Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Arctic Frog 25K Race Review

First time doing this race.. I think it is only in its second year.  Found it through googling as I was hoping for a December longer race.. 25K = 15.6 Miles so fit the ticket of "longer" and was a trail race.  Always like doing different things so I was sold! 

I loved that the RD seemed to be understanding and flexible with the runners.  They said that you are able to downgrade any distance as long as you checked in prior to event.  Verifying distances are important for safety and accountability and they made it very clear that we would be sharing the path with locals using the park district which i really appreciated. Thankfully, between the racers being really spread out and the time of year, it was not a problem.  A few cross bikers but nothing else. 

Got to the race with about 20 minutes to spare. I took a wrong turn on the way there and should have been 30 minutes. Parking was plentiful and close! Start was right outside the main building and bathrooms were available on the beachside building which was a few hundred feet from the main building.  Easy Peasy.  I meant to hear what the RD had to say the pre-talk but missed it.  Got to the start with a minute to spare.. got my headband in order and also decided for no handheld water and the horn went off.  (in retrospect, was happy i just relied on aid stations, there were plenty and i had my Powerbar gels along with all the fun food they had on the course... plenty for someone at my pace)

Course:  I would describe it as 3 different length fingers and then a victory lap around the primary basin at the end. (one finger was concrete, one was limestone and one was trail/woods-like)  The weather had great conditions and limestone and wooded trail area was still pretty solid with limited-to-no mud which was great.  I had heard that area had some flooding recently and if it was 10 degrees warmer, it could have been really "goopy" through the race.  Although some might love that.. i wouldn't have.
The run itself was very peaceful and I found myself alone for about half of it. (alone defined as:  sometimes i didnt see anyone or only people off in the distance with a few passersby) I felt good the entire time.  The weather (for December in Chicago) was perfect. I loved the new wind/water proof jacket i got from asics but I noticed it gets pretty toasty.  Tank underneath was perfect and had some gloves and put on/off throughout the race.
Race had some bikers floating around throughout the race on fat tire bikes taking pics.  Snagged this one from their facebook page.  
There was a bit of a mile marker snafu earlier on.   Mile 5 was not marked at mile 5.  Thankfully I had my trusty Garmin but that could have been un-nerving for anyone without one.  Worked itself out by mile 7 i think.  Aid stations were super stocked and although the course was pretty sparse for me, the aid station workers put a pep in my step.  One was playing Ice Ice Baby when i got there.... my karaoke song!  Love it!

"second finger"
Kept plugging along and saw a handful of people in the last 3 miles.  Let 2 people pass me and passed one person in the last 5K.  Not that it mattered but b/c it was so spread out, it was nice to use those people as "markers" to where I was in the course. I read there was some feedback on poor signage the previous year and it seemed like they tried to amp it up this year.  There are some more improvements that could be made for the following year and it seems like the RD is hoping to keep improve so I can only seeing it get better.  I would say having a few more signs could help and anytime there is a person giving instructions, have them also have a sign with same information.  Sometimes, i process better seeing it esp when i am tired.   For example, someone saying "good job, stay left" is great but if they were to say that and have a sign that says "At the fork .50M ahead, veer left"  I might not have to second guess myself.  Perhaps it is just the way i process.  Also, on the second fingers turnaround, a sign on the cone sticking out of the top would have been helpful.  The aid station people yelled but a lady behind me didn't hear and the guy had to run after them.   Things that I am sure will be improved next year and for someone like me who is a back of the packer... i was fine so nothing that can't be fixed. 
"Last Finger"
"Victory Lap"
Made the approach to the victory lap and felt good.  Crossed finish to another stocked aid station (as that was halfway for the 50K's.  Chatted with the girl manning the station and cracked up to see they had "spirits" there... To each their own.. i love drinking coke during long runs.. some love taking shots apparently. 

I was happy I did this race and will be back in years to come.  Love the different distance options.  Wishing this series the best in the future!

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