Sunday morning was considered graduation day for many who are preparing to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in less than three weeks; it was the final long run before the tapering period begins. Participants in the CARA Orangetheory Fitness Ready to Run 20 Miler ran a fully supported 20 miler along the Lakefront Trail.
The point-to-point course began at the north end of the Lakefront Path in the parking lot at Wilson Avenue and ended on the south end of the trail in Jackson Park with a celebratory finish line party. The course initially proceeded north before turning around and heading south for the majority of the run. Post-race shuttles were offered to runners, with buses stopping both downtown and back to the starting line.
Bib pickup was offered at several suburban locations the weekend before the race. Participants could pick up their bib the Friday or Saturday before the race at Road Runner Sports in Chicago. For an additional fee, CARA also offered participants the option of having their bib mailed to them.
Gear check was available at the starting line. Since it was a point-to-point course, the gear was transported to the finish line for pickup.
It was a warm morning, but the breezes off the lake helped to keep things a little cooler. Pace leaders and pace groups were offered, with paces offered in 30 second increments from 7:00 to 12:00. There were nine on-course aid stations, offering water and Gatorade Endurance, the same drinks that will be offered during the marathon. Aid stations were set up approximately every two miles. The aid station near mile 12 also offered Gatorade energy gels. Volunteers at all the aid stations were very encouraging of the runners.
The run was not timed, but was instead intended as a race simulation to help participants prepare for their race day effort. There were mile markers at every mile but no timing clocks.
At the post-run party, runners received their Ready to Run finisher’s shirt. Post-event stretching and injury analysis were offered by NovaCare Rehabilitation. Post-race snacks and drinks included a Lagunitas beer. There were many different vendors at the post-race party offering no shortage of different samples. Gatorade was at the post-race party offering samples of the gels and chews that will be on course for the marathon.
Overall, it was a successful experience for many runners and helped to reassure them that they are prepared to run the marathon in a few weeks. Now the tapering period can begin. Good luck to all the runners who are preparing for October 8!