Note: I was given entry to this race as a BibRave Pro. However the opinion of this race is my own. I also have a review at bibrave.com.
The personal section is at the end. Grab some popcorn, this is long
Sunday July 20, 2014. Chicago, IL. 70 ish degrees, high humidity. Partly Cloudy. 6:30 am
Registration: Available online and at the expo. In the price range of $100. Included with your fees were a Brooks short sleeve tech tee, timing chip,finishers medal & post race beer.
Expo: The expo was held at the McCormick Center. Parking was pricey, but you could also get there by bus. It would be quite a walk from downtown. The expo was held near the back of the center, lot of walking just to get to it. It was the usual, lots of vendors, free samples, pushy sales people & photo opportunities. It was also easy to pick up your bib and get your shirt, there was even a shirt exchange for the half.
Pre-race: The race had about 17,000 runners, so there were a lot of people milling about Columbus St. There were port-o-potties and if you signed up for the $120 VIP package you could use special bathrooms. The gear check was easy, organized by race number, but any bag was permissible, which could be a security concern. Parking would have been available near downtown Chicago, which is pricey. There were 36 corrals, the bib numbers reflected your placement, no one was checking bibs, many people in the wrong corrals. The 5k also started with the half. The National Anthem was sung live and then the race started, in waves with about 2 minutes between each
Race / Course:
- The race was run through downtown Chicago and along Lake Michigan. It started by snaking through downtown, the streets were paved or asphalt, many in need of repair, or a man hole cover could have tripped a runner up.
- There were a lot of people, but beyond the start is was never too crowded, the streets were wide enough for everyone to have space. In fact maybe too wide as the 5k timing mat could have been missed as it didn’t stretch across the entire street.
- There were spectators, many with signs, but there were also long boring stretches with no spectators.
- No bands were on the course until between mile 5 & 6, there was a stage near mile 2 with some performers. Word on the street is the city didn’t want the bands down town. However when there was a band, each of them were rocking! There was a DJ near mile 10, he was the party, had speakers stretched out, so you could hear him for a while.
- Each mile was marked.
- There were water & lemon lime Gatorade stations, all in paper cups. Water was always in the white cup, Gatorade in a green Gatorade cup. Some of the aid stations were behind on keeping the cups filled, or they were lacking in adult supervision.
- One Gu stop, but no food on the course.
- There was a misting station and a wet sponge station, but I didn’t see any other advertised cooling stations.
- The course was flat, there were bridge overpass incline & declines, but nothing steep. The last 3 miles were near the lake front path which was narrow. Also to get to this point had to cross a grass section, if it were raining it would have been a muddy mess. Also had to run through the “tunnel” at the McCormick center, it was dark and the surface was uneven, easy to trip.
- Marathonfoto was on course taking pictures.
- The finish was easy to spot with a clock and giant arch.
Post – Race: Medals were handed to you. A tub of bottle water was first available and a wet towel. There were bottles of gatorade, chocolate milk, bananas, bags of granola, pretzels & powerbars. Off to the side sat a tent with boxes of covered bagels, which no one handed out. Encouraged to move along and go to the post race party / family reunion area. En route to this area there were vendors with free samples. Once to the party area there was a stage with a band performing, the beer tent (Michelob Ultra was the post race beer), medal engraving and many more sponsors with samples. Not many areas with shade.
Overall: I would only recommend this race if you want to get the medal for your collection. It was pricey and there was nothing too special about it.
Personal: I started the day with 5 pre-race miles at 4:30 am. I was staying with Bari and she is training for the Detroit marathon, and 18 were on her schedule for the day. We were able to finish the 5 in plenty of time before the race, so I stopped and got a bagel and coffee at the nearby Dunkin Donuts.
One of the 5k’s was also being ran with the half marathon. However this year they added a Saturday 5k too, so you could get an additional medal. That 5k race took place Saturday morning, which would have meant an additional hotel room stay.
This was not my race. I was going to run it for fun, expecting things to see and picture opportunities along the way. However I didn’t stop for anything fun. There was only one theater marquee lit, pockets of spectators, and only 6 or 7 bands. I even ran without music, I overheard someone say “This is the quietest Rock N Roll ever!” The lack of bands did make for a boring course. I did hear lots of runners’ music though, through their head phones, people turn it down!
Also all the turns and twists of downtown Chicago weren’t to great, I thought maybe there would be fun store fronts or groups of businesses supporting the race, but there was nothing. Also the last part along the lake was minimal, most of it was on the highway near the lake.
I am not sure if was because I ran a total of almost 19 miles ( my Garmin had 13.64) or the fact that it was humid, but I posted my 3rd worst half marathon time ever. I hope this isn’t clouding my judgement of the race. I had a time of 2:19 or something, I don’t want to remember it, lol.
Really all the organization was fine, but it just didn’t do anything for me. The medal is cool though. I was happy to get to run the race and experience it for myself. I just don’t see me running it again.
The best part for me was the VIP access I scored with the Run Westin Concierge (yay twitter!) At the post race party area we were granted access to a tent, (shade!) with fresh fruit, trail mix, bagels, peanut butter, tea, juice, water, coffee & free massage if you wanted to wait.
After all was said and done, I met up with the BibRave group for some post race drinks. It was nice to collectively recap the race and put names to twitter faces.