Race Review: Cinco de Miler

It was a beautiful, sunny morning last Saturday for Cinco de Miler, Chicago’s only 5-mile race.  Okay, I was a little chilly at the start and that put a bit of a zap on my head. My performance was less than stellar; actually, my time may have even been a personal worse for the distance. However, my own race experience didn’t diminish seeing all the wonderful things this event had to offer.

This is another race produced by RAM Races. Registration, packet pick-up (at Fleet Feet Old Town), and commemorative tech shirts were all up to the standard that this race organizer is known for. The two aspects of this race that set it apart from some others and make it one of Chicago’s “must-do” races are the course and the post-race fiesta.

The start and finish at Montrose Harbor assured there was adequate parking for people who drove (like us) or not too far from a CTA bus route (at Wilson & Broadway). The start was on North Simmons Drive and proceeded north where it did a turnaround at West Foster. Coming south again it made a turn before Lawrence Avenue onto the Lakeshore Trail which it followed north up to Osterman Beach before returning south along the lakefront to the finish back at Montrose.

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The rain in the days prior created some flooding on the course which race organizers handled well. A small portion of the course was diverted off the trail and onto the adjacent grass near Osterman Beach. They announced that this change had been certified by USATF. The slight re-routing didn’t take away from the beauty of the course in the least. The close proximity to the lake for that last two miles made the course for me.

I had only wished that the course photographers were more strategically located to capture the scenery along that part of the course. I guess I shouldn’t judge free race photos, but still. I didn’t think the photos posted did justice to the course. But yes, still grateful for free race photos.

Once we finished – by running under a giant piñata – we grabbed our gear at gear check (also well-organized) and headed to the post-race fiesta! Runners’ bibs included a tag redeemable for food and (for those 21 and over) a beer.  The food was two soft egg tacos. And they were delicious! Yes, I’m (mostly) vegan, but make the occasional exceptions for eggs and dairy (animal by-products, but still no meat). The meal came with a cup of Horchata (Mexican Rice Milk). It was very sweet and very tasty! I passed on the beer.

The post-race festivities also included entertainment by a mariachi band and an opportunity to try your abilities on a mechanical bull. With my warm layers back on, the sun shining, being so close to the beach, and connecting with fellow runners – many of whom were just coming out of winter hibernation – helped me forget about my performance and made it a really nice morning.

The icing on the cake was the charity partner and beneficiary: Gilda’s Club Chicago! I have had a long affiliation with Gilda’s Club, having served as CEO of Gilda’s Club Northern New Jersey and now serving as a volunteer with GCC and member of Team Gilda for this year’s Chicago Marathon (to support them and me with a donation, click HERE). Better get cracking on the training though. Based on my time in this race, I have a lot of work to do.

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