See more of our race!
I also enjoy kicking off the Chicago racing season with the Shamrock Shuffle. In my opinion, race management has gotten consistently better over the 5 years I've raced it.
Expo - much easier to get to than Navy Pier, and less stressful. Although, I heard the expo moved further east (longer walk if you park by lakeside) it was still easy to get in and out. Of course they make you walk across the expo to get your shirt :) I thought the booths/vendors were slim this year. Maybe I'm just comparing it to the Chicago Marathon, but when you have 25k+ runners coming w/ their families to the expo, it seems like there could be a little more.
Pre-race - This year, the Fleet Feet Racing Team did not have immediate access to a team tent and with some scheduling difficulties beforehand, most of us decided to use the regular gear check areas which didn't end up being an issue at all. Wave 1's gear check is right by the corral entrances which made warming up/dropping off bags very easy. The required clear gear bags are big enough to hold clothes from a chilly spring morning.
Race - This course winds through the city, offering glimpses of the Loop and runs along many of the same streets as the marathon. The aid stations are set up well (I didn't take anything but they seemed very well-managed). The course is marked well which is important because your Garmin will NOT be accurate on such a short course. There's at least 3 sections of signal loss...and on a 5 mile course - most of your splits will be off. I'd recommend manually lapping if you can. You get to experience Mt. Roosevelt right before the finish line...not sure if this is a blessing or a curse :) The finisher chute on Columbus is long and it's very easy to grab post-race swag. Lots of food options, photo ops, vendors, and a glittery shamrock medal await!
For me - This was a nice speed warmup for Boston. 2 weeks out from a marathon, I wanted to use Shamrock as a longer tempo run, with 2 mile WU/CDs on either side. I figured I'd go out and see how mile 1 felt and either hold pace or try to push it. Legs had some pop so I dropped it down to 10k pace and was able to hold that through the race. It's a tough distance to figure out: race it like a 5k and die? Hold back until the end? Lots of ways to attack - this year I felt good throughout and ended up negatively splitting (the exact opposite of last year).
Nothing better than spending a brisk, spring morning with 25k of your closest friends! See you next year!!