Latest reviews by Kim Maves
Soldier Field 10 as mentioned in my reviews before is one of my favorite races here in Chicago (not much has changed since the past three reviews except one thing (see cons).
+ multiple packet pick up locations
+ inside Fleet Feet, they were having a huge sale so runners could stock up past season's gear & shoes
+ free parking at Soldier Field
+ registration starts around $50 in the fall
+ corrals were well organized
+ aid stations were great, long, well staffed, and had NUUN! (although I could have used another aid station after mile 6, it felt like there were less on the way back)
+ post race party is always big and people stay around for it
+ free skin cancer screenings!
+ banana, clif bars, & chips post race
+ cold wet towel post race
+ Free photos
+ results up right away
+ if you are into medals, this one is nice. I like that it is clean and doesn't have a tacky bottle opener
Cons (Not many)
- In a city that has banned plastic bags I find it weird that they handed out plastic bags instead of the reusable bags to runners this year. I was really looking forward to another useful bag. I was kind of bummed about not having it.
- I kind of liked the course alteration, maybe because it was so hot I was able to be in the shade for the end. Although it felt like I was going for ages.
- The bottle neck at the beginning is horrible including McCormick place, but it does cause me to slow down at the start which is good.
- The shirt fit me pretty well, some of my friends said they ran too big or too small
There is one minor hill coming north
I'm not sure if you got to see yourself finish on the big screen this year
I felt like there was something missing at the post race party. maybe not
I PR'ed by 25 seconds! I was pretty happy after a year of set backs, come backs, set backs.
Back On My Feet is an amazing organization
Overall the race was good.
What I Liked
+Packet Pick up was easy - originally supposed to be at FFOT, but with the renovation it wasn't open in time. There was ample email information letting participants know the change of location.
+Parking was easy and Free!
+Long sleeve tech shirt (mine is quite big for a small, but will be nice to layer)
+Race management was great, lots of communication
+Volunteers course marshaling were great, they were so enthusiastic and were cheering on runners.
+Post race, tons of food, I didn't grab it all since I eat a restricted diet. But you could have stocked up on treats for a week here! Bananas, mini clif bars, apples, bagels (2-3 options), other options for desserts, muffins, etc.
+Post race stretching (I did my cool down and they were still taking runners when I got back, so thankful for that. I was actually the last one they stretched)
+Gear check was easy
+flat and fast. Out and back, I wish they wouldn't use the section on the path near the start that is all torn up it makes me nervous
+Medals for 10K finishers, they were on Mardi Gras beads, which was unique
+Fleet Feet, Starbucks, Ragner, and Access PT at the post race area.
+Post Race party at Fat Cat, I did not attend, but it had one free beer for runners amongst other things
+Looked like plenty of port-o-potties I didn't use them though, can't comment on line.
+start of the race was done in waves.
+turn arounds marked.
+5k started after the 10K
What can be improved
-Aid Stations were kind of a mess. First one had gatorade on one side of the path, water on the other. I wasn't going to cross the path to grab water. Second aid station got it down with both on both sides. They didn't seem prepared for the race though. At one of the last aid stations I tried to grab a cup from a girl and she dropped it before I could grab. Such is life, I'm glad they were having fun volunteering, but they didn't seem to be paying attention to passing out water / gatorade. I think there were 3-4 aid stations.
-Mile markers were marked, except mile 4, but they were definitely off. .2 off on the whole race is a lot. Myself and others finished with 6 flat. First one was slightly long then they were consistently short.
-Waveland parking lot needs to have a marshall for next year, the drivers who were pulling out of the lot not watching / caring about runners.
Those are my only gripes.
This should be on everyone's list! It is such a great race from start to finish.
SWAG: You receive a cotton shirt at the expo with your race bib. The expo also had magnets for both distances, drawstring bags for the half, and free gloves to wear / toss. After the race you pick up your finisher shirt. Sketchers is the sponsor, they had some really nice stuff. I picked up a jacket.
Expo: Nothing super unique, typical vendors, mainly running store trying to move old product. if you needed stuff, it was a great time to shop.
Aid Stations: There were definitely enough aid stations, they were long too. There were also various people on the course passing out kleenex, oranges, vaseline and probably more things. I didn't see any gels on course. Gatorade first and water second (not sure on the flavor) However, sometimes the water was a few blocks after the gatorade. Some of the stations were slightly understaffed or too spread out. However, when I needed my water, it was easy to grab.
Course: Flat and fast, Runs through Houston, long straight aways. Miles 7-13 were extremely windy. I was cold. Also, bring a hat or sunglasses. The sun is rising in the back half of the race. I feel like the majority course was fenced off from what I remember.
Access: I stayed in downtown Houston, walked to and from the race and expo. No more than 15 total minutes. Public transportation let you ride for free race day if you had your bib on. (Post race, pre race wouldn't have been necessary.
Race Morning: Gear check is in the expo hall, there are plenty of port o potties inside the expo hall. There are also port o potties in the start corrals, the lines are a little jumbled and out of control. I missed the start of my corral because I was going to the bathroom. Get to your corral no later than 6:25am if you plan on peeing in the corral.
Post Race: I've never seen so much food in my entire life at a race. There were at least 5 different kinds of granola bars, oreos, peanut butter cracker packs, ice cream sandwiches, yogurt, bananas and water outside of the hot food area. Inside the hot food area was a breakfast of eggs, sausage, biscuit, and gravy. Non hot food was yogurt, hot cocoa, coffee, soda, water, chocolate milk, bananas, and I think something else. I can't remember because I didn't eat it. Food wasn't very vegan friendly, but I can't imagine there is a giant vegan crowd at this race.
I would definitely recommend this race. I have one other con besides the aid station. They did not have post run stretching for people who did the half. Just the full. There was a massage table, but that was just for the marathoners. I would have been nice to maybe add an extra bed or two, or cut off the line for the half. As someone who is injury prone, it is nice to have someone stretching me out post race.
Half and Full receive different medals / shirts
Full also receives a finisher mug
Overall this is a great race! I mainly signed up for it to start getting back out racing and running and being back in the community post injury. I've been wanting to run this for the past few years, I finally signed up! I am sure glad I did!
SWAG- Runners receive a really nice beanie hat. I loved getting things other than a shirt.
Aid Stations- 2 along the course, water and gatorade. I only grabbed water from the first aid station. The volunteers were great. I believe the water and gatorade was clearly marked. Not sure about the second station, I wasn't paying attention.
Course- I run this section of the lakefront all the time, but I've never raced it. So it was kind of nice and different. It was muddy and sloppy from the rain the night before. The course is pretty much all of the sandy part of the path, but that is easier on the body. The race goes north and and then south past the start and back north again. Runners almost looked like we were on trails based on all the mud and slop. But it was fun, maybe slowed me down but that's okay.
Packet Pick Up- all three locations of Fleet Feet Chicago at the same time. Super easy and I was in and out.
Parking- I was running behind and parking just wasn't that easy for me. I'm sure there would have been better options had I been more on time.
Race Management- Fleet Feet always puts on a great race!
Post Race- You get a bottle of Gatorade, bottle of water, Clif Kids bar, Mini Clif Mojo (?) bars, bag of chips and fruit snacks. That was at the finish line. Do Rite Donuts was at the finish with VEGAN donuts! and Cider. Big Shoulders was also serving Coffee (not sure if you had to pay or not) Athletico was there stretching, there were area to take pictures (I think Santa was there too)
Gear Check was easy pre and post race
Awards for the top 3 male and female and then age group winners.
Chicago Athlete said they would have pictures coming soon.
This is my third year running the Drumstick Dash 5k. Overall, this is a great race!
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 blaze orange. Also included in packet pickup bag is a Bobble Head from the 2015 Brewers season. (first 3000) The virtual goodybag has various vendors and a $10 off coupon for Sendik's. (local grocery store) My mom was excited about that one.
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. Cup hand off was seamless.
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 last year. A few cut outs to take pictures, Bernie Brewer, and the Racing Sausages were there. Other Vision events were there. I think you could sign up, but not sure. Performance Running Outfitters was also there, I think they were selling things for the race.
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.
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
I know Feeding America was collecting food on race day. Not sure if there was any raffles or anything this year.
Not sure what could be improved. Last year they had Pace per mile signs up, this year they did not.
What is missing from this race (I am indifferent):
Age Group Awards, beer, and pictures. The only one I would probably want is pictures.