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Crossing Courses on a Saturday Morning - Friends of the Poor 5K

After the Friends of the Poor 5K turnaround/running
beside the MMRF 5K walkers
As I mentioned in my Newcity review of the Friends of the Poor 5K Run/Walk, there are a ton of races in Chicago (and a truly incredible amount of them if you count all the races in the entire Chicagoland area). Yesterday morning I ran only one of them, but because of the way this race and another (the MMRF Race for Research 5K Walk/Run) had mapped out their courses I basically ran both.

That breakdown is in my Newcity review, but I thought I'd give a bit more information here. I overheard some of the race organizers talking about the situation and thought it was pretty interesting. They said that everyone basically goes into the Chicago permit office around the same time at the start of the year and applies for their Special Event Permit. When they get their permit they're not informed about whether or not anyone else applied for (and received) a permit for a similar event nearby.

While I can understand their frustration, I can't say that I see this type of notification as the responsibility of the permit office, especially since I assume what you apply for a Special Event Permit for a race that uses the Lakefront Trail you're really applying for the use of the area where you'll have your basecamp (in this case the grass across the street from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum). Still, if that's the case, I'm surprised this type of overlap hasn't happened before. I've certainly been involved with races that had some shared trail for some distance of the course (though usually there are signs and the overlap is minimal) but this is the first time I've had a full-blown cross-course start/finish overlap like this.

Just after passing through (well, around) the start/finish for the MMRF 5K
So, should race directors be researching what other races (or even events) are taking place near and around their event at the same day/time? If so is there some type of database that the Chicago Park District offers easy access to so that that type of research can be done quickly and easily. I'm not sure what kind of changes either race could have made if they had known about their conflicting courses in advance but at the very least they would have been able to let their participants know to look out for another race and not to worry about their timing chips being affected by crossing another race's start/finish line (I heard a few runners from MMRF anxiously discussing this as they ran through the Friends of the Poor finish line).

Overall, I still had a great run - it was a beautiful morning, the race was particularly small (I'd guess around 120 runners, if that) and everyone was friendly and excited to be there. My favorite part of the race was when an elderly spectator asked me and the guy running next to me as we were heading north for the final leg of the Friends of the Poor 5K why so many walkers were in front of us. "Did they just start that far ahead of you?" he asked.

"DIFFERENT RACE!" we both yelled out at the same time.

Different race. Same course. Same day. If you ran the MMRF Race for Research - I hope you enjoyed your race... and I hope I didn't get in your way too much!

I think I finished with a 24:40 but I'll have to wait for the official results to come out to be sure.

Final note: the Friends of the Poor 5K was a "Run/Walk" and the MMRF Race for Research was a "Walk/Run" - it seems like just an arbitrary placement of words, but there were a lot of people walking in the MMRF race so maybe it's intentional. I've never really thought about that before.
Sweet pre-race yoga before the Friends of the Poor 5K

Comments

  1. "Did they just start that far ahead of you?" lol this cracked me up. I love how runners can participate in races all year long, even staying in one state. Obviously it would be a dream to participate in the great wall marathon, but that's all the way in China. That's like searching through best essay writing sites and finding the best one at the end of the list.

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