Breakdown: A “Superfan” of Da Bears fantasy; in fact, so many Superfan types were in the race I half expected to see someone chowing on an Italian sausage-and-beef combo while running the course. With 17,500 runners, congestion is an occasional problem except when running on Lake Shore Drive, and the wave start is a welcome component, but those of us in the last corrals did not start till nearly a half hour after our appointed starting time. But that minor quibble is more than offset by a beautiful course culminating in one of the most singular finish lines anywhere, a highly organized operation, and a better-than-average after-party featuring the still-running alt rockers Soul Asylum. I biked over, since the starting line is a mile or so south of the “usual” Grant Park spots, and that proved to be the perfect way to get there and back quickly and easily.
Price: $80. The “Kids Blitz,” a fifty-yard sprint on Soldier Field for five-to-twelve-year-olds, is $18.
Course: Starting on the Soldier Field grounds, the course heads south, taking over Lake Shore Drive, which expands the previously crowded running space nicely. Turning back north where the lakefront hits Hyde Park, the course returns on the lakefront path with spectacular skyline views. But let’s face it, the main attraction is the finish line on the fifty-yard line at Soldier Field. Bear down!
Organization (gear check, etc.): Solid and smooth. Packet pickup at the Fleet Feet store was a brisk assembly line, and the after-race experience of proceeding through the finish line area was all business.
Goodie Bag (includes shirt): A faux Bears jersey running shirt, oversized to accommodate the, um, larger-than-usual contingent of larger-than-usual runners, was quite popular, and organizers thankfully warned runners to downsize versus their usual. Nice finisher’s medal, too.
Weather: Brisk and breezy high-forties/low-fifties made the pre-race milling about unpleasant for some, but the perfect temperature for a long-distance run. (Brian Hieggelke)
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