Latest reviews by Dan Kittaka

(2014)
"Tough It out to the Top of Terwilliger"
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Maybe other road races in this part of the country have such long inclines, but as a Midwesterner, I certainly wasn't prepared to run the middle 5k completely uphill (on SW Terwilliger Blvd) only to come flying back down for nearly the entire final 5k.

The race offers a unique (in my book) challenge as your perceived effort almost never correlates to your pace. I split a couple 6:00+ miles up Terwilliger and several 5:23s down, yet my effort was much higher running up!

The race was pretty well produced this is notable as there are three events that occur that morning: a 5k, 8k, and the 15k. Long lines at the potties as usual before the start of a race. (HINT: I ran out to about the first mile on my warm up and found completely vacant potties).

Finally, the competition was pretty good (I wish I had been in better shape, but don't we all). I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to run this race again, but it was a good, unique racing experience and a great way to see SW Portland!

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(2013)
"The Friendly, Midwestern World Marathon Major"
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Skimming the other reviews, it's pretty obvious this is a bucket-list level event. If you haven't run the BoA Chicago Marathon. Stop reading this review and start planning when you'll do it. While it doesn't have as rich a heritage as the Boston Marathon or the international appeal of the City That Never Sleeps, the BoA Chicago Marathon is a world class event in a world class city.

Compared to the complicated start logistics of Boston and NYC, Chicago's loop course makes things a bit more manageable, taking some of the stress out of race day.

If you're looking to run fast, Chicago's flat course is as good a place as any if you're well conditioned to pavement pounding. An elaborate corral system also helps space athletes by ability. That said, if you're looking to PR, head to the front of your corral to avoid frustration.

The second half of the course can be brutal as there tend to be fewer spectators and a bit more exposure to the sun if it is hot. That said, I love running through Pilsen. Chinatown would be fun if it weren't at mile 21.

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(2013)
"A Must For Big 10 Fans & Serious Athletes"
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Not sure I have to really explain myself very much when I say this event is a "Must" for Big 10 fans... It's the perfect excuse to get some college friends together, dress in school colors (or wear the race tee which is provided to all early registrants in school colors of their choosing!), and remember the good old days.

Serious athletes should rejoice as there are now three events in Chicago (BoA Shamrock Shuffle, BTN Big 10k, and BoA Chicago Marathon) that offer enough prize money to attract some legitimately fast athletes and fields deep enough to carry nearly every runner to a new PR.

The out and back, lake front course is not the most interesting, but I honestly could have cared less as I was having a great race.

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(2013)
"Finally, a Trail Race Where I Didn't End Up Getting Lost"
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Thinking about this race makes me smile. It exemplifies all things a race should be: fun, friendly, well marked, and well run. Also the series gives back to maintaining the trail system! It is clear the race directors have been doing this a while as nearly everything was dialed in.

Co-presented by Northwest Trail Runs and Seattle Running Club, who do we meet as we arrive on site, but Seattle Running Club President, Win Van Pelt! Not just that, he takes some time to talk to us about the trails and gives us some tips on trail running.

My one gripe with the race site was that there wasn't enough toilet facilities and parking might have been a bit tight. We got there early so it wasn't really much of an issue, but my guess is that others might not have enjoyed waiting in lines as the race was about to start.

Little details like confidence markers every 100-200 yards and flags indicating the direction of turns in and out of the turns made staying on course a breeze, a problem I've had in 2/3 trail races I've run so far. It was a bit annoying when the 13.X miler (they later called it a 14 miler so who knows how long it was) crossed the concurrent 8 mile race as I lead my race the entire time and had to pass people on sometimes tight single track.

That said, the course kicked my butt as it was pretty much a string of constant switchback ascents and descents. When I looked at the course record before signing up, I thought I'd have a pretty good shot at winning and setting a new record as the average pace was well over 7 min/mile. I finished extremely humbled and nearly bonking as I didn't expect what was billed as a little over 13 miles to take me 35 minutes longer than a road half marathon I had run the week prior.

I wish we had a similar well-run trail series in Chicago!

You can read more of my thoughts on this race in this guest blog that I wrote a while back: http://fluencysfolly.com/2013/10/30/kittaka-and-the-never-endingtrail/

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(2013)
"A Neighborhood 5k with All-Star Race Production"
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The Ravenswood Run has the great community feel of a small town race with the race production value of a much larger, prestigious event (something rare in a world where both race producers and participants see 5ks as "easy" to produce and run, a dime a dozen).

Winding through the quiet, family-friendly neighborhoods of Ravenswood and Lincoln Square, the course is flat and fast with long straightaways and limited turns. If you're looking to run fast, you won't be disappointed. The top 18 finishers ran under 17:00 in 2013! Self-seeding allows athletes going for fast times access to good start positions.

Don't drive (I don't believe in cars) as there is easy access to the course via the Brown Line (Damen stop is just a few blocks west of the start) or Ashland bus (just a few blocks east). That said, I'd recommend biking to the event.

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