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?