Sunday, December 18, 2016

rudolph ramble 5k review

Disclaimer: I received an entry for RAM Racing Rudolph Ramble 5k to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

The 2016 race was to be held on Sunday, December 11 and was a 5k (previous years it had been an 8k). I think this was the first year that RAM Racing took over (as it was a Fleet Feet event and they partnered up for 2016 where RAM was in charge of the event (like SF10).

I was VERY disappointed in the swag. When I registered it had me pick a size for sweatpants (and honestly was the only reason I decided to run this race as I was returning from vacation a day before) was. Sweatpants are unique and fun, so I was super excited about them. About a month before the event it changed to a red fleece hat. Boo. The quality isn't great and since it's fleece it doesn't have much stretch, so for my smaller head it is too loose, and I imagine for others too small. RAM is usually on point with SWAG, so for the hat to take over the place of the sweatpants was a real bummer. I don't know why if the sweatpants weren't locked down, why that would even be on the registration/website. I would have preferred TBD to be displayed. In the future, I hope they nail down the product before adding it to registration and website so people don't register for something they might not end up with.

I had my packet mailed as I was returning home from vacation on the Friday before and knew I wouldn't want to drive into the city the next day. It was a $15 fee (which I paid for), but I felt worth it so I didn't have to spend the time and frustration of driving into the city the day before. I do wish they had race day pickup though rather than having to pay for mailing.

What the hat looked like.

A little before midnight I received an email from RAM that the race had been cancelled. Looking at the weather the night before, I was weary and on the fence about going at all. I figured I'd wait and see what it was like in the morning, as on a good day my drive would be about an hour (which means if roads were bad it would take MUCH longer). Luckily, I didn't have to make the decision.

Other than the email, they made it known to keep an eye on their FB page for any updates, and the cancellation was also posted there. So I think that was handled well and in an organized fashion.

The course.

Email read: 
Hello Rudolph Ramblers, 

We are sending this email to let you, our valued volunteers, partners, staff and runners, know that RAM Racing has made the decision to cancel tomorrows Rudolph Ramble 5K (12/11/2016). While we had hoped to be able to hold the race, the National Weather Service - Winter Storm Warning will now remain in effect until midnight Sunday and is expecting significant snowfall overnight through Sunday evening. Light snow will persist thought Sunday evening and with accumulations from 7 to 12 inches. Significant amounts of snow are forecasted that will make travel dangerous and the National Weather Service is asking everyone to only travel in an emergency. 

Given this situation, we are unable to confirm that the running course will be plowed prior to race start, thus meaning that RAM Racing cannot be certain that we can activate our medical/safety protocol based on the conditions. Please give us 24 hours before asking questions as our first priority is to try to make sure that the thousands of runners, volunteers, and staff will try to make it out to the event in the morning. Our number one concern is safety. 

Thank you for your understanding, 
RAM Racing

I appreciate that they took runner/volunteer/staff safety so seriously. I have my doubts that the course would have even been cleared of snow, which makes it dangerous for runners (and hard for medics to get to said injured runner). I think they made the right call and following the National Weather Service was smart.

A few days after the event, they emailed runners again to let them know they could register for any 2017 RAM event with a special, personalized code to get 50% off. Also, any kids' registered would be able to receive their goody bag with medal and treats from Dec 16–31 (bring in Bib). AND all 5K participants were still able to enjoy a FREE Do-Rite donut and cup of Dark Matter coffee by showing their bib number at any Do-Rite Donut & Coffee location in Chicago through Saturday, December 17th.

The course was on the inner path, going past the Lincoln Park Zoo with the start and finish near Peggy Notebart Museum. I was planning on parking at the zoo. There was one aid station with Nuun around the half way mark, so even though there was no race, I know the scenery enough to give it 4 stars and for a 5k any aid station gets 5, as I don't deem one necessary but think it's nice (though I'm not a fan of Nuun).

They also noted that since there wasn't a toy drive at the race site with the cancellation, they would be purchasing and delivering gifts to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, which I think is a great gesture.

Notes from the website: 
The Rudolph Ramble was the first race we have ever had to cancel in 16 years due to weather. It was a decision that was not made lightly. 
We truly appreciate your understanding that our main concern was the safety of not only you, the runners, at race time but also the volunteers and staff who were facing the kind of potentially dangerous conditions in the hours leading up to the race that had the Weather Service and Chicago’s Office Of Emergency Management and Communications advising people not to go outside unless absolutely necessary. 

We are also unable to offer a refund to runners despite the cancellation - as is standard in the racing industry. There are non-refundable costs associated with planning and preparing each and every race, regardless of the time of year, and those do not go away even when a race has to be cancelled. 

In addition to the disappointment of not being able to stage the race, RAM is cognizant of the fact the toy drive for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital was impacted by the fact that you were unable to bring donated gifts to the race. In the spirit of the season, we have committed to purchase gifts to be delivered to Lurie before the holiday to make up for the shortfall. 

Thank you for understanding the situation and best wishes for a safe and happy holiday to you and yours!

I'll give this race another chance next year – hoping no problems with the SWAG like this year. I honestly think the problem was that RAM didn't seem to take over the race fully until a month out. The website didn't launch until after registration was open, all of the info on the Fleet Feet website was from 2015, so maybe they should have held off on opening registration until everything had been settled. I'm usually pretty happy with RAM races and feel like this was just a strange mishap and don't expect the same to happen next year.


  1. My son was signed up for the kids Dinner Dash race and they also offered 50% off for a future race for him, and let us come to Fleet Feet and pick up his medal and goodies! We still ran so we could say it was earned! Overall, with the uncertainty of the paths being clear I applaud how it was handled.


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