Latest reviews by William Brent

(2019)
"Holy Hills Batman"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Any way you look at it; the the Hot Chocolate races are a must do!

I missed the expo this time around because of a snafu with getting to the airport.
BUT
This gives me the unique opportunity to review communication with the race staff and how they respond to people needing assistance!

The skinny on my communication:
I was bummed that I couldn't get my swag bag day of the race, but I understand why they do that. Once I found the information booth it was super easy for them to print a bib for me. They scanned my QR code and printed it out!
Finding the booth.... that was a bit tricky
I started backward at the finisher festival; then finish line; then gear check then start line. That's when I found them lol (figures)
They were super helpful and were easy to get along with.
The communication leading up to the race was good too.
The team was pretty responsive when I reached out for help! Same day response which doesn't always happen; especially at races this size.

Other pre race communication:
They dont spam you with stuff which is nice. Maybe 1 email. I was please with it.

Expo:
See above

Race organization:
Fantastic.
The course was laid out really well! I also have to admit the layout of the start/finish village was really ingenious...run it next year to find out why 😉
I think the family reunion signs near the gear check were a fantastic idea (I don't remember seeing these previously)

The course
Uhh read the intro.
The hills weren't awful but I was certainly not anticipating them. I almost feel like there wasn't a flat part on the course.
After the half way point, that up hill was okay, but the giant one around mile 7 was killer!
For the most part it was a closed course. There was one AH who drove onto the course and the cops legitimately chased him down.
I also really liked how the incoming and outgoing runner traffic was separated. They did a great job of making sure there was ample space even if the roads were a bit narrow.

I would have liked a bit more scenery. Going over the bridge was cool (yes I have a thing for bridges) but again that was also the big hill where you needed to dig a little to keep pace.

Course support:
There is nuun; water; marshmallows and something else on course.
The volunteers are great. They cheer and are friendly.

Finish line
In true HC fashion the music and chocolate flowed. I don't remember honey stinger products being in the mug last year but heck yeah!
All state had a great booth with some recovery tools and some photo booths which was nice (and it made the finish area a bit more friendly for kids)

Bottom line:
You need to run a HC race. They are walker friendly and a load of run. The jacket they give is really nice and the finisher medal is pretty dope too!

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(2019)
"New Course Same weather"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I have had the benefit of running this race two times prior.
The good: rock n roll puts on a good race. Running around the Capitol is pretty sweet and there is always support.
The bad: this is going to sound super petty.... but where is my finisher jacket?!?!?!?

Pre race communication:
RnR does a succinct job in communicating. And they have a standard format whichn covers all their bases. It is not too frequent but early and enough.

The expo:
I was a little disappointed that some of the vendors didn't show. There were a handful of empty tables when I got there.
I was also a little confused that there were more vendors with muscle stimulation/ massage machines than running gear or products. It felt like every third table was an electro muscular stimulation machine...
I feel that the expo was laid out to optimize flow of people through the expo which is helpful.
Also. They had a plank contest which was neat--and the first time I had seen this at a rnr expo. I though this was engaging and fun.

The course
New this year ! You dont run through the abandoned industrial park.
Okay okay. Maybe it wasn't an abandoned anything but in years past there was an awful stretch between 15 and 20 which felt lonely and boring.
Even though there were more 180 degree turns I felt doubling back through the park and over the highway was much more tolerable.
If I remember correctly where the half marathon and full marathon and traditionally split this time around the half marathon banks right and the full marathon banks left.
I really appreciated seeing the 5K runners come in and being able to cheer on other marathon runners on my way back.
All in all they did a good job of making this race fast in the beginning and then technical at the end with some hills and some turns and this is a good competitive race
Also a side note about the course every year I have run the rock and roll Washington DC it has been freezing and either raining or snowing or so 1st time is an outlier 3rd time is a trend...

The swag
Where is my finisher jacket
I know that achieving a certain time completing a certain distance or a combination of the 2 should be why I ran the race
But
I look forward to the jacket which reads marathon finisher
I was really looking forward to having that jacket at the end of the race
The T-shirt you get is your standard T-shirt it's a technical material and it has the logo for the race this year the colors were black-and-blue which felt kind of dreary especially with the weather. The metal is OK I think they get a better job with their Virginia Beach metal and their Brooklyn metal when they were running in Brooklyn New York

After party
Another rock and roll staple are there after race events with the headliner series concert and the Michelob Ultra area.
I was not let down this year by the finisher area they were giving out pizza and the normal race amenities like bananas and chocolate milk. They had music playing they had awards and metal engraving and yes I could have bought by finisher jacket at the merchandise tent
Free Michelob Ultra had the end of a race is always fun
I had a massage area which was very welcome and a changing area which they may have had in the past but I don't remember ever taking advantage of

Summary
Ideal enjoy rock and roll races they put on a good race they plan a good course they have good amenities on and after the race and while it's not always about the swag they often do put some thought into what they give you

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(2018)
"Take my money....."
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Disclaimer: There is a monologue before the review.

The NYC Marathon was MY Boston. It is the race that I've wanted to do since I actually wanted to run marathons. PS. i flubbed it. But.... I will go back for seconds.

The Good. There is a lot of good.
The bad. its hard. (yes, marathons are hard, but these NYRR people throw some $**T at you!

Registration. Yes its a lottery. But generally speaking the registration process is pretty straight forward. If you want a poncho sign up early for it!
FYI, the NYRR site is not super mobile friendly, so i would recommend using an actual computer.

Communication: Race team communicates pretty frequently. I feel its mostly advertising for gear. Thankfully there was nothing epic / catastrophic going on that needed communicating. But I doubt that anything of that nature would have been missed. They did a good job reminding participants to sign up for transportation options.

The Expo: I have to say I loved the lay out. I could buzz in and out and not have to navigate vendors....but i love expos so I did.
The Expo was laid out well. I never felt crowded or herded at any point.
As a point of comparison, the flow felt off in Chicago, super crowded and had to walk through all the vendors to get my packet
Berlin--although it was the same as Chicago direction-ally, felt less crowded--but was maaaasive

The Course:
Epic.
First the start village and corrals were pretty amazing. Yes, there was kind of a refugee vibe going; but organizationally, this was so much better than Chicago (sorry chi-town.) I didn't feel like we were cattle. There were porto-johns everywhere! for 51K people there were really no lines.
I like the clothes collection idea which makes it a good option to ditch the sweats before the race in a sustainable way.

Starting on the Verazano bridge was neat, in and of itself, but the view was spectacular. I think it would be rough on a rainy day, but this year the weather was perfect-so the view was perfect and empowering. Yes there were people taking pictures... yes I wanted to be one of them... yes i was mildly resentful that they were stopping people from running by pulling out their phones and taking selfies.
but i'm not an elite and i'm not going to win my age group so i took it in stride.

The first 5 miles are really fast. mainly because you have a huge down hill coming off the bridge then you have the energy of the race. Mile 7 is where the crowds start picking up but there are people on the porches (or if you're from where i'm from, stoops) yelling for you once you're off the bridge.

The last 4 miles are rough from a rolling hills perspective (at leas that's my take on it.) there aren't sweeping changes in elevation, but coming out of the bronx it felt as if there was never a down hill...

The post race party.....
there wasn't one... there was another mile of walking....
the poncho is pretty legit though. its cozy and i like it =)

The swag:
the shirt is about average. nothing to write home about. You have to choose the poncho or bag drop which is a little rough if you're like me and do not generally have 'throw away' clothes. but i did it this year and got rid of some old pajamas. I did really like that pajama shirt though......

executive summary:
join me in 2019. i'll see you at the starting line.

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(2018)
"It's a world major for a reason"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I will probably not run Chicago again. But i am glad i did it.
I suggest you run it for the expereince and when you do sign up for the CARA VIP experience.

The good: Its a flat course
The bad : its crowded

A lot of this review will be in comparison to Berlin (sorry but its my frame of reference for a world major)

Communication leading up to the race: i really appreciated both the paper brochure and the email. Kudos to the RD!
Also with the weather being as tumultuous as it has been the communication about conditions was on par.

The Expo:
I am a bit torn. It was manageable (not borderline overwhelming lile Berlin) but it lacked some of the things i have come to expect at expos.... DISCOUNTS lol
In all seriousness though, the "official" race merch and the "other" race merch were difficult for me to distinguish. There were several vendors selling chicago shirts and 26.2 shirts but they weren't Chicago Marathon... If that makes sense.
I was happy with the samples and impressed with the beer and wine vendors.
The only problem was going in and out was a hassle. I understand its for secjroty reasons but at least with Berlin i had a wrist band which let me back in...

The course:
Good god the crowds...(I'm now anxious about New York....)
There were sooo many people and there were soo many in the incorrect corrals and there were so many everywhere.
Which on the one hand made this a really cool race. There was never a dead spot between the runners and the people cheering. Juat when the crowds thinned they picked right back up. SURPRISINGLY... The portopotties were never crowded or gross 👏👏
I didnt like how difficult it was to navigate the bodies, especially when the course narrowed.
Course support was fantastic amd everyone was cheering and helpful.
Also running through the different parts of the city was really cool
The spiraling glass Towers were juxtaposed with the semi gothic-looking churches and the seemingly out-of-place IHOP made the race pass by pretty quickly

Also I don't know who put that guy in drag on the stage but thank him/her for cheering

I think the only thing I didn't like about the course was somewhere around mile 19 or 20 there was train tracks and they were annoying not impossible just annoying.
Okay and since i am complaining mile 5 and mile 15 do need to be repatched so if someone from the city of Chicago reads this please patch mile 5 and mile 15

Post race:
I like the bag of snacks they give you and the tape they use to hold you heat shield was pretty dope.
Beer was good. Really good.

I never made it to the Biofreeze mile 27 which i kind of regretted but....next time???

All in all-do the race.
I probably wont be back, but i also said i probably wont run a marathon 🙈🙉🙊

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

The Good: flat. Pancake flat.
The bad: mile 12 is so flat i almost fell asleep.....

The Expo:....
Sadly I did not go. I live about 2 hours from this race and grabbed the packet in the morning.
I will say that the timing folks and the volunteers are pretty Helpful. I was scheduled to run the half-marathon but must have signed up for the full Marathon and they were able to switch the timing pretty easily.

Pre race communication:
The week leading up to the race there was a lot of communication.
Before that though it was kind of ...crickets
The one thing I have to say is the documents that the race director provides are thorough but I'm a mobile phone user and it was problematic to open the attachments on my phone
** as a side note it was difficult to navigate this site when I initially registered for the race but after I knew what I wanted to do on the race site it was pretty easy

The course:
Flat.
I think the highlight of this course is that the first mile is a loop around Dover International Speedway!
While I couldn't do a whole race like that it is pretty neat to run that Loop like you're a human race car.
There is a ton of police presence which helps to direct traffic (that way you do not get run over by a car.)
There is the occasional driver who honks or is not "runner friendly" because the course is not closed.
I personallydid not like that we had to cross live intersections so frequently, but there were no issues and the poloce were friendly.

The finish:
I was a little let down because I thought that the Finish Line was going to be a bit...I don't know; cooler?
The race director was there welcoming finishers which was actually pretty neat--he was announcing Runners as they were coming in, as opposed to people just finishing in silence or having someone outside of the org do the announcing; so the Personal Touch was really nice.
they had a pizza truck that wasn't open yet and they had a beer truck that wasn't open yet and i thought they were aupposed to have a masseuse who wasnt there (yet?)

They had a cooler filled with water...
...
Any way
The race director allowed me to pick up my age-group award early which was very thoughtful! He absolutely could have said "no kid wait your turn" but didnt.
***side note , there is a good possibility pizza and beer would have been avaialable if I had run the Marathon.****

Others: the scenery was okay. The speedway piece was cool.
Miles 10-12.7 were meh. The last half mile was really a good ramp up to the finish. There is an awkward turn around before the route 1 bridge and it gives the runners a good "dig" point.

All in all this was a low ke, well organized race. I like the charity the race benefits.

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