Latest reviews by Kim Maves
Overall this is a good race! I did this race as a redemption from Chicago, looking for a PR.
Expo: go early, I went at 5PM Friday and Parking and getting around the city was a nightmare. Getting around Indy was busy so go early. I spent more time in the parking garage than in the expo.
Local vendors, Clif bar, the same running store/ group that sells at every big expo, other races in the Midwest I walked around since I wanted chapstick, thankfully I found it. Got my bib and shirt. I didn't look at the race swag available for purchase.
Runners could hang out in the convention center with real toilets and tables + chairs to sit at. They had volunteers with signs that said, "ask me" which was helpful.
I pre-booked my parking on SpotHero and found a four dollar garage spot. It was a mile-ish from the start, but I didn't want to be parked in from the road closures.
Volunteers were not checking bibs to get into the waves and there were a ton of people in my wave that were supposed to be in 2-3 which was super annoying and caused the corrals to overcrowd.
Gear check was easy, blocked off by bib number .
A few hills from 15-19 nothing horrible, however they are taxing at that part in the race. The road wasn't in the best condition in parts and it would have been easy to trip. Half marathon and full marathon split is clearly marked. They even marked off the end where the runners met up again as to not congest with each other.
Extra Course marshals were necessary. Especially on major intersections more were needed to direct traffic. A guy drove through the race course yelling at runners 20-30 feet in front of me which is scary.
Tiny and some only had water. Some had a small table of gatorade. It was kind of confusing as to WHEN Gatorade would be served. Two stations of Clif shots and they were calling out what flavors which was nice. I also saw a banana and pretzel station. I think the bike med team was also carrying salt if you asked.
You get a Heatsheet, Medal, FINISHERS HAT (race specific), banana, chips, clif bar, pizza, cookie, chocolate milk.
Things that can be improved: additional course marshals, more Gatorade at aid stations, and probably not a good idea to request everyone to bow their heads and pray. However the race is in Indiana so...
This is my second Chicago Marathon
Pre Race - Expo this year seemed lacking compared to years past, but it is still top notch. You can get gear from almost every brand. Get there early! If you want Nike gear go to Fleet Feet or one of the Nike stores to buy it. That line is the longest. I love the participant shirt from this year. Definitely one of the best. I also liked the blue one from 2013? It was a year I didn't run. Super easy to get there via train or uber.
Race Morning - I thankfully trained with CARA and went to the Palmer House pre race. Easy to get to the start and we had private port o potties. I didn't wait in line to pee a second time, sometimes race day makes you do bold things. I understand security being tight, but it was super unorganized. Let red bibs go first and those without bags go in a separate line. It was a stressful situation. C corral was "oversold" so it was huge to start, but I think that was the way for all of the red bibs.
The Race- This is the best race, period. The course, fans, aid stations. You can see so many friends along the course who can see you multiple ties the way the course it set up. It is such a great experience even though I felt like sh!t, I reminded myself how much I love running and the city of Chicago.
Post race - The medal ribbon was kind of eh, and the post race snacks were all cheese type crackers - something plain would have been lovely. But they put it in a BAG for you so you don't have to carry a ton of stuff with you in post marathon hands. You get a heetsheet. It was too hot for one, then my body temp dropped and I was freezing so I'm glad I had it for the walk back to the Palmer House.
I didn't go to the post race party. The Chicago Marathon is the best race, the weather can be a crap shoot and is the only negative factor when thinking about entering for 2018. If I'm not racing it I'm out spectating it.
-Packet Pick up at Fleet Feet Old Town over two days, you could pick up for a friend too. Needed to have their id.
-In the packet was a shirt (I would wear this one), beet juice, body wipe, some sort of anti inflammatory cream, fliers and coupons.
-easy race access if you're taking public transit, driving, or Uber. Unfortunately I picked the AON building to park in and they check cars and record drivers license numbers and their machine wasn't working that morning so it was super backed up. Had I been running the half I would have missed the start. The race had a partnership with SpotHero and showed options. I picked the cheapest
-Half Marathon start at 7 ... more on the 10K start.
-Easy walk to the start line from parking easy to find.
-Race was well marked.
-3 or 4 water stations for the 10k it was a hot day so it was needed
-If you like medals this one was night, the Ferris wheel spun
-Post race party had various vendors, Athletico, races, a breakfast buffet, and a flower! My favorite part was getting the flower and taking it home and planting it.
-Finishers Chute was a banana, bottle of gatorade, and water
Can be improved:
-10K starts later and there is a turn around where the 10k peels off to the right for a short distance then crosses southbound running traffic to get back running north. It's not really safe at all. This could be fixed by having the 10K turn elsewhere and then the races could start at the same time
-2-3 volunteers to be found at the first two aid stations, they seemed a little chaotic.
-self seeded corrals for the 10K. Self seeded corrals are never a good idea. They didn't have any pace signs either so people started at the front and started walking. I don't mind the weaving, my main concern is safety.
-This isn't on the race but I ran into the 2:40 and 3hr pace groups for the half, the groups were massive and taking over both sides of the path. Again, runner safety, I asked the pacers to keep their groups tighter since the 10K was coming through. The front runners of the half marathon were coming back too and the bike marshals were doing a good job of leading them and attempting to clear people, while the front 10K runners were going by. The back pace groups and their leaders however were not doing a good job of being respectful on an open path.
I ran this race in 2014 for the first time and volunteered in 2016.
Overall I do like this race, some minor tune ups and it will be on par with other big races in the city.
-Packet Pick Up: 4 Locations two in the suburbs two in Chicago, all at Road Runners - the Chicago location has a parking lot. Packet pick up was also available race day, which I wish I would have taken advantage of since there was virtually no line.
-Goody bag was a shirt and bib, shirt looks okay - full zip long sleeve. I do think looking at it the quality from last year is better (volunteers received a race shirt last year)
-Gear Check was simple and you could bring your own bag.
-Pre race had water and gatorade in the center of the track
-Plenty of Port o Potties - line looked a little long, I went early.
-It was Nice to warm up on the track
-Water stations needed a few extra volunteers, they were spaced out evenly which was good. I liked the cups a lot.
-Course was well marked.
-CARA does a good job of utilizing different parts of the path including Cricket Hill... twice.
-I have one huge complaint, I think I've written about this in another race review at this exact same spot. The Belmont intersection needs two volunteers- especially one to stand on the side where cars enter. I almost got hit and the guy started driving through the race path when there were a ton of runners going through. It was super dangerous and the volunteer didn't really seem to be paying attention. A few runners going south stopped in their tracks because they would have gotten hit otherwise.
-Overall volunteers were awesome from packet pick up to the finish. The above incident is a bummer.
-There are a few spots where you can see friends going north or south who are also running the race.
-A few spectators along Cricket hill which was nice.
-I like this course even though they seem to utilize every incline in the path vicinity. What can I say? I hardly ever encounter a hill.
-Since this race kicks off the CARA Circuit it gets pretty competitive which if that is something you are interested in they have space for club teams at the race.
-I was not a fan of the track. two laps around was brutal mentally.
-Finishers of the 10mi and 5K receive the same medal
-I do like the glass colored background on the medal
-Finishing food water in an aluminum bottle (super cool - but hard to open. I couldn't open it until my fingers were warm) bag of popcorn which I don't like popcorn, but I really liked this brand... need to find it again. Bagel, which was either cold or stale. I took a few bites and had to toss it. Also bananas cut in half-nwhich were super mushy. I think Muscle Milk was on site, but not a priority for me since I brought my own Vega Recovery.
-NovaCare was onsite doing recovery
-American Cancer Society and Chicago half were onsite. I think there were a few more, but I was too cold to wander around.
-I HATE cutting across runners during a race so it was super easy to get trapped inside of the Montrose Track, but in the process of getting trapped I was able to see a friend finish.
-It sounds like photos will be free? I'm not sure I didn't see many photographers on course.
-Race Results up shortly after, however my results are showing the gun time and not chip.
Only minor complaints, post race food, shirt, additional aid station volunteers, and Belmont intersection volunteer communication.
Everything about this race was top notch!
I registered the Thursday before the race and almost instantly received the race weekend / participant email. It was detailed and had all of the important information.
I stayed at the Homewood Suites by Hilton. It wasn't an official race hotel, but it was a less than 10 minute drive to the start.
Packet Pick up was in the community center with lots of parking. There were probably 25ish local vendors. For the most part it didn't interest me since I live in Chicago. I was also able to change my corral at the community center too. I made sure to ask which pacer was in which corral so I didn't end up having to weave and dodge at the beginning. (Corrals were based off of estimated finish) You could also register and change distances at the expo.
Vendors were local races, businesses, and some running gear related to get some last minute fuel.
Inside the packet was a million fliers and a nice newspaper race day participant guide. I looked through it an ripped out the page for parking to save for race morning. Also in the packet were the most random, but useful samples ever: tart cherries, shampoo, dishwasher detergent, oatmeal, rice cakes, shaving cream, York peppermint Pattie, coaster, and a box of tea bags (quite possibly more).
The gear check bag had BOXES WHERE YOU COULD WRITE YOUR BIB NUMBER ON FOR GEAR CHECK! This was genius. Kudos to whomever thought of that.
Race Morning - I arrived probably 50 minutes to the start - oops. Usually I'm a little more punctual. I couldn't figure out where the parking garage was at the performing arts center since the map didn't have an address, maybe it was a cross between it being dark outside and me in major freakout mode I couldn't find it. Que more freaking out. I drove maybe 2 blocks north and found a dirt / gravel lot and parked there. It was at most a 5 minute walk to the start / finish.
Plenty of space to warm up, do strides etc. Plenty of Porta potties line moved quickly. quick to drop my gear bag.
Race start: 4 corrals Half marathon and Full start together and break off around 3.5. Start in 90 second intervals and then the 5k/8k start 5 minutes after the last corral goes off. I asked my goal pace pacer what his race strategy was, he told me "7:30-7:38 pace never slower than 7:38 and then around 8-10 see who is left and go" Uh, that's not really a pace strategy. I ended up passing most people that were in his group and saw he came in at either 1:37 or 1:38 not exactly the 1:40... Glad I stuck with my race plan and ran by how my body was feeling.
The course was a series of hills and downhills. The inclines were long and big for this flatlander. Mostly straightaways unless you are going through the park or the neighbor hoods. The variety of scenery definitely helped not make the race boring. Crowds were thin and those that were out were not cheering unless they saw something they knew. I loved the chalk art on the side walk that some of the community members drew. *Note there is an elevation map on their website, but only an elevation map for the marathon*
Aid stations: I believe they all had port a potties and a few had medical. There were a decent amount of them.
However, I have a few gripes on the aid stations: water came first then sport drink. Most people have sport drink first and then water to wash it down. I didn't take the sport drink since I don't take it during races. Also, I saw one station was handing out gels, but there wasn't anything (or anyone) calling out that gels were available and one of the women handing them out was on her phone... Lastly, about half the volunteers were calling out what they had in their cup. The first few stations didn't say what they had only stood there with cups. I did really like the cups though! If there was one thing that needed to improve on the race it would be aid stations.
Runners received: Medal, Banana, Water, Chocolate Milk, Heat sheet, and a bag of snacks. Thank you for putting it in a bag! Inside was a granola bar, Oreos, Pringles, hummus and chip thing, maybe something else.
Post race: you could buy a shirt with all the names of the racers for the distance you ran (could also buy at expo). Free massage, I was surprised and thankful the line was short. Gear pick up was easy. Chiropractor was on site and some other vendors. I thought there was beer somewhere, but I couldn't find it.
I would definitely come down to run this half again or the full! Totally recommend it to anyone, especially if you are trying to PR.
Strava Data: https://www.strava.com/activities/952997781