Latest reviews by Jenn Savedge

(2019)
"Bring on the heat!"
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With super high temps in the forecast, I wasn't really expecting to run face at this race. But fortunately, the weather cooled down significantly by race morning and I was able to snag my first ever sub-2 half!

Here are my takeaways from this fun, fast race:

The Expo: Simple to navigate and super fun to explore. Bib and t-shirt pickup are located right at the entrance so if you need to zip in and zip out, that’s doable. But there are also tons of exhibitors so if you need to pick up some gear or want to do a little shopping, you will have plenty see and do here.

The Race: I heard that this race was flat and fast and it certainly lived up to its reputation. I had also heard that Garmins tend to go a little wacky in Chicago and that held true as well. Fortunately, the course is very well marked, but if you are relying on your Garmin to keep you on pace, you should know that it may be off by a pretty wide margin.

Race support was phenomenal, starting with the emails that were sent before the event, alerting runners to the weather conditions and letting us know that there would be extra water, salt, sprinklers, and cold sponges on the course. That was a relief! On course, it felt like there was plenty of water as well as the fun entertainment RnR is known for.

Post-race fare consisted of the usual stuff – water, Gatorade, chips, bananas, and granola bars. It was a spacious location so there was lots of room to spread out, meet up with friends, enjoy post-race beers, and dance to the bands.

If you’re looking for a fun race weekend that culminates in a potentially fast race – Chicago is a solid choice. I’d run it again in a heartbeat and keep my fingers crossed that the weather gods would shine on me again!

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(2019)
"2019 Pittsburgh Marathon Relay and Full Marathon Review"
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This was the second time that I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon and once again this race pulled out all of the stops in terms of race management and course support. Volunteers and locals come out in droves to support this race and you really feel welcomed and appreciated. They were even out there in the wind and rain and that's saying something!

In addition to the full marathon, I also participated in the Marathon Relay, and I love how race organizers make it easy (and legit) to do both. The only requirement was that I was the first runner of our relay team and that way I was able to tag out with Runner 2, take off my relay shoe tag (for timing) and continue on my merry way. I wore both bibs for the first leg of the race and then just tossed the shirt that had the Marathon Relay bib. It worked out perfectly.

I did not attend the expo this year because my daughter (who was also on our relay team) was taking the SATs, but it was very easy for one of our team members to pick up all of our packets as well as my marathon race packet so that was awesome. Swag included a sweet race tee (BLACK AND GOLD...YES!), a medal, and some custom Goodr sunglasses that are black and gold with the Pittsburgh skyline on the frames.

I wrote more about the course in my last review of this race, but it's worth repeating that while it is a bit hilly, those hills are totally doable as long as you throw a few hills in your regular training routine.

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(2019)
"It's the hard that makes it great!"
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It was hard to find enough stars to give this race. Especially in the ELEVATION category! The Blue Ridge Marathon is epic in the true sense of the word. It's tough as nails but that is what makes it so appealing!

Here are my takeaways:

The Expo: The Expo for the Blue Ridge Marathon was held at the Patrick Henry Hotel, which is right across the street from the Start/Finish Line. This made logistics a breeze in terms of selecting a hotel and finding my way around. Unlike big race expos, this one seemed less about shopping (although there were still plenty of things to try/purchase) and more about getting to know other runners.

Runners get a free drink at the bar during the expo so it seemed like most folks picked up their packets, browsed through the merchandise and then congregated at the bar. It made for a cool, fun vibe.

Events: The Blue Ridge Marathon isn’t just a one-off race. It’s a whole weekend of events that include a shakeout run, a pre-race concert, a day of races (10K, Half, and Full), and a Slow K on Sunday morning that stressed an easy-going pace (you were encouraged to walk and talk with your coffee and donuts)! THIS WAS BY FAR MY FAVORITE PART OF THIS ENTIRE RACE WEEKEND!!

The Course: The course is hard. There is no other way to say it. But in the immortal words of Tom Hanks (League of Their Own,) "It's the hard that makes it great." Train for the hills...both the ups and the downs...and you will have a much better day than if you try to wing it. This course is not for the faint of heart. But the views are absolutely stunning and (almost) worth every foot of elevation change it takes to get to them.

The Support: So, so good. Volunteers were everywhere. Water stations were aplenty. Spectators and community members came out in droves to offer water, jello shots, "moo-mosas," and one spot even had a kissing booth!

The Amenities: Swag included a beautiful tee (made from recycled materials) and a medal for the marathon and a fantastic coffee mug for Sunday's Slow K. LOVE!

Bottom Line: If you love a challenge, you will freakin' love this race.

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(2019)
"Primo Race Organization Makes For a Fast, Fun Race"
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My key takeaway from this past weekend's Chevron Houston Marathon was that this race was so well organized and supported, it made every single aspect of the event fun and fast. What more could a runner ask for??

The race expo was a great size, perfect for picking up last minute supplies (like the gels I didn't want to bring on the plane,) and for trying out the latest and greatest new running gear.

On race morning, parking was plentiful and we were able to wait indoors until about 15 minutes before our corral closed. A nice perk on a 30 degree morning! Aid stations stocked with water, Gatorade Endurance and gels were plentiful along the course. As were the port-a-cans. I passed banks of potties with no line at several spots over the 26.2 miles.

I was also super impressed with how many Houstonians came out to cheer on runners, especially considering how cold it was on race day. If you like cheering spectators, and course entertainment like bands, cheer squads, and even belly dancers, you will love this race.

After the race, we were once again ushered inside for post-race food, potties, and awesome swag (a medal, a finisher's shirt, and a beautiful glass finisher's mug!)

Side note: A friend I was with needed some medical attention after the race and the med team was there in a jiffy. I merely had to look around and put my hand in the air and a volunteer came running with a wheelchair. Now that's amazing race preparation!

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(2018)
"2018 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon"
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Ran my first Indy Monumental Marathon yesterday and I have nothing but great things to say about this race! I'll break it down a bit:

EXPO
I got into town at 7pm on Sat night (due to some construction on my route) but as the expo was open until 8pm, I had no problem picking up my packet and even doing some shopping. I stayed at the Sheraton which was less than 1/2 mile from the Expo and the start/finish lines as well as plenty of places to eat and get some morning tea/coffee.

WEATHER
Race morning weather was cool (mid-30s) and clear, warming up to the upper 40s - low 50s by noon. Perfect race temps. No wind.

COURSE
Freakin' beautiful. Seriously! I had no idea that Indianapolis was such a pretty city but it truly is. The course took us through lovely neighborhoods, a park with gorgeous fall foliage, and alongside a river (the White River?) with stunning views along the way.

The crowd support was also fantastic. It was not constant - there were definitely places along the course that were quiet but for the most part there were tons of places along the course where people were out and about cheering and offering support.

RACE MANAGEMENT

Volunteers were plentiful everywhere from the Expo (where they are standing in key locations offering to take pics and answer questions) to the finish line (where they are literally walking through the crowd of finishers asking what they need and what questions they might have.

The race started on time and the course was well marked. There were plenty of aid stations although I did notice that you did not know ahead of time where they would be. The map just said that there were 19 aid stations along the course but it did not say where. That was fine with me and I never felt like they were too spread out, but I know some people like to plan ahead with their water, gel, porta potty stops.

One great feature of the race is that I was able to get a printout of my official time immediately after crossing the finish line. I know some races have apps you can use and this is awesome too but I really pushed the pace yesterday and I don't think I would have had the energy or coordination to fumble with my phone like that. It was nice being able to just walk up to a volunteer and have them look at my bib and print out my time (and even nicer since it as my first sub-4!)

All in all I had a great time at the Indy Monumental Marathon and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a PR, a BQ, or just a beautiful fall race.

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