Latest reviews by Cass Gunderson

(2015)
"Doin' Hood to Coast things"
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Thumb hood to coast

I ran Hood to Coast as my first relay race with 11 other (awesome) girls. It was a totally unique and amazing experience, and as it was my first relay race, it will be a tough one to beat if I choose to do another in the future.

Pros:
+ Oregon itself is just absolutely beautiful.
+ Awesome destination race - lots of hiking and other things to do afterwards for vacation
+ Race information was abundant and race management was very attentive and active throughout the race and on social media
+ Overall great course (rolling hills, pretty difficult/worth the travel for the challenge, scenic)
+ Relays are a really interesting and unique experience (though getting more popular)... nothing says "get to know yourself" quite as much as running 5 miles for your team through the woods in the rain with no cell phone service at 3 am.

Cons:
- Nothing to do with the race itself, and management did their best to handle this well and communicate, but the weather was the worst this year. It rained & was a complete wind storm (the finish line was completely ruined and canceled, which is arguably one of the best parts). Management could have probably prepared for a better finish line alternative.
- CELL PHONE SERVICE IS AWFUL. We didn't have cell service for 15 hours. There were two major van changes during this time that required complete guessing on our part (which was made 10x more difficult due to not being able to communicate during the stormy weather - we would have no idea if the other team was hurt or running really behind, etc- one of our runners waited in the rain for an hour). I didn't realize how hard lack of communication that would make the relay. I would highly suggest H2C sets up wireless internet hubs or SOMETHING at the major exchanges so teams can get in some brief communication with each other, if only for a few moments at that interchange. ...That or figure out a way to help teams plan around this logistically. Suggest walkie talkies for runners, etc.

Overall, a great experience and we raised a lot of money for a great cause along the way.

You can read more about our Hood to Coast relay experience written by another runner on my team here - http://asweatlife.com/2015/09/eight-reasons-to-run-a-relay-race/

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(2015)
"First Nike Women's race - I'll definitely be running another."
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Nike Women knows how to make an experience, and the Nike Women's 15K in Toronto was no exception to that rule.

Pros:
+ Scenic course with nice views of the skyline (it was held on the Toronto islands instead of the mainland)
+ Because of the previously noted location - it was basically turned into Nike Women Island, which was actually pretty cool.
+ Food trucks!
+ A+ packet pickup. Aesthetics were on point, awesome swag, great gear options for purchase and Wifi all over the place.
+ A good mix of women empowerment along with a competitive racing atmosphere (who run the world?)

Cons:
- The ferry coordination to get to and from the island was a little messy, though I'm not sure how they could plan those logistics better than their attempt.
- Not many food options if you didn't want to pay for the food trucks (they could have had bananas or bagels or something pre-race for people, especially since they expected runners to be on the island sometimes HOURS before the race start)
- the packet pickup had Wifi EVERYWHERE, it would have been awesome if there were hubs where Wifi was available, especially since most people don't buy a data plan in another country, so Wifi would be a nice way to be able to communicate with fellow runners and friends/family back home from the island.

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(2015)
"Bubble Walk 5k"
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Thumb bubble run

I signed up for this race with some family members, so ultimately I had a blast because it's a fun family bonding experience (especially with family that isn't super into running but wants to attend an event like this). However, this is not a 5k you would want to sign up for if you are a runner.

I would call this is a great fun family walk with a bubble theme. The idea is fun for an event, but definitely not for a run. As others mentioned, the bubble bogs took a long time to get through and there was really no space to run if that's what you intended to do. If you sign up and go into it knowing that ahead of time, you'll have a good experience. If you are trying to run this 5k, I would highly suggest signing up for a different race.

Pros:
+ The concept of different bubble stations and different color dyes was fun.
+ The event was pretty well managed
+ Decent swag (white tshirt and headband to wear on race day and dye, similar to the Color Run concept)

Cons:
- No room to actually run
- The course scenery itself left much to be desired

In the future, I think this event would be better served if there was a run group (say, the first 5 waves) and a walk group that starts an hour or so later. But with all of the slippery bubbles, maybe it's best to avoid running in them anyways!

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(2015)
"Homecourt advantage"
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Thumb il half

First of all, I'm a little biased because I went to U of I and I absolutely love going back to campus to run this half with fellow alumni.

This was my fourth time running this half and definitely the worst weather I've experienced for it - rainy, wet and cold. Despite this, I think race management and volunteers did a great job in keeping up morale and being prepared for the conditions on race day.

I ran this race with a friend who has never ran a half (let alone a 5k) before (read: I wasn't going for a PR, though this is certainly a great course to go for it). Weather conditions aside, I think he was very impressed with the half and had a great experience.

Reasons why I love the Illinois Half:
+ Fast & flat course
+ Quick and painless expo
+ Affordable half
+ Easy parking and access
+ Awesome finish in the stadium
+ I get to eat SO much free pizza before 10 am.

Things that could improve:
- I always wonder why they route the end of the half the way they do - in the past few years there has been a really random and tight turnaround in the last 1/2 mile in order to add .10 mile in distance or so onto the race. I feel like this could be avoided or re-routed somehow instead of having to do this?

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(2015)
"Every spring I'm shufflin'"
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The Shamrock Shuffle is always seen as the beginning of race season again in Chicagoland. This year was no exception, though I wish the weather would have cooperated more!

It's a huge race - boasting itself as "the world's largest (street race) 8k". Pre-race organization and the massive amounts of people remind me a lot of the Chicago Marathon in the fall.

The good stuff:
+ The thing I like most about the Shamrock Shuffle is how approachable it is. It gives you a big race feeling for a 5 mile run. I think it's a great race to convince your runner friends and more hesitant "non"-runner friends to join in on.
+ The entry fee is minimal compared to most Chicago street races and the swag and race day experience is well worth the cost (this year they gave out neck gaiters along with the tshirts, you guys).
+ This race is really well organized for the overwhelming amount of participants. I like the wave starts - it seemed to keep everything running smoothly.
+ Lots of downtown running action - I think this is especially great for out of town runners to feel like they are actually running through the city as opposed to a lakefront path run. The course begins on a similar route as the Chicago marathon (makes me nostalgic! But thankfully is much, much shorter!)

Things that I wish could improve:
- I understand that the race itself is HUGE, but I really wish that the expo wasn't at McCormick place for just an 8k. This year it took me 4 HOURS (not even kidding) round trip to just get there and pick up my packet and get back home. I live in the city. It should not take 4 hours for that. (I'm getting heated thinking about it. Breathe... breathe...)
- Michelob Ultra. (No offense to Michelob Ultra fans).

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