Race Review: Soldier Field 10 Mile

This Saturday I woke up at 5:00 to get down to Soldier Field to run a 10 Mile Race. I’d run the race once before in 2013 and enjoyed it but I was in much worse shape this time and running it solo so I was just hoping to keep a steady pace and try not to walk.

The race is organized flawlessly from start to finish. Packet pickup this year was done at Fleet Feet locations across the suburbs and in the city. At no point did I feel pressured to buy from the store and I appreciated the in and out process. Even the packet wasn’t loaded down with promotions for other events or coupons I was sure to ignore, just a bag for gear check, your bib, and the free shirt. I will say the shirt is of lower quality than other races, however, that is just nitpicking.

Day of the race was also a breeze. The Soldier Field 10 Mile race has the benefit of using the stadium and they really do a great job of getting gear check organized, getting people into their corrals and having plenty of free water bottles hanging around before the race even starts. The wait time to get running (I was in corral 7) was under 15 minutes which is unheard of for big Chicago races.

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Overall the course is my favorite of any race I’ve run. However, the first mile could use work. Like the Hot Chocolate they run you through the underbelly of McCormick Place and onto Lake Shore Drive headed South. There may be no practical solution to this, however, running through the dark on a heavily pothole-laden course is not fun. I guess the one benefit is you do it early. I have a feeling there’d be more falls if it was the last mile. Once you emerge, the course really opens up and it’s a joy to run. One obvious benefit of a long race without a 5K option is that you have more serious runners. Never did I have to dodge around people walking or people with strollers. Everyone on the course was there to run.

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The weather was also spectacular and it was perfect day for running. It was a little cold in the morning but once you got going that’s what you’re looking for. Around the 5 mile mark, the race shifts from the drive and moves over to the lake shore path. The view of the city running back North is great and considering the long winter and crappy May we had, the race was a great start to the summer. I was able to stick to my goal of not walking the course, although I did stop to take this picture.

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The highlight of the race is crossing the finish line which is the 50 yard line of Soldier Field. There’s an undeniable rush associated with running through the tunnel and out on to the field. My adrenaline was going and seeing the size of the stadium from the field is just very very cool. It makes the entire race worth it.

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After finishing the race, you are presented with a medal by an active service man/woman. I do have to say there’s a certain absurdity┬áto this. I didn’t do anything to deserve their recognition, I just went for a nice Saturday jog by the lake. They should have me present a medal to them for all they do for us. Huge shout out to my veteran buddies Greg and Scott and to anyone out there who is serving or has served.

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Even the after party was handled well. You get a nice little post race bag with your standard post race goodies- a banana and a water, but you also get some snacks. I got some fruit snacks, a Cliff bar, some pretzels, and some some Chips Ahoy! cookies. They also gave you a free beer, which I also appreciated.

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All in all a great race and great weather made for a perfect start to Summer here in Chicago. For those wondering, my finish time was just under an hour and 38 minutes, a time I was very happy with. After the race I headed home for a much needed nap and then over to the Sox game to see Paul Konkerko have his number retired. I hope to have some impressions of that up a little later in the week.

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