|Runners shaking servicemembers' hands before the Soldier Field 10 Mile|
Because of the long weekend I was able to make a double-header race weekend out of it (perhaps it can be classified as a triple-header, but more about that later) while still getting a rest day in between the races; I ran the Soldier Field 10 Mile on Saturday morning and the Ridge Run Challenge on Monday morning. Both races celebrate Memorial Day and both are races that I've done in the past (past Soldier Field and Ridge Run reviews) and knew I would enjoy. And I did: the weather was nearly ideal (it got a little warm on Monday morning), the races were well-organized, the themes were solid and inspirational and I felt great during both of them.
Saturday morning I took the CTA to Roosevelt and then a Divvy to the Field Museum (without public transportation and the sharing economy I would be lost in this city) and got to Soldier Field around 6:15, only to find out that my wave wouldn't start until around 7:30 (the obvious lesson is: when the race has a guidebook you should probably read it. Start times were clearly described in the guidebook). Luckily the Soldier Field 10 Mile is a fairly large race (almost 13,000 people finished this year) so there was plenty going on to keep me occupied before I started.
|Runners heading towards Lake Shore Drive for the Soldier Field 10 Mile|
I got to talk to Zimmer after the race and he said that after eleven years the pre-race ceremony is still his favorite part of this race. "It's why we started the race," he said. "The stories we've been told over the years always make me pause and think how absolutely lucky we are. And to be able to take a full pause and really think about what Memorial Weekend is all about." Here he reiterated what the race-announcer asked us to think about at every mile marker: "Freedom."
As I said earlier, I've run this race a few times before and knew it would be well-organized and fun to run. On the way south, the entire northbound side of Lake Shore Drive (four lanes) was blocked off, giving runners plenty of room to spread out despite the large field of participants. When it comes to waves things can get a little frustrating, since wave assignments aren't necessarily done by anticipated finishing time. Having so much space really lets you focus on running and not on getting around people. It also lets you safely turn around and run backwards while taking pictures, though I wouldn't recommend it.
|Runners heading south in the northbound lane of Lake Shore Drive for the Soldier Field 10 Mile|
|Runners heading north on the Lakefront Trail for the Soldier Field 10 Mile|
|The Chicago skyline on the Soldier Field 10 Mile course|
|Runners head into Soldier Field to finish on the 50 for the Soldier Field 10 Mile|
But when you see the tunnel that opens out on the field and the spectators cheering it's one of the most exciting finishes I've taken part in in Chicago (or anywhere for that matter - the Athens Marathon still has the best finish line though, for obvious reasons).
|Runners coming out into Soldier Field at the end of the Soldier Field 10 Mile|
|Finishers at the Soldier Field 10 Mile|
And then there's the post-race party. Live music and one free beer - pretty standard post-race stuff but a nice way to wrap up the morning. I hung out for about 15 minutes or so - long enough to grab my gear from gear check, get my free beer, listen to a few songs and stretch. Then I headed back to the Divvy station to go celebrate Memorial Day the more typical way: with friends and a grill.
|Post-race party for the Soldier Field 10 Mile|
|Runners going the WRONG WAY during the Soldier Field 10 Mile|