Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the BTN Big10K as part of being a BibRave Pro.
My family (husband plus 2 little kids) decided to make a long weekend trip to Chicago culminating in this race on Sunday morning. My husband and I are both graduates of the University of Wisconsin Madison so we all were excited for the Big 10 action.
Parking: We stayed at a hotel on the Magnificent Mile and I ran to the start for a warm up (although with how hot and humid it already was at 5:45 AM this was NOT necessary!). My family took a bus to the Grant Park area so I can't comment on the parking.
Expo: Not applicable. I picked up my race packet at the Fleet Feet Old Town on Friday. It was SMOOTH sailing. I really like how Ram Racing uses the QR code for packet pickups.
T-Shirts/SWAG: When you register for this race, you get to pick one of the Big10 schools so I picked my undergraduate alma mater, Wisconsin. My shirt was then Wisconsin. I think this is a cool idea but the shirts definitely feel warm and thick - so will be a good fall running t-shirt. I like tanks better than T-shirts, but that is my personal preference.
Aid Stations: There were three aid stations on the course, featuring water and Nuun. I loved that Nuun was offered as I use that in my training. Two of the water stations also featured a SLIP AND SLIDE (which I did not use).
Course: The course was well marked but featured a lot of turns. I enjoyed the run along the lake the best and wish it was longer. I did not like running underground in the heat but that was a small part in the beginning. There are a LOT of participants in this race, so a lot of corrals. The corrals are spaced out so the course does not get too crowded, which was nice.
Elevation: Some small inclines, but this is Chicago, so pretty flat!
Race Management: Overall the race was managed well. There were more than enough porta-potties at the start area and it was nice that the start and finish were at the same area. Gear check was very easy and well organized. The post race party is pretty cool. Each Big10 school has their own tent of school-themed swag and we got a beer, and an AmyLu chicken sausage at the finish along with Clif bars, bananas, and water. The medal was also cool - it was a generic Big10 logo and then you went to your school to get a token which made the medal school-specific. The token adhered to the medal via magnet. I thought that was a fun touch! I was very grateful for the ice packs and cold towels at the finish too. Great volunteers!!!
All in all, I think this race is a must-do for Big 10 fans. The only disappointment we had is that we did not get to meet Bucky Badger (but met most of the other mascots).