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Chicago 5K Race and Marathon Weekend Recap

Oct 17, 2019 | Active Travel, Marathon Majors, Marathon Majors, Race Recaps, Race-cations, Running | 8 comments

Chicago 5K Race and Marathon Weekend Recap

Many big marathons are now hosting pre-race 5K events, celebrating the international running community, encouraging visitors and locals to take advantage of the race weekend. I took part in the Tokyo Friendship 4K when I ran the Tokyo Marathon (check out my friend Anna’s video from the run!), have watched the New York Dash to the Finish Line 5K and this weekend, ran the International Chicago 5K.

As I wasn’t running the marathon, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to race the 5K and use it as a tester race to see where I am in terms of fitness and speed.

Spoiler alert, I was pleasantly surprised.

5K Race experience

Chicago 5K Race and Marathon Weekend Recap

We were there with a group of 10 runners in our Air B&B, with 8 of us taking part in the 5K. We made our way on the subway downtown, and stood around trying to stay warm. Ellie and I completed what we thought was a 1 mile warm up. But actually was not  (GPS was really off)- however it did the job of getting the muscles ready to go.

We’re not quite sure how the corral system worked for this race. But Ellie and I found ourselves in Corral B – which we fought our way to the front of. Setting off in waves was helpful and meant that it wasn’t too crowded.

However, with GPS all over the place, I started off way too fast. Following three guys who sped off from the start line. I had swapped my watch to a manual lap, hitting the lap button as we ran past mile 1 in 7.09. I couldn’t maintain that speed. But kept pushing onwards, dodging the runners and walkers from the wave in front.

My second mile was 7.29 with the final mile clocking a 7.19 (something in all those 9s!). Finish time 22.48. So not my PB (run on Christmas Day) but my second fastest 5K!

It’s a great indication that I haven’t lost as much fitness as I’d thought. And that I can still push myself to run fast(ish).

Looking forward to breaking 22 minutes in 2020!

Chicago Race experience

After our race, we headed to brunch at Beatrix with a number of other runners that were in Chicago for the marathon. It was so lovely to meet them and chat all things running. Thank you to all of those runners that joined us, I loved meeting you all.

Saturday afternoon was spent shopping (including a whole new skincare routine from Sephora), carb loading, watching the Kipchoge sub 2 hour marathon and prepping for Sunday’s race.

Our race spectating plan was to walk from our apartment to mile 4.5 and 11 which were only a block apart, this meant we could dash back and forward to see the elites, Michael (who was running 3.05 pace), those running around 3.45-4, and the runners aiming for 5-6 hours. And it worked perfectly – plus there was a Starbucks and McDonalds for drinks, bathrooms and warmth.

5K Marathon Recap

Chicago Marathon Recap

After seeing (or actually not seeing!) Saskia run past mile 4.5, we hotfooted it into a cab to head down to the 40KM mark.

We sprinted to the course to just see Michael passing with the 3.05 pacer (he went on to run 3.03.02!) Then walked up to 40KM and settled in to cheer on Kyle, Robbie, Tam, Emma and Laura.

From there it was easy to walk up to the finish line, grab some food with the finishers at Yolk, then back to 26 mile to see Loz, Cortney and Saskia finish. It was inspirational, motivational and down right exhausting! We actually covered over 13 miles. And were on our feet from 7.10am – 4.30pm.

the runner beans chicago race

Post race we took the subway back to the apartment, bought some beer and wine for the successful marathon runners. Then headed out for a slightly weird dinner at the Rainforest Cafe (the only place we could find with a table for 12 last minute, unsurprisingly!) Overall we had two Personal Bests, two BQs, one pregnant marathoner and an all round epic group of finishers!

So how to enter the Chicago Marathon 2020? Enter the ballot (opens 21st October), apply for a guaranteed entry with a qualifying time (check out the qualifying times here – for women 30-39 it’s a sub 3.40!), find a tour group (my step-dad used 2.09 events in 2015) or run for charity. Read my race recap from 2015

And sign up here to find out more about joining for next year’s trip – we go as a group of 8-10 in a big runner’s apartment, we run, carb load and cheer each other on. Most of our group come as solo runners but you leave as a big group of friends; because running a marathon is so much more fun when you’re in it together!


  1. Leah

    Very cool, Charlie, sounds like an amazing day! Just out of curiosity, what is your 5k PB? And do all British runners say PB? I’m from the US and we call them PRs.

    • charlotte

      Yes I think we all say PB! And right now it’s 22.28 (I think!).x

      • Leah

        Wow, your recent 5k time was really close! You’re amazing!

        • charlotte

          Aww thanks, really hoping to break the 22 min barrier in training for this marathon!

  2. Lindsay

    Sounds like such a FUN weekend, Charlie! I must ask … is this for European’s only? Or can anyone in the US join in the fun too??

    • charlotte

      Of course ANYONE can join, we had a Canadian in our group, lots of Brits and a Dane!

  3. Cari

    you’re the second person I know who was at Beatrix (Kim/Kookyrunner), and I didn’t realize you two read one another.
    Congrats on a fun weekend!

    • charlotte

      Haha small world!


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