Men’s Health Urbanathlon (Chicago): What to Wear in 2012

As Midwesterners, we’re a hardy lot, so we’ll take the weather as it comes. But still, I like being prepared, which is why I have put some thought into what I’ll wear during the 2012 Urbanathlon in Chicago.

It’s not like I have many options, anyway, so my game-day gear is pretty straight forward.

At race time on Saturday, temps should hover around 50 degrees, with mostly gray skies (and rain later in the afternoon). In 2011 we were gifted a miraculously sunny day, and by all accounts Friday will give us just that. But this year, while still decent by October standards, Saturday will be the turd in the punchbowl of autumn days. That’s okay; I like punch.

A look at Saturday’s forecast (I tossed Friday in there just to piss you off)

Here’s how my gear will shake out:

Headband: In 2011, somewhere in the depths of Soldier Field, I snapped by headband against my forehead (to kind of wake me up) and I couldn’t have been more sickened by how much sweat that thing was retaining. I’m generous with my sweat, and without a headband my eyes will be drinking it in by the gallon and on fire by mile 2. For 2012 I considered a knit skull cap of sorts, but it may be overkill on a 50-degree run, so the headband is in.

Compression tank top: There was a time I quietly mocked guys who ran shirtless about the streets. Just seemed a little excessive and self-aggrandizing. But one day this summer, a sweat sucking polyester/cotton blend shirt I bought for $1 at a surplus store forced my hand. Off it went. It was glorious and liberating. The sleeveless compression top is the closest thing that comes to prancing shirtless on the course.  

Compression arm sleeves: I ran in these last year for the first time and they provide some nice warmth and comfort. Sure, I could just wear a long-sleeve compression top, but even that in comparison to the tank top/sleeves combo feels heavy and in the way. I’ll bring one as a backup. Conversely, if it’s warmer than I anticipate I’ll leave these in my bag and not wear them.

Shorts: Just shorts. Sweatpants are too cumbersome, and running leggings I have, but it’s not that cold.

Wide receiver gloves:

My gloves for 2012

My gloves for 2012

I plan on making light work of the monkey bars. You?

Switching sports in 2012 from baseball to football, since my ravenous dog ate the thumb off the batting gloves I wore last year. I got this new pair handed down from a buddy, who got them a few times removed from someone else, and my only worry is that I’ll grab the first rung of the monkey bars and will be stuck indefinitely. These things are Lester Hayes grippy. Here’s why I’m encouraging you to wear gloves, too:

  1. Weather. If the wind is biting off the lake, you don’t want cold hands as a distraction.
  2. Grip (or as Adam Carolla would say, “Gription”). Gloved hands pay huge dividends on the parallel bars, monkey bars, marine hurdles and the final wall, and I imagine on the new over/under/through obstacle. Do you NEED them? Of course not. But I watched enough people lose their grip last year to make this discussion a moot point for me (it was only a few, but still). Wear them.
  3. Mud. Not a huge issue, but with the periodic crawling in what is likely to be wet, slightly muddy sod, it doesn’t hurt to protect your hands.

Just about any inexpensive glove will do, be it batting gloves, receiver gloves, or a pair of mechanic or garden gloves (as long as there is some grip/gription on the palm). You’ll be glad you had them.

Shoes:

Asics get the nod

Substance over style. Asics get the nod.

I’m going in with my Asics Gel-Neo33. It’s been a jump ball between these and my Nike Lunar Forever, but where my Nike are light and airy (good for obstacles and steps), my Asics are sturdy and supportive (best for the run). I feel like the long haul of this race requires the more demanding shoe. Full point, Asics.

Put it all together:

Me at Chicago Urbanathlon 2011

This is me at the 2011 Urbanathlon in Chicago. I’ll basically wear the same thing in 2012. Different color headband, sleeveless top instead of T-shirt, same compression sleeves and shorts (yep, same ones), similar gloves, I’ll skip the knee band (didn’t get twisted up until the final crawl), and I’ll wear my Asics similar to these Nikes. By the way, this Urbanathlon race photo was only $10, so watch for those a few weeks after your race (can’t beat that price).

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2 thoughts on “Men’s Health Urbanathlon (Chicago): What to Wear in 2012

    • For me, gear selection was perfect. I’m generally warm, so less is always more, and the weather was crisp but not cold, and I ran very comfortably the entire race. It’s definitely a ‘what works best for you’ call. Lots of people were covered head to toe in long sleeves and caps, but it was about as varied as you can image. At the start of our wave the woman next to me told me that just looking at me made her cold (she had running pants, jacket, hat, gloves, etc.). But for me I was in my element. Of course, after the race I needed sweat pants, jacket and a cap … but during the race I was happy with less. Also, timing from when I went to the bag drop to when the race started was crucial (ended up being about 35 minutes) as I didn’t want to be too idle without much on …

      And the event itself was great. Good sponsor turnout and swag, good DJ, enough things to do, enough snacks to tide you over, friends or family should enjoy themselves, etc. The only issue we had was rain and lots of wind just prior to the awards ceremony, so a lot of people left at that time, but not much you can do about the rain. You should have a great experience, and I hope you enjoy it.

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