Latest reviews by Christine Guenther

(2019)
"OVerlake Half Marathon"
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Ran Overlake for the first time 2 weeks ago and signed up for it 3 days before the race (benefits of living on the other side of Washington State and being able to easily get there).

The Expo: really no frills. In and out at one of the local running stores in Redmond. I picked up my bib and walked to my hotel, which was also about a 1/4 mile from the start.

Swag: hooded sweatshirt, though thinner material

The Race itself: if you’re looking for a flat course in Washington, look at this race. Flat course, scenic. Mostly on paved running paths. Be aware you’re sharing the course with bikers and nonracers. One of the things that needs worked on is either corrals or a staggered start. There was somewhat of a staggered start, but you were still on top of people the first few miles and people were 4 across taking up the entire path. If you needed to pull to the side, no room to do it. Course was out and back so you finished where you started.

Finish/Post race: plenty of water, but no chocolate milk or food really other than bananas. Plenty of vendors set up if you wanted to check out local stuff

Solid 3.5-4 star race to look at if you’re looking for something Labor Day weekend

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(2019)
"Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon"
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First time doing a Revel Series race and it was fun! I flew in from Washington on Friday to Salt Lake City and picked up my rental car at the airport. From there, I drove over to Salt Lake Community College to pick up my packet.

Expo: Fairly easy to get to, though if you weren’t paying attention to email you might not realize what address to use to get there. You went into the activity center, up some stairs and got your bib and a pair of goodr sunglasses, then down into the main expo to get your shirt and bag check bag. Everyone got a heat sheet and some gloves...early indicator that it’s cold at the start!

Hotels: 3 or 4 host hotels, one of which was 1/4 mile from the finish. I stayed at the Marriot Residence Inn in Cottonwood. It had shuttles to the start (shared with the Hyatt next door)

Getting to the Start: shuttles only since it starts in a canyon. Shuttles left from the host hotels or from the finish line. Shuttles for the full left between 4-5 am, the half 430-530 AM

The start: race time at 6:45 AM. Only downside is the shuttles got us to the start nearly 2 hours before the start so we were sitting in 45* temperatures waiting for the sun to come up. You can only have so much throw away gear on in addition to the gloves and heat sheet given. Bon fires maybe?

The course: literally all down hill. If you’re looking for a BQ, look at the half/full for this race. Scenic race, really don’t see crowd support until the last 3-4 miles where we get into town, but also where it flattens out. Photo ops on course as well as aid stations with water, Powerade and gels. Only thing I wish there more more of or more consistency of were aid stations. They were anywhere between 1.5-3 miles apart.

The finish: in Cottonwood. Met with medals, food, water, etc. Wish there was tru moo chocolate milk over the organic stuff. After you exited the finishers Shute, plenty of vendors, opportunity to get results, race swag and your bag drop. The only downside is that I couldn’t find the shuttles back to the hotels that offered them so I ended up taking an Uber back to my hotel.

Great race, would come back for it!

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(2019)
"We Beat the Rain!"
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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)
"At least I got Maine off my list of half marathons?"
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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)
"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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