This Thursday evening in Chicago, hundreds of runners and thousands of non-runners will descend upon Grant Park for the great team-building tradition that is the Chase Corporate Challenge. I’ll be participating for the second time with my company’s team.  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 walk) leading up to the free company-provided beer.  Unless you somehow 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.

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This was my start corral. 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.

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.

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