{Big Ten Network Big 10k}

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With so many races ran in a month it is hard to keep up with the recaps. Runner problems! 🙂 Two Saturday’s ago the husband and I ran the Big Ten Network Big 10k in Chicago. If you read along with my blog then you know we are both big Wisconsin sports fans (and no, not everyone in Wisconsin is.) This race was all about supporting your Big Ten school and FUN! I loved so much about this race, the swag, and the sights.




We headed to Chicago the day before, picked up our packets, and did some sightseeing. Having been to Chicago several times before I know my way around for the most part, yet I don’t get sick of the windy city.


In packets each runner received a BTN Big 10k technical t-shirt that resembled a football jersey specific to the Big Ten school they declared their team at registration. Each runner’s shirt came in their school’s colors and had their school’s name on the front and back. I loved how they were specific to each runner’s favorite team and different rather than everyone getting the same shirt. This also made picking the race outfit super simple as I had looked at past year’s race photos and noticed that most people wore their shirts to the race.

The race began at 7:00 a.m. which was perfect because it was 70 degrees and quite humid. After the HOT races I’ve run lately though, this was nothing. We Hotwired our room per the usual which means we had a general idea of the area when we registered and knew the star rating of our hotel, but wouldn’t find out the exact location until after our purchase of the room. I reserved the room before the race course map came out, so we ended up being about three miles from the race start. Driving and parking in Chicago is disastrous and super pricey so we knew we were either taking a taxi or public transportation to and from the race start.

While exploring the night before we saw Divvy bikes all over the city. After reading the details and looking up a map of the locations (there is an app for that), we decided this would be a fun, active and quick way to get to the race and back. No hailing a taxi or switching buses.

Just a few Divvy locations in Chicago!  (Photo from divvybikes.com

Just a few Divvy locations in Chicago! (Photo from divvybikes.com

The next morning we paid for our Divvy bikes ($7 per bike for unlimited use during the next 24 hours as long as each ride is less than 30 minutes. If a ride is longer than 30 minutes you are charged an extra $2 for the next hour, and so on.) and headed to the Field Museum where we would drop off our Divvy bikes and walk the couple of blocks to the start next to Soldier Field.


One wrong turn later and we were on our way. We started getting a bit nervous when we didn’t see the Divvy bike stop near the Field Museum, but breathed easy after going around the entire museum and spotting it on the last side we rode by.



After dropping off our gear we lined up in our race corral. Corrals went from A-M, and we were in E based on our 10k time we entered at registration. I am always honest about my times and never enter a time I hope to run unless my training has told me I can run that time. Big Ten fans were everywhere and school songs echoed off the speakers. After the elites took off the corrals got going and we began our 6.2 mile journey on the course below (image from btnbig10k website).

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The course was nice and the atmosphere fun. During the first mile we went through this long underpass part and there was lots of school trash talking echoing off the walls which added to the fun and excitement. The bad part was it was congested. I feared not as most races thin out after the first mile or two.

This is the part where I’m torn about what I think. I loved getting to run along the lakeshore on the paved bike path for half the race, BUT having 9,000 runners narrow onto a paved bike path when the larger road was congested was really frustrating. The husband and I were passing people the ENTIRE race. I swear we must have passed our entire corral before the race was over. Either people lied about their 10k times or I hit a wrong button because we were definitely not running with the people in our corral. Aside from this it was pretty along the lake although difficult to enjoy.

The husband and I were both feeling great as we ran, but the mental work of continually passing people and never settling into a groove were a challenge. As we neared mile four I absolutely could not believe how freakin’ fast this race was going. I guess I’ve got big time marathon race length distortion going on. I think that is a technical term! 🙂 I could definitely tell the hot weather marathons were extremely helpful in making me feel comfortable during this race.

We cranked it as much as we could the last mile with people to swerve around and jams playing on speakers. We both said we could not have run this race any faster than we did because of the congestion. I did not bring my Garmin so we didn’t know our time until later.


Upon crossing the finish line you can pick up water, Gatorade and bananas. You get your medal (very cool!) and then head to the after race tailgate party. This part was so fun it kind of made you forget about the race congestion. We headed to gear check to pick up our bags and there was absolutely no line for corral E. Corrals A, B, and C had lines going a block. We watched around as we enjoyed the tailgate party seeing very few bibs with an E before their numbers. I later looked up our registration email and I did not mis-enter our time, nor did we run any faster than I entered. We were in fact 45 seconds slower than my typical 10k time.

Here is my soapbox runners: be honest about your times. Don’t enter a time you hope to run unless your training has shown you are capable of running that time. I respect all runners no matter their pace. Own your pace and be proud, but stay out of corrals you don’t belong-it makes a better race for everyone! End rant.



Back to the tailgate party. This was great. The husband exchanged his too small race shirt for a larger size, we enjoyed the Wisconsin tent where we picked up a trucker hat specific to our school (all runners got one) and took pictures with the border battle ax, and then hit the food and beer area.





After enjoying some delicious chicken sausages (so yummy), we hit up the bean bags. All different types of tailgate games were going on and samples of stuff were being given out. We did have a wedding to get to so we couldn’t stick around too long. We headed back to the Field Museum, got a new code for our Divvy bikes and biked back to the hotel.


Overall this race was a blast. The atmosphere and swag were fantastic. The course pretty and well-marked. My only complaint was the congestion. If we do this race again I will consider this when entering my 10k time and be prepared to be packed in. Getting a photo with Bucky and free Wisco swag makes it all worth it!  Bring on football season!

This race also reminded me how awesome shorter distances can be. I’ve never raced a 10k meaning I’ve never trained for the distance or done speed work or entered a 10k when I’ve been in great shape. Currently my endurance is definitely up having ran two marathons and a 50k in 36 days, but my speed is for sure lacking. The previous 10k’s I’ve run have always been near the 4th of July when I have not been running anything other than maintenance miles, and all four have had finish times within a minute and a half of each other. Last fall when I ran my PR half marathon I ran a five mile Turkey Trot without a watch in 39:15. I’m positive I could have beat my 10k time by minutes had there been one to run. I’m curious what I could run a 10k in if I trained and raced? Hmmmm….a new goal perhaps. I’m not committing yet, but perhaps.


Big Ten Network Big 10k
Time: 52:57
Pace: 8:32
Overall: 1926/8996
Gender: 504/4916
Age Group: 91/819

Ran: 6.2 miles
Biked: 7 miles