beat the banana 10th anniversary 5k race

2015bananarace01start 2015bananarace04medal

5k (GPS=4.83km) 34.48min 7.12min/km

I ran the beat the banana race in London a few years ago. The idea is to run after a guy dressed as a banana. Definitely a fun run, organised by the World Cancer Research Fund.

Today’s race had around the same people, the course was along the harbourfront. The 5k was billed as an “elite” race; there was nothing elite about it, it was the only 5k during the event. The other races were 3k fun run and 1k kid’s race. There weren’t any people dressed as bananas on the 5k, just on the other two shorter races, which was disappointing.

No chip, and the organisers obviously put more emphasis on fun, family and charity aspect. The course measured 4.83km on my GPS. There were volunteers telling us we’d reached 2km when it was just over 1km. The halfway mark was labelled 3k on the course map. Not “elite” but still sort of fun.

A grotty, foggy, muggy, humid, cloudy morning. I ran the bulk of the race with steam on my glasses, it was that humid. Then at somewhere between 3-4k my knee gave out on me. Sigh. Managed to get to the end. Grabbed the goodie bag, the sponsored banana, a couple of bottles of water and hopped on the bus. Home by 9.30am.

sundowner 5k

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Sundowner 5k at Joliet. Carleen kindly drove me there and waited till I finished. I was early, so I picked up my packet, pinned my number and checked the rest of the gear. There was time to wander around and queue up for the massage table. Only about 5mins of massage, but it was very good, the therapist found my problem spot on the left right away. A little hungry but there was no food so I drank a couple of small cups of gatorade.

There was a kids’ race before the adult race. 200 yard dash in groups of 3, 4, 5 and 6 year olds. So cute.

The adult race started at 7.15pm and by then it was getting dark (hence, sundowner). The course was through a park, the path was uneven and narrow. The majority of people were courteous and aware of others, just one or two runners pushing through the field unnecessarily rudely, we always get those at the start of the race: young men (almost always young men) who were late and trying to sprint up.

Markers were in miles. I got to mile 1 around 12-something and mile 2 around 24-something. I was a little slower in mile 3 and crossed the line when the clock as at 37-something.

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This is the first race I’ve participated in that had mosquito repellent, may be because it was through a trail-like course in a park. Queued up for food and drink afterwards: water, beer, doritos, banana, sandwich and cookies. The sandwich was soggy so I threw it away, and I only had about 1/3 cup of beer. They even gave us a small medal.

proud to run 5k


5.0k 39.52min 7.58min/km (12.49min/mi)
overall: 539/702
gender: 225/351
age gender: 20/35

This is my first race in over a year. After I booked my Chicago flight, I started looking into races during the time I’m in town and I found proud to run the day after I arrive. Everyone I talked to was unanimous in saying I was crazy to run a race the day after I arrive on a 15hr flight. But, well, I registered anyway. This was the 33rd annual PTR race, which is awfully impressive. There were a combination of regular racers and LGBT folks, the event was held during pride weekend. The organisers described the race as:

an annual 10K run & 5K run/walk focused on celebrating pride in a healthy way and raising funds to support the greater Chicago area LGBTQI&A community

I was very tired on Friday when I arrived and I was very, very tempted to DNS. I didn’t sleep very well either, but I woke up with the alarm at 5.15am so I thought since I was up, I’d go anyway.

I deliberately arrived early so I can find parking and do pack pick up. Parking was easy, I parked 5mins’ walk away at beautiful Montrose Harbor and I was one of the first to pick up my stuff. This meant I had loads of time before the official race start. I did a mile of warm up around the harbor, pier and flagpole area, went back to sit in my car, queued up for the portaloo, got water and generally hung around until it was time to start.

Official race start was 8.15am and they were prompt to the dot. I kept up a steady slow pace and didn’t significantly speed up when I got overtaken by what seemed to be the entire field. The course went north towards Foster and it was just like I was back on my home course again. Man, I have sooooo missed running along the lake. Sigh.

I got to the 1 mile marker just over 12mins and the 2 mile marker around 25mins. Mile 3 was tougher as it got hot, there was a point when I felt I was becoming overheated, a little dehydrated and my left knee started tingling. But I didn’t stop or walk, I kept trudging on. As the finish line came into sight I watched the clock tick close to 40mins but when I crossed it had gone past 40mins. Obviously official time I just beat 40. Considering I was jetlagged, not trained and still carrying an injury, I’m reasonably happy with the result. No, it’s a long way from my sub-30 PR, but it’ll be a while before I can hope to PR in any race.

I’m glad I made the effort to go. I have missed racing and especially racing in Chicago. They were giving away boxes of cereal bars so I got a bunch for Mum so it paid for itself.

star wars charity 5k


Well no, I didn’t run in a 5k race, I’m still knackered and I had problem running across the road. I saw this event on runnersworld UK, someone is organising a star wars fancy dress fun run to coincide with the 35th anniversary of episode 4 coming out. Only £10 and 500 participants; there’s a 1k for kids, a 2k handcycle / wheelchair race and a 5k. A bit out of the way, at Watford, I’ll need to zipcar which instantly quadruples the cost. And needless to say there will be a complete lack of chip timing or anything resembling a competitive race, they actually advertise it as a run/walk for charity.

But, the kid in me who actually watched episode 4 when it came out and who still has the original cinema ticktet is screaming, it’s Star Wars. May the Fourth be with you and all that. I can wear my Darth Maul hoodie and/or my Jedi robe and bring my lightsaber. So tempting.

beat the banana 5k


garmin: 4.68km 28.05min 6.00min/km

Race #3, I did end up registering for the beat the banana race.

It was held at Hyde Park at 6pm, so I left the office at 4.30pm to get there to pick up my bib. Received the t-shirt in the mail earlier this week. I’m glad it wasn’t that hot, and it’s a short distance. It was a nice cotton (sigh) t-shirt, but cotton and racing are incompatible. But, this is a fun run, so can’t expect more. About 500 people, and one guy dressed as a banana. No chip, so I had to time myself. The distance was advertised at 5k, but the garmin said 2.91miles (4.68km), which seems right. I wasn’t going particularly fast and 28min for 5k didn’t feel right. Pace was exacly 6.00min/km so I would have just made it to the 30min mark.

The race is supposed to beat the banana guy, who had about 20 seconds headstart. But when I rounded the last corner towards the finish line, he was coming down the course, running with some people for a few meters and encouraging the rest. I got a high five. Such a nice gesture, he either finished or didn’t cross the finish line until after the last person was done.

This was a charity run. I had a low profile campaign, raised a modest £125 for the world cancer research fund. I got a medal and a goodie bag — water, banana, and a few WCRF booklets on healthy living and healthy recipes. Got a bus home, and was showered and having a curry dinner by 7.45pm.

beat the banana


Very tempted to register for this, the beat the banana 5k fun run at Hyde Park on May 12th. The idea is to try to outrun the human banana, it’s that simple. Sounds silly, but I’m all for themed races. And it is becoming more and more obvious to me that races in the UK are very charity-driven. I think that with a “beat the banana” hook, it may be fun to get sponsorship.

fleet feet women’s 5k/10k festival

10k 1:04:28hr 6.27min/km

Race #6, fleet feet 5k/10k women’s festival.

I was stressed cos I need to take my parents to the airport this morning and I only had a short window to get home and shower. Plus horribly out of practice, with only 1 run in the last few weeks. I would have DNS’ed, or changed to the 5k. But I didn’t. And I’m glad I ran the 10k portion.

Because of the time pressure I drove, otherwise I would have taken the bus or even walked. One of the reasons I wanted this race is cos it’s on home turf — start at Montrose, up to Foster and back south, turning around at the totem pole. Finish line at the Montrose beach house. Yep, definitely home turf.

Both 5k and 10k started at the same time, with the 10k group breaking south once we got back to Montrose. It’s been so hot, and what I learned from last race is to keep hydrated. So I brought my own pocari and picked up water and gatorade along the way.

I wanted to break 1:05, and I did that, helped by a tiny bit of sprint at the end. But still slow, barely making the top half in my AG is disappointing. Time to build up the miles. Two weeks to train for the half. Gulp. Placing:

  • overall: 756/1469
  • age group: 42/92

race to taste


5.0km 31.13min 6.28min/km

Race #5. Humana Race to Taste, as part of the Taste of Chicago event. I only registered on Tuesday when I realised I had time, and I needed a June race.

Packet pickup on the day was no problem. I pinned my number, gear checked and was out at the start line early. I knew I wasn’t going to have a fantastic race — 2+ weeks without running and the 8k I did yesterday caused some stiffness all over. I set out at a good pace, the first mile was just over 9min. But couldn’t keep it up. Fatigue, dehydration, heat and humidity got the better of me. Didn’t have any kick at the finish, I was panting by then.

The organisers set up a mobile sprinkler and it was much needed. I gobbled up a banana, half a bagel and downed lots of cups of water before I felt better. There were 3 free tickets to try out from 5 Taste stands, I had gazpacho, crab cake nugget and turkey sausage pizza. Stuck around for the raffle (didn’t win), got caught in the rain a little, was home at around10am. Placing:

  • overall: 630/1358
  • gender overall: 274/800
  • gender age group: 16/54

ravenswood 5k


Race #3 — ravenswood 5k

Weather cleared up to the point that I could just wear the race t-shirt. And my coat, which I gear checked. The sun even came out just as we were lining up at our corrals. Speaking of corrals, I started at the 9.30 corral, which is a tad ambitious. But in the 2 mins it took me to reach the start line, I decided I was too conservative. People were slow around me. I found myself in a position I’m not used to — overtaking people.

They closed the roads for the race — Hermitage, Irving Park, Paulina, Wilson. Quite a few people came outside their house to watch and support. I was comfortable, I bought a knee compression band yesterday which alleviated most of the pain. Plus it’s different in a race atmosphere. I’m also thinking the longer runs recently played their part in building endurance.

One of the best thing about this race was its location. 15mins bus ride away. I was home, showered and playing mafia wars by 9.30am. The organisers are efficient, chip time came in already. 29.53mins. I’m happy. Translates to 9.38min/mile so, well, I did pick the right corral after all. Placing:

  • overall: 1512/2529
  • gender: 570/1587
  • class: 28/102

santa shuffle 5k


My last race of 2009, the santa shuffle 5k at Lincoln Park this morning. It was cold, luckily sunny. All racers were given a hat, beard and santa t-shirt so there were lots of red around. Some others dressed more elaborately in santa costumes, and some were in flannel pajamas — they looked warm.

The race and course itself wasn’t that great. The gear check was one corner of one table with 2 pretty inexperienced people, good thing I dropped my backpack early, some people didn’t make gear check and had to carry their stuff on the race.

The course was a loop up to the zoo then back. The highest number I saw as 1100-something so I’m thinking around 1200 people. On the narrow paths of the park, initially on the pavement along the road then there was one stretch where people running up and down were sharing the same path. Any more runners and it would have been very crowded.

My nike plus picked today to run out of battery, sigh. I had to rely on the official clock, which told me I finished at 31.29mins, the fastest I’ve been recently. Some people were saying the course was over 5k, I dunno.

Afterwards there was a breakfast buffet and beer at a pub over at Webster. It was over 1 mile and I walked over. Usually after runs we get bananas and energy bars so a hot breakfast (with Bud Light) was welcome. They had bacon, sausage, egg, bagels, french toast, pancake, something with gravy (American gravy, ie white sauce) and an egg filled deep fried thing that was actually spicy and really nice. Well worth the mile walk. There were a lot of runners and the queue for the food was long, I was lucky I got in line early and was within the first 20 people. I wonder how it was at the end, whether they had enough food.

hot chocolate 5k


Woke up at 6am (argh, on a sunday) to do the hot chocolate 5k. Didn’t get a fantastic start — the stupid bus ran the stop, and the other passengers and I were like “the hell?” As I was checking the bus schedules, the red line pulled up so I had to sprint up to the platform. Pulled my thigh a little, and was uncomfortable leading up to the start of the race.

It turned out to be a beautiful morning, perfect for running. I kept the running jacket on, thought I got hot and should have checked it. Finished in just over 31mins.

Afterwards, the food was chocolate fondue. It was a small plate of: 1 apple slice, half a banana, 1 marshmallow and a couple of biscuits. Pretty puny. There was also a small cup of hot chocolate. Still, better than the banana and cereal bar combinations we get at other races. There was also a Nike+ tent, and by showing the run on the ipod, we were eligible for a prize draw. I got an armband, which is timely cos my existing one is showing signs of old age and use.

Home and showered by 10am. Dealt with fb game stuff and the rest of the day will be nano.

AIDS 5k run


I got up really early, like 6.30am, for the AIDS 5k run at Grant Park. I was apparently one of the top 300 individual fundraisers so I got invited for a VIP breakfast before the race. The promise of egg soufflé, country bacon, oatmeal and juice was too good to pass up. At the end, I managed to raise almost $1400, with my family, mm and my fantastic colleagues pitching in. Company match helped the cause too.

It’d been raining so the ground was pretty wet and it was generally cold. I waited and waited till I could take my sweatshirt and track pants off and spent the 15mins before the race walking around in a t-shirt and shorts, shivering a bit.

I ended up pretty near the starting line. When the horn sounded I ran off with the others, only to be hindered by slow runners and a whole bunch of AIDSmarathoners who took up the whole pavement while doing marathon pace! I know they’re all there for a good cause but they really shouldn’t have blocked the pavement like that. I know the reason I didn’t get a smooth start was because of them, I was panting and my heart was pounding the first 500m.

The great thing about this race was that along the route there were entertainers and volunteers cheering us on. It gave a huge boost. I finished just under 31mins, grrrr I hate going “if only” but this time…if only I had a smooth start I could have beaten 30mins. Sigh.

One thing about these events, and it’s my 4th race this year already, is that they’re so well organised. It’s a testament to the volunteers. There were lots of freebies from the booths, promotional material and food — water, yogurt, banana, cereal bars, isotonic drinks, and this race the official “foodstuff” was a hotdog. Every time I come away from the race with my backpack stuffed full of goodies.

One more race in November. Then it’s winter. More races next year; and I’m thinking of moving up to 10k.



It was a perfect day for running along the lake. There were around 500 people at the beachathlon. The run was 4 miles plus 5 obstacles — pretty simple ones like people kicking giant beach balls at us, life preservers as “tires”. At the end there was the option of a normal land finish or running into the lake. I really wanted to do the water finish, but with the Nike+ in my shoe, my ipod, and carrying my small camera that was too many electronics to risk.


There were hula dancers, and a few runners in costumes. The winners of the costume competition were a tiki lady and a landshark — landshark being the sponsor of the race. I was on my way home by noon, stopping at the huge Lincoln Park farmer’s market on the way home.

Yep, perfect morning for running. I wasn’t even bothered with my time. It was officially tagged anyway, but with the obstacles and the slowness of running on sand, I think I ended up at the 40min mark.

elvis is alive 5k

I ran in the Elvis is Alive 5k race tonight. I forgot the sensor for my nike+ so timing was done using my watch — I ran between 33.00 and 33.30mins. Pretty slow, considering the winning male was at 15.53 and the winning female 19.00. Ah well.

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It was definitely a fun run, with emphasis on fun. Performing on the stage was Joe “Elvis” Tirrito, who did a good job. There were about 30 runners dressed as Elvis, from a baby to taichi Elvis, who I found doing, well, taichi, before the race. After the race there was a best dressed Elvis competition, which was judged according to the volume of cheers they got from the crowd. The initial favourite was a baby, and even though the martial arts Elvis trio did some moves, the prize went to a tall Elvis.

Each runner got a free beer after the race, and I bought one extra, heehee. There were also water, peanut butter & banana sandwiches, bananas, muscle milk and cookies. I found a spot on the lawn near the front of the stage, and made friends with a group of girls sitting next to me. They were dressed as Jailhouse Rock escapees. They asked me to take pictures of them, and I asked if I could take one with them. It was runners’ solidarity, I think.

full set at flickr