Summer Season Race #3 – Chinatown 5K


A couple of years ago, when I signed up for the Ditka Dash here in Chicago for the first time, I was given the option of temporarily joining Active Advantage for free for a month, and then later *mumble-mumble* dollars a year and I would immediately save my processing fees. All I had to do was cancel within the month and I’d have saved fees and lost nothing.

So, I’m still an Active Advantage paying member.

I am honestly the worst with these “sign up for a month then cancel at no cost” things. They see me coming a mile away. But this time around, I’m glad I forgot to cancel. By joining Active Advantage, I’ve scored an $85 credit on shoes at Roadrunner Sports (in addition to my VIP savings), a free pair of ProCompression socks, I won a cold brew coffee maker/thermos (still waiting for that to show up) and best of all – I snagged a free entry to the Chinatown 5K race!

See, I’m one of those “would race every weekend if I could afford it” people, but that can get pricy on a limited budget, so this free entry was worth it’s weight in gold and since I’d only been to Chinatown while running through it for the 2 Chicago Marathons I’ve done, so I was excited to have a reason to go back. It was easy to get to on public transit, and parking was cheap and conveniently located for drivers – I opted to drive.

I got there early to pick up my race kit, since I hadn’t had time earlier in the week, and it was a breeze. I quickly put on the race singlet that came with the entry and pinned on my bib and looked around.

There seemed to be a lot of folks from various running clubs, and families around, including representation by a couple of schools. I stayed in the shade and before long it was time for the dragon dancers to begin!

There were two dragons, but apparently I favored the yellow one…

They’d climb up onto that wooden apparatus for height and tricks. It was pretty amazing. Then a few people handed red envelopes to the dragons, which they gobbled up. Next time, I’ll bring some cash for the dancers!

This was honestly the cutest thing. This dog watched the dragons so intently. He was so curious! Buddy would have latched onto that dragon’s face and not let go, so I was glad he was asleep in bed even though dogs seemed to be welcome on the course.

After the dance, it was off to the start!

Folks just lined themselves up where they thought they belonged, which seemed to work out pretty well. Before long, we were off! Right away we headed through the iconic Chinatown archway that I remember so well from the Chicago Marathon.

From there it was a fast, flat out and back basically to Guaranteed Rate Field. Not the most picturesque of routes, running alongside the highway, but I wasn’t there for the scenery. I was hoping to beat my time from the  Chicago Tiki Run 5K – us Back of the Packers have goals, too!

Pushing till the end.

I tried not to look at my watch too many times but I thought I had a chance to improve so I kept pushing. There were a few folks along the street watching as we ran by – some of whom were smoking, so that was fun. Note to everyone on the planet: If you are smoking alongside a race course, while we are gasping for breath like Arnold Schwartzenegger in that scene in Total Recall where he’s been sucked out onto Mars’ surface without a space suit; you’re mean. (Side note, I googled gifs of the moment to illustrate my point, but was traumatized by the images, so I will spare you.)

Mostly I just enjoyed the shade.

I turned the corner and pushed as hard as I could, running past the dancing dragons again and hitting my Nike+ RunClub app on my watch as I crossed the finish.


I was gulping air pretty hard and felt mildly nauseous after the final push, so I headed over to the race village and grabbed some sport drink and an apple and sat down in the shade to recover while waiting for the awards and raffle. Before long, I realized that the line of people just after the finish were getting printouts of their race time, so I went and punched in my numbers to see what was what.

38:05! Success! I’d beaten my time from the Tiki Run!

I didn’t win anything from the race (obviously) or the raffle (nuts! They had 2 iPads!) but I had a wonderful time at this event. If you’re looking to run a fast course and really challenge yourself and explore Chinatown this is a wonderful chance to do so. I was very grateful for the opportunity.

So, thanks to Active Advantage for including free race entries like this in my membership!

If you’re not ready to join Active Advantage but still want to get deals on gear, check out ACTIVE GearUp here and get $10 to spend (this is a referral link, so I’ll get $10 too)

Up Next: Rock’n’Roll Race Weekend and Burgers & Beer 5K; or, I’m running how many races in 3 days?

What's on your mind?