Latest reviews by Lisa Dretske

(2016)
"Time for family and friends, feasting, and running!"
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I've run this race the past 6 years, and it never disappoints. The race offers two distances: 2 mile and 10k distances. Registration is very cheap, only $15 per entry or $20 the day before the race. With your registration you get a nice tech t-shirt. Packet pickup is the day before the race, and right before the event.
At the start, the 2 milers and 10k racers all start at the same time. I wasn't sure if I liked this at first, but some families really like this, since they have multiple people in their group participating in the 2 distances. This year there was over 2,000 participants, so the start can be a bit congested. But if you start towards the front, then its not so bad. The 10k race is a giant loop around the north side of the city, towards Carthage College and back to downtown Kenosha. There are a few hills, but the majority of the race is flat and fast.
After the race, they hand you out water, donuts, cookies, and bananas. The awards are held inside the Kenosha Public Museum, which is a great location to wait for friends and family to finish. And its warm with real bathrooms! While waiting for the awards, they have laptops set up for people to check their time and ranking. Those who win their age group get a pumpkin pie. This has been the tradition as long as I've known.
Overall, this race is very well managed. There's no confusion on the course. There's 2 water stops for the 10k race, and the distance was exactly 6.2 miles. Parking is also very easy, since street parking is free. And you can't beat a $15 race!

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(2016)
"Running on Chocolate"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
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Parking/Access
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This was my first Hot Chocolate Race!
Unfortunately I was unable to go to the expo, since I had to work. The race allowed me to pay $15 to get my packet mailed to me, which made things easier. I received my packet in the mail about 2 weeks before the race. In the packet, I received a very comfortable and great fitting sweater/jacket.
A few days before the race, I purchased parking close to the start of the race with the ParkWhiz App. I got parking for about $12. This was considerably cheaper than if you arrived race day to get parking in some of the nearby garages.
The race guide was very informative, and offered maps and descriptions to locate gear check and the start corrals of the race. If this wasn't enough, they also had volunteers stationed throughout the area to help. They also had a very easy gear check as well as plenty of port-o-potties.
The start corrals were intense! Make sure to give yourself plenty of time if you are in the preferred corrals. The open corrals appeared to be a little easier to access. Also, if it is a particularly cold day, make sure to bring "throw away" clothes. Just because the wave starts at 7:30, doesn't mean you do. I was in corral "F" which was in the preferred corral, which was supposed to start at 7:30. By the time I got to the start line, it was 7:50. Luckily it was warm enough this year so this wasn't an issue.
The announcers at the start of the race were very entertaining. They kept the crowd riled up and ready to run. If you want to run this race competitively, I strongly recommend getting into the preferred corrals. The further back you start, the more congested the race feels. I ended up zig-zagging quite a bit, especially during the beginning.
During the race, there were 4 different chocolate stations. These included chocolate chips, strawberry marshmallows, m&m's, and chocolate marshmallows. They also had regular aid stations offering Nuun and water. The volunteers were very supportive and excited to be helping out.
The race route was very unique. We had some beautiful views of downtown Chicago, the skyline, and soldier field. The route ran around Grant Park, down Michigan avenue, and south around Soldier Field. As I finished the race, volunteers were handing out medals in the shape of chocolate bars. It is a very "sweet" looking medal :) They also had nuun and bottled water at the finish line. To get the rest of the post-race swag, you had to walk further down the road to a post-race party area. There was a live band playing along with tents set up serving all the post-race chocolate delights. The celebration mug held hot cocoa, fondue with dipping supplies of marshmallows, banana, pretzels, and a rice krispie. They were also considerate enough to add a wet wipe, since the fondue was a little messy.

To sum things up:
Pros:
+Swag! Awesome sweater and medal
+unique venue
+All The Chocolate! During and after the race!

Cons:
-parking can be expensive
-congestion during the race

This was a very fun event, and it was great seeing so many families out at the event together. I hope to do this race again!

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(2016)
"Rollin' with my hills"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
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Elevation Difficulty
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This is my 3rd year racing at this event, but first year at the 50 miler distance.

Packet Pickup: The race is organized well and offers several locations for packet pickup before the day of the race as well as on race day. I chose to pick my packet up at The North Face in Brookfield, WI. It was quick and easy, and I was offered 15% off at the store for the day if I showed my bib at the checkout.

Race morning: Parking was super accessible and only a 2 minute walk from the start line. They had many port-o-potties set up as well as the park had flushing toilets available to use. The announcer made sure people knew the timeline in the morning, and managed 3 waves of 50 milers starting the race.

The Race/Course: The race starts at 5am, in the dark. Luckily, you had 200+ other runners with headlamps to help guide the way.The course does not repeat too much which makes for an enjoyable experience. The aid stations are set up every 4-6 miles. They have huge spreads of food (pretzels, bananas, sandwiches, broth, chips, potatoes, and so much more), and drinks (sodas, water, electrolyte drink). The end of the race had the longest stretches without aid stations, which wasn't great, but I was prepared for it. Make sure to bring your own hydration for these stretches. The hills weren't too severe, but they are constantly rolling throughout the entire course, even in the prairie area. The ground was primarily nice grassy/dirt double track areas, but there were some areas of rugged rocky areas, and sand which made running a bit more difficult. I would recommend using trail shoes, but you don't need anything too technical. The scenery is beautiful the entire time as you run through forests and prairies. The only time you run on pavement is when you have to cross a road. There are also a lot of spectators for a trail race. I've never experienced this before. At one section you start to see the other distance participants, which helps keep you going at the end. The course markings are very well marked throughout the entire race.

Finish: The Finish line was an amazing set-up. They announced my name as I ran through the finish area and gave me my finishers medal. They had some initial goodies and water in a Finishers water bottle for us. Then it opens into the Finishers Village where tents with vendors, beer, and food are set up. They also have a tent to look up the finishing results and ice bath section. The food was great with many options from burgers, bbq pork, soup, cookies, chips, soda, pasta salad. I also got a free beer from Sierra Nevada Brewing. Yum! They also emailed me with some pictures for purchase after the race.

Pros:
+aid stations! They have everything and plenty of them!
+the course is scenic, not too hilly, but still challenging
+volunteers and spectator rock!
+swag/post-race village: So much extras to take part of after the race!

Cons:
-Some volunteers gave out wrong information as far as distance
-sandy areas really did suck
-I wish the pictures were free because I never buy pictures

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(2016)
"Mud, sweat, and good times on the trails!"
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Let me just say, this is the first year for this event, but it felt like this race was a perfected trail race that has been going on for years!

It all started with the thank you letter in the mail, hand written from the race director. Every person who signed up got one, and it made me realize, this wouldn't be like every other trail race. But this would be a gathering of friends. The race director also sent out email updates every Wednesday before the race. Definitely helped keep the hype up!
On race day, I arrived 45 minutes before the race to pick up my bib. I parked a whole 50 yards from the packet pick up area and start of the race. This was so nice since it was raining very hard and I still had to drop off some gear to the drop bag area. Right before the race, when we were all lined up, the race director talked about how much he loved his wife and friends who helped put this event together. It was great to see how this wasn't just another race....this was his dream.
The race itself was 4 loops that we did twice. The first two loops were more technical and the last two were open prairie for the most part. Aid Stations were set up so there was at least water every 3 miles, but most aid stations had potato chips, m&m's, PB&J sandwiches, granola, Trailwind and water. They had two drop bag areas, though, one was enough considering you loop to this area about 4 times throughout the race. The race day was extremely rainy, which caused for the course to be very muddy and slippery. But this is a trail race, everyone embraced the mudfest! The race was also very spectator friendly, since it loops back to the same area. The scenery was amazing, despite the rain. We ran past an old Lime Kiln, cliffs, beautiful forest scenes, and open prairie lands. I can imagine this could be a very hot race if the weather especially in the open prairie area. We were lucky that the rain kept the weather very cool.
At the finish, you are greeted by the race director with a sweet looking wooden medal. I've never gotten one like this and it's very unique. Right next to the finish, they have food set up for all the finishers, as well as, spectators can purchase food. A local pizza place had a stone oven set up and made fresh stone fired pizza to order! THIS WAS AMAZING! You also got free soda, cookies, and chips. They had picnic tables set up lining the finish area, so everyone was eating and cheering as others crossed the finish line.

Here's the run down:
Pros:
+Friendly and inviting environment
+very well laid out course and easy to follow
+beautiful scenery
+spectator friendly
+Awesome medal and pizza at the finish!
+so much more....

Cons:
-hmmm....I'll have to think about this

I definitely look forward to more races by this race director. I'd love to make this race an annual event!

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(2016)
"Girl Power!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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This is my 2nd time doing the Iron Girl Sprint Tri. This race typically draws in close to a thousand women to Southeastern Wisconsin. The expo and bike check is the day before the race. There are a few vendors selling shirts, gear, nutrition, and anything else under the sun. The packet pickup was very fast, even at the heavy traffic time. In the packet we got an awesome women's fit tech singlet, with a cool iron girl logo printed on it. Definitely a keeper! They also had 2 times available for a course talk, though to be honest, you could get all the information straight from their very well put together race guide. After packet pickup they had bike check. Originally they said that each person's number would be listed on the racks, but this wasn't the case So, it ended up being more of a free for all with where your bike ended up.
The next morning was race day. The transition area was open for an hour and a half. Parking was super easy and within a 3 minute walk to the transitions, this made hauling all my gear over very easy. They marked our arms and legs with our race number right away in the morning before entering transition. One complaint about the transitions, there were some port-o-potties inside the transition area, but they wouldn't let us use them until during the race. This forced everyone to leave the transition area if you had to go.
The race started across the lake, so everyone took the half mile walk together once the transitions closed. They had an announcer trying to hype up the crowd with music and fun chatter. There was a bit of confusion with the wave starts, since some of the volunteers screwed up the green color caps the day before. This wasn't a huge issue, but could have been handled better. The swim was a straight line across the lake. Because of the sun rising right where we are sighting, it would have been nice to have a few more buoys to our side, but we all managed. The transition was easy to get to once we were out of the water The bike out was a bit of a corkscrew though. They changed it from previous years and not for the better. This year they conjoined the bike out and run out in the same section, which was confusing and caused people to bottle neck a bit. The bike course was nice and flat for the most part. The roads weren't perfect, but it's Wisconsin. It was nice being able to cheer each other on out on the bike course. People are always more supportive on this race than other tri's. Once back in the transition area, we had to go to the bottleneck process again for the run out. They also changed the run from previous years. The beginning was the same, making us run around Lake Andrea. Instead of continuing on the road, they made us run on a gravel path for a mile of the race. We also ended up crisscrossing on the running path, which was very confusing and not necessary at all. Luckily, they had the water station set up in a way, that if needed, you could grab from it twice. It was a very hot day, so this was a plus. Once you get through the gravel road portion, it's just a short portion left around the lake and into the finish chute. At the finish they announce your name over the speakers, which is fun! They also give you a great finishers medal that has a charm that can be detached and made into a necklace.
Post-race: They have tables and chairs set up for people to relax and watch the remaining finishers. They also have a ton of food for the racers! Breakfast burritos (meat and vegetarian options), bagels, fruit, greek yogurt parfaits, orange and apple juice, chocolate milk, coffee. I think there was more but my hands got full. We had to wait a while to get our bikes out of transition due to remaining participants still on the course, but the sun was out and it was beautiful outside. They did post our race times very quickly as well as posted them online. The announcer said that awards would start at 10:30am, so I went to get my bike out of transition at 10am when it opened and headed back. By the time I got back, they had finished the awards, and it was only 10:25am. This was frustrating since I was supposed to receive an award. The award for 1st in my division was slightly disappointing. In years past, you got free entry into the following year. This year I got a cup.

Here's the run down:
Pros:
+Great swag
+Tons of post-race food
+flat and fast course

Cons:
-course can get congested in some spots
-gravel road section on the run
-skimping on the division awards

Overall, this is a great triathlon, especially if you haven't done a triathlon before. It is still competitive, but you get a lot of support from other racers along the way. I would highly recommend this race to first time triathletes as well as someone who wants to have a killer PR.

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