April 25, 2014
The 5K is part of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon and Half Marathon and – as the name states – it takes place on Friday night. If you do one of the combinations below, you get a bonus medal. YES PLEASE!
- Full I-Challenge = 5K + marathon
- Half I-Challenge = 5K + half marathon
- Mini i-Challenge = 5K + 10K
I did the I-Challenge back in 2010 when my quest to do a half marathon in each state began. I never really gave it another thought until my friend MYMW said that she was going to the 10K. So on January 15th, I pulled the trigger and signed up. Unfortunately it had already gone through two price increases so to do both races, it was $92.74 (with fees & taxes).
Side note: MYMW would end up doing the half marathon and it would be her very first…but that update will come later.
I packed up my car and headed to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois around 2:30pm. I wanted to get there earlier because I saw where Hal Higdon was speaking at 1:00pm but even with gaining an hour in Illinois, I just couldn’t get there that early. It would take about 2 hours (actual time) to get to the packet pickup area on the campus of the University of Illinois.
And of course since I was hydrating, I had to stop along the way. I stopped at the Salt Kettle Rest Area which is between Danville & Oakwood, Illinois. It is located near the original pioneer salt mines. Unfortunately I didn’t see the “monument” until I was driving past it. I like it when stops can be educational as well. Makes them seem a little more worthwhile. As you can see from the flags in the picture below, it was a windy drive over.
Once again, through the genius that is OnStar, I made it to the campus without any issues. I found a parking spot just east of the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC). Technically I shouldn’t have parked there. There was still an hour before it was “open to the public” but I forgot about the time difference. Luckily, I didn’t get a ticket.
You first had to walk in and get your number(s) from someone at the computer table. Then you walked over and got your bibs.
Then you went and verified the chip(s) on the bibs before you went into the Health & Fitness portion of the Expo where you would then get your shirt(s). This was also where you could pick up some glow sticks if you were running the 5K that night but by the time I went through there were only 2 “broken” necklaces and some bracelets left. I took them anyway.
The Expo (from what I can remember of 4 years ago) had really grown. There were a lot more vendors there. I wasn’t necessarily going to buy anything but I always like to look around…you know, just in case.
And I’ll be darned if I didn’t see Hal Higdon sitting at a booth selling his new book about the Boston Marathon of 2013. At first I just went up and talked to him but then I circled back and had my picture taken with him.
I did end up buying something; a iPhone holder that will hopefully work on my race belt. After all that I went back to my car, grabbed my Friday night race bag and went back in the ARC to change clothes. I eventually caught up with MYMW via text. She & her husband had already been through the Expo and were at the pasta dinner. Thankfully one of the workers at the door was nice enough to let me in to go say hi to them since I hadn't purchased a ticket for the dinner.
Although I remember some of the things from four years ago, I was unaware that the start of the 5K was NOT where I though it was going to be. So hustled to get over there. But then realized that I had plenty of time because they were starting people in waves. Oh well, lets just say it was a little “warm-up” run.
Prior to taking the above picture of “Elvis” I saw someone's car key in the middle of the road but unfortunately I was not in a position where I could just stop and pick it up. I’m certain that I would have been run into if I had done that.
I don’t really remember much about the course from 2010 so I’m not sure if it was the same but there was great crowd support out there. Lots of college kids out there cheering us on with beers in hand. I had a feeling we were their “warm-up” before going out for the night! I actually saw MYMW and her husband as I was on the last stretch before making the turn to head into the football stadium. Just like we would for the half marathon on Saturday, this event finishes on the 50 yard line Memorial Stadium.
I should have asked the photographer to take my picture with my phone. I was surprised to see him doing it for others. Usually they wont because they want you to buy THEIR photos. But the girls behind me were nice enough to agree to do so…although it isn't a very good shot.
I certainly didn’t remember from four years ago that they fed us afterward! That was a very nice surprise.
I didn’t dilly dally too much afterward. I still needed to meet up with my friend and her husband at the hotel. I was staying in a room with them. And this 5K also started at 7:30pm (local time) and I thought it was to start at 7:00pm so that was putting my schedule 30 minutes behind as it was.
I found the hotel without any problems and once I got in, MYMW’s husband went back down with me to transfer a SURPRISE for her (more on that later) to their car and also to help me carry the rest of my stuff up to the room. Ironically I’m pretty sure this was the same hotel that my husband and I stayed at when we were here for this race.
According to the race results page, 6,118 people completed the 5K!