staff, February 12, 2014

CHICAGO -Registration opens at 10 AM today for the BTN Big 10K, the summer race that turns the Chicago lakefront into a Big Ten Tailgate Party. The nationally televised 10K and 5K races return to Soldier Field on Saturday, July 26. Special Olympics Chicago is the race?s charity partner for the second straight year.

New this year, Chicago?s World Famous Garrett Popcorn Shops® is offering a certificate for a One Gallon Tin of the Chicago Mix to each of the first 1,500 runners who sign up for the race.

Last year, a record-breaking 13,000 runners participated from 43 states and five different countries. This year?s race is expected to sell out, so runners are encouraged to sign up early.

Fleet Feet Sports is producing the race for the third straight year.

Those who register before July 1 are guaranteed an official race shirt in their favorite school?s colors. The race shirts are available in each of the 14 Big Ten school colors, including the University of Maryland and Rutgers University, which officially join the Big Ten on July 1.

?Big Ten fans have so much pride in their schools that they will travel from far and wide to kick off the football season,? said Erin Harvego, BTN vice president of marketing. ?The BTN Big 10K really captures and magnifies that spirit, and brings Big Ten fans together in a way that no other event does.  That?s the reason the race has become the fastest-growing in the region.?

The course begins on the Soldier Field campus and takes runners down Chicago?s lakefront. In a departure from previous years, the planned finish line will actually be integrated into the Tailgate Party, so runners will be greeted by cheering spectators as they cross it. Runners will also be accompanied by BTN talent, former Big Ten greats, school cheerleaders and mascots, and the popular BTN2Go ?mini-mascots? also will make an appearance. The waterslide, also a fan favorite, returns as well.

The 10K will include participation by top area runners as well as many former varsity student-athletes from Big Ten schools.  Awards and cash prizes will be presented to the top five male and female 10K finishers overall. This year there will be an additional cash prize for the top male and female runners who are also alumni of a Big Ten University. Prizes also will be awarded to runners who show the most school spirit through festive costumes and school-inspired accessories. Every finisher of the 10K or 5K will receive an official BTN Big10K commemorative medal, which this year will feature a new design.

The event will be followed by a Tailgate Party, which will include music, football-themed games and activities, such as corn hole, field-goal kicking and the 50-yard dash, as well as appearances by BTN talent and former Big Ten athletes. Also, the Tailgate Party will include tents hosted by the Chicago Big Ten Alumni Associations and food and beverage concessions. Each race finisher 21 and older will also receive a free beer.

Registration for adults is $48 for the 10K and $38 for the 5K. For children 12 and under, registration is $25 for the 5K. For all information on the BTN Big 10K, go to: Like the BTN Big 10K on Facebook for event details and race updates.

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Media Contacts: Tina Manzo, 312-665-0843/, Cindy Hamilton, 312-659-0554/ IMAGES and B-ROLL are available upon request.

About BTN: A joint venture between the Big Ten Conference and Fox Networks, BTN is the first internationally distributed network dedicated to covering one of the premier collegiate conferences in the country. With more than 800 events, all in HD, the 24/7 network is the ultimate destination for Big Ten fans and alumni across the country, allowing them to see their favorite teams, regardless of where they live. BTN2Go is the 24/7 simulcast of BTN that delivers live and on-demand programming via the internet, smartphones and tablets to customers of participating video providers. Events include football, men?s and women?s basketball games; dozens of Big Ten Olympic sports and championship events; studio shows; and classic games. The network televises and streams more Olympic sporting events and women?s sports than has ever been aired on any other network. Original programming highlights activities and accomplishments of some of the nation?s finest universities. The groundbreaking Student U initiative provides real-world experience for students interested in careers in sports television. The network is in more than 52 million homes across the United States and Canada, including carriage by all the major video distributors, such as DIRECTV, DISH, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-Verse, Charter Communications, Comcast Xfinity, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox Communications, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Rogers Cable, Shaw and Shaw Direct (Canada) and approximately 300 additional video providers across North America. For additional information, go to