Chicago Distance Classic
Chicago is blessed with two exceptionally well-managed half marathons, each with a field of more than 10,000 runners, spaced about a month apart in late summer. The principal difference is route: the Distance Classic starts and finishes in Grant Park, and follows a course along the lakefront that takes runners into the city itself and tracks with part of the course of the Chicago Marathon; the Chicago Half Marathon starts and finishes on the grounds of the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park and takes runners along the south lakefront and through Jackson Park in a race that might be dubbed the “Devil in the White City Half Marathon.” We prefer the Distance Classic for very small details, like wet towels handed to all finishers and technical t-shirts, and for its location, which accommodates its 10,000-plus runners somewhat better since downtowners and hotel-bound runners are able to operate without checking gear, a time-consuming process that can hang up runners before the start of the race if understaffed or disorganized. But really a toss-up, by any meaningful measure.
Best of Chicago 2007
Note: At the end of 2008, the Distance Classic was sold, and will become the Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon.