Breakdown: Sometimes it’s clear when an organization is doing something right. Last year the inaugural BTN Big 10K sold out (with around 4, 500 participants showing up on race day). Solid organization, lots of promotion, the BTN name recognition and good word-of-mouth from last year’s race led to almost that many people showing up for the 5K run alone this year, with registrations for the 5K and 10K together reaching 12,000. So I guess students and alumni in the Big Ten love to represent their alma maters.
While last year’s races started and finished in front of Soldier Field, base camp moved slightly north this year, with runners lining up in their starting corrals along Solidarity Drive in front of the Adler Planetarium. Fans and mascots from all twelve schools lined the starting line to cheer, as corrals of runners were released every thirty seconds. The two distances were appropriately spaced out, with the 10K starting at 7am and the 5K not starting until 8:30.
The post-race “tailgate party” included one free hotdog and beer with race entry (and more for purchase) along with other football-related games and activities. Most participants looked like current students or recent alumni and more than anything else, this event seems to be about the post-race festivities. And organizers are offering a pretty sweet party, where friends and rivals can join together to celebrate their own (and their university’s) accomplishments. This race is big, but I’d say it still has room to grow. But for that, they’ll need a new location.
Price: $45-$50 for the 10K, $35-$40 for the 5K, $25 for the Kids 5K (12 & under)
Course: Starting on Solidarity Drive near the Adler Planetarium offered runners some incredible views of the city and the lake, but made the start feel a lot more crowded than it could have. Despite running along an open Lakefront Trail, it didn’t feel too packed. And the mid-course slip ‘n slide is always a welcome sight to this reviewer.
Organization (gear check, etc.): Dealing with almost 12,000 people (4,132 in the 5K and 7,267 in the 10K) is a big task, especially on a peninsula. Splitting the races up by ninety minutes was a good move but this race is right at capacity for this location. Packet pick-up was a breeze at Fleet Feet.
Goodie Bag (includes shirt): School-themed race shirts were updated (and slightly improved) from last year. Runners proud of their alma mater will be glad to sport these shirts. A post-race beer and hotdog were also included, along with a pair of sunglasses.
Weather: Right around sixty degrees and cloudy. Perfect running weather, but a little chilly for a slip ‘n slide. (Zach Freeman)