Latest reviews by Chris Sosinski

(2019)
"Scenic Race with a Good Cause"
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Let’s start with the very first step. Registration for the Trailbreaker Marathon 10k, it was quick, simple and easy, especially if you raced with the hosting race company for previous events. The system stores your information so getting registered is just a couple clicks away.

Once registered there were no reminder emails, but for the Trailbreaker there was no need as the information was all laid out on the website. Trailbreaker’s website had every piece of information you would ever need to know. Awards were well explained along with swag for participants. Awards were to be Open, Master and Senior. Age Group awards were 1st, 2nd and 3rd Places in the following age categories – 18-19 years, 20 – 29 years, and every 5 years to the age of 75+. I was very excited to see Trailbreaker’s generous award offering. Swag was either a long sleeve unisex tech shirt of a stainless steel tumbler depending on when you registered. Both items were a decent quality.

The cost for the 10k was moderate at $50 the week of the race. I personally did not mind paying this price as the race benefits the City of Waukesha Park, Recreation, and Forestry Department. All proceeds from this event go to local projects through the Park Foundation of Waukesha a philanthropic organization. The event is 100% volunteer driven.

On race day the locations were well established. Bib pick up was quick and easy. The expo was in a spacious gym, the weather was not terrible so there was no need to spend too much of the prerace time in the gym. There were some local vendors at the expo, but nothing big. As races were starting announcements were made to makes sure all runners made it to the start. Once on the start line, the national anthem was performed and the race director Dave talked about how this race’s profits makes various events possible at the Waukesha Parks. Dave then sounded the horn to start the race after a 5 second count down.

Start lines were marked well for the various distances. All the volunteers were happy to be on the course and had great energy. They did a great job directing you where to go when there were no cones or spray paint arrows. The law enforcement members on course were so friendly and helpful. I am beyond grateful for their presence.

While on course you ran along the Fox River the entire time. There were some sidewalks, city streets and then the Glacial Drumlin Trail. The course was very flat. The largest hills were hills leading up to the various foot bridges we covered, so basically nonexistent. So if you are looking for a fast flat course, this is your race! In addition to being a fast race, the scenery is just perfect with the Fox River, historic downtown Waukesha and other nature scenes.

On course the water stops were scare for the 10k. There was one at the turn around point. I did not take advantage of the water, but the volunteers were so friendly and encouraging. Just the energetic boost you may need at the halfway point of the race.

Coming to the finish the crowds were small, but again energetic. The only issue I encountered was trying to finish strong while dodging the 5k runners. Otherwise the course was safe, spacious, scenic and well-marked.

Upon finishing, the volunteers were excited to give you a medal. A really sweet medal, if I may say, as it looked like a National Parks medal. There was water a Gatorade available at the finish. From there you could move back into the gym to the expo where there were refreshments and tables to eat at while you waited for awards.

Awards was the only downfall of this fun low key event. On the website as mentioned above Frame worthy certificates would be awarded to the following groups: Awards were to be Open, Master and Senior. Age Group awards were 1st, 2nd and 3rd Places in the following age categories – 18-19 years, 20 – 29 years, and every 5 years to the age of 75+.Sadly they did not offer that this year. They told us to print out our certificates at home. This upset me because I waited for over an hour for the awards. Then they said we are just reading names off this year so everyone can have a certificate. My pet peeve is when a race site says one thing, but then does something totally different. This is my ONLY complaint about the Trailbreaker Marathon 10k.

Apart from the awards snafu, I suggest this race. It is low pressure and a great way to ease back into the racing season. The profits go to a great cause helping to improve the community. If you are ever in the Milwaukee area during the first weekend in April, I suggest you check out the Trailbreaker Marathon course.

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(2018)
"A Nice Steady Run"
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The Brewers mini marathon is a great race. There is ample parking, and is located in an easy to access place.

The course in and of itself is a great course. You run though the various neighborhoods of Milwaukee. As you get further along, there are more hills. I love this race because it is a test of strength and endurance. With out having conditioned for hills, you will breakdown around mile 10.

Once you finish, there is a spectacular finish line.The energy at the finish is fantastic. Everyone is so excited and happy. The best part of this race is getting your medal from the Brewers Mini, and taking a picture with Miller Park!

My only complaint about the Brewers Mini is that some of the volunteers are quite mean, or inattentive. At the 9 mile water stop just past Miller Valley, the volunteer was holding water. I grabbed the cup, but he did not let go. It was almost like he was trying to tease me. Then at the mile 11 water stop, the high school kids did not seem to know the difference between water and gatorade. I was told water, but was given gatorade. Aid stations are important. Having a well operated water stop is the key to successful course satisfaction.

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(2018)
"Exciting Energy No Matter the Weather"
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If you are looking for a destination race with other great attractions, the Garry Bjorklund 13.1 is the race to run!

Having ran the 2016 Grandma's 26.2 with a sub par 1st 26.2 experience due to injury and weather conditions, I was determined to come back and conquer the course. I was not sure what year this would be that I could return to Duluth for the exhilarating experience. After running a successful marathon in the fall of '17, I decided it was time to go back to Duluth. I was mentally prepared for the excitement and energy that comes from a mid to large sized destination race.

My journey started the Thursday before the Garry Bjorklund 13.1, by checking into the host hotel for Grandma's Marathon Weekend: The Harbor View Holiday Inn. Each year they have a hospitality room, not just for the elite athletes, but all who are staying at the hotel! This race series is the only series in the United States to offer this amenity to the elite and to the general starters for their race. The people who run the hospitality room are often locals who have been serving for years. These people are so friendly and helpful. Some even talk about times when they have raced. The 2018 hospitality experience was a perfect 5 star score! I am sure in upcoming years, the experience will be the same.

That Thursday evening, I was able to attend the expo for Grandma's Marathon weekend. It was considerably less crowded than Friday making the experience more enjoyable. I was able to take my time and speak with each vendor as I pleased. This was pleasing because you can learn a great deal from the vendors about how to take care of yourself and stay healthy for the long run literally. This expo has a wide variety of vendors, rang from food to technology. Be warned that if you attend this expo on Friday, the crowds can get un bearable. It will take you 25 minutes to get from one end to another without stopping at the vendor booths. Vendors will also be busy selling merchandise rather than be more willing to educate in their product.

After you have picked up your bib there are several options for pre race entertainment. There is the all you can eat spaghetti dinner and the Rock the Big Top concert. I have not attended either event, so I cannot attest to the quality of these events.

Upon waking race morning, depending which hotel you are staying in, you can walk from your hotel to the DECC using the well marked skywalk! This is great, as the cool airs of Lake Superior can chill the morning. Once you have arrived to the DECC, you can board a specially marked bus fro the 13.1. Your bus will take you near the start line. From the drop off area you have a quarter mile walk through a neighborhood to the start line.

The start line has a beautiful outlook over Lake Superior. In 2018, there was a dens fog that was starting to lift. Seeing the large pine trees and choppy lake under the rising fog was a memorable scene. Additionally there are many porta potties so do not fret if you were wondering about bathroom options!

While waiting for the start, the volunteers and staff are very friendly and informative. They spread joy and excitement from the moment you arrive to when the gun goes off. If you have a question, they will joyfully assist you in your quest for knowledge and or help. They direct you to gear check and provide directions to your specific bag drop. FYI: be sure to follow the directions for your sticker and bib tag if your want to ensure your gear check bag makes it to the right place at the finish line.

As you are waiting at the start line there is music playing to hype up the energy. Everybody is happy and excited to race. Between the music and positive volunteers, if you are not excited to race, you may have some pre race jitters taking over. As the start grows closer, race management plays the Star Spangled Banner, and thank those who have come out to race today. It is then that they start highlighting the minutes left to the start.

Once the start gun goes off, you start moving. If you are new to racing, do start further back than normal. It is easy to get caught up with a pace that is too fast for your current condition. The energy and excitement carries you through the first 5k. Sometimes you are shoulder to shoulder with other runners. Since this a mid-large race, crowding should be expected. Then at about mile five, other racers start dropping to their normal paces and the crowds thin out.

Miles are marked by different color balloons. If you are anything like me, I look for the next mile marker to help keep the pace strong and consistent. Seeing the balloons in the distance helps preserve the fast pace!

As you move closer to town, the crowds grow larger adding to the already high energy. People set up medicine cabinets and other helps along the way for runners. This is in addition to the generous nutrition and water stops the Grandma's crew already provides. It is like nothing I have ever seen before. The people of Duluth are so hospitable. It is a beautiful sight. This lasts all the way until the final 1.5 miles where there is fencing to keep spectators controlled. On extremely hot or humid days, these additional resources are helpful! Personally, I have only accepted a bottle of water, but that was back in 2016 when there was extreme heat.

Apart from the high energy and plenty of hydration and nutritional resources to propel you to the finish line, the course itself helps you to the finish as it is flat and curving. There few hills, so the course is not mentally or physically taxing. The only hill of concern is at mile 9, Lemon Drop Hill as they call it. Lemon Drop is not really that bad, unless you did not do hill work at all during your training.

As you come to the finish line, the crowds are still roaring with energy. Upon finishing at the world class caliber finish line, you are greeted by volunteers to provide you with finisher medal and shirt. To celebrate your accomplishment, photographers offer to take your picture with a branded backdrop. Then comes bag pick up. The lines are long, but well worth the wait as the Grandma's management has a successful and effective plan.

It is my advice to claim your gear bag before you get your food. This way you can carry sealed products back to the car or hotel room in the bag. The food section is also great! Very tasty and refreshing. Again the hospitality of those working the booths is just wonderful.

Overall, the Garry Bjorklund 13.1 in association with Grandma's Marathon weekend is a stellar experience! The race is well managed and run. Volunteers and the community as a whole are there to support you the runner! I do not have a single complaint about the event. My only piece of advice would be to be prepared for any type of weather. In 2016, I ran the marathon and it was red and black flag conditions from the heat an humidity. In 2018, I ran and the conditions were green. The finish line had a final temperature reading of 47 degrees in mid June. With Lake Superior's shore being the race course, you can never be too sure of possible weather conditions. Knowing the potential for extreme temperatures, I came to this race mentally prepared for anything. That exciting day on 2018, I closed with a 3 minute PR in the 13.1. Thanks Grandma's team for making this a great race day!

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(2018)
"Great Spring Time Trial"
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If you are looking for a great race to test your fitness for you upcoming 13.1, Gary's Gallop is the race for you! The first mile is pretty much down hill on a scenic parkway. the Turn around point is about 1.25 miles out. On the way back you have to climb the hill that propelled you to the finish line. As you are working up the, the pain goes away because the scenery is so beautiful. Surrounded by aged trees, you are able bask in the joy of nature. Once you have conquered the hill, you will run past the start line and do a smaller loop. This can get in your head if you are being chased. You can see the person and how close they are to you as you turn back around for the final 400 m. As you approach the finish line, you run through the flying flags and onto the football field where the finish line is center field. After you recover from the race you just ran, there is a multitude of food and drink options. There is no beer because the race is hosted by a dry campus and the race is held at the school's athletic fields. Overall I suggest this race!

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(2018)
"Unpredictable Lake Weather in Wisconsin"
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This race is pretty affordable! at only $13, you don't get too much swag. The only awards that are given are ag and oa awards. IF you are looking for a supported long run, I suggest this race. In 2018, this race was extremely cold. 20 degrees in mid April. In 2017 the race was close to 70 degrees! Since the location is primarily on the lake, this race is unpredictable. If you are looking for a challenge, the field is pretty deep considering it is a low key race. All in all, for $13, this race is well ran and has some nice nature to look at while racing.

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