This was my first year running the Chi Town Half Marathon. What originally interested me about this race was the swag - they had a unique medal and a fun 1/4 zip jacket. They offered mailing of the packets for $10, and since I didn't know what my work schedule would be or if I'd have time to get into the city for it, I figured it'd be worth it to pay for (plus, most races don't even tell you packet pickup location until later, so it was just an easier option). The packet came about a week before the race - it included my 1/4 zip jacket, bib with chip time device, safety pins, and a reusable little red bag.
The race location was moved from the Lincoln Park area to Montrose Harbor. I had just done the Back on My Feet Mardi Gras 10k at Montrose Harbor, so I at least knew the area and what parking would be like (though I was sorely mistaken, read on). Also, they were very good about communicating the new location, which was nice. Not all races do a great job with communication, so I appreciated the email and constant reminders on FB and follow up emails regarding the race. They also offered a shuttle service (buses) to take runners from the original start location/parking area to the new one, which I thought was a nice tough.
The race was on Saturday, April 9 with a scheduled start time of 8:15 for both the half and 10k. The temperature at the start was 27 feels like 16 with 14 mph winds.
Mom and I left the house with what I thought we be PLENTY of time to park and even hang out in the car before getting out into the cold. The exit for the race was extremely backed up when we got there. People cutting in line certainly didn't help (hello? what did you think this long line of cars was for?). It took about 20 minutes to get to the actual exit, and then... we had to just keep driving, down, down, down. It was about a mile later we found some parking. Lucky for us,there were some porta potties where we parked, so mom went there before we headed over to the race. I was nervous, because we weren't going to make it for the start, I just hoped they would let us start anyway.
Welp, when we got there, they hadn't even started. AND it turned out they were doing waves. Lo and behold, we had to wait another 30 minutes before starting, which meant standing around in very cold and windy weather. Weather leading up to the race was pretty pleasant, and then the day before there was some snow. When we started, we found out that most of the path the race was on was covered in ice, black ice, or snow. It was a very treacherous course, which led to a lot of walking. Any time we thought it was clear, one of us would slip because of black ice. So, we walked. The wind was CRAZY. The waves were crashing pretty high. I'm pretty sure if I didn't have my BUFF that I'd had wind burn on my face.
I don't know if it should have been on the race or the city to clear up the race course, but it was very disappointing that it was like that. I only saw one set of EMTs on course, and I'm not even sure they were there for the race. I would have expected a few more, since I'm sure there were plenty of falls.
The course was interesting, as it's part of the path that I don't run often. With the different waves happening and not starting until about 30 minutes after the start, I knew we wouldn't be finishing in the time limit they had set – the course was supposed to close at 11:30am. At one point, I couldn't see any other runners behind or in front of us, and thought we were the last ones on course. When we got back over to the path (the one path we were on lead us to the west side of Lakeshore Drive), and when we got back to the east side of LSD, we started to pass other runners (from the race). I don't know how we didn't see any of them ahead of us for so long. Maybe they had slowed down and we caught up. When we got back to the path near the lake, the sun was starting to melt some of the ice, so we were able to do more running towards the end than we were at the start.
|The Chi Town Half Marathon Course Map.|
I was afraid the whole finish line would be torn down by the time we finished, but thankfully, it was still up. We were able to receive our medals, get some pizza (yum) and grab a beer. The pizza tasted so good, and I was so happy that the beer was of the craft variety – Finch's Beer Co. (they had with them Chimera IPA) from Chicago. I love when races support local craft breweries.
They were beginning to tear down, but I do believe they let all of the finishers finish and get their medals. They were quite a few that trickled in after us. I think they shut down maybe around 12:15/12:30ish.
The race had plenty of aid stations with water and gatorade, and I think generally if the weather hadn't been so rough it would have been a great event, I just wish parking hadn't been such a hassle and that the paths weren't so icy. But, we can't control Mother Nature, can we? I'll give this race another try next year. Knowing what the traffic/parking was like this year will help me plan better (if it's in the same location again). I'm always willing to give a race a second chance... though other than the ice problem I don't think the race itself could have done anything else to make things better. Parking and traffic is what it is in the city, so I don't fault them for that. I think the swag and communication was great, so think next year will be a go too.
|A change of clothes and a warm car.|
|Warming up with some Starbucks and off to a birthday party.|
You can read my more succinct BibRave Review here.