Latest reviews by Angie Maske-Berka

(2018)
"2 loops before brunch"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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* I should start out by saying I am on the board for the club that organizes this race. I did pay for my entry.

The 2018 event took place on Saturday, March 10 at 8:30AM in College Green Park. It was sunny and around 30 degrees.

There were 2 distances to run, the 3.17k or the 6.34k. I ran the double loop.

Registration: Available online, starting at $25 and increasing to $30 the day before the race. There was race day registration for $35. If you registered by a certain date, you got a pint glass with the race logo. Also included was chip timing. For an extra $5 you could purchase the post race brunch.

Expo / Packet pick up: There was no expo. Packet pick up was held an hour and a half before the race start. Easy system of telling them your name, grab a bib and the chip for your shoe. No ID required, and you could pick up someone else's stuff. *The club has a VIP membership option which includes a separate VIP packet pickup.

Pre-race: There was plenty of on street parking for free, but had to make sure you didn't park on the race course, they would tow your car. There were 4 port-o-potties set up. There was a table set up to learn about the club's membership or buy apparel. There was a table set up for a new running store. Close to race starting time participants were encouraged to head to the start line. After some announcements, it was time to go. No National Anthem.

Race/Course:
-Terrain: All on paved surfaces, variety of old brick roads, asphalt and cement. This time of year in Iowa, potholes are a given, so be on alert. The course is all on city streets.
-Elevation: While the elevation isn't super tough, the course is 2 loops of 3.17k, each loop ends with a pretty decent uphill, making the short course a good challenge.
-Course Markings: The course was open to traffic, and there were lots of cones that sectioned off the course from cars. There were no mile markers.
-Photography: One official race photographer and volunteers taking photos.
-Spectators: None, but the volunteers at the intersections were very cheerful.
-Volunteers: There were people at all busy intersections, and police were at the ones with heavy traffic.
-Aid Stations: There was a water stop at the finish line. In a race of this distance with the weather, not sure water on course is necessary. However if you did the double loop, you could grab a cup of water at the finish.

Finish: The start and finish were the same, so it was easy to spot. A volunteer took the chip from your shoe. There was a cup of water and bananas available after the race.

Post Race: The more traditional post race party was held at a bar in the downtown. It was maybe a 5 block walk, and if you drove and you would have to pay to park at a metered spot. The bar is Irish themed. They had an Irish stew that was the $5 brunch special. Awards were given out, overall winners and the first place AG winner received prizes.

Overall: This is the only race the club offers in my town. I try to always participate at some level. This year I volunteered and ran. It's also a unique distance. The price is also comparable to a 5k.

My race: I hadn't raced in about a month. I volunteered with pre-race activities, so I had been outside for a couple hours before it started and I was cold. I had a good first loop, but by the second loop I had slowed down and just enjoyed the run. I also took to taking photos the second loop. I finished with a time of 38:10.

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(2018)
"low key, self supported"
Overall
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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The 2018 Triple D event took place on January 13 in Durango, IA. The half marathon started with the full and 50k at 10 am. Race starting temps were a feels like -6 and it was cloudy.

Registration: The race has a website with online registration, but this closes a day or so before the event. Race registration is available on race day. I paid $60 on race day and received - 2 stickers, a bib, a unisex cotton t-shirt and 2 Hammer gels. No chip timing.

Expo/packet pick up: There is no race expo. There is a bike part to this event too, which has a different situation, I will just describe the run. Packet Pick up was before the race at the race start/finish location - a small town bar. Lots of parking for free and an indoor bathroom.

Pre-race: Before the race there was a "meeting" about the course. We were told where to turn around and what to expect. No National Anthem, runners started at the spray painted line on the trail. It was really cold, and standing around was not fun.

Race/course: Out and back on the Heritage Trail
-Terrain: Trail - crushed limestone - weather will change this surface to be icy or muddy. For this year it was frozen and had some icy spots, or light snow cover.
-Aid Stations: There are no aid stations, this is a self supported event.
-Course Markings: no mile markers, no arrows, no one watching the road crossings. There is a turn around cone and spray paint at that area.
-Scenery: This is rural Iowa, pastures, farmland, back roads, and a ski resort.
-Elevation: FLAT!! one hill that crosses a road
-Photographers: no photographers
-Volunteers: No one on course
-Spectators: None

Finish: The person keeping the time was huddled in a tent at the finish, and others would come in and out of the warm bar to see who was finishing. A finisher medal was handed to everyone.

Post Race: The post race was held indoors at the bar. There was FRESH, HOT homemade pizza and runners could choose a bottle of water or Gatorade as part of their participation. I am not sure if beer was in the deal or not, or just available for purchase. As most half marathoners were finished, awards were presented and raffle prizes were given out.

My race: I needed to run some longer training miles as part of marathon training. I had also been training outdoors, so the cold wasn't a huge deal to me. I warmed up from standing around after the first mile and moved the entire time and had no issues. I carried water and snacks with me. I knew it was going to be a lonely event from looking at past participation, but that was ok, I like running on this trail. I also love races, and having a choice in frigid Iowa in January is great. I finished with a time near 2:21, which is average for me.

Overall: I am torn, I really like running this trail but I would say for a self supported event it is kind of pricey. What will make me return is knowing that the money goes to maintain and create new trails, and having a race option in January. I also liked the low key aspect, it was very laid back.

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(2018)
"This race never disappoints"
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While I ran this last year, it's been a couple years since I posted a review...mostly because the race is consistent and there are no headaches.

Saturday January 27, 2018. Amana, IA. Race Start 10 am. Sunny, maybe 30 ish degrees.

Registration: This was available online, but had a cut off time a week before the race. You could also send in a form via mail. Before race day the cost was $20. Race day registration was available for $25. Proceeds went to support the area trails. Included with registration bib, timing chip, choice of long sleeve unisex shirt or 'meat bag' and post race Millstream Brewing beverage. There is also no shirt,no bag option.

No Expo. Packet pickup was at an old warehouse building. If you were preregistered you could check a sheet for your bib number. You also got your timing chip here. In addition to the indoor bathrooms, there were a couple of port-o-potties. The Visitor's Center restrooms were closed. Plenty of parking in nearby lots.

Race/Course: This was an out and back course, with a loop through the neighboring 'town' - Middle Amana. On paved surfaces, except the new "chip n seal" surface in Middle Amana. Mile markers for mile 1 and 2. No aid stations. Some spectators near the start/finish. A photographer was out and about. Flat, one small climb around mile 1.5. Not much to look at unless you like Iowa farmland.

Finish/Post Race: The timing mats and clock marked the finishing line. A volunteer removed the chip from your shoe. Timing sheet print out available. The post race festivities were in the warehouse where packet pick up happened. There was clementines, bananas, cookies, bagels, hot chocolate and bottled water. Awards were handed out and raffles were given away. A short walk to nearby brewery and you could claim your drink ticket

Overall: I always run try to run this race. I like to get something other than a t-shirt, the meat swag is always nice, the price is right. This is also one of the first races of the year and everyone comes out of hibernation.

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(2017)
"Excellent way to end the year"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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The even took place on Dec 31, 2016 at 10 am. It was sunny and around 65-70 degrees. It was run on the beach (it's why it's marked as a trail race)

Registration: Available online for around $25. Had to register before a certain date to get the race sweatshirt. Included was chip timing, bib a beer and wings. If you finished you got a medal.

Expo/Packet pickup: There was no expo. Packet pickup was before the race near the start at the pavilion. Just needed to tell a volunteer your name and they got you a bib and your beer and wing coupons. There was parking nearby in pay lots.

Pre-Race: There was a one mile swim held before the 5k. Participants were lined up for the start and could watch the swimmers. There were no pace corrals, but for the most part self seeding worked out fine. There were announcements and music over the loud speaker. The National Anthem was sung live. The toilets were open in a bath house for the beach.

Race/Course: The course was out and back on the sand at Clearwater Beach.
-Scenery - it doesn't get any better running along the water
-Terrain - the sand was all packed, but it was banked in spots and the finish was in the dry, loose sand
-Elevation - FLAT!
-Spectators - There were quite a few, but mostly because there were many people just out for their walk along the beach
-Aid Stations - one water only stop at the turnaround, with plastic cups. The Turnaround guy was holding a trash bag for the cups.
-Course markings- miles marked with signs in the sand
-No photographers
-Volunteers - everyone was so friendly, no need for many on the course, but the RD and all involved made you feel at home

Finish: The RD was greeting runners to the finish line, a volunteer gave you a medal, a bottle of water, and if you were the top 25 (male and female) finisher you received a card.

Post Race: The event was sponsored by Hooters, which was just across the street from the beach. It opened at 10:30 on the 3rd floor. This is where you redeemed your free beer (Michelob Ultra) and boneless wings. The RD gave out the top 25 finisher awards, and in handing out each one she did a small interview. While the wings and beer weren't the best, it was a fun event.

My race: I hadn't ran a 5k in forever, and my last race was a 50k at the beginning of the month. I just wanted to finish sub 30. I really like running on the packed beach, so I gave it my best, it was hard to run on the banked portions, but I finished in 29:14 and claimed a top 25 finisher award.

Overall: This is a great event. It's low cost, laid back and fun.....plus you get to run on the beach the last day of the year. I hope I get to do this again.

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(2017)
"Madison Marathon - Half Marathon"
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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The 2017 event took place on Sunday, November 12 at 7:10 am. (The full marathon started at 7am,and the wheelers started 5 minutes before each distance.) It was a cool 32 degree start, with rain just to the south, slight wind and cloudy.

The race is part of a race series. You can complete distances at the spring "Run Madtown" events to earn an additional medal.

Registration: This is available online, and closes a few days before the race. However, you can register at the expo the day before the race. I can not recall the price, but I do not remember it being out of line with similar event distances. It also increased as race day approached. Included with my registration was a personalize bib with timing strip, a long sleeve gender specific shirt (very soft), along with a bag of flyers. A virtual event bag was sent a few days prior to the race via email.

Expo/ Packet pick-up: The expo was held the day before the race at the Monona Terrace. It's an event space, parking is attached for $5. If you wanted to walk, you could park in town and walk. The expo was the only place to get your packet unless you paid extra for race day pickup. The bib pickup was simple, just provide the email with your bib number and an ID. Someone else could have picked up your bib if you had a copy of their ID. The expo was smaller, but included the usual running stores, area races and race branded merchandise. There were also water stations, so you could keep hydrated as you walked around. There was a station set up to check the timing chip on your bib.
*The expo was similar to last year, but in a smaller space. I arrived when it opened, there was a line, and it did feel a little cramped, and it was very warm in the smaller space. There were some booths set up outside the expo space.

Pre-race: The race starts and finishes at the Capital, which is the heart of Madison. Surprisingly enough on street parking is free, just blocks from this area. Gear check was set up, and you could use any bag, just had to attach the number on the bottom of your bib. There were a long line of port-o-potties set up, with minimal wait. An information tent was near the back of the corral areas.

There was no actual corral start, but there were pacers in the corral area you could line yourself up with. The marathon started first, with the half 10 minutes later, so you had to pay attention to what you were lining up for and where you were seeding yourself, as the corral system was the same for both race. There were some announcements and after a live singing of the National Anthem, the race had started. The corrals are also "back fed" meaning you enter in the back, so if you are faster you have to snake through the crowd to get to your pace area.

Race/Course:
-Terrain - the entire course is on pavement. There are spots that are new smooth asphalt, but other areas with potholes, nothing major, just pay attention. I also noticed some banked roads.
-Elevation - Madison has hills, they were on this course, the biggest being around mile 8-9.
-Photographers - on the course, and photos were posted the next day online FOR FREE!!
-Aid Stations -There were plenty of hydration stations on course, each had Gatorade- lemon lime, and water. It was water, Gatorade, water at each stop. The first few were very organized with liquids in different cups. However, the last few were a mix of what was in each cup. The Volunteers were vocal as to what they had to offer. There were a couple stops with gels.
-Spectators - there were not many at all. Most people on course were family of runners. The AS volunteers were energetic, so that was nice.
-Volunteers - Friendly people on the course, there were law enforcement at the major intersections helping cars across the streets.
-Course markings - Each mile was marked with a sign. There were cones on the roads that were open traffic, closing off just parts of the roads
-Race tracking - you could download an app for live runner tracking, I didn't see any split mats, but I could have missed them
-Scenery- This course is different from the other races, it does not go down State Street or near any UW features, instead it's near the lake and through residential neighborhoods.

Finish/Post Race: The starting area is the finish chute, so the arch with a timing mat are easy to spot. Once across the line, a volunteer placed a medal around your neck. There was a table with bottled water. Then a photo opportunity with the backdrop. A volunteer came out of nowhere to wrap a foil blanket around you. Then you keep walking to snag an orange slice and banana. Then you could chose your bagged Panera lunch (ham or veggie half sandwich, bag of chips and a cookie.) A result printout was available, and then you could claim a free Michelob Ultra using the tag on your bib. There were tables here to sit and drink your beer. Race merchandise was available for sale too.

My Race: If you know me, most of the time I just do my best and finish with a smile. This event was no different. At the time is was my last race on the calendar, so I was just going to take it in. I also run many races in Madison so I wasn't nervous. One of my favorite things about this race is the FREE parking 2 blocks from the start, this allowed me to sit in my car 15 minutes before the start.

Once I made it to the start, I lined up and was on my 13.1 mile journey to the finish. The start was really crowded. There is plenty of room for everyone to spread out in the starting corrals, but there was some construction on a street and at one point we all came to a halt because there were just too many runners. I think the half had the bulk of the participants, and the race didn't thin out for a few miles...but really you were always running with people.

I really did not care for this course. It was one of the more boring routes I've run in Madison, just running busier roads, so I welcomed the hills as something different.

I felt good the entire time, except for a new chaffing spot I could feel... UGH...I did finish in a time near 2:15 depending on which "stat" I will go by. This is a decent time, I wasn't specifically training for this, and I did not come away injured (does chaffing count?)

I like that they give you a bagged lunch and there is a beer offering, but come on...this is WI, how about a local craft beer? It is great that the beer area provides tables and a place to sit, many races should do this!

I do have to note that this race was a day after the Iowa / Wisconsin football game. IA had their butts handed to them. I still proudly wore a tigerhawk on my hat. I didn't have any problems until an officer standing near one of the last hills said something like "you are not giving up like your Hawkeyes!" Sure I can take a joke...but this guy is not my friend, in fact he needs to be making sure my safety is in check.... so I still have no love for you Badger fans. Also be nice and encouraging within the last mile of race...this was not.

Overall: Even though I would say this is my least favorite half course in Madison, it's nice to have an option in November for a longer distance. You can participate in events all year round in Madison, and each have something different. I basically wrote the same thing as last year, so it's a solid race. I have said this many times, I like running in Madison and will be back - when the Hawkeyes are not in town.

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