“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Soldier Field 10 mile race 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 2016 race took place on Saturday May 28. The race started at 7 am. It was sunny and humid, starting in the 70’s – highs of 80 for the day.
Ram Racing took over the event for 2016
This was the second year I would be running the event.
GEAR – Bibrave shirt, Bibrave Technical hat, UV Full Buff, Blue Sparkle Athletic skirt, USA procompression socks, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID, Moving Comfort Bra, 2 Toms, Adidas Shorts, Brooks ghost 8, Disney race belt, Aftershockz Trek Titanium
Registration: Available online, super early pricing starting around $50, increasing to $90 near race day. You could also register at various packet pick up locations, until race was sold out. Included with registration was an Under Armor, gender specific tech tee, bib with timing chip, post race tailgate party with a beer.
The shirts were nice, but I thought a bit roomy.
Expo / Packet Pickup: No traditional expo. Many packet pick up times. A week before the race pickups were held at Fleet Feet stores in the suburbs. The week of the race you could pick up your stuff starting on Tuesday, daily through Friday at the Fleet Feet in Old Town. A friend could also grab your things if they had the confirmation email. No race day packet pickup.
Josh (who was running this with me) and I had our packets mailed to us for a $15 fee. This was a lot easier for us who do not live near the city.
Pre-race: As the race is centered around Soldier Field, you get all the amenities that come with the location. Gear check was inside the south end of Soldier Field, clear bags were provided when you picked up your packet. The bathroom facilities were also open, in addition to many port-o-potties lined up outside. Parking was free in the stadium too, and the nearby lot (however it was advised to arrive early)
The official race start is at 7 am, but many 3 waves with lots of corrals. The pre-race time can really stretch out. However the entrance to the corrals is near the post race tailgate area, making it easy to meet up with friends and hang out before you need to head to the corrals. The waves closed at a certain time, but you could start at a later corral.
The pre race announcements were over a loud speaker that could be heard throughout the area. A version of taps was played followed by the National Anthem.
Josh and I stayed downtown Chicago, and just ubered to the stadium. We met up with some Chicago area running friends & Bibrave pals, then proceeded to our corrals. I did not see anyone monitoring the bibs to gain entrance to the corrals.
The pre-race announcements are very moving for this race. Lots of nice things said and reasons to remember the fallen. Great tribute to the military.
Course / Race: The race was on the streets (south Lake Shore Drive) and lake front path, heading south, then turning back around into the city.
- Flat, some bridges, but nothing steep
- paved, potholes
- section through McCormick place, dark and lots of potholes, had to be alert
- crowded start, even though started on street, didn’t thin out til Lake Shore Dr
- miles marked with signs and a time clock
- Hydration stations with Nuun and water, in paper cups
- no food or gel on course
- street portions were closed to traffic, lake from path had recreational use (bikes, walkers, runners)
- lake front path had trail / gravel to run on in sections
- Free race photos
- Not many spectators, but TNT coaches were along the course
- Lots of volunteers
- course well marked, even the turn around on the grass.
- Finish on the 50 yard line of Soldier Field
This year they switched to Nuun hydration, I personally don’t care for it, but it’s not as mainstream, so at the first water stop I heard volunteers yelling “Gatorade” -I just shook my head…there were also some stations where the Nuun and water were in different cups, but some in the same cups.
I will never be a fan of the McCormick Tunnel, and with it being the main artery to many races in Chicago, I have yet to figure out why they can’t add more lights, it’s too dark and not safe. At least the potholes, for the most part were filled in. I just need to come to terms that this tunnel will always suck.
My Race: I just wanted to finish, I was coming off a crazy weekend of running for the United Relay, and this was going to be my first race of the weekend. Josh and I were headed to Madison, WI for a 10k that night and a half the next day. It was also warm and humid. I didn’t push it, but kept a nice steady pace, finished in a time of 1:41:55. I wish I had brought some Gatorade along, as I was starting to get a headache after this race.
Post Race / Finish: The big draw for this race is running into the bellows of Soldier Field, then crossing the north end zone to finish on the 50 yard line. This year Beyonce was in town, and had a concert the Friday night before the race, and then again Saturday night. The concert staging was set up, and the entire field was covered with concert protection.
Instead of running into the north end of the Stadium, to then cross the 50 yard line, once you entered the stadium this year, you ran alongside the field under the stands, then entered the field to zig zag to the finish, which you would assume was on the 50 yard line.
When you cross the finish, a member of the military places a medal around your neck.
The finisher’s chute and overall area is in the south end zone, while it’s encouraged you move along to the tailgate party, it is ok to snap a few photos as you collect a bottle of water. Most spectators of the race can observe the finish in the stands.
Once you proceed off off the field and through a tunnel, you are given the option to chose a cup of Nuun. There is no re-entry into the stadium, must decide if you want to watch finishers or go to post race party. There were service members available for a photo. Also on the way out was gear check, to pick up your bags.
Once outside the stadium, finishers were handed a plastic bag, pre-filled with chips, a mini Clif bar and a banana, easy to carry all the things. Volunteers were also handing out a cold wet towel. There were a few vendors with samples on the walk to the tailgate party, and the BTN was there with a slip N slide.
I was not impressed with the finish this year, it seemed like we were running forever inside Soldier Field, and once we were on the field, there was no field, all concert stage, and you were not headed towards the jumbo tron, until you crossed the actual finish line. Hopefully next year the place wont be over booked.
Josh found me at the finish line, and because it was hot, made sure to grab some bottled water. We took a few pictures and exited the field We were excited to get the post race bag, but were disappointed when it lacked in items and it wasn’t re-usable.
Tailgate Party: The party had a lot to offer, there was a live band. Clif bar, picture opportunities, post race massage, spin to win, skin cancer screenings. You could also redeem your beer ticket on your bib for a 312 in a can. There were no chairs, but you could sit in the grass, shade was available.
Josh and I found fellow Pro Kim and Hawkeye fan Jake, as we waited for Heather and Marge to finish. It was nice to listen to the band. I really wish races had actual places to sit afterwards, but we found shade, so that was good.
Overall: The price is a bit steep, but a flat course and scenes along the lake make it a fun race to start summer. Finishing on the 50 yard line of Solider Field is cool, but only if nothing else is going on inside.