Post Race Report — BTN Big 10 5K Chicago

BTN Big 10 5k Recap

When you sign up for a race that you know nothing about you can send up quite surprised which was the case for me this Saturday. When it became apparent that I would be in Chicago day a few days I decided to see if there’s were any dates being held relatively close to my hotel. The BTN Big 10k event is a fairly big event with over 12000 participants taking part in either the 10k (8000+ runners) or 5k (4000+ runners) distances.  What made the event so amazing is it’s focus on Big 10 alumni. I’ve never seen an event in Canada that brings together school spirit like I did at this race.

I opted for the 5k run, even though the 10k was tempting. As my dualthlon training called for a rest day on Saturday followed by a 30 minute run on Sunday.  Since all the training advice I’ve read says flexibility is important I flipped the days. I also decided that I was unlikely to make the the 7:00 a.m. start for the 10k nor want to run that far since I still had to get back to the hotel and then spend time walking around sightseeing.

The race route started at Soldier Field and traveled first along the Metra route and then under the McCormick Place. Once through the however the route moved along the lake front. The 10k for followed one of the paths whereas the 5k route continued on the road.  That road took us back to Soldier Field and the finish line and fanfest which was an experience in its self.

The race day logistics seemed a bit challenged as there were more people standing in the Solutions line than at the Will Call lines; of course the staff at the Will Call line outnumbered the Solutions Line easily 4:1.  By the time I got to the front of the line, they simply reassigned my bib number.  I’m not really sure why i bothered to pay the extra money for the Will Call option, but I didn’t really have a choice since I couldn’t get to the pre-race kit pickup.  Even though I arrived at least 60 minutes before the gun, I was still rushing to get to my corral in time to start. Also, the signage wasn’t spectacular.  It wasn’t until I had actually finished the race that I saw the gear check location. As a result I ran with my pack on. Fortunately it only had my race shirt and a Power Bar in it for after the race. But you know, all of this is forgotten as you line up, the announcer gets everybody cheering, alumni chants start, cheerleaders and mascots perform, and you cross the start line.

What an amazing day! Race day was a beautiful sunny day.  In fact our entire weekend was sunny. Sunny, hot, and humid. Did I mention humid? The race organizers had sent out emails indicating the environmental safety as moderate, and they included a helpful graphic:

BTN Big 10 EAS

The Event Alert System (EAS) is a color-coded communication system that indicates the status of course conditions to participants in advance of the event, as well as on race day. The Alert Levels range from Low (green) to Moderate (yellow) to High (red) to Extreme (black) based primarily on weather conditions, as well as other factors.

Just before the race started — I was 25 feet from the start line — they announced a change to the heat advisory. They announced it was High and that people should exercise caution (no pun intended) as the temperature was already closing in on 30C and there were sunny skies overhead. Thankfully there were two water stations on the course so I could grab a quick drink (I only used 1).  At the other water station there was a giant slip-and-slide where people were lined up to get a break from the heat.  I chose to keep running as I was hoping to PB.  The humidity was so high that it was one if those days when my tech shirt was soaked — like wring it out soaked — and my hair was stiff from salt.  Even with the heat, the crowd, and the stress of getting my bib, I managed to get a decent time. While not my fastest 5k time, 29:29 was a 5k race PB.  I placed 748/4076; 28/102 AG division.  I do need to have more faith in myself and not head to the back of the corral so that i’m not spending so much time weaving through the crowd.

At the end of the race there was the obligatory water and Gatorade bottles — yes bottles of Gatorade for the runners, not just half filled paper cups — bananas, and oddly enough chips. Hey it’s the U.S. so maybe bags of chips is normal there when you finish a race. After I received my medal, I finished the morning checking out the incredible fanfest where all runners received a sausage and a refreshing Goose Island beer.   As I head to my duathlon, I’m feeling pretty good.

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