Overall Rating
Overall Rating (10 Reviews)
4.1
(10 Ratings)  (10 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
1.6
SCENERY
3.6
PRODUCTION
4
SWAG
3.6
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

    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
    1
    PRODUCTION
    4
    My Report
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    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.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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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.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    3

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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.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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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.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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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.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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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.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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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.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    My Report
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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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.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    3
    My Report
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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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.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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  1. Races
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