Latest reviews by Lisa Dretske

(2017)
"Who's Ready to Rock!?!?!"
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The race experience really starts the day before the race. Every registrant is required to pick up their packet themselves. This is slightly inconvenient since I live a bit away from the race and parking can be expensive. I drove down Saturday afternoon to the expo and decided to take advantage of the $10 parking at Lot C at McCormick Place. Construction did not make it easy to find this specific lot, but I eventually found it after driving around for a while.
The expo was very well organized a definitely worth going to. I got to try out tons of different products and there were some super cute race apparel available for purchase. I walked around for about an hour before heading back home for the night.
Rock 'n' Roll series suggested using ParkWhiz to reserve parking on race day. I've used them before, so I purchased a spot with them again. This turned into a bad situation because the parking garage over sold their spots and I was forced to find a new lot very last minute. I ended up having to pay $38 for parking. ParkWhiz did refund me and gave me a $5 credit to my next purchase. Their customer service was very responsive as well, so I will not fault them for this one bad experience.
I found parking and ran to the start area. I was in Corral 5, so my start time was a little after 6:30am. The route was 5 miles of winding around downtown before heading south for a few miles and then back north to finish in Grant Park. Each mile there's another band whether it be a full rock band or a drumline. There were also aid stations at pretty much every mile as well. We lucked out with the heat this year, but with the humidity the water and Gatorade were much needed.
The post-race was really spectacular. First I got a wicked looking medal which was a mini-bean. They also handed me an ice cold towel, which felt great. The finish chute offered a variety of post-race snacks. I got a water bottle, Gatorade bottle, chocolate milk, granola bar, banana, and peanut butter crackers. So much food! I would highly recommend bags for all this next year. After the finish area, I walked to the party area. There were more vendors set up and then a biergarten right next to a stage which had different live bands playing for several hours. This was a great party atmosphere to meet up with friends after the race.

This was a very fun half marathon to participate in. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a full weekend experience in Chicago.

Here is a quick rundown:
Positives:
+Party route with live bands
+Fully stocked aid stations
+great expo
+post-race party was fun!

Negatives:
-paying for parking twice in Chicago
-friends couldn't pick up packet

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(2017)
"Party on a Rainbow!"
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This is my second Color Run, and I was excited to see the new additions or changes this year.
Because the race was in Grant Park, I paid a little extra money to have my race packet mailed to me. It ends up being the same amount I would have paid for parking. I loved that I got my packet early because it gave me time to color in my own bib! Such a fun feature. In the packet, I also received a Color Run t-shirt, retro headband, and happy temporary tatoo.
Before driving to Chicago, I reserved my parking spot using the Parkwhiz app, which is something they recommend. I got a good price for parking and made getting downtown a lot more relaxing.
The race started in Grant Park, on the north side. There was a lot of vendors set up, along with fun photo-ops with blow ups and a wall to write on. The start area easy. You didn't have to wait for a wave, you just start when you'd like. This made it very easy for big families or groups of friends that were planning on running together. At the start line there was a DJ and they were throwing out even more swag!
The race route was several down and backs throughout the park. Right around mile 1, is when I reached the first color station. There were around 5 different color stations in the 3 mile route, which were so much fun to walk through. It got a little clustered at times, but that might be because I started in the back of the pack. If you wanted to get completely covered in color, you they would pour the color powder on you. If you weren't too keen on loads of color, there were easy ways of getting by the color people. Just after mile 2 they had a water station set up. It was a little congested but again, I was towards the end of the group.
The best part of the race was at the finish area. First we went through a foam station. This was new and so much fun! Then we went through one last round of color before going through the finish.
At the finish, they handed out medals to everyone along with our very own packet of color powder to use at the post-party. I immediately went the post-party where there was a DJ, tons of people dancing and throwing powder on each other! It was a crazy party but very family friendly as well. After some time participating in the party, I decided to check out the vendors surrounding the park. I got tons of samples of different juices, chips, candy, and so much more.

This race is ideal for families (especially with children) and for large groups. The whole race is walkable and keeps you interested and excited to keep going. It doesn't feel like 3 miles!

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(2017)
"Hills and Twilight Views"
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I ran the Twilight 10k last year, and I was excited to run this race again. This year I got my hotel room closer to downtown, so I could explore downtown Madison a bit more after the race. This was a definite advantage, because it made parking and preparing for the weekend a little easier.
I made it to the race expo just in time. Note to everyone: plan extra time to get to the expo if Bratfest is going on the same weekend. This festival causes extra traffic congestion going into Downtown Madison. I got to the expo at 4:45pm and the expo closes at 5pm. I was happy to see some running related items still for sale at the expo, since I forgot my running belt at home. Once I picked up my items, I went to the hotel, since the race wasn't till 8:10pm.

The day before the race, the race director sent out an email stating that the course had a minor alternation due to last minute construction. I was happy to see this alert posted through an email, twitter, and facebook-making sure everyone was aware of the change.

I arrived at the start line about 30 minutes early. This was a fun atmosphere seeing thousands of runners around with the capital building in the background. The 5k started first at 8pm, and then the 10k lined up right after. The race starts and heads through downtown Madison towards the Observatory. The Observatory is the 1st real hill in a long series of hills. But at the top of Observatory hill, you get the best views. The route then winds along a paved trail next to the lake, before heading back towards the capital building. Along the route there are 3 water stops. The city definitely comes out to support this race with cheer zones throughout the entire route. The final 2 miles of the route, you see the capital lit up at night, marking the finish area. The final half mile of the race is packed with people cheering. I crossed the finish line as the announcer yelled my name and city.
The finisher area was easy to walk through and not too congested. I immediately received a bottle of water and my finisher medal. Then further down they had photographers ready to take your picture in front of a Run Madtown backdrop. By the way, did I mention that all pictures throughout the race and at the finish are free? Nice perk! Also at the finish I got a free slice of Rocky Rococo pizza and a Michelob Ultra beer. There was definitely a party scene at the end of the race.

Some improvements I noticed this year from last year: the race route. They made some minor changes, but I loved them! There was also a lot more people cheering this year, but that might be due to the weather.

Pros
+free pictures
+pizza, beer, and finisher medal at finish
+very scenic route with a lot of people cheering

Cons
-traffic congestion when getting to the expo

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(2017)
"Let's celebrate Earth Day on the trails"
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MUDD Earth Day trail races offers a 5 mile, 15 mile and 50k events. I chose the 50k. One thing is for sure, you have to be ready for some hills at this event. The description on their website is very vague about the course, with no race map or elevation. The timing of the event and the elevation does make it an ideal race to use to train for the Ice Age trail races in May, which they advertise.
Parking for the race is very easy. I only had to walk 2 minutes to get to the Packet pickup and start of the race.
At packet pickup I received a bib, tshirt, and a headband.
The start of the race was very simple and easy-going. I don't even remember hearing an offical start, but saw everyone start moving-so then I did too. The course was loops of 5.3 miles, which made it easy to pack less in my hydration pack. However, the first loop was a bit jammed, and we came to a stop several times. But once things spaced out a bit, I got to enjoy the course and look at the beautiful sites. The route goes through rolling hills through the woods. There are 2 aid stations set up, 1 at the start line and 1 at the half way mark of the 5 mile loop. There were adequate volunteers along the route to point people in the right direction if there was any confusion. The only negative was that towards the end of the race, the last hour and a half, they ran out of water at the 2nd aid station.
When i finished, someone was there to make sure you felt ok and to let you pick out a hand-made "medal" made out of wood. This was a great touch! You also receive a pin. Things were a little confusing at the end-I didn't know there was even food at the finish until one of my friends pointed it out. But all the volunteers were very friendly and it was a long day out there.

In the end, I would definitely recommend this race to someone who wants some extra elevation training, but not a far drive from SE Wisconsin or Chicago. They also give you free pics which is a plus!

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(2017)
"Brews, Brats, and some running!"
Overall
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This is my second year pacing at this event and they couldn't have been more different. Last year we got horrible icy/snow conditions. This year was 80 degrees and hot, hot, hot! You never know what you're going to get in April in Wisconsin.
Packet pickup was easy-either the day before or day of the race. In my packet, I received a customized bib and a sweet purple sweater.
I showed up an hour before the event, and parking was super easy. I got a spot that was only a 2 minute walk from the start line. Another thing to mention is the many many port-o-potties! This is definitely a plus.
For the race, the 10k and half marathoners all start together. This causes a bit of congestion. But the race course is beautiful, start at the lakefront and going down the Oak Leaf Trail. The aid stations were every mile and a half, which is great! With the heat, I could have used more but normally this is more than adequate. The finish ends with a half mile of downhill. When you cross the finish, the announcer shouts out your name!
After you finish, there is such a fun atmosphere to hang out and celebrate! There was a live band, brats, beers, and a large open field to soak up the sun. The race officials even post the race results very quickly on a board, if you didn't already sign up for the results to go to your phone.
Overall, this is a great event. If this race gets any more full, I'd recommend them to split the 10k and half marathoners, or separate the paces more. But if you want a fun, beautiful race, this is your race!

Perks: Sweet medal, free pics, free brews and brats!

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