Latest reviews by Linda Juretschke

(2021)
"Bear Down, Chicago Bears!"
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T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

As a lifelong Chicagoan and Chicago Bears fan, I was thrilled with the opportunity to run this virtual race. With so many in-person races cancelled in the past 18 months, it's nice to still have the opportunity to run and earn some awesome swag!

The PNC Chicago Bears Virtual 5k took place on Saturday, July 31st. I happened to be in Washington, DC that weekend, so that is where I ran my race. Yet another benefit of virtual racing is that you can get your miles in pretty much anywhere on earth!

One of my favorite things about this race is that a portion of each registration fee went to Bears Care, which helps underserved communities in the Chicago area. 100% of funds raised were earmarked for COVID-19 recovery efforts and community revitalization in one of the most underserved communities in Chicago.

I loved the swag for this race, which included a super-soft 100% polyester performance shirt (meaning it won't shrink) with the outline of the Chicago skyline and a large bear underneath with the words "RUN LIKE A BEAR ~ IL ~ 2021" 'hidden' within the silhouette of the bear itself. I received a neck gaitor with the Bears logo as well as an awesome medal that is nicely displayed on my "Because Running Isn't Cancelled" medal hanger used specifically for my virtual race medals. I also received a numbered race bib, personalized with my first name, that I proudly wore as I ran my 5K around the U.S. Capitol Reflecting Pool.

I would definitely recommend running this race, and of course as we all do, I am hoping it can be an in-person race next year. I will definitely be there to help support my favorite team’s charity efforts!

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(2020)
"2020 Allstate Chicago Hot Chocolate Virtual 15K: A Delicious Option!"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

I originally signed up for the in-person event and was very much looking forward to my first Hot Chocolate race. I chose the 15K distance, which is becoming one of my favorite race distances. The race organizers did a great job of keeping us up to date and enthusiastic about the race, despite the need for it to have gone virtual. Communication was always clear and it often felt like we were leading up to 'the real thing'.

As promised, my race swag and medal arrived about 2 weeks before the official race date. The jacket is so nice - very high quality, and I love the removable zip-off hood. I will definitely be wearing this one for a long time. Lots of sweet treats were included in the goodie bag, and the race medal is just so cool! It has a hidden compartment held shut by a magnet. It took me a while to realize it opened, but when I finally figured it out, I found another sweet treat inside.

I will definitely be signing up for this race next year. Here's hoping we'll all be back to in-person races soon!

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(2020)
"2020 Race to Wrigley: They Really Hit This One Out of the Park!"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

As a lifelong Cubs fan, nothing – including a pandemic – was going to stop me from running this race! I’ve been wanting to run the Race to Wrigley for a number of years, but the scheduled dates never worked out for me. The virtual option offered a range of dates, which took away the problem of not being available on race day.

Just as with most of the virtual races I’ve done, I received my finisher’s shirt, race medal, and some extra swag in advance of the race. I was so surprised by the quality of the race shirt – probably one of the highest quality shirts I have ever received! The material was thick and very much like a regular baseball jersey. I will definitely be wearing this shirt in the future. And the medal? Oh. My. Goddess. It was huge, and marked to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the race. I almost felt guilty receiving it, not having run this race in prior years. Other race swag included a Race to Wrigley neck gaiter, a Cubs-themed drawstring bag, and a personalized race bib.

I decided to run the race on the first day of the virtual schedule. I headed into the city early in the morning and ran the distance around Lakeview (known by many as Wrigleyville), starting and ending at Wrigley Field. It was fun to see so many other people, adults and kids alike, sporting their race medals and taking photos around the ballpark.

Overall, I loved everything about this race. It’s a great race for families to participate in together, and I know mine will definitely be signing up for the in-person version of this race next year!

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(2020)
"I am Wonder Woman!"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

What a fun-themed race! With so many races having gone virtual, I am definitely picking and choosing which ones I will be signing up for. I've always been a fan of Wonder Woman, and I loved the empowering #IAmWonderWoman theme of this race. The swag is top-notch, with a high-quality long sleeved quarter zip, tote bag, and fun Wonder Woman wristbands. The medal is absolutely beautiful. I will definitely be signing up for the in-person version of this race next year!

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(2019)
"2019 Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I love everything about Las Vegas - fabulous restaurants, great shows, good weather, and yes, gambling! Throw in the opportunity to run the Strip at Night, and I am ALL IN! We arrived at the expo early on Friday afternoon and it was not crowded at all. Everything was clearly marked and easy to navigate. The expo wasn't super-crowded and was nicely spread out, so even with more people, it wouldn't be an issue.

I ran the 5K on Saturday, but the course did not involve running on the Strip. The 5K was definitely chill and seemed to cater more toward the walker/casual runner, though I'm sure there was a competitive field. Running the 5K the day before the half was a nice preview of running in the desert air, which really helped me plan for the half marathon distance.

We stayed at Paris Las Vegas which was perfect, since the half/full marathon pre-race staging was directly behind our hotel. I walked over about an hour before start time, which was more than enough time. I cycled through the porta-potty line twice since it was moving so quickly. I didn't check a bag, but would have had plenty of time to do so if I needed to. There was a stage with a band playing, so I listened for a while before heading to the start gate. We probably walked a good quarter to half mile to the actual start line on the Strip.

We headed south on Las Vegas Boulevard (AKA the Strip), past the famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign. There was a band playing and many people stopped and waited in line for a photo in front of the iconic sign. We looped around and headed back north. There's not much to see at that end of the Strip. Once we approached Excalibur, New York, New York, and the surrounding venues the bright lights appeared and it with it now being dark, it finally felt like we were running the "Strip at Night". We ran the length of the Strip all the way downtown to Old Las Vegas and Fremont Street. We spent very little time in that area which was fine given the fact it seemed a little more remote and off the beaten path. We headed back south on the Strip and the lights once again appeared. Full marathon participants veered to the right while those of us doing the half veered to the left.

Around Mile 11 we were told there was no more water at the aid station, but were assured there would be plenty just a few hundred feet ahead (there was). I brought three Gatorade Endurance gels and decided to take my third at that point. Because my throat got so dry at the 5K the day before, I brought a bunch of cough drops with me and I pretty much had one in my mouth the entire time, which was my saving grace. I hydrated like crazy the day before and the morning of the race, but that desert air is no joke.

The finish line was located in front of the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, but we had to walk for what seemed like forever to be able to exit the course. Because I participated in races two days in a row, besides the individual race medals, I also earned the Remix medal, which is shaped like an old boom box to match the Rock 'n' Roll theme.

This was a fabulous race weekend and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was especially fun to be with great friends, old and new. The expo was average - not too small and not too big, nicely spread out with plenty of vendors to visit. The 5K race was a bit chaotic at the start with people self-seeding in obviously incorrect corrals. The course was quiet but the fest at the end of the race made up for all of that. The half/full marathon start was much better organized and the pre-race festivities/band were great. The course was mostly fun with just a few dead zones. There were spectators along the course on the main area of the Strip, but it seemed as if the majority of them were there for Vegas and not necessarily interested in seeing a race. I'm sure many of them didn't even know a race was going on until they came across a Strip that was closed to traffic.

As far as swag, the participant shirts were nothing spectacular but the finishers' medals were awesome. This is a fun race weekend and while there are serious racers out there, I'd say the vast majority of runners/walkers are out there for a good time. Las Vegas is one of my favorite places to vacation, so adding a race to an extended weekend visit gives me one more excuse to visit. I would definitely do this race again and would make it a part of a fun weekend in one of my favorite vacation spots.

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