As the barometer rises, runners of all abilities begin pounding the pavement in preparation for this year’s race season. While many runners have already completed multiple 5Ks by May—and maybe even some 10Ks or half marathons—the running season in Illinois is long and full of events for participants of all interests and ability levels.
Perhaps you’re weary of the crowds that flock to shorter distance races. Or maybe you’ve already logged a handful of 5Ks and are looking for a greater challenge, but don’t feel prepared for the time and dedication that a marathon takes. Maybe you are planning to do a fall marathon and are looking for a fun, easy way to complete a long run.
Regardless of the situation, half marathons nicely bridge the gap from 5K to a full marathon. There are dozens throughout the state—many within an hour’s drive of the city—starting in May and running up to the holiday season. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned runner, chances are there is a race that will fit your pace and budget this season.
First Midwest Half Marathon
RUN IT: May 5 http://firstmidwesthalfmarathon.com — A Chicago Area Runners Association preferred race, this race weaves through “gorgeous forest paths and flat pavement” with live music at the start, finish and halfway turnaround. Race proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society for Prostate Cancer Research, the South West Special Recreation Association and Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens. Registration is $85 and closes Thursday, May 2.
Literacy Half Marathon
RUN IT: May 11 http://theliteracycouncil.org — This Rockford race starts and ends in Vasa Park, with scenic views in the Kishwaukee, Blackhawk Springs and Epenschied Forest Preserves. The course is primarily on trails ranging from twisting, technical single-track to flat grassy double-track with approximately 30 percent on blacktop roads and paths. Post-race festivities include a pasta brunch courtesy of Red Lobster and local brews by Carlyle Brewing Co. Registration is $60 until May 10 and $65 on race day.
Rockford Half Marathon
RUN IT: May 19 www.rockfordmarathon.com — This USATF-certified race takes participants along the scenic Rock River while benefiting the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Race registration is $60 before May 16 and $70 thereafter. Online registration closes May 16.
Magellan Development Group Chicago Spring Half Marathon
RUN IT: May 19 http://chicagospringhalf.com — This CARA-certified race offers a “flat, fast and ideal” course good for an early PR at the Park at Lakeshore East. Registration is $80 and includes a race t-shirt, a finisher medal and a ticket for the post race picnic.
Girl Scout Thin Mint Sprint
RUN IT: June 1 www.gsofsi.org/do_thin_mint_sprint.html — This race, on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, benefits the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois as the organization seeks to provide quality programming, financial assistance for girls in the region and adult volunteer training. Participants are encouraged to join the “Sea of Green” by wearing Girl Scout Green, show off Girl Scout memorabilia or even dress up as a favorite Girl Scout cookie. Registration is $75 after May 1 and is limited to the first 120 individuals.
North Shore Half Marathon
RUN IT: June 2 www.northshorehalf.com — This relatively flat course includes the challenge of the infamous Park Avenue hill, and takes runners through historic Fort Sheridan before reaching a finish line party that includes live music, food and a finishers medal. Race registration is $80 and is open until June 1, or when registration is full.
Allstate Life 13.1 Marathon Chicago
RUN IT: June 8 www.131marathon.com/chicago — Part of the Windy City Challenge series, this race offers participants beautiful views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan as they run a flat, fast part of Lake Shore Drive. Beginning and ending at the South Shore Cultural Center, the race helps benefit the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America and features a post-race party with live music and a variety of food options. Registration is $95 until May 26 and $105 thereafter.
Alexian Brothers Twilight Half Marathon
RUN IT: July 20 www.allcommunityevents.com — Traveling through North Hoffman Estates, Paul Douglas Forest Preserve and the AT&T complex on roads and paved trails, this race gives participants a chance to experience “a unique camaraderie,” running in the evening (half marathon start time is 5:45 p.m.). Part of the Chicago Half Marathon Series, race registration is $53 before July, $55 from July 1 to July 19 and $65 from July 19 to July 21.
Chicago Women’s Half Marathon
RUN IT: June 23 www.womenshalfchicago.com — Supporting the American Heart Association and Go Red For Women, this second annual, female-only race starts and ends in Grant Park, offering scenic views of Chicago and Lake. Participants receive a goodie bag and a post-race party. Registration is $70 through Mother’s Day (May 15) and increases to $80 thereafter.
Chicago Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon
RUN IT: July 21 runrocknroll.competitor.com/chicago — The national tour series makes its annual stop in Chicago, offering participants live, local bands along the course, as well as a yet-to-be-determined headliner at the post-race party. Beginning and ending in Grant Park, the course takes participants through downtown Chicago, offering a unique view of the city streets. Registration is $100 through May 31, $120 from June 1- July 14 and closes July 14, or when full.
ZOOMA Chicago Half Marathon
RUN IT: August 10 http://zoomarun.com — Part of the national series, weekend events include cocktail hours, yoga sessions and film screenings. Limited to 4,000 runners, the race begins at Montrose Harbor and the post-race party includes wine, live music and even shopping with beach access provided. Registration is $105 and open until August 8. Participants receive a yoga mat, stainless steel water bottle and tech tee.
Peapod Half Madness
RUN IT: August 25 http://halfmadness.com — A CARA certified race, this race provides a rolling course that aims to give both first-time and experienced runners a less-crowded race experience. Running through both downtown Batavia and on forest trails along the Fox River, registration is $70 until August 1, $75 from August 1 to August 17 and $85 from August 18 to August 25.
Oakbrook Half Marathon
RUN IT: September 2 http://oakbrookhalfmarathon.com — In its sixth year, the race offers a runner’s course with a balance of wide streets, paved bike paths and soft crushed gravel paths through the village of Oak Brook. The race ends in Central Park with a post-race party featuring music and food from race sponsors, including Maggiano’s and Armand’s Pizzeria. The Oakbrook Center Mall Maggiano’s also offers a pre-race dinner on September 1 for race participants hoping to carbo-load. Race registration is $55 until May 31, $65 until July 31 and $75 from August 1 to September 1.
Chicago Half Marathon
RUN IT: September 8 www.chicagohalfmarathon.com — Part of the Windy City Challenge, the 17th Chicago Half Marathon once again takes off from historic Jackson Park. Participants are treated with beautiful views of the city skyline and Lake Michigan as they run a fast, flat course along Lake Shore Drive. Registration is $80 until September 2, when the price will increase for the last two days of registration.
Advocate Dreyer Fox Valley Half Marathon
RUN IT: September 22 http://fv26.com — This fast, flat and well-shaded course takes participants through the town streets and bike paths along the Fox River. Limited to 2,900 runners, each participant is treated with views of bridges, waterfalls, parks and even an authentic Dutch windmill. Registration is $90 before May 31 and $95 after June 1 until full.
RUN IT: October 5 www.berghegerherorun.com — Head south to Mascoutah and support the Wounded Warrior Project. Starting and ending in Mascoutah’s Scheve Park, 100 percent of the race profits are donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. Registration is $40 on or before June 1, $45 from June 2 to September 18 and $50 from September 19 to October 5; the cut-off for a finishers medal and goodie bag is September 18.
RUN IT: October 20 www.chicagomonster.org — A local favorite returns in all its costumed glory. The race begins and ends at Grant Park’s Avery Field and features a costume contest as participants race along the lakefront on Lake Shore Drive. Race registration is currently $59 and includes an aluminum bottle and reflective full-zip top.
Schaumburg Half Marathon Turkey Trot
RUN IT: November 30 www.allcommunityevents.com — The Schaumburg Turkey Trot takes off for the fifth annual year as the unofficial end to the Chicago-area running season. The USATF certified paved course is relatively flat and located near the Route 53 and I-90 Interchange and runs through forest, prairie-land and by the Elk Pasture. Registration is $61 before November 1, $64 from November 2 to November 26 and $75 on November 29 if space remains.