Race Review #ECSWI 13.1 -2017

Race Recap – The North Face Endurance Challenge 13.1 – 2017

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

When I last left you, I had just run the Pleasant Creek Trail 30k, sat through a football game, and was making the 4 hour drive to Wisconsin. To say I was exhausted going into this race was an understatement, however I always try to finish what I said I would do.

I would also be meeting up with Laura, you might remember her from an earlier post. Well, she did it! She completed her first 50k, and she would be back out to run the 5k the next day.

The North Face is host to many events. Saturday, Sept 16 there is a 50 miler, 50k, marathon, and marathon relay in addition to the kids races. On Sunday there is the half marathon, 10k, 5k and even more kids races.

As this race is during Hawkeye football season, I am limited to the Sunday events. I would love to run the 50k here again one day, but the Hawks are first in the fall. (OK, once I missed a game for a race and they won in EPIC, last minute field goal fashion, never again!)

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, BibRave Tank, Hawkeye hat, Adidas boy shorts, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID, UA Horizon Trail shoes, Zensah Socks, Aftershokz Trekz Air, Orange Mud pack, Spi Belt, XX2i France 2 sunglasses, BUFF(R)

I was on my way to the start, but had to make a stop at a gas station for some coffee and Aleve… I was feeling rough, and I don’t remember the last time I had a beer. I did have a Nugo bar with me too.

I arrived early to Kettle Moraine, and was given my parking pass for the day, FREE of charge. I followed the parking attendants to the furthest away lot. I was annoyed! I was running the longest distance of the day, which started the earliest, and I have to park the furthest from the start. It wasn’t shuttle worthy, but should be a perk to arriving early.

I do like that I can grab my bib and shirt on race day. There are also 3 locations for pre race day pick up too. They are really accommodating with this. They are able to do this as race numbers are not pre-assigned. I made the trek to over, it was easy, told them my name and they scanned the bib and handed me a shirt. This year the shirt was blue with black lettering, a short sleeve tech material, with a strange neck opening.

I walked back to my car… as I didn’t have all my race stuff … I had plenty of time before the 8 am start. I then decided I should use the bathroom, so I walked to the closest bath house to find it was locked…. so back to the start area to use a port-o-potty. Then back to my car again to just drink some more coffee and get all my race things together.

Then I was finally ready to stand around for the race to start, so back to the race start…and I made another stop at the bathroom as I didn’t remember any on course (there is actually one at the main aid station.)

While waiting, I saw Brian from my local running club. I chatted with him while they lined everyone up for the start. I had my Orange Mud bottle pack with me, and a half bottle of water, so I took advantage of the water monster and filled my bottle while waiting.

Then it was time for my wave to start. There aren’t too many people who run this race, but because of a congested area to start, the do send runners off about every 5 minutes or less in waves.

It was already a warm start, near 70 degrees and while sunny, there was a haze in the air. The first part of the course is just leaving the main entrance of the park, so you start on the shoulder of a road, before turning off into the woods.

I just kept moving, I wasn’t sure what goal I had in mind, just finish I guess. The route turned into the woods and it was time to navigate the trails. There were all surfaces and I feel a lot more sand to navigate this year, in addition to the rocks, grass and dirt. The race course also has it’s share of hills, nothing super steep but always felt as I was going up or down.

The first aid station is around mile 1.8 ish, there was Skratch and water in plastic cups. I powered through, and had to make the first loop… or what it felt like I was running. Sometimes with trails, I just follow the course, where ever it takes me, I go. Heck, I can’t even remember if it’s the same course as last year.

The course is marked with colored ribbons attached to tree branches. The color of ribbon matches the color of your bib, I was watching for the yellow ribbons. I always caught my self second guessing if I was on the right route as it would be a while before I saw a ribbon, let alone another runner. There were also mile markers, but every other mile.

I came back through the aid station that’s 1.8 miles in, it’s also the next passing point around mile 5-6 ish? I picked up some Skratch and moved along, I noticed the porto-o-potty.

It was beginning to be a struggle for me, there was A LOT of walking… I was moving forward though, and a lot of Eminem songs kept coming up on my music, it’s impossible to walk during those.

I was now on the what I call the second loop in a figure 8 kinda course. I was remembering the past year when I ran the course with Laura. The miles really flew by then and I was missing her as I was moving sooo slowly. I also remember stopping at some aid station, but it felt like it never came up. Finally, there was a stop about mile 9? I had them refill my OM bottle and they had ICE!!!!! I drank some more Skratch and grabbed some Skratch chews to try later.

I left this stop and just kept moving forward, following the yellow ribbons. UGH, it was now really warm, or it felt that way out in the woods where the air was not moving and the humidity made it swampy.

I made it back to the 1.8 mile aid station, which told me I was that close to the finish. There were some photographers in this stretch, and they were in this area on the way out too. The race takes some great pictures and they were available that day, however they are not free. I am done purchasing photos of myself… they aren’t worth it.

There are a few spectators around this aid station too, there is an access road nearby, otherwise it’s just a lot of time alone in the woods.

Another note when I came back through this last stop, they had already started to take down some of their stuff. I am not sure if they have a permit that only allows them a certain time, but I feel all runners should get the same experience.

Ahh, the home stretch… I was done…. but I still had the section along the road shoulder to go. Some how, I ran this entire section. I am not sure if it was because more people were watching, or the terrain was easier to run.

I came to the finish line, and stopped my Garmin at 12.8 miles and a time of 2:57. I know trail running GPS gets off, and when I pushed start on my watch the satellites had not yet synced (which is possible with my watch.) So, I am still calling it a half marathon, and my 45th overall.

NOW – when I came into the finish, my time was a lot slower, in fact my worst ever – but the race had started the kids races. I am all for the kids being able to run…. but it was interfering with the longer distance finishes.

I was given my finishers medal and that was it, kids were running around every where. I knew from the past year there was a reusable water bottle somewhere, as we were not handed water at the finish…. and last year we were handed that water bottle. So… I had to watch out for kids and go find a bottle in a nearby tub.

The post race food was also in the same area, there was orange slices, bananas and bagel pieces. I had to squeeze in between kids to get some oranges. I have griped about this before too. There is real food at this race, but you have to buy it. The longer distances the day before get it for free. I just want a solution to this, maybe add a granola bar.

Once through this mess of kids, I made my way to the Sierra Nevada beer tent. This was the highlight, they had about 3-4 choices of beer. I love when a race has a more tasty option. Although, this is WI, would be nice to see a local craft.

I chose my beer and found Laura, she was still upright… what a champ!!!! We sat down at a picnic table in the post race area… it’s nice to have a place to sit, many races overlook this. Shade would have been nice too, but can’t be too greedy.

We sat and talked, meeting people and making new friends. I also ran into someone I sat next to at the 2016 Rose Bowl…small world. I found Brian again too.

It was now time to make the trek home, so I said “see ya later to everyone.” I made the long walk back to my car.

I “showered” in my car with one of the HUGE epic wipes I got in a recent 5k Crate, and was on my way to leaving, when I heard “Hey Angie!”

I turned and found another friend, Lisa… she was just taking her canoe out of the nearby lake. She had also run the day before, the 50 miler. I am always so surprised at these people, they are upright and walking around like no big deal. She was supporting a pretty serious scab from a fall though. It was nice to catch up.

I wrapped up the conversation, and plugged in the coordinates of my house into the GPS on my phone. Whoa, I had no clue where I was for the beginning of my drive. Kettle Moraine is in the middle of no where.

I did find my way back onto the interstate system. I was glad for that, as there would be places to stop for some real food. I found a Kwik Trip and found some cheese curds, refilled the car…. and was on my way home.

What a weekend… I need a weekend to rest up.

My overall thoughts on this year’s event. I feel something was missing, or they just went through the motions to put on the race. Even Dean K. didn’t make the pre-race speaker event. It still is a great race and the trail I will always recommend to a beginner, but I am not sure with so many newer options if this is a must run event for me. You can check out more reviews at BibRave.com

What’s next?


Half Marathon #44 – New Bo

New Bo Run – Half Marathon #44 Recap

The New Bo Run was held on Sunday, September 3 in the New Bohemia area of Cedar Rapids. There is a 10k and a half marathon that are run at the same time. It was sunny, 60 ish degrees and super humid.

I am no stranger to this event, I have run the half marathon in the past. I am also a board member of the running club, Corridor Running, that helps organize the event. That being said, I did pay for my entry – if there are any questions to my thoughts. As part of the club, I help with their social media accounts, and we ran the course a week before the race.

Josh was running this year too, so we woke up early, had the usual toast with peanut butter and all the coffee, then made the 40 ish minute drive to Cedar Rapids. We were tired, but ready to run. The first Iowa football game was the day before, and the Hawks defeated Wyoming 24-3. Go Hawks!

GEAR: neon green Sparkle Athletic skirt, adidas shorts, lululemon shirt, Orange Mud hydraquiver vest pack 1, xx2i France 2 sunglasses, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, B1G hat, Brooks Ghost 9, Garmin Fenix 3, RoadID, spibelt, Zensah socks

We were able to grab our bib and shirt before the race with no issues. It seemed many others had the same idea, there was a quick moving, short line. The club also had gear available for sale.

Josh and I needed to use the restrooms, and no matter how many port-o-potties a race brings in, it’s never enough. There were 2 banks of them, with one line for each. Now, we could also get in the debate of multiple lines or one line….. but ANYWAY… Josh and I knew there was a Casey’s (convenience store) 2 blocks away. We did a warm up to the store and passed IG friend Jaclyn on the way (she was doing the same.) Ahh, in and out in minutes, great idea Josh.

We ran back to the starting line. Which for this race is not the finish line. It starts a couple blocks away, not a big deal. Runners were starting to line up as a drone buzzed overhead.  The official race photographer roamed, as the National Anthem was sung live.

I actually stood near the start line to take a picture, then went around the starting timer mat, and hopped into the race. There were no corrals, and I didn’t hear an announcement to line up according to time. However, there were about 1000 participants, and the width of a city street, I didn’t feel too congested.

I did hop into line with social media friend Chelsea and BibRave pro Mel. Hey ladies!!! They are troopers, they had just run a half marathon the day before in Madison, WI. I, of course snapped some photos…and began my race.

Going into the race, I didn’t have a huge goal, but I was going to try and push my pace. However, the humidity was tough, and I was taking photos and posting to IG stories and the Corridor Running twitter feed as I went. YEP…that’s me.

Being familiar with the course, I didn’t expect any surprises. However, my watch beeped at mile one and I didn’t see a mile marker flag. HMMM? SO – I later learned that the mile 5 flag went missing last year at the race, and this year the mile 1 and mile 4 flag went missing. SO, if you know where these are, or know anything about this…please return them. This doesn’t help keep costs down for the race, or make our race compare with others if we have to waste time creating mile marker signs because some punk thinks it’s cool to steal. OK end rant!

I will have a “to the point” review at Bibrave.com if that is more your thing.

Ok, back to running the course. I knew there would be a couple port-o-potties near the entrance to the Prairie Park Fishery, about mile 2.5. As as noted above, there are never enough, lol. I didn’t have to use one, but there were some lines. There was also a water stop here. All the aid stations were water only stops in paper cups.

Then it was time for the 2 courses to split, the half marathon to the left and the 10k to the right. There was a sign and a guy standing there with a pool noodle directing runners.

Trotting along – there was another railroad crossing. Yep, this race has railroad tracks on the course. There are trains that will run during the event, you just need to be alert. The race does their best to work with the railroad, but it is what it is.

Just near mile 3, there is the first hill. It’s not a huge hill, but it’s a nice little climb. This takes you on the back road of the race, where there are more rolling hills. The first part of this section are a chip and seal road treatment, allowing for potholes and weird ruts from traffic, but nothing major. It eventually switches to pavement and a gravel shoulder.

There were more water stops and a few spectators out and about with some great signs. Just a nice day for a run through the back roads of Linn County.

At about the halfway point is the entrance to the Sac and Fox trail. There is a timing split mat set up here along with one port-o-potty. Also something to note is the water fountain in this parking area for the trail. The New Bo run dedicated it a few years back from race proceeds.

This trail is one of my favorite parts of the race. It’s an easy trail, really flat, gravel or packed dirt, no need for special shoes, and it’s shady. There is a water stop on the trail just after the one and only gel stop. There is no other food offered on course.

This race is pretty basic, just water and one gel stop. I knew this going in, so I had my OM pack with some orange Gatorade and a granola bar for an emergency. I am ok on some runs of half marathon with no food, and other times I need more than an electrolyte. At about mile 9 I was feeling like I needed something, so I took a bite of my granola bar.

I am not a huge watch “watcher,” meaning I rarely glance to see what pace I am going. I may check to see what mile I am at when it beeps at me. However, a race walker caught up with me, I was amazed at his form and ability to move so quick…. I also noticed that about every 10 steps he was checking his watch… I am still amazed at how he did it. (I eventually kicked it in and crossed the finish before him.)

Coming back around after mile 10, it was the part of the course that re-joins with the first few miles, so the race is an out and back with a loop in the center.

At the point, I was hot and sweaty, but I kept moving as I found my friend Monty. He is training for the Chicago marathon, and said he has since inspired his wife to run some races too. Hope he has a great training cycle, and an even better marathon.

I was approaching the last mile. I knew that there was a slight hill, more of an incline. When you run out on this part, you don’t realize you are running down hill, but you feel that climb on the way back.

I saw the club President, Mark cheering everyone on. Always nice to see friendly faces. Also, the law enforcement officials were still out protecting all the intersections, and before I could tell them thank you, they were cheering too.

I was on the home stretch to the finish line… I could hear the announcer, but he was sharing the results of the 10k, and giving out awards. I am not sure if the faster kids had their names announced as they crossed the finish line.

I crossed the finish line to see the race photographer, hopefully I was looking fly… or on fleek or whatever the kids say these days….. I was handed my handmade ceramic medal, and reusable plastic cup. I then saw Josh.

We waited by the finish line where I saw many other people – as we were waiting for more people to finish. I then had to leave as I said I would help with the apparel sales. I also wanted my post race treats.

Josh stayed at the finish to see Mel and Chelsea. I walked over to the apparel sales and was told they had things under control. So, I went to check out the post race food. No kolaches…. WHAT?!?!?!? I wasn’t that slow, I mean I did hang by the finish line a while, but what? So, did you have more than one? I did grab a veggie breakfast burrito, but it was kinda mushy from sitting in a steamer… so I did what any runner would do… I walked over to get my plastic cup filled with the Lions Bridge Brewing beer – a Workman’s Comp. There were also water coolers available to fill your cup with water too. No plastic bottles.

I finished the race around 2:12

Of course, I would run into another person I know, Matt, and we chatted for a while. Then as I was standing there, I congratulated Dan and his dog Phil as he placed in his AG, I said hi to Horacio. I also saw Lisa, she had just completed her first half marathon. Lisa was also part of a couch to 5k group I helped with a few years back, this was amazing! Congrats Lisa!

I was then getting texts from Josh… the area is not that big, but eventually he found me, as well as Chelsea and Mel, they had finished and were going to get their beers.

We all stood around and chatted some more, cuz runners like to talk about running.

However, we needed to get moving so we could get back home to let the dogs out. We made the trek back home with a pit stop at the Iowa Running Co, they had black and gold truckers for $10.

Of course, who do we see there but more runners…and Doug… one of the RD of the upcoming Pleasant Creek Trail Run…soooo I got to hear – again – why wasn’t I registered for that race. Well, here is a run down…the race is Sept 16th, which is the home football game against North Texas at 2:30. I can make one loop (15K) get to the game, and then travel to WI for the North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon on Sunday, Sept 17th. I just wasn’t sure I could make it all work, and well I am broke. ok off topic – it happens.

Ok – so I accidentally registered for the 30k PCTR… we will see if that weekend goes as planned. It really was an accident.

Back to the New Bo Half Marathon. I like this race, registration tops out around $50 ish dollars, there is an option for no shirt. The running basics are covered, and no hassles. It’s a community event as it kicks of the New Bo Arts festival too. I do wish there was real food on course or electrolytes, and kolaches for all. I will continue to run this race if it fits in my schedule.





Madison Mini 2017

Madison Mini Marathon 2017 – Race Recap

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Madison Mini Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

This race was my 43rd half marathon and my 4th Madison Mini, to say the least I wasn’t expecting any surprises and was prepared for race day – especially with VIP access, and fellow BibRave Pro Dyenna grabbing my packet. …. which is also a reason I didn’t see a problem with waking up at 2 am, and driving to the start  – 3 hours away.

Saturday, August 19, 2017 – 2 am – Alarm goes off… wake up

2:15 am – In the car with coffee, a Nugo Bar, and a bottle of water. The 3 hour road trip to Madtown begins.

2:30 am – filled up with gas at the Casey’s in Solon, IA. Yay for fuel saver perks, gas was less that $20 to fill ‘er up. Fishermen were also gassing up.

2:32 – 5:15 am – uneventful car ride. There wasn’t too much traffic, I saw a coyote on the side of the road. There was some random fog near Dodgeville. Then there was an ambulance, and I had to slow down as to not pass it. Made a bathroom stop for more coffee, busted open my mint Nugo bar.

5:15am – Madison, WI.  I found a parking ramp within a few blocks from the race start. Sat in the car for a while, planned on meeting Dyenna at VIP around 6 am to get my packet.

5:30am – got out of my car, found a $1 bill on the ground, wahoo!! I made sure I had all my things with me, grabbed a bag for gear check stuff, and walked the couple of blocks to the Monona Terrace for VIP.

VIP area opened at 5:30 am

For a to the point race review, check bibrave.com

5:45 ish am – I was early, but I didn’t want Dye to have to wait on me. I found my way upstairs to the VIP room (this area was indoors) and waited, there was wi-fi and I had power for my phone.

6:00 am -I met up with Dyenna, who arrived with a friend. She gave me my bib and my shirt, which was a technical tank top (for women only.) There was also a note about race day warnings and weather conditions. If you attended the expo there was socks and other giveaways.

There was an initial problem with the VIP, we were told that we had it, but when the bibs were picked up, there was no designation. Dye went back, and they just slapped a green sticker on the bibs, no questions asked. When we arrived on race day our names were not on the list, but they just added them, and we were in.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Road Runner Sports shorts, Spi belt, BUFF® Pack Run Cap, Bibrave tank, XX2i sunglasses, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, Zensah Chevron Argyle Compression Socks, Brooks Ghost, Garmin Fenix, Road ID

We sat around and enjoyed the breakfast of muffins, bagels, bars and coffee. The tables had candy scattered on them. We had access to real bathrooms and our own gear check.

6:45 am – checked my bag, which was just any bag you wanted to use, attaching the strip from your bib. Then made it outdoors to the starting corrals, which were just outside the door.

After some wondering around and such, I found my place in Corral E. I think there were announcements happening, I hear cheering. I never heard a National Anthem. *The Anthem was at 6:45 am*

7:00 am– Race Start, there was no delay and all the corrals moved forward. Once across the starting mat, a guy was waving a green flag, like in Nascar. There were a lot of participants.

As I mentioned, not my first time at this race. One of the reasons I like it, you run by all the things Madison has to offer. Within the first few miles you see the Capital, State Street, the Kohl Center and Camp Randall. Then you are taken into the Arboretum, passed a golf course, through some residential areas, cute businesses, to end up back on campus at the Lake & Terrace.

I was running along, a little faster than I should when I friendly face said “hey!” It was just passed mile 3, and the crowd had started to thin out. It was social media friend, Steena. She too, mentioned she wasn’t sure if she would catch me as I appeared to be running faster. I tell ya, running with all the people, pushes my pace A LOT.

I didn’t have a race day plan…. I rarely do, just finish. I wasn’t specifically training for this race, it was training miles for the Detroit Marathon. When Steena came up next to me, I had a race plan… run with her.

Now some of you might know that Steena is training for an Ironman. As we ran, I learned a lot more about triathlons and what not. The miles just ticked by.

We would stop for the water or Gatorade, while enjoying the cheer stations. I think at one time, I slowed us down, but she stayed with me.

We discussed the course as well. I think all the times I have run this race, I have always run a different course. However, we complained about the strange parking lot section that is always included.

This course is hilly, as is many of the races in Madison. This year they removed the hill at mile 13, but by the time we made it that far, we both were discussing that the end was in fact a slight uphill.

When we came close to the finish, there was a runner receiving attention on the side of the course, it was clear they were suffering with cramps, Steena stopped and handed them her salt…. appearing to never break stride.

We discussed jumping across the finish line, she mentioned she wanted a fun photo. We, did jump over that finish line, only to discover no one there taking a picture. However, we did get a few photos of us finishing. Also, this year pictures were FREE, and were posted the same day!!

9:09 am – FINISH!! That’s right, we ran a 2:09…my Garmin had it a little long at 13.36, but that is a good time for me, not training.

We went through the finisher’s chute, getting a medal, bottle of water, banana, granola bar, and bag of popcorn. Then we said our goodbyes and a HUGE THANK YOU, she had a few more miles on the day and didn’t want to take a break. It was so much fun to run with her, she really pushed my pace!!! Good Luck in your Ironman!

Then it was time to get back to the VIP room. I passed the chocolate milk tent on the way, and back upstairs I went.

There really wasn’t too much going on here. However, that food setup had changed – fruit, potato salad, brats, and chicken were now available. There was also unlimited Wisconsin Brewing available to us. I also never saw the massage person.
I grabbed my bag of things, a cold beer and went out on the balcony. While I enjoyed having this VIP access, the fun part of the race is the 14th mile post race party, which happens outside on the Terrace.

From the balcony, I could watch the live music and people milling about. There were some tall bar top tables available, but no chairs. I could walk down to the Terrace on a side walkway, so I wasn’t shut off from that.

10:15 ish am – I went back inside to partake in the food. I also happened to meet up with Dye again. We all sat and ate (brat for me of course!) and caught up on our races.

Dye ended up helping an injured runner to the finish line, while her friend did not receive a medal – but instead a piece of paper saying they would send it to her. EEK! I have been on the race organization side of a medal problem, I find it interesting they only gave out what they had, but guess that helps on shipping costs. There was also no mention of this issue, unless you were a finisher that received no medal.

11:00 am – we left the VIP and went to walk around the Terrace and take some pictures. They had to get checked out of their hotel, and I thought I should get back on the road. IT was nice to meet Dye and her friend, we said see ya later – as we are both running the Wisconsin North Face Race in September.

11:15 am – I was back at my car in the ramp. I was still not ready to leave, I needed to grab what I always snag when I am in Wisconsin – beer and cheese! A quick clothing change in the car, and I was walking to the Madison Market.

Without problem, I was able to secure some New Glarus Raspberry Tart and a bag of curds. My trip was now complete.

11:30 am – Back to my car, and ready to depart Madison. I paid the $8 ramp fee – which is a great deal for as long as I was parked there, and I headed back south to Iowa City.

11:45 am – 2:51pm– ROAD TRIP!!! It was another uneventful trip back, however it looked like my pee stops had me avoid 2 accidents, they did not look pretty. Drive safe people!!

2:52 pm – HOME!!! It was a 12 hour trip. I quickly took the dogs on a walk, and rushed through the shower.

3:15pm – back out the door to my next race – WHAT!??!??!! Oh yeah, I signed up for the Dam Backpocket 7 miler, I needed to be on a shuttle at 4pm for the race start at 5pm.

More on that race in my next post….



Race Logistics


“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Madison Mini Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

If you have been reading since the beginning, you know I run A LOT of races. I’ve been asked why I choose an event, or about my favorite race… well first I consider the price… but next I always consider the logistics – can I make this race possible.


I will be headed back to Madison, WI for my 4th Madison mini, one of the most important race logistic when I am participating in a race sooo close to home, yet soo far away… Can someone else get my packet?

Madison is about a 3 hour drive for me… sooooo I can leave first thing in the am and arrive on race day. The Madison mini makes this easy for me by allowing someone else to pick it up for me at packet pick up. All they need is a copy of my photo ID. If I were really planning ahead, I could have paid a little extra (when I registered) and picked up my packet at will call, which is open before the race on race day.

I could go on and on about inconvenient packet pickups, ok maybe I will. The year Josh and I ran the Chicago Marathon, we had to drive into Chicago twice…once was to pick up our packet as there was no packet mailing, no race day pickup, and no one else could get it for us. ( I don’t recall packet mailing)

Other race logistics that make a race a great event:

  • Parking – is it close? do I have to pay?
  • Bathrooms at the start
  • Online maps of the course, start/finish – what is available at the start finish, do I have to walk far to get water?

When a race considers what it’s like to be a participant, that is an added perk, so the special perks of allowing someone else to grab your packet or multiple banks of port-o-potties makes my decision easier… well after I check the price.

Madison Mini Packet pickup information:


Location:  Alliant Energy Center, Hall C, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison

Friday, August 18: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m

Please bring your Photo ID as packet pickup is by last name. You will not need your bib number. REMEMBER! THERE WILL BE NO RACE DAY REGISTRATION OR PACKET PICKUP AND NO THERE ARE NO TRANSFERS OR REFUNDS.


If you would like to have a family member or friend pick up your packet for you, they must have a copy of your photo ID (either digital or paper).  Please have it ready when you go to their line to get their packet so you can show it to the volunteers.


The Will Call Packet Pick-Up Booth will be located at Library Mall near the fountain and will be open on Saturday, August 19 from 5:30 – 6:45 am


VIP Status


“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Madison Mini Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”


I am going back to Madison, WI!! This time I am going in style – VIP status!!

I really enjoy Madison, WI – well unless the Hawkeyes are playing a sporting event in the city… that’s a whole other story.

I am going to be running the Madison Mini Marathon on August 19th. I have run this race before – 3 times in fact.


There have been changes over the years, but for the most part you run through Madison, seeing the sights (Camp Randall, Kohl Center, farmers market, Arboretum, plus many more areas) and end up at the Union Terrace. This is a great setting for the post race festivities. In the past I have enjoyed a craft beer and music along the lake front.


Throwback to the 2014 race medal

THIS YEAR -I am taking advantage of  the Ultimate VIP Experience! Ok, you all want to know what that means… well I will tell you:

  • Pre-race coffee, juice, fruit and carbs – starting at 5:30 am
  • Private restrooms
  • Massage – the only massages offered at the race
  • Personal Gear check
  • Chill-out on the deck as you overlook Lake Mendota and The 14th Mile Post-Race Party
  • Craft Beer! Unlimited FREE Wisconsin Brewing Company beer
  • FOOD! Traditional tailgate-style buffet with your choice of brats, chicken, burgers and all the fixings. Oh, and don’t forget the great sides and delicious desserts!
  • Unlimited soda, water and Gatorade for those looking for non-alcoholic drinks


Ok so, yes – all these fantastic perks come with a price… this package costs $55. However if you use code BRMAD you will save 10% on race registration. www.madisonminimarathon.com (Price increase July 20)

Who will I see in Madison on Aug 19th?






Red Shoe 2017

Red Shoe Half Marathon – Race Recap 2017

Oh – I really have been slacking, I left you all in limbo…did I run this race due to the killer headache the night before?

Well, of course I ran it!! Powered by mashed potatoes!!

If you are looking for the simple, fact filled review – head on over to bibrave.com

Gear: Sparkle Athletic Ice Cream Skirt, 2xu tank, Adidas 7″ boyshorts, Pro Compression Socks, B1G tech hat, Spi Belt, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, XX2i France Sunglasses, Garmin Fenix, Brooks Ghost 9

Alright – race day was Sunday, May 7th, it was sunny and would warm up to around 70. The race started with the 5k at 8:30 am.

I was able to grab my packet the day before the race. It was a bag full of papers & flyers that I just put in the trash. There was my bib and there was an unflattering, short sleeve tech tee – mostly because it’s a man’s cut.

There are 2 half marathons in Iowa City. I have run them both, in fact they partner together, for an additional medal opportunity, and you can say you ran Iowa’s Longest Marathon. Personally, I prefer this race over the other, and being in my town, longer than a 5k, I HAD TO DO IT!

The race starts and finishes at the Ronald McDonald House, which race proceeds benefit. This area is also next to the University of Iowa, Carver Hawkeye Arena and Duane Banks Field. This allows for ample parking and indoor bathrooms.

I rolled up around 7:50 am, to am empty Dental Lot (the lot for the dentistry college – this area is surrounded by parking lots.) I discovered everyone was told to park in a packed Lot 75. I really thought I was at the wrong place, where was everyone?

Well, they were all huddled inside Carver (CHA,) where the bathrooms were…and also confusing, it was not that cold and the sun was shining. It still felt like there wasn’t a race happening.

Just after 8 am, and standing around alone… I decided I did not need my arm sleeves, so I walked back to car to ditch them. I also found a four leaf clover! There were now about 5 cars parked near my car.

When I started back to my car, there was some kids race happening, which caught me off guard, as there were no people around…the kids must have just appeared.

I started walking back to the race start, and it was now 8:15 ish…there were some announcements on the sound system, and someone sang the National Anthem. I was beyond confused at this point and just went with it. The race didn’t start for another 15 minutes.

They used the time to tell a story about a family that has used the Ronald McDonald House, which was nice. I really like this charity and what the House does. If you remember, I was once donating Medals 4 Mettle to the House.

After another shorter kids race, the announcer encouraged people to line up behind the starting arch. More people appeared out of CHA….. it was starting to look like there was a race about to happen.

There were no corrals and no pacers. As I said the 5k started with the half marathon, there were people with strollers all in one spot. I tried to line up where I thought my pace would be. Ran into a friend who had his dog, and it was the dog’s first race.

I have run both the half and 5k before, there have been many hiccups over time. One year I ran the 5k, I was held up by a train.  The 5k used to be the GOTR spring race, and the course narrowed within the first 500 feet, the girls would line up in the front, and be walking at the point the course narrowed. Then the last time I ran the 5k, it started separately and was a good race. I was shocked to see it start with the half again.

I knew this course too, I run this town, I knew there would be hills (seems to be what people remark about the most, when they are finished.) However, due to construction, the course was changed this year, and the biggest hill was removed.

Coming into this with a rough day before, and eating only mashed potatoes, I was just there for the miles. I started off at a decent pace, and just followed the crowd and the arrows. *Note the arrows were not race specific… so arrows lead people for both the 5k & the half marathon.

The course went down by the Iowa River, crossing the bridges, checking out more of campus. Then it went through City Park. This is where the first aid station was. There was Gatorade first, then water in paper cups. It was getting warm for me, so I made sure to stop and drink. I didn’t bring a pack with me.

As we snaked through City Park, we came to the yard sign that said “mile 3.” I looked around, and since bibs were different for different races, I noticed that there were quite a few 5k runners at this point. We were not .1 miles from the finish, GASP! What was going on? In my mind, I had been waiting for the half to split from the 5k, and I never saw it. I then asked the 5k runners, if they were fine, and advised them they could go cross country to get back to the finish, or follow the course to a point that would get them to the finish.

Many 5k runners continued on the course, as it was the safest, due to roads being open to traffic, the marked course was safer. My watch was near 4.5 miles, when it was a good chance for the 5k to get back to the finish. At this intersection, they had to cross Hwy 6, an intersection where there was no traffic control, but a stoplight with buttons to push for pedestrians. There were 2 race volunteers pushing the buttons. If you ran the 5k, you were close to 5 miles.

All I could think is WOW, and I hope there were no kids out on the course alone. I did have more miles ahead of me so I kept moving. I did call Josh, I had to tell someone, lol… plus with bluetooth headphones, you can make a phone call on the run – so easy!

The course was now taking a turn onto First Avenue into Coralville, just after mile 5, I saw someone I knew – Anne! It was a welcomed surprise, especially since I was out there by myself.

I was at the next water stop, this one had the same paper cups. The person with Powerade… yep a different kind of drink, was handing out cups, and it was after the water, which was not being handed out. I don’t know if this is a big deal, but these little details are important. All electrolyte drinks should be the same on course – people can have issues – and it should be before the water, and volunteers should be attentive to getting it to people.

Oh well, onward…. the next few miles were uneventful. I was hot, but nothing I could do, I just made sure to drink when I hit the aid stations. I had some fruit snacks with me and ate them around the half way point.

The course went on the Clear Creek path, and met up with Camp Cardinal Blvd. This is the hilliest part of the course. There were more water stops with Powerade. Nothing too exciting.

Soon, I was on Melrose and running back east, into Iowa City. In the past we took the road back to the parking lot behind Kinnick Stadium to finish back where we started at CHA. However this year, because of the changed course, we went back onto the Mormon Handcart Trail, and then back to Mormon Trek.

Oh, HEY… I saw Anne in this area again, another welcome surprise….especially when I had just passed some bored volunteers sitting on the ground, no enthusiasm or care to be there. Anne gave me a high five and I was on my way.

I was now on the path behind the softball complex. There was a last water stop, and then I realized there would be one more steep climb before the finish. Races love to add this path, it’s closed to traffic, but the hill is no joke!

I finished up the hill, and through the parking lot – lot 75, crossed the street into the CHA parking lot and I was at the finish. Then in what seemed like exactly 12 inches from the timing mat, they handed me a medal… DUDE! I need to slow down and walk it out, there was soooooo much room for me to do that, but I was handed my medal immediately after I had finished.

My time was near 2:15 ish. I was happy with this knowing I wasn’t really racing it. However, I wish people would cheer people in. Looking at my Garmin, I only had 12.9 miles, it’s still close…but short. I don’t recall seeing a 13 mile marker either.

Oh well, I did find the post race food. There was A LOT of it. Bottled water, apple juice, chocolate milk, Powerade, donuts, cupcakes, apple slices, apples, orange slices, bananas, and bagels.

I actually turned down the donuts….don’t fear I had a mini cupcake instead. I took a minute and listened to the awards. I guess I missed the part where the age groups were divided up strangely…ages up to 29 were in 5 year increments, and after that 10 year increments. OK, I am not fast, but the smaller increments are easier for me to place.

I didn’t have a lot to do, so I stuck around the finish line until the clock was at 3 hours, I think that is when the course was supposed to close. I cheered on finishers.

I then decided to call it a day. I walked back to my car, had no troubles with traffic, and made it home before lunch.

I did have a slight headache, so I tried to stay hydrated the rest of the day.

This race….. I really want to be proud of my hometown races, I want to be able to tell people to come to Iowa City and run a race. This year, I can not say that. However, in the week since the race, I have learned a few things. 1) people who ran the 5k were given free entry to next years event. 2) the 5k and half will start separately next year 3) this was the first year under new directorship 4) letters were sent to 5k participants, along with some socks, apologizing for what happened.

So now… I am torn… I run a lot of races, so I feel I have valid thoughts and opinions.  I do like the actions they have taken regarding the mishap with the 5k. I just want more details to the half too. I need great water stops, cheer stations, and an accurate course. I would give the race another chance if it fits in my schedule.





Drake Half

Drake Road Races –  Half Marathon

The 2017 half marathon took place on Saturday, April 29. It was cloudy, with a feels like temp near 40 degrees. Race start was 7:30 am. There was a 5k that took place 15 minutes after. The events are part of the Drake Relays.

Looking for a “to the point review” go here

Josh and I were awake at 4 am Saturday and on the road with toast and coffee in tow. That’s right, we were driving the hour and a half to Des Moines on race day morning. Since we discovered that we could grab our packet the day of the race we skipped the expense of a hotel.

We made it to Des Moines in no time flat, at that hour of the morning, there is NO traffic. We also made it to a parking lot close to the finish line before they started charging the $10 daily fee. There was parking information provided through pre-race emails and on the website. Since this event takes place during the Drake Relays, parking is not free. HA! unless you get in the lot before they start charging, score 1 for the Berkas!

This location was also a short walk to the race day packet pickup. This was a no frills event. There was a big white tent set up in a parking lot. You walked in, either showed an email with your bib number or told them your name. No ID asked for. Then based on the shirt size indicated on your bib envelope, you grabbed the unisex (read – boxy) long sleeve, tech shirt. There was a shirt exchange somewhere…but I have so many shirts I don’t really care if another unflattering shirt fits anyway. After that, We were handed some white Asics tube socks. Nice to get something different, but no race logo or anything, just white tube socks – sexy!

The packet pickup took us a total of 5 minutes, so back to the car we went to keep warm. We were also parked near a bank of port-o-potties. Just after 7 am we thought we should get our crap together and walk the block or so to the start.

There were people buzzing about, however at the same time, unless you saw the start line, the morning was very relaxed, not that strange hustle and bustle of race morning. OR, maybe I have just done so many races (40 half marathons prior to this) that races don’t make me nervous.

There were no corrals, but there were pacers and participants were encouraged to line up according to that. There was some music and more announcements as there was some stalling before the National Anthem singer performed the song. A few minutes after 7:30 the race was on.

I really didn’t know what to expect from myself. I was one week out from a not -so-great marathon performance. I should have been taking things easy, but you know me, I love a good race and running. So – here I was.

Way back when, I ran this race when it offered a 6k. I only ran that distance at the time, instead of the half marathon, because at that time it was a week after the Blue Ridge Marathon. At that time the race was on a Sunday, and it ended on the Blue Oval in Drake Stadium.

I had checked out the elevation profile and knew there would be some climbs, while they were not super steep, they would still be hills. I was somewhat prepared. The first plan was to keep a slow steady start with a pace group (can’t remember if it was 2:20 or 2:30) I was only a half mile in when I felt they were running way too fast… however I managed to shake em and they were in the past…. I was then passing quite a few people.

By mile 2, I was hot… weird… it was maybe 40 degrees, but it was humid. I was down to a t-shirt. Then at mile 3, I needed to pee, TMI – I don’t care. I was back on the course and this is when we went downhill into some residential neighborhood. OK, who am I kidding the entire race was mostly in a residential neighborhood, never went near actual city parts of Des Moines.

I kept on going, at mile 9 I felt myself slowing a bit, but there was a hill… at the top of the hill was one of the 10 water stops (YES 10 water stops on a half marathon!) This is where I heard “Go Angie!” I looked back around and it was Mike, with the Rival Game Relay. I gave a wave. Then after grabbing a cup of water, I hear another “Go Angie!” It was IG friend @adkins_kl. I felt that extra umph, and I pushed on. It really is great to hear some words of encouragement on a course, no matter the distance, especially if it’s a surprise.

I remarked above, about all the water stops, and they were all in paper cups. However, there was no electrolyte drink on course and no food. There was a cool crew of bike marshals though, they had back baskets full of traveling aid including tissues and candy.

The last few miles seemed long. I managed to continue to thank the numerous volunteers and law enforcement officials on the course, but it seemed to go on forever. At mile 12, I had a new to me pain in my right hamstring. My leg was done! Thankfully, I turned the last corner and knew the finishing line was near.

I crossed the finish line, to my name being announced. I was handed a medal (it really is cooler if it gets placed around your neck) and then I had chance to grab a water bottle from a table and some random guy in the finisher’s chute wanted to shake my hand, so I did. I am not sure if if was the RD or who it was? Then at the end of the chute, I could grab a red Powerade. None of this aid was handed out. Now, I am not sure if I like the special little details, or I was just back of the pack and there were no volunteers handing stuff out anymore.

Josh caught up with me here, even snapping a really great picture… or not, lol.

Speaking of back of the pack… what was my time? Well, my Garmin was near 2:15, but remember I stopped to pee at mile 3, so my official time was near 2:17. I was really happy with this time. Considering my recent race schedule and despite the hamstring pain, I was feeling good!

We walked up into the post race area where there was food, free stretching and they were wrapping up the award announcements. Then some live music started as I walked through the food line where there was bananas, orange slices, apples and cookies.

mmmm cookies!

I really needed to roll out my hamstring, so I asked if Athletico had any rollers. They did not, but I signed up for them to stretch me out. After a short wait in line, it was my time. The lady said I had a huge knot in my hamstring…. duh, it hurts, lol.

Josh had went to some random building on campus for a post race shower, and I was freezing…so we went back to the car and I changed out of my running clothes. Who needs a shower when you are a #dirtbagrunner. It then started to rain. Yep,  beat the rain, now that would have been cold.

Located on the final stretch of the race course is the Drake Diner, of course this caught my eye as I was finishing. Josh and I walked here afterwards as we needed some HOT coffee.

There was a short wait, but we had a table and cinnamon roll to split as we sipped on coffee. Then our delicious breakfasts arrived and we devoured them. YUM!

It was already noon time and we needed to get back to the big city. We made a stop at our favorite coffee shop, Smokey Row, grabbed some more hot drinks and beans to brew at home, and we were back on the road home.

HOWEVER – we are not as young as we used to be. We only made it to Newton, like 45 ish minutes from Des Moines and we needed to stop and take a nap… LOL… yep, we pulled off at the truck stop and took a nap in the car. It was much needed.

After the refreshing nap, and a trip inside the truck stop for some Wint-o-green mints, we were back on the road again.

We made a pit stop at the Williamsburg outlets, then went to pick up our dogs. Just like that, the events of the day were over…. well we topped it off with dinner at the Hy-Vee salad bar – the best hidden gem for local craft beer on tap.

Would I run the Drake Relays Half again? Sure! It’s close to home and a decent price. I would suggest they move the race back to Sunday so we can finish on the blue oval.

What’s next? There is always something next for me….. Check my discount page for any savings too

May : Ganzo’s 5k, Red Shoe Half Marathon, Run Madtown 10k

June: possible Marathon to Marathon, Grandma’s Marathon, possible Run for Troops

July: B1G 10 10k

August: Madison Mini

October: Detroit Marathon

November: Madison Marathon

Some more races will pop up, but that is what’s on tap.