Latest reviews by Christine Guenther

(2019)
"RnR Chicago "
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Third time doing Rock n Roll Chicago, though first time since 2012 and quite frankly, I don’t think it’s changed much since then. One thing to know up front is this race takes place in Mid July in Chicago. You’re either getting hot and humid or pouring rain, that’s just how Chicago is. Every time I’ve run this, you think of issues that will come up weather related and always end up questioning why isn’t the race moved to earlier or later in the year.

I flew in. Thursday and ended up going to the expo on Friday afternoon. The plan was to run the 5K on Saturday and the Half Marathon on Sunday (I had signed up last year during national running day because it was the cheapest it was going to be). Registration was taken for all races through out the expo, easy enough to pick up bibs, shirts, etc. Plenty of vendors, but nothing fancy. Expo ended at 7 pm on Friday and 7:05 pm rolls around and we get notified that the 5K is cancelled the next morning due to heat concerns. Mind you, the heat advisories had been in place the past few days prior to Friday and they had let people register for the 5K up until the expo closed (a little sketchy, not going to lie). 5K runners could switch to the 10K Sunday, defer to next year or get a refund (still waiting for that email). For the record, could have totally still done the 5K yesterday without issue.

Race Day: the half and 10k both started at 6:30 Sunday morning. Cloudy and humid, though temps in the 70s.

Corrals: overcrowded and not enough room by any means for all the runners involved. There needed to be more space in each corrals to allow more runners in, I was trying to not impale myself on the fences/barricades

The course: the first 5-6 miles are downtown, Streeterville and the Theater district. This year because of heat, you could run a modified course and run 7.3 miles (diverted off right after 6.5 miles). The next 2 miles and change involved going south Michigan Ave, on MLK Drive for a mile and then going down Lake Shore Drive. Be careful as you do have a portion of the course on the highway portion of Lake Shore Drive (and I saw someone needing medical at that point), somewhere around 11/12. Also be ready to run under McCormick Place. Honestly, this needs to be taken off course. I nearly slipped on the surface/ground, it’s always dark and you can never see where you’re going. Finish line is in Grant Park, not far from where you started.

Finish Area: boxed water, warm gatorade, medals, food. I finished just over 2 hours and there was no chocolate milk to be found. None, zilch, zero nada and the tents had already been packed up. I’ve heard they were out before the 2 hour mark of the half marathon

Aid Stations: It’s always hot during this race. Always (every year I’ve done this). Realistically, there needs to be aid stations every mile. There were some aid stations that were struggling just to keep up. There was also at least 1 aid station where gatorade was on one side and water on the other, so you had to choose which one you wanted more....

Overall, Not sure that I’d come back for this one. I feel like things have gone downhill a bit since the last time I ran it. Too much to work on in my opinion

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(2019)
"At least I got Maine off my list of half marathons?"
Overall
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For Christmas, my parents gave me some gift cards for flights and I used one to come out to Maine for the Old Port Half Marathon in order to check main off my list of races. For a race that calls itself the premier half marathon of Maine, it could certainly use some work.

The Expo: at the Cross Insurance Arena, which I think was a change this year. Also new was them assigning bibs as you checked in. It was downright horrible. Pick up was from. 2-8 on Friday afternoon and I got in line at 315. It took 45 minutes to get inside, get my bib and my shirt. The line was out the door and it looked like stayed like that most of the day. Only 4-5 people assigning numbers if that. Not much in terms of vendors, only a race, lululemon, life is good and a handful of other places if that.

The race: starts in the Old Port District. Be ready for some hills as they’re scattered. Throughout the course. The first 5 miles or so are downtown and afterwards, you get taken around the Cove. There’s a good stretch around the cove where you have a mix of gravel/sand path and not a whole lot of room to pass. A good 1/10 of a mile towards the end run on cobblestone and made everyone worried they were going to turn an ankle. Aid stations were scattered throughout the course, but no real rhyme to the distance between them, which seemed odd.

Post race: food/beer garden were together. Didn’t even see any ice cream and the pizza line was so long it wasn’t worth waiting for. Water/medals available in the finish shoot, though people were standing around blocking the finish after finishing themselves

Volunteers: my parents are in Portland this weekend and my mom volunteered at the finish. THe volunteer coordinator didn’t show up and there was no one to give any sort of direction. Most of what got set up was done by the volunteers, but only because some of them had prior race volunteer experience. Didn’t seem like the race had any clue what was going on

Overall, decent course, but packet pick up needs a major redo, more organization is needed at the finish and there needs to be more water stations at the minimum

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(2019)
"We Beat the Rain!"
Overall
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Finally getting Minnesota off my 50 state list! I always joke I see more of the Minneapolis airport than of the city itself, so it was fun to actually enjoy the city a bit this time around.

Packet Pick Up: picked up my bib after getting in, so I had my luggage with me. Pick up was at Summit Brewery July 2-3 and then race day at the finish. Quick and easy, in and out sort of thing. Get your bib and shirt and that’s it, which I actually appreciated because some of the expos have so much crap at them.

Race Location: starts at the Mill Ruins Park, right along the Mississippi start

Weather: be prepared for some heat and humidity. My shoes were squeaking at the end and I’m pretty sure I was soaked 3 miles in, but I’m told this is the norm out here.

Start time: 630 for the half, 650 for the 5K

The course: mainly a scenic/residential type of race. Some hills early on, but it definitely flattened out after 4-5 miles. You see a lot of the Mississippi River and on the way back get a good view of downtown Minneapolis. Plenty of shade, especially on the way back, which was appreciated because it did get hot out. Course is paved path/road. Occasional traffic crossings, but police at every intersection, which was appreciated. There were also bike medics on course, which I thought was good.

Aid stations: every 1-2 miles, though I wish they were a little more consistent at every mile with how hot it gets. Aid stations also had the race conditions (EAS based, green to black flag stages)w, which was good.

Communication: A+ from race organizers, especially when looking at the day or 2 before race day. Made sure to let us know race conditions before hand and if there were going to be changes.

Post Race: talk about BBQ and enjoying the day. Plenty of games (corn hole, donut eating contests), food, drinks and runner cool down. Definitely something to enjoy.

Great race to go to in MSP, would go back for it.

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(2019)
"RnR Seattle needs some work"
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If you’re looking for a Seattle Half or Full, I’d actually look for a different race. I’ve lived in Washington State for 3 years and this is my first time doing RnR Seattle, and likely my last. I had signed up last year during their Global Running Day sale, which was the only saving grace.

Price: I registered early for something like $50. Race weekend sign up was insane ($75 for the 5K, $175 for the half and $189 for the full)

Packet Pick Up is at Century Link Field and I had no issues getting my bibs or shirts (I did the 5K as well). I browsed some, but wasn’t all that impressed with the expo. The shirts were meh and mine’s probably going in the donation bin when I get home. I arrived at 3 pm and had no shirt issues, but by the end of FRIDAY pick up, the S/M shirts were already out. How does this even happen?

Start/Finish: at the Seattle Center. I walked to the start from my hotel and took the Monorail back into town before walking to my hotel

The Course: oh the course. I don’t know how you get excited over a new course and it’s less than desirable. The first 1.5 miles was in town, but then the next 3.5 and change were on I-5. Yes, that I-5 that is a highway. They had some of it shut down for runners and I began having some flashbacks that was the HC 15K disaster of DC about 10 years ago. You had a few good views, but I still don’t understand how you’re seeing Seattle from I-5. After we got off the highway, we had about 2 miles around Lake Union before running by the ship canal which was meh. We crossed over Ballard Bridge and I saw a few people wipe out and fall because of running on uneven surfaces. Be prepared for some major incline from about mile 10.25-11, where most people were hiking up the hills rather than running. Afterwards, you passed the Gray’s Anatomy House, decent views of downtown at Kerry Park before heading down the steepness of hills you just ran up towards the finish. If the goal was to see Seattle, sure we got some views, but there could have been a lot better job at course design to see the city.

Water Stations: every 1 mile +. Some with Gatorade and water, some just water, some had gels

Finish: met with medals, water, chocolate milk and food, nothing special. Forgot about my remix medal until after I got back to the hotel and didn’t even care or want to go back for it.

Overall, something’s got to be done about the course, the shirt situations and just overall organization of the race....

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(2019)
"RnR Seattle 5K"
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Did the 5K and the half marathon this weekend and started with the 5K. Fairly quick pick up of bibs at the expo, but there was some shirt snafu, so shirts were at the finish. Not a whole lot of people doing the 5K, but it was a decent race.

Race was at 9 AM and was at the Museum of Flight. Not the easiest place to get to if you flew in from out of town. I took an Uber and ended up walking 1/4 a mile to the start, which was no big deal, but something to consider with road closures. 6 corrals total I think, but hard to see and you were guessing on where to go. Corrals didn’t seem to make sense as there were walkers in the early corrals. Quick start and then on to road before running through part of the flight museum. It was tight quarters and the flooring was slick to the point I was hoping I wouldn’t fall. At one point, we were single file if that says anything. After you got out of the flight museum, you were redirected to road, which was essentially an out and back course to the finish. 1 water station about half way in, water, shirts and medals at the finish. Not sure what happened with the shirts, but it was kind of obnoxious to have more stuff to carry back to the hotel.

Leaving, a bunch of runners had to make the 1/4 mile track back the way we came and then figure out Ubers/Lyfts from there. Just glad it all worked out

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