns and mile markers throughout the course for each mile.

The race was chipped time at the start and finish lines.

Swag:
Swag consisted of your normal cotton t-shirt and bottle of water at the finish line. Awards were handed out for Top 3 Male and Female finishers and Top 3 for each age group. (Note: I was unable to stay for the handing out of awards so can't comment on the type of award).

Overall: For those looking for a small race in December giving back to a local community, this is one I would recommend. Easily accessible, fun people, and a real live Santa!!!

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