Morton Arboretum. I purchased a membership recently because it made complete financial sense: it's tax deductible and gets me unlimited entry to a perfectly maintained, eight-mile running route devoid of careless motorist, black ice and giant pot holes. Rain, shine, sleet or snow, it's open at 7 a.m. and ready to run on when I am.
The registration for this race got my a discount on membership, so I signed up as part of that package deal. I didn't have many expectations for this race, nor did I get really stressed about it. I didn't even pick up my packet in advanced.
I rolled into the arboretum around 7:30 and found it to be well-organized. The place was crawling with helpful volunteers and you could tell the parking scenario was not their first rodeo. I hit the registration tent and had my bib and shirt in no time, which I stashed in a locker that I've used before.
I have to say, this is the quintessential suburban race. Nice and small, fully contained, laid back, easy to get to and easy to park at, and also moderately family friendly. I say moderately because it would have been simple to see your runner twice on the course even with small ones in tow, and there was a mascot there to take photos, but there wasn't a kids dash or kids activities. Regardless, there were a ton of families out, lots of lululemon and plenty of excitement as newbies toed the start line for the first time.
|Such elevation, so not pacing, oh wow|
In the start chute, they had paces clearly delineated. The race started on time and I was fine in the first mile, smiling and chatting. In the second mile I tried to dial it in and ended up pushing too hard, which I paid for later. I run the same trail weekly and knew what to expect in terms of terrain, but it was warmer than it's been in some time. I knew I was in trouble by the end of the second mile because I was exerting myself far too much for the pace I felt. I ended up having to walk up a few of the hills, but still posted miles in the low 8s throughout, so my momentary lack of badassness didn't cost me much.
In terms of the course and support, it was phenomenal. Let me say that this place outdoes itself in terms of volunteers and support. There were two aid stations with water, which you passed by twice. Every turn was well-marked and staffed by more volunteers who were some of the sweetest senior citizens ever. If they can be out there volunteering at 5 a.m. to support my silly running hobby, surely I can finish the race. Also, the scenery was awesome. The trees were just starting to flower and the daffodils were in full bloom. It was right off of a postcard.
When I finished this race, I was spent. I was surprised at how much it took me to finish this race. But again, you get out of it what you put in, and my running has become more of a hobby than a lifestyle of late. No worries, I'm still happy with an overall 8:11 pace.
Finishers received 1 beer ticket and unlimited mini bagels, boxed water and sliced bananas. There were two tents with PTs doing stretching, the second of which people must not have seen because it was empty. Yay! There was also a band, but it wasn't playing by the time I left.
Time: 51:11 for a 5K (11/131 in my division, 37th female overall)
Cost: $35 for members, $45 day of
Pros: Photos downloads are $10, parking was free and easy, volunteers were everywhere, there were mile markers with clocks at every mile, it's very spectator friendly
Cons: No medals, slim pickings for post-race food, hilly course if that's a problem for you
Would I do this race again? Maybe, if it gets me a dis count