From a full-blown green fairy costume to a number of people with green wigs and dyed hair, the spirit of St. Patrick (or at least the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day) was alive and well in Lincoln Park for this race the morning after the full-blown St. Paddy’s festivities took place across the city. But despite the complimentary post-race Guinness and pre-race questioning from the announcer regarding the status of everyone’s hangovers, this crowd of about 1500 people (divided between the 5K and 8K events) seemed more focused on running (if perhaps a little subdued from over-celebrating the day before).
Starting and ending in front of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the descriptively titled 11th annual St. Paddy’s Day 5K & 8K Run/Walk & Leprechaun Leap took off in one of the more genial race openings I’ve seen, with runners being so honest about their pace groups that eventually the announcer asked people to go ahead and step forward to fill in the empty spaces near the front.
8K runners were given a fifteen-minute lead to keep the course from getting too crowded, which proved helpful, especially once the route hit the lakefront trail and the occasional runner or biker out for their morning exercise found themselves immersed in a race. Separating the starts for the two runs also allowed for 5K and 8K runners to meet again just before the finish, adding even more stimulation to what tends to be the most exciting part of a race anyway.
The surprisingly perfect March weather (and a cool breeze off the lake) lent the proceedings a rare charm for a mid-March outdoor event and the indoor/outdoor post-race party on the patio of the Nature Museum served as an excellent place to toast a Guinness (whether you were dressed as a green fairy or not). (Zach Freeman)
Course: 5. Well-coordinated dual (5K and 8K) courses along the lakefront trail with plenty of friendly and helpful volunteers along the way.
Organization (bag check, etc.): 5. Plenty of pre-race announcements to specify 5K and 8K start times, no back-up on the bag check and a well-coordinated post-race party inside Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.
Goody Bag (includes shirt): 1. Just a cotton shirt–and not a particularly inspired one.
Weather: 5. Mid-seventies with a few clouds… and the breeze off the lake was incredible.
Overall: 4. Recommended Race. The weather may not always be this ideal but the organizers have this thing working like clockwork with an army of smiling volunteers and a perfect pre- and post-race gathering place.