Latest reviews by Tia Hedenland

(2019)
"All the pink!"
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This was a weekend I knew wasn't going to be all about PR's. More about spending time celebrating amazing women, supporting each other and running for a great cause.

Traveling from MN, being able to find hotels/restaurants close to the race start/course is always a plus. We ended up staying right at the Hyatt. And the start line was right outside the hotels front doors. (with the finish line not too far down the block)

The expo took a bit of winding through the hotel and a few directional pointing from hotel staff to find. There were multiple booths offering clothing/last minute race items and additional race swag. Packet pick-up was simple. And after picking up your shirt in the next room, you did have the option to exchange sizes.

It really was a weekend full of events. Pre-race pasta dinner was provided to runners, and the guest speaker was so wonderful.

There was nothing amazing about the course. In all honesty, it was really industrial and until the final miles you didn't even see the river. But in terms of elevation difficulty. It was nearly pancake flat and an easy 13.1.

Because it is such a small race. Supporters are rare along the entire course. But the ones who were out there really gave it there all. Music, fruit snacks, cow bells and high-fives from little ones who literally made multiple stops along the entire course and cheered everyone on! It was the coolest thing to see the same few families almost the entire 13miles!!

FREE PICS!! Can you really beat FREE? The photographers did an amazing job and the pics turned out great. I love races that offer free pics and let everyone have an opportunity to showcase their race. Well done to the multiple photogs out there. Well done!

The race shirt was a pink long-sleeve tshirt with a hood. Very cute and nice quality. The finisher medal was not a "medal" but rather a necklace/keychain. Which to me is great. Its a unique race, so even the swag is unique and I appreciate that. (the top female finishers earned medals for their amazing efforts)

The post-race treats were AWESOME! ALL THE PINK! Between the veggie/hummus wrap, pink lemonade, cookies, strawberry shortcake, free beer. Yes please! Loved it all.

If you are looking for a small town race feel, with amazing women (and even a few men who came out and ran just to support) this is the race for you, I would love to come back and race this again. So fun!

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(2019)
"Knocked it out of the park!"
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If you are looking for a one of a kind race in Milwaukee...this is it!

Picture yourself running around the inside of Miller Park on the field and then receiving a crazy cool Brewers Medal as you cross the finish line!

This race is one of the most organized races I have seen. From the very first email you receive when you sign up, to the people directing the parking and all the info after and great tailgate party!

Hotel/Travel: It was quite a drive from Minneapolis to travel to Milwaukee. But the hotel selection in and around Milwaukee is great. Many are just a short drive to Miller Park, with great food selections any direction you head.

Packet Pick-Up/Expo: Packet Pick-up was at Miller Park. Make sure to bring ID as they do check. It was an easy in and out to pick up bib. There were a few vendors set up, discounts on signing up for additional area races. Friends/Family can make signs. If you are a Brewers fan. They offered 25% off in the fan shop if you showed your bib at check out! Great perk to get some additional MLB gear!

Parking: I could not have been more impressed with how organized the parking was. Not only was it free, but as you pulled into Miller Park, they had volunteers directing you to an exact parking spot. Saved so much time, it was great.

Course: If there was anything that wasn't thrilling, it was certain parts of the course. Not every bit of the 13.1 was scenic. But still a great course for the most part and many many places for spectators to watch and cheer you on!

Finish line/Tailgate Party: Hello free beer!! Each runner received two free beer tickets. post race stretching done by athletic trainers/PT's was fantastic! And chic-fil-a sandwiches for all!! There was great music, plenty of seats to rest and relax!

Swag: Each runner was give a race technical tshirt. This years shirt color was baby blue. not my fav color. But the medal was amazingly cool and unique. Bling bling!

I really enjoyed all parts of this race. The volunteers were phenomenal, the support of other runners was fantastic. The pacers were such a hoot and made for an entertaining fun race.

I will surely be back!

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(2019)
"Start with a race, end with a party!"
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This was the first year that I have ran the LifeTime Torchlight 5K. I was excited to get back to running along the river in Minneapolis and experience what it was like to run a race at night.

While there wasn't an actual expo. Packet pick-ups were at multiple LifeTime Fitness locations around the metro. Which really is a great way to do it, and gives runners an opportunity to pick-up their bibs closer to home. Race day pick also available.

Parking was available in the nearby ramps from the Minneapolis Convention Center. While the traffic was a bit backed up as a few roads were closed due to the race. It was within a block from start line and only cost $10. Very cheap for downtown Mpls.

The type of swag that you receive it pretty typical. What made it stand out though is the glow in the dark features on both the shirt and medal! And as you cross the finish line, you are gifted a finisher bag with a few goddies in it from sponsors etc. Near the end of the night as we were enjoying a few beers and the band. There was a gentleman walking around giving out pint glasses. Which was a nice surprise!!

This year the course was changed a little because of construction. And because it was my first year running it. I do not have a comparison to other years. But I enjoyed this course. Its fairly flat. It started at the Minneapolis Convention Center and ended at Boom Island Park. We worked our way through downtown, and then along the river. Not the most scenic, but at along the river are some very nice views. The course follows the Aquatennial Parade route. So it is packed with spectators!

Now my favorite part was the post race party!! Who doesn't love pizza and beer after a hot race? There were a few great spots to take pics. And the band was fantastic. We had alot fun visiting the vendor booths, enjoying the ice cold beer (multiple non-alcoholic options available) and dancing to the music!! This was more then just a regular post race area. It was quite the party in the park!!

Starting shortly after the race ended they started providing free shuttles back to the start line. Because we had stayed until the end of the night. We took the last round of the shuttles running. A bit of confusion as to what time shuttles ran until. Website listed 11pm. Security guards were stating 10pm. As we waited in line we were concerned we had missed the final shuttles. But thankfully we had not. So with a bit of a minor miscommunication, the shuttles were pretty great to have for runners post-race.

I think this race is fantastic!! Running at night, in a great part of Minneapolis, awesome post-race party and the entire race is ran very well! I can't wait for 2020! Easily the best 5K in town!

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(2019)
"A fun way to kick- off your 4th of July!"
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2019 was the first year that I have ran the Red, White & Boom 5K! Often times we travel a lot around the 4th of July. So being in town this year, it worked out perfect to head to Minneapolis bright and early and get in a quick run before the house was even awake!

Right off the bat, the race proves to be a fun way to start off any 4th of July celebrations!! There is something for everyone in the family on race day! A variety of distances, games, great food, music, beer, cool treats and awesome swag!

I wish all packet pick-ups were held at a brewery. That was honestly one of my favorite parts. Heading to Summit Brewing Co. picking race bib, tshirt, additional gear for sale and enjoying a beer at the same time! Kind of genius! Its not always about beer, but its summer and Summit beer is fantastic!

Speaking of summer. I greatly appreciate the early start time to the races as well. Here in MN, the weather is quite unpredictable. And this year the heat and humidity came full force. So being able to start the races before 7am was for sure a plus.

Its safe to say parking in Minneapolis is always a bit of a challenge. And while there are plenty of spaces in the near by ramps to park. Actually getting into them really is time consuming. If you plan to park in a ramp, leave plenty of time to do so. And I'm talking a minimum of a half hour to sit in line to get into ramp. I found a spot a few blocks away on the street for free, that was much easier to get to and didnt involve sitting in line. So if you do not mind walking an extra 3+ blocks, I highly suggest street parking.

The course is great. One steep incline going over the bridge but for the most part its fairly flat. The scenery is great and many parts were shaded. The final part of the race takes you across the Stone Arch Bridge that was lined with American Flags! So fun. And such an iconic feature to that part of Minneapolis. I love when race courses cross that bridge!

While the aid stations were well stocked with water and gatorade. I do wish knowing the temps were high 70’s and very very high humidity that morning, that additional items were considered, (And possibly they were for the half marathon) like ice or sponges. While I realize it was only a 5K. It would have helped immensely to have an additional way to cool off while running. Even setting up a sprinkler near the 1 aid station during the race would have been awesome!

Post-Race:
Can you really ask for any better way to celebrate America’s Birthday?? Beer, hot dogs, burgers, All-American pops, and a donut eating contest!? Woot woot!
As a vegetarian, it was even great to see the option of a veggie dog as well! I had heard many people did not see that was an option. So possibly better signage or volunteers ensuring all finishers know the options before leaving the food area would be helpful. As you could not reenter once you left. You dont want anyone to miss out! There really are not alot of races that offer vegetarian options so this really should be highlighted! It made alot of runners happy!

Between the games, the misting stations, the cool treats and beer tent. It was such a fun way to spend some time after the race with other friends and family and enjoy the weather and holiday!

The only real negative I must state is the decision to not place porta pottys in the beer tent area. No one was allowed to take beer out of the flagged off area. So having to find someone hold your beer and/or food to use the restroom wasnt fun. Especially if you happened to be there by yourself. It just made sense to place at least one or two porta pottys within the area you could drink so no one had to leave angthing unattended or possibly leave early as they drank what they had and needed to use the restroom and decided to just head out.

But all in all, this was such a fun race! The medal was perfect, the weather while so so hot still made for a great summer day. I would absolutely run this again!!

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(2019)
"An amazing view the entire 26.2!"
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2019 was my first year running the full marathon. It was actually my first time taking on the Great Grandma's Challenge (5K + Marathon). What started out as a sudden change to doing the entire 26.2 vs. the half, ended up being "well lets just run it all!". And it was the best decision.
Lodging can be a bit tricky, and expensive. So book early. The closer you stay to downtown the pricier it will be, and many places require a two-night stay. Like last year I stayed at Black Bear Casino, and while I stayed the entire weekend, you do have the option to stay just one night if preferred. While its a 25 min drive into Duluth, it was a much lower hotel cost!
The 5K start line/finish is right outside the expo, which makes it easy to go from parking lot to packet pick-up to start line in just a matter of minutes. Nothing too difficult about the 5K course. Great race to get the legs moving before the Marathon the next morning.
The expo is exactly what I remember it from last year. Wide variety of vendors. signs easily pointing you towards the Spaghetti dinner, guest speakers and information desk if so needed. If there is anything to note, when picking up packet, you will need your bib number. They do not have a place to look it up for you, nor are they listed by name. Bib number is a must to have on hand. Cell service inside the exhibit hall can be pretty poor. So either taking a screen shot of the email sent to you with all bib numbers or just printing it out can be very helpful, and will save time for everyone.
Parking around the DECC that weekend will be quite a hassle. Even driving in from Minneapolis you come to a stop on I-35. Plan for plenty of time to travel into downtown Duluth both Friday and Saturday (Parking at the DECC is $5/day).
This year with running the Great Grandma's Challenge I got a bit of extra swag. The shirt you receive for the 5K is given out at packet pick-up. But the finisher shirt for the Marathon and Half Marathon are given out after you cross the finish line. I did not sign up in time to receive the nice blue jacket that was given to full marathoners for free this year, but I did receive a very nice navy/bright yellow jacket for running the Challenge. The short sleeve shirts are nice quality and this years shirt was purple! Grandma's also offered an additional opportunity to showcase your big finish with a long sleeve shirt you could purchase after the race online. Limited quantities were available. But just another way to show off the fantastic weekend with a bit of a warmer shirt.
Now onto the Marathon. Starting line transportation is provided via school bus or train. A short walk after you arrive in Two Harbors and you are at the start line, where a plethora of porta potties await, as well as a DJ ready to pump everyone up for a fantastic race. The entire race runs along Lake Superior and this year, with the sun shining, the clear blue skies gave stunning views of the lake. It really was amazing. The course has very little elevation change. The only significant hill is towards the end at around mile 22 and coined "Lemon Drop HIll". While on a normal day this hill may not seem like such a challenge. 22 miles in it does make you work a bit to get up it. But truly the course is fairly flat. The best part of Grandma's Marathon is the amazing community support. Many of the streets are lined with people cheering you on, handing out additional water/fuel options and some pretty great high-fives. And the volunteers are phenomenal! From start to finish they are with you all the way. Always smiling and so helpful!

If you are looking for a fun weekend packed and big races with a small town feel, this is the race for you! It gives you a taste of the beauty the North Shore has to offer and a small town charm you cant find anywhere else but MN.

Yes I would recommend it! And yes I will be back in 2020!!

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