BIG SHOULDERS 2017

Results are available here.

Warm Sun, Cool Water, Good Times

Another Big Shoulders is in the books, and another year of some anxiety and worrying about the weather.  This year we weren’t worried so much about rain or water spouts, but about the rapid cooling of Lake Michigan’s surface water along the Chicago waterfront.  The water went from a comfy 72 a week before the race, to a cool 64 on race morning.  Luckily for us, the sun shone brightly and quickly warmed the air on the beach while providing a gorgeous morning with sparkling waves to the east and a sun splashed skyline to the west.  Yes, I am unabashedly fond of this particular swimming spot, and was so happy we had the chance to showcase it to so many.

The wind blew lightly out of the east at the start, making the first leg tougher and much of the second leg easier than in previous years.  However, the wind switched around to the Southeast once the race began, making sure that turn 2 (affectionately know as “churn corner” lived up to its billing. Most of those who swam agreed that the 300 meters in and out of that turn were by far the toughest part of the course. 

The choppy seas slowed down many, but perennial champion Adam Dawkins won the men’s 5K in an eye popping 1:03:10, with Justin Chiles and Scott Tyler rounding out the top 3.  On the women’s side, Joy Stover Halgren returned to Big Shoulders and reclaimed her spot on top with a winning time of 1:08:27, with Victoria Rian and Annie Ferguson just seconds behind to find a spot on the podium. The 5K men’s wetsuit winner was Andrew LaValle (1:02:57) and the women’s winner for the 5K wetsuit division was Janet Walberer (1:11:19).  For the 2.5K, Erin Tobias won the women’s division, and had the fastest time overall for a swimmer not aided by neoprene at 34:35, with Jennifer Coady and Marcia Cleveland coming in second and third, respectively.  On the men’s side, Ernesto Diaz Ramon won (35:57), Rafal Szukala was second, and David Doerr finished third.  Jim Tuchler (33:05) and Claire Browning (38:36) won the men’s and women’s 2.5K wetsuit division, respectively.

Also with us to brighten the day were the fantastic volunteers. The UIC swim team did a great job of hustling about to make sure the participants were taken care of in the water and on land.  They did such a great job, it almost covered up the glitch we had of no music throughout the morning.  (Reportedly, some of us older swimmers didn’t mind the quieter than normal beach which allowed us all to catch up with old friends and make new ones!).  We also need to thank our food committee: Candace, Casey, Anan and Rob for all of their hard work in securing bagels, bananas, apples, coffee, and the always well received donut holes. Thanks also goes out to George Wendt, Bob Lewis, Alex Boutov, Susan Bromberg, Chris Layton, and of course, the UIC head coach, Tim Loeffler.  These folks did a ton of behind the scenes work to pull off this year’s race, and this race could not happen with out their help.

Finally, we cannot forget to thank our sponsors: Big Shoulders BBQ (that smell of ribs wafted over the water and nearly pulled me out after my first lap); Maxim Sports Drink, TriSwim Shampoo, SkinSlik, Starbucks, Sheean Design, Indiana University Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, KIND Bar, Xterra Wetsuits, and A3/All American Aquatics.  Their support of Big Shoulders is invaluable, and we cannot thank you enough.

Big Shoulders 2018 will be on September 8, 2018, and registration will open on March 1, 2018.  Mark your calendar and set your alarm, and we will see you again next year.