Street Smart Chicago

Race Review: 5K March to College (May 8, 2014)

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Students cross the finish line at the 5K March to College/Photo: Zach Freeman

Students cross the finish line at the 5K March to College/Photo: Zach Freeman

Breakdown: Some races are all about the course. Some are all about the post-race party. And some are all about the charity and its benefactors. The 5K March to College—put on by Companies That Care in order to help its students “dream about going to college and be able to get there”—falls into that final group, with a college and career fair starting at 2pm leading into the 5:30pm race start time and the vast majority of participants being the very students the race is meant to support.

Now in its third year, this race has seen steady growth since its inception in 2012. The crowded starting line this year spilled out around the starting area on Columbus just east of Upper Hutchinson Field and swarmed onto the course once the race was underway. Despite numerous reminders from the race announcer that walkers should move to the back of the pack, youthful exuberance and a lack of pace signs led to a slightly rocky start.

But the open course along the Lakefront—heading north by Museum Campus and turning around just before Dusable Harbor—provided plenty of space for runners (and walkers) to spread out and enjoy an evening trek along the lake. The finish line was exciting, particularly once younger runners started racing in, but the post-race refreshments (bananas, apples and stale bagels) left a little bit to be desired. Still, when you’re running a race that’s centered around the charity it was created to support, a stale bagel is a small price to pay for the positive vibes and the potential to inspire a student to go to college.

Price: $10-$35 (special prices for students and families)
Course: An open course on the Lakefront Trail on a Thursday evening in May has the potential for some difficulties with non-participants looking for space, but this race walks the line at the number of participants a course like this can accommodate. Volunteers along the course clearly directed runners when to turn.
Organization (gear check, etc.): Quick, easy gear check and fast race day packet pickup.Things were so well-coordinated that the race actually started a few minutes early. The starting line would benefit from pace-group signage to prevent clustering of slower runners.
Goodie Bag (includes shirt): Runners choose between four different-colored cotton shirts reading “Like College,” “College Bound,” “In College” or “College Graduate.” Very cool concept.
Weather: Hovering around eighty on the cusp of too warm with a strong northerly wind. (Zach Freeman)

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