Monster Dash 1/2 Marathon (2011) – GUEST Race Review

I have heard many mixed reviews on the Monster Dash in Chicago.  Some people have made comments about loving it and loving the course while others absolutely thought it was one of the most poorly run races in the CHI.  I have never personally ran the race as it is always on Halloween Weekend and my mommy/family duties always trump my own desires any other weekend plans.  Since I couldn’t personally run, I begged put out a request to my friends at the Frankfort Running Club for a Guest Review of the race.  They had a rather large group of runners who had been excitedly planning for the day forever for the last several weeks and I had hoped that somebody would help me out.  The following photos and review are from Susan D. of the Frankfort Running Club.  Thanks so much Susan for helping me out; I really appreciate it!   

Cheers,                                                                                                                         Amanda – TooTallFritz

Race Report by Susan D. – Frankfort Running Club

What could make for a better Saturday morning than waking up before dawn—after an anxious night of sleep — to take the 6:14 train into Chicago for the Monster Dash?  Hoping on the train with a motley crew of runners was the perfect way to start my weekend.  Our group consisted of both beginning and veteran runners, some as young as 6th grade (one of my former third grade students!) some as old as, well…me.  A few of us were doing the Monster Dash Half Marathon, and others were doing the 5K.  And yes, there were costumes involved.  I proudly rode the train with a keg of beer (costume of course, although there was some real beer involved!), as well as a tube of Preparation H, otherwise known as “The Official Ass Cream.”  I myself was not brave enough to wear a costume, but I was much inspired by the creativity of others!

Once we arrived in Chicago, it was a short walk to Grant Park, but a long, cold wait for the run to begin.  Along the way, we got several strange looks and many “thumbs up” for the tube of ass cream roaming the streets with us.  I was feeling a little lame that I showed up in a running skirt and Halloween shirt.  Plus the people wearing costumes looked warm and cozy!

When the run finally started, those of us doing the half marathon were separated from the 5K group.   The first few miles are always tedious.  Why do people get in the 9:00 pace group when they are going to start walking right in front of you at mile two?  So after some weaving and zigzagging, we were finally able to hit a rhythm at mile three.

Now this course wasn’t really flat and smooth.  There were a fair share of potholes, puddles, grassy surfaces, and inclines that we had to overcome, but three of us who trained together managed to stay together for the entire run.  During our practice runs, we kept a steady conversation, but not today.  There were a few sentences – maybe a few swear words – uttered here and there, but the focus was on…well, staying focused.  And it was getting warm.  Suddenly my Halloween t-shirt didn’t seem so lame.  Those costumes that looked so snuggly now looked suffocating.

At the 7 mile turnaround (good God, was it ever going to arrive?), the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier looked so far away.  By mile 10, I was starting to think about a tall frosty beer.  And I don’t really drink.  Costume watching kept me occupied for a while.  I could admire the creativity of the “Hooter Girls”/Guys that were running in front of me, but then I started to get angry that two guys in tight orange shorts both had a better butt than me.  So I worked up enough anger to pass them. 

The home stretch wasn’t too bad, and it was fun to be greeted at the finish by our friends who ran the 5K.  But wait…how come they got trick-or-treat candy at their water stops and we didn’t? 

We decided to catch a later train home and refuel at Kitty O’Shays.  The train ride home was filled with fun stories and new friendships, and nothing can beat that on a Saturday morning that started out dreary and dark, but ended up crisp and sunny.  And when I finally got home, I didn’t care how much they hurt my feet, but I put on my high heeled boots and went out to celebrate with a night on the town.  But ouch…my feet sure did hurt on Sunday morning!

Susan D.

TooTallFritz Readers – Please post your own experiences on the Monster in the comments section!  I’d  love to hear your thoughts as well! 

Thanks,                                                                                                                           Amanda – TooTallFritz

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7 thoughts on “Monster Dash 1/2 Marathon (2011) – GUEST Race Review

  1. Couldn’t have said it better myself, Susan! The group of people we had made the day. So much fun to run with a group that is absolute positivity, regardless of anyone’s distance, pace, injuries, etc. Just get out and enjoy the time with some new (for me at least) friends and get some exercise in the process. This being my first half marathon (which never would’ve happened without the encouragement of the FRC) I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it sure was nice having the support of the group those last couple of miles.

    As for the race itself, the course could definitely use some work…it was all on the Lakeshore trail, so not nearly wide enough, particularly at the start, for 3,000+ runners. And since it wasn’t dedicated solely to the Monster Dash runners, the oncoming traffic (including at least one rude cyclist) made for some additional challenges on top of the tight turns, potholes, bumps in the trail, and then of course the off-roading through portions of Lincoln Park. If they are able to get the race on city streets, it would be much better all around, although there is something to be said about running along the lakefront, at least on a nice day.

    The only other critique I would have is that they promoted it as a fun, festival-like environment post-race, but it never really felt that way. Basically just get done with the race, wait for the rest of the group (sneak a little champagne…) and then that was it. I for one love the party atmosphere at events like the Shamrock Shuffle or the Warrior Dash or Spartan Race, something about drinking a nice cold beer right after a race.

    That said, our own little FRC celebration was perfect, carrying on to Kitty O’Shea’s and then the train ride home. Overall, a fantastic day. I know next year we’ll have more running the Half than the 5k, making it even better. Now to start thinking about another first…triathlon anyone???

  2. I also wanted to comment on the Monster dash. I did not see a mile marker after mile 9 and that killed me! I need to know where I am at.

  3. Numbers By Crazy Boy

    207, # of workouts to date
    222, # of workout hours
    1,711 Total miles = 38, Swim miles 1146, cycle mile 527 run miles
    134,750 Calories Burned
    ??? # of beers consumed
    1, 70.3 Triathlon
    5, weeks between 70.3 tri and 26.1 marathon
    8, # of new running friends made this year.

    After my season, the Monster Dash was a fun run party!! I was a tattooed guy in a beer keg with beer glasses!! I had some help being Crazy Boy, the above mentioned Ass Cream, Beer Bottle, Kitty, Mustard and Ketchup where there to. Strangers took pictures of us. We even entered the costume contest. The live band sounded great!! There was one thing missing, beer tent!! I’m glad I brought my own!

    It warmed my heart to be there to support my “new” friends. One not so new friend completed her 2nd 13.1 in one year. Having run a marathon injured last year, I was proud of the Ass Cream for completing the 13.1. I watched Ms. 9:30 kick butt in a race she didn’t think she wanted to train for. Then the big guy, who put the nerves aside and killed it. Thanks for the champagne, btw!!

    The course, well it is what it is. Not the smoothest or widest. It’s funny though, the finish line and the party afterwards helps you forget u almost tripped and fell into Lake Michigan…

    Crazy Boy DiG

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