Everyone has marathon fever right now, with the Chicago Marathon taking place this Sunday. Not all of us can run a marathon, though. That is a distance that is still far beyond me. I will be virtually cheering on some friends who are running, though.
Just because I'm not running the marathon doesn't mean that I'm not racing this weekend. Luckily, there is a pretty cool and thankfully short race happening on Saturday that is perfect for those of us who can't tackle 26.2 miles.
I'm running the Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5k again this year. You can check out my thoughts about last year's race here. Long story short: a 5k in a cemetery at night in October. Yes, please. As a bonus, I got a discount on the race this year for completing a survey about last year's event. Although online registration has closed, they are offering last minute race registration at the race site on Saturday night starting at 5:30pm. Check out the info here.
Am I excited for the race Saturday night? Of course! I can't wait to run through the cemetery Saturday night. You can explore the cemetery any time during the day, but with strictly enforced hours, this is pretty much the only chance to explore it after dark.
However, much like last year, there are already problems with this race, and it isn't even race day.
The biggest problem so far has been lack of communication and incorrect information. For example, I finally got an email with race information, including packet pick up information, yesterday. I was starting to worry, because I had not heard anything about the race since I registered back in April. Maybe I'm a little demanding, but I feel that the race information should be sent at least a week in advance, and packet pick up information should be sent out as soon as a location is finalized, not the day before packet pick up starts (packet pick up location and hours were TBD when I registered and every time I checked the race's website).
I learned from the email that packet pick was today, Thursday, October 8, from 11am to 8pm and tomorrow, Friday, October 9, from 4pm to 8pm. There would also be race day packet pick up starting at 5:30pm, when the race site opens.
Luckily, I didn't have to be at work until 1pm today (hooray for strange work hours and evening shifts), so it was easy to get my packet at Road Runner Sports before heading to work this afternoon. Road Runner Sports was pretty easy to get to, being a fairly short walk from the North/Clybourn Red Line stop and had the benefit of being an easy walk to work after I had my packet.
The process was pretty simple, but, like last year had the potential to be slow and tedious.
Packet pick up was set up in the back corner of the store. First, everyone had to go to one table where they looked up your bib number, then you sent to the next line that was for the table where you would get your packet. Although this is pretty standard for races that don't email bib numbers in advance, there was only one person working each table, so it was easy for the line to move slowly, especially if they couldn't find someone's name on their printed list and/or someone was picking up multiple packets.
This is what happened this morning. The line was short and moving quickly when I arrived, until someone ahead of me was there to pick up six different packets. Then the line just stopped moving as the one person working the look up table scrambled to find all the different bib numbers/ordered shirt sizes and then relayed that information to the one person working the packet table, who had to try to find and assemble all the different packets quickly with the correct shirts and bib numbers. I hope that they have more folks working the tables this evening, when I think they will get more traffic as people head to packet pick up after work.
The packet was super basic - race bib, race shirt, and safety pins.
I have to say, I love the shirt design this year. Check it out:
Last year, I ended up with a shirt a couple sizes too small because registration listed unisex sizes, so I ordered a smaller size than usual, only to be handed a gender specific shirt at packet pick up. This year, I was told that it would once again be gender specific (after last year's shirt problem, I made a point of asking about sizing before I registered, rather than relying on the information online), so I selected the size I needed for a women's shirt.
Today, however, I was rudely informed that it was unisex sizing when I expressed concern that they were giving me a men's large instead of the women's large that I had ordered, so I now have a shirt that is far too big to wear comfortably unless I intend to use it as a sleeping shirt (these shirts are generously sized, even for unisex sizing).
I'm more than a little disappointed because I went out of my way to confirm sizing after last year's mishap, only to have the same problem happen this year.
I was told rather brusquely that I can try to exchange my shirt for a different size the night of the race. I'll give it a try, but I'm not holding my breath as that is what I was told last year and it ended up not being possible.
I did find the race's facebook event page today, and I will say that the race organizers have been great about answering questions from me and other runners who have been posting there. I just wish that things had been more clearly and correctly communicated earlier and that I didn't have to rely on facebook to find out about race information.
I'm still excited for the race. It is a cool gimmick, running through the cemetery at night, and it gets the Halloween mood going nice and early in October. The after party was also a lot of fun last year, so I'm hoping for something similar again this year. I have my headlamp out and charging in preparation (it is a night time race, and I was glad to have the light last year, as the course isn't terribly well lit) and will be checking the weather forecast Saturday morning to determine what to wear that evening. Some folks come in costume, but I'm terrible at putting together costumes (though I do want to figure something out for Pumpkins in the Park later this month), so I'll be sticking to my regular running gear.
I'm ready for a fun night run. I have no real goals other than to enjoy myself and soak up the spooky fall atmosphere. I'm not shooting for a PR with this 5k. If I want to stop to take a picture, then I will. I may even ask to get a picture with someone there in costume. We'll see.
Though I'm looking forward to the race, I am a little bummed that the same problems that plagued last year's event and being replayed this year. I guess I had hoped that the organizers would have learned something and worked to avoid the same mistakes.
Why am I such a sucker for a cool race theme?