Red, White, Boom and a BBQ!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Red White and Boom Half Marathon 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!

July 4th has come and gone, BBQs and fireworks have happened, and I finally knocked off Minnesota off my 50 state half list. Last week, I headed off to Minneapolis for the Red, White and Boom Half Marathon. It was my first half marathon on a holiday and my first weekday half marathon race (it only took 90+ half marathons!). I spent Tuesday getting caught up on adulting (microwave delivered, fuse blown that required an electrician and a worn out Moe the cat).

I flew out to Minneapolis Wednesday morning and got in just before noon. I arrived to some pretty humid MSP weather and Ubered my way over to packet pick up at Summit Brewery in St. Paul (10 minutes from the airport). Had a fun conversation with my driver and who else gets to say packet pick up is at a Brewery?! Pick up was small, which I was ok with. I’m a fan of no frills pick ups where you’re in and out, not pressured to buy anything. They did have some gear for purchase and bib look up. Beer fan? Beer tastings were available too!

I headed over to my hotel in downtown Minneapolis, just a short walk from the start. After checking in, I found some lunch and explored downtown some. I went for a quick shake out run in the hotel because of 90* and humid weather. After some dinner, I hung out in the hotel room for a little bit and went to Whole Foods (because let’s face it, I wish I had one in eastern Washington) to find some pre race breakfast for the 4th. Because of the heat and humidity, the race was good about communicating with us about race updates, which is always appreciated.

Race morning started bright and early. The half marathon started at 630 AM and the 5K started at 6:50. For quite a while, I was worried we were going to get rained on, though we got lucky, in that the rain held off until after noon. Because of the humidity and weather, we actually started out as a yellow flag on the EAS system and runners were given the option to downgrade from the half/relay to the 5K at no cost. While in the starting corrals, I actual ran into Mary Jo (a fellow Bibrave Pro) and we chatted prior to the start. The start was at the Mills Ruin Park and it’s actually in a residential area. The organizers are mindful of the community, so there wasn’t loud music or an MC on the microphone due to it being so early. After the national anthem, we were off and running. We went through West River Park and Theodore Wirth Parkway until you got to Victory Park before making your way back through the streets of Minneapolis. Be ready for some hills the first part of the race (all before mile 6), some fun facts along the way and some fun people and volunteers along the course. By 9 miles in, we were red flagged to run with extreme caution, but overall, us 2000 runners were able to finish. Aid stations every 1.5-2 miles, though with the humidity, every mile would have been nice to have. Something I did miss were something like oranges or bananas, or even sponges. The last 2 miles were back along the Mississippi River where we started with the finish being across the Stone Arch Bridge (lined with flags)

The race finish was hopping and the place to be. It was a big old BBQ and a party waiting for runners to finish. You were met with medals, water, chocolate milk and popsicles at the finish (red, white and blue of course). The post race party was filled with games (corn hole and hanging donut contests), post race recovery, BBQ and a whole bunch of family fun. There was plenty to do for runners, family and friends a like!

Overall, a fun race and a race to look at for Minnesota. Looking for a holiday race with a great post race party?? Come looking at this one! Great communication, good course. I bu wish there were a few more aid stations on course. Be prepared for some humid weather, but be prepared for it in the midwest. Great people, great atmosphere and a fun time

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Red White and Boom! Coming for you Minneapolis

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Red White and Boom Half Marathon 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!”

Minneapolis. I’m so familiar with their airport, I know where all their restaurants are and their terminals are like the back of my hand (because hey, traveling to the East Coast on certain airlines puts you through MSP multiple times a year). The last time I actually got to enjoy MSP was when I ran a 15K at least 5 years ago. I’ve been looking for a half marathon to get Minnesota off my half marathon list so why not a mid week half marathon over the 4th of July to get it done?

I’m beyond excited to run the Red White and Boom half marathon. All of my half marathons have been weekend races, so a mid week race will be interesting to say the least (get my long run done early??). Twin Cities Racing puts on a decent amount of races in The Minneapolis/St.Paul area and I cant wait to go out for a few days.

Red, White and Boom is a two day event and the half marathon takes you along the West River Parkway, Victory Park and Stone Park Bridge. Post race? Enjoy a cook out at the post race party and fireworks to celebrate July 4! A local? Be sure to visit Summit Brewing Company leading up to the race.

Want to start off the 4th right? Register for the half or 5 k here! Use 18RWBBIBRAVE to save 5% off the half marathon or 5K (to the first 50 registrants from each distance!)

 

Race Review: Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis

Disclaimer: I received entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis 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 ran the Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis, head over here on BiBrave to review it!

This weekend was my first race I ran with entry from BibRave and I couldn’t have asked for better weather! I had the opportunity to run the Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis on Saturday. I’ve run 2 previous Hot Chocolate 15Ks (DC in 2011, Columbus last November) and heading into yesterday was batting .500 with good/bad experiences (oh DC).

I flew out from Cleveland Friday morning after presenting Grand Rounds for work. I had a lay over in Chicago and was able to get some food prior to making the trip out to Minneapolis. I headed out and caught my Super Shuttle, which took me to my hotel downtown ($16 compared to a $40 cab). The bonus was that the hotel was right next to the convention center where packet pick up was. I walked over and easily found my way up packet pick up.

Something I like about Hot Chocolate 15Ks is that they send you a link with your registration that brings up your QVC. You save it on your phone (in my case, it was saved in my Passbook since I have an iPhone) and when arrive for bib pick up, they scan it and it pulls up your information. They take a bib and the sticker that is spit out from their computer with your distance (15k vs 5k) and your corral. They send you into the expo to pick up your sweatshirt jacket. Pink for women, green for men (unless your me who isn’t a pink fan, then you order a men’s jacket). I do wish they would come up with another color for the women. Just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I like pink.  The expo was small. It had some national vendors (Lara Bars, Bondi Bands i think) and one of the local running stores and a few other stations. They also gave a small hint of what to expect treat wise on course.

I did some exploration afterwards and found some dinner. Ultimately, I called it a night and set a bajillion alarms on my phone. I did appreciate that the 15K started at 850 AM (which was 950 AM on my Eastern Standard Time body). I woke up around 7 and put on my gear and headed out. I was going to use one of the public bike shares, but I was stopped by another runner who thought I looked like I was doing the race. We ultimately decided to split a cab and were joined by 2 college volunteers. The start was at Boom Island Park, a good 2 miles from where I was staying. We got there with plenty of time to spare, and time to use the bathrooms more than once. Most people who drove in parked on the other side of the river and walked over, others used the bike valet the race had set up.

The 5K runners were sent off first at 810, followed by the 15K runners 40 minutes later. I personally would have done it the other way around just to get the 15K runners enough time to be done. Corrals were sent off every 2 minutes or so. The first little bit was in an industrial park or something along those lines. We got out to the street and had some turns before getting on Marshall Ave. About 1.5 miles in, we had our first water stop with chocolate marshmallows. I should really start carrying those for my long runs, because they do work. We kept chugging along passing mile 2, eventually heading across the Mississippi River. It reminded me of going over the bridges during the NYC Marathon in 2011 and the hills that came with it. After the 5K, more hydration and this time, tootsie rolls (which I passed on). We kept on down Washington Street and really didn’t get to see Minneapolis downtown until 5-6 miles in. I was moving slow for me (my own fault for too much walking the day before, and I have 3 half marathons coming up). Somewhere along the 3rd water stop after mile 5, I had water dumped on me, which was a shock to the system. I definitely enjoyed the view of the city, though I wish I would have been able to run through it. We passed the 10K mark and went out and back along another bridge before heading through some of the park and finally across the bridge back towards the start. We headed down Main St. towards Boom Island park, only to deal with what felt like a ramp with a ginormous hill on dead legs right before mile 8. We did get some fans, especially towards the end. We finally hit Booms Park and the finish, which was appreciated.

After the finish, the 15K runners were met with medals and then had about a 1/4 mile walk to the post race area where people could meet families, Ronald McDonald House had a kid zone, some vendors, and of course, chocolate.

After sitting for a bit, I ended up trucking 2 miles back to my hotel and enjoying a $1 million shower. I took the afternoon to enjoy some baseball (and forgot to translate the start time into CST, meaning I missed the first 2.5 innings). After church and dinner, I chilled out in the hotel before waking up for a 7:25 flight back home.

Overall, it was a decent race, however, I think a few things could be different. I think the big thing is the course/location. With the race being in Boom Island Park, there’s no easy way to get there. For people who drove, they had to park across the Mississippi River and walk over. If you biked, you had a place to leave it at the race. If you had no idea where to go, you either cabbed it over or walked in.  I didn’t really get to see Minneapolis either. I would have opted for an earlier start time and more of a traffic diversion of downtown to see the city and have it easier to get to.  I thought the post race stuff was a bit far from the finish, but there was the space to spread out. More than enough port a potties, water stops and support staff, no issues with safety at all. If you get a chance, run it!

Please don’t forget to go to Bibrave to review the race yourself!

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