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 Lakeshore "marathon" report
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Lakeshore "marathon" report Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 2:40 pm 

So I completed the Lakeshore "Marathon" this Monday. If you haven't heard yet, the unthinkable occured and race "organizers" mismeasured the course and the course was 27.2 miles long:,1,802261.column?coll=chi-news-hed

Here's my account:

As recently as two weeks before the race, 'organizers' changed the course to include a loop out to the end of Navy Pier into the course. At the time I thought nothing of it, but as race day approached it became apparent that this was actually a big deal. As a result, runners were never given a course map. Outside of a small paragraph describing the course, runners had to run this race 'blind' hoping a mile marker was coming up or water wasn't far off in the distance, never knowing if you were going to turn left in 20 feet or go down a hill in 200. It made the course very mentally demanding as well as psychologically draining. With only 530 other runners out there, spread all over the course you were constantly asking 'am I going the right way'... not a good feeling in a marathon. The small numbers also meant less 'company' out on the course. I personally ran the vast majority of the race alone, the nearest racer 100's of feet ahead or behind me at best. This made it difficult to settle into a rhythm as it was constantly up to you, and you alone, to monitor your pace, also adding to the mental strain. Many mile markers were missing, or at the least inconspicuous, often times hints of spray paint brushed and trampled illegible on the dirt and gravel path. A primarily 'out-and-back' course, we mostly had to run from Soldier Field up to the north end of the run/bike path along Lake Michigan and back. As it turned out though there were many twists and turns and switchbacks and detours in the parks that seemingly came out of nowhere, suddenly sending you back the direction you came, adding to what left you had to endure.

I set out at 6:15 am in the first wave of runners at a pace I felt was comfortable. Miles 1 and 2 were at 7:15 pace. This is Boston qualifying pace, and I knew it was too fast for me to maintain this day, and it was never my intention so I tried to slow a bit. I wanted to do somewhere around 7:30's. I finished Chicago averaging about 8:15's so this was going to be a big leap. Miles 3-6 were just that, roughly 7:30's. I felt good, but couldn't really get into a rhythm. At mile 6 a friend met me running the other way. She turned around and handed me the squeeze bottle of gatorade I had given her to pass me. The bottle was a bit of an after thought and something I intended to carry for a couple of miles and discard. It turned out to be a lifesaver. The race was sponsored by a sports drink called Amino Vital, something I had never even tasted before. So I would rely on this 18 oz. of gatorade more than I could have ever predicted before the race. I carried that bottle for almost 18 miles that day, sipping from in periodically between the sparse water stations. The next several miles were where the poorly planned course reared it's ugly head for the first time. I went 4 miles without seeing a mile marker. This made it difficult to tell if I was running too fast or too slow. Over the next several miles of the course the loneliness of the race came into play. The runners had thinned dramatically. The half marathoners were gone and we were up north of the city and it was still only 7-8:00 in the morning on a holiday. There were no spectators and it was very quiet. In the meantime I felt strong. I was running well and felt confident about how I was doing. I slowed slightly to be more comfortable, but wanted to reserve something for the 20's later on. Just before mile 18 I started to feel the first signs of fatigue, but nothing serious and coincidentally I was treated with a very pleasant surprise. Up ahead I spotted a friend dawned in his running gear. He jumped in a started running with me. I got a huge rush of adrenaline and even picked up the pace. He carried my bottle for me and I was able to shake out my tingling arm. You don't think a small bottle of water would make much of a difference, but when you're running that many miles with a sloshing weight in one hand it can add up. Mike set right in to pacing me, talking to me, directing me on the course, spotting aid stations, offering encouragement, asking what I needed and letting me 'just run'. It was a godsend. From miles 18-21+ he was my personal support vehicle. At one last aid station I grabbed water and forged on as he stopped and filled my depleted gatorade bottle with the alien sports drink and caught back up to me with a surge of speed. He had me check if it was too full, squeezed some out, offered some final encouragement and strode off the course.

I hit mile marker 22 and knew I felt so much stronger than last fall. I continued to pick off runner after runner as they died and slowed and struggled down south on our way back to Soldier Field. This was also about when I said goodbye to my squeeze bottle and tossed off to the side after depleting it's final contents. At this point knew I was close. However, knowing how far Soldier Field still was away, I couldn't help but feel I still had a ways to go (little did I know I was right). It might as well have been Mexico as far off as it seemed. I told myself that this was where knowing Chicago hurt me psychologically. The heat also got to me a lot at this point. We were along the lake, running into the sun with no shade and the reflection off the water to boot. The pavement was hot and the path was crowding with bikers and rollerbladers out for a memorial day jaunt on a gorgeous sunny day. Finally I crossed the river and knew it was almost over. I struggled across the finish line without ever having stopped or even slowing considerably. I was light headed and dizzy as soon as I stopped. I was a bit overheated and my firends and some race officials catered to me for the next several moments till I composed myself. My time read 3:30:49, seemingly disappointing, but I was in no shape to do the math. Soon we headed out for breakfast where we began to recount respective races. At some point my friend pointed out that my time meant I ran about 8 minute miles. WHAT!? I thought to myself and immediately started checking my watch. No way, I surmised. Every split, it seemed, was in the mid to upper sevens. Adding to the confusion was the fact that since there were many missed mile markers I had some splits that were 1 mile and some that were 4 so it was difficult to account for the 'lost time'. Had I run off the course? Did I slow more than I thought? Was the course mismarked? My friend had the same inconsistency. He figured out he would have had to run 12 minute miles in the last 6 to explain his drop off the pace. In the car we figured out at least I had 27 splits. It eased my mind, but WHAT exactly happened? Later in the day they posted the results. My time was listed at 3:30:49, BUT my pace was listed at 7:46/mile. 3:30:49 is 8:03/mile for a marathon. OR. 7:46/mile is a 3:23:30 marathon. It was neither AND both. SO, in actuality they recognized their mistake. In reality I ran a 27.2 mile race at 7:46/mile for a 3:30:49. It seems when the 'organizers' added in that loop out Navy Pier, they never thought to subtract a mile from elsewhere on the course. I ended up finishing 32nd overall, perhaps the most telling number of the confusing day. Only two women got the better of me and I finished 5th in my Division (M25-29). Overall it was a day I was very pleased with, especially since they realized their mistake. I was lucky. I was ready and trained well and handled the distance and pace just fine. But to anyone who had to stop a mile before the finish line from exhaustion or missed qualifying for Boston or breaking 4 hours or god forbid had health problems as a result, they were done a great disservice. I do know I won't be doing an 'important' marathon at anything less than a Chicago or New York-like event as it makes all the difference in the world over the course of 26.2 (or more) miles.

He has since issued an appology:

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Lakeshore "marathon" report Posted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 4:12 pm 

Wow... That just boggles the mind. Not since the 14 mile US Half Marathon have I heard of anything like it. I got frustrated during a marathon last fall when many of the mile markers were misplaced or missing, but that was nothing compared to your experience. No course map, missing mile markers, missing aid stations, no crowds and no comrades on the course, and then an extra mile to cap it off. What an experience.

Nevertheless, you've got to be pretty happy with that result I'd imagine. Even under those ridiculous conditions, you managed a 7:46 pace, which is pretty sweet and a giant improvement over Chicago. Great job Bricks! It's hard to quantify how much the messed-up conditions affected you, but I'm sure it was significant. Imagine if you'd run a well-marked course that you scouted ahead of time, with lots of other runners around you and plenty of aid stations. You could have locked in to your running zone without stressing about whether you were lost or where your next drink was coming from. Next time out at a "real marathon", I'm sure you'll blow away this race's time.

Dang, that's just really sad. I read the apology from the race director, and I feel bad for him. It sounds like he just really got in over his head. Too bad he didn't realize that until it was too late, with the result that race day was a mess. How do you have two aid station crews simply not show up? It's a strange, strange world.

So what's next on your race calendar? Chicago again in the fall?


South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Lakeshore "marathon" report Posted: Sat Jun 04, 2005 8:33 pm 

What baffles me the most is, as the Chicago Tribune article mentioned, a lot of people came hoping to qualify for Boston. How could that be? I mean, the course has to be certified in order to qualify for Boston. If indeed the course was certified before the change then changing it makes it no longer certified. Didn't it occur to anyone that last minutes changes would de-certify the course? And IF it was recertified after the change then it isn't the race director's's the folks who "certified" the course.

I haven't had a chance to check the discussions posted about this topic on other web sites (i.e. but when I find time I'm going to look to see if anyone brought up this point.

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: Lakeshore "marathon" report Posted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 2:47 pm 

thanks! it was quite the experience indeed. i'm just getting back into the swing of things now. i took a solid 7 days off and took it easy last week, less than 30 miles. my leggs are starting to come back, but slowly. i'm having some trouble with the new summer heat and am not quite motivated yet to go full boar, but i feel pretty healthy overall, just a little out of shape...

Rickshaw wrote:
you've got to be pretty happy with that result I'd imagine.

absolutely, i come away from this similar to a golfer on a really windy day.... compared to the rest of the field, i had a great day. my placing compared to everyone running that day is how i'm trying to guage my performance, not my time, though the improvement was there. i expect i have a faster marathon in me.

Rickshaw wrote:
Next time out at a "real marathon", I'm sure you'll blow away this race's time.

i hope so, i have some serious time to shave if i want to bq, but i think it's time i can shave.

Rickshaw wrote:
So what's next on your race calendar? Chicago again in the fall?

yeah, that's the plan. i'd like to run a 1:29 half marathon in the meantime and get myself a competative start for the fall, but basically it's all about october ninth and a run at boston.

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: Lakeshore "marathon" report Posted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 2:48 pm 

mfox wrote:
changing it makes it no longer certified.

needless to say, this was the case.


Joined: 22 May 2005
Posts: 22

Re: Lakeshore "marathon" report Posted: Tue Jun 14, 2005 8:07 pm 

Wow, you've got to be pleased with your results, but, nonetheless, angry with the race officials... I mean, I know we're all human, but, geez, that boggles the mind...

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