IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Sunday, January 14, 2007

To Shuffle Or Not To Shuffle?

For the last 5 years, around this time I struggle with the same decision. Should I enter the Shamrock Shuffle? The Shamrock Shuffle is an 8K (4.97 miles) running race held in the city of Chicago. The race is unofficially considered the "kick off" of the new running season. It is the largest 8K in the country with some 15,000 entrants. The race is well run with a very popular post-race party.

Every year, I have flashbacks of the crowds and the hassle to get through packet pick up. Same hassle finding a place to park before the race. Once again, crowded in the starting chute. Really crowded running through the 4.97 miles. More, sweaty crowds at the finish line. Trying to reunite with anyone you came down with requires strategy and excellent vision. I haven't made it to the post-race party in the last 4 years. The traffic jam of people trying to show their wristband to enter was always just too much for me to deal with.

So, last year, I earned myself a "Preferred" Start. This just means I can start a little bit ahead of the main group of runners. Those people would be first-timers, walkers and those runners that treat this race as the name indicates, a "shuffle". Not a big deal, but it sure did make my running experience there last year more pleasant! I didn't have to zig zag around a bunch of walkers or slower runners, nor did I have to try to pass those groups of 3-4 people who line up in a row like they're the linemen stepping up to the line of scrimmage.

Based on my performance last year, I believe I could register for this "Preferred" start again, which is definitely a plus. But is it enough to deal with all the hassle? And the entry fee for the race isn't exactly a bargain. These high-profile races with big perks (like the post-race party featuring a popular band) are never cheap. It's just 4.97 miles. I could put on my shoes, run 5 miles from my house, go in and take a shower and sit down to write another blog entry in the time it would take me to drive down to this race and park!

And every year, I go through this process of trying to decide if it's worth it. Sure, I love driving down with my fellow runners, hanging out with them before the race, sharing stories of each person's individual account of the race when we meet up at the finish line, and I especially love it if I end up running well, but I still waver on whether it's all worth it or not.

Now I know there are a lot of you out there that read this blog and never've TOLD me this! So I'm calling you people out and would like to invite you to share your opinions on the Shamrock Shuffle and whether or not you think I should sign up for the 2007 event. I'd also like to know if any of you struggle with this decision year-to-year or do I just need to get a life!??!?!


BC said...

The $1.00 per minute rule would apply here.

Whenever I can't decide whether or not to enter a race, I use that equation to help me decide. If the event itself is projected to cost more than $1.00 per minute to finish, then it's not a good value.

Just another factor to include in your decision.

MJ said...

Thanks, BC! I like that decision-making tool. I need to go check the price of the Shuffle. I'm sure they will jack it up soon. On that note, are you signing up for the Shuffle?

Anonymous said...

I believe one day you will make a fine cranky old person , look at the head start you have


BC said...

No Shuffle for me, even though it would be a good value for me per my formula.

Anonymous said...

I don't care for your definition of the main group of runners (without a preferred start)

"Those people would be first-timers, walkers and those runners that treat this race as the name indicates, a "shuffle"."

Flynner said...


I enter the Shamrock every year just to get the racing season started. It may not be a tri, which I prefer, but this is purely a social race. Who cares how your first race of the season goes? I only care how focus race(s) end.

I go, enjoy the race, my friends, some beer, and the band. My time is what it is. But then my season has its beginning.

Anonymous said...

I hate finding parking or paying $20. I never did this race since I am a newbie but I hear alot of fun things about it.
Since you qualify that might persuade you to go. I was not aware there was a start up race for the season since I see races (5K,10K,.5 marathon)posted all year round. Like I said I'm a newbie and have lots to learn, so I'm told.


John from Grand Haven, MI said...

i agree with anonymous #2. it's nice that you are thinking about gracing all those "other" (he said with disgust) people with your presence, but you were a rookie once too!

Anonymous said...

if you asked me what i thought was the fun part about racing and my choices were
packet pick up
pre race with friends
post race with friends
being with thousands who enjoy the sport
or the running itself
the running would be the last one i pick

and i am a chosen one

dr knowitall

wayne said...

I've never run the Shuffle, for most of the same reasons you mention, no chance to break out into the open, hassles of parking etc. While I realize that I am not going to win any race I enter, I do want to be able to push myself.