Latest reviews by Angie Maske-Berka
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.
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!
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.
The 2018 event took place on Saturday, December 1 at 9:00 am. (The full marathon started before the half and the shorter distances started after.) It was a sunny day, temps would climb to 75.
Registration: This is available online for around $75. You could also register on race day. Included with my registration was a bib, timing bracelet, a short sleeve gender specific shirt . If you didn't register by a cutoff, participants could chose from past race shirts or an awesome BOCO hat.
Expo/ Packet pick-up: There was no expo, just race day packet pickup and race day registration. This area was clearly marked with teardrop flags. The process was easy, no ID required.
Pre-race: The race is on a ranch or private property. It cost $10 to park, but you paid after you already found a place to park in the grass. There were port-o-potties set up. The National Anthem was played before the full marathon. There were announcements about the race course. No need for corrals, smaller race.
Race/Course: This is a trail race, but on a private ranch, the trail was created for the event. It was a series of loops in a figure 8.
-Terrain: The entire course is on trail or "Jeep" road. There were rocks, mud, creeks, dirt, cowpies, cactus, trees, stumps, sticks, etc.
-Elevation: There were no rolling hills, but there were ravines to climb in and out.
-Photographers: None. Participants were encouraged to post what they took and load to social media with a hashtag.
-Aid Stations: There was one aid station at the start/finish line. They had water and Tailwind, it was a cupless event. The aid station was beautifully stocked with food - chips, pickles, cookies, candies, fruit.
-Spectators: None, just the people milling about the start/finish
-Volunteers:There were volunteers at the start and finish area, and on my first loop I saw them in one spot on the course.
-Course markings: No mile markings. The course was marked with yellow papers with arrows and orange ribbons in the trees.
-Race tracking: NA
-Scenery- This is all on a ranch. There were views alongside a river, there was also cow pasture. Always something to look at.
Finish/Post Race: The finish was also the start, easy to spot with the inflatable arch. A medal and a bottle of water were handed to each finisher. Awards were held before I finished. A local trail club had a tent set up and there was a massage tent. No post race food except the aid station and food trucks you could pay for.
My Race: The goal was to finish, it was my first race in Texas. I enjoyed what the trails had to offer, and only managed to fall once and not into a cactus. I could have used some trail shoes. It was a little warm for me as I have transitioned into winter running. I finished with a time of 2:50 and a short distance of 12.6.
Overall: I believe this is the second year of the event. The trail was fun, and I have never run a Texas trail before so not sure what to compare that too. However, I have run MANY races and I would say there is a lot of room for improvement to make this a must run event.
This is my third time running a distance at this event. My review may sound repetitive, but a great race is consistent!
The 2018 event took place on Sunday, November 11 at 7:10 am. (The full marathon started at 7am, and the wheelers started 5 minutes before each distance.) It was a cold, temps in the 20s and cloudy, eventually the sun would come out.
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. The price 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 downtown. The expo was the only place to get your packet unless you paid extra for race day pickup. Someone else could have picked up your bib if you had a copy of their ID.
*I was unable to attend the expo this year and took advantage of having someone else picking up my things. I sent a picture of my ID to my friend and they had no issues.
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, but arrive early before the roads are closed. Gear check was set up, and you could use any bag, just had to attach the number from 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 I don't recall listening to the National Anthem. 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.
-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. (This is the thing I heard most about post race, does anyone read my reviews? Madison is hilly!)
-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. The aid stations were also prepared for the cooler temps as they had ice melt thrown on the ground to prevent icy spots.
-Spectators: there were a few here and there. Most people on course were family of runners. It was colder, so might limit who was out an about, there were no spectator aid stations on the half route.
-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 to traffic, closing off just parts of the roads.
-Race tracking - App available to download to track runners
-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 handed you a medal. There was a table with bottled water. Then a photo opportunity with the backdrop. If you wanted a foil blanket you could get one. Then you keep walking to snag an orange slice and banana. Then you could chose your bagged Panera lunch (ham, turkey, or veggie sandwich, bag of chips and a cookie.) There was a table to claim challenge medals and an area to snag a chocolate milk. There were tables here to sit and drink your beer. This year they had a radler available too, but the person ahead of me go the last one. Race merchandise was available for sale too.
My Race: This was my 50th half marathon. I just wanted to finish, I didn't have a training plan or any goal. I knew the course as I ran it last year. I was in it for the medal - they started a 4 year medal series last year and I have to complete it.
I struggled with what to wear. If this was January the race day temps would have been warm, however it's the first few cold days of the season. This issue had me walking to shed a layer halfway in the race.
I said this last year and I can say it again this year - 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 finished with a time near 2:20 on my Garmin, but because I used the facilities I had an official race time of 2:22, which is fitting as that is the time I ran my first half marathon.
If it were warmer I would have tried harder to get my hands on that Radler, but instead I went to sit in the car to get warm as I waited for some friends to finish the full marathon. Maybe this Radler is a hint for better beer in the future.
Also - I am not sure if it was an error on my part, but I failed to realize there was a challenge medal up for grabs for running the spring race events and the fall half marathon. I thought it was just for the fall full marathon. With the proper papers, I could have received another medal. Why is this important - I noted this on twitter and the race management sent me the challenge medal!!!
Overall: Before this race I counted and I have run over 10 races in Madison. I keep coming back, and I will be back next November, if not sooner. I also need to continue my medal series. This may not be the most scenic Madison route, but they know how to put on an event.