Tips for the Chase Corporate Challenge

This post was last updated 5/14/19

Every spring, hundreds of runners and thousands of non-runners descend upon Grant Park for the great team-building tradition that is the Chase Corporate Challenge.  It’s a fun event, but only if you have the right attitude.

It’s not a race. Don’t let the fact that it’s chip timed fool you. I mean, it’s technically a race, yes, and there are team awards, but for about 99% of the participants, it’s a fun run (or run/walk … or just a walk) leading up to the free company-provided beer.  Unless you manage to get in the front of the corrals, do not plan to race this event. You will only frustrate yourself.

The corrals will remind you of 10 Turkey Trots rolled into one. The event organizers try to … organize … but when the majority of participants have never participated in a race (other than this one) they don’t really know how to follow an orderly corral line-up. There will be jeans and backpacks and walkers in front of you. So many walkers, walking 4-across.

Get in the corrals early.  If you want to have any chance of “racing” it or at the very least running it without weaving around walkers for the entire duration, get into the start corrals early. If you have a blue bib, then 30 minutes or more before the start time. If you have a green bib, I’d recommend 20 minutes. Red bibs, I’m not sure, I’m not fast enough to get one. Either way, the last 15 minutes before the race starts is a horrible cluster f*ck of people walking to the corrals and finding whatever tiny opening they have in the gate and then cramming themselves into the crowded corrals.


This was my start corral (blue bibs) the first year I did it. I crossed the start line like 36 minutes after the race started. I spent more time waiting in the corral than actually doing the race (32 minutes).  

The course is not great. Not only will you be weaving around tons of groups of walkers, but the course itself leaves a lot to be desired. Most of it is on Lower Wacker Drive and Lower Randolph Street. Meaning you’re underground.

Have fun with your co-workers. That is the whole point of this event. Not to PR (it’s a 3.5-mile race, so chances are, it’s an automatic PR or you are only competing against your last Corporate Challenge). So walk over to the race with your office pals, snap some pictures, deal with the mess that is the corrals together, maybe jog together, finish and then enjoy your free beer and hot dogs or whatever your company provides.

Bring extra layers. You’ll likely change into your running clothes at the office, but after the race, when you’ve cooled down and the sun has gone down, you’ll need some layers and won’t want to put your dress pants on over your shorts.


Will you be at the Corporate Challenge this year? I probably won’t be able to find you, but good luck! 
Have you run the Corporate Challenge? Any other tips? 




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5 Comments on “Tips for the Chase Corporate Challenge”

  1. Perfect tips. I am not doing it this year since my company no longer pays for the entry and the one time I did it with my current company I was just annoyed at them (they invited people to hang out in our tent and eat the food and drink the beer while the rest of us were walking/running). Plus, it’s my wedding anniversary on Thursday 🙂

  2. I did the Chase Corporate Challenge last year, and I think the only reason I didn’t hate it is because, thanks to other Chicago running bloggers, I knew EXACTLY what I was getting into and was able to set my expectations accordingly (i.e.: subterraneanly low. Haha). I’m not doing it this year (though I kind of regret that now! The weather this year looks SO much better than the weather was last year.), but doing my own thing at the race (not waiting for the rest of my company to get in corrals, for example) helped out immensely. My least favorite thing about races is waiting for eons in the corrals before you start running, so I left our tent when I felt like it and got in an earlier corral, which made a big difference in my overall experience too, I think. That, and knowing it was just for fun.

    Also, this: “hundreds of runners and thousands of non-runners” killed me. Hahahahaha. So accurate.

    1. I think this year, as soon as our company team photo is done, I’m heading straight into the corral. It looks like our tent is much closer to the corrals this year too.

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