This was my first time racing in Chicago. The forecast was for rain, which it did the night before, but on race day it was cold but dry. With the last minute inclusion of a marathon there were about 400 runners out there. I ran the 50k race. which like the other ones was 3 loops on the Lakefront trail along lake Michigan. The course is quite flat with one small hill at the marathon turn around. I quickly started talking with with a first time ultra runner from Indiana named Chris and the first lap went by fast. I was on 5 1/2 hour pace, I planned on 6 1/2 hour, but I felt comfortable. I dropped Chris and shortly after starting the second lap joined a local runner for a while.
The race is well organized and has ample aid stations with a good selection of drinks and food. I also found that the helpers were very encouraging and cheerful. On the way out you get a great view of the skyline of Chicago. On the last lap there was quite a strong headwind on the way out and by this time a was walking quite a bit, but of course this wind is at your back once you make the turnaround. At the aid station just after the turnaround someone told me they thought they had seen my picture in Ultra running magazine, so for a moment I was a celebrity, that put a spring in my step. About a mile or so before the end of each loop you come around a point. When you round this point you can see the 63rd St beach house where the finish line is, when I did this for the last time I started to run and just got stronger as I ran towards the finish line. Making the last turn I crossed the line in 6:11:34, which was faster than I had planned and I was really happy.
Oz Pearlman who was the course record holder from last year in the 50 mile race, at I think 6:01,ran really smoothly and finished in a new course record time of 5:31.
The final feature of the race is that when you finish you get to eat a bowl of red beans and rice, which is most welcome at that time.
I liked this race and would go there again, the 50k has a generous 8:30 cut off, if your slow like me the 11 hour cut for 50 miles may be a little tight.