Latest reviews by Steven Ericson

(2023)
"Great event from start to finish"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Pre-race: A sufficient level of communication leading up to the race, including check-in information the week beforehand.

Expo: The expo was smaller, but OK. Major running stores in town had booths with discounted nutrition, socks, shoes, and apparel. A few other local vendors plus a few regional races were on hand.

Shirt/Swag: The race apparel was a nice quarter-zip with the race logo. It was a nice change from the typical long-sleeve shirt. The medal was inspired by the neon signage at Route 66 Historical Village, which adds a local cool factor to the medal. Post-race beers from Welltown Brewing were solid (choice between a light lager, pale ale, and Mexican lager). Post-race food was the typical banana and oranges and some Simple Simon’s pizza.

Aid Stations: There were 6 aid stations with water and Gatorade, but none of them had any nutrition.

Course scenery: Course starts in Downtown and wanders through some neighborhoods and past Philbrook Museum before heading through Brookside and Riverside. The finish at Guthrie Green is quite nice, as it sets up the post-race entertainment extremely well. The course is pretty, but nothing particularly stands out as awe-inspiring.

Elevation: Per my Strava data, I gained 516 feet in elevation. The course starts with a few rolling hills, but gets a bit tougher through Mile 5. The downhill slope starts firmly at Mile 6, as runners head down to the river with some really nice, flat, straightaways. The course crosses Route 66 at the beginning and takes runners out onto the road for about a mile just before Mile 11 and finishing just before Mile 12, which includes the last challenging hill. Despite a few turns, the last half mile is super flat and leaves you with a great sprint to the finish.

Overall: I stayed at a downtown hotel as park of a block booked through the race, which guaranteed me 3 p.m. check out on Sunday. I also took advantage of the Mother Road VIP package, which provides you with a tent by the start before the race and an indoor, post-race party with unlimited food and beverages. Both are a GREAT perk if you want to avoid any weather issues.

The course was tougher than I expected, despite knowing there were some hills in the first 4 miles. The straightaways along the river made a BIG difference in closing the gap and finishing just a bit short of a personal best/personal record time. If you’re looking to just have fun on the course, there are multiple “hydration” stations offering adult beverages. Crowds were a bit subdued due to some morning rain, but overall there was solid support throughout the residential areas. The finish area was definitely full of spectators cheering you on to the end.

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(2023)
"Solid shakeout option for the weekend's longer races"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Pre-race: A sufficient level of communication leading up to the race, including check-in information the week beforehand.

Expo: The expo was smaller, but OK. Major running stores in town had booths with discounted nutrition, socks, shoes, and apparel. A few other local vendors plus a few regional races were on hand.

Shirt/Swag: The race shirt was a nice, dri-fit long-sleeve shirt. Medal was inspired by the neon signage at Route 66 Historical Village, which adds a local cool factor to the medal. Post-race beers from Welltown Brewing were solid (choice between a light lager, pale ale, and Mexican lager). Post-race food was the typical banana and oranges, but some pizza from Simple Simon’s.

Aid Stations: There was 1 aid station in the middle of the course with water and Gatorade.

Course scenery: Course in Guthrie Green, which is a small park with a performance stage. The course goes through Downtown Tulsa before looping back to the finish/start area. It was nice, but nothing outstanding.

Elevation: Per my Strava data, I gained 110 feet in elevation. The course starts with a big hill on Boulder Avenue that crosses the railroad tracks, but quickly levels out and becomes quite easy to manage.

Overall: The start/finish area was easy to find with lots of street parking within a 10-15 minute walk. It was a nice tour of downtown Tulsa for a shorter distance race, and not one that was too physically challenging. The swag and post-race food/drink make it well worthwhile.

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(2023)
"Back in downtown Omaha (sort of)"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Pre-race: Not a ton of communication leading to the race, but enough to keep you informed. Nicest part was the pre-race email that had a link to the results, so you could easily find your chip time after finishing the race.

Expo is not applicable, as it was really just packet pick-up at Nebraska Brewing Co. in LaVista (about 20 minutes from downtown Omaha).

Shirt/Swag: The race shirt was a nice, dri-fit long-sleeve shirt. Medal looks like the race logo on a blue and black lanyard. Post-race beer from Nebraska Brewing was brewed and branded for the race, which was especially cool. The beer was a lemon shandy, which got non-beer drinkers is a great choice.

Aid Stations: There were 4 aid stations with water, but no electrolyte drink. Due to the out-and-back nature of the course, runners actually got 8 aid stations. There was no Gu or other nutrition on the course.

Course scenery: Course starts in a really attractive pedestrian mall before going through the Old Market area and passing the downtown arena and baseball stadium (home of the Men's College World Series) before taking runners across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge into Iowa. The majority of the race was run in Iowa (approximately 7 miles) along the Council Bluffs Levee Road. The route provides some great views of Omaha, but running along I-29 is extremely boring.

Crowd support was rather minimal. There were some spectators at River's Edge Park, but otherwise due to being downtown there were no residents cheering on runners.

Elevation: Per my Strava data, I gained 253 feet in elevation. The course has a few rolling hills, but other than the rise and fall of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge it is a pretty flat course.

Overall: The start area was really easy to find, especially staying at a nearby hotel. However, more obvious signage could be used to help runners navigate the turns coming back from Iowa and through a bit of construction before returning to the pedestrian mall. As a no frills, get it done race, it is a good event. However, running most of the race in Iowa was extremely boring. Hopefully, the course changes in the future and the amount of running in Iowa decreased.

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(2023)
"Great race in a beautifully historic city"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Pre-race: There was not a lot of e-mail communication from race about expo and starting corral information.

Expo: The expo was great, as expected from a World Major race. Lots of vendors with all sorts of gear available. There was an entire section dedicated to just Adidas merchandise, but no other apparel was available. A LOT of bigger European races were on hand to promote themselves. Due to the location at the former Tempelhof Airport there were food and drink vendors on site in case you wanted/needed a snack.

Shirt/Swag: The participation shirt is good material and fits perfectly. The design is a bit lackluster, as it just shows the course. The medal design and quality were outstanding. The medal featured Peres Jepchirchir (2020 Olympic marathon winner, but ironically not someone who has ever run Berlin).

Aid Stations: Lots of aid stations; maybe too many if there is such a thing. Each station had combination of water and Maurtens sports drink. There was also a station with Maurtens gu available, too. Due to sustainability efforts, the drinks were served in hard plastic cups, which made it difficult to squeeze and drink the beverages. There were porta-potties and medical tents at each aid station.

Course scenery: Running through the city, you pass through multiple neighborhoods and commercial districts. Start and finish areas are iconic, as you start the race passing the Victory Column and finish just after running through the Brandenburg Gate. For an city race, you cannot beat the scenery.

Elevation: Per my Strava data, I gained 206 feet over the course of the race. I never felt like I was gaining or losing elevation though. There were no bridges to cross over, so it all felt extremely flat. Overall, it is an incredibly flat AND fast course.

Overall: It was an excellent experience from start to finish. The expo was a really good hours-long experience. There were multiple instances of the crowds standing on the tangent (the blue line showing the shortest route on the course), which forced me to veer in order to avoid hitting spectators or other runners. However, the race itself had everything you need whether you're an experienced marathoner, taking on your first international race, or running 26.2 miles for the first-time ever.

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(2023)
"Good small-town race, but sporadic crowd support"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Pre-race: No expo, but there was one vendor giving away some items. Packet pick-up was at YMCA on day before race and also available on race day at the state fairgrounds. Parking is free on the state fairgrounds walking distance to the main entrance of the fair. Fairly regular communication from race organizers leading up to race day.

Shirt/Swag: The race shirt was off-brand, dri-fit long-sleeve. It runs a bit small, but overall is a very nice shirt. The medal was excellent and epitomizes the Nebraska State Fair, which is awesome if you live in state but also a really cool keepsake if you're not from an agricultural-based state. The medals were the same whether you ran 5K, half, or full. Only difference was ribbon, which varied based on distance. Runners also receive admission to that day of the Nebraska State Fair, which is a very unique swag item, plus a free beverage (beer or soda).

Aid Stations: There were 8 aid stations with all having water and most having a very, watered-down Gatorade available. All stations had cups with choice between water or Gatorade.

Course scenery: Race is through the city, but many of the miles are on paved trails. There are about 2 miles running through the prairie before reaching a county park and then the Stuhr Museum grounds. The trails mostly go through residential areas and course concludes on city streets through neighborhoods before finishing at the fairgrounds.

Elevation: Per my Strava data, I gained 35 feet in elevation. Regardless of quantitative data, its a clear and easy flat course. Definitely good for an easy run as part of marathon training and ideal for people striving to record a PB.

Overall: There's not a lot of glitz and glamor with this race, but it is very well done. Everything you need in a race you have from aid stations to quality swag. I would recommend this race for anybody seeking a PB at any distance.

I've run this race twice (2021 and 2022) and crowd support has steadily dropped the past two years. The second half of the course after leaving the Stuhr Museum and community college was especially sparse. However, it is very easy for spectators to find you at multiple spots along the course.

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