Hey ERAL readers! I ran another fun race (my 9th of 2016, woah) last week and wanted to tell you about it. I reviewed it on BibRave.com, but wanted to provide a little more personal details about my experience.
Overall, this was a fun 5k in Chicago along the Lakefront! I ran this race for the first time, and it was also my first time running an evening/night race. It's a fun environment and a fast course built for PRs! I'm still getting acquainted to running all of these RAM races, which many of them start and end in the Stadium Green area near Soldier Field.
Before the race, the communication was a little brief. As I said with my Cinco De Miler experience this spring, I felt that all of the info on the website and participant guide was written for RAM's marquee event, Hot Chocolate 15k/5k and just edited a bit to apply for their other races. It isn't a huge deal, but it's obvious and makes runners feel like their race is perhaps less important? Again, there are other things to worry about, but it was definitely something I noticed.
Packet Pickup was held at Fleet Feet Chicago in Old Town the day before the race. Packet Mailing was also available (for $15). If neither of these options worked for you, you could pick up your packet the day of. This is really rare at races but is so appreciated! Everyone has different schedules to work around. I picked up my Packet at Fleet Feet Chicago, and was in and out in 30 seconds!
The Goodie Bag was a RAM Racing drawstring bag with my bib and the race shirt, which was a black shirt with side mesh panels. The race logo was reflective and rather small in the upper right side. I was a bit disappointed with the shirt-- it was very plain and a missed opportunity to have something great! I hope next year they take that feedback to make something more awesome!
Gear check was very easy, simply by affixing a tear-tab from my bib to my own bag.
The course is a fast and flat out-and-back setup. It unfortunately goes south through the McCormick Place tunnel (watch your step-- the pavement continues to fall apart. This isn't the race's fault, especially since there are few alternatives to using this tunnel, but it still is frustrating) and right before the turn around, hits an aid station which stocked Nuun and then water. I was really looking forward to some water, but as I reached to grab a cup, two of the [rather young] volunteers threw their cups at me/my shirt instead of handing it to me. I was extremely frustrated, as I really needed water at that moment.
The course then utilizes the Chicago Lakefront Trail to head north back to near the Start Line. The Finish Line was high-energy with lots of cheering and happy volunteers! Bottled water and cups of Nuun were given out at the Finish.
The festival after was perhaps one of the coolest parts, featuring a really awesome local cover band, Maggie Speaks! Your registration also included a free meal (a choice between two sausages [which were both chicken...?] and chips) and a free Bell's beer! This is a nice touch!
Overall, I had a good experience and would run this race again. The small items I have criticisms for wouldn't stop me from returning-- who doesn't love a fun and casual 5k on a Friday night?! I had a blast with my friends and really enjoyed the setup with the festival afterwards. Such a cool way to spend an evening in Chicago!
Check out my review on BibRave.com here.