Latest reviews by Angie Maske-Berka

(2019)
"only $10"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2019 event took place on Friday, June 7 at 7 pm. It was sunny and 80 ish degrees.

Registration: You could submit a printed our pdf via mail to register. There was also race day registration. The cost of this race is $10, and $20 if you wanted a shirt (guaranteed by a certain date.) The price never increased. For $10 you got a bib, chip timing and wooden nickel for a post race beverage. If you wanted the shirt, it was a unisex short sleeve tech shirt.
*accurate course and free photos posted online too

Expo/Packet pickup: There was no expo. The community center was open before the race to register or pick up your bib and things.

Parking was free, anywhere you wanted - on the street, the bank parking lot, etc. There were flushing toilets available in the community center.

Pre-Race: There was a one mile race held an hour before the 5k. A few minutes before the 5k, the RD thanked everyone that helped put on the race, gave a few course directions, and then the National Anthem was sung live.

Race/Course: The course was through the town of Blue Grass
-Scenery: nothing really cool to see, residential, small town business
-Terrain: the course was paved, or on asphalt, which is hot after an 80 degree day. The main stretch into town was recently repaved - nice a smooth section.
-Elevation: FLAT! There was one hill - Garmin had 62 feet of gain
-Spectators: For such a small town race, there were quite a few families and people cheering everyone on.
-Aid Stations: 2 water stops. They were all different though. The first stop was sponsored by the convenience store so they supplied 16 oz plastic bottles of water, the second stop was in someone's front yard - they served in paper cups and you hit it twice.
-Course markings: The course was closed to traffic with cones. I don't recall mile markers, but it was clear where you should be running
-Photographers: a hobby photographer was in 3 spots.
-Volunteers: The local fire department and law enforcement officials had this race course closed & safe! Not much more need for volunteers except the water stops.

Finish: The finish line funneled so that you would cross a timing mat. There were bottles of water, popsicles, and all the cookies. The results were quickly posted, and you could get individual printouts.

Post Race: Awards were given out once everyone had finished the race, inside the community center. This is also where the wooden nickel could be redeemed for a post race beverage - think every lite beer you ever wanted- and soda.

My race: I was surprised with my pace for this one. I am marathon training, so I have neglected any speedwork. My 28:48 was good enough for 6th place in my AG. It was hot, but I did my best!

Overall: DO THIS RACE! $10, chip timing, beer, 3.1 miles, photos, flat...what more do you want?

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(2019)
"New course for 2019"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2019 event took place on Saturday May 25. It was around 80 degrees, during the day. Start time 8:10pm.

Registration: Participants were encouraged to register online before it closed a few days before the race, there was registration available at the expo. Included was a bib with your name, finisher's medal, timing chip, post race beer, short sleeve gender specific soft shirt, and free race pictures.There was also a phone app, Race Day Events.

*the race is part of the Conquer the Capital Challenge, which would earn you an additional medal if you ran the half marathon the next day. I was running the challenge. This year all races got the same race shirt. If you did the challenge you received a hoodie - they ran out of my size and I will be contacted to get it at a later date.

Expo/Packet pick up: The expo was held at the Monona Terrace convention center. Parking was on-site in a ramp for a fee, or at a metered spot on the street. With the proper information someone else could grab your packet. Expo closed 3 hours before the race. There was a place to check that the timing chip worked on the bib.

The expo is simple and small. However there were area running stores, race information, sign making stations and information for other local races. There were even water coolers provided with cups to keep hydrated.

Pre race: The 10k start was after the wheelchair start. The National Anthem was sung - I believe I recognized it as a Super Bowl rendition from Jordin Sparks. There were no corrals inside the gated start. Port-o-potties set up, but near the finishers area in the library mall. Parking for the race was to be found in area ramps or on street (which was free after 6pm.)
The race changed location for 2019. It started at the State St Mall. Parking is more of challenge in this area, and the nearby ramps filled up fast. The close on street parking was closed for the race route.

Race/Course: The course was different, with a section on the lake gravel trail.
-Elevation: Madison is not flat, and this race many climbs, especially in the last half mile. Going down Observatory in the dark was also tough.
-Aid stations: The first stop was not until mile 3, there was water only. It was on an out and back section, so we hit this again at just after 4 miles - but they were out of cups. Meaning those who hadn't hit mile 3 - had no cups for water. I felt this was uncharacteristic of this event. Then around mile 5 there was another stop, and they had Gatorade with water AND CUPS!
-Scenery: The race went out along the lake on a gravel trail, the views of the lake were nice, and then it started getting dark. Then we came back to the finish area.
-Photography: FREE race pictures posted online quickly
-Course Markings: I feel each mile was marked and there were plenty volunteers on the course. As this is a night race, I feel some areas could use a little more lighting - like the bike path.
-Terrain: This year the course was a combination of pavement and gravel trail.
-Volunteers : everyone was cheering and shouting for you. They were at all the intersections.
-Spectators:The course was not lined with people, but there was a scattering of people cheering for their friends and family.

*This year the 5k started after the 10k. With my pacing and the 5k pacing, the leader of the 5k hit the trail at the same time. It was crowded, and people would not get over. If I was going for a run in Madison I really liked the course, but for a race, I feel there is some room for improvement with this new course.

Finish/Post race: The finish was easy to spot, as the arch and timing mats were visible. The announcer was reading the names as participants crossed the finish line. Once across the line a volunteer placed a medal around your neck, and then another handed you a bottle of water. There was pizza slices, followed by chocolate milk. There was a Michelob Ultra beer trailer to redeem this ticket on your bib, for a beer or spiked water.
Also new for 2019 was a "glo theme." Glow necklaces were given out at the expo and there was a DJ with lights and music at the post race party.

Overall: This is great option for a night race, you can grab your bib by 5pm and then check out Madison before the 8pm start. It is hard to decided what to eat when. It's priced similarly to other area 10ks and is organized well. I just wish they had something other than pizza post race, even just a banana. - Ha- I wrote that last year, and I agree, I just don't want a heavy, greasy slice of pizza when I am done running. I am also not sure if I am sold on the new location, it wasn't bad, I just like the Capital Square.

My Race: I don't remember how many times I have run this race, and how many times I have run it as the challenge. I just wanted to finish and get some rest for the half marathon the next day. I did get in my head around mile 2 when people wouldn't get over for the lead 5k runners, and then I really wanted a drink and there wasn't anything for what felt like a long time. I was also sad when the 4 mile ish water stop had no cups. I even had a hydration pack with me. I was not used to the warm weather running yet, so I was happy to find some Gatorade at the next stop, and my attitude turned around. However, not for long, I knew Madison could be hilly, but after running the flat trail along the lake, I was surprised by the hills within the last half mile or so. Oh well, I finished with a time near 1:05. I grabbed a spiked seltzer water, took some photos and we were on our way to Chipotle, lol.

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(2019)
"The Arboretum is BACK!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2019 half marathon took place on Sunday, May 26. It was overcast and nice 50-60ish degrees. Race start at 7:00 am

Registration: Available online and at the expo, with increasing prices as the race neared. Included was a bib with your name, finisher's medal, timing chip, post race beer, gender specific short sleeve tech shirt, and free race pictures.

*you could also register for the Conquer the Capital Challenge, which would earn you an additional medal and hoodie, if you ran the 10k the night before.

Expo/Packet pick up: The expo was held at the Monona Terrace. Parking was on-site in a ramp for a $5 or on the street at a meter. There were also other events going on here. With the proper paper work someone else could grab your packet. There was a place to check that the timing chip worked on the bib.
*Will call or race day packet pick up was available for a fee.

The expo was small. There were area running stores, local race booths and places to make signs. There was race specific merchandise and information. There were even water coolers provided. The expo was the day before the event, you could register too.

Pre race: Plenty of FREE on street parking blocks away. Port-o-potties lined up on the street. The race started and ended at the State Capitol. The National Anthem was sung before the events. Corrals were self seeding, and pacers were available.

Race/Course: A tour of Madison.
-Terrain: all paved streets.
-Elevation: There are hills, especially a surprise after you leave the arboretum.
-Aid stations: There were many on the course, all with water and lemon lime Gatorade. There was a stop with bananas.
-Scenery: The course was back to touring around Camp Randall, The Kohl Center and the Arboretum where I spotted many turkeys.
-Photographers: FREE pictures from various locations on course
-Course markers: each mile was marked, course easy to navigate
-Volunteers: intersections with marshals or police, very upbeat at aid stations . There were some side streets with no one, so had to be alert for cars.
-Spectators: There were a great spattering of them along the course with lots of fun signs
-Tracking: there was an app 'Race Day Events" that you could download to track runners and find race day information.

Finish/Post race: The finish line was under the starting arch. Photographers there to snap a memory. A volunteer placed a medal around your neck. Then you were given a bottle of water. There were orange slices and bananas and more food which was already bagged up from Panera - a sandwich (meat or veggie) chips and a cookie and chocolate milk.

Once out of this area, you could take photos with the back drop and if you did the challenge, grab your Conquer the Capitol Challenge medal. From here you could go to the beer area to redeem your free Michelob Ultra, where there was also a massage / sports therapy tent. You could also just camp out on the Capitol grounds.

Overall: I liked that the course went back to the arboretum this spring. It's just a more scenic route. Madison offers a great event for the price.

My Race: I am no where close to racing a half marathon, so with the 10k the night before I was using the combination as training for my next marathon. I wasn't necessarily on the struggle bus, but I wasn't having the best race ever. I had to stop after mile 4 for the bathroom, I had to walk the steep hill. However, I found a friend from Iowa in the last mile and we chatted to the finish. I had a time near 2:30.

I will be back for more medals in November as this challenge and that event will give be the Conquer the Capital half and half title!

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(2019)
"Soakin up the Speedway"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2019 event was on Saturday, May 4th with the first wave starting at 7:33 am. It was cloudy, rainy and about 65 degrees.

Registration: Available online starting and at the expo. Included was a long sleeve, gender specific tech shirt, technical running hat, bib with timing strip, and a bag with some fliers. The clear bag would double for gear check.

*I was not registered for the race until the expo.

Expo/Packet pickup: The expo and packet pick up was held at a large convention center Thursday evening and all day Friday. Bib pick up and registration was on one side of the room. With the expo vendors on the other side. The expo was a decent size with area races, running gear and race merchandise.

*Parking for all events was not free. You could park downtown Indy or at a lot with a shuttle provided. The shuttle lot was accessible all weekend.

Pre-Race: Before the half marathon was the 5k. Runners could do both.
The half marathon start was managed with corrals and waves. (There were 20-30,000 participants) No one was checking bibs. There were port-o-potties on a side street. The convention center was open too.

Race/Course: The course was out to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and back on the streets of the city.
-Scenery - The streets on this course were not the most scenic, some residential neighborhoods, industrial parks. The best feature was running a loop around the speedway mid race.
-Terrain - All paved or asphalt or race track.
-Elevation - FLAT! The biggest climb was to go under the speedway bridge and back up.
-Spectators - There were family and friends on the course. The residents along the course were awesome sitting on their porches with pots and pans making noise.
-Aid Stations - There were 11 advertised Aid stations, with an electrolyte and water. I didn't pay too much attention to the aid stations, as I carried a hydration pack. I noticed a candy stop and some organization was giving out lip balm.
-Course markings- No problems figuring out which way to go. All major intersections had law enforcement, and all other intersections had a volunteer. All miles were marked. There were some timing mats on the course too.
-Photographers - They were scattered on the course, but this is my only gripe about the race - they were available for purchase.
-Volunteers - I can't say enough about the volunteers for this race, there were so many!

Finish: The last half mile or so is lined with checkered flags, and announcer is encouraging finishers. Once across the timing mat a volunteer handed you a medal. Then it was a chute of finisher items, first a bottle of water, then a plastic bag to put things in!! There were cookies, bananas and maybe a granola bar.

From this area runners were told to go to a finisher party area. This was all on grass. It rained the entire race. It was mud bog. There was no other route out. The area had some food trucks and the post race beer tent.

There was access for spectators to sit in the stands and watch their friends and family finish. Then they could reunite in the mud bog.

My race: I signed up for the event on Thursday at the expo. I was helping a vendor at the expo. I was a week off another half marathon. I was just excited to run a loop around the speedway.
The goal is to finish with a smile, so I embraced the rain and just kept moving. It rained the entire time. I recall placing a phone call to my husband around mile 6, before we got to the speedway telling him how awesome the event was and I hadn't even run on the speedway yet.
Once we were at the speedway, it was super cool!! It's in the center of the race, so mentally it's great, it breaks up the thought of running a half marathon. Also it's about 2 miles of the race! I made sure to stop and kiss the bricks. Such a cool experience! Then it was time to trek back to the finish line. I had no issues, and crossed the finish near 2:25 (well that's my Garmin time with a bathroom stop.)

I wish it wasn't rainy and the post race wasn't a muddy mess, but other than that an MarathonFoto, this race really doesn't have any downfalls!! I would recommend it to all.

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(2019)
"Half of the challenge"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The 2019 event was on Saturday, April 27 at 7:00 am. It was cool and crisp morning.

Registration: Available online starting at $85 and increased to $115 if spots were open at the expo. Included was a short sleeve, gender specific tech shirt (each was a different color,) bib with timing strip, drawstring bag, and a finish on the 50 yard line of Memorial Stadium.

*Many pre-race emails with information, including a note about the weather.

Expo/Packet pickup: The expo and packet pick up was Thursday evening and all day Friday at the nearby Rec Center on campus. Bib pick up was first by going up to clerk that was representing the event you were running, you showed them your unique QR code that was sent via email. They scanned the code and gave you your bib. You could pick up someone else's stuff if they sent your their QR code. No IDs were needed. *I just told them my name* After you got your bib, you then went to the expo to get a drawstring bag filled with flyers and race shirt. The expo was a decent size with area races, running gear and race merchandise.

*Parking for all events was FREE surrounding the stadium area, however there was a lot of traffic, so if you arrived at a busy time just needed to be patient.

*On Friday evening there was a pasta dinner held at the ARC (rec center) which included a speaker series. I believe the cost was around $17.

Pre-Race: The start was managed with corrals. A volunteer stood at the entrance checking bibs. However, needed to pay attention as the sign for the G corral was the the entrance to the F corral, and so on. There were port-o-potties everywhere, with short lines. The National Anthem was sung live and the wheeler division started, followed by the runners.

Race/Course: The course was around Champaign / Urbana on the streets. The half marathon ran with the marathon until they split just after mile 12.
-Scenery - Not super scenic, ran through lots of residential neighborhoods, lots of turning. Did run through the downtown college part and a sculpture park.
-Terrain - All paved except finish on the turf football field. The paved portions were ok, few spots to watch footing.
-Elevation - FLAT! Ok, so for me this is flat, there were some inclines.
-Spectators - There were family and friends on the course. The residents along the course came out and embraced the event. Even a beer stop or people handing out water.
-Aid Stations - There were many Aid stations, with an electrolyte and water. I didn't pay too much attention to the aid stations, as I carried a hydration pack. The half passed a stop with orange slices. I believe we also passed a gel stop or two.
-Course markings- No problems figuring out which way to go. All major intersections had law enforcement, and all other intersections had a volunteer. All miles were marked. There were some timing mats on the course too.
-Photographers - scattered throughout the course *photos sent to my email about an hour after I finished - Free downloads!
-Volunteers - I can't say enough about the volunteers for this race, there were so many!

Finish: The unique part about this race is the the finish on the 50 yard line at the college football stadium. There is an announcer cheering everyone in. You are handed a heat sheet and a medal. There are some photo backdrops set up in the end zone. There was a PR bell to ring. Bottles or water and Gatorade were available as you exited the field. Participants are then encouraged to move off the field. No post race food on the field.

There was access for spectators to sit in the stands and watch their friends and family finish.

Post Race: The concession stands were the place to go for post race food. There were bananas, Nature Valley Granola Bars, pizza, cookies, chips, and pasta. The actual party was on a nearby side street outside the stadium. You could wait in line to get a craft beer, buy race merchandise or try some other samples. I believe some food trucks were set up too.

My race: I signed up for the Illini Badger Challenge, run the Illinois half marathon and the Madison Mini and you would get an additional medal. I had no other race day goals but to finish, so I would be half way to and extra medal.
I did my best to keep moving the entire time. I did stop to splash a cup of water on my face about the halfway point, and when I started going again my ankle wasn't having it. I battled this for the next couple miles before it was good again. At mile 11 I had a beer and it was good!! At mile 12 I called my husband to let him know where I was. Then I just cruised into the field waving at my husband and friends.

Overall: I gloat about a Hawkeye running into the endzone again... but with all that joking aside, this race is a great event. The logistics are easy, the course is easy to navigate and all the details are taken care of. If it fits in the schedule I will be back.

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