F^3 Lake Half Marathon
F^3 Lake Half Marathon( 44 reviews )
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Mark DavidhizarElkhart, Indiana, United States
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the F^3 Lake Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro(ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Registering for a race in Chicago, in January, can be intimidating. You never know what you are in for until possibly a few days or even a few hours until the race starts. If you are not from the area, winters here can be nasty one day, and beautiful the next. A week before the race, the weather was sunny and temps reached the mid 50s. Why couldn't this race be a week earlier? Because that wouldn't be the F^3 Lake Half Marathon way! Race day, the forcast was temps in the upper 20s with winds out of the WNW at 16-22mph. In other words, it would feel like 16 degrees. Not as nice as the week prior, but let's face it, it could be a lot worse.
The F^3, like other Chicago races, had several locations to pick up your bib number and shirt the week leading up to the race. If one of these locations did not work for you, you could pay an extra $15 and pick it up on race day. I am cheap and really don't want to pay an extra $15 for race day packet pickup. Luckily for me, fellow BibRave Pro, Heather, was willing to pick mine up when she got hers. She has become my designated person when it comes to picking up my packet, for which I am greatful for. I understand not wanting to have packet pickup at the race location, but it's tough for us coming from outside of Chicago (and out of state) to get to a packet pickup location and having to pay $15 to get it race day.
My rural American side of me is about to come out. I hate paying for parking. Parking for the race was $19! I know for Chicago this isn't a lot, but man, to me, that's a lot. The positive thing about parking was that it was on the North Side of Soldier Field in the parking garage which is connected to the stadium.
The great thing about pre race for the F^3 was that you could wait inside the United Club inside of Soldier Field and didn't have to go outside (unless you did a warmup like me) until 10 minutes before the race. There was plenty of room to stretch if needed and there was even a group streatch before the race. Also gear check was provided inside of the United Club. For gear check, you can use your own bag or one provided to you by the race.
With about 10 minutes before the race, runners move outside to the South Side of Soldier Field. Last announcements are made, the national anthem is sung followed by the start. It is a wave start where 2 corrals are sent at a time every 2 minutes.
The Course for the F^3 Half was simple. You start out from the South Side of Soldier Field and run around the west side of the stadium until you get to the north side. Once there, you head west to the Lake Front Path. From there, the rest of the course is on the Lake Front Path (LFP). The course was fairly flat with a couple small hills. It is an out and back course. I like our and back courses because nothing should surprise you on the way back and also you can see your friends running for encouragement or for you to encourage them.
There were plenty of aid stations on the course, just about at every mile. There were also plenty of volunteers out there. My favorite aid station was the one volunteered by Back on My Feet. No matter what race you run at that BOMF volunteers at, they seem to always have the loudest and most supportive volunteers out there.
The finish line was well marked and an announcer was announcing some of the finishers coming in. After you finished you were given your medal and some food. Good items included bananas, bagels, chips with humis, water, and muscle milk. A sponsor of the race was out there with small reusable grocery bags for runners to put their food in.
After the race, runners were able to head back inside the United Club to get warm, get your gear, check results, and talk to a few vendors as well. One of the sponsors had mats out for stretching as well as foam rollers. Also if you placed in your age group, you could pick up your award right away, no waiting.
On your bib, there was a tab attached for one free beer at Krolls, where the after party was located. Because of having to drive home and Indiana being one hour behind Chicago, I did not go to the after party.
Things that were great:
Pacers were provided by Chicago Endurance Sports starting at 1:30 and increased every 10 minutes
Pretty nice medal
Free race photos
Nice course with great views of the lake
Parking location is great
United Club was great for both pre and post race
Love the quarter zip jacket. Nice change from short sleeve or long sleeve shirts.
Many choices during the week before the race for packet pickup.
Aid stations had a lot of volunteers.
Free race photo downloads
Age group awards were gift certificates of the runners choice. What's. Enter than another medal or trophy? A gift certificate!!!
Changes I would make:
$19 for parking. Ouch
$15 race day packet pickup. Maybe wave the fee for out of state runners