Latest reviews by Lissa Nypaver

(2020)
"Running with #TeamRaphie"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

I ran this race virtually but was joined by a few friends. When I arrived my friend's house a 9 am on race day, unfortunately, it was raining. Fortunately, it was a Virtual Race, so that meant that we could wait for the rain to pass a bit before starting. Score another point for Virtual Races! Weather not cooperating, no problem, just wait a bit. After about 45 minutes, the rain had stopped and we decided it was go time.

#TeamRalphie (2 of us) were running it and the other 2 were doing the Elf Virtual Run for #TeamBuddy and were walking it. With routes in hand and after a quick Start Line group photo, we were off.

I wasn't expecting too much out of my 5K since I still haven't recovered my speed from my knee surgery, but I felt pretty good so I decided to push it a bit. It helped having someone with me for the first mile to provide that bit of competitive push. We hit a decent hill and I heard her tell me to keep going so I did, realizing that if I could keep my pace right about where I was, I had a good chance at breaking a 30 minute 5K for the first time since my surgery, despite the hilly route. The course was very straightforward and Kim's directions were perfect. I finished the 5K and was thrilled with my 29:02 time.

After we finished our miles, we went back to my friend's house to put on our finisher swag sweatshirts and show off our medals. The SWAG was top notch- a nice, thick zippered sweatshirt with zip pockets, a knit beanie and nice medal. We also received personalized Bibs with individual numbers and our names. Seriously worth the entry fee and then some. It all arrived before the event which meant instant gratification, just like an in-person race. Some Virtuals don't sent out until after race day. We received lots of emails ahead of time for the race including updates on when our stuff shipped.

After the race, you could upload your time and finisher photos online. There were even fun downloads. After the race, my friends and I watched the movies that inspired our races and had some holiday fun. Virtual races are as fun as you make them and give you a chance to be creative, so I love it when the themes are fun like this one was!

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(2020)
"Bat-tastic Virtual"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

When I first heard about the DC Batman Virtual Race, I wanted in cause who doesn't love Batman?! Especially when I knew the race was put on by RAM Racing, their SWAG is always top notch and this race was no exception. The 3/4 Zip is cool and comfy and the tech hat is awesome. Love the medal and we even received a GU Waffle (which, full disclosure, I ate before I technically earned it for my race). SWAG was shipped super quickly and I received it well before I planned to run the race so I could have instant gratification of medal pics!

You were able to chose from 2 different distances, 5K or 10K, so the race is good for those of any level. And the beauty of a Virtual race is you can kind of create your own experience. Want to run it alone, do that. Want to race with friends, get them involved. I had originally planned to race it alone for speed, but a friend asked to join me and lone crusader race became a dynamic duo and I enjoyed it so much more. You had a generous time frame to complete the race (between Sept 1 and Dec 1) and I typically run Virtuals near the end to maximize my training so we ran it on Nov 28. I even synced it up to run at the same time as 2 friends that live outside my area. We texted "Go" at the start and then video chatted after, showing off our medals and swag.

Overall, it was a great event. I highly recommend any of the DC race series events.

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(2020)
"America Runs, and So Did I!"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

I was looking for a "Comeback" 5K to run after my June knee surgery. The race dates were between July 27th and September 30th, the perfect time frame as my 12th week surgery anniversary was September 3rd. The SWAG was crazy sweet, consisting of a Finisher Medal, Ultra-soft T-Shirt, Distressed Trucker Hat, and Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle. And also, the America Runs Virtual 5K partnered up with the Gannett Foundation to donate to local COVID-19 recovery funds with a goal raising $1 Million in donations. The Gannett Foundation will disperse 100% of all money raised and donated to COVID-19 recovery state funds. It sounded perfect across the board, so I decided to make it my official Comeback Race!

The race sent a few emails out and SWAG arrived before the end of the racing period, which is nice if you are into instant gratification. Some Virtuals only send out after the race date. All the items, shirt, hat, water bottle, and medal were all excellent quality. The bib was personalized by name and number and they even sent a few product samples. My only suggestion would be to come up with more participant interaction, maybe a Facebook group, to increase runner excitement.

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(2020)
"Virtually Running for the Zoo"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Last weekend I ran the Virtual Run for the Zoo to benefit the Lincoln Park Zoo. For this virtual my run bestie, and I wanted to make this race as special as the organization it was to benefit. So we planned a race day extravaganza. That is one of the big advantages of Virtual Racing, you can kind of create your own experience.

The event organizers sent ample emails with lots of information about the event and the zoo, especially where the proceeds went during the race period. There was also a Facebook Event page set up for participants to share info and virtually "hang out". We were encouraged to post our photos on social and there were also several prizes that participants could win from fastest times to the most money raised and a few random draws as well.

Basic entry got you a race shirt that was tech material and really cute. For an additional donation you could get a medal that was also super cute and featured the same ostrich as the shirt.

We were able to run the race whenever convenient between April 6 and June 7th. I got up bright and early on Sunday to head over to my friend’s house. She was super gracious to host the event and to map out the course. Also she ordered some super fun inflatable animals for us to hang out with at the Start/Finish Line in front of her house. I brought some Animal Crackers for our aid station and we also chalked us a Start and Finish Line. Things were looking super festive for our race.

I finished my 5K in 26:53.

After I finished, we had an epic Finisher's Party! We changed into our totally adorable finisher's shirts and had a ton of fun taking a ton of finisher photos with our inflatable friends, and to replicate an "official" finisher's party, My friend’s hubby even hooked me up with some finish line beer. He even made us breakfast after! Seriously, I think these two have a future in race day even planning.

As far as the official business of the virtual, once completed, I entered my results into the Run for the Zoo website. There were several virtual prizes for runners

All in all, it was an awesome virtual race. It was great to be able to participate in an event that I normally would not be able to due to the distance and cost of travel

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(2020)
"Hot Chocolate, Cold Day"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Expo was a bit smaller in past years, but I feel that this is common for all races. It was really efficient. You bring in a QR code that they scan and print a sticker and attach to your bib. Easy peasy. In fact I picked up 4 other packets and was done right away with no hassle.

Since this was my 3rd year running the HC15K Charlotte, my bib said that I was a Legacy so a stop to the next table and I picked up my Legacy gift - a branded mug with an amazing sprinkled chocolate bar and bronze medal. Such a cool perk. Several people stopped to ask us where we got them and how.

Then it was on to pick up our jackets. They scan your bib and hand you a bag with your correct size. You can try on your jacket and switch out if necessary. I always love the HC15K jackets. They are always amazing and this year was no exception.

After getting the jackets, we wandered around looking at the few set ups there. In the middle was my favorite, the chocolate sampling. They had hot chocolate to try and also fondue chocolate with a cookie and marshmallow and mini chocolate squares. Yum! And they have some fun facts about the amount of goodies they use and allergy information.

There was also a small merchandise area where I bought a super cute HC15K knit hat. I immediately put it on and got lots of compliments. I even wore it for the race the next day!

Okay y'all, I am not going to mince words... Race day was COLD. Like really cold. It was 23 degrees F at the start line and this warm-weather loving girl was not having it. I will fully admit, I was sulking. But you know what? I still had a great race because that is the power of Hot Chocolate races.

I parked close by to the start in the 7th Street Station garage which had plenty of spots and was adjacent to First Ward Park where the race started and finished. I had made arrangements to meet with my various running crews - BibRave, Burn Sisters, random running friends and so on at landmark and we took some quick pictures and mostly were cold. There were a ton of potties which I used 2x (race day nerves, yo) and never even waited in line there were so many. Just walked right in!

The 5K started at 8:00 so I went down to cheer them on. This year the number of 5K runners was much higher than in past (actually for all runners I think) as in the past the 5K waves were A, B, and C, but this year it was A-F! After the F wave went out, the banners were flipped for the 15K runners to line up. I was in Wave G which was the first 15K wave. The 15K started right on time at 8:30 and we were off!

Another time I will not mince words... This course is HILLY! Most uptown Charlotte races are, but I believe that this course takes the (chocolate) cake as one of the hilliest, at least that I have run, and I've done a lot of Charlotte races now. There is an uphill around mile 4-5 that just does not quit. It's the area around the Country Club and man is it rough. I tell myself every year that when I get out of the Country Club area the hardest part is now over. I mean, not the last of the hills, just the worst of them. But the course is very well marked and there are aid stations stocked with water, Nuun and goodies like marshmallows and M&Ms spaced throughout. There are several cheer stations scattered throughout the course as well so it is interesting and fun to run. There was this guy who was WAY excited to be cheering on the runners around mile 7 that I swear his exuberant high 5 gave me renewed vigor. Around 8.5 there was a sorority that a brightly colored "Hit Here For Speed Boost" Sign that I swear worked. And the last half mile there are tons of inspirational signs to guide you in.

The finish line was located on 7th Street and as usual for a Charlotte race, it was uphill. I was prepared for this and saved a bit of energy for the end. Lots of cheering in the chute and the announcer welcomed every single runner in by name. Overall, I was pleased with my time, I had cut a minute off of last year's finish on the same course, but can't help but feel had it been warmer (and had I had like 10 lbs less of clothes on) I could have done better. I was handed my medal by a super cheerful volunteer and made my way to the Nuun station and then a water bottle.

The goodie pick up is super efficient, lots of volunteers on hand to assist you. You tear off the bottom of your bib and you are handed a bowl of yummies! This year, the bowls were made of biodegradable heavy cardboard which was awesome.
After that, it was just another quick walk back to the garage and that was a wrap for the Hot Chocolate Charlotte 2020. Loved it even if it could have been a bit (a lot) warmer.

Oh yeah, one last thing. Did I mention that HC15K races give you FREE photos! In fact, I got an email before I even got home telling me that my photos were available. I thought there was no way that was right, but yup, clicked the link and there were 3 finish line photos waiting for me. So cool!

I will for sure be back in 2021 and I hope to see you there too!

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