Why run a 10K on the Chicago lakefront in February? There are a lot of races for charity but not a lot of races where the charity uses running as a catalyst to help people move out of homelessness. At the Mardi Gras Chaser 10k/5k, which took place this Saturday, 100 percent of the proceeds go to Back on My Feet.
When you live in the western suburbs of Chicago, running a race that starts at Montrose Harbor is a bit of an ordeal. Like almost every city race, early packet pick-up was held only at a downtown Chicago location. Unlike many city races, however, there was free same day packet pickup. So we piled into the car at 7:15 a.m. for a race that started at 10 a.m., drove in and found free parking near the race start line. In February, we were not fighting early morning beach goers to find a parking spot.
Packet pickup was organized and with the small size of the race (256 participants in the 10K and 383 participants in the 5K) it was fast and easy. The grey, long sleeved, cotton t-shirt seems a bit subdued for a Mardi Gras themed race but it will be nice to wear with jeans in coming weeks.
Shortly before race time, there was an enthusiastic group warm up to Zydeco music which quickly got people in the mood. The announcement system was great; the music, all announcements and the national anthem could all be clearly heard. Another plus for this race was they took the time to put out pace signs and put the fast runners in the front and the slow ones in the back. This simple step is often left out in small races but it is a major thing for having a race, especially on a fairly narrow path, run smoothly.
Promptly at 10 a.m. the 10K began, and the 5K started 15 minutes later. The race is an out-and-back course that heads south on the Lakefront Trail for just over three miles before turning around and heading back. The 5K course is the same as the 10K course with a turnaround just past the 1.5 mile point. The trail was in good shape with very little winter damage. The volunteers for this race were amazing! We were enthusiastically encouraged at each aid station (there are four water stops on the 10K course – two spots passed twice) and by course monitors along the way.
Before we knew it the race was over and we were given colorful beads, a medal and boxes full of full size Cliff bars, and other Bimbo products (snack cakes and other baked goods). It was too cold to stand around long and we skipped the after party at Fat Cats but overall this was a fun, well-organized race for a great cause. I will definitely run the Mardi Gras Chaser again!
The first place male and female 10K finishers:
Scott Majewski 35:53
Lydia Nader 41:39