Latest reviews by Michael Mason-D'Croz

(2018)
"Fun, but challenging"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This is the second time I have run the KC Marathon Half Marathon, I also ran in 2015. This time around I ran it slower, but still had a good time. This race features a new course (since 2015), and it was not nearly as challenging as the old one, but is still a very challenging course -- 750+ feet of climb.

Let's go through the whole weekend --

Expo:
The expo was great. Loads of vendors, tons of deals, and a free beer sample from Boulevard! But beyond that, they did something I've never seen at a race before -- let alone one this size -- no assigned bibs prior to the expo. Instead, they had you check in, and the top bib number was assigned to you at the expo.

What is lost? You don't get the personalized bib with your name. But let's be honest, how many people actually hold on to those? I have kept three in all the races I ran, my PR for the Half/Full/50k (attempt). Even then, I have almost thrown those out multiple times. You still have a bib, if you want to keep it, and all is good with the world.

What is gained? SPEED! Holy moly was it quick to get through the check-in and get my bib. I could go to any line, tell them my name, and walk away with my gear bag and bib. It literally took 90 seconds. This idea is great. I talked to multiple runners about it, and it was overwhelmingly positive. Not one person I talked to didn't like the process. This is something more races should think about implementing. It was great.

The rest of the expo was great, the other highlight was the Boulevard beer. Easy Sport Active Ale, it was delicious. I can't wait until they release it and distribute it.

Course:
The course has changed since 2015, and the race directors have cut out a lot of the biggest, baddest hills. That makes the course less challenging in terms of the elevation gain. However, don't let that make you think it's not still a challenging course. There is more than 750' of climb over the 13.1 miles. It may be a little more spread out, but you'll feel it in the end.

The course takes you through most of KC and you get to see a lot of the city. The visuals are great, and there is some spectacular architecture along the way. You'll see some great older houses, the art museum, The Plaza and downtown. It's awesome.

One of the highlights is the downhill ending. About 3/4 of a mile from the finish, you crest the last hill and see the finish. It's all sailing from there ... except remember that the hill is a legit 0.75 miles. In that 0.75 miles you drop about 250 feet and if you're not prepared for the steep finish it can break you down.

Race:
The race itself was great. There were lots of people, and lots of support from volunteers. There are aid stations every 2-3 miles that had both water and Powerade. Every other aid station also had some form of solid fuel.

I wish there would have been more support from the city. There were some people on the roads cheering us on, but it didn't compare to some other races I've done (not the fault of the organizers).

The After-Race Party:
This joint was poppin'. There was a celebration gong if you set a new PR. There was BBQ. There was beer. There was fruit. There was pop and water and chocolate milk. There was a live band that was actually very good. And there were a few thousand of you new closest friend.

By the way, the BBQ was delicious. As was the beer.

Overall:
I already enjoyed this race the first time I ran it. Attempt #2 was just as positive an experience as was the first one. If you can wrap your head around the hills and keep going, this race is very well put together and KC is one of the best towns around.

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(2018)
"Rain, lots of rain, but still a fun time!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I ran this race as a member of the BibRave Pro program ... and it was a blast. The race was super well organized and the entertainment was top-notch. However, unfortunately, the weather made it a little miserable at times. Now, don't get me wrong. I'll take a day that is Sub-70 in late July ... even if it means downpours.

Expo:
The race expo was perhaps the best I've been to. Lots of booths, some great deals, and entertainment along the way. The amount of stuff available was truly mesmerizing. To the point where my wife gave me a call to ask if I was planning on leaving the expo to head back to the hotel.

Race Day:
On race day, the weather didn't cooperate, but the event still went off without a hitch. The start line was entertaining, and the music on the course was great. However, I wonder if it was a little subdued due to the weather. Even still, it was a great time.

And when we got back to the finish line? Even better! The crowds were out, even with the rain, the music was blaring, the milk was flowing. That was a great experience to finish a race in a big city like this. Truly a great time.

The Course:
The course was nice. The first 10k was very interesting as we navigated the downtown area. However, much of the view was spoiled due to the weather. We couldn't see the buildings or architecture. However, it was still quite an experience to run over bridges that were grate bridges instead of concrete. See the water under feet was a little weird, and cool.

The second half of the race was a little less fun -- still neat, but not nearly as interesting -- until you make the turn to head back to the finish line. On a clear day, the view would have been spectacular for our last 2.5 miles. You would see Lake Michigan on the right, downtown (and all the skyscrapers) on the left, and the Museum Campus and Soldier Field close by as you pass through. However, the rain meant we only saw the last part -- since we were closer to it. I have a feeling on a normal summer day, it would have been quite the finish.

Overall:
This race was great fun. It was very well organized and the swag was nice. But more than anything, it was experiencing a race in a city like Chicago. It was something I would recommend to others.

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(2018)
"God that was hot"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This race was something else. The weather made the experience more challenging that it could have been. Although the race started early -- 7:30am -- it was already 90 with a feels like of 97. That zapped my energy quickly.

Although the weather really took it out of me, the rest of the race was very positive. The course was easy and well marked/supported. There were ample aid stations, although I wish there would have been one more (due to the weather).

The other suggestion I would like to make to the organizers is maybe doing the course in reverse -- this would allow for more shade for the last 2-3 miles as that section is the most shaded portion.

Overall, it was a race I'll do again, despite the weather. I could see this being a PR course.

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(2017)
"4(ish) Tough Miles of Fun"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Having a race in November in Nebraska can be a real crap shoot. But this year, there was some spectacular weather. Sunny, no wind and temps in the high 40s or low 50s. A Top 20 day for running this year. This race is one of my favorite races offered in the area. It's a good one, and well worth a look.

They offer two races, the Saturday Half Marathon and the Sunday 4(ish) miler. Both are run on the same course. The Half Marathon is three loops around the 4-plus-mile loop. The Sunday race is just one loop on it.

Price. If you sign up early it's $45 for the 4M, $55 for the HM, and the prices go up to $60 (4M) or $70 (HM) in late registration. There is also a challenge available called the Squatchy where you run the HM on Saturday and the 4M on Sunday.

The Course. The loop is located at the Quarry Oaks Golf Course just south of Ashland, Nebraska. This course is built next to the Platte River and includes the steep and long hills of the bluffs next to the river. Running on some fairways, some woods and a stream crossing as to boot. However, this year there was almost no water in the stream.

Overall, there was about 575 feet of vertical gain in the 4 miles. That can add up quickly if you're not used to trails like that.

The aid station. There was one aid station available, about 2 miles into the loop. This station only had water, but it was only a 4-mile loop. So, that isn't too bad.

The swag. A nice long-sleeve Brooks running shirt -- which runs small -- and a bottle opener medal at the end. Overall, the swag is appropriate for the type of race you're running.

The expo/party. The packet pick up was just a quick one at a grocery store, no big deal. However, the after party is great. There was chili and bagels for all runners -- and you can buy a guest pass for the food. But the highlight is beer. There is a beer truck and they just keep pouring. If you want to hang out, there is beer to drink, chili to eat and a dance party after the awards. The atmosphere is fun and people are playing games and hanging out. It is a good time.

Overall. It's definitely worth a look.

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(2017)
"Tough race, fun times"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

After training for months it was finally the day! It was time for my first ever 50k. Unfortunately, my body didn't cooperate and I had to withdraw after 22 miles. And although my day didn't end well, that was through no fault of the race itself.

Let's start with the parking. They have the entire campground for parking, so there is plenty of room to park your car and set up for the race. It is well organized and volunteers point you to the correct location. It is a smaller race, so if you weren't able to pick up the bib the day before, it was very easy to do a pick up on the day of.

At 8 am, the 50k race starts. At 8:10, the 5-mile, 10.5 mile and 21 mile races all are let out. We got going at 8, with no delay. Unfortunately, there was a volunteer miscommunication, and we 50k runners were pointed in the wrong direction and added about 0.6 miles. However, it's a 50k ... if we can't handle another 0.6 miles, then why are we out there? Mistakes happen.

The course. Mostly single-track trails around Lake Cunningham in the North Omaha area. There are two courses, the 5-miler that runs with most of the others then branches off and heads back, and the 10.5-mile loop that becomes the other races. The 10.5-miler is one lap, the 21-miler is two laps and the 50k is three laps.

The trails themselves were mowed well, and well marked once you know what to look for. The trails were challenging in their unevenness, and some of the hills will get the blood pumping. However, this isn't like running a trail race in the mountains.

The aid stations. There are two full aid stations -- at the start and half way -- and one more water station to fill your own bottles. The full aid stations included water, Tailwind, sodas, pickles, potatoes, salt, candies, fruits, Stingers, and more. It was quite impressive. I spent a good amount of time getting more calories into my body.

The swag. A sweet long-sleeve hoodie shirt, and an awesome gym bag. Also, the "medal" is actually a wooden medal with the logo. This is a G.O.A.T.z signature, and I love it. It's a trail run, so yes, I want my medal to scream trails. How better to do that than use a wooden medal?

Overall, the race is a good one, and I hope to take another crack at it in the future. Unfortunately, I developed blisters during the first lap and had to change my shoes. Bigger issue is put more pressures on the other leg after this happened, and the extra pressure on that leg resulted in cramps that locked my leg up -- couldn't bend my knee -- and I had to withdraw after two laps and 22 overall miles. Hopefully I'll get that Ultra finish at some point.

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