Skip to main content

Strike Out ALS 5k race report

First off, a big thank you to Nicole Kesten ( & @ChiTriBloggers) who runs the triathlete blogger network She's the one who had a race entry to give away and I appreciate the chance to run.

The Les Turner ALS Foundation was the charity of the evening yesterday. For those of you not familiar with ALS, it's also known as Lou Gehrig's disease...every 90 minutes in the US someone is diagnosed with 35,000 people having the disease at any given time. It's a progressive disease that gradually weakens the body, has no cure, and usually leads to death in 3-5 years.

I chose not to pick up my packet on Sunday and do it at the race venue--which was US Cellular Field. I got off the Red Line a few minutes before the posted 5:30pm registration opening, but the tent was already serving people when I arrived. Clearly labeled signs guided participants to registration or pickup. Race bibs were well-organized in a binder, volunteers had pens and waivers ready to sign, you got your race shirt, everybody was friendly, and there was a course map displayed.

The gear check tent was tucked over to the side and the volunteer handing out bibs wasn't quite sure where it was located. But I found it and used the toilets just in time for a wave of rain showers to arrive. There was plenty of room both inside the stadium's restaurant and under the patio tents. The weather mostly blew over and it didn't rain again until the very end of the race. Last year, they said, the heat index was 105 so mid-60's with a bit of rain wasn't bothering too many people.

Most of the runners there clearly had fundraising teams, there was a running club, lots of families. Lots of strollers. Lots of people planning to walk. Indeed, the start area was clearly labeled for walkers and runners. I was a bit amused because even 5 min before the start gun, very few people seemed eager to toe the line...or even enter the fenced area. There was a short speech--not easily heard from the stage to start line--and then we were off.

The race is 100% in the area around the stadium. Going past it, to the edge of the parking lots, around the perimeter, along train tracks, into the stadium and around the warning track, past the dugouts and home plate, then back down 35th under the stadium entrance ramps and around to the finish. One water stop at just after the first mile.

There were plenty of volunteers and the course was coned. At the finish, you input your bib number and got a receipt-style printout of your results with age group, gender, finish time, pace, etc.. There were tables with bottled water and granola bars to help yourself though. Nobody handing them out or guiding finishers to them.

It's kinda hard to decide how hard to judge a small charity race. Is it fair to hold them to normal race standards? I don't know and that's a topic for another day. This afternoon I just checked the race website and there is no link to results. The post-run "party" area you had your choice between going inside the restaurant and being served or being out on the patio where the "special" was $4.50 Chicago-style hotdogs. Not something I would want to eat, nor pay for, after running a 5k. With the rain, I opted to get back on the train and eat at home.

I'm not sure if our photo/video was supposed to be displayed on the stadium tv. And there was the usual post-race physical therapy tent, a band was set to play, and they were handing out awards for top 3 finishers in each age group plus overall.

So if you wanted my honest opinion...everything was well-organized but very few extras or little extra touches. $50 was the walk up registration price and if I'd paid full price I'd have liked another water stop, more refreshments, and it kinda would have been cool to have let us into the stadium more to either get out of the sun or out of the rain. It was a solid event though. No major complaints. Plenty of bathrooms. A couple of clocks on the course were helpful. All that.

I finished 16th in my age group and ran a decent race. I'd have liked to know how many runners there were total and behind me, what the winning time was, etc.. Not a race I'd pay to repeat on my schedule next year, maybe, but it's only the 5th year they've done it. I know this year's course was new. I think if they made some improvements, it'd be a really nice, small race at a cool venue.

Still a fun way to spend an evening and my legs are aching in a way they haven't for years. I may need to foam roll later today!


  1. Nice detailed write up. For those charity 5k's, i always make concessions on my standards for races vs. a large for-profit event. It sounded like there was a good community/fundraising component which i like to see but could do a little better at involving the runners (i.e. if you are going to do chip timing, you should be able to get results at least that night). happy you had fun!


Post a Comment