Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicago Marathon Race Ratings (#41) and Boston Watch 2K11!

Tag line: "Bring your own GU and lots of patience!"

Chicago, IL ~ Grant Park, Chicago
Type: 100% Pavement
Year Running: 33rd!
Registration Fee: $135
Charity Race? Yes... ~1/4 of runners are charity runners
Runners:  36,159... 16,186 Females
Available Races: Marathon Only
Average Finish Time: 4:43:48
BQ %: 8.5

Overall Race Ratings: 3.7/5.0

Average Calculated Rating: 3.7/5.0
~  As one of the marathon majors, we have to expect a huge corral and some challenges in organization. But, as one of the biggest marathons in the US, they should know how to run a corral system a little more efficiently. This can be a very fast course, if you're able to get out very early and if you're big enough to push your way through the pack. If you're looking for just a fun race with a TON of spectators throughout, you'll love it here. 

Race Director: Let's play race director...
~ Keeping in mind the size of the race, there isn't much to do about some of the organization and spacing issues. They could definitely work on the Gels however! Only 1 stop? And lose the battery- tasting Accel gel! Also-- and this is big-- there needs to be more than 3 seeded corrals with more space, and each corral should be sent off with 30 seconds after the one in front of it ends... it's the only way not to feel pinned in the entire race. 
Steph, Hillery, CB & Coach Nathan
Event Organization: 4.0/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll include things like Host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race, etc.
Distance from Airport to Expo/Race: ~ 17 Miles (ORD) 10 Miles (Midway)
Rental Car Required: No
~ This is a very large race that requires the entire city to be coordinated to work correctly. Their informative website and pre-race packets they mailed to use, started on the right foot. They did provide discount hotels as well as shuttles the whole weekend to and from the expo with stops all over downtown. The only issues I had with getting around was getting to the actually corral start of the race-- it was impossible to figure out where you were going. There were volunteers that helped, but the bag drop was extremely far from the corral starts. The same thing could be said for the family meeting area. They called it "mile 27" and they weren't kidding... it really felt like you had to walk a mile from the finish to the meeting area. 

Race Organization: 3.0/5.0
Hydration Color/Type: Gatorade/Yellow
~ There were aid stations at LEAST every 2 miles
Gel Type/Flavors/Availability:  Accel Gel/Vanilla and Chocolate/1 station!
~Post Race Food: .There is a large table lined with beer... but besides that there wasn't much going on with food. They had some small hard begals and some bananas. Gatorade was a big sponsor and they gave us one of their new post-race formula drinks. I loved that! 
Doing the "low" warning system
~ There were clocks every mile, 5K and 13.1. There were also a lot of rest stops available and aid stations. I loved the ice sponges provided at the end of the course as well. Considering, the number of heat-related issues Chicago has seen in the past, it was great that the had a color-coded warning system that they put in place starting even a few days before the race, On the downside? The "Accel Gel" tasted like a battery and was only available at 1 station! They definitely could have provided more food, considering we had a very long walk from the finish out of the shoot.

My biggest concern was the assigned corral sizes and starts! I was in the FRONT of corral B and I felt closed in from beginning until the end. They did not give 30 seconds to a minutes between corrals like larges races sometimes do, which led to large traffic jams from beginning to end. And for the little people running..... this made for a very intimidating scene! 

Course: 4.1/5.0
MarathonGuide Rating
Garmin Distance: NA (others had b/t 26.5 and 27)
Type: Pavement- City road
~ Elevation Gain/Loss: Minimal!
~ The extremely flat, looped course brings you throughout downtown Chicago, to the various neighborhoods and gives you a nice little guided tour of the city. This could be nice, but to be honest, I felt like all we saw were large buildings from beginning to end-- nothing special there. I DID love that you are turning every quarter mile or less-- no long drawn-out straightaways that you can see (and dread) for miles. 

Spectators: 5.0/5.0
They did have fantastic entertainment throughout the course-- gay cheerleaders? LOVED them! Some great bands, and very exceited spectators with awesome signs!!! There may not be a whole lot to see on the course... but the amount of spectators certainly makes up for that! You are surrounded from beginning to end. There is nothing like the spectators in any of the Marathon Majors! 

 Pace Group: 2.5/5.0
They did have a pace group for just about every 5 minutes, which is a big plus! I started with the 3:20 pace group and I can't say I loved it. The 4 of them bobbed and weaved for at least the first 10 miles before I gave up. It was like they were racing each other rather than working together. (SORRY TP!) a 3:20 is a 7:38 pace and for most of the time I was with them they were WELL under 7:30! I saw a couple other pacers WAY off pace (some having dropped off from their groups). 

Runner/Corrals: 2.0/5.0
~ Corrals were a messy situation. I was in the seeded corrals and I still had a VERY difficult time 1) Finding and getting to our start) and feeling very jammed in from beginning to end. I wish they had put some time between the start of at least the seeded corrals. 

Runners... I saw some not so nice runners around. People were pushing and shoving, cutting each other off. It was not fun. There wasn't that comradery I've come to expect at endurance events. 

Expo: 5.0/5.0
~ I think we had the most fun at the expo! The vendors were very pleasant to be around and some brought some fun stuff! The VW group had a place to take a 6 sec video (dressed up in funny stuff) that they turned into a flip book for you. The LuluLemon group brought a photobooth to take 4 pictures. They also had companies giving out samples of heating and icing pads that we loved! You can get anything you needed and they had some great Chicago marathon gear available, including my new (love) Chicago Marathon arm warmers! 

Swag: 4.0/5.0
~T-Shirts: The T-shirts have a great fit on a bright red, short sleeve tech T. They have a very basic design with the marathon name and date that really pops. I liked the shirts... and apparently so did a lot of other people, as they sported them around all weekend! 4.4

~Medals: The medals were a good size with a nice clean cut design, but sort of blasé considering the size of the event. 3.7

~ Goodie Bag: The bag had a few extras thrown in, but nothing too crazy or special. 

Results: Stephanie
Chip Time: 3:43:41
Place: Overall- 4941/36,159, Gender- 1024/16,186, A/G (F25-29)- 305/3731
Kim (another MM Diva) and I post-race!

Boston Watch 2K11
The latest update on Boston? I've gotten my registration number from the race, but we've had no official confirmation from the B.A.A. yet! 

Happy Racing,
"Run to Win" - Meb


  1. Just found your blog. Very exciting goals you have. I’ve only read your Chicago report so far, well done! Will follow your journey with interest. All the best from South Africa!

  2. Your perspective of the race is quite interesting compared to mine. You finished about 4 + hours before I did. I was used to the corrals because I am not a seeded runner. I usually my spot in a pace group in the back and I estimate it will take 30 mins to past the start line. I was right on the dot this year. Even with being in the back the sardine feeling was in affect still.

    The stuff you are liking (ice sponges) and hating (accel gel) were all gone by the time I got through to those areas.

    I thought the race bag was eh, the medal great and glad I was able to get one since I officially came in last.

    But my biggest issues is that once the alert levels went to RED and there were still plenty of people on the course, that the aid stations in the later parts of the race should have been kept open longer because if they were I am more than sure that people would not have quit or would have been able to get their game rejuvenated. kwim?

    There was no food, no medic just a few people to hand out medals at the finish line when I finally got there. The people handing out medals at the very end I am forever grateful for.

  3. Totally agree! The corrals and getting into them was nuts. I was pinned and being shoved constantly. Love the crowds but the medal is meh. The info person near buckingham fountain could not tell me where the family reunite area was...I was a walking zombie!