It’s 9:30am and a crowd is already beginning to gather for the eighteenth annual Wacky 5K Run. Participants are moving around staying warm in the frigid temperatures, howling wind and swirling snow.
The Wacky 5K Run is just a little bit wacky. The race, named so because it used to be run on a portion of Lower Wacker Drive, is now wacky for a different reason. Its participants are encouraged to dress as their favorite snack foods, for the event that, this year, marks the end of National Snack Food Month as well as benefiting the Blind Service Association. But there aren’t that many people dressed as food.While most runners are dressed in usual running attire, there are a few out of the group that took the snack-food challenge. There is a bottle of Ketchup, two bunches of grapes (one green and one red), a cow, a pig, a fork, a roll of Smarties, a Reeses peanut butter cup, a box of Dunkin Donut munchkins, French fries and a banana.
The balloons that are pinned to the clothes of the women, creating clusters of grapes, are blowing in the wind, fighting to break free. The crowd continues to grow, and finally, it’s ten minutes until the start time.
Music furnished by three local radio stations pumps through a portable speaker system, quite possibly ruining the Sunday mornings of the residents of the condos that line the 1300 block of West Washington Street. A Bally Total Fitness Performance Team leads the crowd in pre-race stretches to get the blood moving, and finally the horn is sounded to signify the start of the race.
The runners run and family and friends head inside of the Plumbers Union Hall to wait. Just under seventeen minutes later, the first runners begin to cross the finish line. Eventually, more continue to finish and the party moves upstairs to an auditorium where the runners are met with some of the usual—Vitamin Water and bananas—but since the race is all about snack food, there are also slices of pizza, pigs in blankets, various candies and Girl Scout cookies.
A number of awards are given out, including one for the most spirited group that is given to the bunch of green grapes, the pig, the cow and the fork. When asked how it was running with what looked like nearly twenty balloons pinned to her clothes and head, in the snow and wind, Julie Kase, the bunch of green grapes, says, “It was a blast, it was super fun.” (Todd Miller)