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Run For Walk race report

Woke up at about 4:30am yesterday morning so we could get the kids dressed and in the car. They love being up and going somewhere when it's still dark out so it's guaranteed quiet time for us. They stare out the car windows at the way the world looks different. Traffic was so light at that hour that we beat the "no traffic" Google estimate by a good 15 minutes and pulled into a nearly-empty parking lot in Evanston.

Plenty of free parking space in the lot next to the Northwestern University stadium where the event begins/ends. We were there right at 6am when packet pickup was open and there were no lines. Excellent goodie bag with a purple Big Ten foam finger, NU plastic cup, pen, purple race shirt, and a coupon on your race bib that is exchanged in the arena lobby for a free Northwestern non-conference home football game in Aug or Sept. With the option to purchase $15 extra tickets.

Registration is inside the arena along with restrooms. Maxwell House was setup at a tent to give away free cold brew coffee samples, and they had plenty of water at a table next to the start line. The start of the race had a couple of short speeches from Northwestern's head football coach and the wife of former NU football coach Randy Walker--the race is a memorial for him. One of my only complaints about the entire day was that the sound system did not work well so announcements cut in and out.

That's a pretty good race if that's my only complaint!

The start line heads south from the stadium then east through tree-lined Evanston streets. The road is a little chewed up in a few spots so watch your footing. Plenty of water stops out there though. Nothing else besides water on the course. Once you get to the university campus and lakefront, the shade goes away so the middle couple miles of the course were pretty hot. There's a few small hills as you head down a bike path past lagoons and shoreline. Back to the football stadium via the same route and the finish line is on the 50 yard line. (The running race is 4.1 miles.) They had Gatorade at the finish, Whole Foods had bananas, there were full bottles of water, Northwestern University souvenir stand open, and a tent with printable receipts to get your results. Photos and online results were linked on the university's sports account when I checked later in the evening.

This is a CARA Runners Choice event so I expected a fairly well-run race. But we were impressed with the family-friendly nature of the whole thing. If we'd been thinking, it was really a race we should have done as a family. As it was, The Mama occupied the kids...I promised them at the start line that it would be much shorter than some of the all-day versions they remember attending...with climbing the stadium stairs. It helped that I ran faster than I thought I would, too!

But the course is pet-friendly, walker-friendly (5k), stroller-friendly. My one complaint about the strollers, however, is the stroller pushers...I'm looking at you, one particular lady...who start at the back as requested then insist on running the race full speed and weaving in and out of other runners from behind yelling "stroller coming through!" You are annoying, lady. Either stay slow and to the back or leave your jogging stroller home, I say. I don't mind having to go around the walkers at the end so much. The turnaround point for walkers could have been better marked, maybe. But the mile markers all had clocks, bonus points for that.

Overall, this race was fun, easy, fairly inexpensive, and well worth adding to your schedule for 2015. Not a ton of bells and whistles, but a lot of value for your money if you want a small-to-midsize local event

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