Who has heard of running 10 nautical miles? Who knew that there was a difference between a nautical mile and a regular mile? The Fort 2 Base race features 2 race distances, 10 and 3 nautical miles. I am not 100% on what the the exact distance of a 10 nautical mile race equates to in real miles, but it is over 11 miles. Anyways, 2018 marked my first time running the Fort2Base run, and given that it is the first time that I have heard of a race using nautical miles, this would be a new distance PR.
Registration opens at on January 1st. Fees to register started off at $40 for the 10 nautical mile race and go up to $90 race weekend. For the 3Nautical mile race, fees started at $25 and went up to $45 on race weekend. There was also discounts for active military, veterans, and dependents.
Packet pickup was held in four different locations in the week leading up to race day in the Chicago area. You could also pay an extra $10 when you registered to have your packet ready for you on race day. If you were staying at the host hotel, you could also have your packet waiting for you when you checked in at no additional cost.
The race is a point to point race, starting just south of Fort Sheridan, running around the neighborhood where military families from all branches live, around the parade grounds, and then from miles 3.25 to about mile 9 was on mostly shaded bike paths. The course finished at Foss Park just North of the Naval Station Great Lakes. The course is supposed to measure 11.5 miles (roughly) but when I ran, my Garmin measured 11.22 miles. I went back and looked at the course map and it looks like everyone missed a small loop a the beginning of the race. Which makes sense why the mile markers were off so early from the start of the race. But no matter, it was a great course. I enjoy running around the parade grounds as well as on the bike paths. There was a couple of less scenic portions to the course, but I believe that you will have that at about any race, especially the longer distances. This was also the first year, I believe, for this race not to finish on the Naval Base. We did get an explanation that it was because a new Commanding Officer began his service on the Base this past June and there were also some security issues (a bus driving to the wrong part of the base) last year during the race. Due to this, the race was asked not to finish on the Base this year. It sounds really promising however, that the race will probably finish on the base in 2019 (fingers crossed). With this being a point to point course, runners are bused out to the starting line. The buses run run 5:00-6:15. The race starts at 7:00. I felt this information was very well publicized by email, social media, and on their website. But as you can imagine, obviously some did not read the information and were late getting to the buses. The race was delayed by a few minutes. The race director thanked all who were present on time for the buses for reading the information and doing as they were asked. She didn't sugar coat her frustration of the other runners, and I do not blame her at all.
If SWAG is your thing, then Fort 2 Base has you covered. Let start with what you get at packet pickup. First, they give you a pretty sweet 1/4 zip long sleeve shirt. On a day like race day, its not a shirt you are going to wear right away. But come fall, it will become one of my favorites for sure! Also, in the race bag was a nice luggage tag to put on your bags next time you travel. Obviously the shirt is more appreciative, but also the little useful things are nice to get as well. Also when you think of SWAG and what a lot of runners want after they finish a tough race is a finishers medal. This year, is the first year of a 3 year medal series. this years medal features the tower at Fort Sheridan which runners ran by in the first couple miles of the race when going around the parade grounds. Next year will be the tower from the naval base. The third year will feature a ring with a star and anchor on it. All three medals will stack on top of each other.
Awards were given to the top 3 overall in each race (male and female) as well as top 3 in each age division. I honestly do not know what was given to the overall winners since I missed that part of the awards presentation, but the age group awards were a coffee mug with the race logo on it and said "Age Group winner." I appreciate when a race gives an award other than a trophy or a medal, but instead gives something that is useful like a mug.
A couple recommendations for runners if you are thinking about running the Fort 2 Base in 2019. First off, if you are thinking about running it, do it. Its a great race. Yeah the distance is different than usual but its a great, well run event. If you are traveling from out of town, stay at the host hotel. It was no more than a 10 minute drive from when you load to get onto the buses to get to the starting line. Plus, if you want, the hotel will provide a shuttle of their own, to the buses. The hotel was also very welcoming. The aid stations at the course were also great and very supportive. There was water and Gatorade at all the aid stations. I don't believe that Gatorade was supposed to be at every station but with the heat on race morning, they made sure every runner had what they needed. The volunteers and course marshals were great as well. Law enforcement was also at every street crossing ensuring runners safety as well.
This race is awesome. I know that a lot of people were upset when it could not finish on the Naval Base, and maybe I would have been disappointed to had I ran this race before, but I thought it was a great event. The volunteers, as stated earlier, were awesome. As you finished the race, you were greeted by members of the Navy along the course and soldiers were there to give you your finishers medal. Proceeds for this race went to the USO and the Navy Ball. I believe that it changes from year to year where the funds go, but it goes back to the military in some fashion every year. If you are thinking of running it and are disappointed that you will not be able to complete the 3 year medal series, don't let that stop you. All three medals make a great stand alone medal as well. Registration will open January 1st, 2019.