It's officially that time of year again.
Similar to the September Equinox that signifies the end of the Summer season, the off switch on the Chicago Park District water fountains marks the end of Chicago's summer running season, but that doesn't mean your training stops or that you need to panic.
While some fountains along the Lakefront Path and 606 Trail are still pumping, they won't be flowing for too much longer. "Ultimately, the fountains shut down before the first season's freeze", said a representative at the Chicago Park District.
Following the anticipation of the first season's freeze, the Chicago Park District plans to start to shut the fountains down simultaneously although they understand some are more difficult than others.
"Fountains with heavy use on the lakefront can be left on longer because the water sits longer, and are used more frequently, causing the water to not freeze as fast.", said the Chicago Park District representative.
The seasonal weather change isn't the only factor causing Chicago runners to look elsewhere for hydration. A recent article published by the Chicago Tribune found that about 18 percent of the 2,435 water fixtures are currently out of service after testing above the exceeded 15 parts per billion, a level described in an online summary as the EPA's standard for drinking water based on samples collected during the summertime.
As the Chicago Tribune reported, it is difficult, if not impossible, to assess safety based on a snapshot of test results. While small amounts of lead are not as concerning to adults, the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child's blood. You can find a list of the water fountain testing results here.
The cold weather along with the lead findings have Chicago runners finding alternate methods of hydration such as personal and portable hydration products. Here are your options to stay hydrated while still sticking to your training program in the colder months of Chicago.
The handheld hydration device is the most ideal solution for shorter to mid-distance runs due to its lightweight and portable design. Both of our handheld brands, Amphipod and Nathan, are insulated to keep fluids cold, contoured to feel great in your hand, and reflective for added night-time visibility. Available in a variety of sizes from 12oz to 16oz, we're guaranteed to have a hydration product that fits your training.
If you're training for longer distance such as the F^3 Lake Half Marathon in January, you might need a bit more hydration for those extra miles. Enter, hydration belts. Hydration belts offer flexibility. You can carry anywhere between 1-4, 10.5oz bottles while positioning them anywhere on the belt for a slip and chafe-free fit. Both Amphipod and Nathan offer belts. The Amphipod RunLite XTech 4 Plus allows customization beyond just four bottles but it doesn't offer insulation to keep your drink from freezing. The Nathan Trail Mix 4 Plus lacks customization and caps out at four, 10oz bottles but offers insulation. If you don't need that much H20, the Nathan Peak Insulated is a waistpack that only fits one, 18oz bottle that is insulated to keep liquids from freezing. Take your pick.
Training for an ultramarathon? The hydration pack is probably the way to go. The Nathan VaporAir(men) and VaporAiress(women), is the lightest-weight hydration pack in the award-winning Vapor Series and brings an ideal balance of weight, storage capacity, and durability to even the most weight-conscious distance runners. It fits up to 2 liters of fluids, while weighing in at an impressive 9.3 ounces before the liquids.