Latest reviews by Logan Heinsch

(2018)
"A Cold and Blustery Half in April"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Texas Big Star Half may have taken place in Spring but it was quite the winter atmosphere.

Starting race temperature was in the low 30's and it definitely affected the turnout. I had heard from previous year's racers that this was a really fun race with a good turnout. They weren't wrong. The turnout considering the freezing temperatures was actually really good and race management did their very best to keep people smiling. Smile we did.

Lets back it up to the packet pick-up. There was no expo for this race, which I didn't necessarily mind because the race was taking place nearly 40 miles from my home and driving all the way there and spending any amount of time at an expo would've made for a really long night on race week. They did actually offer several different packet pick-up locations during the week leading up to the week, which I think was a really good way to try and cater to the racers. The race shirt is high quality and I still use it very frequently. The swag bag had some recovery tools and a very nice multi function headwear that has come in handy since the race.

Now we go back to race day. The race took place at Collin College’s Preston Ridge Campus in Frisco, TX and the parking was in lots adjacent to the start line. It was seemingly plentiful and getting in and out after the race was actually quite easy.

Pre-race stretching was lively and definitely kept people distracted from the cold and there were plentiful bathrooms near the start line. I point that out because we all know how important that is.

The course itself was not too challenging. There were a few very flat stretches and some long rolling hills as well. Once the sun came up it was actually a gorgeous day for a race. Bathrooms and aid stations were well positioned and the volunteers were working hard. Considering how difficult it was at some points to park and watch along the course there were actually ample spectators and they did a very good job making us all feel the love.

This ended up being a 13.1 race PR for me and the finisher's medal made it seem even that much sweeter.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"First 15K Couldn't Have Been Better"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Hot Chocolate Series has got it figured out.

They really do. The swag this year was a super-comfortable tech 1/4 zip-up that I have used for the majority of my cold-day runs since this race. The pure organization for packet pick-up was astounding considering the size of the races themselves. I was really impressed with the friendliness of the volunteers and the quickness with which they worked. The whole time I hung out at the expo after packet pick-up I am not sure I saw the line get longer than a couple of minutes at a time. The lines were constant but the check-in team was on top of it.

Race day ended up being quite chilly and a bit windy, which made for a bit more challenge than I was ready for but that is the danger of running a race in February. The course itself had a good mix of challenging sections and flats. I was not necessarily ready for the amount of hills on course but they were not overwhelming and wouldn't dissuade me from running this race on this course again. A good challenge is necessary sometimes!

The amount of aid stations was appropriate for this course and having Nuun be a partner was a smart choice. Nuun provides great hydration before, during and after the race. The complimentary tab given after the race was a very nice treat as I definitely needed an extra one.

The post-race treats were a favorite for myself and my kids and the volunteers handing them out, not surprisingly, we very enthusiastic and friendly. It is a nice touch to have a unique way of treating racers after they are done. Kudos to Hot Chocolate for that!

I have already thrown my name in the hat to run again next year and look forward to tackling the 15K again!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2017)
"Pre-Race Chaos, Post Race Bliss"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This event was truly an adventure from beginning to end.

This was the first year that the Dallas Marathon incorporated a 5K and a 10K into their weekend and based on the race day experience I wouldn't have been able to guess that. Everything was so well run. The packet pickup for the weekend took place at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Downtown Dallas not too far from the race start and finish line. I expected it to be busy as I knew this was a big race weekend. What I encountered when I arrived as truly shocking.

Imagine my surprise when I walk up the the convention center from the adjacent parking lot and find hundreds of people standing outside up and down the street outside the entrances to the convention center and a lot of emergency vehicles outside with lights flashing. Turns out there was a suspicious bag found inside one of the other halls and it forced an evacuation. After waiting outside for more than an hour the race organizers sent out messages via social media that the convention center was closed for the evening and that packet pickup would take place starting at 6am the next day. Race day.

This made me a little anxious because I was already concerned about arriving early enough to find parking close by but not so early that I'd have to stand around in the cold or sit in my car for too long. Turns out that packet pickup was very well-organized and it took no more than a couple of minutes to get all of my things.

I was left with plenty of time to store my gear and warm up before heading to my corral. The pre-race speech wasn't overly long and we were even treated to a small cameo by Shalane Flanagan, who ended up running with all of us!

It ended up being a little cold, 31 at race time, but it was a sunny day and overall it was a gorgeous morning. There were several aid and music stations along the way and aside from one decent size hill around mile 4 the course wasn't very difficult. The one issue I had was that just after this hill the 5K and 10K course intersected so things got really tight, really quickly. I had to expend a lot of energy and added a bit of distance to my race by having to weave back and forth across the street to get by all of the 5K racers. Once it thinned out again things became a lot easier to navigate and there was a decent straightaway that lead to the finish line. The volunteers did a great job with medal distribution and the snack box handed out was pretty decent. The race t-shirt that wasn't available the day before because of the convention center closure was easy to obtain at the expo and is a very nice shirt.

I ended up with a PR on this course and will want to do this again next year. The only question is whether I will want to do the 10K again or the Half.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2017)
"Impromptu 5K "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Having been about 5 months into my reintroduction to running last year (apologies for selecting the incorrect race date in the race information section) I decided that I should test myself with a 5k. I didn't actually put much thought into this and registered for this race quite late. The organizers were very accommodating and despite the late entry they had everything waiting for me that date.

This race stuck out to me because it is a 5-7 minute drive from my house and the park, Katherine Rose, is a frequent weekend date for me and my family. I had run the sidewalk trails before and wanted to really test myself. When looking for a race to run I am also always on the search for the ones who support a cause. These races will catch my attention before almost all others.

I remember the registration cost being very reasonable, though it has been long enough that I can't recall the exact cost. The t-shirts provided were fairly standard but a good quality cotton. Race packet pickup was offsite but was an easy process. Racers were encouraged to dress up in things like tutus, tiaras, special t-shirts or anything w'ed be comfortable in. Adding this layer of fun in is always refreshing because it makes events more inclusive.

Katherine Rose is a very well maintained park on the edge of a wooded area and the walkway itself is also in good condition. The course is fairly flat and isn't challenging at all. It is a good course for beginner 5k racers to cut their teeth on because it doesn't stress the body out with a lot of turns/curves or elevation changes.

Awards were given for top performers in the male and female categories as well as within the age groups. These awards weren't extravagant but an iPad was offered for the winner of the Sugar ShakeOff, which was part of the post race activities that I wasn't able to stay for. This race did result in a PR for me, which was an added bonus, even though I didn't win any awards.

If you are in the DFW this is a fun, intimate event that will work well for you if you want to race but not have to worry about a huge crowd.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2017)
"One Race and Hooked"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I was talked into this race by my future sister-in-law about 3 months ago. Having only ever trained for pure road races I was very nervous about what to expect. The registration process was fairly straight forward. Registering as a team was very easy and insured that myself and my teammate could have the same heat time. The cost with a discount code, which Spartan seems to have one floating around fairly frequently, was right around $100. This was on the high end for what I had seen for race registration costs but I was assured that it was well worth it.

Spartan sent emails frequently for the last month and a half leading up to the race with updates on race slot availability, which I thought was unnecessary because I had already registered. However, attached to these emails were beginner's training programs for first-timers and that may have really saved me. Outside of my standard running training program I had no idea what would I really needed to do to prepare myself. A week or so before the race I was able to check my heat times and the website already provided a list of everything I needed to know about race day (when to arrive, what to bring, what to wear, etc.)

Fast forward to race day and I was really anxious. It was very cold and windy, which I was geared for but it made the prospect of grip strength obstacles very daunting. Parking was managed by the Rough Creek Lodge staff and it was apparent that they were very well prepared and experienced in managing this event. We arrived an hour before race time to pick up our bibs, stretch, store our bags, etc. The Spartan community is very friendly and there were smiles everywhere. Striking up a conversation with anyone around you was very easy and made me loosen up a bit.

The first obstacle was actually clearing a 5 foot wall to get to the start line, which I didn't expect but it made things seem very real. The waves were made up of 250 people, which was a good limit based on the total number of runners in the open heats. The start of the race, as expected, was crowded and it took a couple of obstacles for it to open up a bit but wasn't too bad.

Overall the race was 4.5 miles and had 22 obstacles laid out. The course distance wasn't announced until that day and the course was only released a few days before the race. I really enjoyed this aspect of it because the unknown made me prepare for everything I possibly thought they could throw at me. There were 4-5 water stations throughout the course and the volunteers and other racers couldn't have been more supportive. Those who needed help with obstacles always found a helping hand of a passer by and not one person seemed to regret their choice to be running this race. It was a very challenging course but as I was promised, as soon as I finished I wanted to run my next race right away. The post-meal goodies included a banana, a Cliff bar, a recovery drink and yes a beer!

Post-race I received my medal, a finishers shirt, a piece of a trifecta medal and a coupon code (valid for two weeks) for my next race. I will likely not let it go to waste as I have spotted my next race.

If you are up for a challenge outside of your normal race schedule I highly recommend a Spartan Sprint to start.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.