While I was heading up Lake Shore Drive at about 6:30am on Saturday morning, the rain was coming down in sheets. "Greeeat," I groaned. "Ten miles in a rainstorm, this should be interesting." Maybe I'm just a wimp, but I pulled it together and braved the elements for the Nike/Fleet Feet Soldier Field 10 Mile race. As it turned out, the volunteers setting up aid stations along the lake path got totally drenched, but the racers were spared as the showers tapered off about 15 minutes before the start gun.
The event was created four years ago by Dave Zimmer, owner of Fleet Feet Sports. They joined forces with Nike--who's races I've previously run in NYC and San Francisco--and I must say, they are always amazing. This event was no exception. All of the folks behind planning the event went to great lengths to make it feel special with details like dry fit tees as the freebie race shirt (much better than a cotton shirt that sits in your drawer for the next seven years) and gear booths, where Nike gave LaRabida Children's hospital $5 for every pair of shoes that were tried on.
The race started just outside of Soldier Field, headed south through the McCormick Place underpass and down Lake Shore Drive, then turned north at about 53rd St and continued north up the lakefront path. The finish was the best part: we ran around the stadium and ended on the Soldier Field 50-yard line. Each finisher's face was up on the JumboTron for a few seconds. It was pretty awesome.
The women's winner Jessica Langford (Rockford, IL) broke a record with her winning time of 58:22. It was the first time at the Soldier Field 10 Mile race, the women's winning time was under the 1 hour mark. The men's winner, Greg Costello of Chicago, IL, won the race with a time of 50:53. Greg is a marathon Olympic Trials qualifier.
Even though it was gray and chilly at the finish (luckily the rain didn't come back to soak us), there was a totally fun BBQ and summer kick-off vibe thanks to the freshly grilled hot dogs and beer on-hand (seriously, what a post-race snack). And the cool temps meant lots of racers enjoyed PRs on the course, so everyone was in great spirits. It was the perfect start to Memorial Day weekend.
Now I'm all excited about the upcoming year of races. But as a somewhat new Chicagoan, I'm still learning about must-run events, like the SF 10 miler. Leave a comment with your favorites!