- 3 miles/5K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon
- Road Race
- Event Website
General thoughts: This was my second Rock N Roll race and I think it’s a well-managed race, and a good option to consider for first time half-marathoners and/or race-cation. Chicago is a fun place to visit and a great place to run.
Expo, bib pickup, swag: I’m not a fan of expos (too crowded) but I thought this one was a nice medium size, lots of space, not too crowded so it was enjoyable. The Brook’s merchandise store is full of great stuff, including the really cool tie dye shoe, which I nearly bought but this poor grad student managed to have some self-control. It seems that Rock N Roll has finally updated it’s shirt designs, with the Chicago races (5k, 10k, half) having some cute, quirky designs involving some famous Chicago food, i.e. pizza and hotdogs. Seems like an improvement from the past where the shirts from every city basically looked the same. There’s also the option for a women’s specific fit, so that’s nice.
Location: Chicago is awesome and all the races start/finish in Grant Park area, right in the loop downtown. If you stay in a hotel in the loop (we stayed in the Marriott Residence Inn) then it’s easy to walk to the start.
Start area: Most important, there were plenty of port-o-johns. Even though you’ll have a wave assigned on your bib there is absolutely no security so you can really go to any corral, I think. That is, if you can even get in the corrals. The corrals are extremely overcrowded and many of us were left outside the barricades until the race started and we could squeeze our way into the crowd.
Aid Stations: The first one was shortly after mile 1 and then every 2 miles or so after that. Most of them had just water, but maybe half also had Gatorade. The volunteers were great and doing the best they could, but it was hot/humid and I think they were understaffed and overwhelmed. I saw SiS energy gels (these are great btw) at one station but I think they were actually at two. In addition, due to the heat and humidity, there were several stations that had bags of ice, cold sponges, and sprayers. I was feeling sick during the race; I think due to getting heat sick the day before at the baseball game. I tried stopping at medical twice for help and they basically told me they were too busy, and I should just keep walking to the next station. This is pretty unacceptable IMO but I managed.
Course: running through Chicago is cool but this race had so many turns. At most times I really had no idea where I was. Also, for a Rock N Roll race, there was not that much music. I never run with headphones, but I was glad I grabbed mine this time because most of the race was pretty quiet. Not much music and not many spectators. Also, the course goes over bridges many times. These are draw bridges where the surface is basically just a metal grate. When I ran Chicago marathon a few years ago the bridges were covered in carpet for the runners; not so in Rock N Roll. It’s a pretty terrible surface to run on and, apparently, I get vertigo when I can see straight down to the water below. I ended up walking each bridge.
Finish: At the expo and during the race there were several signs advertising the chocolate milk that would be at the finish. I LOVE chocolate milk after a race and the thought of this pretty much carried me through most of the race. I finished in 2:15 (not fast but definitely not slow) and there was no chocolate milk left. WTF?! Food pickings at the end were pretty slim in general but I guess not much different from many races, i.e. bananas, chips, etc. I was just hoping a big race like Rock N Roll would have better post-race options.