Street Smart Chicago

Race Review: The Original 5K (May 31, 2014)

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Runners cross the finish line at The Original 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman

Runners cross the finish line at The Original 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman


Breakdown: Sharing memories of his first 5K—where his father put out a cigarette at the starting line before someone yelled “Go!” to get the race started—Fleet Feet owner Dave Zimmer enthusiastically thanked the roughly 1000 runners gathered at the starting line for the inaugural Original 5K. Intended to take runners “back to the 70s when American distance runners stood atop the podiums of the world’s most famous races” the Original 5K sported a solid 70s theme, with a low entry fee, volunteers shouting out course times from stopwatches along the course and a pair of Wigwam tube socks replacing a race shirt in the official packet. In short, a relative back-to-basics running experience along the lakefront.

I say “relative” because the race was still chip-timed (“do you really want to wait a couple of weeks to receive your results in the mail?” the race’s website asks), most runners sported new-fangled running gear and the post-race party included Clif bar samples. But the complimentary post-race beer kept it old-school: Miller High Life.

“I think this running thing might just catch on,” race announcer Dave Kappas frequently quipped throughout the morning. Indeed it might. If the Original 5K proved anything Saturday morning—aside from the fact that Chicagoans love a good themed race—it’s that a race, stripped of all its fanciness, is a group of people meeting in one place and running together for a good time. Whether they’re wearing tube socks and headbands or Garmins and iPhones. “Is this the best running city in America or what?” Zimmer declared rhetorically at the starting line, to resounding cheers from the runners. There’s a pretty good chance it is.

Price: $19.72
Course: An open course starting and finishing in Montrose Harbor, this course stayed relatively open throughout. Despite references to races in the 70s telling people to “go out, turn around and come back” the course was clearly marked with lots of volunteers directing runners and passing out water.
Organization (gear check, etc.): Gear check got a little backed up after the race but otherwise things ran smoothly, from day-of race registration to packet pick-up to kicking the race off and delivering those delicious Miller High Lifes.
Goodie Bag (includes shirt): A pair of striped Wigwam tube socks. Good for this race and all future dodgeball tournaments.
Weather: It may have been warm, but the breeze coming off the lakefront kept things cool. (Zach Freeman)

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