Nike Chicago JDI Relays
A few weeks before the group headed out to Chicago for the marathon, I got a text asking if KRC wanted to run a relay with Nike Chicago the Friday before the race. The prize? $1000. I texted back and asked if we would be running against a bunch of skinny, fast dudes in 3-inch shorts. I got a reply of, “Probably.” Fearing that answer, I accepted on my team’s behalf. The next step was to find a team.
Within, ten minutes of sending out the request to our Chicago cheer squad, we assembled MK, Antoine, Byron and myself to represent the crew.
Antoine and I had arrived to the Windy City the afternoon before, while Byron and MK were scheduled to land about five hours before our race was scheduled for. That’s four hours to deplane, train to the city, check-in, head to the expo to grab a bib and then head to the starting line.
The race was held at Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon, which I guess usually is an ice skating course in the Winter time or whenever it’s cold in Chicago. When we arrived at the park, the event was already well underway. We warmed-up by scrambling around the park trying to find the entrance as the women’s race had just ended and the guys were up next. To the staffs disbelief, Koreatown Run Club had arrived. We quickly changed in our bright orange crossing guard singlets and went over the order for the night. MK to Byron. Byron to Duy. Duy to Antoine. We win and go home. (Winning is finishing anywhere but last in this situation.)
The race itself was a 4x800m around a windy track ridden with slippery metal plate booby traps. We saw numerous eat shit handoffs while nearly experiencing a few ourselves. Let’s fast forward this story and just say LA showed up and took home the prize. (Once again let’s remember winning means not finishing last.)
After our race ended, we got a second to look around and take it all in. Spirits were high but that’s the moment we realized we weren’t in LA anymore. No familiar faces to high five, no one to catch up with. We walked around and felt all the eyes on us. Probably due to the fact that no one knew who we were or that they recognized the three letters across our chest. Or maybe that they loved seeing such a diverse team take part in a race that consisted of 95% white people and didn’t know how to externalize it but that’s for another post.
The rain began to pour in the middle of the co-ed race resulting in a cancellation.
At the end of the night, we met some good people, talked running and shook some hands. We also met Chicago Jarick which was pretty surreal. They’re nothing alike personality-wise but if you could imagine Jarick as a white dude, that’s him.
We took an Uber back to the hotel as we discussed the plan for the next morning’s 5k.
Words by Duy Nguyen
Photos by Nike Chicago and Duy Nguyen