Need a Little Winter Motivation? Check out the F^3 Lake Half Marathon in Chicago!
January isn’t exactly the most enticing of outdoor running months. Especially in Chicago. But that’s exactly why the F^3 Lake Half Marathon sells out every year. It attracts the most dedicated, fun loving and let’s be honest, crazy runners out there. You have to really love running to register for “Chicago’s original winter half marathon.” It also means while you’re there you’ll be surrounded by some of Chicago’s (and the country’s) finest.
On January 20, 2018 over 2,500 runners will descend upon Chicago’s Soldier Field. The half marathon course takes runners along Lake Michigan, boasting great views of the Chicago skyline throughout the race. Though this will be an entirely different experience than the Chicago Marathon which is known for its more ideal October running temperatures. Participants in the F^3 Lake Half Marathon have been known to PR. Maybe it’s something about the frigid temperatures that propels and invigorates runners even more than usual.
Runners who do this half marathon have a certain amount of intrinsic dedication to getting out there in the dead of Chicago winter. And not to just run for a few minutes but for an entire half marathon. Race coordinators take this to heart and offer a smattering of benefits to all participants. (Including the option to run a 5K version of the race. Same bragging rights with a percentage of time spent out in the cold.)
The brave souls who sign up for the race before the 10 day weather forecast comes out are rewarded with a discount code to save on registration. There’s also some pretty great race swag like this year’s soft, lightweight hooded long sleeve shirt that you’ll wear with pride for years to come. Heated tents are offered for runners to hang out in before and after the race. Friends and spectators are also welcome to warm up in the heated tents. Plus, with a later start time, 10 a.m. for the half and 10:30 for the 5K, runners have plenty of time to warm up the morning of race day.
Throughout the half marathon course, runners will pass four aid stations equipped with water, first aid, bathrooms and KRā sport drinks. And just in case it’s simply too cold, there will be a vehicle following the last participants to help anyone out. Not to worry though, the race coordinators have your back: they work closely with the city of Chicago and runner safety is a top priority.
How It All Got Started
So, just how did F^3 race come to be? It all goes back to Kimberley Steadman and her friends in the summer of 2009. The group had previously travelled to warm weather destination races when it became increasingly frigid in the long Chicago winters. But when the recession hit, the group became inventive and created a “recession proof” race. The first year they planned for a group of friends, around 12 or so, to meet at Steadman’s home and run a half marathon course already established by another race. Word spread quickly via Facebook and word of mouth and soon over 100 people were in. They moved it to a local running store and the first, unofficial F^3 Lake Half Marathon was born. That was January 2010. Flash forward eight years and the race is a serious hit among locals and tourists alike, always selling out and has participants from 24 states. There’s just something about running in the cold weather among friends and like like-minded athletes that people can’t seem to say no to.
The F^3 founding crew identifies themselves as a “grass roots gaggle of runners who like to run and drink en-masse.” As such, the post race after party is not to be missed. The party kicks into gear at 11 a.m. and runners can enjoy all through the day. Plus, anyone who finishes the half marathon, no matter the time, deserves to be celebrated. Held within walking distance participants can cozy up with four different local craft beers.
This race is perfectly positioned to keep you motivated, and training through the holidays and into the new year. It can be easy during the cold winter months to be less than dedicated to a running schedule, rather staying inside in the warmth. Signing up for this race ensures you have a goal in sight and might just give you that needed extra push to lace up your sneakers. For an added dose of motivation why not sign up for this race and make a trip out it. As the third most populous city in the United States you won’t be lacking in terms of things to see and do. Plus, there’s no better way to carb up for a race than with some Chicago-style pizza.
When you sign up for the race weeks before, you won’t know if you should expect a perfect frozen tundra, shocking late January warmth or something in between. And that’s just why you should sign up. There’s truly nothing like this half marathon, and the sense of accomplishment when you finish it will give you a fantastic start to 2018!