last-minute course change irks half-marathon runners
CHICAGO — A last-minute change to the course of the Hoka Chicago Half Marathon has left runners frustrated with the lack of communication from organizers on the adjustment.
Allison Humbert-Wilkinson, the senior marketing manager for Lifetime — the organization who puts together the Chicago Half Marathon — said the change’s impact on the course was miniscule and didn’t cause it to delineate too much from courses in years past.
“It impacted it a little bit, not too different from previous years,” Humbert-Wilkinson told WGN News right before the race. “We made a few adjustments. With all the construction happening, athletes should still expect a beautiful course.”
Little did runners know though, the change shortened the 13.1 mile course down by a half-mile and many didn’t realize it until crossing the finish line.
“I noticed when there was a mile marker somewhere [around] eight or nine,” said Chris Weber. “I knew I hit the mile marker and my watch told me it was half a mile early so, I knew right away something was wrong.”
Weber, an ultra-runner who normally competes in 50-100 mile long races, was shooting for a personal record in the Chicago Half Marathon — but like many other runners — left the race with a sour taste in his mouth.
“Everyone has it on their Garmin,” Weber said. “Everyone was saying 12.57, 12.58 [miles]. Everyone knew it was short.”
Lifetime released this statement following the race:
Weber said in the world of running, this is a big deal. Many runners use the Chicago Half Marathon to qualify for bigger races, like the New York Marathon, but since the distance was cut short, times don’t count.
“They could have adjusted the course with a little loop at the end and made it a full half marathon or said it’s going to be short we’ll give you the opportunity to get your money back,” Weber said. “But they didn’t do that.”
Earlier this month, the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon cancelled it’s Oct. 2 race due to construction.
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