Huddled together on thick grass and surrounded by laser lights and blasting music, thousands gathered outside Chicago’s Soldier Field to support cancer research by running and dancing in the 5k Night Nation Run.
The sold-out run took place April 16, featuring a pre-party at the main stage with hosts, music and motion lights. Electronic dance music was featured throughout the entire run, with speakers placed along the course while the main stage played music until the event concluded at 10:30 p.m.
Stand Up To Cancer is the official charity of Night Nation, an initiative focused on accelerating cancer research. Night Nation also provides those who registered for the race the opportunity to fund-raise in order to support Stand Up To Cancer’s innovative cancer research.
Maureen Smith, 35, a medical technologist, chose to do the run with friends and neighbors because it “sounded like fun.” Smith’s other charity sprints include The Color Run and The Glo Run. The Night Run course went from the lawn outside Soldier Field along the lake front and back to Soldier Field where the main stage was located. Neon cones were placed along the route to mark the course.
The first wave of runners took off at 7:30 p.m., followed by more groups of runners every few minutes. The race, which is not timed, encourages its participants to walk or dance along the route instead of just running. With thousands of people participating, waves of people were still waiting to start while others were crossing the finish line.
“A lot of people came out,” said Jose Martinez, an 18-year-old student at Jolie Central High School, adding that the music was his favorite part of the run.
Martinez joined a 5K race last summer sponsored by Nike+ Run Club, which he called “the Kevin Hart run” since the famous comedian also participated in that July race.
For Benjamin Riley, an 18-year-old college freshman from Michigan, the Night Nation Run was the first race he has done at night. Riley, whose favorite part was “running across the finish line,” chose to run the length of the course.
“Typically the races I go to are quite boring,” Riley said, adding that he likes running and would do the Night Run again, but “would train more before doing it.”