Latest reviews by Ken Bray

(2021)
"Bring the Christmas Story Experience Home!"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Back story: This race has been on my calendar for years, but I've never found the time to travel to Cleveland. We actually set aside time in 2021 to run this race in person, however, the pandemic had other plans. Needless to say, I was thrilled when this race went virtual for 2021 and I was finally able to participate!

Swag: The jacket is made well, I find ordering a size larger always "fits" better. The design is lightweight and comfortable for lounging or taking a run in brisk weather, the fabric breathes well so it's not too heavy.

The hat! The knit hat is very plush and comfortable. I was surprised how warm it kept my ears during outdoor activities in the snow. I like the "A Christmas Story" logo on the hat, it's subtle and not obnoxious.

The medal for the race is heavy and overall pretty attractive, my only wish was that it was a little more "movie" themed (maybe a nod to the leg lamp? It was a major award after all!).

Overall: While not being able to run this race in person (which I feel steals from the experience), I'm overall pleased I was able to add this to my calendar. I appreciate the race going virtual and hope to one day make it out for the real deal!

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(2021)
"HOT CHOCOLATE!"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

I typically run the Philly Hot Chocolate race every year and actually planned on being in Columbus in time for this race, but this year had other plans. I figured I'd take advantage and still register for the virtual race and keep my race calendar active for 2020.

Swag: The jacket! Hands down, my reason for running this series every year is for the jacket! In my experience, the sizing seems to run small for me. My typical size is large, however, I purposely order an XL to take advantage of the extra room and comfort. I find the large is rather form-fitting, so if that's your style order your size.

The medal! Kind of a letdown, but I get it, the HC series is mailing out thousands of these packets so I get that they need to cut costs on some things. I used to look forward to the region-specific medals - I have a handful of Philly-unique medals here and noticed over the past two years they've moved to a more generic design. This year's medal feels a little off - I don't want to say cheap, but it kinda feels that way.

The Chocolate! One thing I enjoy is the finisher's mug loaded with junk food on race day - nothing says "congrats for running 9 miles" than a mug full of hot chocolate, melted chocolate, pretzels, rice crispies, and more.

Since the event is virtual, the HC Series sends you two (2) packets of hot chocolate mix and a handful of bite-sized chocolates. A pretty "sweet" reward for running!

Overall: I would say I'm pleased with the virtual race, I'm looking forward to running it in person and hopefully the medals will return to the region-specific designs.

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(2020)
"Awesome Virtual Experience!"
Overall
Race Management
SWAG
Virtual Support

Since COVID has pretty much knocked out all in person races for 2020 the silver lining is that most races are turning virtual, and now available to all!

The Race to Wrigley combines my love for all things Chicago, and packaged them up in an awesome virtual race experience! The swag is hands down a must for any Cubs fan, and really exceeded my expectations. The medal is high quality, and OVERSIZED compared to most medals. The tech shirt looks like a baseball uniform and is also made from quality materials. Also included was a neck gator (which I've been wearing a lot lately), a bib, and Cubs themed bag!

I was thrilled to see this race go virtual, and I was even more thrilled to have been able to participate from home!

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(2019)
"The Mushroom Capitol of the World!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Kennett Square, PA the self-proclaimed Mushroom Capitol of the World is home of the Mushroom Cap Half Marathon! This race takes place the first weekend in November and boasts amazing autumn views and cool, crisp weather!

The event is held in conjunction with The Creamery of Kennett which makes for a great time and great venue to host a half marathon. The town of Kennett and surrounding townships do a great job of keeping the roads clear of vehicles and maintaining a safe course. The course is mostly ran on asphalt with an occasional mile stretch or two on compacted gravel. Overall the course provides ample aide stations and port-a-johns.

The elevation does include hills. Yes, this course has a few hills, which are fairly common for Pennsylvania countryside courses. The biggest hill is around the 8-9 mile marker, but otherwise if you’ve trained properly the course is wonderfully challenging. There are just about equal amounts of uphill and downhill sections, enjoy the ride!

See my full race recap here: https://kenstandsonthings.wordpress.com/2019/11/05/race-recap-mushroom-cap-half-marathon/

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(2019)
"Exceeds all Expectations!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The half marathon of the Freedoms Run was such a great experience. The weather was perfectly cool for what has probably been one of my favorite half marathon experiences so far!

West Virginia, “almost like heaven”, is a great place for an early fall half marathon. The season is fresh and the possibilities for cooler weather are nearly endless. Shepard’s town is a sleepy little village north of Harpers Ferry, and sits in the heart of the Antietam battlefields.

Packet pickup was a breeze, the event coordinators did an amazing job of keeping everything orderly and structured. The race director’s email updates on registration, pickup locations, as well as the timing of events was spot on and provided excellent notice for participants to not be confused on race day.

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They even had a large number of volunteers walking around during packet pickup that were more than welcome to chat and fill you in on all the necessary race details. I had a great conversation with a volunteer that gave me the scope on parking for the day of the race and I left feeling confident I wasn’t going to have any logistical issues the morning of the race.

Email updates included photos, maps, and links to addresses for various locations. Again, I can’t express enough how great of the job the team did on executing this race.

Read my full review with more information on the race: https://kenstandsonthings.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/race-recap-freedoms-run-half-marathon/

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