Excellent race to signup for next year on March 11th, 2017!
The pricing of the event was spot-on for local races in the Elkhart area. You were able to signup online or on race day with ease.
Packet Pickup Experience:
The packet-pickup experience was a breeze at this race with the race organizer helping out checking runners in and handing them the t-shirts/swag. Plenty of volunteers were on-hand to handle the crowd control and greet the participants. The location and time of packet-pickup was right on with plenty of parking space. The time frame of packet pickup was manageable for working families to attend after work. The race also provided race day packet up which is a great option too.
The race provided a tech t-shirt for the running participants. Nice t-shirt to wear on a normal day or exercise in. The swag was standard with racing information about upcoming local races and a nice coupon for Fleet Feet in Mishawaka, Indiana.
You arrive at the race site that is directly downtown Elkhart. The start line is actually in the parking lot of the Elkhart Plaza. On the far left side of the parking lot are the portal-potties lineup that were adequate for the number of runners and families. Race registration on race day was in and out very fast with plenty of volunteers on hand.
Start of the Race:
The race started on time which is very important for experienced runners who are warming up to run at the designated start time. I love a race that has an introductory speech in the beginning that explain about the CAUSE in this case the SarahStrong Foundation. The race is a physical activity for runners but it has a deeper overall meaning for provide support and funds for a wonderful cause.
The course had a great mixture of road and cement bike/walk paths that winded through the river area and a cool wooden bridge to run over. The course provided ample room for runners to space out and get a solid running rhythm. The one downfall of the course was the race started in a parking lot with a semi-quick turn to the right side but everything else was spectacular in terms of the course. The course had very little elevation and a great race if you want to avoid major hills or trying to achieve a 5K PR with the knowledge you will have a few turns on the course.
Aid Stations/Crowd Support/ Mark Course
The water stations were spaced out appropriately for the 5K race and crowd support was not huge but it helped very much for runners to see some fans through the course. The course had two ways of highlighting the route with road signs and chalk on the ground. Absolutely NO WAY to get lost on this course. The race director had crowd support at every possible area where someone could make a wrong turn. I felt totally safe at every cross walk that were well-guarded by volunteers to manage the car traffic. I just kept running with no hesitation because it was clearly being watched by volunteers at any possible intersection.
The course was pretty much right on target to being 3.1 miles for the 5K. Minor adjustments if you zig-zagged or cut tangents.
Awards/ Post Race Food
The awards were conducted at an adequate pace. The unique part of the award ceremony was the Kids run participants got to lineup and be introduced as a group with the age finishers and overall winners. At most races the Kids get the medal right after the race with no ceremony. The awards were a medal for the top 3 age group finishers. Overall winners (Top 3 for male and female) in each event of the 5k and 10K got a plastic trophy that had the trophy design. Cool medal and trophy. You also had the opportunity when you got home to get a cool paper design printout of your finishers time.
The food was standard for a local race but the race director pulled on the heartstrings of ice cream lovers by having a local vendor serve a small cup of yogurt/ice cream to whoever wanted it for free.
Overall Experience / Recommendation
If you are looking for a local race to shakeout the winter blues, just know that if you signup on March 11th, 2017 you will have a course that is well-marked, right distance, and well managed. This race has improved every year and the race director/race management team is ready to put on another great race in 2017!
The race director throughout the year provided race discounts at certain times to lower the cost of the race, so be on the lookout and checkout the Sarah Strong Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Sarahstrongrun/?fref=ts
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