Saturday’s Country Sole Half-Marathon was the second time I’ve run in this event. I ran in last year’s race and what a difference there was in the organization of the event from one year to the next. I was looking forward to running this race again because of the really good experience I had last year. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for this year’s event.
Let me start with the good points. The weather was cool, dry and hardly any wind was present. I had been following the weather forecasts carefully the day before because rain and gusty winds were predicted to arrive late in the morning. And arrive they did. I hung around for awhile after the race and knew it was time to leave when just before noon the temperature noticeably dropped, and it got very windy very fast. On the drive home, the news was reporting gusts of up to 60 mph. I was so glad the weather favored our morning endeavor. Everyone had completed the race by the time the weather changed.
A few of the negatives in this year’s race include the country band that played some weird screeching guitar version of the national anthem before the race. I looked around to see the reactions of other participants and some rolled their eyes while others looked dumbfounded. I think the main disappointment, however, was the course itself. Having run this race last year, I expected to run the same course; I never did see any information mentioning that there was a new course this year. The course had a double loop to it where at one point it becomes a fork and you either veer to the left or to the right. The confusing part of this was that one course marshal was yelling “Go left to mile 6 or right to mile 10” while I heard another marshal shouting something about doing this or that for the 10k. Some of this confusion may have been due to three distinct races (a 5k, 10k, and half-marathon) all starting at the same time and sharing portions of the same course. I saw a race pacer further up ahead of me and figured they must be pacing the half-marathon, so I went left and followed them.
The course zig-zagged along the lakefront with runner’s having to run in single file for a short distance as they approached a narrow stretch just before mile 10. I ran awhile with Navy reservist Dennis Cochran who ran the entire race wearing his military gear including combat boots and carrying a large U.S. Flag.
Some of the other race shortcomings were that there were not enough finishers medals available to all those who completed the half-marathon. I also learned from talking to another runner that there were not enough hoodies of certain sizes for the participants who requested them.
I’d say that All Community Events has a few items to address to make this race better for next year. The overall male winner was Sean McNeil of Canton, Mass. in a time of 1:13:52. The women’s finish was a tight one with the top three females finishing within twenty-one seconds of each other. The victory went to Elizabeth Freund of Richmond, Va. winning in 1:33:25. I’d like to congratulate fellow Chicago Athlete Magazine Race Ambassador Erika Ostrander for her third place overall female finish in the 5k race.