See more of our race!
8th Annual F^3 was held on Saturday, January 28, 2017. This was my third year running F^3 Lake Half Marathon, and I will continue to keep on my list of races I want to run each year. I think it is well organized and being able to stay warm inside before the race is a major benefit you won't get from most other winter races. I also LOVE that they added more locations for packet pickup this year. I especially enjoy that there were suburbs on the list, as most races will have 1 day for packet pickup and it'll be in the city, which can be tough to get to. Race day weather was cloudy, about 26 degrees, but with 16-22mph winds, a real feel of 16. Not great, but definitely not the worst case scenario, so I was ok with it.
+ 6 days of packet pickup! Saturday, January 21 10:00 am – 6:00 pm at Fleet Feet Sports – Old Town, Sunday, January 22 11:00 am – 5:00 pm at Fleet Feet Sports – Deerfield, Monday, January 23 10:00 am – 8:00 pm at Fleet Feet Sports – Oak Park, Tuesday, January 24 4:00-7:00 pm at Running for Kicks (Palos Heights), Thursday, January 26 10:00 am – 8:00 pm at Fleet Feet Sports – Old Town, Friday, January 27 10:00 am – 8:00 pm at Fleet Feet Sports – Old Town
+ You could pick up packets of friends/families. Large groups could email ahead with the packets being picked up, where and by who for quicker process. Show ID and ID/confirmation email of friends/family picking up for.
+ You could add race day pickup for $15.
+ Pre- and post-race inside the United Club at Soldier Field.
+ Easy access to race either by car (park inside the garage) or take CTA.
+ SWAG at pickup included a drawstring backpack, KIND bars, running store coupon, and a 1/4 zip tech pullover.
+ Don't have to get outside until about 10 minutes till race time.
+ Wave start (couldn't hear or tell how it was divided up, but know towards the back didn't start until about 10:10). Pacing signs up to help runners line themselves up.
+ 16 minute/mile pace requirement, so walkers welcome.
+ Race start of 10am and course closing at 1:30pm. I do love a later start time - more sleep! Plus, in the winter, it means the temps might warm up a little more than if it were at 7 or 8.
+ 8 aid stations (4, but you pass twice as the course is an out and back). Stocked with Gatorade and water.
+ Course goes around Soldier Field and then out south and back north on the LFP. Though it was an out and back, the course was never too congested or crowded. Also enjoyed cheering on the runners and friends as they were heading back north. High-Fives always help pump me up!
+ Gatorade Chews around mile 8 or 9? I can't remember haha.
+ Volunteers were all great - appreciate them being out in the cold for that whole time! Races can't happen without them.
+ Finish line = medal, full-sized bagels of different flavors, bottled water, cups of Gatorade, bananas, crackers, and Muscle Milk.
+ Half Marathon Finisher Medals were large and in charge.
+ The path was clear of ice. Some puddles, but nothing you couldn't get around if you didn't want to run through them.
+ Top 5 I think Men and Women received prizes. Age group awards (0-19; 20-24; 25-29; 30-34; 35-39; 40-44; 45-49; 50-54; 55-59; 60-64; 65-69; 70+). I have one beef with this - see below. I hear they received gift certificates, but not sure what for.
+ Post-race party at Kroll's. I had another engagement to get to, so I went home, but I hear it was hopping. You received a free beer with a ticket from your bib once there – and it was for craft beer from local breweries in Chicagoland (Pollyanna and Noon Whistle - - I approve of this!).
+ Gear check available, and it looks like they had a better set up after 2015 crowd problem.
+ They send out a post-race surgery so they can improve every year. And they actually take it to heart and make improvements each year.
+ Free downloadable photos.
- Website said awards for 70+. That's my mom. When we went to the awards table after the race to see results, they said the age group was 60+. A few days later when we received an email about photos being ready, it mentioned there was an error with age groups (something to do with the timer and initial upload) and that an updated listing was available through a link in the email. If you won an AG award but didn't collect from the Awards Table, you can pick it up at the CARA office. The CARA office is in the city. I hear the award was a $10 gift card, which is cool because the winner can use it on whatever they want. However, it would cost my mom $10 to get into the city, and the time and effort wouldn't be worth it. I really feel that since the mistake was on their end, and since we did try to get her award at the race, and since it shouldn't have affected too many people, they should just mail out their awards. Just my opinion.
• Parking was available at Soldier Field North Parking Garage at a 'discounted' rate of $19. Usually $22 I think. So, while discounted slightly, it's still expensive. The usual for Chicago, though.
• Supposedly there was hot chocolate somewhere... I saw a guy asking if anyone wanted some before the race, but never saw it post-race (which is when I could have used it). Not sure if it's because we finish after most or what, but every year it's supposed to be at the post-race (finish line or inside? Not sure.) and I can never find it. Or it's all gone. I could just be missing it in my haze of exhaustion haha, but I find it worth noting.
I do enjoy this race, and won't let the minor issues get in the way of running again in 2018, because it is a really well-organized, fun, unique race that is managed well. To me the pros far outweigh any cons, and generally the cons are nit picky things that I feel should be mentioned just so people get a full scope of the race and I like to be completely honest and transparent in my reviews. Definitely keep this race on your list if you haven't run it (or keep it on there and run every year like me :) haha).
Here is my blog recap: http://www.heatherrunsthirteenpointone.com/2017/02/f3-lake-half-marathon-2017-recap.html