Latest reviews by Kim Maves

(2018)
"2018 Grandma's Marathon "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

My Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1642479405/

This race is worth the 7-8 hour drive from Chicago. I know why people love this race.

I got in Thursday and stayed at the official race hotel: Holiday Inn & Suites Duluth. This hotel knows what is up. They had balloons decorating the hotel, staff in marathon gear, and a runner's lounge with food for the day before the race that we could grab and put in our post race bags or eat the day before.

I paid the $25 to have my bib mailed to me since at the time I had no idea what my race logistics were, I hadn't booked my hotel before registering.

Expo: crowded but there were things you could get if you needed. I got salt tabs and my friends got some gels and sunglasses.

Race morning: I boarded the busses at the DECC. I don't remember how long of a bus ride it was. Exited the bus and there were so many port-o-potties and you could drop your bag in a garbage can corresponding to your bib number / each section had their own color. They have this system down.

Race started a little late I think - probably no more than a minute. The train kicks off the race which is cute.

Sunny at the start and then it got foggy and a little cooler. Which was nice. Pretty perfect racing weather.

Aid stations.... pretty good, but Blue Powerade was literally the worst choice for a sport drink. Gross. I didn't see what flavor they were serving up on the course either pre race. So I took a gamble and lost. There were clif shots somewhere on the course too. It was nice they had sponges and ice.

The course is not flat, it has some rollers. The worst one being the downhill under the bridge around 24ish. Every single person around me made some sort of OUCH noise. Lemondrop hill wasn't as bad compared to that downhill part.

The course is marked really well with massive balloons, it was fun to hunt down each balloon.

Post race you get your medal, shirt, heatsheet, and food. They had bagels with nut butter, clif bars, banana, strawberries, orange juice, and more things. I can't remember.

I ended up in the medical tent. They were so great. Feeding me pretzels, Powerade, sprite, and taking care of me until I stopped shivering and cramping.

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(2018)
"PR Ready!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I got to the expo super late around 30 min before it closed. It looked like it was a nice expo, large with a lot of vendors and a photo booth. Parking and access was easy. I didn't browse much since I wanted to go to my hotel to eat and sleep. They had a pasta dinner runners could buy a ticket for. Participants received a nice drawstring bag and a long sleeve shirt.

Saturday Morning:

I stayed at the Fairfield Marriott about 15 min away. Checkout was at noon which was nice. I was able to go back and shower. Driving access to and from the race was easy. I parked at the State Farm arena and it was free and easy to get in and out.

Gear check, this was confusing for me in the morning. You dropped everything in a truck (it wasn't obvious) and then they sorted it inside the stadium.

The race started without a hitch. There were a few corrals and I was in A. These pacers were probably the most accurate I have experienced in a race.

Course roads were well maintained and I did not notice any section that was really bad. The course was flat and produces some good times.

My only complaint is the aid stations. Each one was set up different. Some had gatorade second. Some had water on one side and gatorade on the other, some had water first. You get the picture, there wasn't any consistency which can be frustrating. That being said the volunteers were great, cheering on runners and handing off cups like pros.
There was an orange aid station and I think they had other food too, unsure. Also a gel aid station.

Running into the stadium was fun! The finish area was one of the best I've been apart of. Runners can hang out on the field and take photos, stretch, and wait for their friends. Or they can sit in the stands. Which is cool. A lot of races kick you out as soon as you finish. As you walk into the stairs volunteers gave you an electrolyte drink that was really good, so if you remember what that was let me know. Inside the stadium was a ton of food, cookies, chips, granola bars, pizza, milk, pasta, beef jerky, and probably something else. After runners leave the stadium there is the post race party with beer. I didn't stay around for that, since I wanted to get to my hotel.

Full marathoners received finishing blankets which is amazing. All finishers received a medal and a heatsheet.

Another bonus: FREE PHOTOS were available within hours of the race finish.

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(2017)
"5th year in a row!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This is my 5th Drumstick Dash. Modified 2016 post.

SWAG: Each participant receives a LONG SLEEVE COTTON T! I am a huge fan of long sleeve cotton t-shirts, especially in winter. This year was light blue with a new Turkey logo. For $5 participants could upgrade to a long sleeve 1/4 zip. I opted for the cotton t-shirt because I love them

Aid Stations: One station about half way through, all that is necessary and just water. I did grab water today because I felt like it was necessary. I wish there was water or Gatorade pre race. None of the bubblers worked today inside Miller park and I left my bottle in the car.

Course Scenery: I love running around Miller Park. As always, it is a nice change up from the Chicago Lakefront trail, neighborhoods, etc. One of my favorite parts of the course is running on the bridge to get to the stadium grounds from the general parking lots.

Expo: Same as previous years. A few cut outs to take pictures. Other Vision events were there. I think you could sign up, but not sure. Performance Running Outfitters was also there, they were selling product and promoting Black Friday.
- Expo is only open until 3PM

Elevation Difficulty: There is a GIANT hill (to me) and a few little rollers and it's an uphill sprint to the finish. Some tight Hairpin turns make it fun!

Parking: Super easy, free parking at Miller Park! Can't beat it!

Race Management: Vision is always fantastic! Volunteers were great.

Other:
Post Race Food was a banana, cookie, and bottle of water.
Miller Park is open before the race, you can go to the bathroom sit, etc.
First three men and women get an award.
Self-seed Run, Run with Stroller, Walk, Walk with Stroller

The Racing Sausages and Bernie all come out for photos after the race

I know Feeding America was collecting food on race day.

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(2017)
"Monumental Marathon "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Overall this is a good race! I did this race as a redemption from Chicago, looking for a PR.
Expo: go early, I went at 5PM Friday and Parking and getting around the city was a nightmare. Getting around Indy was busy so go early. I spent more time in the parking garage than in the expo.

Expo
Local vendors, Clif bar, the same running store/ group that sells at every big expo, other races in the Midwest I walked around since I wanted chapstick, thankfully I found it. Got my bib and shirt. I didn't look at the race swag available for purchase.

Race Morning:
Runners could hang out in the convention center with real toilets and tables + chairs to sit at. They had volunteers with signs that said, "ask me" which was helpful.
I pre-booked my parking on SpotHero and found a four dollar garage spot. It was a mile-ish from the start, but I didn't want to be parked in from the road closures.
Volunteers were not checking bibs to get into the waves and there were a ton of people in my wave that were supposed to be in 2-3 which was super annoying and caused the corrals to overcrowd.

Gear check was easy, blocked off by bib number .

Course:
A few hills from 15-19 nothing horrible, however they are taxing at that part in the race. The road wasn't in the best condition in parts and it would have been easy to trip. Half marathon and full marathon split is clearly marked. They even marked off the end where the runners met up again as to not congest with each other.

Extra Course marshals were necessary. Especially on major intersections more were needed to direct traffic. A guy drove through the race course yelling at runners 20-30 feet in front of me which is scary.

Aid stations
Tiny and some only had water. Some had a small table of gatorade. It was kind of confusing as to WHEN Gatorade would be served. Two stations of Clif shots and they were calling out what flavors which was nice. I also saw a banana and pretzel station. I think the bike med team was also carrying salt if you asked.

Finishing chute:
You get a Heatsheet, Medal, FINISHERS HAT (race specific), banana, chips, clif bar, pizza, cookie, chocolate milk.

Things that can be improved: additional course marshals, more Gatorade at aid stations, and probably not a good idea to request everyone to bow their heads and pray. However the race is in Indiana so...

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(2017)
"2017 Chicago Marathon "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This is my second Chicago Marathon

Pre Race - Expo this year seemed lacking compared to years past, but it is still top notch. You can get gear from almost every brand. Get there early! If you want Nike gear go to Fleet Feet or one of the Nike stores to buy it. That line is the longest. I love the participant shirt from this year. Definitely one of the best. I also liked the blue one from 2013? It was a year I didn't run. Super easy to get there via train or uber.

Race Morning - I thankfully trained with CARA and went to the Palmer House pre race. Easy to get to the start and we had private port o potties. I didn't wait in line to pee a second time, sometimes race day makes you do bold things. I understand security being tight, but it was super unorganized. Let red bibs go first and those without bags go in a separate line. It was a stressful situation. C corral was "oversold" so it was huge to start, but I think that was the way for all of the red bibs.

The Race- This is the best race, period. The course, fans, aid stations. You can see so many friends along the course who can see you multiple ties the way the course it set up. It is such a great experience even though I felt like sh!t, I reminded myself how much I love running and the city of Chicago.

Post race - The medal ribbon was kind of eh, and the post race snacks were all cheese type crackers - something plain would have been lovely. But they put it in a BAG for you so you don't have to carry a ton of stuff with you in post marathon hands. You get a heetsheet. It was too hot for one, then my body temp dropped and I was freezing so I'm glad I had it for the walk back to the Palmer House.

I didn't go to the post race party. The Chicago Marathon is the best race, the weather can be a crap shoot and is the only negative factor when thinking about entering for 2018. If I'm not racing it I'm out spectating it.

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