I've been eyeing this race since its inception in 2012. I have always been wary about its annual timing in July, though. With that in mind, I signed up for this year's race with exactly zero intention of shooting for any time goals. My true motivation?
THE RACE SHIRT!!!
Each runner gets to select one of the Big Ten schools to represent, along with a school-specific shirt. I've mentioned many times that I am a proud alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (Go Illini!) I will happily rep the orange and blue anyday.
The race village was located in Soldier Field's south tailgate lot. On race morning, I zipped there on a Divvy bike and gleefully docked at a station right next to the starting corrals. Divvy is the best.
I stopped by the Illinois booth and grabbed some rocking Illini sunglasses.
As I was making my way towards the starting corrals, an emcee announced that Illinois had the largest representation of runners at the race. (Michigan State came in a very, very, VERY close second.) Several folks around me grumbled, "What a surprise that Illinois won in a Chicago race." YES, there was a disparate hometown advantage, but I was still happy. The winning prize? The playing of the Illinois fight song at the starting line!
The starting area was jammed with spectators and mascots cheering us on. So much energy! The runners were fairly packed in at the start, but as is typical in most races, everyone gradually spread out.
The course consisted of an out-and-back on Lake Shore Drive down to 42nd Street, returning along the lakefront path. The course also went underneath the McCormick Place tunnel twice.
The temperature was in the mid 70s and rising, and the humidity was thick. I started at a semi-easy pace and felt good for the first three miles or so. Then, the humidity began wearing on me so I slowed down. (I saw one guy veer sharply off course, head directly towards some trees, and then violently throw up. Yikes!)
Around Mile 4.75, there was an on-course slip and slide. You better believe that I took advantage!
|Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the slip and slide, so here is a snapshot from Lindsay's 2012 race recap.|
As we all know from our childhood days, slip and slides generally require lots of momentum via a nice running start. However, there was a long line of folks waiting to go through. This meant there wasn't much room to do anything but take about two big steps and then plop-dive in head first. Embarrassingly, I only made it about halfway through the slip and slide before I came to a grinding halt. I had to try to get up from there and claw my way to the end. Awkward... but still fun. =D
At each of the aid stations, they were playing a rotation of the schools' fight songs. Loved it! One station played the Penn State fight song as I passed through. Adam is a proud Penn State alum so this made me smile on his behalf.
I ended up crossing the finish line in 1:02:57.
The post-race party was basically the biggest tailgate party I've ever seen in my life. There was lots of beer, plus rows and rows of grills cooking up Amylu sausages. There were also opportunities to attempt field goals, do a 40-yard dash, play corn hole, or practice your football throwing skills.
Several school mascots were present to take photos with their proud alums. There was no Illinois mascot, so I got a picture with some of the Illinois cheerleaders.
I found out later that my picture ended up getting some extra recognition - it showed up in this article! Ahhh, the magic of social media and hashtags, woo hoo!
The BTN Big 10K was a really fun, festive race! I think all Big Ten alums would enjoy it. It is nice that they offer both the 10K and a 5K distance. I am already trying to plant the seeds for Adam to sign up next year. We all gotta represent, right? =)
My next race: The Fort2Base Nautical 10-Miler on August 23.
Linking up with April, Patty, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run, and with Jessica, Mary Beth, and Jennifer for Race Recaps.