Big 10 10k

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to BTN 10K race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I’ve wanted to run the BTN Big 10K for the last couple of years but my schedule never worked out until this year.  I’ve had friends run this and raved about the whole experience and I was excited to take part.  Thankfully, a few of us BibRave Pros were given the opportunity to be part of the RAM Racing event.  Even if you are not a Big 10 alumni, the whole college rivalry and support for everyone cannot be beat.  There were 2 race distances to choose from.  The 10K started at 7am and the 5K started at 8am.

Packet pickup was a breeze at the Fleet Feet Sports Old Town store.  You also could have had the packet mailed to you at a minimal cost to save you a drive.  I chose to pick up my stuff because, well, it’s a running store!  There were four days to choose from when picking up your gear and I went on the first day due to sheer impatience and eagerness to see my bib and shirt.  The folks there were friendly and it was extremely well organized.  I was in/out in less than 10 minutes.
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My goal for the race was to hit my 10k PR since I was familiar with the course running many of the RAM Racing events downtown Chicago.  Parking was plentiful if you planned ahead.  I always reserve a spot early using a parking app on my phone within a 5 minute walk to Grant Park.  I woke up around 4:30am to head out and sight see/stretch before meeting my fellow BibRave Pros.  There were tons of runners around the streets heading to the race all wearing their Big 10 jersey shorts.  You definitely couldn’t get lost if you were new to the area by the sheer number of people heading to the start line.

The BTN Big 10K is a much bigger race than I expected and the prerace area was packed with tons to do.  Besides taking selfies and scenery pics, you could chat with the alumni at every one of the schools at their respective tents, pick up your school sunglasses, talk with the vendor tents, or just people watch.  There was a gear check area organized by bib numbers with extra bags and pins if you forgot to bring one.
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The corrals were well organized and easily labeled.  There were tons of friendly volunteers doing everything they could to ensure you had a great experience.  I was in Corral C and it seemed that there were a few hundred runners in each of the corrals.  The start line faced the skyline heading north and these RAM races always do a great job getting you pumped up to start with some loud motivating music and with a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  The emcee for this year’s race was our own Chicago Cubs Kyle Schwarber.
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As for the course, we were lucky enough to have 70 degree weather at the beginning though it definitely warmed up as we raced.  The race goes North through the city, under the tunnels of Randolph and Lower Wacker Drive.  Most of the races I’ve run downtown follow similar routes in the tunnels which aren’t very scenic.  But, when you exit and head south along Columbus, you see the crowds on the sidewalks with their motivational signs and words of encouragement.  After a little longer down South Michigan Avenue, you head east towards the lakefront past the Shedd Aquarium before heading north along the beautiful lakefront paths.  Running past Monroe Harbor was the best part for the scenery but the path is a little beaten with some decent potholes.  There were volunteers near the dangerous areas to warn you about them.  The race finishes in Grant Park to a roaring crowd and post race festivities.
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At the finish line, you are greeted by dozens of volunteers with cold RAM Racing towels and pools to dip them in.  You also have the usual water tables and a well labeled area guiding you to the finishers medal tables.  Every school had a small table with volunteers handing out your school specific finisher medal.  Then you proceeded to the food area with the bananas and Clif Bars.
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Your race entry also gets you a beer ticket, sunglasses ticket, and food ticket all attached to your bib.  The post race beer was Goose Island!  The sausages were either spicy of savory and I opted for the spicy which definitely hit the spot.  If you were a tailgater, then this BTN Big 10k was perfect for you.  There were tons of activities to do for all ages.  I didn’t get a chance to participate but there was a huge tailgate game area with a 40 yard dash area, a field goal area, inflatables area, and a bunch of smaller games for the kids.

All in all, the ambience of this race is just plain old fun.  While racing a smaller distance with big crowds, you also get a chance to support local charities like the Special Olympics Chicago as the official charity.  I had a ton of fun running with some great people and will definitely be a part of it next year.

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One Comment on “Big 10 10k

  1. Pingback: B1G Fun in Chicago | Angie Runs

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