Latest reviews by Samantha Thierry

(2019)
"What a Sweet Treat!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Expo: The expo took place at Union Station in St. Louis. I love this venue! I'm not savvy enough for street parking, so we paid to park in the lots. Parking was $1 for every 20 minutes. We took less than that and by the time we got to the front of the line in our car, we were rounded up to $2, which is not bad one bit.
The swag was perfect as usual and they always have an area where you can try on all the sizes and do exchanges so your gear fits perfectly.
The treats are always there to eat and they provide allergen information which is helpful for those with sensitivities or intolerances. Like I said, we were quick in and out and that's because this race is so ORGANIZED! You scan your QR code and pick up your bib then go and pick up your swag.

Day of Parking: So I had bought shuttle passes this year, but realized the pick up location was Union Station and I would have to pay to park here in addition to my shuttle cost. Since I thought I would take a million years, I thought I could leave super early and try to snag a street spot in Forest Park. Even showing up over an hour early, we were all guided away from the race to park. For future, the Zoo has parking and it's about 1 mile from the race start and will be $10. By the time the race is over and you've gotten back and enjoyed your treats, you could bop into the Zoo for a bit too! That thought crossed my mind but I needed to get home!

Course: The course is relatively easy in my opinion. You only have 1-2 inclines and the Muny Hill you get to go down. I walked/trotted this race and had no problems. The volunteers were AMAZING! I can't say enough great things about every part from the expo to the end. Their energy was high, especially along the course. I loved the kids before the 15/5k breakaway who were so amped. I loved it! The signs of encouragement and motivation towards the end of the race is also another fun part.

Aids: Towards the end of the race, somewhere in the 2nd mile you had your choice of NUUN, water and also chocolate pieces. I somehow missed the chocolate and grabbed a cup that had water instead on accident.

Post-Race Party: This is always a good time. All-State does a great job with having fun photo ops too. New this year was the ability to stand in front of your digital finish time and have your photo taken. My personal fave is the huge hot chocolates you can sit in.

New this year: The finishers of the 5k received medals this year which was so fun. The 15k medals are far more superior because they are a chocolate bar and how cool is that?! But the 5k are very heavy and cute and I loved having that at the end!

You also get your treats with hot cocoa, melted chocolate, marshmallow, pretzels, cookie straw, honeystinger waffle and banana (i'm sure I even missed some.) This year they came in a compostable bowl. Like I stated in my blog review, some people liked the plastic bowls and used them for storage, but mine ended up being donated most of the time and a lot of people would just throw them away. So I think this was a great change.

I love this race and always recommend it because of the quality you get. It's always a fun time and you always have people next to you! The corrals weren't even crazy this year!

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(2019)
"Bring on the Flat Terrain! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

First of all, I love the RnR series races and would ALWAYS recommend them, especially for first time half marathoners. You always will have people surrounding you and the spectators are great!

Registration: Online registration went smoothly and I even opted in to get a full photo package of my race pictures which only cost 19.99, totally worth it in my opinion if you want on course photos. Even though, I didn't have too many this time.

Expo: Registration at the Expo was extremely quick and simple. They wanted you to have your bib# so you could go to that section of the table and quickly receive your bibs. I had a 5k and 10k bib and was able to walk right up and get them and my shirt without waiting in any line. I went Friday around 4pm. My expo experiences in the past few years with races have been a bit of a decline. I remember these races having huge expos and tons of freebies. Not so much at this one, but it was still bigger than others I have been too in the past. I appreciated free beef jerky because that is expensive!

Race Day: My corral was completely off and I didn't realize until I was looking at the pacers standing in the corral I was originally assigned. It was so crowded that I just got in the 2:10 corral where I found space. I realized that it was so crowded that people were on the other side of the fences and would just merge in once we started to move. Like others said, the corrals need to be wider and allow more space between, or at least spread out the corrals and pacers because there was barely space between the 2:10 and 2:20 pacers when lined up.

I thought it went really smooth with sending off each corral and we started 6 minutes after everyone else. It seemed pretty spaced out to me once we got going, but I also went and ran on the sidewalks to get around people in order to get into my groove. I wrote this in my blog post, but I think having porta potties in the first mile would be beneficial because much like a lot of people, I have nervous bathroom breaks and I really needed to pee. I thought it would go away once we got going but it was all I could think about. Thankfully there was a big line of them somewhere between 2 and 3 miles. My GPS was way off with everyone around and the buildings, so my miles were off.

I actually thought the amount of aid and water/gatorade stations was satisfactory. I didn't think it was too hot, in fact I thought we had beautiful weather with overcast, some sprinkles and a nice breeze, but I'm also from southern Illinois and had been running in 80-90 degrees and 97% humidity. I appreciated the sprinklers and open fire hydrants to run through. I loved the remembrance part of the race with American Flags lining the way. It was beautiful.

My favorite part of the race was between mile 9 and 10 where there was a small out and back and you could high five the runners who were going the other direction. It was great to see other Bibrave runners and then other runners wanting high fives.

I will also agree, the tunnel under McCormick Place was sketchy. There was no air, it was really dark and I was really trying to just focus on my footing but you could barely even see. I felt I definitely slowed down for my safety. It did feel amazing once you got out of the tunnel and the breeze hit! Whoever decided to put an incline in the last two miles was devilish and it almost mentally took me out, but I made it through! Honestly, that was the most "hill" like experience in the whole race in my opinion.

I will 100% do this race in the future because it was flat and fun! I probably would stay out in the burbs and take transportation in to the race to save money though. It took a lot out of my wallet to stay close to the race and the weekend.

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(2018)
"Always LOVE this series"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

As you can see, I love this race series and couldn't rave about it any more than I already do. You get great swag and delicious during and post snacks. The only flaw, which was also on my end, was the parking situation. This year the race was in Forest Park, which I thought, "awesome, there will be tons of parking." I got there an hour early but it seemed like everyone else got there the night before, because it was already packed and crowded. I was frazzled trying to find a spot to park that wasn't miles and miles away (I also had no idea where I was compared to the start.) So since I am directionally challenged and wasn't too familiar with the start and where I was in comparison, I got to the start of the race way late. But the silver lining was that this race goes by corrals and I really ended up in the right one because I've been having knee trouble. So I wasn't racing to catch up, I got to relax and start about 20 minutes after I previously would've had I got in my assigned corral. This race is SO FUN and honestly the parking was the only thing I could even complain about and that was partly on me of course.

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(2018)
"Do you love hills? Then HILL YES this is for you! "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
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I thought this was organized to a T. The only issue we had prior to the race was getting to the parking garage access, but having free parking made up for it. The expo wasn't as large as I expected it to be and thought there would be more vendors selling items. With that being said though, I absolutely LOVED the lululemon collab that was provided to purchase. Loved having more race gear and loved the race pullover! As far as the race goes, the course was absolutely gorgeous and I never once felt bored. There is one spot that was similar to cobblestones and made your ankles yell, but it just gave more challenge (as if the hills weren't enough.) This is definitely a hilly course, but I'll be honest and say the downhill finish makes up for it. Aid stations were everywhere I needed them to be and the best part were the gummy bears. I even walked to enjoy them (no shame!) I wish I would have trained better for this race because I know it wouldn't have been as painful for me. I would recommend this race! Also loved the free high quality photos!

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(2017)
"Be One With the Animals!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
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Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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This is a race I do every year because I love to support the Zoo, but also because it's a great race. I will say that every year the shirts are almost the same, just different colors. Nothing fancy about them and there isn't an expo. The price is cheap for the race though which makes sense to not have extra things like an expo. The BEST part of the race is that you get to go into the Zoo before it opens to the public and see the animals when you are done running. I get done running towards the beginning and therefore it feels like we have the zoo all to ourselves. Definitely perfect for photo opps! They have a great area post race for refueling and you can grab chocolate milk, banana, yogurt, bagel/muffin and then they have sponsors/vendors right in that area for you to check out. The awards are stuffed animals. For example, first in your age group was a normal sized stuffed animal, then medium for second place and third place was beanie baby sized. So adorable!!

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