The Live Grit Lakefront 10 Miler and 5K was this past Saturday at Montrose Beach. Put on by the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA), alongside Live Grit, this race never seems to disappoint. It is the first test in distance for spring races around Chicago and is by far one of my favorite routes. The race began at 9 a.m. just west of Montrose Beach, with the 5K and 10 miler starting together. With prize money given to top overall 10 miler finishers, you can bet the competition and local racing teams showed up! Prior to the start, Live Grit offered a warm-up for all runners to get the blood flowing in the crisp and cold morning air. Then it was time to head to the starting line and do the cold weather shuffle as the race directors made their announcements. After an incredible and powerful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, we were ready to set off.
The course is a mix of road, hills (yes, they do exist), trail and grass sections. Beginning with road at the start, you get a little uphill action through the parking lot. At the 2.25 mile mark of the 10 miler (5K heads back to turnaround at this point), it was time to really liven up the legs with Cricket Hill. The race rolled out a new contest this year for the Fastest Jack and Jill Up the Hill. Whoever could run Cricket Hill the fastest, regardless of their place in the actual race, wins! Up we went, with arms pumping and knees high. Volunteers cheered us all the way up the hill! As we made our way down, we headed south towards Fullerton Avenue. Runners started to thin out at this point and were able to find their pace down the Lakefront Trail. Once we hit the turnaround at Diversey Harbor, the path wrapped right alongside the water. The sun appeared on the way back to Montrose Harbor so I ditched my gloves, but the cool breeze from the lake had me keeping the headband on my ears. The four miles back to the start/finish area was smooth sailing. As we passed runners on their way out to Fullerton, I saw an older man getting high-fives from every runner heading back north. He had a big smile on his face and as I high-fived him, it reminded me how powerful the running community can be to one another. We build each other up to get over any feat. Speaking of feats, I still had one more to overcome as I made my way to Cricket Hill at 9.25 miles. This time you head uphill from the north end, which means if you take a quick look you could see a little skyline, a little lake and whole lot of happiness. From here it was a quick downhill and turn into the finish line.
Post race fun kicked off with a hefty finishers medal, free Connie’s Pizza and of course the free drink ticket, compliments of Lagunitas Brewery and Piperfield Wines (they had wine!). Also in attendance were some of Chicago’s finest organizations including; Girls on the Run, Chicago Run, American Cancer Society and Team PAWS. As if the post-race endorphins and Lake Michigan backdrop weren’t enough, the post-race camaraderie on this Saturday morning, had me recalling all the reasons I run and how the Chicago running community is by far the best.
Ashley Nolan is a Chicago Athlete Magazine ambassador. To read more of her athletic adventures, visit ashleymarienolan.com.