Monthly Archives: February 2014

Chicago Runners Needed to be TV Show Extras and Become Famous

Emmy Award for Best Extra

And the Emmy for Best Extra in a comedy or drama goes to…

What do Robert DeNiro, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Al Pacino, and Meryl Streep all have in common?  They are all award-winning actors/actresses that started their career as an extra on a TV show.  All right, I have no idea if that’s actually true – it’s probably not.  But it could be I suppose, which is all that really matters. Right? Maybe not, oh well – that’s the intro I’m going with.

Anyways, I know how us runners like getting medals and stuff, so if you too want to someday win an Oscar or at least an Emmy, here’s your chance to get started.  The NBC show Chicago Fire is looking for runners (or at least people that look like they run – which is a good opportunity to show off your acting chops you honed while playing a rock in your 2nd grade class’s stage adaptation of The Godfather) to work as extras for an upcoming episode.  The episode involves a 5k benefiting the Fire Dept where some sort of accident happens at the race.  They may arc it (look at me with all the Hollywood lingo) with an episode for Chicago PD as well.

I just talked with Cole at the casting company, and he asked if I could help spread the word since they’re looking for more than 200 runners.  They’ll be shooting in Chicago sometime between February 21st and March 21st, but don’t know the exact date(s) yet that they’ll need the runners.  Extras could be needed for 1 day, 3 days, or 5 days depending on how things go.  Each day could start as early as 5 am, and be as long as 15-18 hours.  You’ll also get paid for your foray into television stardom – $80/day for eight hours, then time and a half after that.

Here’s all the details from the Chicago Fire Extras Facebook page:

Crossover show Casting Alert! Searching for males and females, who can dress like runners and can run for our crossover scene (you won’t be running long distances, just a little bit) and look like you are runners. This is the cool scene where an accident happens at this race. If you already sent in, please send in again with a picture of yourself in running clothes (sweats, etc.) send to and put “runner” in the subject line. Include your height, weight, age, and phone number. Please only send in if you can work multiple days.

Cole mentioned to be sure to include your phone number in your email as noted above so they can call you back.

And just think of the awesome viewer party you’ll get to throw once the episode finally airs.  All your friends will be huddled around the TV waiting to see you, and then your moment arrives.  You pause the TV and exclaim, “There, there I am!!! You can clearly see my left shoulder in the upper left hand corner of the screen!  I’d recognize that shoulder anywhere!!!”

When you finally accept your Emmy for best work as an extra in a comedy or drama television series, just be sure to remember to thank me in your speech (remember, there are two As in Soar Feat – I’m a bit concerned the pun will get phonetically lost, but I trust you).


…and hat tip to the blog Zach Runs Chicago which is where I first learned of this, via a tweet from Chicago Run Bloggers.

Death Valley Stops Badwater From Playing in the Park

Death Valley National Park While I’ll probably never be one of the lucky/unlucky few that run the Badwater Ultra, 135 miles traditionally from Death Valley to the start of the Mt Whitney trail, I’ve always had a fascination with the race.  Maybe it’s because I really can’t really imagine running that far in those extreme conditions, but yet having a (very) small part of me wondering if it’s something I could do.  For now, I’m just in awe of anyone that attempts it…or any race of that length for that matter.

Unfortunately, because of a rather sudden change by the new superintendent of Death Valley National Park, the 2014 edition of Badwater won’t be allowed in the park, and is instead being routed to surrounding areas.  The LA Times had a good write-up on this a few days ago. AdventureCORP, the company that runs the race, also has a lot of additional detail on their website, highlighting their past safety record and positive economic impact the race has had on the area.

Death Valley ThermostatWhile I’ve never been there for the actual race, I did have the pleasure of visiting Death Valley on the way to climb Mt. Whitney last August.  We took the obligatory picture of the car thermostat (117° that day), and I was really struck at how beautiful of a setting it is.  In my mind I was expecting more of a flat and sandy landscape, but the rocky badlands were anything but that.  Had it not been for the Badwater race, I’m not sure I would have had the same curiosity to visit the park.Death Valley National Park badlands

Anyway, I can only hope that the National Park Service comes to their senses soon and lets this great race continue.  Doesn’t the government have bigger things to worry about than a race that has a flawless safety record and has brought nothing but good publicity (and $$) to the area?

If you need a primer on Badwater, here are a few good documentaries I would recommend:

  • This 2013 documentary is available on YouTube, and follows a few different ultra runners attempting their first Badwater race
  • The AdventureCORPS YouTube channel has a number of good short videos on past races
  • Running On the Sun is a great documentary of the 1999 race.  I think in the past it’s been available for Netflix streaming, but doesn’t appear so right now (just DVD).  Here’s the trailer:



Geneva Super Shuffle 5k 2014 – Race Recap

2014 Super Shuffle 5kAs somewhat of a reward for finishing the first month of my new running streak, I decided to sign up for the Geneva Super Shuffle 5k that took place on Sunday, February 2nd.  Though I’ve run 13 marathons and a number of half-marathons, I’ve actually only run two previous 5k races…I guess I like the longer distances better.  But I figured since I’d be running outside anyways on Sunday, I might as well get a free shirt out of it!

Super Shuffle 5k Start

Start Line of Super Shuffle 5k

The Course – The race took place mostly on a paved path surrounding a local grassland/park area called Peck Farm.  The area got somewhere around 5 or 6 inches of snow on Saturday, but the path was plowed for the race.  But as the race organizers repeatedly told us while at the starting line, it was only plowed, but not salted.  Translation – lots of ice and slick spots.  I saw a few people wipe out on the course, so I was glad to have on my trusty Yaktrax, I think they definitely helped navigate the course better.  I actually felt pretty comfortable running on the surface since it was very similar to what I’ve been running on for the last couple of weeks, so no surprises there.

The race started on a road leading to the local middle school, which was good since it seemed there were a quite a few people not lined up in the right pace group.  So it gave runners a good half mile or so to get better positioned (a nice little uphill on the road helped as well!) before transitioning to the narrower path.  Once on the path, all was good.

Super Shuffle 5k Finish

Finish Line

My Race – I felt pretty good in the first mile, but probably went out a bit too fast as usual – I was right at an 8 minute pace. My plan for the second mile was to just settle into a more comfortable pace and then see what I had left for the last mile.  I slowed to 8:14 for mile two, but couldn’t quite hold that pace in the third mile which started off with the race’s biggest hill, and ended up dropping to an 8:30 pace.  Since my daily runs are all closer to the 9 minute range, I felt pretty good with averaging 8:15…especially given the conditions.

I ended up finishing in 24:18 (7:51 pace), which means either my GPS watch was off, or the course was a bit short.  Either way, it was still my fastest 5k (and still would have been at the 8:15 pace)!  Ok, given that I’ve only run 2 5k’s before, a PR isn’t all that impressive.  But it does feel good to run faster than the younger 2004 version of myself, even in sloppy conditions.  My time was good for 74 out of 522 overall (top 15%!), and 7 out of 27 in my age group.  Considering I don’t typically finish even in the top half of most longer races, I’ll take it!  Maybe this running every day thing is starting to pay off…or more likely, people that run a 5k in February are just doing it for fun and to battle the elements.

imageThe Swag – The $35 entry fee (a bit pricey for a 5k in my humble opinion) included a nice hooded sweatshirt, a free drink ticket for the after party (which I didn’t end up going to), and a finisher’s medal.  I was a bit surprised at getting a medal for a 5k (is that a thing?), but I guess it makes some sense since there was some suffering involved given the weather.

Overall – It was a fun race and nice to get out with other runners in the middle of a cold and snowy winter.  Would definitely recommend!