Street Smart Chicago

Race Review: Lifetime Chicago Turkey Day 5K (November 22, 2012)

Holidays, News etc., Running No Comments »

RECOMMENDED RACE

Breakdown: Along with gathering together with friends and family to eat as much food as possible, a quick morning race has also become a traditionally popular family activity to take on during Thanksgiving, with more than ten races in the Chicago area taking place today and several more scheduled for this weekend. Now in its thirty-fifth year, the Lifetime Chicago Turkey Day 5K (or TD5K for acronym lovers) is one of those races, and probably the most convenient for those celebrating T-Day in Chicago proper, especially since it starts at the sleep-in friendly time of 9am. Starting on Cannon Drive in front of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the race spends a good deal of time on a blocked-off lane of Lake Shore Drive before following the Lakefront Trail to finish back on Cannon Drive. Changed from an 8K to a 5K, this year’s race drew around 6,000 people, which led to a somewhat last-minute waved start, with new waves being released every thirty to sixty seconds. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Athens Classic Marathon (November 11, 2012)

News etc., Running No Comments »

Photo: Zach Freeman

RECOMMENDED RACE

Breakdown: There are plenty of high-profile international marathons, but you’d be hard-pressed (in fact it would be impossible) to find one more historically important than the Athens Classic Marathon, which ran its thirtieth-anniversary race last weekend (more than 2,500 years after the Battle of Marathon) in Greece. Starting in front of the Marathon Flame in an official Marathon Start Venue in the city of Marathonas (you may be more familiar with its Americanized name: Marathon), this race highlights everything about the true origins of the marathon, from following the purported path from the tale of Pheidippides’ victorious (and fatal) run from Marathon to Athens in 490 BC to finishing inside the Panathinaikon Stadium, which also served as the finish line for the initial marathon in the 1896 Olympics. At the starting line, runners are asked to raise their right hand and recite the Runner’s Oath before fireworks are ignited, balloons are released and a starting cannon (a gun’s just not epic enough) announce the start of the race. Nearly the entire course is marked with official historical marathon sign posts at every kilometer and as participants wind through several villages, the streets are lined with citizens young and old enthusiastically cheering “Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!” For newbies and experienced runners alike, the Athens Classic Marathon is an intentionally emotional experience, successfully instilling a sense of history, community, accomplishment and determination into the entire proceedings. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Hot Chocolate 15/5K (November 4, 2012)

News etc., Running 1 Comment »

Photo: Zach Freeman

Breakdown: This year, RAM Racing’s Hot Chocolate 15/5K cemented its reputation as one of the most consistently maligned and yet best-selling races in Chicago, selling out 40,000 spots to a combination of 5 and 15K runners in only its fifth year in existence. By early Friday afternoon (the first day of packet pick-up), RAM had issued an apology on their Facebook page for inordinate pick-up times (up to three hours in some cases) and promised improvements the next day and a race that would be “worth the wait.” While there were no major hiccups in the execution of the race today (a notable feat in itself) there also wasn’t much to be impressed with, aside from the sheer magnitude of the event; the course was unimaginative and the promised post-race chocolate was delivered in a disposable plastic mug. There’s something magical and promising about a gigantic race held in the center of a major city that continues to draw runners in, but this year’s Hot Chocolate didn’t leave a good taste in too many mouths. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Carrera de los Muertos (November 3, 2012)

News etc., Pilsen, Running No Comments »

RECOMMENDED RACE

Breakdown: Since 2007, the Carrera de los Muertos has been taking place in Pilsen, combining colorful Day of the Dead celebrations with a 5K supporting UNO (United Neighborhood Organization) Charter Schools. The result is a medium-large, well-organized neighborhood race that both honors the neighborhood’s heritage and draws others into the community. There were volunteers aplenty at the start and finish, as well as along the wide, closed course. Ethnic food and drinks were available at base camp (an UNO parking lot) with the purchase of Carrera Cash (food tickets). This is an outstanding local race that effectively mixes tradition, athleticism, community and plain-old fun. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Men’s Health Urbanathlon (October 13, 2012)

News etc., Running No Comments »

RECOMMENDED RACE

Breakdown: With 10.8 miles to cover and eleven sets of obstacles to overcome, the Men’s Health Urbanathlon is a pretty tough event. In fact, it’s tough enough that there’s an option to break the course into three legs and run it as a relay race (which around a third of the roughly 3,000 participants did). This is the sixth year that the Urbanathlon has taken place in Chicago and the first time it’s started south of Soldier Field (typically it starts and finishes in Grant Park), and despite some uncertain weather before the race, things ran pretty smoothly, with the overcast sky providing near-ideal running conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: WTTW Kids Fun and Run (August 26, 2012)

Lincoln Park, News etc., Running No Comments »

WTTW Kids Fun and RunBreakdown: It’s important to notice that the order of words in the title of this event (Kids Fun and Run) places kids first, followed by fun and then the run. That’s a pretty accurate depiction of the way WTTW structured this ninth annual family event in south Lincoln Park, which felt a lot more like a kid/family-friendly festival/party with a 5k and a 3k thrown in for good measure than a straight-up racing event. Starting off with a countdown from eleven (get it?) the course creatively wound around and through most of the area in Lincoln Park south of the zoo, with only the final mile keeping relatively straight. Volunteers and course markers did a fairly good job of keeping runners on the path but it did seem like the course was unnecessarily complicated (unless you consider that part of the fun). The real draw here was the chance for kids to meet their favorite WTTW cartoon characters (Curious George, Clifford, Arthur, etc) in person, get their face painted or bounce around on an inflatable slide. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Chicago City Chase (August 25, 2012)

News etc., Running No Comments »

City Chase starting lineRECOMMENDED RACE

Breakdown: While traversing the city on foot or using public transit (with CTA day passes included in the entry fee) brave teams of two complete challenges as varied in difficulty and duration as letting a millipede crawl on your face while a snake slithers down your shirt to bowling in the buff to chicken wrangling to getting down in the sand for a mini Marine basic-training camp. Believe me, the list goes on. The organizers claim that those competing in City Chase will have done more in six hours than most people do all summer. That may be a bit of an exaggeration but participants will definitely be doing a lot of work (both physical and mental) and covering a lot of ground. There’s no set course, with thirty challenges scattered around the city and a cryptic guide sheet that must first be obtained via clues and deciphered before being used. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Burgers and Beer 5K (August 20, 2012)

News etc., Running 1 Comment »

Burgers and Beer 5k

RECOMMENDED RACE

Breakdown: After more than three years as a monthly Universal Sole fun run, starting and finishing at Universal Sole Lakeview before heading to the nearby Fizz Bar for, well, burgers and beer, the Burgers and Beer 5K made its debut as an official 5K run in Montrose Harbor tonight. And though both the burgers and the beer were likely the major selling points for most registrants, the out-of-the-ordinary Monday evening race time (in keeping with B&B tradition), smooth Montrose Harbor course and relaxed post-race party atmosphere helped make this race feel like a success. With around 600 participants showing up for the inaugural run, race director (and Universal Sole owner) Joel Feinberg proudly proclaimed at the starting line that “when the city sees how many runners we had tonight they’re going to let us block off the street next year!” Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Elvis is Alive 5K (August 16, 2012)

News etc., Running No Comments »

RECOMMENDED RACEElvis is Alive 5K

Breakdown: What better way to show your respects on the eve of the thirty-fifth anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death than by running a 5K that declares that he never died? Now in its fifteenth year, the Elvis is Alive 5K—promoted as the “original night race and party”—followed an open course along the Lakefront Trail, starting and finishing across from the Columbia Yacht Club. Organized by Fleet Feet, it included an all-Elvis starting corral (reserved for runners dressed as Elvis from head to toe), live music from Elvis tribute artist Joe “Elvis” Tirrito and beer from Goose Island (the first was included in the price of the race and they were $5 each after that). Despite the damp ground from a steady rain all day, it looked like runners were enjoying the post-race party area, which included one of the inflatable slip ‘n’ slides from last month’s BTN 10K. Though it’s an untimed run, awards were given to the top three finishers of each sex as well as the fastest Elvis. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Chicago 10K (August 12, 2012)

News etc., Running 1 Comment »

Chicago 10K

RECOMMENDED RACE

Breakdown: Making good use of a nice location at the southern end of Grant Park for its base camp, the inaugural Chicago 10K mostly relied on the Lakefront Trail for its course, improving the familiar path with a hefty amount of hydration stations, excited volunteers and a clearly marked course. Though the race was sold out, it was clear that coordinators kept the number of runners at a manageable number for this race’s first go-round (around 2,000). Chicago 10K is a bold name for a new race in a city that already has so many 10Ks, but from the smooth way this race was run it seems race organizers are strategically looking to make their mark and let positive word-of-mouth help make this an annual event. A very entertaining live band—Ear Candy—played an eclectic mix of pop covers before and after the race. Read the rest of this entry »