Latest reviews by Kyle Larson

(2014)
"No Sleep till Chicago!"
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This was my second time running Ragnar Relay (my first was Ragnar Great River), and I can't wait until my next one! Think of this as a road trip with a lot of pit stops, and as with any road trip, it's all about the people you are with. I couldn't have asked for a better team, and my van mates were the best.
If you haven't run Ragnar before, you will want at least 1 person on your team that has. I recommend having at least 2 people (1 for each van) that have run Ragnar in the past so you have a better idea of what happens during the race.
Pre-race prep is super important! Van rentals, route checking, food planning, and gear packing are all just as important as the actually running in this event. It will typically be the difference between the adventure of a lifetime, and a disorganized mess.
Ragnar does an amazing job putting out materials to help teams prep for the race months in advance! They even send out email reminders along the way.
There isn't really any runner support during each leg, but the exchange zones are well managed, especially the major exchange zones. Even parking at the exchange zones is managed well!
The course runs mostly on trails (paved and unpaved) with some roads along the way. This makes for some good scenery, especially once you hit Lake Michigan and get to run south. I've heard stories about some teams getting lost, but the course is actually very well marked, you just need to pay attention thats all!
The final leg of the race runs along Chicago's Lakefront Path, and runners are finishing on Saturday morning/afternoon (aka the busiest time for the Lakefront Path). This makes it fairly difficult for the final runners weaving in and out, but that is expected for a non-closed course. Parking is also difficult at the finish, but Ragnar provides a free shuttle to the finish from a parking lot a few miles away.
Finish t-shirt it the usual Tech Shirt, nothing special there.
Overall awesome race and I hope to be able to run this again with some great friends!

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(2014)
"Groovy Vibe!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Ok so I may be a little biased, but this race is really cool! Everyone gets tube socks to wear during the race, and the post-race party is awesome. Course runs from Montrose Harbor north along the crushed limestone path, and back the same way with a small loop before finishing. Pretty fast course because it is pancake flat, but some sandy spots near the turnaround made for some slow sections.
Best part about this race is the pre- and post-race party. Bring your friends and you can hang out while enjoying some Miller Highlife following the race.
Awards for overall and age group winners are patches instead of the typical medal which is awesome!

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(2014)
"Big Time Race for All"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Parking/Access
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This was my first time running the Shamrock Shuffle, and first time as part of the Club Nationals race as well. It is now easily one of my favorite races! It's a highly competitive race with a great atmosphere, and of course the largest 8k in the world. The course manages to snake it's way around the loop in Chicago and run up the only hills you will ever find there. The aid stations did a great job of cheering runners on through the toughest miles of the course. I gave the scenery 4 stars mostly just for the start and finish being in Grant Park right along the lake. I was not impressed with the t shirt they handed out, but being only $45 I can't complain about that!
This is a MUST RUN to start off your racing season every year.

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(2013)
"Great Marathon with a small-town feel!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
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Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
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I signed up for this race because I've heard great things, and I was not disappointed! This race has been going on for over 30 years and it is put on by folks who know what racers need.
I wasn't crazy about the color of the long sleeve finisher shirt, but the shirt itself was great.
Aid stations were fewer than I remembered, but exactly what is needed for myself. I had a plan for when to take hydration and nutrition and it worked out perfectly at the aid stations they had set up. I am a sub 2:35 runner, so I do not spend a lot of time on the course. If you are looking for a race with water stops every mile this is not the race for you unfortunately.
Beautiful course! This is a mid-fall race, typically with great temperatures, and great colors on the trees. It was a little wet on the course from raining the previous evening so if that happens you have to be careful of wet leaves on the road.
Expo was what I expected from a small marathon. Not very big, but they had run specialty store vendors and other races advertised. Easy to navigate through.
This course is a net-downhill. Big drop about 2 miles from the finish line makes for a fun finish. A few short hills mid race takes the monotony out of a totally flat course. There are also plenty of easy turns so you aren't running a straight away the whole time.
The race starts at a high school outside Milwaukee, with plenty of parking, buses to take you there in the morning from the city, and most importantly: BATHROOMS! Tons of bathrooms for a race this size takes a lot of stress out of my pre race routine. (One of the important factors I consider when choosing races)
Finally, I am giving 5 stars to the race management team here. They have lead bikes for the both the lead males and females. (Being in second for most of the race I also had a biker in front of me) They have sentries posted at all intersections, even driveways, to keep the runners safe. The course is not a closed course. You are running on the left side of the road for the majority of the race with the occasional car going by. This makes the course very spectator friendly! My family was able to see me 6 times along the course by driving up ahead of me every few miles.
I will definitely be running this race again!

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(2013)
"Fast Course!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This is a great course if you are looking to run a pr because it is flat and fast! The only "hill" is the on ramp to the overpass and off ramp when you turn around on Lake Shore Drive. That's right, this race is run on LSD! You are right next to the lake which didn't do much to cool us off on such a humid day.
Very humid day this year which made racing difficult but I still managed to run close to my best 13.1.
Getting to the race is just fine as long as you make it before they close down LSD! We parked at the museum ramp which was just fine. Tough to get there on the L because there aren't any stops close by.
Long sleeve shirt and medal were pretty cool but I'm not a Bears fan so I don't wear the Orange and Navy much.
Aid stations were nothing special. It seemed a little early in the morning for the kids handing out water. But of course I'm always thankful to have volunteers!
I didn't spend much time at the expo, but it was easy to get my packet! Expo is at Navy Pier so I recommend not driving there if you can help it. No race-day packet pick-up which is typical for a big race like this.
I like this race because it's fast and in a different location than most other races in Chicago. I would recommend this if you are looking to run fast or to run a good tune up for the Chicago Marathon.

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