Each year, the Chicago Half Marathon also offers a 5K option. Since I’m slowly coming off the injury train, this was the option I chose for 2012. It was the first time that I’ve ever participated in the 5K and it was a great experience. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is going down to watch the half marathon or those who are looking for a nice fast 5K course.
First, I was very happy that the half marathoners started 45 minutes before the start of the 5K. This allowed me plenty of time to watch everyone cross the start, plus snap a few
blurry photos of my friends as they passed. Once the Half Marathoners cleared the start, I then dropped my bag and had time to run a very slow 1 mile warm-up, stretch my unbelievably tight hamstrings and hit the start line with a few minutes to spare.
The timing was perfect in my opinion! What wasn’t so perfect was my decision to not press a little closer to the start line for the 5K. I knew my fitness wasn’t up to par and I knew I wouldn’t be running real fast; therefore, I didn’t want to get too close to the start and interrupt anyone who was planning to go out hard and race for real. That being said, I need to realize that my “not so fast” pace is still faster than many others, particularly those who are planning to walk the entire 5K. It was definitely amateur hour at the start of the 5K. Nothing wrong with that, I just didn’t have the
endurance extra energy to weave around so many people. My first mile split beeped before I could even see the 1 mile clock due to all my weaving and bopping around the walkers and slower runners. Totally my fault and since I was in no shape to race, it wasn’t a problem but definitely something I’ll remember for the next 5K I run downtown.
The 5K course was through the Jackson Park area, former site of the 1890 World’s Fair, in Hyde Park.
There were long straights with very few turns, lots of shade and plenty of space to run after you found your
rightful spot in the pack rhythm. There was one water station around mile 2 and then the finish was in the same location as the half marathon, which I thought was a nice touch, helping the 5K runners feel part of the entire event. The 5K finishers then received a medal for their accomplishment and loads of snacks/drinks to refuel. See the 5K SWAG pic below, which includes the cotton tee (half marathoners received a long sleeve tech shirt):
The Chicago Half & Hyundai Hope on Wheels 5k also gave a virtual goodie bag. I know the jury is still out on the idea of virtual race bags but I like them. I tend to throw out 99% of the literature in the race bag so love the idea of just being able to download the coupons/literature that I want out of the bag and not worry about the rest.
This race also features a huge area for gear check so the lines didn’t ever appear to be bad. There were just under 30 charities represented in Charity Village and there were a ton of bathrooms. Plus beer & pizza at the finish.
The Chicago Half is the original half marathon in Chicago and while we now have many more options to run the half distance in and around Chicago, it still dominates the other races with its unique & historic location, a few shaded miles thru Jackson Park, and 9.5 breathtaking miles on Lake Shore Drive. The great SWAG and rockin’ finish line party are just icing on the cake for the original half marathon. This is a runner’s race for beginner and experienced runners alike. Registration for the 2013 Chicago Half Marathon & 5K opens tomorrow, September 11, 2012 at 7am. Sign up! You won’t regret it! And bring all your friends, I will!
Photos below: Left – Marathon Mike & Me, Middle – Chicago Running Bloggers: Sara (& Waffles), Lauren, Me, Maggie, Kim, Erin, Emily. Right – Me & Melissa S
** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz ** firstname.lastname@example.org