Latest reviews by Kim Maves
I ran the Rockford marathon to PR and that's it. I did! Not as big as I wanted, but that's okay
Recap + Things I liked:
I signed up online the Wednesday before with a discount code. I paid $75 for the marathon. Not too bad. The price started at $18.00 for the first certain amount of registrants in December. People could register at packet pick up Friday and Saturday as well as race day morning.
Packet pickup was at a hotel, it was easy. Received my bib, shirt and sticker. There was a vendor selling medal holders. Runners could also pick up packets race morning. I'm weird and I don't like to do that.
Inside the packet were flyers, window cling, allergy medicine (interesting & it is expired) and a first aid kit with wet wipes and bandaids, Which is actually handy. T-shirt is LIME GREEN so it's nice to have a fun bright color.
I stayed at the SleepInn in Rockford, it was cheap and convenient. I wouldn't stay there again, but it's not terrible.
Race access was so easy from my hotel. I don't think there were any closer hotels. All of them were about 15 minutes away. Parking was easy, a few lots right next to the start / finish.
Gear check was easy pre and post race. A guy working it gave me a plastic bag to use for warmth. You could bring your own bag which is always nice.
Roads were blocked off to traffic / there were police officers directing traffic. For the most part they were good. Cops were cheering on runners which was awesome!
**note** I'm not sure if it was the cop or the driver being a jerk but I almost got hit, I was not happy.
Aid stations were actually pretty well staffed. The volunteers looked like they were having a blast. Everyone was cheering and encouraging. Gatorade and water were usually on opposite sides. Volunteers let everyone know where to get what. For the same sides cups were different and volunteers spaced out.
Course for the marathon was a double loop, which wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Half and full runners were given directions to the split. There was a 10k that started at 7am. Half and full started at 6am.10K shared the last 3.2 miles with half and full runners. Race started close to on time. They delayed start by 2 minutes because someone burned half of the port-o-potties, I assume the night before. Which isn't the race's fault.
Elevation was challenging for me in parts. I'm not comfortable on downhills yet and there are at least 3 big climbs. Up hill to mile 26 and the last .2 was a downhill sprint. Me being picky, it would be nice to have some sort of carpeting on the train tracks. That made me nervous.
Wind came from all directions today, especially on the hills. Thankfully we got a break (for the most part) from 21-26.2 and 8-13 (obviously not the race's fault) Started to get hot near the end, if the weather is hot, there is little to no shade. Something to be aware of.
Gels around mile 6/18 Clif & Gu
Top 3 age group winners received a pint glass, how fun!! I was so excited to earn one. Runners could look up results and print on a receipt printer right away.
Medals for all distances was different, same with the colors of the bibs.
What Could Be Improved:
-The cups for water/ gatorade were weird. They were tiny and hard to pinch. There were a few stations with normal cups. I didn't take gatorade but it was orange, I wish races would put what flavor they will use for the race on their website. I've never had orange so I didn't want to chance it.
-No one was taking pictures, I don't usually buy them, but I like looking at them and looking at my form.
-No heat sheets post race
-Food was banana, water bottle, apple, bagel cut in slices, cups of orange gatorade. No food on course.
-No post race stretching. I needed medical stretching / possible attention because I wasn't sure what was going on. There was one guy stretching.
I've heard really great things about this race and I was so excited to sign up and run my second marathon. My experience personally and my race itself was far from enjoyable. I HATE to write a bad review, but how can anyone learn with only hearing positives?
**HUGE Shoutout to the medic on the bike who gave me water and biked up to see where the next aid station was to get me more incase it was more than a half mile away. Thankfully it wasn't. He yelled to me, ALMOST TO WATER!!!**
My race started out according to plan, a few hills, a little unexpected, but I flew on the downhills.
I did not attend the race expo
What I liked:
-Location of the race is nice, an hour outside of Chicago. I stayed at the Comfort Inn less than 20 minutes away, totally recommend the hotel, it was so nice!
-Packet pick up option in Chicago
-Parking was easily accessible
-Race started on time
-Predicted paces were marked at the start
-Miles were marked I noticed on the road the miles were spray painted, some of the signs were off of the spray paint.
-Bibs were clearly marked marathon/half/5k - makes it easy for volunteers to divert half marathoners and full marathoners at the split
-Split was clearly marked with a ton of volunteers lettings ALL runners know
-I like the shirt image
-Gave out free shirts at the finish, even though they only had XLs it kept me warm along with the heat sheet post race
-Water bottles, banana, mini bagels brats, hotdogs, beer, propel, and cups of gatorade were available post race.
-Plenty of seating in sun and shade post race
-Gear check was easy
-You could use your OWN bag for gear check. I usually have so much stuff, it's nice to not have to shove everything in one tiny plastic bag that will probably rip.
-Post race band
-Polka band on course
-I think I paid $65 in September
What needs to be improved:
-Aid Stations. Each station had 4 tiny tables, two water two gatorade. Staffed with anywhere from 4-6 people. Twice I had to completely pass the water station and turn back to grab water because there wasn't enough people passing it out.
-Some of the cups at the aid stations were empty and runners had to grab them themselves because volunteers were busy pouring cups.
-I finished in 4:14, the last station was completely out of gatorade, based on today's heat that is not good.
-I knew going into the race that there would be gravel. I didn't realize how much gravel. It was brutal with the heat and coming off the black top which neither had shade and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Not really the race's fault but something to note. (This is after the half/full split)
-The course for about 4.5miles-10.5 was torn up. The surface was not even at all, I heard a lot of complaints.
-I know with tangents and weaving courses can get long however I'm not the only one who had 26.5ish on their watch. If you look at the mapmyrun page: http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/366806085 it shows 26.38, so this is something I'm curious about.
-I'm not a big medal person, but it would be nice to have completely separate medals for the full and the half. Also not a fan of the bottle opener.
-Crowd support was though for marathoners after the split. Throughout the race they were mostly just staring, not cheering. If you thrive on the crowd bring some music.
-No time clock at any of the miles, not that I cared about that today, If you do bring a watch. (I did)
- if the race is posting on social media it needs volunteers for aid stations it might be a good idea to close registration early especially since aid station volunteers were clearly lacking.
-Longer tables of fluids for aid stations are needed.
Soldier Field 10 is one of the best organized races in Chicago. This is my second time doing this race. This is also the second time I'm in tears at the start line when members of the armed forces are announced who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Taps, the national anthem. It gets to me, the active duty military personnel who volunteer their time for the race and hand out the medals at the end. This race benefits Team Salute, any race that benefits the military already gains a plus in my book.
What I like:
-Colored bibs corresponding to corral numbers, colored entry way, spaced out corrals, pacers
-Free parking at Soldier Field day of the race. In and out was easy
-Plenty of bathrooms in the stadium, port o potties and the toilets in the parking garage.
-If you want to sit and enjoy Solider Field before the race you're able to hang out in the stadium
-Gear check is indoors. and easily accessible
-Gear check is easy
-Course is pretty flat with a couple of small hills
-Course is wide in the beginning which helps
-Aid stations are well staffed, if you've read other reviews of mine aid stations is something that I can be critical about. The volunteers for this race are great! The water and gatorade is clearly marked (white cups & green cups) and it is consistent, gatorade first and water second throughout the race.
-Some on course entertainment, music, supporters.
-pot holes were marked with cones
-course was well marked
-Volunteers were great
-It looked like there were sufficient amount of port o potties on course.
-good amount of aid stations, maybe could have used one more, or at least some water / gatorade at the start. Especially since it can get hot.
-Finishing on the 50 is always great! How often do you get to run on a professional sport's teams turf? (that moves it to a 5 star review) It's on the lakefront path for the second half.
-Medals are nice, I'm not too big on them but I like that I didn't receive another fancy bottle opener.
-Miles were marked, with clocks. 5 mile timing mat
-I rarely stay for post race parties, but this was a nice one! 312 beer in cans, much preferred over a glass.
-Various charities and vendors Team Determination was passing out cold towels, so lovely! I get hot easily. The course was a little hot, the end had more shade
-Band was pretty good.
-The finisher food bags are one of my favorite pieces of race swag. I use mine from last year to carry my shoes, it's looking a little sad so I'm happy to have a new one and this one is better quality!
-Snacks inside the bag: banana, popcorn, lemon head, mini Clif bar & fruit snacks. I gave everything away but the banana and Clif bar. But that isn't the race's fault I don't eat any of the other items.
-Athletico had an icing station and muscle milk had protein drinks and foam rollers. (I didn't have the muscle milk drinks, but it seemed pretty popular)
-Stretching booth which I seemed to miss until the line was too long.
What I didn't like
Nothing major comes to mind, selfishly I wish the smaller number bibs had gear check on the right and it went right to left, mainly because I was scrambling to get into my corral.
I do wish the shirt was a different color like a flashy green or something, not blue or gray. Design wasn't terrible and it is a Nike Dri Fit so I'll wear it.
One thing to be aware of that I don't like at all is the race runs under a tunnel which I believe is apart of McCormick place. It is right at the beginning, but I hate it. It's makes me nauseous. I am happy the tunnel is at the beginning and not the end.
I'm certain I'll be back next year!
What a great race!
-Packet pickup I think there were 7ish total days to pick up your packet. City and various locations in the suburbs.
-Hat and gloves SWAG, unique and nice to have something other than a t-shirt of course. Gloves fit a little weird at the wrist, but it's not a big deal
-Medal is so pretty, I'm not one to rave on medals, but I loved the ribbon and shape.
-Easy race access. Park at Soldier Field walk inside to the United Club then walk outside to the start, easy.
-It was so nice inside the United Club, bathrooms indoors. Always a plus.
-Race starts at 10AM, which on a normal January day in Chicago it might be slightly warmer than the morning. Oddly enough today was so warm 39ish degrees
-Course was free of ice, small patch near the start.
-aid station workers were fantastic! Probably some of the best besides the Chicago Marathon.
-Chicago lakefront in the winter is prettier than in the summer.
-Course was well marked
-indoor gear check
-Clif products on course, candy, other stuff, I didn't grab any of it but it was a nice touch.
What could improve:
-Gear check was in a large room with a tiny opening, it was hard to get to at the end of the race, we made it to the pick up just before the line got crazy
-Start corrals were very crowded and hard to get into
-post race food was lacking. Kind bar and Clif bar mini were nice, same with the bottle of Organic Valley fuel. Would have been nice to have a banana and a bottle of water versus a small cup with no place to refill the cup.
-My watch along with others was off at the first half of the race.
If I think of anything else I'll add it. I managed a big PR today so I couldn't be happier!
This was my first trail run and I definitely had a lot of fun.
Personally if I decide to do more trail races I will buy trail shoes. Or I should have worn and even more worn out pair than I did. Oh well, I will know for next time and keep learning
Things I liked:
-Packet pick up easy there are 4 different days and times you and pick up your packet, Wednesday- Friday at Universal Sole (parking over there is easy) and on race day. I picked mine up on Wednesday since I run out of there Wednesday nights.
-Sweatpants Swag, probably one of the most attractive things about this. I have plenty of t-shirts from races, it is nice to receive something different especially in the winter months.
-Course was well marked, however... (see below)
-One aid station, but you pass it twice. More of a self serve aid station. I didn't grab any water.
-Course was forgiving, but had some small hills, not unexpected, it is a trail run. Turns and slick muddy spots, so be careful! (Mother nature nothing we can control)
-Course was along the path so it was clear and worn, easy to follow.
-Schiller Woods is really easy to get to. I couldn't remember which entrance I would need, I remembered the number 3 thankfully Universal Sole had a big flag outside the entrance.
-Plenty of parking
-Port o potties
-Gear check was your car, but not necessary to actually have a gear drop.
-Mizuno was on site letting people borrow trail shoes to try out for the run.
-Post race food included gatorade (self serve which is nice), bananas, Goose Island beer, and Will's Famous Chili. A very meaty, chili but I heard great things!
-Gun timed like old fashion cross country races. Small enough where chips aren't necessary.
-Start and finish in the same spot
-strips of pavement that let you pick up the pace
-Awesome staff at the store and race day :)
Things I didn't like: there were quite a few of us that got lost. It's a trail run, I assume it happens more often than road races. The aid station worker directed us or the leader of the pack I was in went the wrong direction. Once we got back on the path it was fine. There was another slight misdirection elsewhere. It could have been us just following runners going the wrong way. Otherwise the course was marked with flags, cones, signs and people.
At the beginning we were told it was 5.25 mile run, I mentally prepared for 5.25, got out of a wooded part and was told that the finish was right around the corner. I still had some gas in the tank for the last mile. Oh well. Still fun.
Total distance on my watch was 4.76. I'm curious to know the distance of those who didn't get lost.