Christmas Day Charity Run, Rochester, NY, 12/25/16

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Photo credit: Carlos Ortiz, Democrat & Chronicle Staff Photographer

I was drawn to this event because it was a good way to give back on the holidays and get in a workout at the same time. This wasn’t a race, but a group run. Prior to the event, people were encouraged to bring donations – from clothing to non perishables. The collected items would be delivered to the House of Mercy, a non profit housing shelter in Rochester, NY.

The event was a walk/run. Walkers started at 10:45, runners at 11. We gathered in front of Fleet Feet Sports first for a group photo with Santa. A few members of the media were there too, taking pictures and filming us. At 11, we were off. Weather was cold – in the 30’s – windy at times. Sidewalks were slippery in parts, due to ice. Thankfully, we could run in the roads as well.

Total turnout looked to be about 30+ people. I was excited to meet up with my friend Carrie, someone I ran with years ago in a running group. It was also nice to run with Santa, lol.  The route was through the city – down East Avenue, and then turning on Hudson Avenue. Some of us were dressed in Christmas attire. Many people beeped encouragement to us along the way.

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By the time we got to the House of Mercy, vans had arrived with all the donations. We then helped carry those inside. I was so impressed with all the items people brought! There were bags and bags and boxes of things! It felt good to help, even if it was just a little.

After donating the items, people went across the street to the fire hall to sing Christmas carols. The organizer of the event should be proud. He should also be proud of the press he got – both newspaper and TV.  This event has grown from 6 to 30+ in just a few years. With the added press and social media exposure, I am sure it will grow even more. Runners are kind, generous and supportive. I was proud to be a part of this. It represents what Christmas is all about.

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Course:
Mainly flat on streets in and around Rochester, NY
Time: 10:45 for walkers, 11 am for runners
Weather: mid 30s, slight breeze at times
Location: Rochester, NY
Results:  Not an official timed race – 4 mile course
Press: Article from the Democrat & Chronicle, Story on WROC TV 8
More info: Event Facebook Page

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Race Review: Old Fort Niagara Holiday 5k, Youngstown, NY 12/10/16

img_2171I’m always game for a new race, so when I saw the description for this one, I was intrigued. “Soldiers will fire their muskets at 10:30am sharp to signal the start of the race which will take place entirely within Fort Niagara State Park. The course is USATF and will feature amazing views of Fort Niagara State Park; the Lower Niagara River; Lake Ontario; Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada; Historic Old Fort Niagara, and the Toronto skyline!” Cool.

What was also cool was the weather – in the 20s. Brrrrr! There was also snow in the forecast. Not what you want to hear when the drive is at least an hour and a half away from your house. But, I needed one more race to get a running plaque I’m going for, so I decided to make the trip. The drive was fine until the last 5 miles. They had not plowed at all. Granted, it was early. Nevertheless, I made it there, parked, and picked up my bib outside underneath the tent. Thankfully, you could go inside where they had restrooms. You could also look around the museum and gift shop.

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The race started at 10:30 with muskets going off. It was loud and cool. The course was very slippery and ice/snow packed. So, my main focus was not speed at all. It was to get through this thing without falling. They had mile markers and one water stop. You went around the loop twice before you headed to the finish area. courseniagara

I didn’t dress in costume for this race. I just wore the tshirt I got at the Whoville 5k last Saturday. I felt good during this race, but was not fast at all. Instead of a tshirt, you got a finisher’s medal (which was awesome – very high quality), admission to the fort and a yummy “Ploughman’s lunch” which consisted of homemade soup, fruit, veggies, coleslaw and hardboiled eggs.  You had to go to a log cabin to get that. I was glad I did that immediately after the race because lines were long. I also loved that the bib had an image of Old Fort Niagara on it – very nice touch!

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img_2166Normally, I hate running in the cold.  I have Raynauds in my hands and I always worry about getting an attack. Sadly, I did get one after the race when I was walking building to building. I know the photo is graphic, but I include it to try and increase awareness of what Raynauds is (a circulation issue that can result in painful attacks). I always carry hand warmers, but sometimes that is not enough. img_2158

The awards/age group winners were announced in the French Castle. Age group winners got a sticker they could attach to their medals. It was too cold for me at that point, so I did not stay. I would like to go back and tour this place again in much warmer weather. They had a fire going outside which was wonderful. I didn’t want to walk away from that.

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This was a very good race – especially for an inaugural event. One suggestion – they might want to consider having two serving areas for the lunch because those lines seemed pretty long (and after running a race it’s never good to stand around in such cold temperatures). But, the fact that they included a lunch as part of your race fee was great. I think they hold two other races here before the end of the year. However, for me, my 2016 running season is over! I’ve earned enough points to get my bronze plaque. Woot woot! Until next time – see you on the roads…

Course:  USATF certified. Number of runners capped at 300. Sold out race.
Time: 10:30 am start
Weather: 20s – breeze at times.
Location: Youngstown, NY
Results:  Not online yet. 140/300  32.51 (11.02 min mile)
Amenities:
Restroom inside, ample parking outside.
Race Results: 32:51 (10.35 min mile), Age group 7/21, Overall: 140/278, Gender 48/147
Overall Results: http://www.itsyourrace.com/results.aspx?id=8416

 

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Race Review: Whoville 5k, Hornell, NY 12/3/16

whoWhat better way to get into the spirit of the season than by running a Grinch inspired race? This event fit into the theme of Whoville for the Business district in downtown Hornell, NY. There were many events prior to this race, including a parade, carriage rides and various contests (hair, costume and decorating.)

I love Dr. Seuss and the Grinch, so I decided to head to Hornell to give it a try.  The race was a night race, starting at 7 pm.  Hornell is about an hour from me. Costumes were encouraged, so I decided to be Cindy Lou Who. For some reason, I already had a blonde Halloween wig at home, so I did my best to recreate her hairstyle. Not easy mind you! Also, not easy to run in. I fashioned a headband inside to secure it. The top of her hair was made by wrapping hair around a dixie cup. Making this wig also involved gluing, cutting, braiding and attaching other fasteners. I bought the shirt/skirt on Etsy. The seller threw in the arm bands for free – score! Good thing I am not afraid to look ridiculous!

courseI got to Hornell around 5:45 and picked up my bib and tshirt. It was freezing out. I don’t do well with the cold, so I went to my car. Then, I headed over to the nearby Burger King to use the restroom. I saw Porta Potties, but there wasn’t a lot of light, so I didn’t want to use those. Around 6:30, I headed back to the starting area. They had a dj playing music with lights. It was very festive. I talked to a few people – some had run a 5k that morning, and a few had run two! My teeth were chattering, and I was ready to start running. When you have Raynauds attacks in your hands, temperatures in the 30s are not your friend. As always, I had my trusty hand warmers.

Around 6:50, we headed toward the start on the main street. I couldn’t hear the person on the megaphone, but at around 7 we were off. The course involved a lot of turns. It was around their business district and then down side streets. It was nice to see the homes and businesses decorated with lights. They had volunteers with signs showing people where to go. They also had cars beaming their lights on in various parts of the course.

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I always end up running at a pace where no one is in front or behind me. Normally, that’s not a problem. However, in this case, there was an issue at the very end. There was one guy ahead of me. He had no idea where to go toward the final part and neither did I. I had looked over the route map. but somehow we ended up going the back way behind where the finish was. I knew it was wrong – just not sure how I made a wrong turn. I wish there had been in a few more volunteers in that area. It was also desolate in one area. I’ve run almost 80 races, and this has never happened before. So, I ran to the finish from the wrong way and had to back track. I know that cost me a couple minutes. UGH! That part was such a disappointment to me. I felt so strong during this race, and know I was equally as fast as my last race, if not faster. Oh well – there is always the next race.

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At the finish, you could turn in a ticket for a free hot cocoa or coffee. They also had oranges, granola bars and water bottles. Age group winners got fleece blankets. I was cold and sweaty and had an hour drive home, so I didn’t stay for the awards ceremony. There were around 200+ people running or walking this inaugural race.

Overall, this was a very nice race. It was a fun theme, good crowd and nicely organized. I’m not a huge fan of running in the dark or on streets where there is traffic, but that’s just me. I can see this race growing in popularity. I also like that it’s not huge – I don’t like races where thousands run. I have one more race left for the year. Once I run that, I’ll be able to get my Masters runners plaque (bronze). Can’t wait for that!

Course: Mainly flat on streets in and around the Hornell business district
Time: 7 pm start
Weather: mid 30s, slight breeze at times
Location: Hornell, NY
Results:  75 out of ? (maybe 200+), 6th in age group (40-49), 33:41, 10:52 min/mile
More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1778646615749033/

I have my last race for 2016 next Saturday, but driving weather looks questionable. Once again, I picked a race that is a bit of a drive away. I’m hoping for the best, but we’ll see. Until next time – see you on the roads!

 

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Race Review: Ugly Sweater 5k, Liverpool, NY 11/26/16

2016-ugly-sweater-rack-card-3-copyI wanted to run a race on Thanksgiving, but was out of town. This festive race on Thanksgiving weekend looked fun, so I decided to give it a try.

The race is near Syracuse and didn’t start until noon. This gave me plenty of time to drive there from Rochester. The course is an up and back one along Onondaga Lake. It’s where they hold “Lights on the Lake” at night, so you end up running under those displays. It would be cool to run it at night. I’ve actually run this course before, years ago. I believe it’s the same one where they have a Valentine’s Race.

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I left my house around 9 and got to the “Barking Gull,” for packet pickup at 10:30. Instead of a t-shirt, you get Ugly Sweater 5k scarves, gloves and a hat. In addition, your bib included a ticket for a free beer. They also had a raffle for entry into another race.

It was raining on the drive to Syracuse, so I was concerned it would rain during the race. Weather was in the 30s. Thankfully, the rain stopped by the time the race started. There was definitely a damp chill to the air, but believe me, it could have been much worse.  I had my trusty hand warmers and was ready to go.

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Shortly before race time, everyone headed to the starting line. There were prizes for best sweater, and I was very impressed with all the sweaters I saw. People are very resourceful and clever. Many sweaters even lit up. Two ladies even wore a double sweater. I have no idea how they could run in tandem in that! They had ugly Christmas sweaters for sale in case you needed one as well.  I wore one I bought last year on clearance. I also embellished the back of it.

After hearing the National Anthem, we were off!  My goal with this race was just to keep a steady pace and try to improve my time from the last one. I was pretty confident I could do that, since the last race was hilly and this one was not at all.

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They had mile and kilometer markings, a water stop and Santa was at the halfway point. It can be kind of discouraging to see the fastest runners running back already when you’re still plodding alone, but it is what it is. You just have to keep running your own race.

I ended up running my fastest pace of the year – a 10:03 min mile! I wish I had picked it up a bit more, but I was thrilled with those results. I still have weight to lose. It’s all a journey. There’s no reason why I can’t get back to under 9 min miles if I keep losing weight and training.

After the race, you could head back to the Barking Gull and get your free beer and buy wood fired pizza. They also had doughnuts, bananas, chocolate milk and bottled water at the finish line.

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They had 500 people at this race, and everyone seemed to be in great spirits. It was a nice location with outside fires going as well. Syracuse runners are friendly and supportive. Overall, I enjoyed this race and would definitely recommend it. It was well organized, had a great theme and the location was well suited for the event (no ugly sweater pun intended). I didn’t stay for the awards and prizes, so I don’t know who won for “best in dress.” It sounds like a lot of runners plan to do the “It’s A Wonderful Run” 5k in Seneca Falls in a few weeks. I’ve done that one as well, but my next race is going to be a new one in Hornell instead.  Stay tuned and keep running!

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Race day weather: 30s, cloudy, sprinkles – rain previous to the start. Course could have been slippery – seemed ok.
Course: Flat up and back. Mile and kilometer signs. One water stop.
Time: Noon start
Location: Liverpool, NY (Onondaga Lake)
Amenities:  Real restrooms inside the Barking Gull, parking behind there or across the way
Results: 31:13 (10:03 min mile), 11th in my age/gender range (45-49 female). I don’t have all the stats yet – will post when online.
Benefits: A portion of proceeds and all donations go to the Rescue Mission of Syracuse.
More info on race: https://www.facebook.com/events/587230561446314/

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Race Review: Monster Scramble 5k, Rochester, NY, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016

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“A Wicked Run That’s Wicked Fun” T-shirt from race

I like to run races near Halloween because they’re so festive. It can be tricky to run in costume, but that never stops me.I’ve heard of this race, but never participated until now.The Monster Scramble is a 5k and 10k race that benefits the National MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Society Upstate New York Chapter. Runners could win prizes for their age group, costume or meeting fundraising goals.

In the past, I’ve run Escape from Fright Nights in Syracuse (running from zombies), a Halloween 5k around Green lake in Fayetteville, the Run Like Hell Race in Rochester, Pumpkins in the Park  near Cobbs Hill and a few others. Previous costumes included a Runaway bride (won a prize!), 50s sock hop girl and nurse. I was eager to try a new race and costume!

The race itself was held at Mount Hope Cemetery, adding to the spooky theme. They also offered a one mile walk for families (and their little ones) where they could trick or treat along the way.

The weather has been mild lately, so much so that I’ve been able to ditch the dreadmill and actually run outside in preparation for this run. The morning of the race was in the 40s, mostly cloudy and windy. They had a shuttle you could take to the race, but fortunately for me, my friend works near there, so we parked in a parking garage and walked over. In retrospect, I should have worn long sleeves. Thankfully, I had my hand warmers. Conditions like this cause my hands to get a Raynauds attack, but I was careful and kept my extremities as warm as possible.

For this race, I opted to be a “Lucky” Ladybug, mainly because I got the costume on clearance. It was a size too small, so I had to be creative and buy a tutu and modify it (to be less puffy) as well as sew trim around it (and the sleeves of my tshirt). I’m not much of a seamstress, so I was just hoping it would make it through the race.

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This race not only appealed to me because it was a costume run, but also because you received a tshirt and a finisher’s medal! Normally you have to run much longer distances to get a medal. Yes, I’m all about the swag.

special-logoI’ve never run in the cemetery, and I had heard it was hilly. I’m NOT a fan of running hills. This course definitely had it’s share of uphills. It was uphill in the beginning, and that was tough. I lost some time due to the hills for sure, and the throng of people at the start. There was also cobblestone in some parts, which was a little tricky. The ending was downhill, which was a relief, although there was an uphill part before that. I know hills are good for me, but I dislike them. It was nice to see the cemetery grounds though, and all the costumes. Near the ending, the course veered off for all the people doing the 10k route.

At the end, they had water, bagels, fruit and candy. There were also tables set up with other freebies like water bottles, lip balm, first aid kits. It was a nice family friendly event, and a great cause.

I’m still not a fan of hills, but I was happy with how I did. Ive been able to run each race this year faster than the one before. Continuing to lose weight (one slow pound at a time) helps and makes a difference. I’m not sure when my next race will be. I might do one in December, because I have an ugly Christmas sweater, but it all depends on my weather and mood. I will continue to run inside and outside whenever I can. I currently run twice a day – over 4 miles – split in 2 parts. 

Race day weather: 40s, windy, cloudy – peeks of sun. It had rained the previous 2 days before, but course was pretty dry – lots of leaves.
Course: Paved with cobblestone in parts. Uphill and downhill sections. No mile markers. One water stop.
Time: 10:00 a.m. start
Location: Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY
Results: 34.30 (11.07 minute mile), Overall: 164 out of 319, 21 out of 49 in my age/gender range.

Hope your exercise efforts are going well this fall. Thanks for reading! 

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Back At It – Brighton Chamber of Commerce & Glen Iris 5k

Greetings! I haven’t written for this blog for a few years. Why? Well, I gained a ton of weight and wasn’t able to run. I recommitted to getting the weight off on January 1st. I was able to start running again in June of this year. So far, I’ve run two race since that time. It’s good to be back, although I’m still building up my speed as I continue to lose weight.

brighton5kBrighton Chamber of Commerce 5k
The first race I did this year was the Brighton 5k on July 4th. I’ve done this race before – at a much lower weight. However, my goal this time was just to finish without walking or stopping. Thankfully, I was able to run the whole time. It was a struggle, but I did it. Ever since then, I’ve been running daily – almost 2 miles at lunch and 2 at night.
Course – flat – around neighborhoods, Start & Finish at Brighton high school. Cotton tshirt w/entry. Post race food – bagels, watermelon and bananas.
Results: (so slow, but it is what it is): 37:47 (12:11 min/mile), 418 out of 523 people, 19 out of 26 in age group (female, 45-49), Weather conditions – warm (80?) and sunny. Starting time: 8:00 am.

glenirislogoGlen Iris 5k
This race appealed to me because it starts and finishes at Letchworth State Park. Being a waterfall aficionado and nature lover, this was a big bonus! Not only that, your entry included a tshirt and boxed lunch from the Glen Iris Inn. The race benefits a library.
Course –  starts at Trout Pond and “proceeds along the park road adjacent to the Genesee River Gorge, before turning into a wooded back road leading to the finish line at Trailside Lodge.” They said this was a flat course, but I would slightly disagree. It was mostly flat with some downhill parts and slightly rolling uphill parts.

Results: 36:15 (11:41 min/mile). I don’t have overall or age group, as those aren’t online yet – will add when they are. Weather conditions – Muggy, high 70s, maybe 80, slight breeze at times. Starting time: 10:00 am.
I was also nervous for this race because:
1) Not as many people run it as did the Brighton 5k, and the odds of me finishing closer to the back of the pack were much higher.
2) The warm/humid weather conditions were not my ideal. At the same time, I kept telling myself to do the best I could, keep going and remember, I am 20 lbs. lighter than I was at the Brighton race 2 months ago.

I was hoping to improve my race time a lot, but the mugginess definitely got to me, and I still have weight to lose. Running is hard when you’re heavy! Even so, this was a nice race – friendly people, cool age group prizes (local pottery – bowls and mugs) and I won natural peanut butter (from a local company).

Future Races/Status
This race was my 75th race since I started running! However, I don’t plan to do dozens of races like I did in the past. I get too stressed out and the cost adds up. That being said, I do plan to continue running and losing this weight. A new rule for me at races is also to control myself with the post race food – no junk and eating back the calories I just burned! Although I will say that the boxed lunch was delicious and I scarfed it down. Due to that, I have to have a tiny dinner (sigh…).

So, how about you? How is your racing season going? Hopefully, your running and fitness efforts and goals are going well this year. Thank you for reading this and supporting my blog and journey back to health. 🙂 #fitby50 #keepgoing

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JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Rochester, NY 5-29-14

3476 This is one of those races that everyone should experience at least once. There’s just something about running, jogging or walking with 10,900+ other people that’s cool. Rochester is fortunate to be one of the tour stops for the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge. This race is not a 5k (3.1 miles), but measures in at a little longer at 3.5 miles.  It’s an event intended to promote workplace fitness. Companies with teams of four or more can participate. It also has a charity aspect, green initiative and t-shirt contest connected to it.

This event holds special significance to me because it was the second race I ever ran (back in 2007). I ran it two more times after that, and then the company I was working for stopped participating. Flash forward to 2014, and my new employer signed up for it. Sadly, I have not been running at all. I’m too heavy to do so, so I knew I would be walking the event. Yes, this was bittersweet. Nevertheless, it was still amazing to see the sea of people. Hopefully, this will inspire me to get back to that healthy place where I used to be.
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The course itself is relatively flat, except for one brief hilly part. It takes you around the whole campus at the Rochester Institute of Technology (my alma mater!). Many years ago, the race was held by Highland Park, but they outgrew that location.

3452Weather can be an issue for this event. Since this is Rochester, where you can get snow one day and 90 degree temperatures the next, you have to be prepared for anything. One year it was freezing, the following year it was beyond humid, and another year had torrential rains (that was one of the years I ran it). I do remember a beautiful rainbow at the end, making it all worthwhile. We lucked out this year with great walking/running weather and temperatures in the 60s.

New to the race since I ran it in 2010 was chip timing. Previously, the race had been self-timed. The first year I ran it (2007), I finished in 43:29 (bad). I improved a lot the next year, shaving over 9 minutes off my time (34:13). In 2010, I ran it in about the same time (34:27). I timed myself (Garmin watch). The trick to that (back then) was that you did not start your watch until you got up to the starting mat – which could be up to TEN minutes after the starting gun went off. Yes, there were that many people!
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You’re supposed to line up according to your expected pace per mile (8 minute, 9 minute, etc.), but many people didn’t do that and lined up by flags nowhere near their actual pace. So, you end up dodging and weaving around walkers and slower people. It can be annoying, but at the same time, I can understand people’s confusion if they’ve never run before and don’t even know their pace. In that case, you should line up near the slower paced flags. And, if you’ve never really run, you might be in for a bit of surprise when you realize that 3.5 miles is longer than you think. A lot of people who started out running way too fast had to slow down or stop and walk. None of that was an issue for me this year since I started with the walkers in the back.  I don’t even want to say how I did this year (bad, slow, walking, ugh).
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Girls on the Run – love the capes! This is a group I volunteer with. http://www.girlsontherun.org/

The logistics of getting to the race can be a bit tricky. You have to leave early and parking on campus is only allowed for your company’s team captain. The organizers highly recommend taking a shuttle (various locations). A new shuttle at the Dome Arena was added this year. The shuttle cost $1 (one way, no payment needed on the trip back). The race started at 7 pm, but most people get there well before that to socialize and warm up.

There’s a lot to love about this race, including its most unique aspect – the company participation and camaraderie. Where else will you see people from over 450 companies in one place? There are companies of all sizes – the big names of course – University of Rochester, Wegmans, Paychex, etc. and then smaller, lesser known organizations. There are tents everywhere. Not everyone runs. Many employees hang out to watch and support their coworkers, drink and eat. You can smell the food cooking as you’re running. It’s a great place to to network, party, bond with your coworkers and have a good time – all for a good cause and as a way to promote health and fitness.

3524I was disappointed in myself for not being able to run this race. I am proud I did participate (even if it was just walking) and want to make it a goal to be able to run this distance with ease next year. It was nice to get to know my new coworkers better (two ran, the rest walked) and hang out in the tent before and after the race.
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Pros: Good course, great team building event, unique, fun to be in/watch, party atmosphere
Cons: Parking (although shuttle service is very organized), Not a race to choose if you want to run your best time. Faster runners are packed in like sardines at times – you will be weaving around people.
Website: http://www.jpmorganchasecc.com
Cost: $34 (Many employers will pay some or all of this fee for their employees)
Amenities: You get a finishers t-shirt, but many organizations make their own as well. Post race snacks (bananas, water). Porta potties on site.
Race Results: Individual Times are sent to you and you can scan the QR code on your bib. Runner tracking also available.
Media coverage (articles/videos/photos): Democrat & Chronicle, Slideshow, Wham13, News10NBC, WROC TV 8 (more to come as I find them)
Charity: Hillside
Best Sign: “Worst Parade Ever”
Cool Factor: Drones taking pictures of the crowd
Winners: Male: Mike Heymann (16:55) Female: Morgan Burrows (19:53)
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How cool is this? A drone capturing the crowd! I need to find the photos from this.

The next race on my calendar is the Foam Fest 5k. Not sure how much I will be able to do (run/walk), but I will be there to at least capture the event. Now that the weather is finally nice again, I really have no excuse to not get out there.

How about you – how are your running and fitness plans going? If you ran/walked this race, I would love to hear about it!

Thanks for reading, and, until next time, see you on the roads! 🙂

(Scroll down for a few more photos)

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