Photos From the Hot Chocolate 5K, Chicago
We got up pretty early this morning, making our way downtown at around 6:00 AM. Liz was going to meet her friend Meg at Buckingham Fountain around 6:40 AM. Though we made it downtown in decent time, we got stuck a bit, trying to get into the underground garages on Michigan. When it got closer to 6:30 AM, Liz hopped out of the car and went off to meet her running partner.
Making my way from the garage to Grant Park, I had a small bit of deja vu – as I had done a similar thing when covering the Chicago Color Run, a few weeks ago. This race though, had way more people, and at times… the crowd seemed to be taking over the streets. This shot was taken right around Michigan and Jackson.
Volunteers, setting up at one of the many water stations.
Making my way towards the course, I spotted this family – each with their own bib numbers. In addition to the 5K, there was also a 15K (and a walking only course).
When I got to the main corral areas, I looked around for Liz for a good while. As it got closer to the start time, I began to worry I wouldn’t end up seeing her before the start.
As the group progressed towards the starting line, I was kind of keeping pace with them. This is the “O Corral,” and if you look really closely… that’s Liz, on the far left.
Unfortunately, at a certain point… the sidewalk got closed off to the general public. I tried to convince one of the staff to let me through, but they told me that in order to get to the starting line… I’d have to circle all the way around the main grounds. By the time I got around to the front, Liz and Meg had already departed.
This is one thing that I didn’t like about the race – it seemed not so friendly for observers, and people there to cheer on the participants. It was extremely confusing and difficult to get around to various spots, and a pain to move from point to point.
Perhaps this had to do with me not having a press pass, or more access than normal. I’ve been lucky with covering the Color Run and Warrior Dash, in that I had the run of the place for both events. Here, I had limited access and was forced to wait behind fences, like a schnook.
A view of the finish line. Some volunteers directed me towards this side of the street, and looking back… there seemed to be a better view from the other side. I’m not sure if people were only supposed to be on one side or another (again, kind of confusing for us viewers), but it was tough getting a good vantage point from over here.
A patriotic runner.
There was one photographer who happened to be standing on a makeshift stand – a 2×4, positioned perfectly on a small fence. After he stepped down, another guy and me ended up splitting the perch (although it took me like 5 tries, before I got my balance). I guess I need more practice on a slackline.
Crossing the finish!
Of course, on seeing these two gents… I had to ask for a photo. They look to be related to the two red devils I spotted, a few months ago.
Ring ring ring ring…
Though I tried to find the girls after their finish, I ended up losing them in the crowds. So I ended up walking towards the main meeting area, where the participants all got their reward: snacks and lots of chocolate.
Each bowl included a cup of hot chocolate, a banana, apple slices, a Rice Krispie treat, and some melted chocolate.
On our way out, I spotted this woman who was holding on to a crapton of bowls. She must have had a lot of friends and family participating!
One bummer from the day: Liz’s sister Katie had been training a lot to run the 15K (the course was split in two: one for the 5K, one of the 15K). Unfortunately, her family got pretty sick recently… so she couldn’t participate. Would have been nice to have seen the Titus fam today, but perhaps we’ll catch them at the next race.
I also found out my friend Jennifer was a participant. One of these days, I hope to see her at a 5K… when I’m actually participating in one, as opposed to taking photos from the sidelines. One of these days.
Returning to the garage,
I we ended up getting lost trying to find the car. Turns out, we ended up in an entirely different garage, and wound up walking another 5K as we wandered to the right spot. The three of us made a vow, never to speak of this again.
Despite the crazy cold morning, it was fun to go out and cheer Liz for her first 5K in a long while. It was great to meet Meg officially for the first time, and seeing them both running made me want to try one soon.