The Chicago River wasn’t the only thing going green on Saturday to kick off the city’s week-long celebration of St. Patrick’s Day; the lakefront path was a sea of green as over 400 runners dressed in their finest moisture-wicking green apparel tackled the Get Lucky races presented by Team Ortho.  Saturday marked the sixth running of Team Ortho’s Get Lucky Half Marathon and 7K on Chicago’s lakefront path.

Packet pick-up took place on Friday in the Athlete Village set up on Soldier Field’s south lawn, with an options for mailing and race day pick-up available for an additional fee.  Packet pick-up was made very quick and easy with complimentary parking on the Waldron Deck of the parking garage at Soldier Field.  Besides the festive quarter-zip shirt included with registration, additional Get Lucky gear was available for sale in the Athlete Village at packet pick-up and on race day, as well as the opportunity to register for future Team Ortho races including the Tiki Run and Women Rock.  On Saturday morning the Athlete Village was also home to Gear Check and post-race food and drink, in addition to vendors including Bai, Lifeway Kefir, Lively Running and Krave Jerky.

With recent weeks boasting frequent temperatures in forties and fifties, and the occasional sixty-degree day, temperatures in the teens on Saturday morning and single-digit wind chills was a bit of a shock to the system as I set out for the Get Lucky Half Marathon.  I had a 20-mile long run on my training schedule this weekend, so I ran four and a half miles to Soldier Field to warm up arriving with just enough time to check my hydration vest and walk the quarter mile from the Athlete Village to the start line located just south of Soldier Field’s Sledding Hill.  With the aid of the various pace signs allowing runners to self-seed appropriately within the start corral, I made my way to where the two-hour pace team, donning festive green plaid kilts, was waiting for the 9 a.m. start.  My plan for the morning was to run the Get Lucky Half at goal marathon race pace and then cool-down on the four-and-a-half-mile journey home.

As we headed south on the lakefront path, the early miles ticked away with ease and I noticed that we were averaging a good ten to fifteen seconds per mile faster than a two-hour half marathon pace.  Unlike many of the races that take place on southern portion of Chicago’s  lakefront path, the Get Lucky Half Marathon did not pass over the 47th street hill, which was definitely a welcome change-especially on the way back to the finish line!

After making the turn-around on the south end of Jackson Park Harbor, it became very clear why the miles in the first half passed with ease, despite running faster than planned; we were treated to the extra challenge of sustained, and strong, headwinds for the remaining 6.55 miles.  The primary benefit of running with the two-hour pace team was no longer having someone else to set the pace, but rather drafting.  I secured my position in the group using the two pacers as human shields to limit some of the effort of running into the headwind on the way back to the finish line.

At mile 11 I was feeling good, (and ready to be done!), so I left the comfort and protection of the two-hour pace group and went head-to-head with the wind on my own for the final 2.1 miles.  Rounding the corner by McCormick Place I caught my first glimpse of the finish line and kicked the pace up a notch, accelerating to a 1:57:55 finish.  Upon crossing the finish line, I promptly received an ice-cold bottle of water, Get Lucky buff and stained-glass finisher medal before hurrying back to the Athlete Village to collect my hydration vest and jacket so I could cheer some of the runners remaining on the course in.  Unfortunately, my post-race spectating and cheering was short-lived as the cold and wind got the better of me.

As an added challenge, (besides the cold and wind!), this year Team Ortho added the 21K The Hard Way to the race line-up, allowing runners to complete a 14K that brings the athlete right back to the starting line beginning at 9 a.m. followed by a 7K race at 10:30 a.m..  At first glance, I thought the challenge might be navigating the various turn arounds for the 7K, 14K and half marathon (as well as deciphering which mile markers were relevant to each race!) given that all three distances shared the same course.  However, the volunteers manning the various turnarounds were exceptional at directing the runners, ensuring everyone ran the appropriate distances for their individual races.  Thirty-two runners conquered the 21K The Hard Way Challenge, as well as a combined total of over six hundred runners completing the 7K, 14K and half marathon.

Overall Male Winners Half Marathon:

  1. Jared Fry, 1:15:33
  2. Marcus Paulson, 1:18:25
  3. Justin Sattler, 1:21:16

Overall Female Winners Half Marathon:

  1. Pamela Staton, 1:23:14
  2. Sarah Mahaney, 1:26:12
  3. Amy Campbell, 1:26:59

Overall Male Winners 7K:

  1. Wayne Komsi, 30:44
  2. Danny Henek, 30:53
  3. Ryan Kunz, 31:45

Overall Female Winners 7K:

  1. Tracy Eier, 31:13
  2. Araba Nti, 32:14
  3. Maria Demopoulos, 34:38

Overall Male Winners 14K:

  1. Wayne Komsi, 1:00:07
  2. Charles Gonzalez, 1:03:46
  3. Ryan Kunz, 1:06:12

Overall Female Winners:  14K:

  1. Danielle Zimmerman, 1:04:44
  2. Shari Newland, 1:07:08
  3. Karen Cheng, 1:07:48

Overall Male Winners 21K The Hard Way:

  1. Wayne Komsi, 1:30:51
  2. Charles Gonzalez, 1:36:48
  3. Ryan Kunz, 1:37:57

Overall Female Winners 21K The Hard Way:

  1. Danielle Zimmerman, 1:39:43
  2. Roxy Ledwa, 1:47:13
  3. Rachel Kline, 1:48:18
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Kristan Huenink has been exploring the city in her running shoes for the better part of a decade and coaching runners from beginners to marathoners nearly as long. She enjoys road racing at all distances, having completed countless short-distance races and nearly 20 marathons. When injury demanded she seek alternative physical activity, Kristan took her PT’s advice and decided to give tri a try. She has fully embraced the multi-sport lifestyle, completing multiple sprint, 70.3 and Ironman-distance races, as well as qualifying for USAT Age-Group Nationals and earning Ironman All-World Athlete Bronze status. Kristan is a USAT-Certified Coach with Grit Endurance in the West Loop, where she coaches Computrainer sessions, group run and triathlon training programs of all distances and levels, and one-on-one personal coaching. When she’s not training or coaching, Kristan can be found devouring the latest endurance sport literature and studying training data from her Garmin in pursuit of her next PR.

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