Race Review: The Ravenswood Run

Sunday was another stop on my Chicago race tour. Since I started coming out here regularly over two and a half years ago, I have been trying to do all the iconic Chicago races. As a tourist, I did the Soldier Field 10, Shamrock Shuffle 8k, the Rock N Roll races, and Chicago Spring Half. Once I moved out here, I added the Chicago (Fall) Half, and started doing some shorter races favored more by locals (Bucktown 5k, Pumpkins in the Park). This past weekend it was the Ravenswood Run.

Ravenswood is a 5k that, like Bucktown, presents runners with a nice tour of a great Chicago neighborhood that would otherwise not be a tourist destination. According to a piece that appeared in the Chicago Sun Times last year, “Ravenswood is eight miles from downtown Chicago on the city’s north side. It’s an interesting mix of colorful Victorian homes and industrial manufacturing buildings (some of them re-purposed to house start-ups, breweries and a surprisingly large number of small printmaking shops.) Art and work co-exist beautifully in this Chicago neighborhood that was originally designed as one of the city’s first commuter suburbs.” (Ji Suk Yi, June 2019, The Grid: Exploring the Ravenswood Neighborhood, The Chicago Sun Times). The event start and finish was easily accessible from the Montrose Avenue stop on the Brown Line (“L”).

This event was organized by RAM Races who organizes many of the must-do Chicago races I’ve already mentioned, plus Mag Mile, Hot Chocolate, and North Shore Classic. I have found their events to be well-organized. Perks included gender-specific, technical shirts, with a nice design that were truly keepers, and free race photos posted online very soon after the event (see below).

It was a relatively fast and flat course with 11 turns through Ravenswood and Lincoln Square. There were a number of speed bumps on the residential streets that race organizers did a great job highlighting for safety. That was about it for hills.

The proceeds from the Ravenswood Run benefit the Ravenswood Community Services Food Pantry at All Saints Episcopal Church and the Student Health Centers at Lake View and Amundsen High Schools.The church was adjacent to the start and they sounded church bells that for me were reminiscent of that first mile of my favorite race – the Shelter Island Run.

A very competitive field among the over 2000 participants, so no age-group awards for us. But the sunny day and perfect running temps made for an enjoyable race. Admittedly, I was a bit chilly at the start (we had a late April snow on Saturday after all), but the conveniently located gear check made it easy to rid layers just before the start and retrieve them immediately after the finish.

What I could have done without was the Jelly Danish. Hey, you just burned 300 calories – here’s 600 back (although I enjoyed every bite). Aside from that, I recommend this race to anyone who finds themselves in Chicago in late April. Tourists should do all the big iconic races, *and* get out in the neighbors for a real view of how Chicago lives.

Upcoming stops on my tour are Cinco de Miler (this weekend), another Soldier Field 10 (Memorial Day weekend), and Race for the Zoo (June 2). Then Chicago marathon training begins! I hope you’ll continue on this journey with me.


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