Latest reviews by Chris Sosinski

(2020)
"Great day to get some speed"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Silver Circle Sports is a great company that has races nearly every weekend for all different skillsets. The Great Milwaukee Pie Run was hosted at Boerner Botanic Gardens in Hales Corners. At the park there is ample parking and an indoor shelter. Thus there are plenty of indoor bathrooms too.

Packet pick up was easy as it was in the indoor shelter. This company is very organized, as they now use a QR code to identify your bib number.

The start and finish lines are usually the same location. This time it was located right outside of the shelter. Silver Circle had signs and music to cheer the environment. Up until the start of the race, they had announcements to help keep participants up and moving. Once started, the course was well marked! Mile 1 was perfectly synced to my GPS. Miles 2-finish were off. The course was slightly short. So there was a little bit of a fake out when I finished haha. All was good though because the race was well marked and it was impossible to get lost. The scenery was fantastic and there were rolling hills to add a challenge to the course.

Coming up to the finish there was a nice hill. This was fun to challenge those around you to finish strong. Upon finishing, the volunteers cheerfully provided medals and congratulations on the successful run.

The swag was good at this race. There were AG awards and OA awards for the winners of each race. Also there were shirts and mini pies! Personally I opted out of a shirt, but ate the pie. When you opt out of a shirt, you save $5! I did earn an AG award, but had to leave early for work so I did not receive the award. Silver Circle has an option to allow you to have the medals mailed to you, or pick it up from their Oconomowoc office.

Besides this race being slightly short, I do recommend this race for other to run. Silver Circle is always kind and provides a well run event.

P.S.
Since I had to work I don't have a photo for this review. If I acquire a good photo, I will add it to the posting.

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(2020)
"Auto Show Adventure"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Honda Miles Per Hour Run did not have an expo. There was day of pick up and also several times at Fleet Feet stores in the Chicago area. I decided to do day of packet pick up.

Getting to McCormick Place was smooth sailing. I parked in garage C. Once parked, there were no signs telling you how to get to the Auto Show. After walking a mile to the north building for McCormick Place, there were signs telling you how to access the Auto Show.

Using the signs from the Auto Show, I was able to navigate to bib pick up and gear check. Both booths were very easy to get through. The volunteers were kind and helpful. No ID was needed to get your bib. For gear check, volunteers were handing out zip ties for marking your check bag.

Warm up was seemingly going to be easy. Little did I know that the actual Auto Show was closed until after the start of the race. This caused some difficulty in getting the miles I needed prior to the race. The actual course was well marked with cones, ribbons and arrows. If you got lost it was because you literally walked off the course.

The start line was not well marked. The announcer herded everyone to the start line. A start sign would have been helpful. As mentioned previously the rest of the course was very well laid out. Since it was inside there were lots of turns. None of the turns were too sharp. I was reminded of a looped XC course from my high school years. Surprisingly there were hills inside! There was a skywalk that runners covered and it was an actual hill. Otherwise, the course was flat.

The course consisted of tile flooring, carpet and cement. The carpeting was difficult to work with because it was slippy. Otherwise the course footing was satisfactory. The course scenery on the other hand was not great. Over half of the loop did not have cars. We ran in a large Honda test drive room with no cars. In the future I would like to see the majority of the course go through the Auto Show even if that means more turns.

Water stops were great. They were long enough to where there were not traffic jams. All the volunteers were super cheery too! As the event went, on the course got harder as there were participants lapping each other. This made it hard for the faster runners to get though the course.

Swag was okay. The shirts were cotton, and I can't say I earned a medal, but instead a rubber. The participant gift was like a medal, but rubber. I think they were trying to have a car tire like feeling of the award. Food after the race was very minimal, a banana and RX bar to be exact. Age group awards are still being calculated. The RD said that later in the afternoon, results would be available. Received an update about unofficial results at 3:00 AM. It is the event's first year, so I understand that things don't always go perfectly, but please keep your word.

Overall I would not recommend this race to a friend looking for a serious run. The terrain is hard to work with as there are so many unnatural surfaces. Travel logistics are a nightmare too. If you are coming from afar and don’t know Chicago, it is hard to navigate. If you don't live close to Chicago, or love cars, I would say risk the weather outside. This race gets a 3.5 total rating from me because it was well run by CARA but was not ideal for speedy conditions.

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(2019)
"A unique fall run with a great running atmosphere"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Run of the Dead Elimination Run was an energizing experience. There were three distance options to run in loop fashion, 34 mile, 17 miles, and 8.5 miles. Each loop began at the top of the hour starting at 8:00 AM and went until 3 pm. Personally I did the 8.5 miles, or 2 loop challenge.

The event had a packet pick up on Saturday but since I live in Milwaukee, I chose to pick up my packet on Sunday. I am sure the packet pick up was kick butt just like the rest of the day was for the Run of the Dead Elimination Run. Packet pickup was very easy on event day. It was literally under the main pavilion by the starting line.

Upon arriving to the park participants are able to follow signs for the Run of the Dead Elimination Run event. It directs runners to the main parking lot and secondary lot. Both of which are pretty full by the time the 2 loop challenge begins. Do not fret because there are plenty of spaces available at Old School Forest Preserve.

While waiting for the start of the 8.5 distance there were snacks and drinks for runners, including fresh and warm crepes. Competitors that were in the 4 and 8 loop challenge set up camp, making it look like a cross country meet. Music was blaring and the atmosphere was totally runner filled. Since it is the Run of the Dead, there was a ton of people dressed in costume too.

Upon the start of the loop, the RD did a countdown to finish the previous loop. Then he would actually say GO. No gun, air horn or noise maker of any sort. Then everyone took off. This year the course was super muddy. The grass had been trampled for 6 previous laps and the landscape demonstrated it. This mud hole was for about the first 400 meters, which included going up and down some gentle hills. Runners then were directed to a gravel path, for the majority of the loop.

While running, the landscape was just breath taking. Trails twist and turned through the fall wooded landscape and the terrain was flat. There was standing water in numerous spots, otherwise the trail was well groomed and marked. As for getting lost, do not even worry. There were signs everywhere. On the loop there is one aid station you see twice. It has food and drink along with some fantastic volunteers.

Upon finishing the loop competitors are challenged by a hill. They can go up it once or as many times as they would like with the time left in the hour. The best part is that atop the hill there are margaritas and jalapeño lager. Hill toppers also get a patch. Note that this hill is not for the faint of heart. The steep incline turns into a vertical grade. To put it in perspective there is a guide rail along the path you run. Some runners were not bothered by the grade of the hill. Run of the Dead has another challenge the King and Queen of the Hill. This year’s champion did 136 hill repeats in addition to his 34 miles. I only did one hill since it was so steep and was not great for a hill work out. Since runners can do as many hills as you would like, that is why I rated the course as a 3 star hill course.

After finishing the hill(s) it shoots participants back to the finish line. There runners are greeted by the RD and his crew. With the remaining time, participants are able to change clothes recover or plot for their next loop.

This cycle repeats until the final victory lap where each distance competes for the final fastest lap. This means each male and female from the 8, 4 and 2 loop challenge can win a prize for their fastest last lap. There are no chips, so upon crossing the finish line the RD asks runners what event they did and determines their place from their answer. Volunteers mark bibs as a finisher, so participants can get their unique custom mug.

After the race has concluded there is an after party at Half Day Brewery in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Tickets are required to attend and cost $10, getting visitors unlimited pizza and wings. Prizes are awarded, raffles for gift cards and fat bikes happen too. This year, the event sold past year’s swag. Just like the event, the swag was pretty wicked including sugar skull drinking vessels, Patagonia shorts, fanny packs, screen shirts and this year’s custom Goodr sunglasses for those who did not get a pair.

Overall this event is fantastic and I would suggest everyone to try out this event. There is nothing like it out there. The people are great and so are the trails. Thanks Libertyville Running Club for making this event possible.

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(2019)
"A unique fall run with a great running atmosphere"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Run of the Dead Elimination Run was an energizing experience. There were three distance options to run in loop fashion, 34 mile, 17 miles, and 8.5 miles. Each loop began at the top of the hour starting at 8:00 AM and went until 3 pm. Personally I did the 8.5 miles, or 2 loop challenge.

The event had a packet pick up on Saturday but since I live in Milwaukee, I chose to pick up my packet on Sunday. I am sure the packet pick up was kick butt just like the rest of the day was for the Run of the Dead Elimination Run. Packet pickup was very easy on event day. It was literally under the main pavilion by the starting line.

Upon arriving to the park participants are able to follow signs for the Run of the Dead Elimination Run event. It directs runners to the main parking lot and secondary lot. Both of which are pretty full by the time the 2 loop challenge begins. Do not fret because there are plenty of spaces available at Old School Forest Preserve.

While waiting for the start of the 8.5 distance there were snacks and drinks for runners, including fresh and warm crepes. Competitors that were in the 4 and 8 loop challenge set up camp, making it look like a cross country meet. Music was blaring and the atmosphere was totally runner filled. Since it is the Run of the Dead, there was a ton of people dressed in costume too.

Upon the start of the loop, the RD did a countdown to finish the previous loop. Then he would actually say GO. No gun, air horn or noise maker of any sort. Then everyone took off. This year the course was super muddy. The grass had been trampled for 6 previous laps and the landscape demonstrated it. This mud hole was for about the first 400 meters, which included going up and down some gentle hills. Runners then were directed to a gravel path, for the majority of the loop.

While running, the landscape was just breath taking. Trails twist and turned through the fall wooded landscape and the terrain was flat. There was standing water in numerous spots, otherwise the trail was well groomed and marked. As for getting lost, do not even worry. There were signs everywhere. On the loop there is one aid station you see twice. It has food and drink along with some fantastic volunteers.

Upon finishing the loop competitors are challenged by a hill. They can go up it once or as many times as they would like with the time left in the hour. The best part is that atop the hill there are margaritas and jalapeño lager. Hill toppers also get a patch. Note that this hill is not for the faint of heart. The steep incline turns into a vertical grade. To put it in perspective there is a guide rail along the path you run. Some runners were not bothered by the grade of the hill. Run of the Dead has another challenge the King and Queen of the Hill. This year’s champion did 136 hill repeats in addition to his 34 miles. I only did one hill since it was so steep and was not great for a hill work out. Since runners can do as many hills as you would like, that is why I rated the course as a 3 star hill course.

After finishing the hill(s) it shoots participants back to the finish line. There runners are greeted by the RD and his crew. With the remaining time, participants are able to change clothes recover or plot for their next loop.

This cycle repeats until the final victory lap where each distance competes for the final fastest lap. This means each male and female from the 8, 4 and 2 loop challenge can win a prize for their fastest last lap. There are no chips, so upon crossing the finish line the RD asks runners what event they did and determines their place from their answer. Volunteers mark bibs as a finisher, so participants can get their unique custom mug.

After the race has concluded there is an after party at Half Day Brewery in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Tickets are required to attend and cost $10, getting visitors unlimited pizza and wings. Prizes are awarded, raffles for gift cards and fat bikes happen too. This year, the event sold past year’s swag. Just like the event, the swag was pretty wicked including sugar skull drinking vessels, Patagonia shorts, fanny packs, screen shirts and this year’s custom Goodr sunglasses for those who did not get a pair.

Overall this event is fantastic and I would suggest everyone to try out this event. There is nothing like it out there. The people are great and so are the trails. Thanks Libertyville Running Club for making this event possible.

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(2019)
"The Best Tour of Wisconsin's State Capital City"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2019 Madison Marathon and Half Marathon was held on a blustery Sunday in early November. In Wisconsin the weather is unpredictable making a later marathon or half a risky choice.

To start with I did not attend the expo because I had to work on Saturday and could not get to Madison from Milwaukee. Parking structures are everywhere in the city. It was my lucky day and I found prime parking right outside the finish line by the Madison Concourse Hotel. Parking cost $8 at this structure. After parking, I headed over to bib pick up. I chose the day of packet pick up a for $30. Some races are now making this a free feature. Having helped out in the past, with day of pick up for other races, I know the difficulty that comes from day of pick up. I am torn about how much should be charged for this feature as not everyone is able to make it the night before to the event. The packet pick up for day of was smooth and easy.

Between the start of the race and packet pick up I was able to spend time in a heated tent for pre/post-race, but chose to go to one of the many coffee shops in the square. It was nice to have a place to relax and prepare for the race.

Since it was 35 and super windy I waited until 10 minutes before the 13.1 started to take my warmup clothes off. Gear check was easy for those who used it, but I had a friend take my clothes instead of the event provided option. The starting line was extremely crowded. If athletes want to get closer to the front, get there a little early because people did not budge to allow for movement to the front. To mark the start of the race the event used an airhorn rather than a gun. The start was very smooth and well managed.

On the course it starts out in the city of Madison moving to the outskirts of town. There are some nice long rolling hills on this course. If a participant did not train for the event, the hills will take a toll on the individual. The 2 largest hills are at miles 9.25 through the beautiful Maple Bluff neighborhood and mile 12.5 as athletes head back to the Capital Square. The course itself has plenty of room for you to make a move and race other competitors. The markings ensure participants do not get lost and the volunteers are great and directing.

The aid stations were cheerful and ready to help. They were prepared and alert. This was great on a cold day because sometimes the aid stations are a little lifeless when it is chilly. It is a hard cold job. So thanks for being so enthusiastic!!!

After making it all the way back to the Capital, athletes are welcomed by crowds of people who line the streets. It is an energizing environment. Racing through the downtown streets the momentum builds and then suddenly participants turn the corner and are at the finish looking at the State Capital building. Then finishers are greeted by wonderful volunteers and some great food options.

The post-race food selection was very hearty. There was mac and cheese, chili, bratwurst, cookies, chocolate milk and Michelob Ultra beer. Runners can eat their food in the heated tent, but since I was cold I decided to go back to the car and in alone.

Overall, yes I do recommend this race. It is a challenging, but fast course. The only concern I have is making it a goal race since it is in Wisconsin in November. Just make sure to be prepared for any kind of weather and have fun.

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