Latest reviews by Connie Kulczycki

(2019)
"Pumpkin Smash Challenge 2019: One Mile Review"
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I participated in the Pumpkin Smash Challenge and loved having a one mile distance to race as I haven't done that in YEARS. Picking up my packet was super easy and very well organized. Parking was a little tricky because we did have to pay since it's so close to the boardwalk - luckily we are Virginia Beach residents so it was only $3 but for non-residents, it's $10 and that's a bit steep, especially for a one mile race. The shirts weren't great and somehow I got a small even though my 10K shirt was a medium. You were unable to exchange the mile shirts but oh well. I loved having the course as a straight shot on the boardwalk but wish the decorative lights had been on! Overall, would definitely recommend!

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(2019)
"Pumpkin Smash Challenge 2019: 10K Review"
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T-Shirts/SWAG
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I participated in the Pumpkin Smash Challenge and had a great time during the 10K! I loved the course decorations and checking out everyone's costumes. There were amazing spectators and the volunteers were so great! The road was a bit beat up though and I noticed several strollers struggling at times. The post-race party was amazing however, it needed more tables and a different food option - no one wants soup in 70 degrees. Overall, would definitely recommend!

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(2018)
"2018 Wisconsin Marathon"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

SWAG: the shirt was a decent quality, nothing to write home about and the design reflected the anniversary logo.

Expo: I picked up my packet the day before the race. The expo was a bit underwhelming - there were only a few tables set up and the vendors weren't the friendliest. I did appreciate that there were multiple pickup locations around the Chicagoland area though - I just wasn't able to get to one of them due to being out of town.

Aid stations: there were plenty of aid stations but due to the extreme heat, they could have been staffed/stocked a lot better. I was in the front of the pack and the back end of the course's aid stations were already starting to dwindle.

Course: the route is a little weird - you loop south, loop north then loop even further south. You pass the finish line area a couple of times which is hard especially when the weather is so extreme and literally run right next to it as the half marathoners are finishing. The north loop takes you through some rolling hills and they are much harder than you would anticipate. The second south loop takes you through gravel roads with little shade. The course was clearly not my favorite

Parking: this was incredible. There were plenty of close options and because the race is huge, there were no issues finding a place to park.

Post-race: the brat and beer were the perfect way to end this dreadful race. There were plenty of picnic tables set up to lounge at and they had music and fun cutouts to take pictures with. I was very disappointed in the fact that we didn't receive free picture downloads because I actually had a few good ones, especially with the nice lake background. It was $15.95 for ONE picture download which just seems absurd.

Overall: it was a decent race but I don't think I will ever participate again as there's nothing outstanding pulling me back other than the close proximity and great parking. It was managed well but I'd rather try a new one.

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(2018)
"2018 Salute Inc 5k"
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This was my first year participating in the Salute Inc 5k and I had a wonderful experience despite the heat. This course takes you through the Arlington Heights neighborhoods so while it is a flat and fast course, the scenery isn't much to write home about. The t-shirt we received was a simple cotton t-shirt but it has the Salute Inc logo very large on front which I enjoyed because it is for a charity. There were even medals, although small and simple (dog tags), which I was not expecting and was pleasantly surprised by! The management was done beautifully - pre race there were a few speakers and post race they did awards in the center so everyone could hear them. They had popsicles and plenty of water/electrolytes which was great for the hot day. There was also an incredible pancake breakfast. I did not pick up the packet, my mom did, that is why I cannot comment on that process but she said there were no issues so I'd say it was great! Considering it is such a small race and the main goal is to raise money for Salute Inc, they did a wonderful job and I will definitely be participating in future years!

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(2018)
"My First F^3 Experience"
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I'm a no-frills kind of race girl that really appreciates a race that is executed well and F^3 really lived up to that.
Registration was a breeze and although I didn't receive a lot of communication leading up to the race, about 3 weeks prior, we got multiple updates, which was great to start preparing myself for race weekend. I also really appreciated that they sent out updates from the city regarding the Women's March - we knew to expect a little extra traffic and allow more time but that we shouldn't expect any race issues because of it.
I think one of my favorite parts of F^3 was the multiple options for packet pickup. Unlike most other races, packet pickup started the weekend before the race, hosting each date at a different Fleet Feet location. This was ideal for those that lived in the suburbs as I only had to drive to Deerfield rather than downtown to get my packet. There was also the option to pick up packets the morning of the race but that always makes me a little too anxious. For those that love a big race expo, this wasn't possible with that many locations. However, that isn't something that really appeals to me so I was fine with the simple store location.
The race was on a Saturday, something that was a nice switch from your normal Sunday-morning races. It also didn't start until 10 for the half and 10:30 for the 5k which I loved! I don't love getting up early and the fact that I was able to sleep in my own bed and drive to the city instead of getting a hotel room downtown, helped save a ton of money and stress. And although it was unusually warm for a January day, should it have been cooler, it would've been nice to have those few extra hours for the world to warm up a bit.
Since the race was hosted at Soldier Field, we were able to wait inside, stay warm and have access to a ton of (nice) bathrooms. Gear check was a breeze (both dropping off and picking up) and the vendors had their booths set up the entire morning so you could peruse them pre-race if you had time.
The course did a half loop around the stadium and came out on the lakefront path. It was a relatively flat course, minus a small incline within the first quarter mile and had a pretty view of the lake the entire time. I didn't use the aid stations but they were available for both 5k and half marathoners.
The post race party was held back inside the stadium with giant screens to show the rolling finishers, which was really cool. Unfortunately, I never saw the 5k finishers go up so I didn't get to take a picture with that, which was a little sad.
To conclude, they offered one free beer at Kroll's. It was a short distance away but directions to get there weren't clear so we took a long way to get there. I do think the signage could've been a bit better in terms of getting from the parking lot to the race and from the race to the bar. It also was a bit frustrating that we had to pay $20 for parking - since Soldier Field is so far southeast, driving is the only easy way to get there even if you do live in the city, so having that comped or a bit cheaper would have been ideal.

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