Latest reviews by Will Run For

(2018)
"4th Time Running this Half Marathon"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This was my 4th time running the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon. I keep returning because I enjoy the race course, the amenities, and the close proximity to my home.

The Expo:

Like all of the expos I have been to this year, I spent less than 15 minutes actually inside. The GO! expo was on the campus of Harris Stowe University this year instead of at St. Louis University, which is just across the street and where the expo has been every other time I have run this race. The space at the Emerson Performance Center was significantly smaller than when the expo was at Chaifetz Arena, so I quickly grabbed my bib and t-shirt and made my exit.

Why you should run this race:

Several distances over two days: 5k, Children's Fun Run, and Mature Mile on Saturday with the 7k, Marathon Relay, Half Marathon, and Marathon on Sunday.
Saturday's races were at Forest Park and Sunday's races started and finished along the riverfront and adjacent to the Gateway Arch.
Medals and shirts for all distances!
The 7k, Marathon Relay, Half Marathon, and Marathon courses all take you on bridges over the Mississippi River, into Illinois, and then back into Missouri.
Runners on the bridge crossing into Illinois
The Marathon course also takes you through Forest Park.
Park and Ride Shuttle available for those who decided to park downtown on race day (Sunday) OR MetroLink's Laclede's Landing Station is in between the start and the finish lines. I would recommend MetroLink to avoid having to worry about road closures. It was so simple!
Crown Candy Kitchen chocolate station at mile 6.
Great pre-race communication, which started three weeks prior to race day.
Post-race email with links to results, photos, list of upcoming GO! events and challenges, and a discount code for the Cardinals Care 6k.
Several coupons in your race packet with more sent via email through the virtual goodie bag.
Plenty of well-staffed water and Gatorade stops.
The finish line is between the Arch and the Mississippi River and then the new sidewalks lead you up the hill to the Arch as you exit.
Vendor village near the Laclede's Landing Station.
Finish line food included bottled water, fruit cups, bananas, toasted ravioli, peanut butter crackers, chips, and Ted Drewes ice cream sandwiches!

I recommend any of the distances during the Marathon and Family Fitness Weekend, and I am sure that I will run one of these races again in the future. I always forget that downtown races tend to have hilly courses, so try to incorporate hills into your training if you decide to run this race in 2019.

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(2018)
"1st race in Nashville"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I picked an amazing race for my 50th half marathon. I wasn't nearly as well-trained as I wanted to be, but the gracious course time limits left me at ease and I ended up walking the latter half not only because my feet were killing me, but also because the weather was perfect and I was just enjoying being on the course and talking to other runners. This race had so many runners that you NEVER feel alone and the community support was present throughout the course.

The Expo:
The expo was held at the Nashville Music City Center in downtown Nashville. The race information mentioned that there was parking available for $15 at the Center but due to traffic congestion downtown, we just parked in the first available lot we could find. We ended up paying $11 for four hours and were right across the street from the expo.

The Nashville Music City Center is probably the most beautiful building I have attended an expo in. Wow, was it beautiful both inside and out! The hallways were wide and the exterior windows offered amazing views of Nashville.

Why you should run this race:
Distances include the marathon, half marathon, 5k, and Kids Rock race.
Medals and shirts for all distances.
Emergency contact information pre-printed on the back of your bib.
Start line in downtown Nashville and the full and half marathon course immediately takes you down Broadway by all of the hip and trendy bars, then circles back by the Country Music Hall of Fame, down Music Row, by Belmont University, through The Gulch neighborhood, around Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, then across the bridge to the finish outside Nissan Stadium.
Nashville First Baptist Church opens their doors and bathrooms to runners on race day AND they offer free coffee and a stretching area!
Plenty of porta potties on the course.
Plenty of water and Gatorade stops along the course.
Gracious course time limits.
The best community support of any half marathon I have run. Wow, does this city get involved on race day! The community made this race so much fun.
Post-race snacks included bottled water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, fruit cups, bananas, cookies, pretzels, muffins, bagels, and granola bars.
And finally, the real reason I run.....the medal!

Suggestions for future runners of this race:
Train for rolling hills. Seriously! This course was hilly.
Stay downtown and walk to the start and from the finish if at all possible and especially if you are not local. I got lost twice and then thought I had found a way around the road closures only to have to turn around multiple times before finally making it to my lot. Leaving the parking lot after the race was also very time consuming, so just stay downtown and walk it!
Whether you walk or drive, train to walk at least a mile after you cross the finish line.
This race gets VERY expensive if you wait too long to register. If you register now for the 2019 race, you will get the best deal.
You will be overwhelmed by restaurant options in Nashville. I started following Nashville Eats on Instagram 6 months prior to race day, just to help me see what was available and popular in the area.

See more pictures at: http://www.willrunforamedal.com/2018/05/rock-n-roll-nashville-race.html

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(2018)
"3rd time running this race"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Expo:

Being right off a metro stop made it very easy to find and the signage inside the expo made it easy to pick up your bib and your shirt in no time at all. As always, you are routed through the Rock 'n' Roll merchandise section after you pick up your shirt and prior to getting out to the rest of the expo. I went up and down every aisle but after more than 50 race expos (between half and full marathons), I feel like I have seen it all already.

Why you should run this race:

Several distances available including a 5k, half marathon, and full marathon.
Medals for all distances.
Large expo right off Stadium/Armory metro station.
Half and full marathons start line is at the National Museum of American History.
Metro is available for the half marathon and 5k start (but not open early enough for the full marathon start at 7:00 a.m.).
Finish line is right by the Stadium/Armory metro station.
Full and half marathon courses run by the White House, National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, John F. Kennedy Center, Watergate Complex, Rock Creek, Adam's Morgan, Columbia Heights/U Street/Howard University (one of my old neighborhoods), Capitol Hill/H Street (my other old neighborhood), with a finish line adjacent to RFK Stadium. You just can't beat this race course!
Plenty of porta potties at the start and along the course.
Plenty of water and Gatorade on the course.
Plenty of room to warm up and stretch pre-race. I suggest going on the National Mall to warm up with amazing scenery in the background. Bag check was along the National Mall as were another cluster of porta potties.
Gracious course time limits.
Over 10,000 runners in the half marathon and over 1,800 in the marathon, so you never feel alone even if you are slower like me.
Amazing volunteers and crowd support.
Great bands and music to help keep you motivated.
Last but not least, great medals at the finish line!

Full recap at www.willrunforamedal.com

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(2018)
"1st half marathon in Arizona"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Why you should run this race:

The race expo was downtown and easy to get in and out of.
The race website had every detail that I needed for race weekend, especially since I was coming from out of town and was unfamiliar with the area.
Distances available include kids run, 1 mile run, ,5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon
Downtown Tempe (start line for the half marathon and 10k and finish line for the 10k, half, and full marathon) is such an amazing place with restaurants and shops that appeal to anyone!
Scenic, and mostly flat course. The couple hills I remember rewarded you with great views at the top!
Plenty of music along the course.
Large crowd leading into the finish line.
Post race food for the half marathon included Gatorade, bottled water, chocolate milk, Pringles, bananas, and granola bars.
New course signage debuted at this race.
Half marathon started in Tempe, ran into Scottsdale, then Phoenix, and back into Tempe for the finish.
Expo and the race were all accessible by car and public transportation and both were also close to the airport making this trip very easy for out-of-towners.
January temperatures in Phoenix are usually in the 50's and 60's and SUNNY!
There are plenty of things to do, see, and taste while you are in town. We went to an ASU basketball game and a Phoenix Suns NBA game, hiked Hole in the Rock, and ate at In-n-Out Burger just to name a few things.

The only suggestion I had for next year was to make the corrals larger. Although they were marked with the new signage, they were closer together than any race I had ever seen marked corrals at, and the start line area was a bit chaotic as a result. I still found my running buddy/cousin in the chaos though, and we enjoyed our time on the course.

See photos at: http://www.willrunforamedal.com/2018/01/rock-n-roll-arizona-half-marathon-race.html

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(2017)
"Vine to Wine Half Marathon 2017 Recap"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Why you should run this race:
Greenville, IL is off of Interstate 70. It took me just over an hour to drive there from Creve Coeur, MO so it is very easy location to drive to for a day. The town is quaint and scenic and contains quite a few restaurants for carb loading the night before or celebrating post-race.
Packet pick-up was available the night before and on race day.
Great pre-race communication and price increase reminders.
Ample parking adjacent to the start/finish line. I was in my car watching Hurricane Irma updates until 10 minutes before the race. Then I just walked right up to the start line. So easy!
Plenty of porta potties at the start/finish.
Packet pick-up was quick and easy.
Long sleeve tech shirts in unisex sizing!
Great finisher medals.
Water stops every mile.
Amazing volunteers!!!!!
Post race wine and entertainment.
Post race snacks like granola bars, fruit, Gatorade, and bottled water.
Additional on-site food for purchase.
Post-race survey.
Friendly runners!!! Numerous times I heard "good morning" or "keep it up" or "good job." Numerous times as in too many to count. It actually caught me off guard because in my experience, that atmosphere isn't typical outside of Disney races
Nice country scenery along the course. I saw a lot of wooly worms on the road, which I never see in the city. My grandma, a former farmer, says that their frequency and color show you what kind of winter to look forward to. I would say 80% of them were black or brown....whatever that means.

Suggested improvements for next year:
Really the only suggestions I had are for better signage for both the winery and race day parking.
I drove right past the winery by following Google maps. I turned around in a subdivision and as I was exiting, I saw three other cars turning around too. The sign for the winery itself is very small and when you are unfamiliar with a place, it is very easy to miss. I might also be slightly biased because I am used to the wineries in St. Charles County which have large signs at the winery itself and when you are within a mile or two of the entrance.
I heeded the warning and came early to race day packet pick-up, but there were no signs about where to park. I saw freshly mowed fields, but I followed the other cars to the main building before someone ran out to tell us to park at the far side of the field. A few signs would really make a difference for us newbies.

My experience at the race:
Although I have been running this summer, I haven't been running longer distances consistently. I have also primarily been running on treadmills, indoor tracks, and flat trails. Having grown up two counties east of Greenville, I should have realized that "rolling hills" in the country is very different from rolling hills in St. Louis. It seemed like the steeper hills were towards the end of the race and I specifically remember hills around mile 10 and one around mile 11 that were so steep that even walking was difficult.

Road conditions also vary a lot more on country roads than in the city, so my ankles were sore as if I had run a trail race. Even though it took me over three hours to finish, the time actually flew by and the scenery and volunteers along the course kept me engaged.

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