- 3 miles/5K, 13.1/Half Marathon
- Road Race
The North Shore Classic half marathon has always been my favorite race for a few reasons. I grew up in Highland Park and it always has a place in my heart. Aside from the great reputation that this race has, the scenery from the Ravinia area up to the old Fort Sheridan army base is just awe inspiring. Here are some of my reasons broken down by category.
The Registration: RAM Racing has always made it easy to register on their website and having an account makes filling in the registration easy. Plus, you can see past races and results as well as your current and upcoming race information. The email confirmation is quick.
The Packet Pickup: I love how RAM Racing has a few packet pickup dates and locations for this race. It's very convenient to stay local for me and not drive down to Chicago for the packet. The North Shore Classic uses Fleet Feet Sports in Old Town and in Deerfield for convenience. I went to the Deerfield store since it's close and I needed a few extras from the running store. I went on the last day (Saturday) and there was no line at all at 10am. The pickup was extremely quick and I was in and out in less than 10 minutes!
The Swag: This year, the North Shore Classic gave us a great tank top. I like the colors and the sizing was spot on. I've amassed quite a collection of race shirts and the best quality shirts always are from RAM Racing with some of the most bold colors.
The Prerace: The start line energy is always intense at this race and the communication and words from Fleet Feet owner David Zimmer are always inspiring. They are truly energetic and wake you up with their positivity. As always, the Star Spangled Banner being played before the race begins gets me every time and this years singer had such an amazing voice. The corrals were perfectly sized and well designated.
The Course: What can you say about a course that runs through downtown Highland Park? The race begins in the downtown district with tons of energy and crowd support. It heads south towards the southern most end of the town in the old Ravinia district passing the Ravinia Festival grounds. Then you head north through plenty of smaller neighborhood streets with lots of support from the residents. As always, the Park Avenue Beach hill after mile 7 is always on everyone's mind but we like that! It's a great challenge in the middle of a half marathon. After that, it continues north towards the old army base of Fort Sheridan that had plenty of historic buildings and views of Lake Michigan. The course gives runners some tremendous views and some hills to test out your legs.
The Finish: The crowds of the finish line are always huge with overwhelming support from families, volunteers, city employees, and race finishers. It's a lot of energy and a warm feeling seeing that last 1/4 of a mile. The cold water bottles, misting fans, ice cold wet towels are icing on the cake! This comes after this years race was super hot and humid.
Overall: The RAM Racing North Shore Classic will always be the first race I sign up for every year and as long as I'm able, I will run it. The race directors are top notch and the volunteer support is the best around. Every water station had Nuun or water with plenty of friendly faces who truly care and are supportive. I can't thank them enough for everything that they do for the runners.