Overall Rating
Overall Rating (20 Reviews)
3.6
(20 Ratings)  (20 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
1.5
SCENERY
3.5
PRODUCTION
3.2
SWAG
3.9
Celebrate the 25th annual running of the HOKA ONE ONE Chicago Half Marathon & 5K, a signature event produced by Life Time. The HOKA ONE ONE Chicago Half Marathon & 5K is centered around Chicago’s historic Jackson Park, once home to the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. The course highlights Chicago’s … MORE
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Recent reviews

    joyruns FIRST-TIMER '22

    Expo: Race shirt is long sleeves, reusable bag with sunglasses, Gatorade 10pk, rain poncho, protein shake mix and cowbell in it. Participants were bused to the start of the race … MORE

    Expo: Race shirt is long sleeves, reusable bag with sunglasses, Gatorade 10pk, rain poncho, protein shake mix and cowbell in it. Participants were bused to the start of the race (which was 7.5 miles out), the shuttle picked runners up in Belmont or Millenium Park. Bus started transport at 4:45am. This was too early for me because the race started at 7am. Ample water station throughout the course with both water and Gatorade. Crowd support on the highway, it was an out and back FLAT course. Post-race food (water, Gatorade, pizza, bananas and chips). A HUGE finisher medal. I highly recommend this race. Buses shuttle participants back to the location they were picked up at. I will definitely repeat this race.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    stacijwilliams FIRST-TIMER '22

    I ran the half marathon in 2022. The course was shortened to approximately 12.6 miles, and the race has yet to inform participants/make an official announcement, outside of adding comments … MORE

    I ran the half marathon in 2022. The course was shortened to approximately 12.6 miles, and the race has yet to inform participants/make an official announcement, outside of adding comments to those asking on social media posts.

    The staging area for the half marathon was dark and did not have any hydration or an adequate amount of restrooms. The race started late, but those in further back corrals had no idea what was going on as the sound system was not set up in a manner that allowed us to hear anything.

    There were adequate water stations on the course, but they did not have enough volunteers. I am the back of the pack and still had to wait at some stations for hydration. As mentioned above, the course was measured short starting at mile marker 9. The official results on race day indicated 13.1 miles, but now Athlink results have been updated to 12.6.

    It is unacceptable that a race does not inform their participants that the course was shortened. I have yet to receive an email or any communication from Lifetime regarding this matter. I understand that things happen outside of their control, particularly with construction in the city. This was an issue they claim to have been aware of prior to the race via social media comments, but did not communicate prior to or after the event. Very unprofessional. I will not be running this, or any other Lifetime sponsored events.

    The one positive is the swag. The medals are comically large, and the shirts were made of decent quality tech material.

    DIFFICULTY
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    nagelca1989 FIRST-TIMER '22

    Just to get it out in the open, this race gets 4/5 because it was a short course. Other than that, it was a pretty great experience. The expo wasn't … MORE

    Just to get it out in the open, this race gets 4/5 because it was a short course. Other than that, it was a pretty great experience. The expo wasn’t too crowded and everything was relatively well organized. The long sleeved shirt for the marathon is awesome and very classy.
    On race day, I knew from reviews that the shuttles were a mess so I ubered from the downtown which was 20 bucks and an easy drop off right by the start line. Plenty of port-a-potties around the start area. We did start 15 minutes late but they kept us posted and there was a lot of construction for the presidential library (so nothing the race organizers could do about that). The course was very flat and fast and there were ample aid stations and on course bands! Even though I had a cold running this race, I couldn’t stop smiling and had fun the entire time. Again a little disappointing that the course was half a mile short but I’ll take the inflated time! Thanks for a great race!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    domino76 FIRST-TIMER '22

    Reading the reviews on this race makes it sounds like this race was crap. As my 74th half marathon this one was not that bad. Yes someone f’d up and … MORE

    Reading the reviews on this race makes it sounds like this race was crap. As my 74th half marathon this one was not that bad. Yes someone f’d up and the course was short. However I have ran 2 in the past where they were 1/2 mile longer, someone marking them wrong.

    The medal was the biggest I have ever seen & I loved it. Also the best race shirt almost ever. They fit to size & had a super cool Chicago logo on them and no crazy advertising on them like most runs do. I thought the scenery was very nice, with the trees, the lake & a distant different view of downtown Chicago you don’t normally see. Anyone that signed up for this race could obviously see that it was not downtown. Not sure why they are complaining. The race did start late which I didn’t like with not being able to use the bathrooms with how long of a line they were. Also I was panicking trying to get to the corral by 6:45am as they said they would close them. Not the case with a 7:15am start. I am sure they had to wait for the roads to clear. However they did a great job with lots of bathrooms on the course more than I have even seen so I did get to stop later.

    The expo was super cool being at the tallest building in the city.

    DIFFICULTY
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    badcore REPEAT RUNNER '22

    I’ve run this twice now and won’t be running it again. Here’s why: Packet Pickup Expo: ridiculously confusing on multiple levels for checkin and then bib pickup. I also paid … MORE

    I’ve run this twice now and won’t be running it again. Here’s why:

    Packet Pickup Expo: ridiculously confusing on multiple levels for checkin and then bib pickup. I also paid for VIP and it saved me zero time in this process.

    Logistics: shuttle bus from millennium to the park was terrible. Numerous road closures and no directions had drivers getting lost. Mine was doing donuts around a hospital campus 4 miles from the park. Overheard on the radio…other drivers screaming “why didn’t they give us proper directions? All these roads are closed!”
    After 45 min, our driver dropped us 1/4 mile from the entrance because she couldn’t figure out a way to get closer. So that warmup jog started early.

    The return bus? Filled with sweaty achy athletes…yeah this driver decided to wait a full 15 minutes after the scheduled time. For no reason other than “nobody told me I could go). And take 40 minutes to return taking local roads rather than highway the entire way.

    Oh the race started 15 minutes late. With no announcements. Because, why would we? Most likely due to late arriving busses. A start that late is a pain in the rear if you monitor your water and carb/nutrition for the start.

    VIP : great if you want separate port o John’s without lines and some chairs. But a waste other than that. Seriously..for the VIP fee they should have had a private shuttle pickup and return at a designated time. Second? How about some lights in the port o John? It’s 6am, pitch black and yeah…I’d like to see when I …you get the drift.
    The food? Ok, but anything in the gen pop area (like the pizza) should have also been in the VIP. Am I supposed to stand in multiple lines?

    The race: second year in a row the course did not match the map. You’re supposed to run 6 miles up north bound highway, then turn back on a clover leaf and return on the south bound. I guess construction kept them from doing that and closing down both sides of traffic. So we button hooked at mile 6 and returned on the northbound, separated by cones .
    That drastically narrowed the path. But more importantly, shaved a full HALF MILE off the course. Mile 9 arrived after only 8.5 miles. Don’t believe me? Check the official results on athlinks. It states the race is a 12.6 half marathon.
    If you wanted a PR, without worrying about something pesky like you know, actual certified distance, then this was the race for you. I can’t see how any of those times can be used for ranked entries or qualifiers for other races.

    Other than that, the course if mostly flat so it’s easy anyway. But the course is uninspiring since you aren’t in downtown Chicago.

    At some point, you will encounter 5k runners…I mean walkers. So expect to bob and weave. They should have staggered the 5k start a good 60 to 90 minutes after the half start to ensure similar pacing of both races at the point of convergence.

    The swag: the medal is ridiculously large. Laughable even. And Chicago seems to have taken the same stance as other recent race organizers in not stamping it with the ACTUAL year. They didn’t even stitch it on the attached ribbon. Why? I can only assume so they could reuse it in the event of another pandemic caused cancellation. I know many race organizers got burned by this two years ago and were left holding the bag on swag, shirts and other personalized items that couldn’t be reused.
    Still , they could have done something to make it memorable. I suppose they did though. I mean, this thing is nearly the size of a satellite dish. They could have certainly fit 4 numbers on it, in a font large enough to read from space. Seriously, I cut the cord and attached the finisher medal to my roof and I can now pull in the local NBC affiliate channel from Chicago.

    I won’t be running this race again. Because I can’t fit the medal into my checked luggage.

    DIFFICULTY
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    SCENERY
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    chrispstaunton FIRST-TIMER '22

    This was my first destination half marathon. I was really looking forward to running the Chicago Half. I signed up months ago and had my trip completely planned out. First, … MORE

    This was my first destination half marathon. I was really looking forward to running the Chicago Half. I signed up months ago and had my trip completely planned out. First, let me talk about packet pickup and the fitness expo. Packet pickup was at the Willis Tower. Enjoyed the locale. Pickup itself was fine, there was a very long line that ran outside and around the building. Thankfully it was a beautiful day out! I was less than impressed with the fitness expo. It was very small and cramped in what felt like a small corner of a giant building. It could have been better. Race was great! Loved the course, great scenery, crowd was awesome. HOWEVER, the race was half a mile short! Why!?!? My watch and those of everybody I talked to had the race at 12.6 miles. Somewhere around mile 9 or 10, somebody messed up. This was the most disappointing part of the race and why I docked Race Production in my review. I would certainly do the race again, but would expect the distance to be accurate, the fitness expo I can overlook, but not distance.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
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    shullrd FIRST-TIMER '22

    I was really excited about this race. But it felt like there were a lot of missed. The expo was a bit confusing. You had to check in upstairs and … MORE

    I was really excited about this race. But it felt like there were a lot of missed. The expo was a bit confusing. You had to check in upstairs and then go downstairs to get your shirt and tags and such. It wasn’t entirely clear where to go and it didn’t really make sense having it split up.

    The expo was ok. I expected more considering how large this run was. It was a bit underwhelming to be honest. But at least the vendors were running related. At a lot of these expos it seems they fill them for the sake of filling them.

    The morning of the race felt disjointed. We paid for a bus from millennium park. The driver got lost (I think) and it took us almost an hour to get there. Once we got to Jackson Park there wasn’t much direction to the corrals. The path was tight with the port a potties and the lines for them. It was hard to get through the lines to get where we needed to go.

    It was a chilly morning and the race started late. We couldn’t hear anything in the back. They could have used more speakers to make it easier for everyone to hear.

    The course itself was pretty, but not what I expected. It didn’t feel like Chicago. That may or may not be important to you, but personally I wish it had been downtown.

    The on course support was great. There were a fair amount of spectators cheering us on. There were plenty of aid stations and port a potties along the course.

    The medal is great and I really like the shirt.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    2
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    kasemanb1 FIRST-TIMER '22

    I recommend Saturday's Hoka Shakeout Run before the expo. You can demo Hoka shoes on the run, GREAT scenery, cheers from the crowd, and the best little snack I've ever … MORE

    I recommend Saturday’s Hoka Shakeout Run before the expo. You can demo Hoka shoes on the run, GREAT scenery, cheers from the crowd, and the best little snack I’ve ever had on a group run.

    Packet Pickup: Plenty of staff to direct you where to go. I picked mine up around 1:30 on Saturday and the lines were just a few people. I bought an additional hoodie and picking up was easy!

    Parking: I splurged on VIP access which included parking near the start line. It probably took an extra 15 minutes to get to the lot an hour before the race.

    Pre-race: Lots of port-a-pottys but long lines. VIP access had it’s own port-a-pottys and much much shorter line. Overall, probably a PR from the time it took to park to get ready at the start line (includes gear check). We were given wrist bands to access corrals but they weren’t regulated. The race started 15 minutes late. Chicago Police Department Pipes and Drums sent us across the start line!

    The race: Water/gatorade/and port-a-potty’s at each mile and include entertainment! There were enough port-a-potty’s that there were no lines. VERY flat. I feel like most of the scenery was on the way out; the lake to the right and the skyline to the front. That’s okay because the crowded was LOUD on the way back. People cheering from the side and on the bridges above. You wouldn’t think of slowing down.

    Postrace: The VIP experience on the website does not mention chairs and it was the most beautiful thing. Large tables, standing tables, and CHAIRS. It was a big deal to me. VIP breakfast includes pastries, bagels, yogurt and an egg, cheese, and bacon or spinach sandwich. Open bar had mimosas, a blonde ale, and a session ale. There were two massage tables and two massage chairs but not many open times.

    SWAG: Love the long sleeve tech shirt. The medal is biggest medal I’ve received. Bigger than my hand with engravings of everything that makes Chicago great.

    Overall: Race and VIP experience was worth it.

    DIFFICULTY
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    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    aweiler FIRST-TIMER '22

    There was not much coordination to get people into their running groups prior to entering the corral. It started 20 min late after yelling at runnings to get over there. … MORE

    There was not much coordination to get people into their running groups prior to entering the corral. It started 20 min late after yelling at runnings to get over there. The route was nice and flat and the supporters were awesome! The mile markers were off, mile 8&9 were only .5 miles apart. The route for me showed 12.62. If you are considering VIP I wouldn’t recommend it, it’s pricey but justifiable (maybe) based on the benefits. Well after completing the race we went to the VIP area to get the included buffet and they told us sorry we don’t have anything but watermelon left…. I paid $80 to have a chair. The parking was nice but there was other parking available nearby… overall i would do it again and just skip the VIP

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    4
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    3

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    teganbrace FIRST-TIMER '22

    The biggest issue I have with this race is that the organizers set the course up .5 miles short. This race would have been a PR for me had it … MORE

    The biggest issue I have with this race is that the organizers set the course up .5 miles short. This race would have been a PR for me had it been the full half marathon distance. The race finish was also so narrow that you had to walk shoulder to shoulder with people for 20 minutes before getting to an area with breathing room. Considering the sponsors were Lifetime and Hoka, I would have expected a better quality race.

    DIFFICULTY
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    emelia.pitlick FIRST-TIMER '21

    This race is pancake flat! And the medal is the size of a pancake! Running along Lakeshore Drive was amazing. Organization and communication was excellent. A few of my friends … MORE

    This race is pancake flat! And the medal is the size of a pancake! Running along Lakeshore Drive was amazing. Organization and communication was excellent. A few of my friends dropped from the half to the 5K with no issue. Overall great race!

    DIFFICULTY
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    4
    My Report
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    4
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    5

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    kmerskine FIRST-TIMER '21

    So I would probably give this race 3.5 stars in any category I had to choose here between 3 and 4. I loved this race, and in 25+ half marathons … MORE

    So I would probably give this race 3.5 stars in any category I had to choose here between 3 and 4. I loved this race, and in 25+ half marathons I had my second best time, only the second time I clocked in below the 2 hour mark. But, there are some things that really could be improved on. It’s a big, big race, I get that, and I’m sure there are some limitations due to the size of the race. Still…

    Organizer communication is good, and the packet pick-up was fine. Packet pick-up venue was not close to anything connected to the race, which was fine but was also different than I had done for a race before. There was an athlete guide in PDF that outlined everything you’d need to know as a runner, especially a first time runner. This was appreciated. But why does it need to be a PDF in this age of web? Put everything on a webpage. I only say this because I didn’t actually see the PDF guide until the week before the race, but kept looking for info on the actual race webpage. Not a huge deal though.

    One note. The athlete guide gives recommendations from Millennium Station (if you choose to take the train to Jackson Park), but when I did try to find this station later that afternoon when we were headed to Wrigley Field (because google maps seemed to think I could catch a train from there), it took us about 30 minutes to find it. There are quite literally no signs outside the station. And once you do find it, after asking multiple people, you’ll still be unsure where to go within the station because even the underground station isn’t clearly marked. Really weird! All other stations we rode on the CTA were well marked and easy to find. Not sure what’s up with this one. I’d recommend NOT taking the train to the race. Take the shuttle or drive.

    The shuttles to the race left at 4:45 according to one official race source, with no indication of when they would stop, or if they were only leaving at 4:45am. According to another source, they would run until 5:15. According to yet another official source they’d run until 5:30. I took a chance and caught one at about 5:15 and there were still a line of busses, so clearly they were not going to stop running shuttles before 5:30. This would have been great to know because once you arrive at Jackson Park you end up standing around in the 56 degree temp, huddled around the exhaust fan from engine on the portable lights. If you plan to run this race DO take some warm clothes to wait around in. Or just take a later shuttle. There was a free bag drop, so that was a nice feature, one that I don’t see at too many races.

    The start was right at sunrise, more or less, and was really quite pretty. Blue sky, the lake was nearby, and because you are standing in the corrals for about ten minutes with thousands of other people the temp seemed to increase significantly. Despite running on Lakeshore Dr., you don’t get great views of the lake except for a few miles. But you are running on a wide road, good surface, and generally the course condition is very good. No real incline / decline on the course to speak of, except for going up / down a few bridges. One thing that I did like was that they grouped runners by their estimated times. Lots of bigger races do this but I’m pretty sure most people put the times they hope to get, not the time that they got in their last race or in their training; you end up passing people that should not be in the front of the pack. With this race – despite passing and getting passed – it seemed that people were grouped better somehow and so you didn’t get things clogged up with 14 minute milers holding up the 7 minute milers.

    There are aid stations. More than I needed. I think there were about 10. All stations had portable toilets as well. This is a nice feature for a race, particularly since the city of Chicago probably doesn’t want 7,000 people looking for a toilet on Lakeshore. And there aren’t any trees either.

    Post race was very meh. The concert was fine, the festival itself was fine, but the post-race food was not good. At . All. The drinks exiting the finish line corral was fine (bananas, water, Gatorade, and a protein drink), but I saw picture advertisements in official race media of Chicago style hot dogs and really sweet looking pizza in the post-race festival. No such thing. No hot dogs at all. The pizza was thin crust and genuinely looked like it was three days old. It was a single slice in a box. I took one bite and tossed the rest in the garbage and saw others doing the same. I’m not much of a drinker but saw that the post-race beer they were offering was a mass produced big label brand. All other races I’ve seen that have had this have offered some small label craft brew. And it would be great to see an NA brew at a race this size as well. (Athletic Brewing Company would be great, if the organizers read race reviews here). So the post race food really needs to step up it’s game. For a race that I’d give a B+ to up to the finish line, I’d drop that grade by almost a full letter due solely to the disparity between the marketing and the reality of the post-race food. I just burned 1,500 calories, dammit, I want some yummy food! 🙂

    Final note, according to my Garmin Fenix 5 the course was 13.25 miles. When I got on the shuttle back and asked other runners what their distances were, they all nodded in agreement, that it was a little longer than 13.1. That doesn’t bother me at all, but for many race purists it’s a deal breaker, and in a race as big as this one you’d think it would be exactly correct. But perhaps it is actually correct. Perhaps we clocked more than 13.1 due to zig-zagging on the course, weaving in and out of the thousands of other runners. In any case, if you are a purist, you will want to confirm the distance prior to committing to this race.

    Would I do this race again? Absolutely, even with the nasty post-race food. There is so much to like about this race, not least of which is that you can spend the weekend in Chicago. No race can be perfect, but all things considered, the organizers put on a great event.

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    jsquinks FIRST-TIMER '19

    I didn't like anything about this half marathon. It's boring (there's nothing *that* scenic about Lake Shore Drive except for a far-away view of the skyline, though perhaps that's just … MORE

    I didn’t like anything about this half marathon. It’s boring (there’s nothing *that* scenic about Lake Shore Drive except for a far-away view of the skyline, though perhaps that’s just my unpopular opinion) and the course support is merely fine (there aren’t a ton of people along the Drive, understandably). In 2019, the weather was atrocious – of course, the organizers can’t control that, but they CAN control how they react, and gear pickup after the race was one of the single worst race experiences I’ve ever had. I waited nearly an hour in the rain to get my stuff back, and that only happened because some nice guy next to me eventually jumped over the barrier and picked up his bag and mine. I loved the medal they gave out, and the shirt is ok (long-sleeved, which was nice), but there’s zero else I’d recommend about this race.

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    tdnewman REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Race is mostly along Lake Shore Drive. My favorite race, good crowd support along the way. Scenery is awesome along the lake. Swag is good, course offers potential for a … MORE

    Race is mostly along Lake Shore Drive. My favorite race, good crowd support along the way. Scenery is awesome along the lake. Swag is good, course offers potential for a good time, no real hills at all.

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    Strohmayer FIRST-TIMER '19

    Huge medal Unfortunately it rained and the entire starting area/bag drop area/after race area was mud. The course was fabulous. MORE

    Huge medal
    Unfortunately it rained and the entire starting area/bag drop area/after race area was mud. The course was fabulous.

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    Race was great and everything was well organized. Loved the course and scenery. I did not love having to get on the bus 2 hours before the race to get … MORE

    Race was great and everything was well organized. Loved the course and scenery. I did not love having to get on the bus 2 hours before the race to get there… and it was cold so i huddled by the exhaust from the portable lights…. but there were plenty of potties and everyone was friendly…. i even left my medal on the bus the they sent me a new one for free! It is so stupid big i took it off and then forgot it…. I don’t ever take them off now 🙂 until i get to the hotel.

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    shawa2007 FIRST-TIMER '17

    Finishers receive a medal as large as a dinner plate!! The races following along side one of the Great Lakes, right south of Chicago downtown. Be warned that Chicago can … MORE

    Finishers receive a medal as large as a dinner plate!! The races following along side one of the Great Lakes, right south of Chicago downtown. Be warned that Chicago can lack that infamous wind, but present an equally infamous humidity.

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    aruskiewicz FIRST-TIMER '16

    I thought I would have liked this race more than I did. The medal and shirt are cool (though the size of the medal is a bit ridiculous) and it’s … MORE

    I thought I would have liked this race more than I did. The medal and shirt are cool (though the size of the medal is a bit ridiculous) and it’s organized well. It’s a unique experience running on Lake Shore Drive, but the course does get a little boring. The fact that they had something called Skratch Hydration (which tasted awful) in lieu of Gatorade was also unfortunate. It’s still a solid race, but I can’t say I’m dying to do it again. They did offer free race photos, so that’s always a plus not available at all races.

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    shinianen FIRST-TIMER '13

    This race was sold to LifeTime Fitness at the completion of the 2013 race. I was highly disappointed to hear that news. The previous managers of this race did quite … MORE

    This race was sold to LifeTime Fitness at the completion of the 2013 race. I was highly disappointed to hear that news.

    The previous managers of this race did quite well given the 2013 conditions. Many, many people were on course who were not properly trained (I myself saw a few fainters within the first 3-4 miles, and someone who messed themselves at mile 6 – and I heard plenty of other people had issues as well), so I cannot imagine how over stretched the medical staff was. But, the staff managed things so well you would have never known.

    And of course, you can’t beat finishing a half marathon with a slice of Chicago deep dish.

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    jczmiller FIRST-TIMER '12

    Beautiful race along the lakefront. This was my first half marathon and is still my favorite among the many Chicago races I've done. Very flat so was good for a … MORE

    Beautiful race along the lakefront. This was my first half marathon and is still my favorite among the many Chicago races I’ve done. Very flat so was good for a first race.

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  1. Races
  2. Chicago Half Marathon & 5K