Another weekend and another race! This weekend, it was the Sporting Life 10K (May 13, 2012). Now, I don’t normally do back to back races but this was one race that I thought was worth running because 100% of the race registration fees were being donated to Camp Oochigeas, a camp for kids with cancer.
I arrived at the start at 7:00AM on Sunday morning with my good friend Kim. She and I have known each other for a few years now and have done many races together including ones at Disney. It was really reassuring to start the race off with a friend. Plus, she makes sure I get to the race early! I got a picture of the two of us and dropped off my bag at the bag check. Since we had time (and it was cold out), we walked to the start line, took some more photos, chatted and then headed back to our corrals.
There were about 22,000 participants in this race and the streets and corrals filled very quickly. I turned around just before the start of the race and there was a sea of runners and walkers all the way back to the bag check area. I was glad we were in the second wave. The start of Canadian races tend to be rather low-key and “quiet”. There was no playing of the national anthem, just the faint toot of an air horn, some clapping and the first wave of runners was off. Then my corral inched to the start line and a few minutes later, another air horn sounded and we were off.
I wanted to do well in this race to make up for the Goodlife half marathon from last week but still had a lingering cough which I knew would be a problem. I was also a little worried about my knee too. The sports tape that was applied the day before had come off in my sleep. Rather, than trying to re-tape my knee in the morning, I decided I’d go without it. My chiropractor Marco didn’t think I’d need it so I was going to trust his judgement.
I felt good from the start down to about mile four but that’s when my sore throat caught up with me and I started to feel winded and tired. I added an extra 30 seconds onto my walking breaks but really just wanted to keep pushing because I knew I was close to the end. Somewhere just before mile five, I was passed by a couple of kids who were happily bounding by. Boy, did I feel old! But seeing them gave me that push I needed to keep going. Unlike last weekend, there was straightaway to the finish line but in a race with 22,000 other runners, you also don’t get to do that final sprint because it’s so crowded. I was elbow to elbow all the way to the end with other runners. Where’s Mike when you need him? I finished with a chip time of 56:09 which beats my previous 10K PB of 58:07. And hey, my knee held up the whole time too! Look mom! No tape!
The finish was a bit confusing as we had to walk a good distance down to Coronation Park to get our medals and post-race food. There was a long line for the medals and runners spilled onto Lakeshore Road which hadn’t been closed to traffic. The race organizers used police officers to keep runners back on both sides of the streets while cars were allowed to drive through. The officers were visibly frustrated trying to get runners off the streets but there was nowhere for us to stand because the crowds were moving so slowly. I waited about five minutes or so in a line to get my medal and then I was off to figure out where my bag was and where I could get some water.
My main complaint about the race was the finish area. The race organizers really needed more volunteers, signage, speakers or ANYTHING to get runners where they needed to go. No one knew where to go for the post-race food, their bags or the shuttles back to the city. It seemed a bit disorganized to have the Gatorade in the middle, the food on the east side of the park and the checked bags on the opposite side the park. But in the end, I found my bag, got a little bit of grub and used my cell phone to find Kim. I guess the walking around was good for a post-race stretch.
Aside from the finish area, I’d say this was a fun race and one I’d do again despite the finish area chaos. I thought it was fantastic for a race to donate 100% of the race registration fees to charity. With 22,000 participants, they must have raised a sizeable amount for Camp Oochigeas. Oh, and how can I forget the medal. It was really nice! It had color and a cute feather hanging from the corner. Next up? The Chicago Rock and Roll Half in July! I feel a lot more confident about the half knowing that I was able to run 10K in just over 56 minutes.