Latest reviews by Dan

(2015)
"Northwestern Athletics Puts on a Race and it's Pretty Good"
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For me, the initial appeal of this race was that it is on the CARA circuit this year (2015) and it is reasonably accessible from the city. Our team (Fleet Feet / Nike Racing), is based in Chicago and focused on winning the CARA circuit this year which requires a decent amount of travel around the Chicagoland area so we try to choose as many races in or near the city limits.

Thanks to the support from the well endowed Northwestern Athletic Department this event offers quite a few amenities that many other races of this size (617 finishers in 2015) don't have. For example, finishing on Ryan Field is a lot of fun as is running through the Northwestern campus, the non-conference game ticket with race entry, and pancake breakfast. In addition, the small size makes it easy to find parking and keeps the atmosphere casual at the start line and after the run.

While the course is picturesque and flat, running down the quiet streets of Evanston and the Northwestern campus, it is not particularly fast. From the gun, there is a sharp right, then left turn, and at the southern most portion of the course there is a short gravel out and back with some sharp turns.

I don't know that I'd return to run this race if it isn't on the CARA circuit next year, but I'd certainly consider it since it seems like a pretty good deal to me and it was nice to get a break from your typical Chicago lakefront 5k.

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(2015)
"Titletowner's Treasure"
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Full disclosure: I received an entry and "Pacer" sleeveless t-shirt to pace the 3:00 marathon group.

This is the smallest marathon I've ever had the opportunity to run and there are some perks to running a smaller event like a no hassle in/out expo experience, minimal porta pottie wait times, and plenty of parking. While it is a lot smaller than my "staples" of BoA Chicago Marathon (4x) and Boston Marathon (2x), it is still large enough to have some nice amenities like pace groups(!) and good runner tracking!

My biggest observation was the relative lack of spectators on the course. This is not to say there weren't plenty of awesome volunteers at aid stations and street crossings, but there were some significant, quiet stretches. Some athletes may prefer this to the noise and crowds of larger marathons, but were I racing, I feel as though it might have felt eerily quiet at times. I'm probably just spoiled! Any way keep this in mind if you're thinking about registering.

The other observation I'll point out is that the half marathon and marathon intersect with under a mile to go. Keep this in mind if you're a marathoner finishing between 2:30 and 3:30 as you'll have droves of half marathoners (who started an hour later) running a narrow track around the Lambeau turf immediately prior to the finish. This is really an unfortunate end to an otherwise nearly crowd-free event as I felt I was slowed by half marathoners (I finished in 2:59:23).

A well run event, you won't be disappointed if you take into account my comments above! The course is very flat and could be quite fast, keep in mind though that the weather can be hit or miss. Very high humidity took time goals out of the picture for many marathoners in the 2015 edition.

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(2015)
"Back for More"
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My second experience was even better than the first. While I arrived later than last year (Saturday afternoon vs Friday afternoon) and missed out on some of the cool events (the 5k and Pro Mile), I still got my fill of marathon madness. I felt last year I maybe spend a little too much time out and about.

We had a great group from Chicago which made the weekend really fun. I highly recommend looking into the Boston365 training program/race amenities if you're headed to Boston as sharing the experience is half the fun for me and the amenities take a lot of stress out of race day.

The race itself is a classic. The field is very competitive and the course is a conundrum. I tried to prepare again this year, but fell prey to its siren song of declines and a fast first half. A word of advice: make a plan and stick to it!

Finally, no review would be complete without a tip of the hat to the crowds and volunteers. They cheer triumphant and faltering runners alike. They really carried me through the race. Unlike last year, when I felt embarrassed about jogging in the last few miles of the race, I enjoyed and accepted the adulation of the crowds and used it as fuel to continue onward.

This is a must do race in my opinion.

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(2015)
"Twice is Nice"
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I capped off my review of last year's edition of the Shamrock Run 15k saying, "I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to run this race again." Oddly enough this year, I did just that. Needing a break from my Chicago routine, I booked a spur of the moment trip to visit dear friends and, yes, race Shamrock Run for the 2nd year in a row!

This year's conditions were quintessentially Portlandic; a drizzle in cool temps though not chilly (at least for this Chicagoan). I enjoyed staying cool and didn't mind getting wet (I finish most of my races soaked anyways).

The course presents an interesting challenge with perceived effort and pace misaligned for this flatlander. I think this is a nice tune up going into Shamrock Shuffle and ultimately Boston Marathon with a solid uphill portion in the middle of the race followed by a rapid descent.

Despite adding another event, the half, to the already full morning (there's a 5k, 8k, and 15k already). I found race day to be worry free. I also found the competition was quite deep. I enjoyed having a lot of fast runners with which to test my meddle.

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(2014)
"The Ski Cap is the Best!"
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As reviewer Harry Ward notes, this is a Fleet Feet Signature race which means that race production will be on point. I'm sort of biased being a FF Racing Team member, race volunteer, and former employee, but I'm not lying when I say that you get an excellent experience at all of the Fleet Feet Signature events.

The ski cap is probably my favorite piece of race swag I receive all year. It's warm and looks good on pretty much everyone.

The 2014 edition had balmy temps, a competitive field, and I wasn't directed off course! That said, if you're visiting Chicago, you'll love the course, if you've raced a bunch in Lincoln Park, it won't be anything new, but sometimes that's just fine (if you're running fast or running with friends).

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