Friday night I found myself on a dark bridge in the rain with 39 other runners about to go all out in an unsanctioned street race. Easily the most exhilarating race I’ve done. Love these people. Love this sport. — @jeremyjongsma
The weeks leading up to a Take The Bridge race, I sweat the minutiae of timing, registration, gear and all the small procedures that help an event run smoothly. But Chicago weekend reminded me how much running is social, and that a race is about a lot more than how much water to buy or where to place the start line.
Chicago was a nonstop running party, where the local running community took us in from the start. I ran with a small pack of local athletes at the 3RUN2 workout, and with my friends the Heartbreakers at the Nike shakeout. I cheered at mile 17 with Edge, and at mile 18 with 3RUN2. I partied post TTB (hell yeah) and post marathon. I even bit the bullet and ate deep dish pizza.
So what I most want to say is thank you. Call this niche of the running community what you want — grassroots, unsanctioned, homespun. All I know is, we felt part of it all in Chicago. Thank you for connecting with our event, and for a hell of a weekend.
So, about that Friday night, October 6, Goose Island. Close to 40 men took off from the chalk line on the Cherry Avenue Bridge. The ground was slick from the the afternoon’s rain, and the first turn of that 1.3 mile loop was pretty sharp.
I could have named five potential winners going in. On target, Jordan Donnelly of Heartbreakers took the prime, not far ahead of Custom Performance’s Greg Laraia. We knew both these guys well — Jordan was third in TTB Boston back in April, and Greg won TTB Triboro this summer (while taking top three in two other Summer Series races).
Fast forward, as a din of cowbells signals the winner is approaching. Cue Darcy, aka lead course marshall. And, Kam Casey of Chicago’s Rxunners takes our bridge, in an air of confetti, running two laps in 13:10, around 5 minute pace over 2.6 miles. Shit was electric.
Greg followed nine seconds back, and Jordan ran 14 flat. He’d be the first to admit the second lap hurt. But there he was, flashing the Heartbreak sign, and playing to the awesome energy of that crowd. Two more Chicago guys took fourth and fifth — Logan Means and Daniel Kittaka (DWRunning).
I’ve never run so hard or placed so poorly…I can’t wait to do it again — @jamesravenell
How to top that? That energy. That revved-up crowd. The wind picked up, tossing all that fresh confetti. The women huddled as the men finished. And then the women shot off!
We knew Tori Gerlach was the favorite; she’s an elite runner who just capped a stellar career at Penn State. Remember TTB is an all-comer’s race? Well for a night, Tori was off the track, away from formal races and just part of our community. How many NCAA steeples ended with a confetti shower, Tori? 🎉🎉🎉
Tori took the prime and the win, in 14:29, around 5:30 pace. The race behind her was awesome, and it was all Chicago ladies. Kelly McShea took second for Chicago New Balance, in 15:03, 18 seconds ahead of Britney Whitehead. Josey Mintel of Fleet Feet / Nike was fourth, ahead of Kelly’s teammate Karen Lesiewicz.
By now it was raining again. You know, many athletes tell us the rain makes the night feel even more badass. It sure makes it a little harder for us, but we’ve also learned a lot this year (there’ve been a lot of rainy TTB races). Anyway, we were done and ready to celebrate at Goose Island Cross Fit, aka the afterparty.
See you next year, Chicago!
I’m proud to be part of this community that runs well for the sole sake of running well. No medal, no light, no permission...just guts — @joanna_kines