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


Springville Extreme Quarry Run

2017 Springville Extreme Quarry Run 6k

The 2017 event took place Saturday, August 12 at 8 am. The 6k run is part of Springville fun days. (This is in Springville, IA.) It was a great summer day for a race, the sun was shining and morning temps were near 60 degrees.

The weekend was full of races to choose from in my area, all shorter distances. I choose this one as I was excited to take on the challenge of running through the quarry. I also heard the RunIowa podcast with race director Joel, and it peaked my interest further.

I woke up early and had some toast, one slice with peanut butter and one slice with jelly, topped it off with the usual black coffee. I was on the road by 6:30 am for the 45 minute drive to Springville. I had never been to this town.

Gear: Orange Sparkle Athletic Skirt, adidas shorts, *last minute change to Lululemon shirt, XX2i sunglasses, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, Garmin Fenix 3, Spibelt, Zensah pineapple socks, New Balance Shoes, Bibrave hat. *I also realized when I arrived at the race, that my outfit was supporting the school colors.

It was easy to find where the race started, even though the online registration information said “downtown.” I just kept making turns and found the downtown. I was able to find a spot to park on a side street about a block away, and of course it was free.

I walked to pick up my bib and timing chip, I also got a short sleeve race shirt. There was a discounted rate for no shirt too. Race day registration was available for around $35.

There were 2 port-o-potties set up near the packet pick up area. Previous year race shirts were also FREE for the taking. A pancake breakfast was in this area too for a small fee. People wondered about before the race start.

I ran into Joel before the race and he asked if I was going to write a review… I told him the pressure was on… lol. I also met twitter friend Amy (@amykeating05.)

this is actually a post race photo

Near 8 am, people headed for the starting mats. Then there were some announcements, but I heard none of them. The microphone was not very loud and the people were very chatty. They did quite when the National Anthem was sung.

I really didn’t have a grand plan for this event. However, since I had some background on the event, I wanted to “race” the hill. As I mentioned above, the race runs through the Wendling Quarry. This is the only time the quarry shuts down, and non employees are allowed access without a hard hat. As part of the race, you run DOWN into the quarry, through the quarry, and then through a tunnel, to turn around and run UP and out of the quarry. There is a King / Queen of the hill challenge, where timing mats are thrown down at the bottom, and the fastest person up the hill is crowned. I was going to give this a go!

This was also not my first go at the 6k distance. Way back when I ran the Drake Relays 6k, and I looked at that time to see if I could set a new PR.

With those things in mind, I didn’t push too hard until I saw the hill. The race was an out and back, and the first stretch was an uphill section. We were told to stay left of the cones that marked the course. They were easy to follow along with the arrows spray painted on the pavement or chip n seal surface.

The course flattened out, and then there was the water stop near the mile mark… which were paper cups, YAY! This is also where I got the first look into the quarry, but couldn’t really gauge the hill … so just kept motoring on. The surface also changed to dirt with gravel.

Then all of the sudden, I saw the blue timing mat on the top of the hill… and at the same time I was descending. I almost have a harder time on the downhill than the uphill, I am soo fearful of blowing out my quads…and after 3 Blue Ridge Marathons, ouch!

I wound down through the quarry and the leaders were on their way back, yet no one had started the climb. I yelled some positive words to people I passed, then it was time to run the tunnel. This is actually a natural bridge that was created to get under Hwy 151.

It was dark in the tunnel and there were blinking, lighted cones in the center. Ok, so I took my sunglasses off and I had no problems seeing. In fact, so many races through McCormick Tunnel in Chicago, and this was a breeze. Also even footing on the gravel/ dusty surface.

I looped back around and was on the way back to the finish. There were many volunteers on course in the quarry too, even though there was no confusion about where you should be running.

Then it was time to conquer the hill… so I started pushing the pace a little, and as I climbed I pushed more, then it came to the point where I had to use my arms, and I was passing people. I really felt good, until I came to the top…. I had to walk… WHEW!!! what a climb in a short amount of distance…. looking at the Strava data…

After the short walk, I stopped at the water stop and took a sip, and kept moving… It was hard to push the pace again. It was an uneventful trot into the finish line.

I finished near 34 minutes (not a PR, I shouldn’t have walked)… I got a small printout of my results; but that really wasn’t what I was concerned about, I wanted to know the hill climb times.

After some milling about and grabbing a bottle of water and granola bar, they did the awards before everyone was finished. The overall winners were announced first, and both male and female were awarded an engraved quarry rock. They were really cool!

Then it was the age group awards, and finally the King & Queen of the Hill awards. Which were a little confusing…but I did not win. I ran the hill in 1:45 and the female winner ran 1:20. DANG!

I learned that after the race there was going to be a parade. Luckily for me I had no sweaty running clothes to change into in my car.

I met up with some fellow Corridor Running Board members – Joel (oh hey the RD of this race) and Michael. We talked “shop” and then the parade started. It was a nice little parade. I love small town events!

It was then time to make the trek back to Iowa City. I did so hitting up the bulletin boards at the Casey’s Convenience Stores with some New Bo Run race flyers. (Hey, you want a flyer to post? Or hey sign up for the race!)

After a stop in Mt. Vernon, I came upon a tractor cade or something. You know old tractors that are following each other… yeah they went on and on and on forever on the side of the road. Seriously, if you never leave your house, you miss so much.

I am getting sidetracked…. To bring it back around, I would recommend this race to everyone. With so many 5ks it’s nice to have something a little different.


Places to Run – Squire Point


SQUIRE POINT, 2800 N Dubuque St, North liberty, IA / Coralville Reservoir

This area I call Squire point is a combination of a couple trails near the Coralville Reservoir. It is also referred to as Linder point or Woodpecker Trail. All the trails hook up together, creating one trail system.

Access / Location: There are parking lots at the entrance to the Squire point off of N. Dubuque St. The trail loops around to another access point off of West Overlook Rd. with more parking spots. The parking is free. The maps will provide a clearer picture of access to this area.

Mileage: A loop of the outer edge of this trail system will come out close to 4 miles. The way the trails are laid out you can make a longer or shorter run by turning left or right.

Terrain: The trail is a combination of many surfaces. The majority is packed dirt, and it’s solid. There are sandy patches, leaf covered areas, many tree roots, and near bridges there are rocks. There can be washed out areas and downed tree limbs. Wider than single track. There is one spot you can cross into a campground to hit the trail as a loop. Trail shoes aren’t necessary, but if it’s muddy I would recommend them.

Elevation / climb: The trail takes you to the edge of the reservoir, so you climb down, it can be steep in spots. Iowa isn’t mountainous, but these are nice trail climbs, so beware if this is your first go at it.


Scenery: The is near the Coralville Reservoir, many views of the water, while still being lost in the woods. May see deer and hear many birds.

Maintenance: The trail is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers (I think?) Tree limbs are cut up and removed. There are steps added on steep inclines. Water crossings have bridges. There is no winter maintenance.

Markings: There are maps at every intersection or fork in the road. There is a hole in the sign marking “you are here.” No mile markers.

Features: There are benches with views of the reservoir. The trail also has workout stations where you can do pull-ups, climbs, sit-ups, etc. There is no trail user fee. There is a bath house located in the campground off the West Overlook parking area.

Warnings: There are tree roots and can be muddy in wet conditions, watch your footing. No fires, no bikes, no horses, and pets must be on a leash.

Personal Notes: Try to get to the area in the mornings or avoid weekends as it’s more crowded.


*information current as of 8/10/17

2017 Fergalicious 5k

2017 Fergalicious 5k

The 2017 race was held on Saturday, August 5th in West Branch, IA at 8 am. It was sunny with temps near 55-60 degrees and 80 % humidity. The race is part of Hoover’s Hometown Days and a fundraiser for the Girls High School Track Program.

For the “to the point” race details, check out my review at bibrave.com

I had an open weekend, and 5 miles on my Detroit Marathon training schedule, and because I had run it many times before, I thought it would be the perfect event to get my miles logged. It also helped that it’s a 15 minute drive from my house.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Zensah Chevron Argyle Compression Socks, Adidas shorts, Spi-belt, BUFF® Run Pack Hat, XX2i sunglasses, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, Garmin Fenix, New Balance Shoes, Road ID

After a Nugo Bar for breakfast (seriously my favorite thing to grab n go) and some coffee, I was on my way to West Branch.

I made sure to arrive in time for race day registration. I checked online for the price, it was $30, so I would skip the processing fees by registering in person. I filled out my form and was told it was $25, I was happy, but told them online it said $30, the person taking the money didn’t seem to care…. hope no one had to pay $30. I also was able to get a cotton, short sleeve t-shirt.

West Branch is a small town, it’s easy to walk from anywhere you park. While some of the streets are closed for the festivities, it’s easy enough to find a spot on a side street and walk a block to the race start – which is not the same as the finish… probably to get the correct mileage in.

There are also some port-o-potties set up for the town festivities, or you could go into the Town Hall if you needed to use the bathroom.

However, lucky for me…the starting line is just outside my work. I can park there, use the bathroom and have no issues. It’s about time, right? Traveling to all the races and figuring out all the race day logistics, it’s nice to have at least one event where I don’t have to worry about anything.

This allowed me to get in a one mile warm up on my beloved Hoover Nature Trail. Remember the training schedule called for 5 miles. I timed the warm up “just right” as I arrived to the starting line on time.

There were no pre-race announcements, just runners talking amongst themselves. If you read any of my previous reviews about this race, you might remember that the race is named for a previous track coach. He usually shows up and says some words. This year he was no where to be seen, there was no National Anthem… just a “GO!”

As we started promptly at 8 am, there were still a few stragglers walking to the starting line. It was nice the race started on time, however when there are not too many participants, I think it would have been nice to wait for them to get to the starting line.

When I checked the registration online, I also noticed that my age group was 25-49 years old, so this changed my race day strategy. While I was going to race this, I wasn’t going to kill myself trying to place.

The familiarity of the course was my advantage. I knew where the turns were, and all the hills. I knew when to run faster or slow down.

I was cruising along, following the course with ease. The pavement was clearly marked with arrows as to which way to go. Each intersection had someone monitoring it, whether it was a girls track member or law enforcement official. However, the students seemed disinterested in being there – a hand clap or some enthusiasm goes a long way. Also, one of the busier intersections with a police officer, a car stopped to chit chat with the officer, blocking the intersection to the runners…. that wasn’t the most ideal. As I said though, all the intersections did have a someone.

I didn’t have any other race issues, the pavement was your typical surface, a few cracks here and there, there were no mile markers – but that is not a huge deal. I didn’t take water on the course, but I think there was a water stop about half way.

I came to the finishing chute, which was before the finish line, and it was marked with track hurdles. There was a giant clock with the overall time. A volunteer took the strip from the bottom of my bib for race place. I ran the race in 27:26, with a sub 9 minute pace. I was happy with that! My Garmin also showed 3.1 miles.

I came back to the finish area after my mile cool down. The post race food was on one side of the road in a parking lot. There were donuts, crescents from Tiffiny’s Bakery, bananas, granola bars and bottled water. It was surprising to see so many crescents uneaten.

Then everyone was finished and shouting came from across the street. I went over to listen to the awards. The overall were first and then the age group. Overall winners were also announced as age group winners. Medals were given out to those who placed.

When it came to my AG I was shocked to learn that I had placed 2nd. I noticed the first place winner in my AG received an envelope instead of a medal. When I went to pick up my award, the person asked if I lived “around here” and before I could answer said she had a medal for me.

So I awkwardly waited around, and other AG winners were announced and they didn’t receive any medals or envelopes. I was whisked back to the other side of the street where the lady dug through a tote and gave me a medal (from a previous year) with a 3rd place ribbon. I said “oh it’s not big deal, I don’t need a medal” Then she pulled out some other ribbon and gave me that, to change out.

I really don’t need this medal, but if you are advertising medals to the first 2 in each AG, and some get gift certificates while you didn’t order enough medals, it’s very confusing. I was part of a medal snafu earlier this year… I get that organizing a race is hard work and sometimes things don’t work out. This was just weird to me.

I really hope a little “more” gets put into this race for next year (pre-race announcements, same prices for everyone, post race awards.) I personally feel they “mailed it in”and relied on the fact that it is the 11th annual event, and expected people to show up. Participation seemed low and I never saw a flyer around WB. It’s nice to run a hometown event with the small town feel, the little details make the difference when there are a lot of other races I can run.

*Please remember, these are my thoughts… I know a lot of you that read this, ran the race too. I am just being honest, and want the best for the race in the future. 

Places to Run – Hoover Nature Trail

Places to Run

The Hoover Nature Trail, West Branch, IA section

The Hoover Nature Trail is an old railroad bed that follows the old Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad route between Burlington and Cedar Rapids. Only portions of the trail are completed for recreational use.

Location: West Branch, IA to Oasis, IA

Mileage: 3.5 miles (one way) You have to start near Main St in West Branch and run to Oasis Rd.

Terrain: The part in the city limits of West Branch is chip and seal, and the parts in the county are maintained crushed rock. One highway crossing and one gravel road crossing. Trail shoes are not necessary.

Elevation: FLAT! no hills

Scenery: Trees and farm land line the trail. Depending on the year you can find corn or soybeans planted next to the trail. Small creek runs alongside in parts with a few bridge crossings.

Maintenance: The City of West Branch & the County Conservation Board maintains the trail(plus volunteers.) The sides are mowed, tree limbs are cut away, a grader will touch up the rock periodically. There is no winter maintenance, you get to make your own way in the snow/ice

Markings: At one time mile markers were on the trails, but have been damaged over the years. There are gates to keep vehicles off the trail. Random signs for horses to stay off to the side.

Features: Peaceful! While the trail sees a lot of usage you might be the only one out there. There is an outhouse style bathroom near Oasis. There is no fee to use this trail. There are some benches placed in random spots.

Warnings: Be aware of off leash dogs, while it’s not posted to keep your dog on a leash, many use the trail this way. The bridges have some holes, so watch your footing.

Personal notes: This is a great flat trail that’s easy on the body. The start is close to where I work, so I am able to #runch easily.



Did I PR the 10k?


“Disclaimer: I received entry into the BTN B1G 10k 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!”

The last time I mentioned the Big Ten 10k, I was hoping to set a new PR. Well, did I? *Spoiler alert * No, however I had a great time, and of course I will tell you all about it.

If you want the basic facts of the race, you can find them on my review I left at bibrave.com.

Saturday, July 22

Alright, so Josh joined me on this “racecation,” how could he miss out on a race supporting the Hawkeyes? We left first thing to get to Chicago.  We had plans to meet up with Heather, and run some miles on the lake front path.

The great thing about this race is someone is allowed to pick up your packet for you, or you can pay a little extra and have it sent in the mail. We chose to have it mailed, when we registered we weren’t sure what our plans would be.

After a run with Heather, and navigating the streets of Chicago, we tried to get checked into our hotel… which they still didn’t have ready. It was 5 pm, wut?  However, after a room service credit and a talk with the manager, a room was made available.

After all the drama, we made it to one of our favorite spots for dinner, Miller’s Pub. Then called it a night, after some room service chocolate cake.

Gear: bibrave tank, Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest pack 1, Sparkle Athletic skirt, Pro Compression socks, Road Runner Sports shorts, hawkeye hat, Road ID, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, XX2i France 2 sunglasses, Garmin Fenix 3

Sunday, July 23

We woke up early and ordered a room service breakfast. I had a bagel with peanut butter and fruit for $18 – DANG! Josh stuck with steel cut oatmeal. We left the hotel and walked to the race start on Columbus, near Grant Park.

The race started at 7 am, so we planned on meeting up with the other pros before the race for a picture and wish each other good luck.

Announcements were made, while music played in the background. We were encouraged to line up in our corrals, which were noted on our bibs. I was in corral B (not sure how or why) but it was full by the time I got to the entrance. I waited outside the entrance, however instead of letting all of us in at the back of the corral, corral C passed by before I was let in.

It was a sunny morning, and extremely humid. It made the race very uncomfortable. We even received an email before the race (as well as a note posted on the website) about additional hydration on course, and slowing down our race goals.

Spice Adams started each corral with an air horn, he is a Penn State Alum. I started off cruising… since I had run this course before, and as mentioned in my previous post, this course is flat, I thought I could PR. However, that plan went out the window soon after the part on Lower Wacker Dr. This portion of the race is underground, so it’s HOT and stinky…the air was not moving.

My first 2 miles, were sub 9 minute… then this part hit and I was running over 10 minute miles. The next plan was to just enjoy and get to the finish.

While I did bring my own water with me, I was trying to pay attention to the hydration on course. There were 3 stops with Nuun and water, but I didn’t feel there was anything extra than the previous year.

After the lower wacker part, the course went back along Michigan Ave, then turned and climbed Mt. Roosevelt, while then taking us around the museum, to then run along the lake. This part offered some great views of the city.

Then there was the first of 2 water slides. I made sure to give this one a go, I had done it in the past, and with the weather, I thought it would be a good idea. However, I just didn’t get enough steam to slide the entire distance… so I had to crawl out, leaving me with wet socks… at least I felt cool for a while.

I continued on the run, more along the lake, and this is when I realized the area was not closed to others – meaning bikes… and they were not too happy to share.

I made the turn around, and just kept moving… it was tough, that humidity made the air really heavy and thick. I passed by the second water slide, where they had the fight songs playing… sadly I never heard the Iowa Fight Song.

I was happy to finally come back to the finishers chute, where I saw a photographer at the end, but another runner came in ahead of me blocking my shot.

As mentioned before, I did not set a PR in this distance…heck I was 10 minutes off… but I didn’t have it in me…I did finish, and am happy with that.

When I crossed the finish line I was given a bottle of water first, then I grabbed a wet towel. There was a chance to grab a banana and a Clif protein bar…then finally I got my medal.

Unlike the previous years where each school got a different medal, everyone got the same finisher’s medal. We had to redeem a ticket on our bib at our schools post race tailgate tent to get a “coin” (which was a magnet) that stuck to the medal.

There were also tags on the bib to redeem for a Revolution Brewing beer and an Amylou sausage with pretzels.

The post race is always my favorite part. As mentioned above, each school has a tent…I found out this year that each school’s tent provided something different. In the past I feel that Ram racing provided one school specific swag item for everyone to get ( I got sunglasses before) I guess the magnet was the item this year. So, that left the other swag up to the school itself. Well my school is one of the geographically closer ones, so they can easily drive more swag to the tent. I was given the chance at stickers, magnets, photos with props and much more. I found out that the Ohio State tent was selling t-shirts. Some schools had their mascots. So, I imagine the school only brings what they can, however this allows each participant a different experience.

While, I spent the majority of my post race time near the Iowa tent. There were also tailgating style games, live music and giveaways.

This race is a good time for the B1G fan, or for anyone looking for a 10k in Chicago that does not go through the McCormick tunnel!

I will give my 10k PR another go, some day… but as I mentioned I will be training for the Detroit Marathon… well then there is the Madison Mini Half Marathon and North Face Wisconsin Half Marathon… oh and the Madison marathon…. so maybe one day I will get back to speed…

Go Hawks!


12 weeks until Detroit

“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Detroit Free Press 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!”

It’s that time again, time to train for a marathon. As you know I will be headed to Detroit (rock city) in October. It will be my first time there, and I get to run in and out of Canada.

With marathon training comes a “plan.” Which as you may have read on the blog, is always a struggle. I made it through 2016 winging it, and since I finished each race…. I really have struggled with sticking to the more traditional training – because I know I will be able to do it. My last marathon – Grandma’s – I tried to keep up with the crazy plan Josh was doing…and I skipped runs or was always altering them….

With 12 weeks to race day, this time is going to be different…. HA – FAMOUS LAST WORDS! Ok, it’s not going to be different, but I did look at some plans, and Josh sent me one he found that looks like I can accomplish. So…here goes… today I will run 3.1 miles…

I wont be blogging about my training recaps, I don’t have time for that… and really, do you want to read them?  Seriously, do you?

Honestly, while the training is the hardest part of the race, and I am a little anxious to complete each run………. I am more worried about getting my passport. What? Yes, I have a passport, but it is in our lock box at the bank, and while we have the key to gain access, I have no clue where that key is in our house. I worry about the dumbest things…. but when you register for this race, you agree to have your passport.

If you know where your passport is and would like to join me in Detroit, use code “DETROITBRP17” for 10% off race entry. http://www.freepmarathon.com/