This race was included on my list of must-do Chicago races in late 2019, although I had yet to run it. I had every intention of checking it off my list before the end of 2020, but… we all know what happened to the 2020 race season. In spite of my inexpereince, Run Mag Mile made the cut based on Kurt’s first-hand knowledge and recommendation. What appealed to me was that it is the only race which runs up and down Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue.
The race takes place the Saturday after Labor Day each year, so September 9 this year (I know, I’m a little behind in my blog posts). The event is organized by Ventures Endurance Events (formerly RAM Racing), who also organize several other local events that make up the Run This Town series. Runners who complete four of the nine qualifying races will receive an additional commemorative medal. These events have traditionally also had excellent swag. Some, including Run Mag Mile, have their own finisher’s medal which was enough for me this year. We completed only two of the series events for 2023.
Run Mag Mile includes both a 5k and 10k. The start is on Ida B. Wells Drive, just west of Columbus. The first half, which includes the trip up and down Michigan Avenue is the same for both. As the course comes back into Grant Park, the 5k makes a left to the finish on Columbus. Theoretically, if someone who signed up for the 10k decided they bit off more than they can chew, they could make the decision at that moment to cut down to the 5k. Not saying someone did that, but it could be done.
The 10k goes right on Columbus from there heading towards the Museum Campus where it does a loop along the lakefront trail and back on the bike path parallel to DuSable Lake Shore Drive, back under the underpass near the Museum Campus and north on Columbus to the finish. The second half of the race was hotter as temperatures climbed in the early September sunshine, and that’s something everyone should be aware of going into this race. Hydrate and dress appropriately (like I’m thinking those who wore the fleece-lined quarter zip race giveaway might have regretted it).
The first-half stretch on Michigan Avenue was indeed spectacular. I enjoyed running over the river, past historic landmarks like the Chicago Tribune building which has personal significance, and seeing the Water Tower and Hancock building up in the distance as we reached the turnaround. I do wish the course went all the way up to Delaware Place, rather than turning around at Superior, so we could take in those sites more closely. However, I understand that race directors aren’t miracle workers and have a bunch of legitimate reasons for what they do.
One nice added surprise was that with the Taste of Chicago event being bumped from its usual time slot by NASCAR this summer, they joined forces with Run Mag Mile. All race participants received two tickets to use at any participating booth. Additionally, there was a post race brunch featuring waffles, sausages, Eli’s Cheesecake, and beer. Interesting combo.
The only thing I might say could be done better was race photos. I thought there were several photo opportunities missed along the course, particularly coming south back over the DuSable Bridge with the Tribune Tower in the background. But that’s it and they were free, so that’s something. Registration was easy. Packet pick-up was conveniently at Fleet Feet South Loop where there is access by public transportation and free parking with validation (there was a mail option too). Event day parking was effortless. We used the Millennium Park Garage, but Millennium Lakeside and Grant Park North and South Garages were also convenient options. There were no issues that I can think of with gear check, porta-potties, at the start, on the course, or finish. I enjoyed this event and would do it again.
Mark your calendar for the 2024 event: September 7, 2024. Registration is open.