With several pre-race warning emails regarding race weather conditions, fully stocked water stations at every mile, numerous misting stations and volunteers passing out wet towels and ice cubes, organizers of the Allstate Life Insurance 13.1 Marathon showed how to handle less-than-ideal running conditions in a way that ensures participants have a safe race despite the weather. Though this is the fourth annual running of the 13.1 Marathon in Chicago, it’s the first that Allstate Life Insurance has sponsored. To be clear, the “13.1 Marathon” title is a clever misnomer as this event only includes a half marathon and a 5K.
For a refreshing change of scenery, both races started in front of the South Shore Cultural Center and headed north, with a fleet of early morning school buses carrying runners to and from Grant Park or Museum of Science and Industry. The first wave of the half marathon kicked off promptly at 7am with the other sixteen waves released in two-minute increments afterward, comfortably dividing the roughly 3,500 half-marathon participants along the course. Despite temperatures that quickly climbed into the eighties, the previously mentioned course amenities, combined with ample shade provided by trees along the route, kept the course much cooler than it might have been.
Starting so far south and running north allowed for a different view of the Lakefront Trail and also compensated for the out-and-back nature of the course, which had a rather anticlimactic turnaround point around 35th street. Plenty of energetic bands were stationed along the route, with bands on a big stage in the party area at the finish line aiding in the post-race celebration of pizza and beer.
The weather may have been a bit uncooperative, but it definitely made the medal feel earned. (Zach Freeman)
Course: 4. Great course with lots of shade—starting at the South Shore Cultural Center allowed a lesser-known part of the Lakefront Path to be utilized. Minus one for an anticlimactic turnaround and an out-and-back design.
Organization (gear check, etc.): 5. Easy packet pickup at Fleet Feet, great shuttle service (especially for the number of runners involved), simple gear check and great volunteers throughout the course.
Goodie Bag (includes shirt): 4. Nice blue shirt and a virtual gift bag with great deals. Well done.
Weather: 3. Organizers did everything they could to mitigate it but the heat (eighties) was definitely a factor.
Overall: 4. Recommended Race. Great course (despite being out-and-back), HUGE compensation for the uncontrollable weather factor and an ideal post-race party.