The F^3 Half Marathon and 5k, dubbed Chicago’s original winter half marathon, thoroughly embraced the “winter” portion of its slogan this year by providing runners with snow throughout the entire race. Luckily both the 5k and half marathon offered runners access to the United Club at Soldier Field before and after the race so that runners could warm up/stay warm and had a full room blocked off for gear check (which is clearly necessary for a winter race!). With a later start time of 10am, this race is convenient even for those not living in the city of Chicago.
The race sold out a few days before the race, though it never felt overly congested on the Lakefront Path. Runners had the choice of a shirt and gloves or to donate their swag (cash equivalent) to their charity partner, Girls in the Game. I chose the shirt (highlighted by the Chicago flag) and gloves, because you can never have enough gloves if you live and work out in the Midwest. Packet pick-up had to be completed prior to race day unless you paid a race-day pickup fee, but there were many locations to choose from in the 10 days leading up to the race, and friends could pick up your packet for you as well.
The course route was very well marked and was clear of snow and there was plenty of salt on the path to melt any remaining snow or ice. There were puddles that could be avoided, though that would prove to be pointless given that it was precipitating throughout the entire race. It was never snowing hard, but I was soaked from head to toe and was incredibly grateful that the United Club was open to all runners so that we could get warm and even change clothes. The course was an out-and-back like previous years, starting right outside of Soldier Field, looping around the stadium and then heading out on the path for about 7 miles before turning around. Aid stations approximately every two miles on the run course offered water and Gatorade and there were clocks at almost every mile marker, which is unheard of in a half marathon. There were also pace teams provided by Chicago Endurance Sports Pacers, ranging from 1:30 to 3:30 to accommodate all running and run/walk abilities.
There was plenty of post-race entertainment: photo booth, create-your-own photo magnet, samples from vendors, and, of course, the post-race party at Kroll’s afterwards. Your race bib provided you with a free beer upon arrival as well. Awards were given out just before the post-race party at Kroll’s, but ALL runners received a nice medal that serves a dual purpose as a bottle opener.
Between the late start, clear course (despite snow/ice/sleet/etc), fun post-race party, and swag, make sure to sign up for the F^3 half marathon or 5k in January 2021!